Nine men in Senegal, Africa were sentenced to jail for homosexual acts including an outspoken HIV/AIDS Activist. The men will get 8 years in prison after being arrested in a raid on December 19, 2008.
This news really has me asking the same questions I have been asking anti-gay advocates like Peter LaBarbera, Stacy Harp or Matt Barber for years with no answer? Is this the end game? Throwing us in jail for ‘unatural acts’ and conspiracy?
I have wondered for years what the end game of anti-gay activists is, what are they working towards? What does the world look like if American’s for Truth or Concerned Women for America got there wish about gay folks. I have yet to ever get any real and definitive answer and I am guessing that is because this is what they are working towards. I can bet that given the chance, many ultra-conservative and literalists of the bible would have gays and lesbians jailed for being gay or worse.
I for one feel completely saddened for these men as all the science is pointing toward genetic factors and that homosexuality is not changeable despite the unproven claims of religious groups. I can only hope the international community steps in on this clearly human rights issue, frees these men and brings them to countries where they will be SAFE!
So, I guess the journey begins for me. I am now in Hartford in a hotel next to the airport so I can catch my flight out in the morning to New Mexico. I am pretty excited to be doing this trip. I have long been a student of Gandhi, King and other great role models of nonviolence. In all my years, I have not had the chance to train under a larger figure of nonviolence, but this week, I will do just that. I will train with Marshall Rosenberg, creator of Nonviolent Communication (NVC). For those of you who may have missed it, I am traveling to New Mexico to do a 9-day, international intensive in NVC with its creator. (here is a pic of me in my hotel room! Is it obvious I am bored)
I am pretty excited to be able to spend 9 days training with people from all over the world who are interested in NVC. I believe there is much value for anyone who chooses to live the philosophy of NVC. It changes moral judgments into needs and feelings. It changes conflicts into opportunities. I could go on and on with the reasons to learn this, but I leave those things to you. For me, this is really cool.
I also see the value of GLBT folks leanring this process for the incredible potential it has to reshape our activism. NVC has a very strong and assertive stand on social change. It is a view I personally think is the key to what we are all looking for since it seeks to meet the needs of all involved not one side or the other. I admire and hope to model that ideal.
Anyway, I need to put myself to bed early so I don’t oversleep. Early plane to catch. It is my understanding I will have access to the web, so I plan to update you more as my training happens.
I have been writing about nonviolence on this site since its inception. It has been an integral part of my life for many years. I continue to strive to live nonviolently as it is a goal of my life. With that said, I must says it pains me each time I see gays and lesbians reacting to prop 8 supporters in ways that do us no favors because it uses violence because I value unity in our actions.
First off, I guess I need to describe what I mean when I use the word violence. I am off the school that believes violence can be of the spirit, of the mind and of body. We are violent when we use our spiritual beliefs to oppress others. We are violent when we try to control others via bribery, fear, guilt or shame. We are violent when we shun others into the shadows and deny the qualities that make them human. We see them for the label we have given them rather than the human they are. We see the homo but not the human, we see the christian but not the human. We see the label, name or category but fail to see the person behind the label. So, if you think you are not violent, know we are all violent in our own ways and to our own degrees. For the sake of this article, I am going to steal some imagery from Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication and refer to violent acts as Jackal and nonviolence as Giraffes. I am doing this for more reasons than Rosenberg would have, but we will get to that later.
Second, I guess I should explain what Nonviolence (Giraffe) is and why it is better than Jackal in protests and social change. You see nonviolence is time proven to be effective. Gandhi, King, Mandela, Chavez have all used nonviolence and civil disobedience to create mass social change. Nonviolence is far from inaction or some passive “ladedada”, it is creative action in motion that refuses to sink to the low levels of jackal, not of mind, not of heart and not of the spirit. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “nonviolence asks us not only we will not hit a man, but we refuse to hate him” regardless that he just told us to “turn or burn.”
