LGBTQ Push Back Fundraiser and Giveaway

lgbt book giveaway and fundraiser

From April 18th to May 1st, over 200 LGBT authors are coming together to push back against bigotry.

1) Instead of spending $5 on a book during the next two weeks, please consider donating $5 to an LGBT charity of your choice.

2) Go to Diverse Reader and tell them about it in the comments section.

3) Get in the drawing to win a book from one of the participating donors.

4) If you can’t afford to make a donation, then please share a charity link in the Diverse Reader comments section and spread the word across your social network. Every little bit helps.

Click the picture below to join in!

giveaway poster

Stonewall Veterans Kickoff Compassion Relay

Erica Kay-Webster and David Bermudez, veterans of the Stonewall rebellion in NYC, kick off a Global Compassion Relay from Cape Cod, Massachusetts and pass it on to AIDS/LifeCycle riders in San Francisco, to Los Angeles, Tanzania, Botswana and around the world to reach the opening of the 2014 Compassion Games on September 11, 2014.

To learn more about the activities planned in your city visit CompassionGames.org

 

 

The Future of LGBT Rights

lgbt flagWhat challenges do you see for the future for LGBT Rights?

A lot has been written in response to this question. There are still so many challenges for the future of LGBT rights that it is hard to narrow them down to just a few key points.  But I do think there is one key element which succinctly addresses all the larger concerns.

Single-fix focal points

We tend to focus on one issue at a time as if the issues we face as LGBT were non-inclusive of all the other issues. And we do so to our own detriment.

The battle for LGBT rights will never end. Never. I know many feel that statement to be pessimistic, but it’s reality. You only need to watch the news and you’ll see the strife (often carried across generations) to realize we will always be fighting for equality. And if not fighting, then defending against the corrosion of those rights we have won.

Where we leave gaps, our opponents gain a foothold. Marriage is the current focal point. It’s snappy, it has immediate gratification, it has great sound bites, and look at all those smiling faces…everyone is all dressed up for the party.

What you don’t see behind those photos are the 200,000+ homeless LGBT kids still on our streets, the level of poverty that most LGBT’s live in every day, the barbarity of verbal and physical attacks on trans people, and the continuing racial divide that separates much of the LGBT community.  Job discrimination? It’s bursting at the seams, but you hardly hear a word about it.

All these issues are connected, but our opponents have successfully lobbied the public (which includes LGBT) into believing that we should segregate our thoughts. This is a health issue, this over here is a black/white issue, that one is a jobs issue. Look, this is a trans issue, that a religious issue, and this is a gay issue.  And those lesbian feminists, that’s something else completely.

We need to start understanding the mindset behind the attacks on the LGBT community. They come down to one very effective mechanism for ineffectiveness: divide and conquer.  As we allow our opponents to create dissension among the LGBT community, they gain and we lose. Yes, single-focus has helped us make great gains (look at how far we have come with marriage), but at what cost? Who do we leave behind? Who decides who we sacrifice? How many do we sacrifice?

The single greatest challenge for the LGBT community is to finally come to the understanding that we have allowed our enemies to divide us.  All LGBT issues affect all of us.  If just one LGBT person is bound by the definitions set by our adversaries, then we are all bound. Not a single one of us truly gets the rights we are fighting for. Not one. The commonality between us is not that we are LGBT, but that we are human and that our opponents have taken our self-anointed labels and attempted to turn them against us.  But we’re changing that, slowly. (See below.)

What are gay activists/allies getting right? Getting wrong?

Got it Right

Redefining LGBT. For a long, long time our definition of what means to be LGBT was determined by others, haters usually. Every major movement, every major victory comes down to one basic fact: We have taken back and begun to redefine what it means to be LGBT. Our voices are now heard, not because we have shouted down our foes, but because we have proven them wrong both morally and factually.  These facts –the essence of who we are, what we do, and how we live – are what have given us every major victory. Remember, it only takes 10% of population holding an unshakable belief to convince the rest of the population to adopt the same belief.[1] So yes, every voice counts, including yours.

Got it Wrong

Claiming we won. We haven’t won, not by far. Victory in a few skirmishes and battles is not winning the war. Ask any African American if they won the battle against racism, ask any immigrant, any non-white. Ask a woman how the battles still rage over misogyny and sexism. Ask an LGBT kid in a small town how safe they feel, or how included, or how reviled.

Exporting ‘My Gay Life’.  There’s a lot we can do to support the movements in other countries for LGBT rights, but simply exporting our own ideas and ideals in the same way we market the ideal gay image (which is male, white, svelte and rich) is not going to work. Real change is cultural change and most Americans (gay and straight) have little understanding of other cultures, including those which are relatively close to our own.

