Thursday, March 1, 2012

We Need Voices, Voices, and MORE Voices!!!!

In Maryland today, Gov. Martin O'Malley made history by signing into law the same-sex marriage bill.  It goes into effect January 1, 2013.  And, before it even has chance to go into effect, before the first same-sex couple has the chance to tie the knot, the opponents are already in high-gear to get the law repealed.

Over the weekend, 18-year-old Cody Rogers was savagely attacked in a homophobic rage.  The only provocation was that he was who he is:  a gay man.

Stacey Campfield is STILL trying to pass legislation that would effectively legalize discrimination against the LGBT community, putting more LGBT teens at risk. 

In that same state, Tennessee, a school principal resigns under pressure after telling gay students that they're going to Hell!  A SCHOOL PRINCIPAL!!!

Newt Gingrich makes the assinine statement that TEACHERS are to blame for same-sex marriages!!!


Understand that that's just the short list.  I could go on and on and on ad nauseum.  The point I'm making should be clear:  the atmosphere of hatred and intolerance (and, ignorance) is very far-reaching.  With all of this lack of acceptance, bigotry, and utter ignorance, it's no wonder we're seeing so many LGBT teen suicides; it's no wonder that a Cody Rogers can't go to a party without fear of being attacked simply because of who he is.  The hatred is being taught by lawmakers, teachers, religious leaders, and in some cases parents. 

Just moments ago, I was talking to an 18-year-old LGBT man who is trying to make a difference.  He had a girl he was talking to who was being bullied and wanted help making it stop.  She told her mother.  Her mother didn't listen.  She told her teacher.  (S)he didn't listen.  NO ONE IS PAYING ATTENTION!!!  Yet, as soon as one of these young people take their life, there's the redundant outcry of "THIS HAS TO END!!"  Damn right this has to end, but what are we doing to make that happen? 

People are denying, or attempting to deny, the LGBT community everything from the right to marry the person they love to equal protection under the law.  To be sure, Cody Rogers' attacker was charged with simple assault for the very brutal and savage beating that Cody endured.  Why?  Because, in Oklahoma, sexual orientation isn't protected under their hate crime laws.  How is this even possible in this country in 2012!?  Do you want to know how?  I will tell you.  It is possible because we, as a community, allow it to happen.  Plain and simple.

Don't misunderstand what I'm saying:  we, the LGBT community, and society as a whole, are making enormous strides in the right direction, which is equality for ALL.  At the same time, it is my opinion that more can be done.  Lots more. 

What's needed is we need to keep increasing our numbers in the battle to win equality, in the war against bullying, and in the attempt to end this plight of LGBT teen suicides.  Since the time I got actively involved, I've witnessed amazing growth in numbers, and I've seen some great things come from it.  We can never be complacent.  There's always more to be done.  Why?  Because for every gain we achieve, "they" are lining up to take it away from us.

We need voices, voices, and more voices.  Are you signing petitions when they come around?  Are you speaking out against the hatred and intolerance?  Are you supporting the Cody Rogerses of the world?  That's what we need.  We need voices.  As the poisoned, culturally crippled faction try to undo everything we accomplish, we need to meet and at least double their numbers.  It would be a travesty of justice, not to mention just plain wrong, if "they" were to win in Maryland and get this new same-sex marriage law reverse even before the first couple gets to marry.  We can make sure that doesn't happen.  As has been proven over the course of history, and as has been witnessed right here within the community of this very blog, there IS power in numbers. 

Listen, we will win this battle.  I have no doubt about that whatsoever.  All around us, culture is changing.  People's attitudes are changing.  Twenty-five years from now, there will be marriage equality from coast-to-coast and, most likely, around the world.  The social climate towards the LGBT community will have shifted to a point where gay and lesbian teens won't feel such a sense of hopelessness that they feel they have to end their life.  That's coming!  I have no doubt about that.  However, in the here and now, we still have plenty of work to do in order to get to that day.  I recall being a young man in San Francisco during the height of the AIDS epidemic there.  I remember watching friends die, literally, on a daily basis.  I became active with a group called ACT-UP.  My bosses were gay, yet they were very annoyed with me for being a part of such a group.  "You're part of the problem!!!"  I assured them that they were the problem.  See, they had become complacent.  They owned their own successful business.  They had nice homes and enjoyed a fabulous lifestyle.  They had gotten their slice of the American pie, and they were satisfied.  The rest of the world be damned.  Sadly, within the next 6 months, all three of them had succumbed to the very scourge that I laid my body in the middle of the street for in effort to bring more attention to. 

Don't become complacent.  Stay connected; be involved.  We need your voice.

Oklahoma Teen Savagely Beaten in anti-Gay Attack

There was a party.  Eighteen-year-old Cody Rogers, an LGBT teen, attended along with other of his friends.  Also at the party, however, were some violently homophobic teens.  It seems that some female attendees of the party had invited their boyfriends.  And, that's where the trouble began.  Cody says that he could "...hear the homophobic slurs from the other room."  When asked to leave, one of the homophobes refused.  Instead, he did what any real man would do:  He attacked the girl who, presumably, had asked him to leave.  With the girl being his friend, Cody went to her rescue.  The attack turned on him.  He was pushed to the ground by the homophobe and beaten unconscious.  Pictures reveal the severity of the attack.  It was brutal.

The attackers were charged with simple assault.  Simple assault!!!  This was a clear-cut hate crime.  The homophobic slurs came well before the "simple assault" as well as during it.  So why, then, is this classified as a "simple assault"?  Simple.  Because Oklahoma has no hate crime protection for the LGBT community.  So, as was the case with Cody, you can get the shit kicked out of you by some pea-brained homophobic woman beater, have him call you every homophobic slur he can think of while he's committing his crime of pure hate, and the worst thing that will happen to him is he'll get charged with simple assault.  That has to change.

It's worth noting that Oklahoma has a lawmaker, (R) Mike Reynolds, himself an elected homophobe, has a history of attempting to pass through anti-LGBT legislation.  Just last week, his proposed bill that would've stripped the LGBT community of protection from discrimination was defeated.  I have no doubt he'll attempt to re-introduce another, reworded bill that would do the same damage.  It's what people of his mentality do.

At a time when the nation, and the world!, has the issue of bullying and anti-LGBT discrimination in the front of their collective minds, we're reminded yet again that there's still lots and lots of work to be done.  And, it needs to be said again that for someone as young as Cody's attacker, a fellow teen, to be so violently homophobic, it's obvious that the re-education has to start with the adults.  His attacker wasn't born with that level of hatred.  No one is.

That level of hatred is taught.  It's taught by intolerant politicians who continually attempt to legislate their own prejudices and hatred.  It's taught by religious leaders who preach hatred and condemnation in the name of God. (perhaps, before their next sermon, they should meditate on 1 John 4:8).  It's passed down from parents who, for whatever reason, has been immersed in intolerance and bigotry.  Make no mistake:  The cultural shift has, in fact, begun.  But, as is evident with the savage beating Cody endured, we've still got a long way to go.

Hats off to Cody!  He didn't wilt under the pressure of a brutal attack, an attack brought on simply because of who he is.  Instead, he's turning that negative event in his life into a positive.  He's chosen to become part of the ever-growing army to fight against hatred and intolerance against people, in general, and the LGBT community in particular.  He's launched a facebook page to help stop the brutality.  Welcome aboard, Cody.  You're an inspiration to many.