Wanda Sykes Came Out!

I know this is "old" news by now, but in case you missed it, Wanda Sykes officially came out during an LGBT equality demonstration in Las Vegas on Saturday, November 15. The demonstration was one of many protests following the passing of Prop 8 in California on election night.

Sykes has been rumored to be gay for awhile now, but has not discussed the issue publicly until now. Watch her coming out speech here:

TransAmerica - TONIGHT!

LGBTV Presents...
TransAmerica
TONIGHT - Friday, November 21
7pm @ LGBTQ Center (CC 235)
One week before her sex-change operation, Bree receives a call from a 17-year-old identifying himself as her son from a college liaison.  Bree's psychiatrist won't approve the surgery until Bree deals with this relationship, so Bree flies to New York City, bails the youth out of juvenile detention, and offers him a ride back to Los Angeles without disclosing that she is his father.  Both her plans and his go awry, and as secrets will out, what might become a friendship (or more) founders.  The lad's step-father, a sex-change support group, a peyote eater, a Navajo wrangler, and Bree's family all play their parts in this exploration of family, gender, and expectations.

A Spectrum of Possibilities

(Posted by Nick, '11)
Before coming to Vassar my perception of the world was one of general dichotomies.  You were either male or female; white or black; gay or straight.  There were no "in-betweens" allowed.  Of course, I was raised (and still identify as) Catholic, so one could easily see why this was.  Since then, my view of the world has been forever altered.  I no longer take for granted the gender binary perpetuated by heteronormative society.  I recognize that people can identify their gender as truly anything under the sun, and who are we to question it?  We should be more concerned with an individual's comfort in their own skin rather than society's comfort with how they identify.  Just because the majority of the world falls under the male and female labels doesn't mean that we should discriminate against or somehow illegitimize those that identify outside or somewhere in between those labels.  What truly solidified my "new" perception of the world was Dominic's (LGBTQ Center Assistant) presentation last night, "A Place to Call Home."  Topically concerned with being born and living in a state of intersex, it truly opened my eyes to a whole segment of the population (1 in 2000) that did not choose to be intersex, and had no control over how they were born.  How can people be so cruel as to make fun of and discriminate against aspects of a person that they have no control over?  We learned about this in sociology - social "abnormality" no matter if one has control over it, breeds social hatred.  It's an embarrassing truth about humanity - historically, we hate those that are different from us. 
My altered perception of gender also extends to sexuality - I now recognize that one's orientation no longer has to be gay/bisexual/straight.  There's a whole spectrum of sexuality that exists, and for us to discriminate against someone if their sexuality doesn't ascribe to social "norms" goes against the notion that America is the land of the free and the home of the brave.  Committing hate crimes against someone because of their orientation is not a brave act and certainly sends the message that all are not free to express themselves.  Society has a long way to go before universal equality is recognized for all citizens of the United States and the world, but I think if more people come to have a more open mind and see things like gender and sexuality as a spectrum rather than as defined labels, we can take a huge step towards it.

Good News for California!

Court will hear appeal of same-sex marriage measure.

Upcoming Events!

Sorry for the lack of posting on here this week...I ended up getting one of the Vassar sicknesses going around and have been unable to function for the past couple days. Let me do my best to catch you up on some upcoming events though...

Wednesday, November 19
5-6:30pm in Faculty Commons
A Place to Call Home
An exploration of what it means to be intersex in the Vassar community and the world. A journey of breaking down the boundaries of sex, gender, and sexual orientation to find community.
FREE PIZZA and Refreshments!


Thursday, November 20
12-1pm in LGBTQ Center (CC 235)
Fruit Salad! Transgender Panel
A panel of people from the Mid Hudson Valley Transgender Association will share their stories.
FREE PIZZA!
Part of our Fruit Salad! series about diversity in the queer community.

