The Yin Yang of PRIDE: Much is given. Much is required

20140608_010230000_iOSHard to believe June is over; we’re halfway through July and I have just one PRIDE – Hotter Than July – left to attend.  We’ve raised our rainbow flags across the country, marched and partied like there’s no tomorrow – no tomorrow when we go back to being second class citizens, separate and not equal.

We’ve had so much to celebrate as our Equality Train has left the station and is gaining momentum state by state, month by month.

It feels good, really good, especially for me, this year. Instead of going from city to city, wishing and hoping, I’ve just been happy, walking hand in hand with my lady love believing, BELIEVING, that yes it would happen in my lifetime.

At every PRIDE across the country WE were celebrating the change that seems to be finally arriving.

And it wasn’t just at PRIDES where you could sense the change. At restaurants, coffee shops, hotels and resorts in states where discriminatory laws had been overturned and even where they were still in place, you could sense the difference.

Visibility in the media, high profile coming outs, legal victories, just about every week there’s been another reason to celebrate. But with the celebration there has also been the nagging reminders that we still have a long way to go.

Even though we are winning in the courts, the sobering reality is that our rights are still under assault from a well-funded, politically savvy enemy with a powerful secret weapon in their arsenal – US!!!

US??? Yes! You, me, LGBTQ, friends, families who party through PRIDE, wrap ourselves in progressive mantles but through our apathy have allowed out-of-touch, xenophobic, trans/homophobic conserva-fools take over state houses, governor seats, the congress and allowed the creation of a Supreme Court that has granted corporations the same rights as people, ala Citizens United, which tip the scales against equality.

While we have danced at our weddings, religious fundamentalist continue to flex their muscle attacking women’s reproductive rights state by state. The recent Hobby Lobby Supreme Court ruling not only bolstered this attack on women but by, once again, giving a corporation’s religious views the same gravitas as an individual’s constitutional rights for religious protection, has now put an already tenuous ENDA in jeopardy.

The same bigots leading these attacks and spreading hatred “in the name of the father” are using their influence not only here but internationally, exporting trans/homophobia overseas especially in Africa where death for LGBTQ individuals is the law.

But that’s Africa and we have weddings to plan, right? Well these hate-filled chickens are coming home to roost with even greater global implication with the election of Sam Kutesa, a supporter of Uganda’s anti-gay law as President of the U.N. General Assembly.

The U.N. is the most representative inter-governmental organization of the world today. Although it’s effectiveness may be debatable, the United Nations’ role in world affairs is irreplaceable by any other international or regional organizations and it’s president is a supporter of some of the most repressive anti-gay laws – laws written by leaders who were suckled at the breast of US fundamentalists.

And what’s to become of the thousands of Ugandans and others seeking asylum and immigration by coming to America? Will they find a country welcoming ‘the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free” or face immigration legislation that is far from welcoming being influenced by a legislature we elected even if we cast our vote merely by staying home and not going to the polls.

Luke 12:48 says (yes I googled it) “To whom much is given, much will be required.” Growing up I always thought that meant if something good happened to you, you passed it on, paid it forward. When my mom won the lottery, she always tithed a portion to church. When I get something new or have extra, I share the blessing. You probably have heard of similar practices. But I’ve been thinking about it differently these days.

We’ve received such good news of late, made such progress, and seen changes that most of us never thought we would see in our lifetime – much has been given. But now is not the time to sit on our laurels, be complacent and do nothing –much is required.

In many states we can be married, time and the courts seem to be on our side but we still can be discriminated against in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. ENDA remains in jeopardy even more so following the Hobby Lobby decision.

The clock is being turned backwards for women, taking us back to the days of “back-alley abortions and unplanned/unwanted pregnancies with no protection even in the case of rape and incest. Contraception, family planning is more than just a health issue for women, it’s an economic issue. The earning capacity of women is already lower than that of most men, taking away/diminishing reproductive rights will only plunge more women and children into poverty.

Despite higher visibility our transgender sister and brothers are still targets for violence. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender youth and those perceived as LGBT are at an increased risk of being bullied.

And we don’t live in a little gay bubble, we live in a world where the gap between the haves and the have not’s continues to grow. We live in troubled urban areas, struggling rural areas.

We share an environment of dwindling resources and growing threats of pollution, global warming, etc.

Much is required from each of us whether LGBTQ or A.

At Motor City Pride, singer-songwriter Nikki Holland was sporting and selling a t-shirt. It said “UNTIL WE ARE =, BE > ignorance, sexism, lies, hate, racism, stereotypes, violence, prejudice, bigotry, hypocrisy, the self-righteous.

So now that the official PRIDE celebrations are just about over be joyful for all that we have achieved and been given in these changing times but remember much is required. Much is required from each of us to keep these freedoms, ensure that they will be extended to everyone and be there for future generations.

Your first task is GET REGISTERED TO VOTE, vote in the August primaries and show up at the polls in November. Let’s not give the Senate and return the Congress to those who would take away rights not expand them to all. And at the State level, let’s vote in the change we want to see for ourselves, our families and our future.

Progress comes through change. Change can cause anxiety and fear. Fight back! Fight for equality! Fight for humanity by being greater than ignorance, sexism, lies, hate, racism, stereotypes, violence, prejudice, bigotry, hypocrisy, and the self-righteous.

Remember to whom much is given, much will be required. Step Up Community!!!

