Showing posts with label Gay. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

How a Black Gay Mormon Kid Lost His Faith

Growing up Mormon in rural Alabama sheltered me from many lessons that my friends and cousins had learned at an even younger age—some trivial (like how to cuss) and some more vital (like how to stand up for yourself, even when you’re afraid).

In time, life would teach me these lessons and so many more.

In the sixth grade I realized I was gay. Based on the intensity of their taunts, my classmates knew this long before I did. I was in Ms. Kidd’s fourth-period history class. “Derek” (not his real name) asked me if I was gay. Stunned by his directness, I offered what I thought was a convincing “hell naw.” But the truth was, I had no idea. That’s not the type of question 12-year-old Mormon boys ask themselves.

But when I did ask myself that question, it took only a few hours to get an answer. Despite the fact that I had a girlfriend at the time, I was gay. Suddenly my obsession with certain male actors, my secret love of My Little Pony and the relentless taunting by my peers all made sense. I was gay.

And that’s exactly what I told (actually, wrote to) “Derek” at the end of the day in a letter I sent all the way across the classroom in our last-period English class. Derek and I kissed in the bathroom a few times, but other than talking on the phone, that was the height of our preadolescent love affair. Did I mention I was dating a girl at the time?

Learning that I was gay was more than enough knowledge for my 12-year-old body and mind to process, but life would insist that I learn much more.

Read the rest here

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Forsaken: A Rising Number of Homeless Gay Teens Are Being Cast Out by Religious Families

One late night at the end of her sophomore year of college, Jackie sat in her parked car and made a phone call that would forever change the course of her life. An attractive sorority girl with almond eyes and delicate dimples, she was the product of a charmed Boise, Idaho, upbringing: a father who worked in finance, a private ­school education, a pool in the backyard, all the advantages that an upper-middle-class suburban childhood can provide – along with all the expectations attendant to that privilege.

"There was a standard to meet," Jackie says. "And I had met that standard my whole life. I was a straight-A student, the president of every club, I was in every sport. I remember my first day of college, my parents came with me to register for classes, and they sat down with my adviser and said, 'So, what's the best way to get her into law school?'"

Jackie just followed her parents' lead understanding implicitly that discipline and structure went hand in hand with her family's devout Catholic beliefs. She attended Mass three times a week, volunteered as an altar server and was the fourth generation of her family to attend her Catholic school; her grandfather had helped tile the cathedral. "My junior year of high school, my parents thought it was weird that I'd never had a boyfriend," she says, "so I knew I was supposed to get one. And I did. It was all just a rational thought process. None of it was emotionally involved."

After graduating, Jackie attended nearby University of Idaho, where she rushed a sorority at her parents' prompting. She chose a triple major of which they approved. "I remember walking out of the sorority house to go to Walmart or something, and I stopped at the door and thought to myself, 'Should I tell someone I'm leaving?'" she says. "It was the first time in my life where I could just go somewhere and be my own person."

In fact, it took the freedom of college for Jackie to even realize who her "own person" was. "Growing up, I knew that I felt different, but when you grow up Catholic, you don't really know gay is an option," she says. "I grew up in a household that said 'fag' a lot. We called people 'fags,' or things were 'faggy.'" Her only sex-ed class was taught by a priest, and all she remembers him saying is, "'Don't masturbate and don't be gay.' I didn't know what those words meant, so I just hoped to God that I wasn't doing either of them."

When Jackie got to college, the "typical gay sorority encounters" she found herself having didn't seem to qualify as anything more than youthful exploration; she thought all girls drunkenly made out with their best friends. By her sophomore year, she was dating a fraternity brother but was also increasingly turned on by a friend she worked with at the campus women's center. "I was just playing it off as 'So maybe I'm just gay for you – I mean, I don't have to tell my boyfriend' kind of thing," she says. "I knew what I wanted, but it was never something I ever envisioned that I could have on a public level." And yet, as her friendship with this woman turned physical and their relationship grew more serious, Jackie saw her future shrinking before her: a heterosexual marriage, children, church and the knowledge that all of it was based on a lie. "I honestly thought my whole life I was just going to be an undercover gay," she says, shaking her head in disbelief.

