Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day in the USA: a letter, and a love, to remember

This is a letter written by a gay World War II soldier, and originally published in 1961. It's beautiful, and heart-wrenching, and so profound:




Click on the letter to see it full sized

Our GLBTQ history is so important to preserve, and to know. Thanks to the One National Gay and Lesbian Archives for sharing this with the world, and to all the GLBTQ soldiers who, out or not, fought for our freedoms.

And most of all, my appreciation to Brian and Dave, for having the courage to love all those years ago - and helping us see that even across time, our hearts are the same.

Namaste,
Lee

Friday, May 28, 2010

Blogging, Honesty, and that Damn Sports Closet: Hockey Kid "Mikey"


So there was this blog that was getting a lot of attention. It was an anonymous blog, by "Mikey," a closeted gay Teen who was an ice hockey player. He talked about loving sports, and being gay, and how he felt he couldn't come out.

Lots of other Teens who felt like they couldn't find a place to be both jocks and gay were drawn to the blog, and a community started to build around it.

Then, recently, it was revealed that this anonymous Teen was actually NOT a Teen at all. The photos "Mikey" had posted of himself with his face blurred out weren't him. In fact, he was some adult. (Here's the full story over at outsports.com)

Now, there's been noise on both sides of this issue. Outrage at someone pretending to be what they're not - and at the same time, some appreciation for the fact that, written by a Teen or not, that blog created a space for actual closeted teen jocks to find each other and a sense of community.

I find this story really upsetting. Here's my count-down of why:

5. It's a total catch-22 with sports and the closet - the more people say 'you can't be gay and play team sports' the more it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. We need more heroes to stand up and be out while they're still playing. (Not just coming-out-after-the-fact memoirs of retired NFL, NBA and MLB players - as great as those are.) I want to read a blog by an out and proud gay teen jock.

4. You don't have to pretend to be a Teen to create a safe space for Teens. I've worked really hard to make this blog something of a virtual Gay-Straight Alliance for Teens and their allies - and everyone knows I'm not a Teen. Adults have a really important place in the lives of Teens, but it is by being guides and creating safe spaces, not by pretending to be a Teen!

3. If you want to write fiction, write fiction. But don't try to pass fiction off as fact. Lies always get revealed eventually.

2. I'm angry for the Teens who were betrayed by someone they had accepted as one of their own.

1. I'm angry for all the gay adults who now how to fight even more that harmful myth that gay men are not to be trusted around children - because the adult that perpetrated this lie of being "Mikey" seems to have been a gay man. The myth/lie of the connection between pedophilia and homosexuality has been shown again and again to be false, but stories like this - of an untrustworthy gay adult - lying to teenagers - doesn't help that lie go away. This is a story that doesn't help our GLBTQ and Allied community. It doesn't help how our greater culture perceives us.

It's also another excuse/reason for gay adults to not be there for gay Teens - because they're afraid their actions will be misconstrued as inappropriate. And that fear acts as a wedge between the generations.

Ultimately, I wonder if the tale of "Mikey" and his blog will make it that much harder for other closeted gay teens to share their struggles.

I'm certain it will make me more dubious of the next anonymous 'closeted gay teen' confessional.

What's your take on the lessons we should learn from this?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Paper Bag Princess - A Feminist Picture Book


story by Robert Munsch, art by Michael Martchenko

Oh how I love this book.

It's so deceptively simple: A Pretty Princess loves a Handsome Prince.

Enter a Dragon, who burns the Princess' castle and all her clothes, and captures the Prince and carries him away.

The only thing Princess Elizabeth can find to wear is a paper bag. Thus, she becomes 'The Paper Bag Princess' and heads off to rescue Prince Ronald from the dragon's lair.

It's an adventure, and has the best ending... well, ever.

The art is fantastic (the fire!) and the story so empowering!



Oh, how I wish I "The Paper Bag Princess" had been read to me when I was a kid. I'm reading it to my daughter - and let me tell you, it's become a family favorite!

Enjoy!

Namaste,
Lee

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Letters To Montgomery Clift - A Gay Teen Novel


By Noel Alumit

Bong Bong, as a child, is sent by his mother to Los Angeles to escape the chaos of his Philippine homeland.

And Montgomery Clift, a movie star on the TV, becomes his first American friend.

