- Written by Mel
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Pecs and the City
- Written by Matt Ponder
It gets better. That’s what all the videos from celebrities and a myriad of other people from different professions across the globe are telling our gay youth. “It gets better.” My question is probably the same as every kid out there who sees these video messages: Does it? Really?
Don’t get me wrong here — I think it’s amazing that so many people from all walks of life, both famous and non-famous, are rallying around the gay youth of our nation. But words can only do so much. It’s similar to trying to tell someone who has just gone through a painful loss that everything will be okay. They’re just words.
Saying “I know how you feel” has an artificial ring to it that someone in pain can sense a mile away. Sure we can identify with the struggle against bullies and the uphill climb to become who we truly are, but just like the details of a death in the family or an excruciating break-up, every situation is different.
How can a gay kid from Dogpatch, U.S.A. Feel that a celebrity ensconced in a Bel-Air mansion can possibly know the pain and the isolation of being the only gay person in a hundredmile stretch of corn and ignorance? What these young people need is a physical manifestation of what they can become, but the problem is that it may not exist. And if it does, the person who may be able to help them is still hiding in the closet afraid of what might become of them if they step into the light and tell the world who they really are.
Bullies like to use strength or power to intimidate those who are weaker. And when you hide your head in shame it makes you weak. If you want to show our gay youth that it gets better you need to make sure the world knows who you are and who you love.
Be an example to someone who may have no one to turn to in their time of need. Let them know that bullies will never win and that bullies are just sad, brainless products of our society and their own cowardice. The funny thing about the word “bully” is that is comes from a Middle Dutch word boele, which actually means “lover”. As Alanis would say: isn’t it ironic?
So what makes a bully a bully? Bullying isn’t something that appears out of nowhere. It is bred into people who believe they need to lash out at things they perceive as different or things they fear. Let me cast a wider net by saying you can see a bully’s violent stripes in terrorist cells. You can see their fear of diversity in the religious right. You can even see the pleasure they take in tormenting others in the Legion Of Doom. But heroes stand up against these bullies and show them they can’t win. Bullying won’t end because we expel vicious football players or lock up religious extremists. The reason they are bullies in the first place is because that’s the way they were raised.
When parents decide to raise their children to embrace diversity — whether it’s the colour of someone’s skin, who they choose to love or even the waist size of their classmates — then bullying will die a lonely, well-deserved death. Along with teaching our children that people who are different are just like everyone else, we also must teach our youth that there’s no need to jump on a bandwagon when other, less educated kids are bullying those who are different. Even if you fall into the category of what this world considers to be normal, it’s okay to stand up, speak out against hate and be exactly who you are.
The media is flush with reports of how schools and communities are finally going to put an end to bullying. The sad news is it will never end. Bullies will find a way. They always find a way. It’s the same as saying that one day we will win the war on crime or the war on drugs. It won’t happen. Not until the entire world somehow shifts their way of thinking. The death penalty hasn’t stopped people from murdering each other and prison time hasn’t dissuaded drug dealers from pumping our nation full of poison, so what hope does an anti-bullying crusade have? The hope that teenagers decide they would rather graduate or play basketball as opposed to torturing their classmates? Does anyone really think about the consequences when they are caught up in the moment? Not always. And by then the damage is done.
We are all scarred by what happened to us in high school. Whether you were an acne-spotted theater geek or an all-American running back, if you are gay, back then you lived a lie to survive. Maybe you bullied someone who was more like you than you’d care to admit because you saw your reflection in their frightened gaze and even though you weren’t on the receiving end of taunts and harassment, you were stuck in your own prison of denial and deception.
Was I bullied in high school? Constantly. I was 98 pounds of skin, bones and braces who barely looked up in the hallways. That Matt still lives inside of the confident 190-pound muscle-bound lothario I am today. But I haven’t forgotten him. And the fact that my training and knowledge has blessed me with the ability to cripple or kill a man only fuels my fire of rage when I hear about my young brethren being tormented by half-witted, weak-willed oxen.
Does it make me the same as them when I think about teaching these pathetic bullies a lesson by giving them a bloody taste of their own medicine? Maybe. But I think it makes me more of a champion, a vigilante, a hero who wants to protect and save the children he will never have. I look at it this way: how do you feel about someone who kills for the fun of it compared to a person who kills someone in self-defence? If I thought giving some Cro-Magnon bully a black eye or a busted molar would prevent a gay teen from killing himself, I’d say wrap my knuckles in some tape. Sometimes it’s the only language bullies understand.
