Sunday, October 31, 2010

Harry Hay and Don Slater: Two Views on Homosexuality from Pioneer Friends and Parallels with the Tea Party and the Founders of America

If it is worthwhile and even important to try to learn how this nation was founded and who the founders were and how they thought about the government they were establishing (Constitution/Bill of Rights) then it is equally important for citizens to know how and why a movement was started go gain civil/equal rights for homosexual Americans, and who the founders were and what they thought about homosexuality.

This civil rights movement is easy to document, and primary sources still exist with a few of the founders and historical material of their work and ideas. 

Each year there are more books written about the founding of America and the founders.  But there has been no such historical interest in the founders of this movement, even though issues of homosexuality are in the pages of most newspapers, and on tv talk shows and in the halls of Congress.

Why is there no interest in knowing the people who started a movement that was successful in about 50 years and continues to add success each year, despite opposition from bigots?  In a few cases, people working in this movement also worked in the black or women’s civil rights movements, including Dr. King’s co-worker, Bayard Rustin.  It should be worth knowing how Harry Hay, Dale Jennings, et al., started, in secret, the first organization, Mattachine (the foundation) in 1950, during the worst of times, the McCarthy anti-communist era when homosexuality was “joined” with communism to gain political power.  The irony is that most of the founders had been Communists but were kicked out of the party because of their sexuality—and thus they started this movement which has thrived while the Communist Party has essentially died.  But it is important to know that after early Mattachine was so wildly successful, with meetings all over Los Angeles and then California, it was “killed” and was reborn (the Society)  by Hal Call, et al., in San Francisco, by conservatives.

But before this happened in 1953, part of the organization had separated in 1952 to become the public voice, and publish a magazine, and thus under conservatives (Don Slater, Dorr Legg, et al) was born the first homosexual magazine, ONE, social service organization, educational work-with classes (and ONE Institute and Quarterly), some of the first homosexual books (Homosexuals Today, Game of Fools) and public lectures and legal efforts (a lawsuit against the Post Office that went to, and was barely won in, the U. S. Supreme Court (1958).

Like a new current book on America’s founders,  Madison and Jefferson, in which we again learn how the founders were able to work together while having different views on how america should be governed, a book should be written about how the pioneers of this movement also worked together, while having different views on homosexuality, how to change society, etc.

The two major views were important because they were so different.  The first was that of Harry Hay, covered in an article in one of the major glbt publications trying to discuss serious issues, The Gay & Lesbian Review, of January/February, 2008).  The author, Douglas Sadownich (and Chris Kilbourne) make the point perfectly before writing a word, by quoting Harry himself:  “We are a separate people, with, in several measurable respects, a rather different window, a different consciousness which may be triggered into being by our sexuality.”  There can be no exaggeration of the importance of Harry, and his views still exist, and his work is added to in the current issue of the Review by a co-worker, Don Kilhefner, discussing another organization/work harry co-founded, the Radical Faeries.

This view was welcomed by closet cases and bigots since it fit the stereotype that we are different, exotic and not like the majority.  

The second view was that of the ONE founders, mainly Don Slater and Dorr Legg.  Their view was based partly on the work of Dr. Kinsey and Dr. Hooker.  They took the view that this is not a lifestyle but a sex act, and all we needed was the right to privacy and we didn’t care what others thought but they should not be allowed to vote about our civil rights, especially if they based their views on some religious doctrine.  And further, we did not want to be separate—it was only society that forced us to be a minority by passing laws against us.  (This is also the view taken by a decision of the U. S. Supreme Court in a Colorado case.)  We sought integration, not ghettos.

This is relevant to issues of the Tea Party people. What authority the government has over our personal lives is what the Constitution and Bill of Rights say.  Don Slater said the legal people should re-read the Ninth Amendment.

The one point that has to be made, to newly “out” people and young homosexual men and women, is that, whether or not  they know it or like it, how they live today is based on the work and views of both Harry Hay and Don Slater.  Even though they disagreed on what they both considered basic issues, they always worked together on the major efforts, and from the start to the day they died, they loved and admired each other.  And they worked; they didn’t sit in meetings talking about terminology and making up academic words and phrases such as “gay identity,” “deconstructionism,” “gay essentialism,” “social construction,” etc.

Our rights do not depend on why we are or if we could change; they are granted to us as individual citizens. It is time for Americans to stop trying to “understand” us but to understand why some people seem to hate us and have a personal interest in denying us our rights.

And our cause will continue to become even more successful if young people and citizens interested in all citizens having equal right join us.  It is strange to hear some young people be so skeptical of politics and the ability to gain our goals.  Some even think we have gotten everything we needed—full (or close enough) equality.  The facts don’t support this—as suicides and bar raids in 2010 prove.  And to those who think we have not made positive changes over the years, I suggest they get in a time machine and go back and live in 1950.  

I say the same thing to some Tea Party people who want to go back to yesterday, when their kind were so happy and gay.  That is because they were in control, a clear majority, and thus benefitted from the way things were.  Let them try living in 1950 as a black or a homosexual citizen—and to do without the technology we have today.

Homosexual citizens and Tea Party citizens actually have the same problem with government: it is too involved in our personal lives.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Letter to the Botts Collection in Houston

Dear Larry Criscione:

I am happy, even gay, to hear from you and that you are working to save that material.  That you say some was harmed in the storm is an example of  what we have worried about all these years—as there have been at least a dozen (not all glbt) archives harmed by weather, fire, etc, or just general falling apart.

And your work is an example of why most of our lgbt archives/libraries have little time to communicate with each other.  We are working with the few volunteers we have.

In the discussion with other people, including those in Houston, we have for years tried to decide what the best answer is to how to preserve and USE the material we have that documents this civil rights movement, which since it only started in 1950 makes it easier than those of the women’s or black Americans’.

We at ONE/HIC, before the separation and after, were at first a magazine and educational organization but knew that while we were making history the library would be valuable long after we were gone.  And we hoped that other people and groups would join the work, which history shows they have done more than could have been dreamed.

We knew the best way would be to have control of our material, but that needed an endowment which we never got.  There was a tax-exempt part formed (ISHR) but its  money was, sadly, wasted over legal fighting.

After the deaths of the three main people at ONE, Dorr Legg, Don Slater, and Jim Kepner, there was an effort made to rejoin all the material that had  been saved by the then three separate parts of the original ONE.  Two, ONE (Legg) and IGLA (Kepner) joined and now still exist as ONE Archives which this month were donated to the USC Library.  We at the HIC (Slater) tried to rejoin but had again disagreements and have now placed our material at the library at Cal State Northridge, where it is safe-the library was rebuilt after an earthquake so is partly underground.

Another example of a collection that chose the same answer is the Tretter Collection at the University of Minnesota—which is hosting an exhibit of the collection this November, thus showing that one fear we had did not happen-that a library would not want to use the material.

Others have been able to get space from local glbt centers—such as in Philadelphia, (William Way) or have separate housing, such as in Chicago (Gerber Hart) or Fort Lauderdale (Stonewall) or Quatrefoil (Minneapolis/St Paul).  A Few own their own building—obviously needing much income—such as Lesbian Herstory in New York.

So we chose the middle way: the material is housed at a university, but we have some control and keep adding and can host events, etc.

The obvious problem you know well is that we still need community/movement support from the local glbt media and organizations to not only donate their material but urge support of their members.  Young people have to learn why our history is important.  That is why we need to reach lgbt organizations at the universities.  It is interesting that people will not donate to a library if they have to give through a church.  I would think MCC needs an archive itself.

Your work is important and is not done by any other part of our community/movement.  Supporting our work is no competition to the work of their groups, such as legal, religious, social service, etc.  We need to get people to understand this.  Hopefully college students will learn and join the work.  And people can give time when they retire.  So I think we will just have to work in the meantime.  So best wises and we can keep exchanging ideas and news.

I have a colorful card with pictures of material in the collection (from the Libraries at the University of Minnesota, Archives and Special Collections) announcing an exhibition of the Tretter Colletion November 5th.  It will be on display till February 5, 2011.

It seems, if I understand it, there will also be a community open house that includes music by the minnesota Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Group (November 13th).  that is great.

there will be guided tours of archival caverns.  There will be a time capsule-not sure new or old.

It is the 10th Anniversary of the kcollection coming to the university.

Jean-nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies

Events are at elmer L. Andersen library, 222 21st Avenue South, Minneapolis.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Visit the State Fair before you decide what you think about America

(An Editorial to the Shreveport Opinion)

People seem to think about their country by what it is like the moment they go to vote.  Young people can be excused for this ignorance.  Old people can not.  Anyone who says that we need to “take our country back” or want to go back to the good old days must be  WASP—White Anglo-Saxon Protestant.  And a moment spent thinking about what it was like in the 1940s and what it is like today will show any intelligent person why that “view” is stupid and unAmerican.