Through a long series of letters to his idol, Bong Bong chronicles his growing up, his sexual awakening, and maybe getting to a place where his life can finally begin.

I met the author, Noel Alumit, this weekend, and here's how he sold me on his book. (And yes, of course, I bought a copy!):




"Letters To Montgomery Clift" won a Violet Quill Award and the Stonewall Book Award. Add your review of this book in comments!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

*CORRECTION* Queer couple sentenced to 14 Years In Jail for... LOVE

I've actually never had to do this before in more than two and a half years and 700 posts, but I'm publishing this *CORRECTION* of this story I blogged about earlier today.



How the story appeared in the newspaper in Malawi, clearly showing that this couple are not "two men" but rather a man and a person who presents as a woman.


But in this photo from the trial, the transgender person is denied wearing the clothes she normally wears, and thus the Western media shout about the injustice to these "two men" - They're certainly part of our Queer community, but we have to call this what it is.

It is still too crazy.

But it's happening. A transgender male-to-female twenty-something and a twenty-something guy fall in love. The couple invite their friends to a party where, even though their marriage isn't legal in their country (due to the lack of transgender rights), they can celebrate their engagement.

Word gets out that the transgender woman is not a 'real' woman, and the couple is arrested.

And last week, convicted to 14 years of hard labor.

For daring to love each other.

The couple are Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, and they are citizens of Malawi, in Africa.


Here's a petition you can sign, urging the President of Malawi to release the couple immediately.

You can also check out and support Amnesty International, which publicizes cases like these and other "prisoners of conscience" around the world - people - male, female, and transgender, who are jailed and persecuted unjustly.

My thanks to Andy over at Towleroad for the online petition link and for sharing what Madonna and President Obama had to say (Madonna made the same mistake I did earlier, referring to the couple as "two men", while the White House did a better job of stating:

The criminalization of sexual orientation and gender identity is unconscionable



And my Thanks to Angie for helping me see this as the trans-phobic story it is.

Check out this great blog post over at Skip The Makeup for more on the trans-phobia surrounding the reporting of this story!

Gay Couple Sentenced To 14 Years In Jail For... LOVE.



It's too crazy.

But it's happening. Two twenty-something guys fall in love. They invite their friends to a party where, even though gay marriage isn't legal in their country, they can celebrate their engagement.

Word gets out, and the couple is arrested.

And last week, convicted to 14 years of hard labor.

For daring to love each other.

The men are Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, and they are citizens of Malawi, in Africa.


Here's a petition you can sign, urging the President of Malawi to release the two men immediately.

You can also check out and support Amnesty International, which publicizes cases like these and other "prisoners of conscience" around the world - people who are jailed and persecuted unjustly.

My thanks to Andy over at Towleroad for not only sharing what Madonna and President Obama had to say, but for the link to the online petition.

Okay, the first comment of the day from Angie made me look at this story in a whole new light. Rather than a rather clear example of parallels to our struggle for gay marriage in the West, looking closer reveals that this is more rightly labeled a case of "trans-phobia," as even in the New York Times article on this case back in February, they write in the opening paragraph:

BLANTYRE, Malawi — Tiwonge Chimbalanga looked like a man but said he was a woman. He helped with the cooking and dressed in feminine wraparound skirts. Steven Monjeza was a quiet, sullen man often intoxicated on sorghum beer. He said he had never been happy until he finally met the right companion.

But then the article continues to refer to Tiwonge as "Mr. Chimbalanga"

And I'm embarrassed that I didn't dig further and take greater pains to be more accurate. This isn't a story about discrimination about two gay men. It's a story about a transgender person and the man who loved that transgender person - and how their society can't accept their love. I strongly feel that if a person says, (as Chimbalanga did in the NY Times Article)

He explained later: “I have male genitals, but inside I am a complete woman."


The pronoun used should reflect and respect that transgender person's identity. I believe the NY Times would have written:

She explained later: "I have male genitals, but inside I am a complete woman."


So please allow me to correct myself here, with the post that follows!

Thank you, Angie!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Harvey Milk Story - A Gay Civil Rights Hero Non-Fiction Picture Book



By Kari Krakow, Illustrated by David Gardner

"On a rainy day in January, on the steps of San Francisco's City Hall, Harvey Milk was sworn into office, the first openly gay elected city official in the United States of America. Harvey Milk had made history."