Posted in 2014 Elections, ENDA, lgbt, Queer, Transgender, Women | Leave a comment

MOCK

By Michelle E. Brown (For Transgender Day of Visibility 3/26/14)

Daddy wanted a son

A man child, legacy bearer

A son to toss a ball, cast a rod

Share manly things around the campfire

While cleaning guns

Daddy wanted a son

Momma wanted a daughter

A woman child, baby girl

Pretty curls, frills and dolls

She’d teach her to cook, to sew

To preen and be coy

Share womanly things

While getting mani-pedis

Momma wanted a daughter

I sat amongst the stars

Hearing their longings

Seeing their dream

Looking  down, pondering

I want to be me

Unfettered by sexual identity

Not playing roles in their boxes

Safe from lines drawn by intellect and reason

Decidedly,  undecided

Free

If I must choose

I choose to stay here

Free

Just me

But daddy wants a son

Momma wants a daughter

Earth wants my presence

So I must leave my heavenly sanctuary

Pushing me, pulling me

Traveling towards the light

Where daddy wants a boy

Momma wants a girl

Doctor opens his mouth to pass judgment

Pronounce life’s sentence upon me

What is it

Is it boy

Is it girl

I open my mouth and shout

Shout for those who came before

For those who will come after

Before the verdict is given

STOP!

Do not bind me with your biases

Your preconceived notions of

Who I am

How I should be

I am not it

Not boy, nor girl

I am a baby

Let me, be me

“I was born a baby, not a boy” Janet Mock 02/06/2014

Posted in Black women, Creative Writing, lgbt, literature, Love, Queer, Self imaage, Transgender, Women | Leave a comment

EVolution Open Mic

@ the AFF Cafe, Store & More
290 W. Nine Mile
Ferndale, MI 48220

Hosted by Michelle Brown & China Palazzo

Leave a comment

EVolution Open Mic

@ the AFF Cafe, Store & More
290 W. Nine Mile
Ferndale, MI 48220

Hosted by Michelle Brown & China Palazzo

Leave a comment

Creating Change Houston: Changing How We Look, Live and Define Our Lives

I just got back from Houston, Texas and NGLTF’s Creating Change 14.

I love Creating Change!!! It’s like getting beamed up to a “Gay World” where you are surrounded by OUR community – all sizes, shapes, hair styles, demographics. OUR community where no one raises an eyebrow if you hold your partner’s hand or plant a wet kiss on their lips.

It’s a space where around every corner, in every session or just lounging about you can sit down and talk about your life and the other person will get it because it’s their life too.

I always come back geeked, full of ideas and ready for action – then reality sets in. The reality that I’m not somewhere over the rainbow and, unfortunately, under the rainbow when the creating change glow has cooled down, my big gay community returns to our own separate silos.

But this year was different. We have seen so many changes in recent years, there has been such momentum, that this year we came to Houston ready not only to create change but to be that change.

The charge was led by amazing Trans-activist like Laverne Cox, Monica Roberts, Kylar Broadus, Bamby Salcedo, Cecilia Chung and Carter Brown who gave a masters class on living authentically and the intersections of LGBTQ equality and humanity.

Wow, that’s saying a lot, but seriously, there were some big lessons being taught in Houston!

I could probably write a book – probably two or three -about the workshop sessions, the plenary sessions, the caucuses, the film screenings, the speakers and the amazing Laverne Cox but for me the big story was the new energy changing how we have come to talk about, advocate for and engage our community.

Lesbian feminist, leather activists, queer, young, old were all there adding their voice to the conversation but the most transformative conversations for me came from our Transgender activists.

Theirs is a Trans story, but it is also our story and a human story – the ultimate quest to be our authentic selves.

Our Transgender sisters and brothers remind us that gender is not just male or female but a spectrum of expression and cannot/should not be defined by anatomy.

By forcing a child , and later the adult, to live by standards conforming to anatomy but denying their spirit/soul true gender expression is not only harmful but keeps us from developing our full potential as human beings.

A baby is born someone looks between his/her legs and labels them with an identity and the accompanying baggage society has given that gender –toxic whether gay, straight and especially if transgender.

Healthcare doled out based on flawed societal norms whether for transgender services, individuals living with HIV/AIDS or women’s reproductive rights is discriminatory.

Homelessness, violence, sexual exploitation, poverty are the evils that man makes and doles out to the poor, immigrants, not just to but most harshly to the LGBT community.

Ironically the very part of our LGB community – the “T” – which has been too often thrown under the bus in “our” fight for equality is profoundly and eloquently telling the story of the evils of bias, discrimination and all the hate based phobias in a patriarchal society – pushing the envelope that could ultimately shift the paradigm on how we value the human spirit.

Will it happen tomorrow as a result of Creating Change? No – but the seeds are planted, the conversations begun, the movement strengthened and the winds of change – well they’re blowing.

Creating Change – not only educating about healthcare but leading the charge to end AIDS now; Creating Change – supporting, engaging, protecting LGBTQ youth; Creating Change – recognizing, celebrating and supporting the diversity within our community; Creating Change – developing strategies for intentional intersectionality not just for survival but as a tool for real social change.

Creating Change Houston  2014 – it was a very good year. Next stop Denver!

 You can also follow me at www.mychangeiam.com or www.twitter.com/mychangeiam

Posted in bullying, Creating Change, DADT, DOMA, lgbt, marriage equality, NGLTF, Queer, Transgender, World events, youth | Leave a comment