Category: LGBTQ

Bigger Love — The latest Bubble and Squeak Podcast

Photo by Brian Kyed on Unsplash

While on Tablas Island in the Philippines on New Years Day 2019, I created a wish list of things I wanted to accomplished. This included learning how to write and produce radio dramas. Later that month I started an on-line course in radio drama and wrote my first script, Bigger Love.

It is about a gay couple in their 20’s who suddenly need to house a gaggle of LGBTQ friends and acquaintances after yet another big storm in NYC. It’s 2028 and many people are moving out of the city. Kyle wants to leave, especially with the stress of an overcrowded apartment, but Joey feels the need to stay and do something for the community.

I submitted the first scene to the Climate Change Theatre Action (CCTA.) Every time the UN has one of their COP gatherings to discuss climate change, CCTA selects 50 short plays that are then read at venues around the world during the months leading up to the COP meeting. They selected Bigger Love, and it has been read at multiple venues in the USA and beyond.

My goal was to produce it as a radio play, and in this episode of Bubble&Squeak podcast, I did just that. With permission from Marcus Youssef, another CCTA playwright, I also adapted his play, Dust.

ACTION!

Every staging of plays from the CCTA 2019 season also encourages audience members to engage in some sort of specific climate action. Lots of people think that means lowering their carbon footprint or writing a letter to congress.

These are fine things, and there are millions of other ways we can do climate work including supporting LGBTQ community–in particular transgender and non-binary people and organizations. The healthier, well supported, and politically free a group of people are before extreme weather events, the more resilient and safe they are before, during, and after those events.

The action I call on you to consider is to make a donation to the Trans Justice Funding Project. They have given millions of dollars in small and large grants to trans and non-binary organizations. It is run by trans/non-binary people for trans/and non-binary people.

Donate Here

Listen here (or wherever you get podcasts)

Part One An original radio play commissioned by Climate Change Theatre Action. They selected 50 short plays by 50 playwrights. This autumn groups around the world organized readings of these plays to coincide with COP 2019, the UN Climate Change Conference. You will hear me perform a radio adaptation of Dust by Marcus Youssef.

Inspiration: Reading Yuval Hariri’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century and Shoshona Zuboff’s The Age of Surveillance Capitalism. Feeling convinced that the impact of digital and bio technologies is primarily defined by our species’ (preternatural?) devotion to capitalism as an organizing principle. And remembering that its consequences are being visisted on our planet by schmucks just like me (us?).  –Marcus Youssef.

Part Two My very own Climate Change Theatre Action play, Bigger Love. It is set in the New York City apartment of a gay couple sometime in the near future. Jordan Sanderson and Israel Collazo, students at Susquehanna University, play the parts of Kyle and Joey.

What is a queer response to climate change? Who are the climate action figures of the future? As impacts magnify, how will our empathy and creative caring for each other also increase? 

Part Three a Sound Slice created for us by listener Daniel Gonzales.

Featured photo: Miss Gay Santa trans pageant Tablas Island, Philippines (P Toscano)

 

When did the word homosexual appear in the Bible? What is the significance?

An article about a mistranslation of the Bible has been making the rounds. Ed Oxford compares the words in the “clobber passages” from old versions of German Bibles with modern versions that did not start using the word Homosexual until the mid-20th Century and later. Compelling stuff for sure. Since I have received multiple messages asking me what I think about the findings and conclusions, here are my thoughts.

Empathy for LGBTQ people from Bible-believing backgrounds

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

I recognize there are LGBTQ people from some Christian backgrounds who have family that outright reject them for being LGBTQ. Some families do not allow LGBTQ people or their partners to family functions. They deny LGBTQ relatives and partners the opportunity to get to know grandchildren, nieces, nephews, others, etc. This is incredibly painful. I know many LGBTQ people who have made peace with religion and the Bible, yet they are looking for the silver bullet piece of theology that will once and for all get their family to see the light and end the harm and rejection.