For better or worse, that plan was never to be. Toward the end of her sophomore year, Jackie got a text message from one of her sorority sisters who said she'd been seen kissing another girl, after which certain sisters started making it clear that they were not comfortable around Jackie. ("You're living in the same house together," she says, "and, of course, to close-minded people, if somebody's gay, that means you're automatically interested in all 80 of them.") Eventually, she went before her chapter's executive board and became the first sorority girl at her college to ever come out, at which point she realized that if she didn't tell her parents, someone else would. "I was convinced somebody was going to blast it on Facebook."

So while Jackie hoped for the best, she knew the call she was making had the potential to not end well. "You can't hate me after I say this," she pleaded when, alarmed to be receiving a call in the middle of the night, her mom picked up the phone.

"Oh, my God, you're pregnant" was her mom's first response, before running through a litany of parental fears. "Are you in jail? Did you get expelled? Are you in trouble? What happened? What did you do?" Suddenly her mom's silence matched Jackie's own. "Oh, my God," she murmured in disbelief. "Are you gay?"

"Yeah," Jackie forced herself to say.

After what felt like an eternity, her mom finally responded. "I don't know what we could have done for God to have given us a fag as a child," she said before hanging up.

Read the rest here

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Evangelicals Are Changing Their Minds on Gay Marriage

Amy Tincher is an evangelical Christian who plays bass in the band at her suburban Ohio church, where she and her fellow congregants firmly believe the “words we adhere to” are those in the Bible. But last summer, without telling her husband and two kids exactly what she was doing, she boarded a plane for a conference in Kansas whose purpose many evangelicals would plainly consider heretical.

Tincher was one of 50 people flown from around the country and the world—Canada, China, Nigeria and South Korea—to a four-day Bible boot camp dedicated to discussing, and embracing, gay relationships. The gathering was organized by Matthew Vines, who by then was enjoying modest fame for a 2012 YouTube video in which Vines, looking even younger than his 21 years, delivers an hour-long lecture arguing that the Bible does not, in fact, condemn all same-sex relationships. The video has gone viral, racking up more than 730,000 views to date, landing Vines on the cover of the New York Times Sunday Styles section and helping him raise $100,000 for the conference, where he launched The Reformation Project, a nationwide network of pro-gay evangelicals committed to ending their church’s longstanding hostility toward gay people.

Tincher told me she had once “tried on” an anti-gay attitude to fit in with her conservative community in Liberty Township, outside Cincinnati, but like many evangelicals, she struggled to see how homophobia could accord with an all-loving Christian God. So when her pastor sent her a link to Vines’ video, she recalls, “I remember sitting in my kitchen and just crying. I knew it in my heart, but I had never been told that from the pulpit.”

It’s no secret that attitudes toward same-sex relations have changed in this country: Gay marriage is legal in 19 states plus the District of Columbia, and all major public opinion surveys now show a majority of Americans are in favor of it. But Matthew Vines and Amy Tincher are no longer outliers either: Increasingly, even evangelical Christians, long known for doctrinally condemning homosexuality, are embracing gay people, too.