It's the life story of the civil rights leader.

And oh, how it would have changed my life if this picture book had been read to me when I was a child!

Add your review of The Harvey Milk Story in comments!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Sunday is Harvey Milk Day in California... A Little History (His Story) And ACTION Can Empower Us All!

"What set Harvey apart from you or me was that he was a visionary. He imagined a righteous world inside his head and then he set about to create it for real, for all of us."


-Anne Kronenberg, Harvey Milk's final campaign manager

California is honoring Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected public official in California.

Tragically, Harvey was assassinated. But we can honor his memory by continuing his fight for equality for ALL - including those of us who are Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning!

Check out the Equality Across America website for a listing of ACTIONS you can be part of to stand up in support of
"Equal protection in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states."



In August 2009, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Milk the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contribution to the gay rights movement stating "he fought discrimination with visionary courage and conviction".

And also last year, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger designated May 22 as "Harvey Milk Day", and inducted Milk in the California Hall of Fame.


There's two wonderful films about Harvey Milk. The Times Of Harvey Milk, a documentary that won the Academy Award (for best documentary) back in 1984. And Milk, a 2008 biopic that won two Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor (Sean Penn as Milk.)

There's also a picture book, The Harvey Milk Story!


(more on the picture book on Monday!)

Happy Harvey Milk Day - and let's each of us stand up for equality for ALL!

I'm gonna let Harvey have the last word, which I think he would have loved:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Marine (and current CA Assemblyman) Nathan Fletcher on Ending "Don't Ask Don't Tell"

Happily, the California Assembly did pass this Anti-Don't Ask Don't Tell measure, which will now go to our Governor Schwarzenegger to (hopefully) sign.




You can e-mail the Governor here.

More info on the bill:



Repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell


Bill Number: SJR 9

This resolution would put California on record in support of the federal Military Readiness Enhancement Act, recognizing the vital contributions of gay and lesbian members of our armed forces and reversing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Status: Passed full Senate with a 23-16 vote on August 24, 2009. Passed the Assembly with bipartisan support on May 13, 2010.

Author: Senator Christine Kehoe

Principal Co-Authors: Senator Leno and Assembly Members Ammiano, Brownley, Evans, Feuer, Jones, Lieu, Ma, Monning, John A. Pérez, and Salas.




Thanks to all the above for the efforts to put California's weight on the side of equality - hoping that pressure helps move things along on the federal level.

In fact, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA) is expected to offer an amendment to the House version of the Defense Authorization bill that would overturn DADT. Similar action is also expected in the Senate Armed Services Committee on May 27.

For Rep. Murphy's amendment to be offered, however, the Speaker of the House must first schedule a vote.

And that's where each of us can help - right now.

Urge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to schedule a vote on Rep. Murphy's repeal amendment to the Defense Authorization bill next week.

Call Speaker Pelosi today.

(202) 225-0100

Also, contact your representative in Congress and tell them that waiting any longer to repeal this terrible law is not an option.

In the words of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network:

We are closer to achieving repeal than ever before.


And my appreciation to Nathan, for having the courage to speak honestly about this, and to everyone fighting to get rid of Don't Ask Don't Tell.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Kiss - A Teen Novel About A Girl Loving A Boy Who is Gay


By Jacqueline Wilson

What happens when the boy you want to kiss wants to kiss the boy next door?

Sylvie always believed she'd end up marrying Carl someday. After all, they've been best friends since they were little. Now they're in High School, and Sylvie dreams of Carl kissing her...

But it doesn't even happen during a game of spin-the-bottle! And it should have!

Sylvie slowly comes to realize that Carl is Gay.

And when Carl has Gay heartbreaks of his own, Sylvie has to figure out if can she be there for him. After all, he broke her heart, didn't he?


My thanks to Yapha for the heads-up on this book. Add your review of "Kiss" in comments!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

When A Book Speaks To You: The "King & King" Fan Re-Enactment


So there's this amazing picturebook, "King & King" by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland, which finally gives us a prince finding another prince and falling in love with each other happily ever after fairy tale of our own.

Look what some fans of the book, led by the remarkable two Dad DepFox family, did to bring it to life:




Thanks to HunnyBeez for spreading the word!