To prove this, go visit your State Fair.  Perhaps yours may not be like mine was (and is), but here is what should make any American proud—by being at the Fair in the those good old days and now.

Then we did have a parade downtown, high school bands from all over the area came, marched and then spent the day enjoying the fair—meeting members of the other bands.  The food was good, as it is now.  And there was a college football game, which we couldn't have seen otherwise.  But the exhibits were more “interesting” then, the rides more exciting.  Why?  Because then we didn’t have TV and constant entertainment.  We see football games, and all sports 24 hours a day.  Then it was fun to make the trip to the Fair, which took hours for some of us.  Today it takes an hour at most to get there, on 4 lane highways.  And downtown is dead.  No bands.

And all those exhibits are on tv 24 hours a day, selling products you order online.

But the most important change from those days to today is in people.  There was a day when if a black American had shown up at the gate of the Fair, they could hve caused a riot—white people would have been shocked that a black person would not know that there was a day set aside for the Colored people to enjoy the fair, just as the balcony of theaters were set aside for black moveigoers.  Today most people don't go to theaters; they watch movies on TV, etc.

As I walked around the Fair yesterday, with all sorts of people, I thought about how different they were from their grandparents who walked that Fair in the 1940s.  How do you explain the fact that today black Americans, and all Americans, are walking and eating and riding together and  no one gives a second thought about that fact?  How did such a drastic change in society happen?

Politicians could wonder how to “reach” all those possible voters.  And I doubt any of those thousands of people thought about the fact that they were all there, without regard to religious beliefs, political views, just as we drive the highways of America and don’t worry about the sex or race or sexual proclivities of the other millions driving next to us—only that they know how to drive and obey the laws.

But we should think about it, and be proud of it.  We changed, for the better, and each decade the nation is getting more just and more like the nation the founders dreamed of.  Our greatness is based on our diversity.  We don't have ghettos now.  We don't make a certain race or religious group have to come to the Fair at a certain time.

But we have no problem with any race or religion if they agree to follow the same rules everyone else does.  They can dress “funny,” as some think Pentecostal women, or the Amish do.  But any “cultural” choice can not harm our nation—so no dress can hide a person so that they can not be identified.  We think of that about Muslims, but we also thought about that about Elvis.  Some thought he was a threat to our way of life.  

And as I left the Fair I passed a large group of Indians, from India, dressed as they do in India, and I think of how the other thousands of Fairgoers were dressed, mostly in blue jeans and shorts—and I think that, without losing their cultural diversity, America is better today because of blue jeans.  But I also thought about the fact that the mayor of the town is a black man, as is the President of the United States, AND the governor the state is an Indian—as in, from India.  

It is common sense to dress according to our climate, not the climate in some other nation, and with washing machines we don’t have to worry about getting food on us as we walk around the fair with all other Americans, enjoying the Fair today, and we should be proud that is is NOT like the Fair of the 1940s.

We as  nation are better than we were in the 1940s.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Letter in current issue of Lesbian Connection

I thought of you and your work with kinship when I read some thoughts in the Nov/Dec 10 issue of Lesbian Connection—sent for our library/movement work/info—and hope I understood it correctly.  (I read too fast sometimes, and too many different things each day and worry about the things I am not seeing and hearing about.)

If I understand it a lesbian couple met first years ago at church camp when they were about 16. They met again years later  when one was a student minister (1987) in rural Alberta CA at a conference, and the other was there as a social justice worker with youth.

Now they have been parents and have won a trip to the Grand Caymans for an article on how they met (in Homemakers Magazine, online essay).  The problem is that there is a sexual question about the Islands, but they have been assured it is okay, and they will not have trouble for their sexuality.  (Kim McKellar, of Lions Head, ON, CA doesn't say what church involved.)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Religion in America: History Relevant to Today

If someone is really interested in understanding the relationship of religion and government, there are two current resources that seem to be objective in giving information that helps citizens learn what the nation's founders thought and what is thought today.  And the issue is relevant to the discussion of slavery and how black Americans today feel about homosexuality and how homosexuality and slavery are covered in the Bible—and indirectly how the issue of separation of church and state is something some churches don't understand until they oppose the church which might be supported by the government, in this case Islam.