Whenever a piece comes out like this one comes out, I see the hope rekindled—Maybe this is the one. Maybe, but likely not. The hard fact is that many of these traditional Bible-based Christians are able to see some stories within their cultural context or as a spiritual metaphor, but when it comes to LGBTQ people and texts that may have something (even remotely) to do with us, they insist on a strict literal interpretation. That they can do it some places and not others speaks to me less about their inability to navigate ancient texts in a modern world and more about the transphobia and homophobia they refuse to acknowledge and renounce. They tell themselves and their LGBTQ family the reason behind rejecting LGBTQ people, our partners, and our rights is because they are just being faithful to the Bible. I do not believe that is entirely true.

What Do You Do When Family Loves You as Long as You Are Not LGBTQ??

The challenge then for the LGBTQ person in this situation is how to proceed. Sometimes the healthiest thing is to fully separate from the family that cannot fully embrace our humanity—LGBTQ and all. I know for me it felt like being in an abusive relationship when I had friends who insisted my sexuality and my relationship with Glen is sinful. That undermines my well-being and my marriage. I had to end those friendships. It can be much much harder when it comes to family. I feel a lot of empathy for people in these types of relationships, and I understand why they so desperately are looking for talking points that will dislodge their family from entrenched bigotry.

Beyond the Clobber Passages: A more effective approach

What I have ultimately found most effective is to move away from what are known as the clobber passages or the texts of terror and to instead point people to the many stories about gender non-binary people in the Bible and those who transgress and transcend the gender expectations of the time of the text. These stories give life and create a dilemma for the anti-LGBTQ Bible believer. It provides necessary cognitive dissonance that may lead to deeper critical thinking. Likely they will offer a strong defense whenever we pick apart the clobber passages, but when we talk about the Ethiopian eunuch or the other Ethiopian eunuch or Joseph in Genesis or the Water Bearer in the Gospels, this may open a path to a more fruitful conversation.

Some Thoughts on “Has Homosexual Always Been in the Bible?”

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

When a family member asked me about this article and its findings, I immediately thought about language and how in English Sodomy and Sodomite were used as catch alls for what we now think of as gay, which not too long ago was referred to as homosexual. In fact, it may have extended to anyone who we consider LGBTQ+ today.

In these texts, the interpreters were not necessarily referring to an identity, rather to a sex act, namely anal sex. Sodomy comes from the story of Sodom in Genesis, and it is a story of public humiliation and attempted rape. (and in context it actually has a lot more to say about immigration, reactions to terrorism, and misogyny.) Even today when people try to condemn LGBTQ people, they point to Sodom as if gang rape were a hallmark of the “gay lifestyle.” With anti-LGBTQ people now and in the past, there has rarely been any discernment about the actual details in these texts and how they differ from the lives of LGBTQ people. Sexual assault, abusing minors, beastiality are all lumped together with LGBTQ people.

King James was into Dudes; He Bible is NOT

Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

It was in the early 17th Century when King James, long suspected to be into guys himself, sanctioned what became known as the King James Version of the Bible. Seems he and the translators went out of the way to create an English version of the bible that condemned anything that was NOT heterosexual procreative sex.

The word, homosexual, is a modern term and only began to be used widely in the 20th Century, so it is no surprised it didn’t make it into a Bible translation until so late in the century There were other words in English and other languages that were used as umbrella terms for anything seen as “perverse” or non-traditional sexuality. Oscar Wilde was arrested for committing the “sin that dare not speak its name.” In the 1 Corinthians passage mentioned in the article, The King James version does not use boy molester. Instead it references “abusers of themselves with mankind.” I guess people of the time knew what that meant and who it targeted.
Without looking at other texts of the time, it is hard to know what these German phrases meant for the people at the time. In the 50’s someone in the USA might refer to a gay man as pervert or degenerate. Perverts shall not inherit the kingdom, which was a catch all for all the non-heteronormative and even non-gender normative people.

Questions I would like the researcher to consider

I am curious to know if the German term, “boy abuser,” was used at the time specifically or more generally. It may just be the term of art at the time. Did these interpretations then lead to the legal prohibition of homosexuality in Germany and Switzerland? Like the English did the German speakers draw on the Bible to give them authority to create anti-sodomy laws? Were these laws specifically geared towards sexual abuse/assault of minors or were they more generally used to police sexual activity between men and between women? Did they also target gender non-binary and trans people?

