States Of Union: A Project Worth Supporting

Have you ever thought of an idea that would make a good project, but maybe just didn’t have the wherewithal, the resources or the drive to see it through? Or have you ever seen something totally engaging that you knew you could wholeheartedly support?

Recently I’ve come across something that I love, both in idea and in practice, and I would like you to take a look with me….

Alix Smith is a brilliant photographer who has received recognition for her art. But she has recently decided to change things up. More specifically, she has chosen to document non-traditional, same-sex families in traditional, beautiful ways. “I wanted to show people the beauty of all families, that there’s nothing to be afraid of,” she told me.

And she does it beautifully. Not only that, she has a vision.

I asked her to share it with you:

States of Union is a photographic project that documents gay and lesbian couples and families in the style of the classic masterpieces. As a lesbian I conceived of this project to fill the void I experienced in my own coming out process – I had no paradigms, no role models, no historical examples, and no contemporary exemplars of what my family might look like.

In order to truly do justice to the subject matter and show the diversity represented in our community I am currently raising funds to facilitate travel to photograph families from states that are not traditionally perceived as gay-friendly (e.g, New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma,  Alabama, Alaska, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Georgia, Virginia, Wyoming, and Washington)

The more the world is permeated with images of loving and committed same-sex couples and families, the harder it will be for same-sex relationships to be considered “other.

Your donation will help give these families a voice. Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing site, meaning if I don’t reach my entire goal before the deadline on JUNE 14TH AT 8PM I will not receive any of the funding.

To support this project go to: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/alixsmith/states-of-union-portraits-of-same-sex-families

Please email, blog or tweet this!  Each donation level has an accompanying reward  No amount is insignificant – even $5 will bring me closer to the kickstarter goal.”

I am so in. Made a pledge, in fact.

I’d like you to consider it, too. If nothing else, to help erase fear and bring a greater awareness of truth and beauty to our country- and to the world.


Two Spirits: Coming To Montana PBS

Two Spirits, a film by Lydia Nibley, is coming to PBS this Sunday, June 12th at 10:30 pm through the program Independent Lens– and I want to encourage you to watch it.

It is an amazing film which “interweaves the tragic story of a mother’s loss of her son with a revealing look at a time when the world wasn’t simply divided into male and female- and many Native American cultures held places of honor for people of integrated genders.”

I’ve talked about this remarkable film before. My friend and collaborator Gregory Hinton gave an excellent introduction to the film when it was screened at the Autry as part of our Out West series last summer. Part of his memorable remarks were these:

The city and the country have a lot to catch up on.  We have much to teach each other. To protect our rural kids, and our rural elders, our community must be visible, like a porch light streaming into the western night sky.

And now, to Lydia and Russell, the filmmakers of Two Spirits, thank you for your advocacy by flipping on the switch.

Two Spirits is the story of Fred Martinez, a Navajo boy who was also a girl. It is also the story of Pauline Mitchell, the mother who loved him, who prayed every night for his safe return.

It speaks to the prescience of the Navajo culture.  Imagine a time where Two Spirit children were adored, their talents cultivated, their spirits revered.

The World Premiere of Two Spirits was sponsored by the Matthew Shepard Foundation in Denver.  I recently told Judy Shepard that in addition to experiencing bias as a gay man, I have also experienced bias as a rural westerner. I asked her if Matt loved Wyoming. Judy told me he stayed in Laramie because it was home and he loved the out of doors.

The love of mothers and courage of sons astonishes.

Stay home if you want. Be who you are. This is the mission of Out West.

Check your local listings here, and watch the trailer below:

Get Yourself Tested, You’re > AIDS

Two HIV awareness campaigns are teaming up this month to promote HIV testing and treatment. The Get Yourself Tested campaign (GYT) and Greater Than AIDS (>AIDS) have teamed up for National HIV Testing Awareness Month, to promote greater awareness of the importance of HIV testing, treatment and education.

As we mark 30 years of AIDS, it’s worth noting the tremendous progress made in terms of the life-saving treatments now available, but to benefit from these advances one must first know their status,” said Tina Hoff, Senior Vice President & Director, Health Communication & Media Partnerships, Kaiser Family Foundation, a partner on both campaigns.  “Be Greater Than AIDS:  Get Yourself Tested is an empowering, uplifting message that makes getting tested an act of pride, not shame.”

“Our audience has never known a time without HIV, but through efforts like GYT, we’re committed to empowering them to forge a world where HIV doesn’t exist,” said Jason Rzepka, Vice President of Public Affairs, MTV.  “We’re proud to join with this remarkable coalition and reinforce regular testing as one way America’s youth can be greater than AIDS.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), of the more than one million Americans living with HIV today, one in five of those infected don’t know their status. The CDC encourages all Americans between the ages of 13-64 to get tested on a routine basis as part of their overall health and well-being similar to cholesterol, blood pressure, and other screens.

More here.

Fear is useless, get the test. The key to a longer, healthier life with HIV is early diagnosis and treatment. So if you’ve been thinking about it, do it. If you need a friend to go with you, call someone. Better yet, grab your best friend and just go together.

Today.

The key to preventing this disease is treating the people who already have it. We know that people who are taking their meds are much less likely to pass on the virus. And if they don’t pass on the virus, it can’t spread. The greatest reason for this epidemic today is this: people who don’t know their status- who are HIV infected and are not treating it, are infecting their partners. Treatment may well be the greatest key to prevention.

Let’s stop the cycle.

Click here to find a testing site near you.

Monday Weirdness 5/6/11

Because you needed to know:

The severed head of the patron saint of genital diseases is off to Los Angeles – after it was sold at a County Meath antiques auction.

Photo Courtesy The Irish Times

An unnamed Californian phone bidder successfully won the head of St Vitalis of Assisi for $5,000.
The bizarre item sold in Duleekis reportedly the head of 14th-century Italian saint who became a hermit in later life after years of promiscuity as a youngster.

Following his death in 1370, the Benedictine monk became known as the patron saint of those suffering from genital disease.

The skull of the saint, enshrined in an antique glass case, had been on display in the hallway of a period mansion in County Louth for many years.

Weird. That’s all I’m going to say- too many things crashing together in my head…
Full story here.

Wake Up Call- Or Not?

Depends on who you ask.

Moody’s Investor’s Service issued a warning that The U.S. credit rating could be in jeopardy if the debt ceiling is not raised, according to the NYT. And still, Republicans and Democrats can’t seem to reach a deal. Excerpt:

The treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, met on Capitol Hill with House freshmen, including Republicans who have suggested that they see little or no risk in a showdown over the debt limit. Citing the Moody’s statement, Mr. Geithner urged them to support raising it or risk an economic crisis.

“We didn’t create this mess,” one Republican told Mr. Geithner, according to a person in the room.

Independent analyses have shown that more than half of the $14.3 trillion debt is from policies enacted during the past decade when Republicans controlled both the White House and Congress, and much of the rest from lost revenues and stimulus spending and tax cuts since Mr. Obama took office at the height of the financial crisis and recession. (empases mine)

So… they did create this mess. And they have refused to learn the lesson, just keep digging in the same deep hole. Another Republican out-of-touch story.

Read the full article here.

Disturbed? Run For Office!

A friend recently drew my attention to some of the similarities between the recently announced KKK GOP Congressional candidate in Montana and some of the extremist members of the Republican Party in the Montana Legislature. I thought I’d share a few with you. So, just to catch you up:

John Abarr, a former organizer for the KKK, filed to run in the Republican primary for Montana’s congressional seat on May 25, 2011. (More info here: http://helenair.com/news/article_613dd194-8cdc-11e0-9dfc-001cc4c002e0.html)

Abarr’s ties to the KKK have been well documented. Of his affiliation with the Klan, he has said:

“It’s not any different than the NAACP,” he says. “The Klan is basically a civil rights organization that stands up for the rights of white people. The Montana Human Rights Network likes to blow everything out of proportion.”

Gotta love the logic. Republicans, such as gubernatorial candidate Rick Hill have tried to distance themselves from this guy.  However, after this legislative session in Montana, it’s hard to deny the fact that he is well within the extremist wing of the Republican party.