QCVC Presents...
Kiss Me and Betray Me: Queer musings on gods, sacred texts, and power
Thursday, November 20
5pm in Rocky 300
Presented by: The Rev. Edgard Francisco Danielsen-Morales, Ph.D.
They say the name of God is sacred, the Scriptures are sacred, and the church is sacred. This truth has been revealed and it is this revelation what supports the three most common arguments in religious debates about social justice: “God says…” “The Bible says…” “The Church says…”

This is what we have heard: to be faithful to God we must receive this revelation with a kiss and embrace it.

Not anymore!

During this event – part lecture, part workshop, and part discussion – the presenter and attendees will engage in a conversation about the calling of queer people in this postmodern era: to kiss and to betray in order to be faithful. It is time to desacralize what has been made sacred.

The attendees will kiss and betray ideas of God, the Bible, and the church. They will do this by exploring the connections between revelation and power, by doing an exercise on queer reading of a Sacred Text, and by engaging in queer god-talk connecting various dimensions of social justice, spirituality, and sexuality.

“To be queer is to desacralize what has been made sacred
for the sake of the powers of this world.”
Marcella Althaus-Reid, Latin American Theologian

Hate Crime in Upstate NY

(Posted by Nick, '11)
New reports are surfacing today that 22-year-old Moses Cannon (known as Latiesha Green) of Syracuse, NY was shot and killed over the weekend because she was living as a transgender woman.

Full story here.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

(Posted by Loghann, '10)
This coming Thursday, November the 20th, is the tenth annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.

The Day of Remembrance began in 1999 in reaction to the murder of Rita Hester. It became a day to remember all those slain in the year since the last DoR because of their variant gender identity or gender expression. Traditionally, ceremonies are held across the country on this day in which the names of the deceased are read aloud during a candlelight vigil.

This year's list contains names that may be familiar, such as 15 year old Lawrence King, or 18 year old Angie Zapata. Just last Sunday, November 9th, Duanna Johnson was found murdered in Memphis, TN. As it stands now, 23 names will be read aloud at candlelight vigils across the country next week. These are only the people we know about, with only 12 states including gender identity in their hate crime laws.

This is the second year I've been involved in doing some sort of awareness campaign for the Day of Remembrance. It's easy to become numb to hate crime statistics, to not feel anything when you read a name on a list. But these people were real. They laughed, they cried, they loved. I have no idea what Duanna Johnson was doing last Friday night, but now she's gone. Lawrence King was 15 years old when his 14 year old classmate shot him. My brother is 15 and I can't imagine losing him.

Too see the complete list of people who have been murdered in the past year, check out this website: www.transdgenderdor.org . Tune into this blog throughout the week while we profile the personal stories of a select few.

(all information taken from www.transgenderdor.org)

Time For a Harry Potter Geek-Out

(Posted by Nick, '11)
OK PEOPLE!

So I'm sooooo fired up right now about HARRY POTTER because they just released the new trailer for the sixth movie today and it looks AMAZING.  Like, as good or better than the 4th one!  Which was my fave!  Also, the sixth book is my fave in the series, so hopefully the movie will live up to my expectations. =)

But what does this have to do with LGBTQ issues??  Lucky for me, Dumbledore is gay!  According to J.K. Rowling that is.  So what does that mean in terms of how we should read Dumbledore from now on when we see the movies or re-read the books?  In my opinion, our view of Dumbledore shouldn't change at all.  His sexuality doesn't play a role in the books - Rowling "outing" Dumbledore is an extratextual occurrence that has no relation to the textual world of the novels.  Dumbledore is a mentor to Harry throughout the series, and there are no scenes where he's suddenly attracted to, say, Hagrid.  It just doesn't happen.