The important question the author raises is, was there some sort of anti-LGBTQ+ agenda that influenced the way the Bible was interpreted? Did this intensify in the past 40 years? Were American Evangelicals the force behind this intensification of anti-LGBTQ+ Bible bashing? Likely yes to all of these things, but then again, that is not news. We have been aware of this for a long time. As someone who studies eunuchs in the Bible, there are countless times you will find editorial boards erasing eunuch identities in stories in the Hebrew texts. Similarly in the 19th Century we had many reachers of animal behavior in the wild suppress homosexual coupling and child-raising they witnessed in the field. Their bias shaped their published research. If you don’t want LGBTQ+ people free to roam and thrive in the world, you don’t want them showing up in the Bible.
The author of this book might have something of note to share, but the way it is presented right now seems sloppy and needs deeper research.

Recommended Work (and your suggestions?)

I recommend the work of Matthew Vines, Austen Hartke, Transforming: The Bible and the Lives of Transgender Christians,  Jennifer Grace Bird’s Permission Granted—Take the Bible Into Your Own Hands, and Peters J Gomes, The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart.  I am sure others here have good recommendations too.
For folks who are interested in LGBTQ+ positive readings of Biblical texts, Liam Hooper, a trans man in Winston-Salem and I are now producing the monthly Bible Bash Podcast. You can get it wherever you listen to podcasts.
If you are looking for stories about gender non-conforming Bible characters, check out the Transfigurations movie.

 

Featured image: Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia

Today is May 17 when people all over the world stand up for equality and justice for LGBTQ+ people. Organizers of the day have decided to focus on Justice and Protection for All.

Over the past decades, protection of LGBTQI+ people and all people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions or sex characteristics has greatly expanded. This progress is well worth celebrating, and this is why May 17th is also, and maybe foremost, a day for celebration.

But in many places around the world, LGBTQI+ people still face injustice and live in fear and danger, sometimes for their very lives, as was obvious in the case of Tanzania just recently.

The latest ILGA global report on State-Sponsored homophobia lists 72 states that still criminalize same-sex sexual relations. In 45 of these States the law is applied to women as well as men. Many more States restrict the freedom of speech on gender and sexual diversities, or put other forms of legal pressure.

On the other hand, only 63 States provide some form of anti-discrimination protection and in some places, initial progress in Justice has been followed by regression.
This is why more legal and policy reforms are necessary to ensure Justice and Protection for all LGBTQI+ people.

But they alone cannot do everything. While social climates have in some places become better over the years, making people feel safer in their societies, in other places violence, including killings, and stigma have actually increased. Authoritarian and fascist regimes are on the rise and threaten Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and we witness a worrying rise in attempts to whip up moral panics and to scapegoat LGBTQI+ people. And people with diverse gender identities or expressions are still the main targets of social violence and injustice.

On May 17th, individuals, organisations, institutions, corporations, etc. will speak out against LGBTIQI+phobias, continuing our collective journey towards societies that ensure justice and protection for all. In a fair and just world, no one shall be left behind!

Note on Global Focus issues: Each year a large consultation among activists takes place to identify one issue that is considered by most as a priority. But this focus issue is by no means the only possible focus for May 17 mobilisations. Everybody should feel totally free to pursue whichever objective they hold at heart.

Visit the official site to find events near you, download posters, and read news and commentary.

A very shoddy dishonest welcome: LGBTQ and Church

I recently chatted with a Quaker about the issue of inclusion. I will lead a course at Woodbrooke Centre on LGBTQ-Friendly Bible stories. “That’s a mouthful,” she said.”We welcome everyone in our meeting; no need to be specific about LGBTQ.” She added, “We need to get away from the ego of everyone feeling they need to be listed.”

We then had a thoughtful, respectful conversation about the topic. I do not pretend to fully know her identity and history, but if she is white, middle class, cisgender and straight, she may not have had the opportunity to consider how some people feel excluded unless they are specifically welcomed into a space.

In societies where churches have given moral authority to the legal and social persecution of LGBTQ people, our faith communities need to promote justice & equality. We are responsible to undo the damage. We need to be specific in  our welcome. We also need to go beyond mere hospitality.