Monday, May 17, 2010

GSA Mondays: Grab one of these Transcripts From the Prop 8 Trial "Perry v. Schwarzenegger" and Bring this Historic Trial To Life (and to LIGHT!)


Courage Campaign Equality got Academy Award winning Producer Bruce Cohen to go through three weeks of transcripts and select 10 transcripts that you and your friends and your GSA can act out.

Choose a transcript, print it out, and read it aloud in your next GSA meeting.

Stage a performance during lunchtime at your school, so other Teens will know what's going on.

Video your performance and upload it to youtube to share it wider.

Or just read the transcripts.

They're powerful. I just read the first transcript, Kristen Perry's Prop 8 testimony, and it was really striking how I felt like it gave me a window into this trial - this historic event - that enemies of my equality fought to keep from the light.

They fought to not have cameras in the courtroom.

They fought to not have the trial televised, or even uploaded to youtube.

This is a brilliant way around that. It's delayed, but it's real. The real testimony. The real trial, that will effect the equality of GLBTQ people in this state, and by extension, in this country and beyond.

Prejudice is Prejudice, and it must be struck down.

And transparency of the workings of prejudice, of the fight for equality, can only help.

Go to the transcripts.

Check out the video of Marissa Tomei and Josh Lucas performing Kristen Perry's testimony in a park in West Hollywood.

This is history happening right now. And these transcripts offer each of us a way to claim a piece of it for ourselves!

Namaste,
Lee

My thanks to Fred for the heads-up on this great project/opportunity.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Gay for Pay: What's Missing From the "Straight Actors Can Play Gay But Gay Actors Can't Play Straight Convincingly" Dust-Up

So there was this Newsweek column a few days ago by an openly gay entertainment reporter, Ramin Setoodeh:

Straight Jacket: Heterosexual actors play Gay all the time. Why doesn't it ever work in reverse?

about how we, as a society, are willing to watch straight actors play gay (think Brokeback Mountain, where both Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal are straight actors who play these cowboys who fall in passionate love with each other...) but that gay actors, when they try to play straight, make a farce of it.

He cites as proof the "there's something about his performance that feels off" Jonathan Groff as Jesse St. James - Rachel's love interest on "Glee," and also the "it's weird to see Hayes play straight" Sean Hayes (the more flamboyant gay character from Will and Grace, who recently came out) as the romantic lead versus Kristin Chenoweth on Broadway in "Promises, Promises."


The openly gay actor Jonathan Groff as Jesse St. James
getting all singy-makey-outy with
Lea Michelle as Rachel Barry in the Broadway musical "Spring Awakening."

They play love interests to each other once again in "Glee,"
and you can see a video of one of their scenes together here!


Here they are together in a still from "Glee"

There's been a lot of noise and blowback on the premise (and the specifics) of the article (like this great rebuttal by David Dean Bottrell here, and Kristin Chenowith's rebuke of Newsweek for even running the piece in the first place, calling it "horrendously homophobic") at the article's upshot - that gay actors understandably stay closeted because no one can believe a gay actor playing straight. Then of course, the author of the article published a defense, here. And most recently, this great article by Aaron Sorkin pointing out that the real culprit is our culture's obsession with the private lives of public people. Tabloids. "Entertainment" shows.

My first reaction to this whole thing was "really? Jesse St. James is being played by a gay actor? How cool is that!"

My second reaction was that I'm wondering if watching a known heterosexual actor play gay makes it somehow feel "safer" for people uncomfortable with gay sexuality to watch. Watching two guys kiss passionately, and knowing they're enjoying it, might be uncomfortable in that it makes them reflect on their own sexuality, or their own discomfort.

But watching two guys kiss passionately, and knowing they're really straight, and are probably just doing it because it's a good job, and pays well... well, everyone does stuff they don't particularly love for a paycheck sometimes, right? Okay, and it just really proves those straight guys are amazing actors. Yeah. They're probably thinking about women while they kiss each other...

See? Those uncomfortable-with-gay-sexuality people can watch the two guy make-out session without getting too self-reflective or squirmy. It's just acting, after all.

And maybe when we flip it, that distance backfires. Watching a gay actor play straight, maybe uncomfortable-with-gay-sexuality people think, well, I know he really would be rather kissing a guy, so it's hard to buy that straight kiss.