What I do think needs to be taken into account is Rowling's decision that Dumbledore was gay in the first place.  Did she figure this out before or after she wrote the books?  The little we know about Dumbledore's personal life has nothing to do with romance, so she could say anything about it once the series was over.  Regardless, it is saying something when the most powerful and well-known author EVER decides that the mentor to her title character, who also happens to be the most powerful and well-respected wizard in the series, is gay.  What it says is that a person's sexuality, when it comes down to it, is that it isn't as big of a deal as people make it.  That we shouldn't discriminate against people because of who they love, but rather because of the decisions they make in their lives - the acts they do, good or bad.

It's good to know that the producers of the next movie, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, have taken this stance as well (from BBC NEWS):
"He's a wonderful character, Dumbledore - graceful, wise, powerful, quirky, terrific sense of humour, loves knitting.  There's a jumble of things in there and his sexuality is just another thing."

Filming on the sixth film in the franchise, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, began in September [2007], with Yates again at the helm.  But he said not to expect any changes to the way Dumbledore is portrayed on film.

"Michael Gambon hasn't changed his approach.  A person's sexuality is just one part of who they are, and so it hasn't really shifted where we're taking him."

Wanna see the trailer?  Bask in the awesomeness that is Harry Potter!

Runaway Testimonial

(Posted by Eva, '12)
Here is another story that I wrote based off of a call I received:
I have been living since my grandmother since I was two years old. I am now seventeen. Life at my grandma’s isn’t easy. She’s taken care of seven other kids on no money, there are bills to be paid and we can’t pay them, and I think they are going to start cutting off utilities. So when I heard that my mom was out of jail and had settled down, I decided to go and live with her. I didn’t discuss this with my grandmother, I just decided to go. I used all of the money I had saved to get a bus ticket (my grandmother and my mom live across the country from each other). Things seemed to be going pretty well at my mom’s house. She had married and my step-dad seemed like an ok guy. But then I made the decision to come out to my mom. I had been out back at my grandma’s and wanted to be out here too. My mom seemed to take the news ok and it looked like things were going to work out. But then my step-dad started yelling at me, calling me “fag” and the like. I could deal with the verbal abuse, but when he started to hit me I had to leave. I lived on the streets for over a week. I couldn’t go back to my mom’s house because my step-dad was there and I didn’t have any money to get back to my grandma’s. I finally ended up in a Greyhound station where I saw a poster for the National Runaway Switchboard. I called 1-800-RUNAWAY and after talking with them they helped me get a free ticket back to my grandma’s house. I learned something from running away: even if life at my grandmother’s is hard, at least she loves and accepts me and at least it is a place where I feel safe.

CT Gay Marriages Began Today!

In the wake of the devastation of Prop 8 passing in California, and the other anti-gay amendments passing in AZ, AR, and FL - today marks a landmark day for same-sex couples who are now able to legally wed in Connecticut. The first couple to get married in New Haven, CT this morning was Barbara and Robin Levine-Ritterman, one of the eight couples involved with the lawsuit against Connecticut for prohibiting gay marriage.

Other good news about the new Connecticut law is that on election day, Connecticut voters rejected the idea of a constitutional convention to amend the state's constitution -- which means no chance of a Prop 8-esque reversal of this gay marriage right.

Read the full CNN article here!

QTalk: Reader's Edition

In response to our periodic QTalk articles about the coming out experience, an anonymous reader has sent in the following to share:

(Posted by anonymous)
My mother is a great woman.

She works hard to take care of her family and friends, often going without so that her children can enjoy small pleasures. She is fiercely intelligent with an acerbic wit and easy outgoingness that I have envied much of my life. For many years she has been my closest ally in nearly everything I do and has never let me look too hard at my shortcomings or dwell too long on my failures. I could ask for no better parent.

I’m afraid to tell her that I’m queer.

Do I think she would disown me? No. Would she cut off communication, financial support, emotional stability? I don’t think so (but it’s the think that makes it so unbearable). She would simply be so terribly sad, I would hurt her beyond what I know she can handle. And I don’t want to do that. So I’m stuck, dropping hints at every turn because I can’t stand secrets, yet completely unwilling and unable to just come clean. I am fully aware that because of the nature of our relationship, the truth will come out at some point, and I dread that day.