Many LGBTQ people in the USA received the message loud and clear from many/most religious groups. You are not really welcome here. This is true of other people too–people living with mental illness  and people with disabilities/disabled people. At times divorced women have also gotten the cold shoulder from a faux welcome.

As a gay man, many churches welcomed me only as temporary guest or as a mission project to save. To be part of the community I needed to submit to change ministry or be driven out of the congregation.

While some denominations have actively worked on welcoming and including LGBTQ people, in many, it is up to the local congregation to decide just how inclusive they will be. Therefore, I look for any sign they are on-board with queer folk.  In other cases, the welcoming/affirming movement was so long ago, many younger people do not know the history. Quakers have done marvelous work around LGBTQ justice, but do people walking by know that history?

My friend in the UK, Trevor, reminded me of a time I performed Transfigurations at the Oxford Friends Meeting. This presentation reveals gender non-conforming Bible characters. The poster the organizes placed out front explicitly spelled out the word Transgender, and that it was an LGBTQ presentation. During the Q&A an audience member stood up,

“I’m trans, and I have walked past this meeting house hundreds of times and would never have come inside. You can only imagine my shock and delight when I saw the poster outside advertising this event!”

Today there are churches and Quaker meetings who have done the work and are genuinely welcoming, inclusive, and affirming of lesbians and gays–those who are not transgender or gender non-binary. The work continues. Bisexuals in society, in lesbian and gay spaces, and in churches are often overlooked or dismissed as an urban legend. Cisgender gay and lesbian ministers and leaders need to learn and grow so they do not perpetuate the silencing, the exclusion, and the injustices against bisexuals, transgender and gender non-binary people.

I am not trans myself, so I continually need to learn, listen, and recognize that while there might be some overlap in the issues I face as a white, cisgender, fem, gay man, other people’s experiences are vastly different from my own. As we listen more deeply to each others’ stories, we all benefit and learn about ourselves as well as each other.

In addition to listening to stories, we can easily research the issues and experiences through books, films, lectures, and the vast resources available.  Austen  Hartke provides an excellent list of resources looking at transgender and gender non-binary experiences and issue.

Also check out the Bisexual Resource Center

The community deepens as it becomes more diverse and educated.

All church sign memes created by me. Make your own through the Church Sign Generator. 

 

The power and importance of LGBTQ Film Festivals

Have you ever attended an LGBTQ film festival? They were once a rare treat, but lately there are festivals all over the world.

Starting in California in the late 1970’s, in part because mainstream film industry ignored LGBTQ themed movies, film lovers and LGBTQ activists began to organize film festivals. Today there are over 100 LGBTQ film festivals in many parts the world. The USA has over 20 LGBTQ film festivals, and new festivals have recently been inaugurated in Myanmar, China, and Belarus. You can find a partial list of international film festivals here.

After coming out gay when I lived in Memphis, TN and then in Hartford, CT, I saw as many movies as possible at these festivals. Many of these films about transgender, gender non-binary, queer, bisexual, lesbian, and gay characters and issues were almost impossible to see any other way. Even now with all of the options for streaming, some of these movies are rarely seen. To watch them with other LGBTQ people in the same safe space has felt particularly empowering, comforting, and affirming. 

Lately I have been looking closely at the various LGBTQ film festivals as I promote my own film, Transfigurations–Transgressing Gender in the Bible. It has been selected for the San Antonio, TX LGBTQ International Film Festival and is in consideration for a few other festivals (stay tuned!)

In my search of film festivals I was thrilled to learn about the Second Annual LGBTIQ film festival in Uganda. The Queer Kampala International Film Festival will be held December 8-10, 2017. Here is a little of their story:

QUEER KAMPALA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (QKIFF) is the first queer film festival to be held in Uganda. QUEERKIFF celebrates the diversity of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Intersex and Queer communities by providing spaces where Queer films are screened, discussed and celebrated.

Audience at first ever LGBTIQ film festival in Uganda

For the first time in homophobic Uganda, a festival celebrating and reinforcing the right to be LGBTQI was held. Against all odds, the creative Queer KIFF team laid strategies to beat the stern security and anti homo communities. The inaugural Queer Kampala International Film Festival was held
9th – 11th, December 2016 at different venues in the country’s capital, Kampala.