Maybe uncomfortable-with-gay-sexuality people don't like the notion that closeted gay people fool straight people all the time, and that Ha-HA! If they know an actor is gay, they can't let go of that fact because it's such an issue for them personally, and that knowledge prevents them from actually seeing the performance for what it is.

Why don't we watch a gay male actor kissing a woman on screen and think - man, that's some mighty fine acting?

Because Jesse St. James had me fooled. And isn't that the point of acting? To take on the role of someone else and tell their story?

I hope every GLBTQ Actor comes out.

The more of them that do, the easier this whole thing will be for everyone.

As the Amazing Kristin Chenoweth said in her rebuttal to the newsweek article:

Lastly, as someone who’s been proudly advocating for equal rights and supporting GLBT causes for as long as I can remember, I know how much it means to young people struggling with their sexuality to see out & proud actors like Sean Hayes, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, and Cynthia Nixon succeeding in their work without having to keep their sexuality a secret.


And while I thought Jonathan Groff (Jesse) has a great voice, is a good actor, and is easy on the eyes, knowing he's gay makes me an even bigger fan of him... and of the show.

What do you think? Did you know Jesse St. James was being played by a gay actor? Does it matter to you?

Gleekily yours,

Lee

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Good Girls Don't - A Questioning Teen Novel


By Claire Hennessy

Emily is 17, growing up in Ireland, and she is NOT a good girl.

Unlike her older sister, who's perfect (...at being a bigot.)

Unlike her former crush Lucy, who's suddenly "reformed."

No, Emily's not good. But she's trying to help her friends, and figure her own life out. And maybe someday, Emily can even wind up with a Prince... or a Princess.


My thanks to Peduntic (Aisling) for the recommendation. Add your review of "Good Girls Don't" in comments!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Don't Ask Don't Tell is a Bad Policy for our military, and a Bad Policy for our Supreme Court Nominees. Elena Kagan, are you a Lesbian?


Watch CBS News Videos Online

Sigh.

I wish we didn't have to ask.

But the sphere of public influence has changed, and there's not much that's private about private lives anymore.

A month or so ago, when Elena Kagan's name first floated up as a possible nominee for this Nation's highest court, talk flew about her being a lesbian. The White House was swift to condemn the rumors. I wasn't sure how offended to be by that. I mean, really, who cares if she's a lesbian? And why the presumption of horrible offense/slander for her to be called one? Haven't we moved past that knee-jerk reaction?

Sadly, no. There are plenty of people out there reminding us just how tough it is to be out and proud and still try to achieve great heights.

The American Family Association's Bryan Fischer said on his blog that:

Social conservatives must rise up as one and say no lesbian is qualified to sit on the Supreme Court.

Wow. No lesbian? Really? No matter how qualified?

That's as stark a statement of discrimination as I can imagine.

And that's what we're up against. That mentality of the extreme right that shrieks in anger (which is really their fear) if anyone not part of their club gets close to their power.

Hate-mongers aside, I agree with Andrew Sullivan, who said on his blog that knowing if Elena Kagan is Gay is as material as her being Jewish. If she hid being Jewish, it would be weird and offensive, right? Same deal here.

I'm sure she'll be asked. And I hope she'll answer proudly either:

Yes, I'm a member of the queer community.


or

No, but I'm a straight Ally of the queer community, even more so from this experience of the prejudice they face.


But I hope she doesn't take the 5th and avoid the question. Because at the end of the day, we need to change things so one's sexual orientation is NOTHING to hide. But instead, something to celebrate.

I don't really care if Elena Kagan is a lesbian (though the sense of representation I'd feel if there was an openly queer justice sitting on the high court would be a nice thing.) But you just have to look back in the news a couple of days to be reminded that just having same-sex passions doesn't necessarily make you a friend, or even an ally, of the Gay (GLBTQ) community. (George Rekers, anyone?)

I don't care if Elena Kagan is a lesbian or a straight woman of a certain age who's never been married. All I care about is knowing if she'll be a fair justice, and an Ally to our Queer community, as we fight for equality in the decades ahead.

I'm sure there's some people who feel, like with actors, or sports figures, that a supreme court justice coming out is something to be done from the safety of retirement or after one is sitting with a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land.

And that may very well be the Obama Administration's strategy.