Read the rest here

Policing Sexuality: The Criminalization of Africa’s Queer Population

Recently, the global queer rights movement has been receiving a lot of attention in the media, both domestically and abroad. One of many recent incidents that has received a lot of press in the media is the anti-gay legislation, which was signed into law by Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda. The anti-homosexuality bill which was signed into law criminalizes any individual who identifies as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Intersex (LGBTI) for willingly engaging in same-sex relations. After the bill was signed into law President Museveni stated, “society can [now] do something about homosexuality to discourage the trend.” After hearing such a statement, one must wonder does such an executive act reinforce homophobia in Uganda? Will this law allow society to police their fellow man/woman’s sexuality based on patriarchal or religious beliefs? I would argue that President Museveni’s response to homosexuality in Uganda is clearly an attempt to create and control Uganda’s prison-nation. In Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence and America’s Prison Nation, criminologist Beth Richie argues the creation of a prison nation “depends on creating fear, identity scapegoats, and reclassifying people as enemies.” (Richie 2012, p. 3) In this case, it is Uganda’s queer population that is being reclassified, all because queers in Uganda choose not to conform to societal norms. Furthermore, Richie argues that “prison-nation” is a term scholars use to describe “a neo-liberal, law-and-order oriented social agenda” (Richie 2012, p. 103). Furthermore, President Museveni feels as if homosexuality is a choice and gay people are ‘disgusting‘ and therefore policing and stiffer penalties must be instituted to control the queer population. Whether or not one wants to argue if homosexuality is biological or a choice is not the main concern. What one should be concerned with is the patriarchy and religious beliefs that reinforces homophobia.

Historically, patriarchy and sexuality have been used as mechanism of control during colonization, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and chattel slavery. Moreover, masculinity and sexuality are a social construct that has different meanings based one’s race, ethnicity, religion, age, geographic location, and socio-economic status. Traditional ideologies of manhood in post-colonial Africa revolve around sex and man’s ability to dominate woman. In African Sexualities, Kopano Ratele asserts, “manliness is closely associated with our sexual partner(s), the sexual appeal of our partner(s), the size of one’s penis, sexual stamina, being able to maintain a healthy erection, and one’s fertility” (Tamale 2011, p. 399). Many African societies support one predominate form of manhood, which is heterosexuality. Anything that does not conform to patriarchal heterosexual structures are deemed abnormal. Patriarchal heterosexual structures encourage men to “sow their wild oats, teach boys and girls that female bodies are dirtier and weaker than those of males” (Tamale 2011, p. 413). Such heterosexual structures posit a double jeopardy ideology which asserts boys should be promiscuous, while girls are expected to remain a virgin until marriage.

Read the rest here

Obama’s Evangelical Gravy Train

On March 24, just a month after Ugandan President Museveni signed a bill making homosexuality a crime punishable by life in prison, Obama administration officials announced that they were increasing military aid to Uganda in its effort to quell rebel forces. Human rights groups criticized the move, arguing that the aid offered Museveni “legitimacy” after he supported a law that has been widely condemned for violating human rights. The same day, a State Department spokesperson quietly announced that the administration would also “demonstrate our support for the LGBT community in Uganda” by shifting $6.4 million in funding away from the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda, whose actions, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said, “don’t reflect our values.” That may be the understatement of the year.
According to Ugandan AIDS activists, administration officials had been told a year and a half earlier that the Inter-Religious Council and other State Department grantees were actively promoting the antigay bill. In September 2012, several LGBT and AIDS advocates in Uganda were invited to a call with representatives from USAID, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Office of the US Global AIDS Coordinator and other US officials to discuss HIV service delivery to vulnerable communities. According to minutes taken by one of the participants and conversations with others on the call, the US officials were warned that several grantees and subcontractors through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, commonly referred to as PEPFAR, were visibly supporting the bill, undermining service delivery to men who have sex with men, or otherwise fomenting anti-gay activities. US officials asked the Ugandan activists to provide information on these actions by the US government’s so-called “implementing partners,” and told them that such evidence might lead to an investigation by US officials.
Clare Byarugaba and other Ugandan activists on the call submitted a detailed spreadsheet to State Department officials with the names of US grantees they suspected were engaged in anti-gay advocacy, including the Inter-Religious Council; several of the advocates said they had been pushing US officials to defund the group as far back as 2009.
The Inter-Religious Council, the recipient, under Obama, of a $30 million grant through PEPFAR, had taken out newspaper ads in February urging Museveni to sign the bill and calling “homosexuality and Lesbianism” “sinfulness that must be addressed at personal level [sic] through repentance.” The ad goes on to express “support for any effort against the spread and promotion of homosexuality and Lesbianism in Uganda” and call upon “all Ugandans to take appropriate measures to protect themselves, their families and children from this vice.”
Kikonyogo Kivumbi, executive director of Uganda’s Health and Science Press Association, forwarded a press release announcing the ad campaign to the US Embassy in Kampala along with a note that read, “IRCU clearly continues to undermine US foreign policy values to non-discrimination…. I think what they are doing is not right.”
Read the rest here

Hobby Lobby Puts Obama Between God and Gays

President Barack Obama’s seminal gay rights legislation has become the latest casualty of the Supreme Court’s decision to allow Hobby Lobby to deny their employees contraception on religious grounds. 

