The Return

My week off has been full- Seattle, Spokane, Sand Point, best friends, family (marriage in NY!) Ken’s marathon, Seattle Pride, friends, more friends, walking, cats, dogs, Canadians, Sisters, sun, reunions, lots of good food and an amazing amount of time in the car.

I have lots to share, and I’ll get to it. Promise.

I just need some time to do the laundry- I’m out of underwear.

Pride Vigil (text)

I had some requests to put up the text for the Pride Vigil for Memory, Strength and Hope which we did on Saturday night at The Emerson. There will be more to come, but before I put Gregory and Patricia on the airplane, I’ll just post this here….

 

The darkness can be frightening.

We have sometimes been very afraid here in the State of Montana, because at times, it has been very, very dark.

We have lost good men and women and children to HIV/AIDS.

We have been bullied and teased and yes, driven from our very homes and schools and communities. We have been killed and we have killed ourselves. We have been legislated against and told by official political platforms that we are criminals.

We have been hurt here under this big, dark sky.

But there is light.

There are people whose bravery have driven away darkness. Whose voices refuse to give in to hopelessness or complacency or fear. You know those voices in your lives. You also are those voices. And when we use our voices to proclaim the goodness of our lives and the lives of our brothers, sisters, parents, children and friends- the light grows stronger.

The bravery is here.

Look around you now. Look at the strength that surrounds us.

Look at the light. Now share the light.

(candles lighted)

This light is in your hands. It belongs to you. It has always belonged to you.

Share it. And remember the lives that have lived with pain to bring us here- to this place of hope and triumph.

Now we take a moment to remember our loves, our losses, our reasons for hope.  (silence)

Today is a gorgeous day in Montana History, because the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Two-Spirited People and our Allies will not let this light die.

We will not be afraid.

We will stand up when we are told to lie down.
We will speak when anyone tries to shame us into silence.
We will remain when we are told to leave.
We will proclaim the truth.
Firmly and gently and clearly and proudly.
The truth that we are light.
And that light makes Montana more beautiful, not less.  More.

If you believe it, say Amen!
If you promise to live it, say Amen!
If you promise to not give up, say Amen!

I hear the dance music next door, and I’m reminded of the words of Joe Jervis:

They wish we were invisible.
We’re not.
Let’s Dance!

 

Montana Pride 2011

(Click here for info)

We’re gearing up! Patricia and Gregory Hinton arrive today from Cali, and I’ve been cleaning and putting away all the stuff we can’t hide in the garage- boy it takes a long time to unpack… Besides all the eventse’re also hosting a Barbecue fundraiser for the Pride Foundation on Sunday. Needless to say, I’ll be busier than a hooker on Dollar Day- so posts will be a bit light, but I promise a recap next week.

Anyway, the Montana Pride Schedule is available here, just click the picture. Please check for info regarding events, bios, etc. I am especially excited about Out West Montana’s event at the Bozeman Public Library on Saturday. Patricia’s a great story teller, and I’m sure it’ll be a great hit.

So have funIf you see me, say HI!

Know Any Closeted Gay/Bi MT Men?

We want to know about your/their lives! A grad student at the U of M is working on a very worthwhile project to help us understand the reality of men in Montana who have sex with men (MSM) but are not out or do not identify as gay or bi. This is important work, so if you can assist us, it would be greatly appreciated. 

~

I am a researcher with the University of Montana collecting information about sexual health attitudes and behaviors. Specifically, I am interested in understanding more about men who are closeted or not open about having sex with other men.

I am looking to anonymously interview men who have sex with other men who live in Montana and are between the ages of 18 and 69.

I realize what a personal topic this is, so I want to emphasize that this study is completely ANONYMOUS. If you would be willing to participate in this study, you can contact me at (406) 552 – 2115 or amee1.schwitters@umconnect.umt.edu orum.menshealthsurvey@gmail.com. We can then arrange a time to conduct the (one) interview over the telephone or we can meet in person. The interviews will be audio recorded and then typed into a word processor. The audio will then be destroyed. Your name will NOT be associated with this study in any way, nor will your location or any identifying information be mentioned. As an incentive for your participation, I would like to offer you $25.00.

This study has been approved by the University of Montana Institutional Review Board (IRB 63-10) expires 03-2012 (A copy of the approved IRB application can be provided). Again, if you are interested or even potentially interested in participating in this study, please contact me at (406) 552 – 2115 or amee1.schwitters@umconnect.umt.edu or um.menshealthsurvey@gmail.com.

Thank you for your consideration.
Amee Schwitters, MPH
PhD Candidate
University of Montana
Department of Anthropology

HRC, GLAAD, Montana and Lady Gaga

Some clarifications about yesterday’s post- especially addressing the concerns and comments from the same post on LGBTQ Nation:

They do some great things, but HRC did not do its homework. The Montana GOP was first in it’s criminalization plank, back in the mid-90′s according to Bowen Greenwood on Brian Kahn’s Home Ground (Yellowstone Public Radio, Sept 2010). According to its press release, HRC thinks Montana copied Texas. The reality is that Texas either copied Montana or sadly, came up with it on its own.

http://www.ypradio.org/programs/local/home_ground.html

GLAAD did not report on the this issue until September 20, 2010 when the Montana AP went national with this issue.

http://www.glaad.org/page.aspx?pid=1871

They knew about it in mid June 2010 , when the Montana 2010 GOP Plank was issued.

If Lady Gaga knew that Montana, Wyoming and Idaho were not on the radar of the national gay rights agenda, I wonder how fast the shit would hit the fan…. The fact is, there is a priority system in favor of numbers- not ideology, among the big gay rights organizations. And sexy publicity that makes noise and press gets the action- not oppressive legislation or codified bigotry affecting only a fraction of the population.

It’s not right. All persecuted human beings in the USA deserve equal support- even in the less populous states.

That’s all my post was supposed to say. That’s all I want- equal treatment for all by the equal rights organizations to which I belong. Not third-class citizenship based on where someone happens to be born, work or live.

I am a member of HRC. I have been for years. I am not ready to give up on them- or GLAAD, not yet- but I do want them to know that we are paying attention out here.

And, hopefully, you are, too.

Tracy Morgan And Montana

You may have heard that actor Tracy Morgan (30 Rock) mentioned in his stand up act in Nashville Tennessee that if his son were gay, he would “pull out a knife and stab” him.

Of course, GLAAD and HRC were all over him, as were many in the LGBT and the mainstream media. And Morgan later apologized.

So what does Tracy Morgan have to do with the State of Montana?

Well, Montana got away with it.

Both the actor’s statements and the official Montana Republican Party Platform plank calling for the criminalization of The Gays are equally offensive to me. Morgan’s statement much like the Montana GOP sends a clear and dangerous message to gay and lesbian youth: You are not our equal. You are criminally offensive.

Tracy Morgan is one man, the Montana GOP represents a whole STATE.

So, where was GLAAD? Where was HRC? Where were the Log Cabin Republicans? Where was our local media?

Just another reason to not renew my HRC membership this year. To the big LGBT rights organizations, it seems, Montana doesn’t matter.

We’re collateral damage.