And I may be naive in what I'm about to say, but I'm going to write it anyway:

Hiding sucks. If teenagers can find the strength to be real and fight for the right to attend their Prom with their same-sex girlfriends (like Constance McMillen), then by golly Adults in power should find that strength, too.

If Elena Kagan, US Solicitor General and nominee to the US Supreme Court is a lesbian, let her come out. Let liberals and fair-minded conservatives rally to her side and her cause, and let's have the WAR on the merits of her qualifications.

Let's shame those little-minded bigots who say that "no lesbian is fit to serve" and out-vote them and prove them wrong.

Let's stand up for ourselves, our community, and the teens coming after us.

Come on, Elena Kagan. The truth.

To add to the mix, as Dean of the Harvard Law School Elena Kagan rallied against "Don't Ask Don't Tell," and fought the military's recruitment on her campus.

In an email to students and faculty at the time, Kagan responded to the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, stating: "I abhor the military's discriminatory recruitment policy."


But then there's this report, that in answer to a questionnaire regarding her appointment to U.S. Solicitor General, she said:

There is no Federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage.



It's corroborated by CBS news:

If Kagan is confirmed, "The hope of a nationally recognized right to gay marriage is over," writes William Jacobson, associate clinical professor of law at Cornell Law School.

Jacobson notes that in a questionnaire she filled out as a nominee for solicitor general, Kagan unequivocally wrote, "There is no federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage."

The issue may come before the High Court because of a challenge that has been filed against California's Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage.



Huh. That's disappointing.

So, what do you think? Should Elena Kagan come out as whatever she is? And I know it shouldn't matter, but would it matter to you either way?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Diary of Baby Chulo: A Memoir in the Form of a Novel - A Gay Latino Teen Book


By Frankie Barrera

Baby Chulo is a Teen growing up gay in the Mission District of San Francisco.

Told through a mix of diary entries and poetry, Baby Chulo struggles to find his way amid the AIDS crisis and the homophobia of his strict Latin family.



My thanks to the author for letting me know about his self-published book. Add your review of "The Diary of Baby Chulo" in comments!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Push - A Teen Novel With A Lesbian Teacher Who Changes Everything


By Sapphire


Precious is 16. She's pregnant by her own father for the second time.

But then she meets Ms. Rain, a teacher (a lesbian teacher), who shows her the power of words... and Precious finds the strength to transform her life.

This is the book that the Oscar-winning movie "Precious" was based on. I blogged about the movie, here, in honor of National Teacher Appreciation Day, but this book deserves its own post, and its own spot on the list of Teen novels with significant GLBTQ Parent/Caretaker Characters.

Add your review of "Push" in comments!

Friday, May 7, 2010

George Rekers and His Rent Boy: In Which Yet Another Virulently Anti-Gay Homophobe turns out to be a closeted, self-hating GAY man.

So it hit the news this week that George Rekers, the co-founder of the anti-gay Family Research Council (he founded it with James Dobson) the organization called the "standard-bearer of the nation's extreme right wing," and the man who has been testifying as an "expert witness" in favor of gay adoption bans in both Arkansas and Florida, found a young man through an advertisement of his sexual services on a website, and had that young man accompany him on a 10 day trip to Europe.

They were photographed coming back into the country at the Miami airport.

Rekers acknowledged traveling with the young man, but explained that he needed someone to help him with his luggage. (Amusingly, the photo shows Rekers pushing the luggage cart.)

The article that broke the story in the Miami News Times (a warning - there's some explicit quotes in the article from the Rent Boy's online advertisement. The article is here) explains how complicated it would have been for Rekers to find his young traveling companion, and that he couldn't have just happened upon the ad:

To arrive at Lucien's site, Rekers must have accepted Rentboy.com's terms of use, thereby acknowledging he was not offended by graphic sexual material. He then would have been transported to a front page covered with images of naked, tumescent men busily sodomizing each other.

Then Rekers must have performed a search. Did he want a "rentboy," a "sugar daddy," or a "masseur"? In what country? And what city? If Rekers searched for a rent boy in Miami, he would have found approximately 80 likely candidates. He must have scrolled down the first page, past the shirtless bears and desperate ex-models, and on to page 2. There, at last, was Lucien.





