Category: LGBTQ

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.

LGBT1

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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.

HIV/AIDS, Marriage, and Bedfellows

Today I share a guest post written by Brad Ogilvie. He shares personal insights about how HIV/AIDS activism by some players has specifically overlooked LGBTQ people at home and abroad.  He considers how HIV/AIDS is being used to export homophobia.

HIV/AIDS, Marriage, and Bedfellows

by Brad Ogilvie

"Die-in" during the 6th Annual AIDS Conference in San Francisco. June 17-24, 1990.

“Die-in” during the 6th Annual AIDS Conference in San Francisco. June 17-24, 1990.

As we celebrate the approval of gay marriage here in the US, it is important pay homage to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, those who have died from AIDS and the early HIV/AIDS activists. This isn’t just to give credit where credit is due. It is because they helped fuel and speed up the gay rights movement here in the US, and ignoring this is also ignoring how HIV/AIDS is being used to export homophobia. What is most troubling about this is that the collusion is coming not only from expected places like Evangelical churches and social conservatives, but also people like Bono, Bill Gates and Bill Clinton whose AIDS focus on women and children provides cover for the anti-gay pipeline.

Bono and HIV/AIDS awareness in African countries

Bono and HIV/AIDS awareness in African countries

Starting in the late 1990’s, political, social and theological conservatives such as Senator Jesse Helms and Congressman Henry Hyde caused mini-tremors by starting to advocate for AIDS funding, but with a laser focus on Africa. Senator Helms had long been vocal in blaming gays as the cause of the AIDS pandemic, and he led opposition to funding for HIV/AIDS programs through much of the 1980’s and ‘90s.  But he led the way for others of his ideology to enter the “global” HIV/AIDS fight. Bono took it from there, starting with his December, 2002 tour calling attention to AIDS in Africa. Evangelicals such as Rick and Kay Warren joined forces. Bono made it not just comfortable but chic (i.e. “The Red Campaign” t-shirts) for many to jump on the HIV/AIDS bandwagon. This paved the way for George W. Bush to create PEPFAR, and this opened the flood gates for much of the conservative faith community to engage. The focus on women and children in sub-Saharan Africa provided a comfort zone but does little to get ahead of the transmission.

I was at Wheaton (IL) College the night Bono came to town. I was running an AIDS housing program in Wheaton. I was running an AIDS housing program as well as being an HIV+ and gay Wheaton resident. To see Bono energize a community that had been silent and even scornful of anything related to HIV/AIDS afforded me a somewhat unique perspective on what has transpired since then. I was able to build alliances and life-long friendships within the Wheaton College and Evangelical community that continues to move me and inspire my work.

But the focus on women and children in Africa continues to allow people to homophobically engage in AIDS work. Among the messages I heard in meetings were “People with AIDS in Africa are victims, whereas people in the US deserve it” and “We choose to do our AIDS work in Africa because we don’t have to deal with homosexuality”. Former Congressman Henry Hyde went so far as to tell me, “I don’t want to hear about AIDS in (my district); I only want to talk about Africa.”

Franklin Graham who promotes gay conversion therapy founded Samaritan's Purse to provide aid in Africa.

Franklin Graham who actively crusades against gay rights founded Samaritan’s Purse to provide aid in Africa.

Franklin Graham and Samaritan’s Purse offer a clear example of how this continues to play out. Samaritan’s Purse, which pays Graham handsomely, provides “Biblically based programs to strengthen the international Christian response to HIV/AIDS (in 42 countries). This ministry encourages individuals to seek counseling and testing, supports AIDS orphans and vulnerable children, and empowers churches overseas to teach their communities about the disease and promote choices that will keep young people out of harm’s way” (from their website). Graham, meanwhile, lines his and others pockets as he crusades against gay rights, including supporting Vladimir Putin’s stance on gay rights and pressuring World Vision to reverse a policy that allowed the hiring of married gays and lesbians. Apparently, providing help to “hurting people” does not include those Graham deems unworthy. Others, such as Scott Lively, blatantly support anti-gay efforts, while people like Rick Warren do double-speak – denouncing anti-gay legislation while denouncing homosexuality.  It is where people share the “HIV in Africa” message while ignoring the homophobic mechanisms that the harm happens.

Silence_equals_death

Keith Haring’s iconic art from the early HIV/AIDS Crisis

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent on the things that matter.” – ML King

When will the likes of Bono speak up? The HIV/AIDS pandemic will not end in a culture that creates blindspots, criminalizes and stokes fear and hatred towards people that are most vulnerable. The real work to end the pandemic has to be all-inclusive – not just gay men in the West, and not just women and children in Africa. Gay people exist in Africa and their status as pariahs impede HIV prevention efforts.  But it’s not just Bono. All of us who are reaping the benefits of those who worked on our behalf because of AIDS need to speak up for those who are now suffering.  We need to recognize how the HIV/AIDS pandemic that helped advance gay rights here is creating deadly alliances elsewhere.  Our silence is killing them.

Brad Ogilvie has been living with and working in the HIV field for over 20 years. In the earlier years, he worked in an alternative health clinic when treatments were marginally effective, and then running an AIDS housing program. Observing phenomenal changes in treatment and progress, he marveled at institutional resistance to change that persists to this day. He currently lives and works in DC, developing education and service programs as well as maintaining a counseling practice. He also serves on the HIV Prevention Planning Group for DC and the Community Advisory Group for HPTN 065.

Brad Olgive

Brad Ogilvie

Wow I am Super Gay Married! Now What?

After a long day of meetings in preparation of lobbying, my husband, Glen Retief, takes a little cat nap.

After a long day of meetings in preparation of lobbying, my husband, Glen Retief, takes a little cat nap.

Yesterday as I joyfully toiled away at editing episode 29 of Climate Stew, the Supreme Court of the United States passed down a ruling that made marriage equality the law of the land in all 50 states. When I emerged from my study, my husband, Glen Retief, turned to me and said:

I can’t keep up with the anniversary list! June 24, meeting at Friends General Conference. July 21, Quaker wedding. April 23, domestic partner contract. September 13, legal wedding in Lake Huntington. And now finally June 26, all 50 states.

I suggested loved ones can help us continually celebrate our various anniversaries by signing us up for Harry & David’s Fruit of the Month club.

I stood in front of the Supreme Court this week knowing that the court was about to rule; I assumed good news. It is about time–past time. So much energy, money, time, effort has gone into this moment. I am very very grateful to all of the people–LGBTQ activists, straight allies, affirming church folk, lawmakers, and those in the media who contributed to this moment in history. Rejoicing and thanksgiving are in order.

Just like our Capitol building here in the USA, LGBTQ rights and issues still need a lot of work.

Just like our Capitol building here in the USA, LGBTQ rights and issues still need a lot of work.

But once the confetti settles and we wash off all the glitter, then what? This is a huge win, but marriage discrimination has by no means been the only issue making life hard for LGBTQ people. We still have work to do. To name a few:

  • LGBTQ youth homelessness

  • Employment non-discrimination in all 50 states

  • The plight of transgender immigrants and inmates

  • LGBTQ senior citizen issues

Then there is the Queerest Issue of them all: Climate Change. No seriously, I see Climate Change as an issue that desperately needs attention from LGBTQ people, in part because of how we can think outside the box. We also have a unique set of skills to face crisis and experience in doing so. We also need to consider that LGBTQ not only are affected by climate change, but in some ways are affected more than non-LGBTQ people. I know it sounds weird. But the way the world is set up it almost seems that climate change is racist, sexist, classist, and possibly even anti-LGBTQ. So there is work to do.

Here I stand in front of the Supreme Court musing over my own person queer agenda and my next steps as a super married gay man.

LGBTQ Family Values in Action

Usually the term Family Values is another way of saying Anti-Gay (and anti-bisexual, transgender, and lesbian). Just like some groups believe they have exclusive rights to God and Faith, some of these same groups act like they have the monopoly on family, values, and the potent patented formula of family values. Hang on. LGBTQ people for ages have carved out for ourselves our own self-styled families–chosen families.

Have you heard about Casa Ruby in Washington, DC? Started by Ruby Jade Corado, a transgender immigrant from El Salvador, Casa Ruby provides housing for transgender adults and youth. I learned about this amazing project through a recent NPR story: Casa Ruby is a ‘Chosen Family’ for Trans People Who Need a Home.

Lately I have gotten some people’s attention when I say, I’m not an environmentalist, but I am concerned about climate change as an LGBTQ issue. They are like–Wait, What??? How is global warming a queer issue? Wow, there are lots of ways, I respond including the plight of LGBTQ homeless adults and youth during a disaster like Super Storm Sandy or Hurricane Katrina. These are folks who often stay as far as way as possible from traditional shelters that make like miserable for gender non-conforming folks and openly gay folks.

This week on the Climate Stew Show, I look at LGBTQ homelessness and seniors in the light of our climate crisis. There is important community building work for us to do. We have skin in the game.

Here is a clip where I talk this issue (transcript below)

And using some imagination, I look back from the year 2165, 150 years from today, and introduce the world to the Queer Family Alliance and their amazing work in providing safe and loving shelter for LGBTQ people (transcript below)

Transcript

Now I guess it is 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.

LGBT1

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.comthat’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

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.

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Climate History is brought to you by Exxon-Mobile Renewables—proud sponsors of the 2165 Arctic Games.