I want to be honest. Sometimes I feel filthy when I get off of the phone with her because I could have just spit it out right there. I’ll make an excuse in my head, coming out over the phone is no way to do it, right? Right. So I’m ok. I’m ok.

This narrative reads like protection, like I’m wrapping up something sharp so she doesn’t get hurt. At what point do I have to trust that she’s an adult and can take care of herself? Where do selfishness and fear end and genuine care and concern begin? I don’t know. I wish I did.

Runaway Love

(Posted by Eva, '12)
The Ludachris Foundation created a partnership with the National Runaway Switchboard (NRS) when Ludachris decided to write the song “Runaway Love.” He not only turned to the NRS for advice when creating the song, but also included NRS in the music video and mentioned our 1-800-RUNAWAY number during televised award shows. Here is Ludachris’s video:

video

Queer Movie Options - Wednesday 11/12

There are two queer movies being shown tomorrow, Wednesday, November 12:

D.E.B.S.
8:00pm at the LGBTQ Center (CC 235)
Part of a series of movies for those who self-identify as queer women or find a place within that community. All are welcome!
Sultry crime boss Lucy Diamond is back in the states and the D.E.B.S. - an elite team of paramilitary college co-ed superspies - are hot on her trail. But when their top agent, gorgeous Amy Bradshaw, mysteriously disappears after coming face to face with the attractive young villainess, the D.E.B.S. begin a full-scale search for Lucy's secret lair, never suspecting that Amy may not want to be rescued after all, in this smart and sexy spy spoof.

German Film Series
7:30pm at Chicago Hall German Lounge

Manner Wie Wir
Ecki is a young man who works in a bakery in Dortmund and plays soccer on his local team. Already under pressure for playing badly, his homophobic team members find out that he is gay and throw him off the team. With the help of his sister and a cranky former soccer star, he tries to form an all-gay soccer squad to challenge his old team in a grudge match. Ecki's journey toward self-realization is filled with surprises, as he encounters a wide array of characters.

Keith Olbermann's Views about Prop 8

This is a bit long, but if you have 6 minutes or so, check out this commentary from Keith Olbermann about California's Proposition 8, and gay marriage in general:






P.S. Rachel Maddow is on the cover of the most recent Advocate magazine! Check out the cover story here.

National Runaway Switchboard

(Posted by Eva, '12)
Here is a little more about the National Runaway Switchboard and the services we offer.

Transgender Mayor Elected in Silverton, OR

(Posted by guest blogger Megan Habermann, Assistant Director for Campus Activities)
As a native Oregonian I am pleased to announce to the Vassar community that one of our small towns has elected the first openly transgender mayor!

Silverton, OR with a population of less than 10,000 has elected Stu Rasmussen, a 60-year-old self identified heterosexual male, who has had breast implant surgery and lives his daily life dressed as a woman. Rasmussen is a life long resident of the rural community, and won based on his platforms to keep Silverton small (for reference one of their main issues was traffic lights).

I grew up approximately 40 minutes from Silverton in Oregon City, and my only memories of the town were going there for football play-offs, and being killed by their farm boys. My mom teaches about halfway from our home and Silverton in a community where their student body president was sent death threats for being a young, gay, black man. I am the first to profile anything south of my town as being “hick” and “backwards” because incidents of hate were not uncommon. It brings me a special joy to say that I am now wrong about Silverton.

Oregon still has a long way to go on LGBTQ rights, but this is definitely a step in the right direction. I’m glad Stu is a proud resident of Silverton, and wasn’t chased out to SE Portland once he came out.

Transgendered mayor



Check out related articles here and here!

Gay Marriage IS a threat to heterosexuals!

