Raging Against The Hate Machine

In light of this:

“the Republican platform included language rejecting not just same-sex marriage but also the watered-down alternative that many elected officials find more palatable: civil unions. The GOP platform committee also defeated a proposed amendment that said all Americans should be treated “equally under the law” as long as they’re not hurting anyone else.”

I present this:

Where Is It Best To Be LGBT in the US?

 

 

Click pic for story

 

Hope for MT? : Commonwealth Countries Asked To Decriminalize Gays

Leaders of Commonwealth countries will be asked to decriminalise homosexuality to help to stop the spread of HIV, an Australian official has said.

Forty-one of the 53 Commonwealth countries – including Uganda, Zimbabwe and Ghana – still criminalise gay sex and HIV campaigners say such laws are seriously hampering safe sex initiatives.

The 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) will be held in Perth, Australia from 28-30 October.

CHOGM 2011 will bring together more than 50 world leaders representing approximately one-quarter of the world’s countries and one-third of the world’s population. The meetings originated with the of the leaders of the self-governing colonies of the British Empire in 1887- and still has great influence in setting human rights policy throughout the world.

Sodomy laws in the US were invalidated by The U.S. Supreme Court in the ruling of Lawrence vs. Texas in 2003. However, several states- including Montana- still keep these shameful and impotent laws on the books- despite reasonable efforts to remove them– presumably as a slap in the face to the “Uppity Gays”. And yes, I will mention (Again!) that the Official Montana Republican Platform still calls for the criminalization of homosexual acts.

Will this meeting in Australia have an effect in Montana?

Probably not- at least not directly. I suspect this will not be seen as a discussion of human rights, but as a discussion of disease and epidemics- at least at first. And if the last legislative session is any indication, the zenophobes in charge of Montana’s legislative agenda will see it as unimportant (and non-applicable) world politics that don’t apply here.

But any progress is good progress- and this is progress- this discussion has never happened at this world level before- and it eventually filters through. Even to Montana.

I just hope I live to see it.

Perspective Blindness

By Bart Vogelzang | VANCOUVER ISLAND, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA — We have recently seen some strong examples of perspective blindness; that is, not being able to see something because our perception of something ‘distant’ is obscured by something closer to us.

Most of us have heard the expression “can’t see the forest for the trees” but that is only the tip of the issue. Physically it happens all the time that we cannot see something further away because something closer to us obscures the view. In fact, kids even make a game of it, putting their fingers in front of their eyes to not see something. Your view from your windscreen can be obscured by something dangling from your mirror (which is why you are not supposed to drive with a handicap placard), or your passenger’s head may obscure the view out the side window, leaving you with a major blind spot when changing lanes. For that matter, the frames on your sunglasses might take away enough of your view that you don’t see something vital.
Sadly though, perspective blindness is not just physical in nature, but also mental and emotional. We can see the overall picture of starving children and adults in Somalia, but the nearness of our own worries about our next paycheck obscures it from our view. We see and cheer the drive for freedom in Libya, but it only takes a relatively moderate earthquake to make it all disappear from our consciousness. We feel sad and upset at the near loss or actual loss of a revered politician, but a freak storm in our own town completely negates all that angst and upset and we focus on the nearer and more prominent disaster immediately next to us.
This perspective blindness is a good thing, a survival instinct, which insists that nearby is more urgent than distant, more important as it could affect us right now, as opposed to some time in the future. However, it is also a very bad thing, because we don’t live our lives in little pockets of nearness, but live it in the overall world, interacting with all the various people surrounding us, both near and far. To not see the distant problems means not dealing with them, and that spells long term catastrophe, or at best, suffering. We need to make sure that we look away from our immediate surroundings and needs, at the more distant ones. We need to see developments before they become dangerous to our welfare.
The LGBTQ community is suffering from this perspective blindness to a huge degree
We are wrapped up in our own personal angst, with bullies, family condemnation, ignorant remarks, seeking a loving partner, getting married, etc. What we are not seeing is the systematic attack being mounted by the conservative religious rightwing zealots, who are slyly using false and slanted language whenever they talk about homosexuality. We are not seeing their attempts to erode our support, with lies, faked reports and phony statistics. We are not noticing their efforts at changing laws, replacing politicians, and removing judges. Sure, the odd one of us does, probably because an incident is close to home, but for the most part nobody notices.
When Montana screws with their citizens’ rights, it is NOT just their problem, but only they seem to notice. When Maine is in a struggle for equality, is it NOT just their problem. When an idiot Governor holds ludicrous prayer meetings it is NOT just affecting that state, it is affecting everyone.
We need to clear our localized perspective away from our eyes, see the bigger picture, and deal with the greater issues which are coming to meet us; and they will come to meet us, whether we see them or not. If we don’t fix our perspective and deal with things, we will all pay the price. What we need to do, quite simply said, is take ANY attack on any one of us as being a personal one, and respond with all the strength and vehemence as if it was happening right now, to ourselves

Off To The Rodeo

It’s not 40 below, but I do have a heater in the Bofus, so I’m off to the Rodeo- once known as the Montana Legislature, to speak in opposition to HB 516 (see previous post).

There are a lot of reasons to oppose this bill. Don Pogreba gives us more to think about from Intelligent Discontent:

One of the elements of Western movies that always puzzled me was the frequent assertion that no one in the West cared where a person had come from; all that mattered was the person they were in their new community. Growing up in relatively small towns like Shelby and Laurel, it seemed that the exact opposite was true. When someone new came to town, we wanted to know everything about him or her and we pried like hell to find out whatever we could. But the other half of the story was true: once that person arrived, all we cared about was that the new person did her job, treated her neighbors well, and shoveled her walk in the winter.