The Employee Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, was passed by the Senate last year, but it has stalled in the House in part because Republicans wanted greater religious exemptions. But the exemptions already contained within the bill, gay rights activists fear, provide a blue print for employers to discriminate against gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender peoples in the context of the Hobby Lobby decision. 

“The Supreme Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby has made it all the more important that we not accept this inappropriate provision,” the American Civil Liberties Union and four LGBT groups wrote in withdrawing their support for ENDA. “Because opponents of LGBT equality are already misreading that decision as having broadly endorsed rights to discriminate against others, we cannot accept a bill that sanctions discrimination and declares that discrimination against LGBT people is more acceptable than other kinds of discrimination.” 

The decision also puts Obama in a bind over a promised executive order banning companies that do business with the federal government from discriminating against LGBT employees.

Read the rest here

Monday, July 7, 2014

Pastoral Care of the Queer Person: Questions for the Synod

San Francisco's Archbishop Cordileone was met with strong opposition to his participation in the recent March for Marriage. In response he wrote a letter stating, "Please do not make judgments based on stereotypes, media images, and comments taken out of context. Rather, get to know us first as fellow human beings."
The question must be asked, are we as a Church getting to know our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, or do we make judgments based on stereotypes and media images?
The media often paint an image of the LGBTQ community by showing radical and flamboyant images from gay pride parades, but does that truly reflect the reality of this population?
The research paints a very different image than the media. It's not an image of parties and parades; rather it shows a marginalized population disproportionately experiencing homelessness and abuse. It has become common knowledge among homeless social service providers that as many as 40 percent of the homeless youth population identifies as LGBTQ. According to a Center for American Progress report, "LGBTQ youth continue to be disproportionately represented among homeless youth in our country, and their experiences of homelessness continue to be characterized by violence, discrimination, poor health, and unmet needs."
Read the rest here

Friday, June 27, 2014

Coming Out in the Muslim Community

One of the greatest heartbreaks in my life occurred after coming out at the age of 24: I lost my Muslim community. After my public coming out, via an article inThe Los Angeles Times, and the backlash that came with it, I retreated. I distanced myself from the people I cared about, the people I'd been raised with in the masjidin Los Angeles, those whom I viewed as extended members of my own family. I was certain that they had stopped caring about me. It took me years to take responsibility for my part in that break rather than only see myself as a victim of circumstance.
Many Ramadans and Eids went by without seeing any of the friends or elders I had known my entire life. The only relationship I had with other Muslims was with my immediate family -- a relationship that was growing increasingly toxic. Though I saw my family regularly, I was not being seen. Our conversations always avoided the subject of my life.
The lack of intimacy with my family took such a toll on my mental well-being that I jumped at the opportunity to move to New York City for graduate school. I thought placing the entire country between us would get my family to recognize my value.
What I discovered in New York City was nothing short of a miracle. 
Read the rest here

Monday, May 5, 2014

Are Conservative Christians the New Queers?