Being a giraffe is creative but it seeks to build community and progress not tear others down. It seeks to change hearts and mind by use of a force more powerful than hate and never gives up on the faith that even the most stringent opponent has the potential to change. Giraffe can take the blows of the jackals because the giraffes refuse to see the actions of jackals without considering the person behind those actions. To see the human behind the label.
Next, lets address the reality of Prop 8 for us by acknowledging this is painful. It hurts to be told your love will never be recognized they way straight couples are recognized by our government. We are angry. We hear about equality, we hear about justice but it is hard to buy into these words when you are labeled a second class citizen. Those on the right are having a hard time seeing why marriage is a civil right and we are becoming increasingly frustrated at finding new ways to explain so they will hear. Sadly, I have to say I fail to see how they will hear our needs when we are speaking Jackal language calling them names like bigot and hater. I must say if I wanted to explain something to someone and have them hear it, starting off with a round of name calling doesn’t seem likely to make my opponents feel safe enough to listen to my requests for equality. Chances are we have sent them into “defense” mode or worse, we have frightened them into “I need protection mode” I wonder what they would hear if we respond in giraffe mode rather than jackal. I wonder what they world would think when they see us acting like giraffes and them looking like jackals?
I saw the footage of the older women getting the cross knocked out of her hands. I tried to empathize with her needs and feelings in that moment. I can imagine she was afraid because she valued her safety. I can also imagine she might have felt angry and helpless because she really valued her religious symbols and they were knocked from her hand. On the other side I can empathize with those who knocked the cross our of her hand. They may have felt angry because they needed a space to vent their frustration over prop 8. They may also have felt scared because they needed some emotional safety in their moment of pain. On both sides are human trying to get their needs met. We could play the blame game but where would that get us? We could play the whose right and whose wrong game but I wonder where that would get us. The philosopher Rumi said it best, “in between the ideas of right doing and wrong doing there is a place, I’ll meet you there.”
I saw the footage of the church group in the Castro needing a police escort to escape the anger of gays and lesbians who followed the screaming at them to go away. I again can empathize with both sides because I truly value seeing them as humans rather than sides of an argument. I can hear the anger of the Castro residents as they need respect in their space. I can suspect the Christian group was feeling scared and needing assurance of their safety. I could play the “but those people” game or the “they said, he said” game but again, what is to be gained by this? I am reminded of Rumi words a second time.
When you read the stories of the civil rights movement or the stories from the Salt March by Gandhi, one cannot help being moved and inspired how so many people could be united in nonviolence to end injustice. In the Montgomery Bus Boycotts protesters walk for close to 300 days, some for miles in bad shoes. Some faced violence but faced it in love. In the Lunch counter sit-ins, protesters walked into the face of violence and remained firm in their conviction without calling anyone names or fighting back in anyway. The world saw this and change came quickly from it. For Each protester in Gandhi’s march to the salt factory, he trained his protesters to take on the pain of his oppressor in order to shame them. One by one protesters marched forward only to by clubbed down by British soldiers until the soldiers refused to hit another human. It took hundred of tries and human lives being changed, but the soldiers gave into the human factor.
Knowing this history of nonviolence and knowing just how powerful it is leaves me feeling sad each time I see GLBT folks responding to hate in ways that don’t help us. Each time I hear us scream “bigots” in the chants, I cringe as I know that hurts us more than helps. We are not winning our enemy over if we are trying to win against them. King knew it, Chavez knew it, Mandela knew it and Gandhi really knew it. Know we need to learn it and use it if we are going to be free.
Okay, so maybe I have sold you on the idea that we should use nonviolence. You get that is isn’t for the weak, this takes strength and courage. It means crossing lines into the middle of conflict and refusing to react as a jackal when you get there. I may have finally gotten you to see this is not Passive. Gandhi himself hated the term Passive Resistance because he saw nothing passive about what he was doing. I see nothing passive about us taking a stand, but we must choose Gandhi’s idea of Giraffe if we are going to make it work.