Measures included security screening of attendees, keeping the venues secret and mobile daily. The attendants had to go to a different venue in the morning and afternoon. Venues were announced within hours to the event. Encouragingly, the LGBTIQ community, supporters and sympathizers hung in there and religiously followed us to the different venues attracting a turn up of 800 visitors with in a space of three days.

We are excited to announce the second edition scheduled for the 8th – 10th, December 2017. We are already accepting film submissions and be sure it will happen as our think tank is laying strategies to mitigate associated risks.
Together, we can end victimization of the LGBTIQ community using social justice film-making, a tested and proven effective tool in changing hearts, minds, and laws!!

The have ambition goals to bring real lasting change to their county and see that film has a role to play.

You can be part of this important history. They need money to put this festival together and they are not going to get it from their government or most businesses. Today in the USA for many (not all) going to an LGBTQ film festival is a pleasant diversion and opportunity to be affirmed and learn. For the audience members in Uganda, this film festival is an practically a fantasy island in the midst of social and legal oppression. Please consider joining me and recent audience members in donating to Uganda’s only LGBIQ film festival, and hopefully the first of many.

 

The Day the Gay Athletes Invaded NYC

It was 1994. I was deeply homophobic, particularly towards myself. I was trying to go straight for Jesus and everyone else–not an easy thing in NYC even on a normal boring day. I lived in NYC with constant temptation to break my resolve to avoid anything gay. Then they descended for the Gay Games. Thousands of gay athletes in skimpy clothing.

Hearing Sarah Fishko speak about this moment in NY history during her recent broadcast on WNYC Radio, I was transported back to that weird time and space. For Fishko Files she did a short piece about the groundbreaking play, Angels in America. She recaptured that time period–the HIV/AIDS struggle 10 years on and the art that tried to make sense of it all.

Hearing that report got me remembering.

I remember how the city filled with gay men for the Gay Games. I trembled–not with excitement but with fear. I had been living in NYC for 10 years and the whole time I felt desperate about being gay and sought a “cure” through conversion therapy.

As the HIV/AIDS Crisis began and grew, there was an underground scene of gay men trying to go straight for Jesus. LIFE Ministries, an ex-gay, gay conversion therapy group a began in NYC in the early 1980s. It soon became part of a larger network of Exodus “ex-gay ministries.”I was 19 when I first attended in 1984, a Christian studying at nearby Nyack College. I plunged headlong into a world of support groups that tried to pray and counsel the gay away.

While gay men partied, organized, and suffered, another group of us hopped onto a Noah’s Ark of sorts. From prayer therapy to exorcisms, I was desperate for a way out of being gay. Why? My Christian faith played a role, as did the fear of AIDS. The rise of Conservatism and Ronald Reagan made me feel small as a queer working class Italian Roman Catholic in a very white Protestant butch heterosexual rich world.

Then the gay athletes came to town and I hopped off the subway at midtown to hang out at the hotel where many of them stayed around 34th street. I walked and gawked and longed for connection, community, anything, knowing that once I had it, I would slink back to church to repent of it.

That was a long time ago. Shortly afterwards I stood on the subway platform feeling hopeless and ready to give up. I went through even more intensive conversion therapy at a residential facility in Memphis. Then in 1999 I came to my senses and came out gay. Since then I have been using art and therapy and community to make sense of my experiences.

Those were desperate times. And the times we are in today feel similar in parts of the world. For some queer folks in the USA, it is dangerous. These are times when people may harm others and harm themselves in the midst of political madness. I have hope though this time that most gay (and bi, trans, lesbian, genderqueer) kids will not fall for the bait like I did, and instead stand up, act up, and live life fully.

LGBTQ in 2017 — looking behind and ahead

What is Lurking in that Cabinet?

Seems these days no mater what topic is important to you, there is genuine uncertainty to what the future holds in the USA and beyond. Endless speculating is going into the cabinet selections made by President-elect Donald Trump and how these men (well mostly men) will shape policy regarding criminal justice, pollution, women’s rights, foreign affairs, and LGBTQ issues.

Virtually every news report I read highlights how a particular proposed cabinet member has historically stood opposed to the very agency he will likely head. Then perhaps looking for a silver lining in the forming storm clouds, the writer speculates on how that cabinet member might actually do something useful in his position. I’ve seen headlines about Rex Tillerson being a potential campion of LGBTQ rights globally.