Radical Christians keep saying that this is a Christian nation and we need to “return” to having religion control the government.  Yet according to two current resources this is not true.  And it is complicated, which is why bigots don't take the time to understand the facts but just “want” something to be true, like Stephen Colbert’s “truthiness.”

The first resource, discussed recently on C-SPAN’s BookTV, is a book by Thomas Kidd, religion professor at Baylor University, discussed at Indiana Wesleyan University. The book is God of Liberty, Religious History of the American Revolution, if I remember it correctly.  The issue is “civil religion.”  Many early settlers brought religion with them but were just as narrow minded about it as others were in the nations they left.  And some states had an established church, mostly Anglican.

The terrible fact is that early “Christians” killed Native American Indians, trying to force them to become Christian.  And in a state where one religion dominated, other religions were persecuted, much as Islam persecutes other religions today.  An example is how the Iroquois were killed when they refused to become Christian.

In both resources we learn much about Thomas Jefferson that we did not understand.  He was not anti-religion and helped Baptists gained equal rights, which led to his proclaiming the wall of separation of church and state (Danbury Baptists).  But he did reject much of the Bible and made his own version of it.  In the election of 1800 he was accused of being anti-god and an atheist.  The goal was no coercion to a religion but no hostility to religions.  Often religious terms were thrown about by politicians but did not reflect their true feelings-most were Deists.

When the effort was made to reject an established church-which meant everyone had to pay taxes to support the one “established” the leaders opposed this and said that if no force, people would soon not be “religious.”  The irony is that today, in this nation that supports NO religion, all religions thrive and it is a great example of free enterprise and competition and capitalism.

Religion was thought to give stability to society, but too often divided citizens.  And it could be said that people began to “worship” the nation and it was civil spirituality that gave the nation the support it needed to become strong.  Some have said that efforts like the event sponsored by Glenn Beck is proof that today we have a civil religion.  That is the background of 4th of July celebrations, etc.

It is interesting that religion affected how people thought about the idea of the new nation becoming independent.  John Wesley and others did not favor this.  Some quoted the Bible to say citizens owed allegiance to the government, in this case England.  Divine right of kings, etc.  Each side thought “God was on their side,” as became true later in the Civil War.  Both sides had preachers quoting the Bible to prove their cause was just.

But the fact is that we have a godless constitution.  Deliberately.  And to pretend the founders were evangelical is nonsense.  See Benjamin Franklin, for instance. But people with all views were able to work together to get the Constitution and start the Revolution.  It was something like classical republican Greece.  The fact is that the founders were politicians, like politicians today.  They preached equality of all men, but the only “equal” citizens were male property owners.  The majority of citizens were second class—poor men, women, slaves, etc.

The question of where equality comes from was not settled then, nor has it been settled now—does it come from a creator or from all citizens?

The second resource is a documentary currently showing on PBS, titled God In America, giving the history of how religion has been thought of in America.  It covers such issues as how each new wave of immigrants brought their own religions and beliefs with them and usually had problems with the prevailing citizens.  Examples were when many Catholics started coming, as they are today from Mexico, and then Jews from Europe.  Most integrated and made essential changes to survive in America.  The basic question then and now is how much essential beliefs had to be kept and how cultural additions to the religion had to change.  Jews came from nations that forced them into ghettos, controlling their civil lives.  They adjusted to America where they were free and equal, and no longer lived in ghettos.  An issue relevant to homosexual citizens.

As to how black Americans have been treated, based on religion, is a sad situation.  While the Abolitionists were religious, the major religions supported slavery and at the time of the Civil War they separated and churches in the south supported slavery.  It is sad and strange to hear sermons from white preachers and politicians in the south of that time quoting scripture from the Bible to prove that slavery was their god's will.  Today, the same preachers, joined by now free black preachers quote scripture  to 'prove" their god disapproves of homosexuality.

Common sense tells us that in all our nation's life politicians have been the same,and they say what they think will get them elected and power.  Too often the more a politician or preacher talks against something, he or she is guilty of that “sin.”  The more a politician talks about their religious beliefs, the less godly they are. And when some “religious” voters say that their god ordained the president they like, they then say the devil gave them the president they don’t like.  Preachers said their god ordained the Civil War.  The problems is that both the north and south said this, and it was hard for the south to explain when they lost the war—why their god had failed them.