I have chosen to borrow Rosenberg’s ideas of Giraffe and Jackal because I am hoping they will give us a symbol and an easy reminder of how we should act. We can choose to be jackals or we can choose to be giraffes. So what are the difference you ask? I am happy to share that answer:
Jackals scream, “hey hey, HO HO, Bigotry has got to go”
Giraffes scream “we are all one” because giraffes know that screaming bigotry has got to go brings up defenses to our listeners. We want them to hear us, not tune us out.
Jackals respond to name calling with more name calling
Giraffes smile and say nothing but a smile that say more than the hateful words ever could.
Jackals play the blame game trying to motivate people with guilt and fear into seeing the world their way.
Giraffes listen and empathize with how hard it is to change values you hold close to your heart.
Jackals scream about winning against the opponent!
Giraffes talk about winning over their opponent!
So I ask you, which do you think will help us more? Being a giraffe or a jackal?
As a side note, I do agree with Jim Burroway that the vast majority of protests have been peaceful, but I also know that the likes of Peter LaBarbera, Matt Barber and Stacy Harp lurk in the background just looking for news ways to use our actions against us. Lets not give them any writing material! (In case you thought I was kidding, here is a new web blog devoted to how Christians are being attacked by homos. They of course will show you a very narrow view of gays and lesbians to make the case “all” of us are out to victimize Christians. They are also playing the victims card which I find odd since they often accuse GLBT folks of the same. Check it out for yourself but respond in kind)
This is some video of the protest in New Haven, CT. The weather was crappy, but people seemed alive! (you tube removed the video and I don’t know why, I am uploading it to google video)
CLICK PHOTO FOR LARGER VIEW
I decided today that I don’t really care about Mormons or what they spend their money on. I just want to live without fear of discrimination in my life. I don’t really care if more or less blacks voted against me in this past election. I just want to live without fear of losing my job because I am gay. I don’t really care if Christian groups do or do not support my relationship with my partner, I would just like to know we are safe, legally protected and that my tax dollars are not being used against me or him and certainly not “us.”
I also don’t want to spend my time writing, protesting or speaking out for gay rights. I would like to go watch TV on the couch with my partner and the dogs. I don’t want to make signs anymore, or brainstorm the next protest chant. I don’t want to spend hours on the internet searching for the peer reviewed science that corrects the lies and research misused by you and your friends. I don’t want to spend hours at the State House waiting my turn to testify before a committee of men who behind close doors will laugh and call me, “Faggot” and let the bill to protect me die in committee. I would like to go have dinner and a movie, then sit with friends and enjoy life.
I can tell you that I am tired as hell and emotionally worn down over the years of lies and funny looks because I am gay. I am tired of the stereotypes, the misconceptions and the mothers shielding their children from me and my partner when I know deep in my heart, they would be safer with me than most other people. I am tired of worry about what neighborhood I choose to live in and if it is “safe” for people like me. I really just want to live my life in peace.
Sadly, the reality is that I need to muster up some energy and make some posters to head out to the protest on Saturday because no matter how much the bullies try to get me to fight, I refuse to fight. Fists never suited me or my style but don’t think for one precious minute that I am going to back down and let you push me around for another day. It is our time and we are tired of being shunned, abandoned and beat up. As Melissa said, “I am a giant” and will not be afraid, I will not back down and “you will not make me fall.” I will not cower and I will certainly never give up until all of us can be free to go be with the one we love without the fear of you and your version of god.
Give it your best shot! I have survived being bashed twice now. Go ahead, hit me, punch me, pass your amendments but don’t think for one minute you have stopped me or even weakened me because you would be mistaken. The arc of the universe does exactly what Martin said it does. It leans to the side of justice. I have seen it and I know it is true. I don’t just believe in the “beloved community”, I am part of the beloved community. I am the beloved community. We are all the beloved community.