You cannot take the supposed playbook from the US LGBT rights movement and simply plop it down in another country which has thousands of years of history and culture. Boots on the ground is what we need focus our efforts on – that is supporting those native men and women who are striving to make a change within their own countries. Anything else is viewed as another attempt at a subversive ‘western imperialism.’ See China, Russia, Uganda, Croatia, etc. (The list is endless.) The religious right and extremist groups are making strides at proclaiming that LGBT rights are an ‘imported phenomena.’ (Next they’ll be a CIA plot.) We know this is not true, but we still continue to market being LGBT as a ‘freedom’ and not as an inalienable right of being human. And we still, unfortunately, have the imperialist idea that we, as Americans, know what’s best for others. It’s hurting our international brothers and sisters, and it is something we need to halt, now. A freedom is something that is granted by the powers that be, a right is something inherent in being alive. We, as a community, need to learn the difference.

[1] Branderati

LGBT Stigma Project

The video pretty much says it all.

LGBT Stigma Project from Michael Witt on Vimeo.

Worst Thing About Coming Out

We hear a lot of stories, especially recently, about the wonders of coming out. Here’s an interesting documentary about what an LGBT person goes through and what happens after that momentous occasion. A common theme in this film, and what I often see in real life, is that teens especially fear their parent’s reaction much more than they do their peers. Or is it as one person suggests, that you are perpetually coming out? You decide.

Worst Thing About Coming Out: stories of identity oppression 60 minutes documentary from Rob Schmidt on Vimeo.

 

“Gay” is not an insult…

For me, being called gay has never been an insult. I don’t worry too much about what people say, as much as what they do. And being somewhat physically aggressive myself, I have (in the past) sometimes welcomed the opportunity to stomp some manners and sense into those who believe themselves on a higher moral ground. But there are other, and better ways, to handle such situations as the video below shows.

Cole Strona from G.J + Iziki + Cole talks with Equality Hawaii’s Mathew Bellhouse-King about being bullied, getting called “gay” and how music can make a difference.

“Gay” is not an insult… from Equality Hawaii on Vimeo.

 

Teacher Shares Closely Guarded Dirty Secret

secretInstinctively, I knew it was bad. Yet, until September of 2012, I had no idea how bad. Ignorant. I was ignorant. Plain, simple, and completely inexcusable.

What didn’t I know? 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT.

Why was it shocking that I did NOT know this stat? This past academic year was my twentieth year teaching mathematics; more than half of my career has been spent teaching at the college level in Boston.  Shouldn’t this be something I knew??? Sadly, the depth of my ignorance gets worse. By September of 2012, I was already actively supporting a wonderful young person discarded by family due to sexual orientation. I knew and loved a LGBT homeless teen. I thought it was an anomaly. As I spent that September night combing the university’s research holdings on the plight of LGBT youth, I had two main thoughts. [Read more…]

Interview with Don Brown from Blind LGBT Pride International

Blind LGBT Pride InternationalI’m talking with Don Brown today, past President of Blind LGBT Pride International an organization geared specifically toward helping blind LGBT connect, communicate, and dispel myths about gay blind people around the world. Don was also my point man when I had questions while writing Afflicted and provided valuable insight and criticism about the development of the manuscript.

B: Welcome Don. First, thanks so much for stopping by, and thank you very much for your input on Afflicted.  Do you think the book accurately reflects some of the issues that are faced by blind LGBT people when dealing with the sighted LGBT community?

D.B.  Brandon, thank you very much for inviting me. It was an awesome experience to be part of the manuscript development process for Afflicted and I appreciate this opportunity to get the word out about Blind LGBT Pride International and issues facing people who are vision impaired and LGBT. [Read more…]

Where Vaginas Collide – Interview with Erica Tremblay

Erica TrembleyToday I’m taking with Erica Tremblay (AKA Go-Go Gidget), filmmaker and Co-captain of the LA based Angel City Derby Girls. Erica is currently creating a documentary called The Vagine Regime (the VR) that focuses on lesbian, bisexual and transgender skaters within the fast growing sport of roller derby. Erica also produced the highly successful fitness series “Roller Derby Workout” and her first short film “Tiny Red Universe” won several festival prizes. Erica recently published her first comic book, “The Mad Maxines,” included in an anthology with Oni Press. [Read more…]

To Mom (A letter from a gay son)

The following is from Gay Family Values. It was a letter attached to the video you will see below. It was so touching that I thought I would re-share it here with you, because sometimes we forget just how hard it is, even for today’s LGBTQ youth, to come out to their parents. 

To Mom,
Mom I have been trying to talk to you for a while now but I just can’t bring the words to say it. So, I am writing you this letter instead. I just want you to know that it isn’t because I don’t feel like I can’t talk to you it’s just that I can’t bring myself to say the words.

So for a while now I have been struggling with myself internally. I have hated myself for a really long time and as scary as it sounds I thought of suicide as the only escape. I then thought of you, my family, my friends, and all of the other things that I would miss out on. What you have to understand is that this was and still is really hard for me. I’ve tried for the longest time to change but I just can’t . I would give anything to be different but this just is not going to change about me. By this point you can probably tell that what I am going to tell you is that I am gay. And I am sure you always knew. [Read more…]