According to this article, a straight couple in California is refusing to register their marriage with the state because of the new gender-neutral license and marriage forms. Instead of referring to the couple as "Bride" and "Groom," these new forms refer to them as "Party A" and "Party B." This language was meant to be inclusive of the same-sex couples who were able to get legally married after the state supreme court verdict in May 2008. However, Rachel Bird and Gideon Codding are personally offended by these forms and will not sign them until they read "Bride" and "Groom" again.

Without registering their marriage with the state, Bird cannot sign up for Codding's medical benefits, or legally take his name. Hmm...sounds like some problems that same-sex couples have faced for some time now huh?

Check out a blog called Gay in Public for more commentary about this article. "Gay in Public" is run by Vassar grad Geoff Wertime, '06. It is a general queer issue blog, but many posts are focused on issues pertaining to New York City and/or the Poughkeepsie area.

The Danish Girl

Nicole Kidman just signed on to play Einar Wegener, the world's first post-op transsexual, in the film The Danish Girl. This movie will be a true story adaptation of the first post-op transsexual and her marriage to Greta Wegener, who will be played by Charlize Theron.

Einar and Greta Wegener were Danish artists whose marriage took a dramatic turn after Einar (Kidman) stood in for an female model that Greta (Theron) was set to paint. When their portraits become wildly popular in 1920s Copenhagen, Greta encouraged her husband to adopt the female guise. What began as a harmless game led Einer to a metamorphosis and landmark 1931 operation that shocked the world and threatened their love.

Pre-production has begun on this film, but no date has been set for its release yet.

Runaway Testimonial

(Posted by Eva, '12)
In my time spent at the National Runaway Switchboard, there are some calls that I will never forget. This is one of them. (Note: This is based on fact, but I put it into my own words. Also, because calls are anonymous and confidential, no identifying information has been added.)

I have nowhere to go, no one to turn to. I’m a 16-year-old guy who has run away from his home. My home doesn’t even seem like home to me. We just moved here, to this small town because my mom wanted us to get a house out of the city. But all of my friends are back in the city. I haven’t been able to make any new ones here. I really haven’t had much time at all. My mom works nights and sleeps during the day so it is up to me to take care of my 6 year old brother and 7 year old sister. I get them up in the morning, I make them breakfast, lunch and dinner, I help them with their homework, I put them to bed. I spend so much time taking care of them that I barely have any time for myself. My grades at school have been slipping because of that. My mom isn’t too happy about that. She actually grounded me so that I can’t talk to my friends back in Houston. I feel so alone. What makes it worse is that, being grounded, I can’t even call my boyfriend. I miss him so much. He’s helped me so much. I wasn’t doing to well back in the city. Twice I tried to kill myself, once by starving myself and once by trying to overdose. My mom knows about the starving, but she doesn’t know about the ODing. She doesn’t care anyways. I try to talk to her sometimes but she never listens. She’s always too busy and she’s never around. She could really care less about me. Except when she gets mad at me that is. She’s hit me before. One time she slammed me into the wall so many times that I started coughing up blood. That was the first time that I ran away, but I ended up going back home so that I wouldn’t miss school. I actually cough up blood fairly often. One doctor said that it might be stress related, but my mom refuses to take me to get tests done. My mom knows that I’m gay. When I came out she said that she was ok with it, but when she gets mad at me she says “I wish I didn’t have a son like you” and I know that is what she’s talking about.

But now I’ve run away for the second time. I ran because my mom was hitting me again. But I’m stuck in this stupid town with no way out. I have no one here who I feel comfortable talking to. No one. I tried calling some friends back in the city to see if they could come and get me but they didn’t pick up and I’m out of quarters now. I have no money, no where to go, no one to turn to. The only reason I would go back would be for my little brother and sister. Even though they are a lot of work I really love them and I know that they wouldn’t understand if I didn’t come back.


I guess I will go back, but I’m going to have money and clothes ready incase my mom starts to hit me again. That way I can try calling my friends again and get out of there.