The one important issue that neither resource seems to answer is the eternal question of how a “true” religious person acts in a nation where they are able to help guide the government.  It doesn't matter in a nation where the citizen has no voice-such was probably the time of Jesus, and in most of history.  So, even as such people as Billy Graham said in this time, the effort is made to spread the gospel and save people, and they in turn can make the nation/society better.  But the rule was, give unto Caesar what is his and to God what is His.  So the question is, can a religious person then support a politician or law they object to on religious grounds—when they are one and the same?  That is where religion and America have a problem.

A sincere person may kill a physician who does abortions, or someone they think is homosexual, because their religion tells them both are wrong.  But can a nation survive when each religion says different things and can any citizen kill any other that they think are sinful?  That is what our nation still faces.  There are citizens who simply don't believe a black person should be president and will do and say anything to prevent it.  There are citizens who believe they have a right to use drugs and will defy laws that prevent it.  And during the civil rights efforts of black Americans, laws were violated because they were unjust and unconstitutional. You can have no respect for a law or law’s agent when the law takes away your civil rights, and the enforcers join others and kill you for trying to gain that guaranteed equality. 

So there are no answers in these resources or most religious spokespersons or politicians. The answer is that the founders dreamed of and tried to set us on the path to: a nation of laws, not men or religions.  Through laws based on common sense, such as the Bill of Rights, citizens demanded of the government, a government of their consent.  I truly hope that we are getting closer to that goal every generation.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Why a homosexual graduate does not support LSU

I wonder how many glbt graduates of LSU have contacted you and the various disciplines there offering to help give resources to the coverage of homosexuality.

I over the years have made such offers, to the library, sociology department, psychology, etc.  I find it makes me have doubts about the education students get when the professors reject serious offers from people who have first-hand knowledge of subjects.  I am, to quote a professor at Centenary College, a primary source on the history of the movement to gain equal rights for homosexual Americans.  I have been discussed in two major books, Before Stonewall, edited by Dr. Vern Bullough, and Pre-Gay L. A. by Dr. C. Todd White.  I have worked with the founders of the movement, most  no longer with us.  One of my co-workers did the first book on how to cover the issue in the various disciplines (Dorr Legg, Homophile Studies) based on his work, the first in the world on developing courses on aspects of homosexuality.

Yet to my knowledge the library, and the professors in these departments, have never heard of any of this history.  That means LSU is not a first-rate university.  The material saved from our work in is two universities now, at USC  and Cal State Northridge in Southern California, where this movement began in 1950-something too many “academics” don't know—they have only heard of Stonewall, because that is what the popular media has heard about.  So students will not know the most important information about the best documented of the three major civil rights movements in America.

And since I have a personal interest in supporting education that is competent and ethical, I see nothing to suggest that LSU fits that category.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

How GLBT media covers issues/RE: Press Pass Q, October 2010

Thanks for the good report on the 20th anniversary meeting of NLGJA.

Sarah Blazukie is right—and she hits the issue from the start of our movement when she says that lgbt journalists present a view of news that the general media does not.  Harry Hay said that we have a different view, which may not be better but sure does spot [a devil] sooner than most lazy general reporters, etc. This does not mean we should not seek full integration into the national society, but that doesn't mean we will not be viewing life from a different perspective, until we gain full equality.

As to communication, I don't even see some publications and resources listed in Gayellow Pages—I don’t have an email for Here-Tv or Madison's paper or The Rage Monthly.

And it is hard for people who have worked in this cause for decades to "hear" a journalist/paper say that it was essentially sparked by Stonewall, in 1969 and then list various names which do not include the very founders of the movement or founders of lgbt journalism—such as harry Hay, Don Slater, etc. (current editorial in Gay & Lesbian news of San Diego)

And I also can’t understand any responsible journalist who did NOT see Karen Ocamb’s point, valid, that the newspaper played an active part, directed news, and thus helped pass Prop 8.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

San Francisco, meet Kansas: Diversity in the glbt community movement; a vast difference from when there was only ONE

Perhaps I don’t need to worry, but I do, that the people in our community/movement are unaware of all the great diversity of people, ideas, services we have.  I sure don't see all the newspapers, or know of what is going on at all the centers or what the lgbt journalists are doing or the glbt medical doctors, etc.  And even with the internet and Gayellow Pages, do young people know what is there for them?