What may surprise you is that I won’t gloat when we are finally free and safe from harm. I won’t rub it in your face. I instead will invite you to dinner and welcome you into my home like a long lost friend. I have not one ounce of hate in my bones. I don’t look down on you and I don’t think less of you. I feel sorry for you. I will always be sad for those who suffer at the hand of ignorance and live in the darkness of fear of their fellow man solely because they didn’t take the time to seek out the truth. I will still see you as my brother no matter what you do to me more because I refuse to see you though the dark and cloudy lens you are choosing to use to look at me.
When: Saturday, November 15, 2008, 1:30 EST
For Information about where to meet in your city, visit the site
or click the pic on the right.
Also, check out the facebook page
by clicking the graphic on the right.
UPDATE: I will be at the protest in front of City Hall in Downtown New Haven, CT. Come out and show your support in the city where you live.
This video made my stomach turn as the “yes on 8″ girl celebrates by calling GLBT people “losers” and “faggots”. She is so gleeful at the suffering of others and I am assuming she doesn’t understand how it feels to be a gay couple just told you are no longer protected by law. She must not understand what it means to learn that 52% of the State of California don’t think your love is good enough. I feel sorry for them, I really do. I bet they have never met a gay couple like Rick and I who have been together almost 9 years. Would they be so gleeful if they could see the pain they cause? I doubt it. Watch the video.
Looks like she posted more videos from this event….Calling people “Dykes” (about 1:16 into it) and other lovely words. Again, I just feel sad to know people think like she does. I would rather think people have more compassion than this but….
Sadly, I found she has another video. In this one she drops the “faggot” word (about 34 seconds in). I think it shows that she really does hate gay people when she is willing to use that language. I still just feel sorry for her, but she does show you the spirit and lack of compassion that lies behind prop 8 and those who supported it. Hate is learned, I wonder what she even knows about gay people? I wonder if she just believes all the sorted stuff LaBarbera tells people. Did her parents stop her language? Nope, her friend’s dad was in the car and he said nothing. Children are taught hate. Watch the final clip.
I can’t help but feel inspired by the protests happening in California these past few days since the election. To see the hundreds of faces holding signs and standing up for freedom and equality, I just feel this sense of awe inspired kinship to the souls in the stand to demand equality from those who would just assume be done with us, if not in some cases kill us. I feel a sense of affection for all of the faces I see because they are taking a stand I believe we should all take, the one for equality.
I would encourage folks to continue the protests tomorrow and the day after that too! I would suggest we protest with more strength and courage then we ever have before and in larger numbers. It is no longer a time when we can sit back and let them “vote” us into the closets. Stand up and take a stand but do not fight. Become the new “stonewall” of peaceful resistance. There is no reason to fight, let them waste energy on fighting, it gets you no place. It is wasted energy to fight people, we must connect with them, understand them, empathize till we reach their true sense of rational thinking and reason. From that compassion and understanding we will open their minds to hearing what is truly going on in our hearts. It is there and we must never loose sight that every human has the chance to grow and change for the better. They can change and I hope they do.
Change will come! It always does…..
Gandhi once said:
“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall — think of it, ALWAYS”
Truth Wins Out has now another researcher on record explaining how their research has been used by the National Association for Research and Treatment of Homosexuality to claim people can choose to change their sexual attractions when the research clearly says the opposite. This is the abuse of science that leads to harm.
Wayne Besen at Truth Wins Out notes:
Lisa M. Diamond, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Gender Studies in the Department of Psychology at the University of Utah. She has won a number of awards for her work. In 2000, Dr. Diamond published a study, “Sexual identity, attractions, and behavior among young sexual minority women over a 2 year period.” This study was distorted by NARTH. The anti-gay organization falsely claimed that Dr. Diamond’s work shows that sexual orientation is “amenable to change.”
To read about other researchers who work has been misused by anti-gay groups, please visit Respect My Research
I am proud and inspired to say this was sent to me by the newest member of the SC PFLAG, my sister! That also inspires me to make it successful. I offer my full support to Sean Kenndy’s family and to the members of PFLAG!