Yesterday I wrote about the decline of anti-gay religion. The context was the recentFaith Angle conference at which speakers and participants discussed the shifting views of Catholics and evangelical Protestants on homosexuality. The one speaker who clearly reaffirmed his belief in the sinfulness of homosexual behavior was Russell Moore, the president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Even he acknowledged that his brethren were becoming more realistic and modest in their approach to the issue.
One thing I didn’t write about was Moore’s cultural view of the anti-gay resistance. I’m using the term anti-gay here to mean opposition to homosexual behavior, not to homosexual inclination, since Moore would certainly say that he loves the sinner, gay or straight. What’s striking about Moore’s perspective is that he no longer sees gay people as the deviant minority. The deviants, in his view, are Christians.
I don’t mean that he thinks there’s anything wrong with being Christian. I’m using the technical definition of deviance: divergence from the norm. The new norm is acceptance of homosexuality. Those who disagree are, in Moore’s language, freaks.
“The illusion of a Moral Majority is no longer sustainable in this country,” Moore told the conference participants. Given the country’s cultural transformation, he argued, pursuing “a constitutional amendment for same-sex marriage is a politically ridiculous thing to talk about.”
Read the rest here

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

God and Gays: A Conversation with Albert Mohler and Matthew Vines

It’s among the hottest of the hot button issues in American culture, but increasingly same-sex marriage is also a matter of dispute within Christian churches. This week, the temperature rose once again with the release of “God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships” by Matthew Vines. The book, written by a former Harvard University student whose “The Bible and Homosexuality” lecture went viral on YouTube two years ago, was met with swift criticism from conservative Christians who oppose same-sex marriage and behaviors.
One such critic was Dr. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary who is considered an intellectual paragon by many on Christendom’s right flank. In a response to Matthew Vines posted on his blog, Mohler issued a rallying cry for Christians to resist Vines’ attempt to “overthrow two millennia of Christian moral wisdom and biblical understanding.” He also announced the release of an e-book entitled, “God and the Gay Christian? A Response to Matthew Vines.”
Because of the importance of this debate, I decided to invite both Albert Mohler and Matthew Vines to answer some questions on the topic. Because Albert Mohler was the first to respond to my inquiry, his answers are listed first.
Read the rest here

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Elliot Darrow: What If I Told You God is Gay?


What if I told you God is gay?
Do you think belligerent bible-belters
Would still holler hate speech to the hilltops
In His name?
Or do you think they would reread the scriptures
They say they swear and survive by
See, I've been reading the Bible again lately
And I think I've taken a leaf from their holy book,
Picking passages for my purpose
Which is in short
To let you know it's very possible God is gay.
I mean think about the book of Genesis
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth
And it wasn't just good, it was fabulous.
I mean what else is our planet but the pinnacle
Of exterior design, and I don't mean to generalize
But it certainly seems like that the Garden of Eden
Was designed by queer, I mean divine eye for the straight guy
But some Christians would go as far as to call
God's creations abominations
Heretics calling themselves faithful
When their faith is full of belief that only God may pass judgment
Matthew 7:1 Judge and you too shall be judged
Luke 6: 37 Condemn not and you shall not be condemned
Fred Phelps 2006: You're going to hell! God hates fags!
A history lesson: A faggot is a bundle of sticks
Originally used as kindling for fires that engulfed gays
When they were burned at the stake, people were firewood
But Moses came across wood on fire and saw God in it,
What is a burning bush but bundles of branches
On fire, isn't it funny how faggots and God can look the same sometimes?
Keep in mind Jesus had two dads and turned out just fine
In fact, Jesus had two dads and a surrogate mother
That never had sex with either of them, 
Maybe Mary was a lesbian
And I remember the prayer going
"Hail Mary, full of grace"
Not full of sin,
"Pray for us sinners"
For we have become blinded by bigotry.
And forgotten that God gave us the rainbow
As a promise that we will never be flooded again
Either with rain or ignorance
And now all the homosexual Homo sapiens
Stand more united under God's rainbow
Than all of his denominations do around the cross.
I was brought up believing that my Savior loved us all
And never had to specify "no homo"
But if you have hate in your heart
Say it don't pray it
Don't teach it and for the love of God don't preach it
Because I am tired of these fire and brimstone sermons
Slinging slurs when they're not firing brimstones
From voices that should be filled with love and praise
Instead of raised with hate and rage
I am a Christian, and I believe in saying the Christian thing.
Which used to sound like "Love thy neighbor as thyself"
But now sounds more like hate at the top of your picket signs
The closest thing to God being "Hell, is waiting for you" 
They're passing out damnation pamphlets
Filled with out-of-context Bible verses
Trying to define God
When his meaning is clear.
He is acceptance, He is pride, He is humility, He is just,
God is perfection, God is protection, God is love,
But most importantly 
God is gay