This EXXON oil executive also dropped the news that he sees climate change as “just an engineering problem.” Climate advocates, who have grown more and more alarmed at a cabinet of men dismissive of climate change and its human causes, might possibly draw some hope from this statement. I mean Tillerson is suggesting that he sees climate change as a problem. That’s something. A tiny morsel.  And in looking at it as one that requires engineering (geo-engineering?) will this lead to an open discussion about the cost analysis of jerry rigging the atmosphere compared to what it will cost and what we might gain when we reduce the pollution we have been pumping into it?

Possibly. But the only thing we can say is that we simply do not know.

Gay Time Travel to a simpler more oppressive time

Kimmy Schmidt in the bunker with fellow captives

As we look ahead to 2017, my gaze has been cast back to the past, nearly 20 years ago when I was still trapped in dream to become a masculine-presenting, fully-functioning heterosexual. It was a dream that rose out of the politically conservative and anti-gay world of the early 1980’s. I got trapped into a time capsule for nearly 20 years. When I finally emerged in 1999, like Kimmy Schmidt out of her bunker, the world had begun to shift towards a wider inclusion of LGBTQ people and a path to legal rights and protections.

People now worry if some of the gains will be lost. Will we have to fight the same battles over again? Will the world of conversion therapy raise its ugly head again?  Possible, but the only thing we can say is that we simply do not know.

What we do know is that LGBTQ rights have already been challenged in the USA, particularly for transgender people. 2016 was the year of the bathroom bills. Even Elizabeth Jeremiah, that funky church lady with wild notions, chimed in.

The New Ex-Gay Movement is Global and Anti-Trans

Woven Chronicle by Reena Saini Kallat at MOMA

And while gay conversion therapy in the USA has been greatly challenged and reduced, it has expanded globally with American exports of it in Eastern Europe, Southern Africa, throughout Latin America, and parts of Asia. In the USA one can still find ex-gay groups and praying away the gay still happens at lots of churches, gays and lesbians are far less the target of these treatments that they once were. There are even laws banning the practice for minors.

As I wrote this week in the Huffington Post though, these bans do not affect the type of conversion treatments people receive through churches and Christian counseling. And while there may be a decrease in this practice targeting gay and lesbians youth and adults, from what I have been hearing from transgender activists, it is a dangerous practice perpetuated against transgender and gender non-binary youth and adults.

My friend, Diana, a trans equality activist in New England, informed me of the 2015 US Transgender Survey. Professionals counseling a person away from being transgender is so common that the researchers included it in the survey. The respondents reveal the devastating effects.

Participants who had a professional try to stop them from being transgender were:

  • Far more likely to currently be experiencing serious psychological distress (47%) than those who did not have the experience (34%).
  • More likely to have attempted suicide (58%) than those who did not have the experience (39%).
  • Nearly three times as likely to have run away from home (22%) than those who did not have the experience (8%).
  • More likely to have ever experienced homelessness (46%) than those who did not have the experience (29%).
  • More likely to have ever done sex work (18%) than those who did not have the experience (11%).

How to care about everything without falling apart

I conclude the piece with some reflections about our work ahead, and need to embrace multiple issues at the same time while figuring out which ones we can regularly take on while supporting people and groups doing the work we cannot.

While I am concerned the conversion therapists might feel they have been given another chance to do their business on LGBTQ youth and adults, I am far more alarmed about the potential rolling back of legal rights and protections for LGBTQ people. State and local as well as federal efforts to undermine LGBTQ access to housing, employment, health care, marriage rights, adoption, and immigration need to be closely monitored and assertively rebuffed by lawmakers and citizens regardless of party affiliation.

Sadly these fights may well distract many of us from other areas where our attention in needed: prison reform, energy policy, eradicating homelessness and poverty, supporting for LGBTQ seniors, improving policing practices, and a host of other issues. These are days we need to be focused and disciplined, supportive of each other, willing to take on what we are able to do, asserting our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

One response from many LGBTQ orgs is to request more financial donations. No doubt justice work costs money as well as effort. As I did in 2016, I commit to monthly donations to the Transgender Justice Funding Project, “a community-led funding initiative founded in 2012 to support grassroots, trans justice groups run by and for trans people.” While lots of people are on limited budgets, many Americans can make the necessary sacrifices to donate regularly to a cause that is essential in the days ahead.