I firmly believe that violence is never the answer to anything, but sometimes fighting fire with fire may be the only solution. Unfortunately some kids who are bullied believe the same thing and that’s when tragedies like Columbine happen. When violence breeds violence it can escalate and spin out of control. On the flip side of this violent coin, when kids are afraid to be who they are in the town where they live, they seek out companions on the internet. These predators are often not who they say they are and sometimes these trysts end in murder. Because of these unfavourable consequences people who truly want to help are wary of how they will be perceived. If I said that my home was open to any teenager who was lost and scared how would that make me look? Like a Good Samaritan or someone from To Catch A Predator? Unfortunately the sword cuts both ways.
My parents always taught me “living well is the best revenge”. I never really knew what that meant until I saw one of my bullies where he belonged: pathetic, broken-down and working behind the counter at a fast-food restaurant. Did I take pleasure in this? You bet I did. But when he was shoving me into my locker and spilling my lunch tray I had no idea that I would have this moment of clarity. The other thing my parents taught me was to stand up for myself, but that was a harder road. If I knew then what I know now, I can guarantee there would have been a lot of broken bones and an expulsion for yours truly.
No matter what happens, there will be a continuing wave of young people emerging into a world that fears and despises them. There’s no way anyone can stop it or beat the gayness out of any of them. The time for ignorance is over. It’s time for all of us to rise up — just like our brothers at Stonewall did — to show the world that we are not going anywhere and that we will protect our young like a lioness on the African veldt. There’s a new era coming and I am going to do whatever it takes to gay it forward and cement my legacy. What are you going to do?
So… What do I have to say to young gay people who are out there feeling scared and alone? Yes, it does get better. But don’t take my word for it. Stand up and see how beautiful and amazing you are. Life isn’t for hiding, life is for living. Life gives you the chance to laugh, to love, to dance and even time to look up at the stars. Follow your heart and jump to your feet because when you finally stand up and take a stand for what you believe in, that’s when people will show up and stand with you to take your side. If no one’s around to help you, help yourself. Do your push-ups and make sure you keep your left up when you deliver that right at eyebrow level.
If you think you can’t fight, then pack your bags and run to a place where your gay brothers and sisters will help you. Remember that strangers aren’t always a threat but use your common sense and let people earn your trust. Most importantly, if you are thinking about ending it all, please, please don’t do it. Hold on. Don’t let those dicks win. Show them how wrong they are by becoming who you want to be. Who you dream of being. The world needs you. Have you ever seen a Christmas tree with one light missing? It throws everything off. We need your light in this world to make it complete.
I know it hurts and I know it feels like there is no one out there who cares about you, but you are wrong. Someone’s waiting to be your friend. Someone’s waiting to be a part of your whole new family. Someone’s waiting to hold your hand and kiss your lips and show you that every ounce of pain you’ve ever felt has been worth it. Maybe our churches and our government want you to believe that you don’t matter, but they are spineless cowards hiding behind words they twist to suit their needs. Don’t listen to them. Instead, heed the words of all the people out there who care about you by saying: “it gets better”. Better yet, take a look at yourself in the mirror and tell that person you see and the person you will become: “I’m going to make it better.” It’s a long, hard road to get to the Emerald City where all your dreams will finally come true, but we are here waiting for you. So, come and get it. I can’t wait to meet you.
The word by Sheila
- Written by Sheila Kennedy
The theory behind freedom of speech was pretty simple: a robust consideration and debate of all ideas will lead to adoption of the better ones. When all points of view can be examined, people will opt for those which are best for that society.
The history of civil rights in the U.S. would seem to support that thesis; despite some pretty grim periods, the nation has consistently — if sometimes painfully — moved to a more inclusive, more humane interpretation of equality.
During the past several decades, however, the advent of an ever-more pervasive electronic media has brought on more and more spin and micro-targeting. As a result, political operatives have been able to target their respective base voters with messaging that rarely breaks through to the general public, depriving that public of the sort of arguments that free speech advocates believe are essential to good policy decisions.