And do the leftist glbt people in San Francisco know about the middle-of-the road glbt people in Kansas?  Who among us reads both Liberty Press and Ultraviolet?  Many people see the major city newspapers, such as Washington Blade, Philadelphia Gay News, Windy City Times, but what about small town and narrow interest publications and resources?

I think it is interesting to know what is in Kansas right now—it sure wasn’t there a few years ago, and this is a a sign of how well our community/movement is doing.  The two universities are very active in lgbt issues, several have resource centers, and Wichita State University now has queer courses.  There is a lgbt archive at KU.  And a professor at KSU has written a book exploring Two-Spirit literature in northwest native groups.  (Lisa Tatonetti,  Queering American Indian Literature: The Rise of contemporary Two-Spirit Texts and Criticism)  She co-edited Sovereign Erotics:  A Collection of Contemporary Two-Spirit Literature, which the University of Arizona Press will publish Spring of 2011.

And Wichita has the Tallgrass Film Festival, and  other cities, such as Shreveport, now have such events.  And I have never heard of a comic strip mentioned in Liberty Press, “Little Scottie” by Scott Winer and Todd Pickrell.  It is reported that now the Wichita Eagle publishes same-sex wedding announcements-poor Fred Phelps.   But good for him, not so good for us, (Prof) Bob Minor, of Minor Details, is retiring at KU.  (Dr. Minor is a Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas, after 33 years.) But will continue his good work.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, LAGAI_QI's UltraViolet says that an organization called Against Equality is hitting the road to talk bout the over emphasis in the community/movement on marriage.  They have an anthology, Against Equality:  Queer Critiques of Gay Marriage, has articles by such people as Jon D'Emilio, Kate Bornstein,Yasmin Nair and others.  The “tour” began in Portland ME, October 2.  They are going to Washington D. C. and Chicago (October 9th) and will cover the West coast this winter.  There is discussion of why burning the Koran is not  new thing to “Christians.”  And another “alternate view” is in the review of the movie, The Children Are All Right, saying it is too stereotyped and not a valid portrait and those making it should have done a better job.  They seem to think Palestine is being mistreated by Israel.  In “Pink Summer” they say 150 queers and allies protested the opening night of the San Francisco LGBT Film Festival (Frameline) because the Israeli consulate was a sponsor.  There was also a “Brass Liberation Orchestra” to liven things up.  Sounds like a Phelps production.  There was also a Queers Against Israeli Apartheid in Toronto.  I think they also oppose the military, I think—hard to tell.

There is also an article on the AIDS issue about vaginal gel-I think based on trails in South Africa.  It does cover the issue reported earlier in OutSmart, that a study found that commonly used lube products damaged rectal cells, possibly making users more vulnerable to HIV infection.  Dry sex is not good, so look for a lube that is isotonic or silicon based and is compatible with condom use.

While we all have limited time, it would help us psychologically maybe to glance at all these good publications around the nation.  We are truly everywhere.  And have many views on sex, politics, solutions, etc.  By communicating, we all will be better prepared to deal with our enemies.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

We are individuals, perhaps more so than most heterosexuals-and a minority because society has made us all "one."

Regarding: John Duran on the De-’Outlawing’ of West Hollywood  (to Bill Kelly and Karen Ocamb):

Where did you find this wonderful letter?  It is perfect Don Slater thinking.  We have always had the extremes in the community/movement, but we must say no to the glbt Taliban that wants to make us like everhyone else.  And the idea that hetero families want to moved to a glbt area and then change it is no different from Muslims moving to America and then trying to force us to change to their Sharia law.

The more I think of the letter and the “issue,” the more complicated it gets with the two views of  founders—Harry Hay and Don Slater.  It seems to me that they would have the same view on this.  Yet their disagreed on the issue of integration versus being different-outsiders, the “canary in the mine”—seeing things first and differently because of our not being like heteros on the basic issue of sex.

You were right that it is a national-generic problem. To get people to like us, we are told to conform-which defeats the very purpose of the movement—according to Don Slater, the right of any American to his/her privacy.  It is no one else's business what we think or who we have sex with.  But it is interesting that in a sense “we” have taken over some parts of a city and made it a good place to live and then non-homosexuals see how good it is and move in and then try to force us to change to fit their views, which views didn't seem to make where they lived before as good as the way we made the area.  (Not sure how to say this better.)