Queer Streets

QCVC Presents....
Queer Streets Screening
Tuesday, November 11
7pm @ Rocky 300


Queer Streets is an in-depth documentary about LGBT homeless youth and Sylvia's Place, which is a queer homeless youth shelter in New York City. Kate Barnhart (picture on right), the director of Sylvia's Place will be here for the screening, and to answer any questions afterwards.

Think Before You Speak

(Posted by Nick, '11)
I LOVE THIS AD!! WANDA SYKES = UHMAZING.



GLSEN and Ad Council have teamed up for a campaign against using "gay" as a derogatory word. I think this is a great way to get out the word - not only are there celebrities in the commercials telling you how NOT to use the word "gay," but they're doing it in situations that could REALLY happen, and probably have happened to the vast majority of us. The ads, then, are sort of instructional videos as to how you can handle said situations.

This campaign aims to raise awareness about the prevalence and consequences of anti-LGBT bias and behavior in American schools. Ultimately, the goal is to reduce and prevent the use of homophobic language in an effort to create a more positive environment for LGBT teens. The campaign also aims to reach adults; their support of this message is crucial to the success of efforts to change behavior. You can check out the official website of the campaign, along with other "instructional" videos.

Also, keep an eye out around campus - the LGBTQ Center will be actively supporting the Think Before You Speak campaign!

ACT OUT! Big Action

SAVE THE DATE: Friday, November 21
Marriage Equality Rally in New York City

Marriage Equality Rally Interest Meetings:
Come to one of the following meetings to learn about how you can help bring marriage equality to New York State. Allies welcome and encouraged!!

Monday, November 10
9pm at LGBTQ Center


OR

Wednesday, November 12
9pm at Rocky 300




Also check out the ACT OUT! blog

If I were a drag queen my named would be Jade DeLady

(posted by guest blogger Megan Habermann, Assistant Director for Campus Activities)
I went to my first full on drag show when I was in college. I had a date with me, that I’m surprised didn’t leave me for Poison Waters, because she was out to steal my man. I had seen snippets of drag shows before, and plenty of drag queens in various gay pride parades that I went to throughout my life, but the show was still like nothing I had ever seen. There’s just something about a drag show, the lights, the dresses, the legs that I only dream of achieving on the elliptical machine. It’s magical like Disney, but with way more inappropriate jokes.

I was pleased to discover in my first year at Vassar in the Campus Activities Office that QCVC did a drag show. I was even more excited to find out that it was a pageant (one of my guiltiest pleasures), and that students participated. I was prepared to be wowed.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the sheer popularity of the event. The event organizer (LGBTQ Center intern Rasheed Gonga) wasn’t either. And the past two years the event has beyond packed the house. Each year we look at each other with shock and glee and are startled by the sheer volume of it. It’s amazing, the outpouring of support from students, the fighting for seats, and the production of it all. With extremely limited resources, QCVC creates an amazing show every year that impresses those of us that think they can no longer be impressed.

This has been one of my favorite (shh don’t tell) events to watch grow throughout my three years here. I can’t wait to see what they have up their long satin gloves this year. I would have loved to see something like this at my school; Vassar students are extremely lucky to have such a great event each year. I hope you can find a seat this Spring!

Coffee Hour Returns!

Tomorrow - Friday, November 7th - The LGBTQ Center will be hosting our first Coffee Hour of the year. Stop by the LGBTQ Center (CC 235) from 4:30-6:00pm to enjoy a cup of coffee, snacks, and great company! We will also be showcasing the music of Tegan & Sara.


Check out this interview with Tegan & Sara where they talk about being sisters and being gay.

And click here and here for some of their most recent music videos too.