Target: U.S. Senate
Sponsored by: Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays
On May 16, 2007, Sean Kennedy, a 20-year old gay man, was attacked on the streets of Greenville, South Carolina. He died of his injuries later that night. Yet, because of the lack of hate crimes legislation, his attacker will be eligible for parole in as little as 10 months.
Sean was a brave young man with a bright, infectious smile. But his life was cut short and justice left unserved.
As it stands now, 23 states, including South Carolina, do not have hate crime laws that include sexual orientation, but passage of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Action (LLEHCPA) would change that by strengthening existing laws and allowing the Department of Justice to assist local prosecutions, and where appropriate, investigate and prosecute cases.
Sean’s death shows that comprehensive hate crime legislation is urgently needed. Please support the LLEHCPA.
The Connecticut Supreme Court announced at 11:30am this morning that gay and lesbian couples have the right to marry. In a 4-3 decision the court ruled that civil unions do not provided the same protections of marriage and that marriage laws only applied to heterosexuals, thus not affording rights to all.
From the ruling:
“Although we acknowledge that many legislators and
many of their constituents hold strong personal convictions
with respect to preserving the traditional concept
of marriage as a heterosexual institution, such beliefs,
no matter how deeply held, do not constitute the
exceedingly persuasive justification required to sustain
a statute that discriminates on the basis of a quasisuspect
Arizona Needs Your Help
Remember the state that became the first in the nation to defeat a so-called “marriage amendment” in 2006? Arizona desperately needs your help today in 2008:
Supporters of a measure that would change Arizonaʼs constitution to ban gay marriage have raised $6.9 million, 17 times more than opponents have raised, according to figures released Thursday.
Arizona became the first state in the nation to defeat the so-called marriage amendment in 2006. Today, our opponents are furious that they lost, and they are pouring millions of dollars into the state to upset the will of the voters. They threatened and coerced the legislature to put this on the ballot because they didn’t want to spend the money to mount a petition campaign. In other words, there has not been a single Arizona voter who signed on to have this put on the ballot. The legislatures actions amounted to a several hundred thousand dollar gift to put this on the ballot for free.
On the positive side, I firmly believe that Arizona is about to lose its distinction of being the only state to turn back one of these amendments — because this year California and Florida will have their own victories to add to the tally. And that will be reason for a huge celebration next month.
However, if things don’t change soon, then Arizona will lose something else: our historic 2006 victory. And if that happens, then the victories in Florida and California won’t be secure. If Arizona loses in 2008 what we won in 2006, our opponents will learn a very important lesson. If they don’t like the answer they got this year, all they have to do is come back again in a couple of years, spend millions of more dollars, and wear us down until they finally get what they want.
I am optimistic that we can defeat this proposed amendment in Arizona. Our internal polling shows that we don’t have to match our opponents dollar-for-dollar in funding. We don’t even have to come close. They’ve spend millions of dollars in the past two weeks, but the polling numbers haven’t budged by a single percentage point since we fielded our own poll last June. They’ve spent millions, the votes for their side haven’t budged one iota. Which means that so far, they’ve been wasting their millions.
Our internal polling also shows that there are huge numbers of “yes” voters who don’t believe that this proposed amendment is important. Our polling also shows that our message can not only sway large numbers of undecided voters, but “yes” voters as well. We know we can do this.
But we cannot actually change the vote until we get our message out to the voters. And television and radio ads cost a lot of money.
So we need your help. Please give as generously as you can. Because this has implications not just for Arizona, but for California and Florida as well. If we really want to secure our victories, it is imperative that we tell them that no really means no.
Otherwise, they’ll just come back again in a few more years in California and Florida.
In a recent post, I explained how a group of 24 men in Huntsville, Alabama were arrested for alleged sexual misconduct in a sex sting. The mens’ pictures and names were then released to the public via press release by the police. Sadly, I had hoped we would not see a repeat of similar events that happened in Rhode Island, where such attempts to embarrass those arrested as a method of sending a message to the public led to the suicide of one of the men.