But this is not a bigoted problem. The same thing, I was told long ago in some class—I think it was a sociology class on housing around Baton Rouge while we toured to see some of them—we tend to take our errors with us.  The example was many people being told, for medical reasons, to move to dry areas, especially Phoenix where the growth that gave them problems would not exist.  The people moved and soon started thinking the place would be “better” if it had a little greenery and started planting things like the place they came from.  Soon they had destroyed the very atmosphere they had moved to, making it as bad as the place they had moved from.

It is one thing for the community/movement to support those who seek the benefits of marriage.  But it wrong for those people to then use religion and societal approval (or disapproval) to say that ALL homosexuals should marry and conform.  That makes them like the Taliban—deciding what rules are best for everyone.  And killing those who disagree.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Putting in words how someone has felt working for a cause/25th celebration of the Windy City Times

I have often tried to put in words how it has fet working for a cause and with people who had the same vision. I think one of the best efforts I have seen is by Jorjet Harper in this week's issue of Windy City Times. While Tracy Baim covers well the history of the paper and the movement in the Chicago area, Harper tells how she feels, looking back at the life she led. She like many of us has material from the old days and looking through it brings back memories, of faces and names and events often forgotten but which make up your history.

As is said, it is difficult to convey how exciting it was to be in the movement a quarter of a century ago, to be in the midst of the gay and lesbian renaissance, or as is said, naissance, since nothing like it had ever happened. Memories include working on a publication, the buildings they were in, strangely similar for the Windy City Times and ONE Magazine, rundown, etc. And who today can experience the fun of clunky typesetting machines, and even the early computers. No email.

But meeting the other people working for the cause was always fun. And sometimes it was frustrating, such as the coverage of the ongoing struggle of people such as, in Harper's case, Karen Thompson's efforts on behalf of her lover, Sharon Kowalski, whose parents kept them apart after the car crash that disabled her. You wonder where all these people are today.

"Most of us who worked at WCT and Outlines lived and breathed gay and lesbian community; gay activism; and gay and lesbian culture. When we weren't actually working on specific newspaper tasks, we'd sit around the office and discuss the waves and waves of controversies that were always swirling around in the community and, in one way or another, making news."

And a point well made, this history month, "The Wikipedia article on LGBT history dismisses the 1980s as "a dismal period for homosexuals." 'Dismal' is not how I'd describe it at all." Even with AIDS the 80s were a time of enormous expansion, as had been each decade since the movement's founding in 1950. And again, something we've all felt but historians still don't get in trying to learn how this movement has worked-"But the mainstream press was still loathe to report anything about gays and lesbians except AIDS-related news." An example is the failure to cover the 1987 March on Washington. Another example given is the failure to cover the Olivia Records 15th anniversary concert at Carnegie Hall in 1988. And the pleasure of writing about the importance on James Baldwin, the most important black gay author of the 1950s and 1960s. Sitting alone in the office reviewing his history for the article, trying to tell his importance to people who might not know or be too young to remember how groundbreaking his books had been in the 960s.

"I look back almost in awe on the hope and exquisite moments of those times amid the poignancy of our great losses. It was a rare opportunity to combine activism and culture, and feel like I was contributing something tangible to the movement for LGBT rights. We felt, and we knew, that we were fighting for something that really mattered, and that we were going to win, because we had to. I feel privileged to have been not only a part of that, but one of the people to document those times as they unfolded."


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Religion, personal and the basis of the founding of our nation

In yesterday's issue of The Shreveport Times there are two columns saying that it is religion that created America and our problems are that there are people and organizations trying to take away religion, which is the basis of our success. Both columns are nonsense.

How many times do people, who seem to need to support their religious beliefs, try to find quotes, from the founders or their Bible, to 'prove" what is not true. This nation was founded by Christians, but not based on religion. For every quote someone can give us on the 'religious" beliefs of the founders, common sense can tell you two things-first that there as many quots that prove they were NOT pushing religion as the basis of the constitution, etc, AND why would someone think the politicians then were "more better, honest, etc" than politicians today. They said then, as now, what they thought the voters wanted to hear. And, like parents, they told kids to be good "or Santa Claus" wouldn't come." (Actually in some parts, they passes laws AGAINST Christmas obsevance, as being pagan oriented, but that is another story.) Religion, they were saying, is good for the masses, but they knew what it took to make a nation that would last, and the very first thing was to be sure that what they left in the old country, religious conflict and domination, did NOT happen here.