So why is it that the most virulent homophobes turn out to be closeted, self-loathing gay men? That time and again, the people working hardest to destroy queer rights and lives are acting out of some warped spy-movie premise that

No one will suspect I like guys in that way if I'm the loudest oppressor and opponent of gay rights and people. If I stand up and shout about how wrong it is to be gay, and tell people that men who find intimacy with other men are making a terrible choice and they could change if only they wanted to badly enough, then no one will think I would ever do those things. I'll fight to make sure gays won't get any civil rights (and that way I'll get to keep my rights and privileges, and no one will ever know...)


If anyone needed proof that being gay isn't a choice, just look at the men who have made their professions and fame by preaching hatred of and discrimination against gays and then were caught, pants down, with other men in - shall we say - compromising positions.

Senator Larry Craig, voted to ban gay adoption in Washington, D.C., and voted against every gay-equality civil rights bill he could. (He received a 0% rating by the Human Rights Campaign in December 2006.) He was arrested in an airport bathroom in June 2007 and many men have since come forward claiming to have had sex with him.

And just back in March, Anti-Gay California State Senator Roy Ashburn was arrested for Driving Under the Influence (Drunk Driving) after leaving a gay bar.

Oh, and don't forget Ted Haggard, the Pastor who was outed by his prostitute!

In fact, I started to make a list, but then I found this great one at Ranker! Thanks, Joanne!




George Rekers is only the latest in this sorry roster.


"While he keeps a low public profile, his fingerprints are on almost every anti-gay effort to demean and dehumanize LGBT people," says Wayne Besen, a gay rights advocate in New York City and the executive director of Truth Wins Out, which investigates the anti-gay movement. "His work is ubiquitously cited by lobby groups that work to deny equality to LGBT Americans. Rekers has caused a great deal of harm to gay and lesbian individuals."



It must be a strange kind of hell, to make your fame - to build your whole life - on holding down others like yourself.


A possible silver lining? We may have arrived at what I'm going to call The Queen in Hamlet Tipping Point:

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

(Act III, scene 2, line 230)



We may have arrived at the place where anyone who is too rabidly anti-gay will be perceived by the larger culture as probably another closeted, self-hating gay man, trying to throw us off the scent.

Because really, who's next? Will Anita Bryant be revealed to be a lesbian?

Oh, I shudder at the thought of our community having to claim her.

Stephen Colbert sums the Rekers scandal up nicely (with some funny moments!) which you can watch here. Thanks to Lynne for the heads up on the Colbert Report segment!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Rhythm and Blues - A Lesbian Teen Book


By Jill Murray

Alya's dreams seem to be coming true when she's "discovered" and joins a hot new girl group, EnChantay.

As she's swept into the show biz race for stardom and crushes on another girl, Alya has to figure out: Can she embrace her true self and still have her dreams come true?

Check out the book trailer:



Add your review of "Rhythm and Blues" in comments!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Mariposa Club - A Latino Gay Teen Book

By Rigoberto Gonzalez

"Mariposa" means butterfly in Spanish.

It's also a slang term for gay men in Latin America.

Originally it was derogatory, but the term is being claimed by some gay Latinos with pride - just as the word "queer" has been de-fanged over time and made into a term of empowerment.

But for Maui, it's a struggle to be Latino and gay. He does have some gay friends, and together the "fierce foursome" (Isaac, Trini, Liberace and Maui) try to form a GLBTQ alliance at their school.

But it turns out to be even tougher than they thought... Will they be able to make their idea of "The Mariposa Club" a reality?


Check out this review by Ryan over at the New York Public Library's Stuff For The Teen Age blog, where he says,
"For any teen looking for a good book about fun and friendship, I recommend The Mariposa Club."
Add your review of "The Mariposa Club in comments!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Today is National Teacher Appreciation Day.. And That's So Gay (I mean that in the BEST way!)


Precious (left) and her teacher, Ms. Rain

I've been thinking a lot about the lesbian teacher character in last year's Oscar winner (Best Supporting Actress - Mo'Nique, and Best Adapted Screenplay - Geoffrey Fletcher) Precious (Based on the novel "Push" by Sapphire.) I loved how they had this teacher who really was the only adult reaching out to help Precious, and when the going gets horrible for Precious, it's this teacher who takes her into her home.

Then it's revealed that the teacher has a female spouse/partner, and that the teacher is a lesbian.

Uh-oh, I thought, watching the film for the first time.