M.E.Ch.A. Conference Event


M.E.Ch.A. (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano/a de Aztlan), the Vassar student organization that focuses on Chicano, Mexican, Mexican-American, and Native American issues is holding a conference on campus this weekend. As part of this conference there will be an event about Latina Lesbians and anyone is welcome to attend. Here are the details:


Friday, November 7

5:30pm at the ALANA Center

A Reading from Sinister Wisdom #74: Latina Lesbians by Juanita Ramos & Students, Faculty,& Others

Juanita Diaz-Cotto, Ph.D. was born in Puerto Rico and raised between Puerto Rico and New York City. Active in human rights struggles for over thirty years - including those of women, lesbians, and gays, prisoners, and people of color inside and outside the U.S. - she considers herself very much both an activist and an academic.

Dr. Diaz-Cotto is author of CHICANA LIVES AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Voices from El Barrio (2006), GENDER, ETHNICITY, AND THE STATE: Latina and Latino Prison Politics (1996), and the editor, under the pseudonym of Juanita Ramos, of COMPANERAS: Latina Lesbians (An Anthology), Lesbianas latinoamericanas (3rd edition, 2004) and SINISTER WISDOM 74: Latina Lesbians (2008).
Dr. Diaz-Cotto is a Professor of sociology, women's studies, and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the State University of New York at Binghamton. She has given lectures and presentations in Argentina, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain, South Africa, and over 40 cities in the U.S.

Her lectures and presentations have covered a wide range of issues including: criminal justice/prisons; Latinas/os and women of color in the U.S.; women in Latin America; Latin American feminisms; race and ethnicity; gender, sexuality, and heterosexism; class and income inequalities; oral history and ethnographic research; community organizing.


**For more information on this event, and the rest of the M.E.Ch.A. conference, e-mail Mikey Velarde at mivelarde@vasssar.edu.

The Face of Ignorance

(Posted by Nick, '11)
Bob Knoke, of Mission Viejo, Amanda Stanfield, of Monrovia, Jim Domen, of Yorba Linda, and J.D. Gaddis, of Yorba Linda, celebrate returns heralding the approval of Proposition 8 in California, the ban on same-sex marriage.

**Side note - CNN has still not officially called Prop 8, but 98% of precincts have been reported and it is still leaning towards passing.

Is Our New President Gay Friendly?

Yes! According to an Advocate article from the Sept. 9, 2008 issue, Barack Obama might be even more gay-friendly than he admits in public. I can not find a link to this article online, but stop by the LGBTQ Center if you would like to read about Obama's record on gay rights issues, details about the campaign promises he has made, and even personal testimonies from openly gay people Obama has worked closely with.

Check out a clip from Obama's HRC and Logo sponsored LGBT issue debate back during the primary season, to see Obama's "official" stance on gay marriage. While he's not quite for gay marriage, he's not quite against it either. He believes that same-sex couples should be granted all the civil rights that married couples are granted, but that it should be up to the states whether or not to call that marriage.

Aside from the gay marriage issue, Obama seems to be in favor of other gay rights accross the board. He has promised us a full repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, a reversal of "don't ask, don't tell," immigration rights for same-sex couples, a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and the passage of the Matthew Shepard Act, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to federal hate-crimes laws (The Advocate, 2008). Only time will tell if he follows through with these promises, but it is looking hopeful as he continues to mention LGBT issues in many of his speeches - including (briefly) last night during his acceptance speech.

Not to be a downer, but the bad news from last night's election can be seen in the gay-related ballot measures in certain states. Here is the latest on these measures according to CNN.

Arkansas Initiative 1: (Ban on Gay Couples Adopting Children)
Passed - 57% yes, 43% no

Arizona Proposition 102: (Ban on Gay Marriage)
Passed - 56% yes, 44% no

Florida Amendment 2: (Ban on Gay Marriage)
Passed - 62% yes, 38% no

and the big one...

California Proposition 8: (Ban on Gay Marriage)
As of now, there are 95% of precincts reporting results,and CNN claims it is too close to officially call. However, the breakdown is 52% yes to 48% no - which does not look promising. This will be the first time in our history that a right that currently exists could be taken away from people.