Once you became part of our town, your private life was your private life, and it wasn’t anybody’s business who you loved and/or slept with.

People like Harris Himes and and Dallas Erickson never seemed to learn that, though. For reasons that perhaps only a trained psychiatrist could explain, they seem obsessed with who someone sleeps with, and quite uncomfortably, how they do it. They hate people who are gay, lesbian, or transgender so much that they’ll lie about them, spew vicious invective at them, and even suggest that the death penalty would be appropriate for the crime of loving someone of the same sex.

Perfect. Read the rest here.

Oh, and while you’re at it, check out his piece on Montana Education. Excellent points, all.

An Evening With Dustin Lance Black

I have to admit, I went in completely biased.

Like many of you, I watched the Academy Award acceptance speech with tears in my eyes.

“…if Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he would want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches, or by the government, or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value, and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you and that very soon I promise you, you will have equal rights federally across this great nation of ours.”

Like I said, completely smitten biased.

But when he began talking about not settling for “close, but not there”, and not giving up on the vision of panoramic human rights, and overcoming the paralysis of fear- “put your pencil on the paper and start moving it- something has to happen”, I knew my predisposition toward this gentle, fiery soul was completely justified. He talked not so much about activism as the promotion of reality- the reality that LGBT people are everywhere, they just want to love and be loved, and they’re not going away. And he’s right. We aren’t.

Unless we give up.

I sat in a full Ballroom at Montana State university with students, teachers, parents, cowboys and a few kids. This was a crowd that could have been distributed down Main Street, Bozeman, and it wouldn’t have seemed different from the normal pedestrian traffic. People listened to this young man- whose story of a rural Mormon upbringing probably hit close to home to many in the audience, with rapt attention punctuated by laughter and enthusiastic applause. Here was a non-apologetic gay man standing in front of a group in a (generally) conservative state whose constitution explicitly prohibits him from full equality, and his story was received respectfully, even enthusiastically. His story and vision no different from my own.

I then had a realization.

It wasn’t new, it had been knocking on the back door of my brain for a while, but I was now able to hear it. It was this:

I had turned all these people into the bullies from my childhood and young adulthood. I had created an enemy/threat out of people who were probably neither. I was projecting. (The irony of my professional blind spot is not lost on me here) I had imposed my childhood fears on (almost) every Montanan- and I’m not a child. I had allowed this weird, unarticulated fear to hold me back.

I don’t want to do that anymore. So I’m going to pay attention to the injustice sensor whenever it goes off- not just when it’s safe. That was my gift from Dustin Lance Black.

Well, one of them.

He answered my question about religion’s scarring of some LGBT’s with “every religion has something important to say. Mine taught me love and respect of family. …but religion is not its leaders. I wouldn’t listen to the leaders all the time. And anger and hurt about religion didn’t keep me from being spiritual.” He talked with people afterward, meeting every one who waited to see him. Of course, I stood in line.

I got a hug, a brief chat about my crazy life story and was able to thank him for his availability and candor. He thanked me right back. Gracious. From the word grace, meaning “elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action”.

Elegant activism. I think I can do that.

Thanks, Lance.



2010- When Official Republican Persecution and Bigotry Went Unchecked

For me, 2010 is/was about Republican political shaming of The Gays. The Montana GOP approved a platform which included this blatant piece of ignorance and bigotry:

We support the clear will of the people of Montana expressed by legislation to keep homosexual acts illegal.

And, despite the fuss I made, that others made,  the discomfort from one Montana Republican leader (no leader of the Democrats said a word), the platform plank is still there. No one really paid much attention. Despite my letters to elected officials, to the Log Cabin Republicans, to advocacy groups, no one really paid much attention. fact, I only got one lukewarm response- from GLAAD. The issue got mentioned a few times- including once by Rachel Maddow, then it seems, was forgotten.

It’s sad. It’s even more sad when you figure the Texas GOP into the equation. They, too have a “Jail The Gays” plank.

Why can’t we get it together?

I tried to make the case that “Montana Matters“- a few nibbles, a few more voices added to the chorus, but still, nothing changed. I’m not sure I should be surprised, but it doesn’t keep me from being disappointed. I want us to be better than that. I want the LGBT community to speak out against this with one voice. I want Republican allies and Log Cabin Republicans to take a stand. I want straight allies and parents of LGBT children to speak up. I want Democrats to see this for what it is: blatant persecution and bigotry- and do something about it. I want to live in a world- or at least a state, where ugliness and hate don’t win- not even one round.

I know. As my mother says “..and people in hell want ice water.”

But they won this one. Again, I remind you, nothing changed. That plank is still there. In both states. Despite the amazing victories we’ve had this year, despite the DADT repeal, despite the increased awareness of anti-LGBT bullying, despite the increased polling numbers for same-sex marriage, despite the popularity of Glee- institutionalized homophobia is alive and well.

They got away with it. 

My resolution for 2011 is this: I will work to bring liberty and justice for all- even in the so-called “flyover” states. Because this phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance isn’t true yet. Because the erosion of our humanity is happening right in front of our noses- and I find it troubling, offensive, perverse and distinctively Un-American.

Don’t you?