I was so nervous it was going to go where Hollywood so often does - that homophobic cliche of queer adults preying on younger innocents. That fear of the charges of "pedophilia" is what fueled the "fire all the gay teachers" crusade of Anita Bryant and the Briggs Initiative back in the late 1970s, and frankly it is still what destroys the bonds between generations.

Gay Adults are afraid of being unjustly seen as predators, so we're not there for Gay youth. Gay youth, with no one to guide them, are often lost on their journeys. And Gay Elders, not having had anyone mentor them, are ill prepared to mentor Gay Adults. And because of that the generations are disconnected. And because of that, many of us don't really evolve or mature as individuals or as a culture, we just age.

We see this reflected in the larger straight society also, expressed in the near phobia of aging (or showing any signs of aging) but it seems even more pernicious and damaging in our GLBTQ circles, due to this generational isolation.

Teachers take the risk to bridge that gap.

Their mission is to reach across the generations, to create links of shared information and experience and nurture the passion and journeys of their students.

I was so happy that the lesbian teacher in Precious remained just that - a steadfast mentor, trying her best to help this girl find her path. There was no hanky-panky. And I loved the movie even more for being brave enough to let a lesbian be a role model in a movie full of people with such huge flaws.

The performances of so many of the cast stay with me, Gabby Sidibe as "Precious," Mo'Nique as her crazy mean mother "Mary," Lenny Kravitz as "Nurse John," Mariah Carey as the social worker, but most of all Paula Patton as "Ms. Rain."

If you haven't seen the movie yet, I recommend it (but be prepared, it's intense!) It's a powerful reminder of how great an impact a teacher can make in someone's life. Of how great a teacher can be. And of the power of words - which each of us can yield, and which ultimately help Precious find her voice, and her way.

In the real world, too, teachers ROCK!



Openly Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (Gender Non-Conforming) and Questioning Teachers are doubly heroes. For being guides, and role models of authenticity, for us all.

So Today, National Teacher Appreciation Day, even if you're not in the USA, tell someone who is a teacher in your life that you appreciate them, and that they are making a difference, to you.

Any teacher will tell you - hearing that is better than an apple, any day!

Namaste,
Lee

The cool rainbow apple image is from here.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Why the Gay Teen on "Glee" drives me nuts... and makes me want to sing at the same time.



He has a crush on a straight guy.

He sighs over toile.

He gives the lady he wants to set his dad up with a makeover.

Argh!

But then there was the episode where he was the football star. Kicking in the winning field goal. (To Beyonce's "Single Ladies", blasting over the football stadium.)

And those scenes with his Dad, who's a bit lost about having a gay son - but bottom line, loves Kurt and accepts him. Those scenes make me so happy it almost hurts.


The character Kurt is this frustrating mix of stereotype and not-stereotype, and I guess it's really a reflection of how few gay teen characters there are on TV that I care so much about how this one is representing for us.

And that's really the crux of it, isn't it? If you had 20 gay teen characters on major network shows during a TV season, it wouldn't be a big deal if one was a bit swishy. It wouldn't feel like that one character had to represent for ALL gay people, right?

But Kurt Hummel seems to be the only out gay teen on my TV, and so I cringe at each new exclamation of "fabulous!"

And it's not that I don't love my effeminate gay brothers and butch sisters - but I'm sensitive about the stereotypes. And I'm uncomfortable that one of the few representations of gay teens on TV is feeding into that stereotype.

And yet, people are falling in love with Kurt. Moisturizer regimen and all.

And that's something remarkable.

And really, playing a complex, three-dimensional queer character - even if some of those dimensions are what middle America expects - is progress. Especially because some of the dimensions Chris (and the writers) add to it aren't cliche gay - they're just "Kurt." And those are my favorite moments.

And did I mention, the boy can sing?

Last week's Dionne Warwick hit "A House Is Not A Home"
was Bee Gees-high, and well... beautiful.

I downloaded it, and I've been playing it. And guess what? I found myself singing along.

What do you think of the gay teen character (Kurt Hummel) on Glee?


There's this great interview with the openly gay actor Chris Colfer, who plays Kurt, here at Vanity Fair online. The best line is when he's asked about his upcoming gay love interest on the show, and he explains why he wants the guy to be less hot than him...


Namaste,
Lee