Thanks to Barack Obama's recent endorsement of same-sex marriage, however, we are going to have one of those truly public debates.
Obama has come out (no pun intended) for the equal protection of the laws, for a government that applies the same rules to gay, lesbian, bi & trans folks that it applies to heterosexuals.
Romney has endorsed a federal constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and has personally contributed to anti-gay and anti-marriage equality organisations.
Perhaps more importantly, this stark difference of position comes at a time when those who do not follow politics closely are beginning to see just how radical the Republican base — to which Romney is in thrall — has become.
In Indiana, the 2-1 defeat of Richard Lugar by a Tea Party yahoo has been a wake—up call. Despite being routinely characterised as a moderate, Lugar was a very conservative Senator (probably a great deal more conseniative than many of his supporters realised).
As EJ. Dionne noted, he wasn't "moderate" — he was civil. He actually engaged in conversation with people he disagreed with. To the rabid know-nothings who currently contnol the GOP, that was evidently sin enough.
And Indiana is not alone, unfortunately. The radicalisation of the once Grand Old Party has been proceeding for a long time now. But that radicalisation has occurred largely out of view of the people who are simply going about their everyday business. What has been obvious to us political junkies is just now becoming obvious to the general public.
With Obama's announcement, the "agendas" of base voters, Republican and Democrat alike, are receiving widespread attention. The choice is stark and it isn't limited to same—sex marriage. If you think about it, positions on same—sex marriage are indicators of political and moral philosophies. People who favor civil liberties and equality for lesbian, gay, bi & trans people tend to believe in separation of church and state, in government neutrality and even-handedness.
People who are adamantly opposed to the extension of equal rights to gays and lesbians, on the other hand, tend to believe in authoritarian government, tend to support the GOP's "war on women," and tend to reject the principle of separation of church and state in favor of a belief in America as a “Christian nation."
Diversity makes them uncomfortable, and — let's be honest — so does the presence of a black man in the White House.
Bottom line? Different positions on same-sex marriage are proxies for dramatically different world views.
What Obama's endorsement of same—sex marriage has done is shine a very bright light on these differences. It was a decision to reject the continued micro-targeting of messages — the “wink—wink" approach favored by political operatives of both parties — in favor of the very public, very robust debate envisioned by the founders.
It's a debate worth having. I just hope the founders weren't overly optimistic.
- Written by Melissa
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Considering “Gay Marriage”
- Written by Scott
The issue of marriage equality is currently a hot topic. Political leaders, celebrities and proponents from many disciplines are publicly lending their support in favor of equal treatment, and admirably so. These people are making the headlines. These headlines, however, are illustrating a growing trend. Everybody’s calling it “gay marriage.” I’m asking, by using the phrase “gay marriage,” are we advancing the cause in search of equality? We must remember; we are pursuing marriage equality as a human right, not as a gay right.
We are all familiar with the fact that “gay” used to mean “happy” in everyday language. The meaning of the word has undergone notable change. It means something completely different to its traditional definition. And some of us are fond of our “traditional definitions.” Just ask any marriage equality opponent. “It has always been between a man and a woman,” they’ll tell you to justify their opposition. Is it ironic then that the word “gay” can illustrate how definitions can change? Possibly, and perhaps inadvertently we’re taking it too far with our “gay marriage” campaign.
It is worth considering that phrasing it “gay marriage” may be operating to strengthen the illusion that some narrow minds are under. Those same minds see equality as a threat. They think the institution of marriage is in danger. What they don’t understand is that marriage won’t change. What will change is who enjoys the privilege and legal right to enter it. Our celebrated institution will remain the same. It will simply be available to us all, regardless of sexual orientation, to guard our committed love with the law. We won’t have “gay marriages.” We’ll have marriages, just like now.
Federal appeals court won't revisit California's Prop 8; gay marriage ban likely headed to US Supreme Court
- Written by Administrator
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 in February that the ban discriminated against gays and lesbians and served no purpose other than to “lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians.” It rejected the key argument by ban supporters that Prop 8 furthered "responsible procreation." Prop 8 backers appealed the ruling to the full 9th Circuit, which on Tuesday declined to review it with a larger panel of 11 judges. That clears the way for Prop 8 backers to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. They have 90 days to do so.