Questions for You: 

As we speculate about the road ahead for LGBTQ people, I am curious about your thoughts, your concerns, and your intentions for this new year. How can I be supportive to you and what messages do you hope to magnify in the coming months?

Happy 2017. May it be filled with greater freedoms, more opportunities, and closer knit communities.

For the victims of the Orlando Massacre–dead and living, near and far

CANDLES

by C.P. Cavafy

The days of the future stand before us
like a row of small lighted candles–
golden, warm, and lively candles.

snuffedoutcandlesimgThe days of the past stay behind,
a sad line of burned-out candles;
still smoking are the closest ones,
cold candles, melted and drooping.

I don’t want to look at them, their aspect saddens me,
and it saddens me to remember their first light.
I look ahead to my lighted candles.

I down’t want to look back, to see, horrified,
how quickly the dark line lengthens,
how quickly the snuffed-out candles multiply.

(translated by Aliki Barnstone)


Hatred and loathing of queer people and violence towards our bodies in the USA is nothing new. It is not simply a thing of the past, a relic dramatically resurrected in an ‪#‎Orlando‬ gay club. The violence has been chronic for some time–a fact those aware of the epidemic of extreme violence towards transgender people know all too well. The perpetrators have so often targeted Black and Latino queer people.

The mourning and outrage over murderous assaults and attempts to terrorize us has been felt already everyday for many days. For years.

Today we feel a collective grief and horror. We seek to make sense of it and to find the culprits to blame–religious extremists at home and abroad, legislators who do not take a stand about gun violence, and the list goes on.

It is hard to make sense of what is happening in the midst of a storm. The media frenzy added to our own individual and collective shock becomes so disorienting. So much is unknown.

But one thing is true and has always been true:
We need each other.
We need each other.
We need each other.

No Homo?!? A video response

The No Homo phrase has been around for a long time. It’s even in Wikipedia.

Two guys, usually adolescents, but not always, sitting close to each other, feel they need to clear up any confusion about their sexuality and the nature of their relationship. One will say to the other, No Homo. Often their seat mate replies, “No Homo.” Then they settle into some male bonding without the risk being called out as gay lovers.

no-homoI love comedy, and I admit sometimes the circumstances that young men employ the No Homo phrase can be hilarious. Still I think that with the atmosphere that exists in the world–that many people still think, say, and legislate that it is wrong to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer, and believe it is far superior to be gender normative and heterosexual, there are queer people who are affected deeper than we realize by these little jokes.

No one wants friends, family, and random gay dudes with fetching hats to suffer any more than they already are in a world that can be intentionally ugly.

My good friend, Shirley McMillan, who is an amazing young adult fiction author from Northern Ireland, and who started the nation’s first Gender and Sexuality Alliance in any high school in the country, tells me that this term is making the rounds in her village school. She asked if I would create a YouTube video with some reflections on this phrase.

So here is my weekly YouTube video!
No Homo?!?

You can check out all of my YouTube videos at my p2son channel. Let me know if you have any requests, questions, or challenges.

What do queer family values look like?

family-valuesThe words Family Values are coded language for anti-LGBTQ activism and the suppression of women’s rights. How many anti-queer organizations insert the words Family or Values or the potent combination of Family Values, into their names? I immediately think of the groups like American Family Association, Traditional Values Coalition, and of course the once massive and influential Focus on the Family.

The group Defend the Family, which has hunkered down to protect “the natural family, marriage, and family values,” on their website reminds donors of the Forgotten Last Days Warning about Homosexuality in the Bible. I of course read this and hear good news. Evangelists of old forgot to point out that there are actually homosexuals in the Bible. Churches have been misguided in their obsessive assault on the gays and the rest of us resulting in unnecessary suffering. But I may be reading to much into it.

protect-familyOf course these pro-family groups are coalitions for certain types of families. They defend heterosexual marriages while focusing their fundraising activities on maligning LGBTQ lives, dreams, and our families. For many of us LGBTQ folks the words Family Values remind us that there are people working hard to maintain a legal and social straight supremacy over any type of family or person that falls outside of their sexual preferences and gender presentations.

