Category Archives: hate crime

Next steps for our movement

Hard to believe July is over; and our season of pride picnics, marches and celebrations is coming to an end .  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, from east coast to west, 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 in Detroit, 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, DADT, DOMA, ENDA, hate crime, lgbt, marriage equality, NGLTF, NN14 | Leave a comment

SPIRIT DAY: Fifty Shades of Purple

Thursday, October 17, 2013 is “SPIRIT Day.”  The observance began in response to a rash of widely publicized bullying-related suicides of gay school students in 2010.

Since 2010, each year on “Spirit Day” people have been encouraged to wear the color purple, and post purple themed/bannered messages on Facebook, Twitter and other social media to show support for LGBTQ youth who are victims of bullying.

After posting photos/graphics from GLAAD and the Transgender Law Center on my Facebook page, I donned my three shades of purple outfit and headed to work.

I work with a diverse group of people. They are good people but we are different. They tend to be more conservative to my liberal. They are more Christian to my spiritual. They are more suburban to my urban. I know for a fact that I’m the only one with tattoos, piercings other than on the ears, sporting Afrocentric natural hair and openly gay. So I was not surprised that no one else wore purple or knew why I did today.

We live in different worlds, come from different backgrounds but every day I recognize I have an opportunity, a responsibility maybe not to change but to touch hearts and minds.

It’s all part of living an authentic life, of being out and finding those areas of intersectionality that help us move the boundaries of inclusion towards equality.

So I wore my three shades of purple ensemble, and when the opportunity arose I told them why I was wearing purple and talked about the damage bullying does to young lives, especially young LGBTQ lives.

We talked as women. We talked as mothers. We talked as concerned community members. And in the end, we discovered we aren’t so different after all.

There’s a classical Latin phrase carpe diem—usually translated as “seize the day” or “act now.” Occasions, like “SPIRIT Day,” gives each of us the opportunity to act, to touch hearts, minds and be the agents of the change we want to be.

Posted in bullying, hate crime, lgbt, Self imaage, youth | Leave a comment

Keep your frigging tolerance!

By Michelle E. Brown

Originally printed 4/7/2011 (Issue 1914 – Between The Lines News)

I love words. They can inspire, excite, and express the human emotions in so many ways yet take on a life of their own once they come out of your mouth.

Something as benign as the word mother can go from a term of endearment to a slap in the face, all depending on the context and tone of the speaker.

Case in point: when I was trying to get on my mother’s good side I might call her “Mother Dear” in hopes of a positive response, but call her “Mommy Dearest” in the wrong tone of voice and the results were more than likely just the opposite.

Lately I’ve been having mixed feelings about the words tolerant/tolerance. It seems to get bandied about quite a bit lately following horrific events like a bullying attack and harsh political rhetoric.

By most definitions, tolerance/tolerant/toleration are terms used to describe moderately respectful attitudes of groups and/or practices disapproved by those in the majority. Up until recently I have used the word tolerance although something deep inside me bristled each time I said it.

I tolerate my out of control, hyper nieces once a year during the holidays, although the rest of the year I avoid them like the plague. I tolerate high airline fares, but will not be nickel and dimed for every piece of luggage or amenity just to save a buck. I tolerate our messed up political system while working for change.

Bottom line is I put up with a lot of crap that, if I could have my druthers, would never have existed or vanish from the earth completely (well not the nieces). So you see when I hear someone talking about tolerating gay folk I bristle.

I had my AHA moment on this whole LGBTQ “tolerance” thing while sitting at a meeting planning an anti-bullying march. Now the irony was we were meeting outside the city where the rally was planned because some felt more comfortable, safe even at an undisclosed location. So we met somewhat covertly to discuss a march for anti-bullying legislation.

The final straw was when it was suggested the event be called “A Rally for Tolerance.” Something just snapped.

That same day I heard of a planned protest of a high school production of the “Laramie Project” by the Westboro Baptist Church. They never showed up to protest the play, but you know the group has protested outside of military funerals, thanking God for 9/11, calling soldiers “Fag Troops” and claiming the deaths as retribution for America’s sin. Of course we must tolerate the Phelps clan because they are just exercising their first amendment rights.

The evening before, I had spent time talking with a gay youth who had been brutally beaten while standing in line at a convenience store. His attacker could not tolerate having someone gay standing too close to him. This violation of his personal space apparently gave this gay-basher license to attack this young man, beating him senseless while others watched on.

It seems we have had to tolerate too much hatred, bigotry and intolerance to be asking for or accepting tolerance. Isn’t it time we get up off our knees and quit begging for tolerance and demand respect? I mean seriously.

Enough is enough. Our society has tolerated Irish, Italian, Catholic, Latino, Asian and other immigrants yet anti-immigrant biases and xenophobia still abound.

Our society tolerated women coming out of the kitchen, demanding equal rights, opportunities and wages, yet women still earn less than men in the workplace and our reproductive rights remain under attack.

Our society tolerated integration of the African American community, saying separate was not equal, yet still African Americans make up a disproportionate number of the impoverished living in urban wastelands and/or incarcerated in the nation’s prisons.

Tolerance is not equality. Tolerance is just a bandage society has put over one “problem population/group” until another takes it place.

Bias, bigotry and hatred just float to the next site and we forget all the pain and evil done to the past victims and start the cycle all over again. Enough!

So I’m putting everyone on notice. You can keep your frigging tolerance. Give me respect.

Posted in bullying, hate crime, lgbt, youth | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment