Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Gay Rights Movement

Despite the constant bombardment of doom and gloom, bullying, bullycides, and teen suicides, we are truly living in exciting times as members of the LGBT community.  As it was with the Civil Rights battle of the 60s, it's a hard-fought battle.  However, we're gaining momentum.  We're winning legal battles from shore-to-shore, small and large alike.  And, slowly and perhaps reluctantly, we're gaining acceptance.  That news is greatest for the younger members of the LGBT community.  Collectively, we're paving the way for a much brighter future for today's LBGT youth.  That's huge!! 

This video showed up on my facebook wall today.  In my humble opinion, it's a must-see video for every person, gay or straight.  It shows where we've come from.  It moved me to tears. 

See, as an older black man, and having spent my childhood years in the South, I clearly remember the days of fierce segregation.  I remember the "whites only" and "coloreds only" bathrooms and doctor's offices.  I CLEARLY, and I mean vividly, remember the middle-aged white man who tried his damnedest to put a 12" blade through my 7-year-old back simply because I was a little nigger boy.  I can describe his car in detail.  I remember the struggles, the fight for equality.  I remember clearly the day Dr. King was assassinated.  And, I remember the destructive aftermath.  But, the generations ahead of my own continued to fight and fight hard for a world that would accept me in spite of my skin tone.  Eventually, and gradually, things changed.  They're still changing.  Today, the playing field is a lot more even.  Don't mistake my words.  Racism still lives and breathes today.  To be sure, it will never completely go away.  At least not in my lifetime.  But, it's gotten better, much better!, for people of color.

As an older gay man, I can remember the day when holding your lover's hand in public could get you arrested.  In some places, it could get you killed.  I remember my 5th grade teacher "outing" me and my boyfriend and the negative reaction it received.  I remember Anita Bryant.  I remember being a young boy when Stonewall was in the news but knowing instinctively that this was something significant.  Oddly to me at the time, I felt a sense of pride in what was going on, and I secretly followed it as much as I could.  I remember the reports of how homos were deviants or worse!  Fast forward to today.  Same fight.  Same struggles for acceptance and equality.  And, they're being fought against the same establishment. And, as with the Civil Rights struggle of the 60s, we're slowly but steadily making gains.  We're winning battles of equality, large and small, all over the world.  And, somewhere in the world, there's that young boy who, like me and Stonewall, is watching this unfold and instinctively knowing that this fight is for him.  And, he's stronger for it.

How to Watch Your Brother Die

I started this blog in November in direct response to Jamie Hubley's suicide in October.  Those of you who have been reading it for a while are aware as I mention him frequently.  So, I wanted to take time out to say how honored I am to have a member of his family join in as one of the blogs' followers today.  You know who you are.  Thank you for following.

If you haven't already "liked" Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook, go do it now!  You don't have to be gay to be a part of the most positive, informative page facebook has to offer.  The only prerequisite is that you have a burning desire to see equality for every human being and to be a part of an army of people "enlisted" to work towards that end.

I read today something from Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook that I had to share with everyone.  If you go to the page, you can find it and other very moving reads in the "notes" section.  This letter moved me:

How To Watch Your Brother Die

When the call comes, be calm.
Say to your wife, “My brother is dying. I have to fly to California.”
Try not to be shocked that he already looks like a cadaver.
Say to the young man sitting by your brother’s side, “I’m his brother,”
Try not to be shocked when the young man says,
“I’m his lover. Thanks for coming.”

Listen to the doctor with a steel face on.
Sign the necessary forms.
Tell the doctor you will take care of everything.
Wonder why doctors are so remote.

Watch the lover’s eyes as they stare into your brother’s eyes as they stare into space.
Wonder what they see there.
Remember the time he was jealous and opened your eyebrow with a sharp stick.
Forgive him out loud even if he can’t understand you.
Realize the scar will be all that’s left of him.

Over coffee in the hospital cafeteria say to the lover, “You’re an extremely good-looking young man.”
Hear him say,
“I never thought I was good looking enough to deserve your brother.”
Watch the tears well up in his eyes. Say,
“I’m sorry. I don’t know what it means to be the lover of another man.”
Hear him say,
“It’s just like a wife, only the commitment is deeper because the odds against you are so much greater.”
Say nothing, but take his hand like a brother’s.

Drive to Mexico for unproven drugs that might help him live longer.
Explain what they are to the border guard.
Fill with rage when he informs you,
“You can’t bring those across.”
Begin to grow loud.
Feel the lover’s hand on your arm, restraining you. See in the guard’s eye how much a man can hate another man.
Say to the lover, “How can you stand it?”
Hear him say, “You get used to it.”
Think of one of your children getting used to another man’s hatred.

Call your wife on the telephone. Tell her,
“He hasn’t much time.
I’ll be home soon.” Before you hang up say,
“How could anyone’s commitment be deeper than a husband and wife?” hear her say,
“Please, I don’t want to know all the details.”

When he slips into an irrevocable coma, hold his lover in your arms while he sobs, no longer strong. Wonder how much longer you will be able to be strong.
Feel how it feels to hold a man in your arms whose arms are used to holding men.
Offer God anything to bring your brother back.
Know you have nothing God could possibly want.
Curse God, but do not abandon Him.

Stare at the face of the funeral director when he tells you he will not embalm the body for fear of contamination. Let him see in your eyes how much a man can hate another man.
Stand beside a casket covered in flowers, white flowers.
Say, “Thank you for coming” to each of several hundred men who file past in tears, some of them holding hands.
Know that your brother’s life was not what you imagined.
Overhear two mourners say, “I wonder who’ll be next.”

Arrange to take an early flight home.
His lover will drive you to the airport.
When your flight is announced say, awkwardly, “If I can do anything, please let me know.”
Do not flinch when he says,
“Forgive yourself for not wanting to know him after he told you. He did.”
Stop and let it soak in. Say,
“He forgave me, or he knew himself?”
“Both”, the lover will say, not knowing what else to do. Hold him like a brother while he kisses you on the cheek. Think that you haven’t been kissed by a man since your father died. Think,

“This is no moment not to be strong.” Fly first class and drink scotch. Stroke your split eyebrow with a finger and think of your brother alive.
Smile at the memory and think how your children will feel in your arms, warm and friendly and without challenge.

~Michael Lassell.
Before it's too late, while you can still do it, if you know someone who is LGBT, whether it's a family member, friend, or co-worker, let them know that it's okay to be gay.  Let them know that you accept them completely just for who they are.  Let them know that they are beautiful human beings just as they are.  The world is changing.  Be a part of that change.


Sparked, perhaps, by the inundation of public outcry, and aided by the girlfriend of one of the attackers giving up their names, the Chicago police have arrested the people they believe are responsible for Sunday afternoon's mauling of a Bridgeport, Chicago high school senior.  One of the attackers is being charged as an adult.  One of the attackers was a girl.

This case is developing more bizarre twists than an old Alfred Hitchcock movie.  The girlfriend of "the main attacker" posted two videos attempting to justify the horrific attack.  At 4:00 deep into the first video, she "reasons" " a way, think about it...if you were attacked by 20 people, with you and your sibling alone, how would you feel?  And, in a way, wouldn't you want to get revenge?  Even if it's just on one of them?"  Mob mentality at its best.

She speaks often, particularly in the second video, of "another side" of the story, a side where apparently the victim in this attack was allegedly a part of an Asian gang who had earlier carried out an attack on the very ones who attacked him.  It's mind-boggling to me that we've reached this point as a nation.  I don't understand that gang culture.  I never will. 

In some states, videotaping an attack such as the one witnessed here and not doing anything to intervene makes you an accessory to the crime.  Apparently, that's not the case in Illinois.  Whomever the young man is who did the videotaping should be charged as well, in my opinion.

At the root of this senseless violence, and brutal attack, is racial hatred.  Either way you look at it, it comes back to that.  If the victim WASN'T part of an Asian gang who allegedly carried out an earlier attack on members of the attacking group seen in the video, then it's purely a racial attack and therefore a hate crime.  Even if he WAS part of this gang, there are still race issues that needs to be addressed.  Quickly.  If it's all true, then Chicago has a serious race problem on their hands. (or, am I late on that?)  Latinos vs. Asians?  Blacks vs. Whites?  What happened to equality?  How can the girl on camera talk so flippantly about the "FOBS", or "fresh off the boat", when she is off foreign decent, herself?  And, while I'm shaking that tree, how can ANY of us living in this country talk about immigrants, legal or illegal, unless we're of Native American decent?  Other than that group of people, everyone in this country is an immigrant or descendent thereof.

Regardless of what she says in her two "justification" videos, I stand by what I said initially:  this was a very brutal attack, a hate crime, and it should be handled as such.  All of the ones involved, including the camera holder, should be prosecuted to the absolute fullest extent of the law.  One of those kicks to the head, absorbed by the victim, taken at the wrong or a slightly different angle could've killed him.  ZERO TOLERANCE. 


I first saw a video clip of this earlier in the day, I guess when it first broke.  The video clip was bad enough.  It left me shaking my head.  Livid!!!  However, now I've seen the entire video (WARNING!!!  This video is extremely graphic.  DO NOT watch it if you're at all squeamish) of this brutal, senseless attack on this young man.  Now, I'm beyond livid! 

There are videos, and video responses, all over youtube right now.  The video, itself, has been viewed almost 35,000 times.  Even the Mayor has spoken out about it.  And, NONE OF IT MEANS A DAMNED THING!!  The only thing that matters right now is that those 7 thugs are caught and punished to the absolute fullest extent of the law.  I don't really give a rat's ass that they're juveniles:  they need to be sent to an adult prison for many years.  In the state where I reside, their action is called first-degree assault.  And, when you listen to the language their using as they brutalize this young man, it becomes obvious that this is also a hate crime.  Hate crimes are punishable by federal law.  Every single one of the 30,000+ people who have viewed that video, every breathing soul who has watched the story on the news, needs to make sure that their voices are heard loudly and clearly:  THIS ABSOLUTELY CANNOT BE TOLERATED!!!

I looked for a petition online but couldn't find one.  Hopefully, someone from Chicago will post one on  When and if they do, I will certain pass that information along so that everyone, EVERYONE!, can go there and sign it.  There absolutely has to be justice done in this case.  Swift.  Definitive.  And, with severe consequences.  More than ever, the cry of ZERO TOLERANCE must apply here.