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Gay, Evangelical and Seeking Acceptance in Church

Evangelicals are being challenged to change their views of gays and lesbians, and the pressure isn’t coming from the gay rights movement or watershed court rulings: Once silent for fear of being shunned, more gay and lesbian evangelicals are speaking out about how they’ve struggled to reconcile their beliefs and sexual orientation.

Students and alumni from Christian colleges have been forming gay and lesbian support groups - a development that even younger alumni say they couldn’t have imagined in their own school years. Gay evangelicals have published memoirs that prod traditional Christians to re-examine how they think about gays and lesbians. Among the most recent is Jeff Chu’s "Does Jesus Really Love Me? A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage in Search of God in America." Paul Southwick, a gay evangelical attorney in Oregon, has started an "It Gets Better" style video project, "On God’s Campus: Voices from the Queer Underground," with testimonials from gays and lesbians at the Christian schools.

The goals of these activists and writers vary. Some argue monogamous same-sex marriages are consistent with traditional Bible views and hope to remain in conservative churches. Others agree with traditional teaching on marriage and have committed to staying celibate for life, but are speaking out because they feel demonized within their communities.

Whatever their aims, they are already having an impact.

Read the rest here

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tongues Untied: Black, Gay and Sanctified?

Darnell: I think that it is fair to say that you and I are what some might call "church boys." I know that some Christian folks tend to place "God" and "gay" in the same sentence when they are referencing "sin" and "hell," but faith and spirituality are important to a lot of LGBTQ folks. The fact that the two of us are connected to faith traditions shouldn't be a surprise, then. I thought about this while we were preparing for the Mississippi LGBTQI2-S 2012 INFusion Conference a few weeks ago. We both had our perceptions of how conference attendees -- folks who live within the Bible Belt -- would respond to conversations on LGBTQ issues. I thought that it would be a challenge, and they proved me wrong. Interestingly, before we left our hotel room, we were listening to gospel music, and I was struck by the fact that we non-church-going, "progressive," gay black men, who have often critiqued Christians who espouse violent theologies, were still moved by gospel music and the communal worship that we experienced in churches. That fact alone tells me that people of faith don't all think and behave the same. Do you agree? Where are you now in terms of your own faith journey?
Wade: Yes, being in Mississippi made me realize how much I missed the church, especially given that I'm such a fan of the Mississippi Mass Choir. And though I do not participate in organized religion, my relationship with God is personal. I am neither proud nor ashamed of that fact, but it is where I am in my journey right now. Religion, or the church, was something that was a huge part of my adolescent experience. Part of me believes I "did my time." I went to church three to five times per week until I left for college, yet I felt as if I'd be judged for living in my truth by people who really hadn't or wouldn't take the time to get to know all of me. So I decided to stop attending. I wanted to protect my family from having to answer questions about my sexuality behind my back, and I didn't feel that my sexual orientation was anyone's business, to be frank. I wanted to go to church to enjoy and enhance my relationship with God and not think about whether anyone was whispering about the "gay ex-football player." Thankfully, I've gotten to a place where I understand that my relationship with God is just that: my relationship. How has your relationship with God and religion changed over time?
Read the rest here

Friday, October 19, 2012

Latinos, Religion and Campaign 2012

Latinos are divided by religion in their preferences in the upcoming presidential election, according to the latest survey by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, both projects of the Pew Research Center. Three-quarters of Latino Catholics and eight-in-ten religiously unaffiliated Latinos support President Barack Obama’s re-election. However, among Latino evangelical Protestants, who account for 16% of all Latino registered voters, just 50% prefer Obama, while 39% support his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.