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The Science of "Gaydar"
- Written by Administrator
"GAYDAR" colloquially refers to the ability to accurately glean others' sexual orientation from mere observation. But does gaydar really exist? If so, how does it work?
Our research, published recently in the peer-reviewed journal PLoS ONE, shows that gaydar is indeed real and that its accuracy is driven by sensitivity to individual facial features as well as the spatial relationships among facial features.
We conducted experiments in which participants viewed facial photographs of men and women and then categorized each face as gay or straight. The photographs were seen very briefly, for 50 milliseconds, which was long enough for participants to know they'd seen a face, but probably not long enough to feel they knew much more. In addition, the photos were mostly devoid of cultural cues: hairstyles were digitally removed, and no faces had makeup, piercings, eyeglasses or tattoos.
Even when viewing such bare faces so briefly, participants demonstrated an ability to identify sexual orientation: overall, gaydar judgments were about 60 percent accurate.
Since chance guessing would yield 50 percent accuracy, 60 percent might not seem impressive. But the effect is statistically significant — several times above the margin of error. Furthermore, the effect has been highly replicable: we ourselves have consistently discovered such effects in more than a dozen experiments, and our gaydar research was inspired by the work of the social psychologist Nicholas Rule, who has published on the gaydar phenomenon numerous times in the past few years.
Should you trust your gaydar in everyday life? Probably not. In our experiments, average gaydar judgment accuracy was only in the 60 percent range. This demonstrates gaydarability — which is far from judgment proficiency.
But is gaydar real? Absolutely.
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Letter to the editor
- Written by Melissa McMurrey
This is my letter to the editor summarizing our 4 years of pounding on the driving forces behind our unique-in-California pro-Prop8 Council Resolution, and endorsements about who to vote for in order to advance the Equality cause.
At last, the two leaders are up for reelection on Tuesday June 5.
Every vote is going to count, turnout is always low.
Please get this message to everyone in Porterville, including young adults who have never voted before, and everyone else who is registered to vote.
Make sure they vote on Tuesday, it will mean so much to turn back the tides of hate.
Thanks for letting me hijack your page for just a moment, I know I should have asked. But this is so important! :)Add a comment
A (soft) Blow to the Defense of Marriage Act
- Written by Administrator
While today's ruling is a victory for equality advocates, questions about the law's premise remain to be decided by the Supreme Court.
For the dwindling number of supporters of the Defense of Marriage Act, the Clinton-era federal law that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman, the bad news Thursday from Boston actually could have been much worse.
Yes, it's true that the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously struck down the guts of the law -- the first federal appeals court in the country to do so. The ruling declares that Section 3 of the law cannot be used to deprive lawfully-married same-sex couples of the federal rights and benefits to which lawfully married opposite-sex couples are given. The case now is styled Massachusetts v. U.S. Dep't Health and Human Services.
Yes, it's true that two of the three judges who issued Thursday's ruling are Republican appointees. Judge Michael Boudin is a nominee of the first President Bush. Judge Juan Torruella is a nominee of President Reagan. When you factor in U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro, the Nixon appointee who first struck down the law in 2010, it means that three of the four judges responsible for DOMA's current predicament are GOP infused.
And, yes, it's true, the ruling jeopardizes enforcement of the federal Marriage Act all across the country. Sure, it can still be cited (in the 1st Circuit and elsewhere) to deny same-sex couples their benefits. But those denials are more legally suspect today than they were yesterday. The Supreme Court now must resolve this conflict -- and today's decision virtually guarantees that the justices will have to act sooner rather than later.
All that is true. But the language of the 1st Circuit's 35-page ruling is no Jeremiad against DOMA or opponents of same-sex marriage. It is not something likely to be as widely quoted as other recent rulings over same-sex marriage in America. And it clearly does not purport to be the definitive or last word on the subject. We have here instead a modest ruling which accomplishes four significant things at the same time (something, not incidentally, that intermediate appellate courts are supposed to do as they funnel cases up the ladder to Washington).Continue reading at The Atlantic Add a comment
Memorial Day Mourning Discrimination of Gay and Lesbian Americans
- Written by Melanie Nathan
“‘The Constitution our son died for was intended to protect rights, not deny them.” Lori Wilfahrt
Memorial Day is a federal holiday observed annually in the United States on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the fallen Union soldiers of the Civil War. By the 20th centu Memorial Day had been extended to honor ALL Americans who have died in all wars. It is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces, regardless of sexuality.
Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers help create a sea of red white and blue by placing an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries across the Country.
This memorial day, we at GAY U.S.A. the Movie are working on post production aspects of the film which includes interviews with the the family of fallen U.S. Corp. Andrew Wilfahrt.
Here is a video commemorating Corp. Andrew Wilfahrt, which we would like to share in acknowledgment that war does not discern when it comes to sexuality, and some of those who have given their lives to this Country and the Constitution for which it stands, did so knowing they were the subject of institutionalized discrimination themselves, yet were willing to die for principals that are still caste in hope. American day to day life has fallen far short of equality for all Americans under the law. Until we apply civil laws, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, equally to all Americans, we are a country that discriminates. That must change and it must be soon.
While all Americans have a right to serve openly in the military, without regard to sexual orientation, thanks to the repeal of the ‘Don’t ask don’t tell’ law, LGBT servicemembers still suffer rampant discrimination with regard to marriage equality, green card sponsorship of binational partners or spouses and a host of other missing benefits caused by lack of equality under the civil law of the U.S.A.
Jeff Wilfahrt the father of Corp. Andrew Wilfahrt is running for Minnesota Assembly. Lori Wilfahrt speaks around the U.S.A., honoring her son’s memory. The speech seen in this video was filmed at the first OUTserve Conference in Las Vegas, 2011.Add a comment
NAACP backs same-sex marriage
- Written by Administrator
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People on Saturday announced its backing of same-sex marriage, more than a week after President Barack Obama also expressed support for the issue.
"The mission of the NAACP has always been to ensure political, social and economic equality of all people," Roslyn M. Brock, chairman of the NAACP's board of directors, said in a statement.
She added: "We have and will oppose efforts to codify discrimination into law."
Following Obama's announcement last week, speculation swirled over whether his decision would spark political backlash among some in the black evangelical community, which has traditionally been against same-sex marriage.
Continuing reading at CNNAdd a comment
Femz and Studz annual event
- Written by Melissa McMurrey
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Family Acceptance Project
- Written by Melissa McMurrey
Please help spread the word about this upcoming week of seminar's conducted by Dr. Caitlin Ryan within Tulare-Kings County.
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First meetup for LGBTQQIA
- Written by Melissa
I’d like to take a moment to thank the members of our quaint Porterville community and surrounding areas who came out last night for our first meeting of LGBTQQIA. I’ll be honest in saying I had been putting off my first gathering for Gay Porterville for fear no one would show up or have an interest. However, with the turn out and support I received last night I am overjoyed, elated, and even more motivated to help get out and get our community alive and thriving.
Last night close to 20 members of our community came together at the Starbucks on the corner of Main and Olive in downtown Porterville. We were welcomed with open arms by the shift leader and staff of Starbucks along with smiles and waves from onlookers. We discussed ideas to help strengthen our community and brainstormed ways we can help make that vision happen. Some of the ideas that came about were a LGBTQ sports teams such as volleyball and bowling. An LGBTQ reading book club, talks of a choir, even talks of ASSIST training through Suicide Prevention Task Force came about. Many wonderful ideas spawned from last night’s meeting.
I formed Porterville LGBTQQIA as a platform for our community to be heard and an opportunity for networking. I intend to make this an ongoing weekly meet up group.
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Safe Zone Sticker Project
- Written by Melissa
If you are a Porterville College student or ever find yourself on campus you may come across some new stickers being placed on windows and doors of some Porterville College faculty. These stickers represent a safe space for people of the LGBTQ community including allies and those questioning.
These faculty members are allies of the LGBTQ community. They have the shoulders to lean on, the ears to listen and the resources to help point you in the right direction, if needed.
With the brilliant idea of Porterville resident Jamie Garza; some of the faculty members have graciously agreed to post their picture on the pride club’s Facebook page stating they are a safe space.
I am looking to grow this project within the city of Porterville itself. If you or someone you know is willing to list themselves as a safe space (preferably a trained professional or has some equivalent experience) please contact me for further information.
Please "like" Porterville College Pride on Facebook. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to the faculty members who have stepped up to the plate and the members of Pride at Porterville College who have helped build this safety net on campus.Add a comment