Now we are seeing similar endings from another of these public humiliation cases. This time in Tennessee where 40 men were arrested in a sex sting. Again, in some type of action to deter this behavior in others, the mens’ photos and names were released to the public. This public action has led to the death of one of the wives of the men and another has committed suicide. One of the men is now suing the police. Pam Has the story here.
I have to wonder if whatever the police feel they have gained in this was worth all the destroyed lives. I also have to wonder whatever happen to “innocent until proven guilty.” These men should have had a fair trial before being punished by law enforcement officials.
I don’t condone public sex. I think it is sad that these men chose to live in the shadows. I believe they have been driven to this hiding and sneaking around by the same people who complain they do it (Conservative Christian groups like AFTAH). It is a crazy cycle. I favor restorative justice over punitive tactics 100% of the time. Far less lives are ruined when we choose better tactics to deal with those in our community that act in ways that break the law.
What I really hate is people who say one thing to your face and then another when your back is turned. That seems to be a pattern with republicans and conservatives. A few months ago RR darling Star Parker wrote a glowing article on how the GOP will be good for Hispanics.
In it she states:
As a population that is young and rapidly growing, with a growing stake in the future of this country, Hispanics should be thinking hard about what kind of future that will be.
Long-term economic growth is vital. Study after study demonstrate, both in the U.S. and all over the world, that low taxes foster and high taxes inhibit growth. Our Hispanic citizens should be reminded, or educated, that keeping taxes low, and therefore limiting growth of government, is essential to their economic future.
Hispanics should understand that today’s entitlements crisis will fall disproportionately on them. Combined spending today on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is about 8 percent of our GDP. By 2050, when almost one in three Americans will be of Hispanic origin, this entitlement burden will more than double to around 18 percent of GDP. Our payroll tax burden will also have to double to meet these obligations.
It seems that she thinks that the GOP will be the panacea to Hispanic woes. Contrast that with a article from AFA’s One News Now that accuses McCain of Hispandering.
But Jim Boulet, executive director of English First, says this is the same issue the American public has consistently rejected — and one which McCain has not pushed while campaigning to other groups.
“It led McCain to appear to be two-faced,” Boulet comments. “And goodness knows if you’re going to run as a reform candidate, you need to at least let your yea be yea and your nay be nay.”
Notice the strong difference between the two. One appears to be appealing to Hispanics while the other condemns them. Now you can argue that Boulet is talking about Illegals. But it wasn’t too long ago that my Irish ancestors were treated just as poorly by people like him who had signs outside their store that read, “Help Wanted Irish need not apply.” That is why I am a staunch supporter of Immigration reform. However I would change one thing and that is to make the permanent visas $30,000 instead of $15,000 and eliminate the immigration cap.
Getting back to my point, this kind of backstabbing is something with which we GLBT’s are all too familiar. Remember when Alan Chambers Promised that exodus was getting out of politics? I for one, knew it wouldn’t be long till that proved to be a lie. One ‘exgay’ named Stephen Black was quoted saying:
Stephen Black, executive director of First Stone Ministries in Oklahoma City, said he once was gay. His organization, he said, helps men and women overcome homosexuality.
“There is a political agenda and a cultural message about homosexuality (and) that it is destructive to our country,” he said.
When you say something, you should mean it. When you constantly break your word it makes you an untrustworthy person. Republicans and Conservatives want Americans to believe they aren’t bigots.
Has Ann Coulter apologized to blacks for calling them infantile. Will Republicans and Conservatives apologize for continuing to assert the lie that Barrack Obama is a secret muslim? Will Sally Kern apologize for asserting gays are worse than Al Queda? Me I won’t hold my breath. These people aren’t known for admitting wrongdoing.
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"Be the change you wish to see in the world"
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
Martin Luther King Jr.
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