It is easy to spend lots of time defending ourselves from the attacks. It takes a lot of creative energy. But lately I have been wondering about queer family values–no not marriage equality and at the acquisition of children. I wonder what have our values for family and community looked like in the past and how will they look in the future.

Here are two short monologues that explore these topics (full transcripts below if you prefer to read them instead of listening to my velvety smooth voice.) I am the queen of intersections, so I look at LGBTQ homelessness as a queer family values issue, one that may well loom larger in the coming years.

Transcript

Now my turn. What is a reason to respond to climate change? Well as a long time LGBTQ activist, I think of climate change as a very queer issue, one that directly affects LGBTQ people. Right now in most cities in the US there are people living on the streets, including youth. Up to 40% of these homeless youth are transgender, bisexual, lesbian, gay, queer, genderqueer. Many times they don’t feel safe in traditional homeless shelters where people are forced to go to either all male or all female spaces with little regard for gender identity and presentation. Often shelters are run by churches where it is unclear how welcoming an LGBTQ young person might be especially if they are gender non-conforming. As a result, they often avoid shelters. For the same reason transgender adults who live on the streets also steer clear of the shelters.

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So what happens in a time of extreme weather? When we have Superstorm Sandy or Hurricane Katrina, what happens to the folks living on the streets? What happens to these LGBTQ young people? Similarly what about the many LGBTQ senior citizens, many of whom live alone without supportive family nearby. Many do not have children checking in on them.

As I think of the projections for more storms, more extreme heat, more displacement, I wonder about the role of LGBTQ community centers, of religious communities that seek to be open and affirming, of cities that have anti-discrimination policies when it comes to employment but may not take into consideration the needs of transgender, bisexual, genderqueer, lesbian and gay people who need shelter and temporary housing or during a time disaster relief. A reason to act on climate change is for the homeless and elderly LGBTQ people in their time of need.

Now your turn. What about you? Now that you heard some people share their thoughts, what are reasons beyond polar bears and other species and regard for future generations, that we should act. Send me an email info@climatetew.com that’s info@climatestew.com or share your thoughts in the comment section of this podcast at climate stew dot com or let me know over at the Climate Stew FB page or on my Twitter feed. Let me know if I can share some of your thoughts with listeners.

That Day in Climate History–The Queer Family Alliance

Ruby Jade Corado

Ruby Jade Corado

I am Timothy Meadows. It is Saturday, June 1st 2165 and time for That Day in Climate History. By the year 2020 the increase and intensity of extreme weather events created chronic crises for cities globally. The disaster especially affected those people without homes or reliable housing. In the early 21st Centuray, transgender, gender queer, bisexual, lesbian, and gay youth comprised up to 40% of all homeless youth in most major US cities. In  addition many transgender adults were unemployed, underemployed, and homeless. Because of strict gender policies in both public and religious run homeless shelters, many transgender, gender queer, and queer homeless people found these shelters unwelcoming and unsafe. During times of heatwaves, flooding, blizzards, and dust storms, many lost their lives.

As a result the Queer Family Alliance formed. Inspired by the work of Casa Ruby, a collection of alternative housing for homeless transgender, gender queer, and queer adults and youth started by Ruby Jade in Washington, DC, a group of activists in 2021 decided they needed to expand this type of work to other cities. In their mission statement the Queer Family Alliance proclaimed, “Since some of us could no longer find shelter with our families, we sought out a chosen family. In providing safe, loving, and supportive homes for LGBTQ adults and youth, we are demonstrating our family values.”

In coalition with community centers, affirming faith communities, and transgender, gender queer, bisexual, lesbian, and gay organizations, the Queer Family Alliance established over 250 homes and shelters in 50 cities throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. In addition to shelter, they provided assistance in obtaining employment, permanent housing, health care, and healthy food, much of it grown in Queer Family Alliance community gardens. It is estimated that by the year 2060 over two million people found temporary and longterm shelter through the Queer Family Alliance.

On this day in 2165 we remember That Day in Climate History.