LGBT Issues

Abarr has also called for the deportation of gays, lesbians and Jewish people: http://missoulanews.bigskypress.com/missoula/etc/Content?oid=1133942 And, as I’ve reported numerous times, the Montana Republican Party Platform calls for the re-criminalization of gay people in the state:

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

During the Legislative session, Republicans refused to remove language that had been ruled unconstitutional by both the state and federal supreme courts calling for the criminalization of gays and lesbians from Montana law. And they made  disgusting comments on the bill :

 Some Republicans even denied that the courts had struck down the statute

HIV/AIDS

According to the Human Rights Network, Abarr sent a flier to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle in 2007, urging Bozeman residents to stay inside to avoid contracting HIV during the Montana Pride Celebration. He claimed that HIV could be transmitted by air. 

During the most recent legislative session, Republican House Speaker Pro Tempe, Rep. Janna Taylor claimed people in prison were spreading HIV by blowdarts: http://www.youtube.com/watchv=igYKflAdzjo&feature=channel_video_title

Racial Minorities

Abarr said of his choice to move to Montana:

“I’ve pretty much decided since I spent some time in California that it (a pure white Christian nation) is just not gonna be. I mean there’s so many of them (racial minorities),” Abarr says, adding that in Montana it’s easier to achieve an all-white society.”

Republican Rep. James Knox introduced a bill that would redefine what a citizen of Montana is and essentially ignore the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. This bill would have likely removed citizenship from Native Americans and the children of immigrants in the state.

Convinced? I’ll bet there’s more if you look.

The key to redefining politics in this state is to redefine politicians. We effectively tied the hands of the most effective tool (building relationships) by enacting term limits. There is no longer any reason for any of our state legislators to cultivate relationships for the good of the people of the State of Montana- instead, people are just interested in ramming their own crazy-ass agendas through the legislative process.

Reason will only prevail when we elect reasonable people- people who are interested in communicating, are not threatened by differences and will work to guarantee a future in this state for all its people- not just a few…

Proposed DSM-5 Changes: Derogatory Labeling & Pathologizing The Identity Of Trans Persons

(reprinted from GID Reform Weblog)

by Kelley Winters, Ph.D.
GID Reform Advocates
http://www.gidreform.org
kelley@gidreform.org

On May 5th, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) released a second round of proposed diagnostic criteria for the 5th Edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). These include two diagnostic categories that impact the trans communities, Gender Dysphoria (formerly Gender Identity Disorder, or GID) and Transvestic Disorder (Formerly Transvestic Fetishism). While GID has received a great deal of attention in the press and from GLBTQ advocates, the second Transvestic category is too often overlooked. This is unfortunate, because the Transvestic Disorder diagnosis is designed to punish social and sexual gender nonconformity and enforce binary stereotypes of assigned birth sex. It plays no role in enabling access to medical transition care, for those who need it, and is frequently cited when care is denied (Winters 2010). I urge all trans community members, friends, care providers and allies to call for the removal of this punitive and scientifically unfounded diagnosis from the DSM-5. The current period for public comment to the APA ends June 15.

Like its predecessor, Transvestic Fetishism, in the current DSM, Transvestic Disorder is authored by Dr. Ray Blanchard, of the Toronto Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH, formerly known as the Clarke Institute). Blanchard has drawn outrage from the transcommunity for his defamatory theory of autogynephilia, asserting that all transsexual women who are not exclusively attracted to males are motivated to transition by self-obsessed sexual fetishism (Winters 2008A). He is canonizing this harmful stereotype of transsexual women in the DSM-5 by adding an autogynephilia specifier to the Transvestic Fetishism diagnosis (APA 2011) . Worse yet, Blanchard has broadly expanded the diagnosis to implicate gender nonconforming people of all sexes and all sexual orientations, even inventing an autoandrophilia specifier to smear transsexual men. Most recently, he has added an “In Remission” specifier to preclude the possibility of exit from diagnosis. Like a roach motel, there may be no way out of the Transvestic Disorder diagnosis, once ensnared.

What You Can Do Now

  1. Go to the APA DSM-5 web site (APA 2011), click on “register now,” create a user account and enter your statement in the box. The deadline for this second period of public comment is June 15.
  2. Sign the Petition to Remove Transvestic Disorder from the DSM-5 (IFGE 2010), sponsored by the International Foundation for Gender Education.
  3. Demand that your local, national and international GLBTQ nonprofit organizations issue public statements calling for the removal of this defamatory Transvestic Disorder category from the DSM-5. Very few have so far.
  4. Spread the word to your network, friends and allies.

For more information, see GID Reform Advocates (Winters, 2010)