These same patterns are reflected in Latinos’ partisan affiliations. Eight-in-ten religiously unaffiliated Latino voters (who make up 15% of the Latino electorate) and seven-in-ten Latino Catholics (57% of the Latino electorate) are Democrats or lean toward the Democratic Party. Among Latino evangelical voters, identification with the Democratic Party is lower; about half are Democrats or lean Democratic, while about a third are Republicans or lean toward the Republican Party.

As the presidential election approaches, many Hispanic churchgoers say they are hearing from their clergy about various political issues and, to a lesser extent, about candidates and elections. Roughly half of Latinos (54%) who attend religious services at least once a month say they have heard their clergy speak out about abortion, while 43% have heard from the pulpit about immigration, and 38% say their clergy have spoken out about homosexuality. A smaller proportion, roughly three-in-ten, report hearing from their clergy about candidates and elections.

The new survey also finds rapidly growing support for same-sex marriage among Latinos, mirroring growing support among the general public. Half of Latinos now favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, while one-third are opposed. As recently as 2006, these figures were reversed (56% of Latinos opposed same-sex marriage, while 31% supported it). Latino evangelicals, however, remain strongly opposed to same-sex marriage (66% opposed vs. 25% in favor).

Read the rest here

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Just Because

by Andre E. Johnson
R3 Editor

I am here in Nashville enjoying my friends and teaching at American Baptist College. However, on yesterday I got a call from Lisa (wife) and she shared with me that there were some pastors who took part in a press conference on Tuesday to opposed the anti-discrimination bill. The bill simply says that Shelby county government or any of its agents cannot discriminate in its hiring against GLBT people. In short, the government cannot hire or fire juts because someone is gay.

It is utterly amazing that while this bill could get these pastors out of the confines of their churches, other issues such as the living wage bill, education, the mortgage and credit crisis, unemployment, homelessness, any poverty measure; green jobs, any measure that would make the community a better place or any real social justice issue, their prophetic tongues become paralyzed.

However, what was really sad and pathetic is that there were several well-known African American pastors promoting this pitiful position. What they don't understand and fail to realize is that they are using the exact "rhetorical template" that was used on African Americans in the case of civil rights. In other words, after the 13th , 14th and 15th amendments were passed, many believed that "civil rights" gave "special status" to blacks. The argument went something like this; sense they were no longer slaves, since they were no longer non-citizens, and since they could vote (at least black men), then they don't need any other special law to protect them. They can now stand on their own two feet. Well, we see how that worked out and even though it took almost 100 years, blacks (along with women) finally got the protection they needed. In short, no one can not hire me or fire me just because I am black, but one can be fired or not hired just because she or he is gay.

Some argue that the civil rights movement and the gay movement have nothing in common and we should stop comparing the two. People making this argument usually ground their case in the belief that being gay is a choice while being black is not. However, whether one believes in a predisposed sexual orientation or not is not the issue. The issue is do you believe that it is okay for a person not to hire or fire a person just because she or he is gay? Should a person have that right?

If this sounds familiar to older African Americans it should--because it is the same argument many whites used to discriminate against blacks when it came to hiring and firing. Blacks were not hired or fired just because they were black and many whites argued that it was their right to decide who to hire and who to fire. Matter of fact, they even argued that their rights were being trampled on because blacks were being given "special status" on top of the rights they already had as American citizens.

The reason African Americans fought for those "special considerations" was because they knew hearts and minds are sometimes tough to change. They realized that no matter how well they did their job or how well they could do a job, that being fired just because or not being hired just because was a permanent reality. They felt that if they had some protection, that maybe supervisors would think twice about not hiring and firing blacks just because.

As it stands now, GLBT people do not have that luxury. It is sad to say, but as this blow up proved, there are many who just do not want to recognize GLBT humanity in any way. I guess they can either stay in the proverbial "closet" or be out and open and hope their employers understand. It's time for GLBT people not to have to worry about job discrimination just because anymore; its time to pass the anti-discrimination bill.

Follow Andre on Twitter @aejohnsonphd