Click here to see what MSNBC's Rachel Maddow had to say about this last night.

Israeli Movie Night

TONIGHT! Wednesday, November 5th
7pm at the Bayit
Yossi and Jagger
Plus Free Zorona's!
Romance blooms between two soldiers stationed in an Israeli outpost on the Lebanese border.

LGBTQ Runaways

(Posted by Eva, '12)
Unfortunately, life as a runaway can be much harder for LGBTQ youth. They are not only at a greater risk for suicide, major depression, drug use, and sexual assault, they often have special needs that shelters often can’t or don’t provide. Here I am posting an article from Lambda Legal about the needs of LGBTQ runaways.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Questioning (LGBTQ) Youth
By: Flor Bermudez, Lambda Legal Staff Attorney

In homeless service settings, LGBTQ youth regularly face harassment and abuse—physical, verbal and sexual. They are isolated from other youth, threatened or attacked by youth and service providers, blamed by service providers for their own mistreatment and even denied services outright because of their sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression. Transgender youth face particularly poor treatment. They are often targeted for harassment and assault, receive rooming assignments in accordance with their birth sex rather than the sex with which they identify, are called by their birth names and are forced to abide by dress codes with no room for their gender expression.

LGBTQ youth need: safe shelters where they are respected, referrals to LGBTQ-friendly physical and mental health services, affirming mentors and role models who can provide long-term sources of support in their lives and independent life skills and other transitional services that take into account the specific challenges that LGBTQ people face because of the pervasive discrimination that continues to affect our society.

In all homeless service settings, LGBTQ youth need protection from harassment and discrimination. All homeless youth serving agencies should be required to implement polices that prohibit discrimination and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression for youth, staff, volunteers and contract providers. Such policies send a clear message that maltreatment is unacceptable.

(picture above is of Sylvia's Place - a homeless shelter for LGBTQ youth in New York City)

Too Young to be an Ally?

During a celebration of National Ally Week, Tara Miller, a teacher at the Faith Ringgold School of Arts and Science in Hayward, Calif., passed out cards produced by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network to her class of kindergartners. These cards asked students to be allies by not using anti-LGBT language or slurs, to intervene in situations where others are using anti-LGBT language or harassing other students, and to actively support safer schools efforts.After parents and members of the school board complained, the school acknowledged that the exercise was not appropriate for kindergartners. The ally pledge cards were intended for middle school and high school students.

Read the full article here, and let us know what you think.

Let's Talk

(Posted by Eva, '12)
video
November is National Runaway Prevention Month (NRPM). According to the National Runaway
Switchboard, NRPM is “a public education campaign spearheaded by the National Runaway Switchboard (NRS) and the National Network for Youth (NNY) to:
* Increase the awareness of the issues facing runaways, and
* Educate the public about the solutions and the role they can play in preventing youth from running away“

Back in Chicago, I volunteered at the National Runaway Switchboard (NRS). I started out at NRS as a liner, one of the people on the phone line who talked directly to our callers. I was also elected as the Youth Representative to their Board of Directors. I spent over a year and a half with NRS, going through forty hours of training, working on the lines two hours a week, going to board meetings, and helping out at press conferences and other events. If there was one thing that I learned at my time at NRS is was that the runaway issue in the United States is a huge issue that is often ignored and overlooked. Between 1.6 and 2.8 million youth run away each year. These youth are at higher risk for suicide and depression. They often have or will face physical or sexual abuse, whether at home or on the streets. The purpose of National Runaway Prevention Month is not only to raise awareness of the runaway issue, but also to raise awareness of available resources and prevention techniques.

Over the next month I will post videos, facts, resources, and stories from youth that I have personally talked to. I hope that you all take this opportunity to learn a bit more about the runaway issue and if you or someone you know needs someone to talk to 1-800-RUNAWAY is a 24/7 free, anonymous, and confidential crisis hotline.