But it might be interesting to think about what Jesus would think, say and do if He were here today. For instance, would he join the Tea Party? He sure fought the establishment, he was attacking the religious leaders of his day, even using violence against the money changers in the temple. So he would probably not be happy with the bureaucrats in any political party or the leaders of religious churches. He would not be trying to save the world, he did not fight Rome or slavery only the "church." He offered salvation to individuals, hoping thus that they would inturn be better citizens and this would make a better nation. So there is no basis for wsaying Christians should force their beliefs on others. But that means that Muslims can not force Islamic laws on us either. That is why sparation of church and state is the greatest gift the founders gave us.

Religion, personal and the basis of the founding of our nation

In yesterday’s issue of The Times there are two columns saying that it is religion that created America and our problems are that there are people and organizations trying to take away religion, which is the basis of our success.  Both columns are nonsense.

How many times do people, who seem to need to support their religious beliefs, try to find quotes, from the founders or their Bible, to “prove” what is not true.  This nation was founded by Christians but not based on religion.  For every quote someone can give us on the religious beliefs of the founders, common sense can tell you two things-first that there as many quotes that prove they were NOT pushing religion as the basis of the constitution, etc, AND why would someone think the politicians then were “more better, honest, etc.” than politicians today.  They said then, as now, what they thought the voters wanted to hear.  And, like parents, they told kids to be good or Santa Claus wouldn’t come.  (Actually in some parts, they passes laws AGAINST Christmas observance, as being pagan oriented, but that is another story.)  Religion, they were saying, is good for the masses, but they knew what it took to make a nation that would last, and the very first thing was to be sure that what they left in the old country, religious conflict and domination, did NOT happen here.

But it might be interesting to think about what Jesus would think, say and do if He were here today.  For instance, would he join the Tea Party?  He sure fought the establishment, he was attacking the religious leaders of his day, even using violence against the money changers in the temple.  So he would probably not be happy with the bureaucrats in any political party or the leaders of religious churches.  He would not be trying to save the world, he did not fight Rome or slavery only the “church.”  He offered salvation to individuals, hoping thus that they would int urn be better citizens and this would make a better nation.  So there is no basis for saying Christians should force their beliefs on others.  But that means that Muslims can not force Islamic laws on us either.  That is why separation of church and state is the greatest gift the founders gave us.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Suicide

by Kevin Caruso

"I always knew that I was gay. I also remember seeing heterosexual couples and knowing that I wasn't like them. I would get very depressed about not being like other kids. Many times I would take a kitchen knife and press it against my chest, wondering if I should push it all the way in," said Alex, a 14-year-old gay youth.

And innumerable lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trangender (LGBT) youths have similar feelings.
Many do not feel safe to "come out" with their orientation because countless LGBT youths have been rejected by their families or friends, verbally abused, phsysically abused, or bullied as a result.
This intolerance against the LGBT community is rooted in ignorance.
Ignorant people cannot accept others that are not like them. And they do not understand that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trangender people do not "choose" their orientation -- they are born lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, just like some people are born with white skin and others are born with black skin.

Adolescence is a very difficult stage for anyone to go through. But lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders have the added difficulty of coping with this ignorance -- and the intolerance, discrimination, hate and rejection that often accompanies it.

It is difficult difficult to fully research LGBT youth suicide because many young lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders have not "come out." But studies indicate that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. And those who are rejected by their family are up to nine times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers.

And the discrimination, ignorance, and intolerance that members of the LGBT community experience when they are young continue into adulthood.

If you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, and need help, please reach out. There are many resources available.

And please remember that the people who are ignorant and insensitive are the ones with the problems -- not you! Stay away from them, and surround yourself with caring and supportive people. But take steps to protect yourself, your rights, your feelings, and your physical and mental health.

If you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, and are suffering from depression or are suicidal, please go to the Home Page of this website and get help immediately.
Or call The Trevor Hotline, which is a 24-hour toll-free suicide prevention line aimed at lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youths:

And please read the following articles for more infromation on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered suicide:
Suicide Note of a Gay Teen
Joshua Melo Memorial -- Joshua, 15, Died by Suicide After Being Incessantly Bullied Because Some Cowards Believed That He Was Gay
Hate Against Gays and Lesbians can Lead to Murder and Suicide -- Remembering Matthew Sheppard and John French
I Want to Kill Myself: A Suicide Survivor Shares Her Suicidal Feelings and Suicide Attempt

Take care of yourself,
Kevin Caruso