Category Archives: Things I Like

Sign Believe Out Loud’s Thank You Card To President Obama

People are still talking about President Obama’s affirmation of gay people’s right to marry. I honestly didn’t think it would be this much of a mainstream news story, and I couldn’t be more pleased to be wrong.

I’m also glad that some are beginning to point out what I was the first to notice last week, that President Obama’s support of the right to marry comes directly from his Christian faith, not in spite of it.

The repercussions of the sitting U.S. President making that specific statement from the Oval Office will be enormous, and not just in the realm of politics. The implications are far reaching in the religious community as well. As I said last Wednesday:

There are people in the pews whose anti-gay positions are just an unconsidered default, and he might convince them to adjust their thinking to a more Christ-like attitude. He might get pastors in Middle America not to go quietly along with what Maggie Gallagher and Tony Perkins say they have to do. He might give closeted LGBT kids, teens, and adults who are steeped in anti-gay Christian dogma a new perspective that leads them safely out of the closet.

Christian LGBT group “Believe Out Loud” has created an online thank you card for people to sign. If you’re a Christian who agrees with the president that your faith leads you to support the right to marry, please sign the card. Right now there are 620 signatures and I’d love to see that number climb into the thousands before they deliver it to the White House in a few weeks. Here’s what you’re signing:

Dear President Obama:

With joy and gratitude in our hearts, we thank you for declaring your support for same-sex marriage.

Like you, we are faithful Christians who support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality not in spite of our Christian faith, but because of it.

Our Christian voices for equality are getting stronger everyday and we thank you for lending yours to the chorus.

Many, many thanks,

Believe Out Loud

For Christians, President Obama Said Much More Than You Think He Said

Well, he finally did it.

This afternoon, President Obama said in an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts that he supports the right of lesbians, gays, and bisexual people to marry the person they love. Here are the three short clips ABC has shared, followed by the reason I think this matters. (Hint: It’s a game changer, and not for the reason you think.)

I’ll let others talk about why this is a monumental step from an LGBT point of view. Joe Jervis and Pam Spalding had particularly insightful reactions over at the Village Voice. Over at America Blog, Joe Sudbay and John Aravosis outlined the history that led us to today’s statement. And David Badash has official reactions of many Gay, Inc. leaders. And of course, anti-gay industry leaders are uniformly apoplectic. Jeremy Hooper has those statements.

As for me, I’d like to recognize what Obama said to religious Americans, because it was something different than most people think, and that difference could help craft the discussion going forward.

Religious Americans, particularly Christian Americans, are the ones holding back LGBT rights in this country. Just yesterday, Pam’s House Blend ran this picture of a church marquee at a church that doubles as a polling place in Wilmington, North Carolina. It was a pointed declaration to Christians going to vote on an anti-gay marriage amendment that if they wanted to be “good Christians,” they had no choice but to vote for the amendment.

This is what we call "passive electioneering."
This is what we call "passive electioneering."

(It’s a United Methodist Church, because of course it is.)

Planned or not, this is the context of the president’s statement, so it’s important to note exactly what he said to Christians who have been told for generations that as Christians, they can’t be in favor of civil rights for LGBT people. Watch the second video again and notice what he’s not saying.

He isn’t saying “I’m a Christian, but I think LGBT people should have rights.” He’s not even saying, “I’m a Christian, and I think LGBT people should have rights.”

No, President Obama is saying, “I’m a Christian, and that’s why I think LGBT people should have rights.”

Linger on that for a minute. The difference between those three statements is not inconsequential. In fact, it’s hard to overemphasize the importance of that nuance.

As offensive as “God is in the mix” was during that debate about civil marriage rights in 2008, the way he said it gave religious people permission to question their cradle-born beliefs about gay people. And as frustrating as “I’m evolving” has been for those of us who could really use (and deserve) equal rights right now, it has given Christians who might not know any out LGBT people permission to find room within their faith for new understanding.

And now, President Obama has called on Christian Americans to take the next step. He hasn’t told them to throw away their faith; that’s a fool’s errand. Rather, he has pointed out to them that LGBT inclusion very easily blends into the core of their faith as it already is. Just as importantly, he has given a voice to Christians who have already made that journey but have been intimidated into silence.

Will he convince the religious right? Of course not. I daresay that wasn’t even his goal. But there are people in the pews whose anti-gay positions are just an unconsidered default, and he might convince them to adjust their thinking to a more Christ-like attitude. He might get pastors in Middle America not to go quietly along with what Maggie Gallagher and Tony Perkins say they have to do. He might give closeted LGBT kids, teens, and adults who are steeped in anti-gay Christian dogma a new perspective that leads them safely out of the closet.

Like I said, this could be a game changer, far beyond just a conversation about legal rights. Well done, Mr. President. I’m impressed. (Now don’t make us push so hard for the next one. Deal?)

How About Some Good News? Gay Attempted Suicide Victim Recovering In Ohio

Austin Rodriguez - image via WYTV
Austin Rodriguez - image via WYTV

On March 30, I told you about Austin Rodriguez, a gay teen in Wellsville, Ohio who had attempted suicide two weeks before. At the time, he was in a drug-induced coma and doctors were preparing to perform a tracheotomy to help get him off a ventilator. I’ll be honest, things didn’t look good for this splendid young man.

I’m happy to report today that Austin has made remarkable strides since then. He has been awake for a week now, and last Thursday spoke for the first time since the incident. He’s been moved from ICU to a private room on a “stepdown” floor, which is a very good sign.

Monday night, to the delight of family, friends, and supporters, Austin returned to Facebook with this post through his mother’s account.

Happy dances all around!
Happy dances all around!

hey everybody, this is austin 🙂 getting stronger every day, but i wont be home in awhile. Ik abt all the support & thank you all from the bottom of my heart ♥

I got in touch with Austin’s mother this morning, and she had this message for the community: “Austin had no idea so many people were pulling for him. I would like to personally thank everyone for their support.”

Austin has a lot of work and a long recovery ahead of him, but I look forward to the day when he can return to school. Keep it up, Austin! We’re so glad you’re here!

The Devotion Project: ‘There’s Nothing Like Getting News That Your Child Might Die’

The Devotion Project released its third short documentary today. This time out, the project features Laura Fitch and Jaime Jenett with their son Simon Lev Fitch-Jenett in Listen From The Heart. See it here in its entirety.

Don’t tell us our families are all that different. We know better, and now, so do you.

The Devotion Project is a series of short documentary portraits of LGBTQ couples and families, chronicling and celebrating their commitment and love, directed and produced by Anthony Osso.

Logo by Daniel Pando of Captured Energy (Click for more)

VIDEO: New Left Media’s New AIDS/LifeCycle Short Documentary

aids-lifecycle-new-left-mediaAs National AIDS Day 2011 comes to a close, New Left Media has released this short documentary of the 10th Annual AIDS/LifeCycle, a seven-day ride down the California coast from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

Some stellar work from NLM, best known for their Tea Party interviews in 2009 and 2010. The candle lighting at the end is about the holiest experience I’ve seen in quite a long time, and this film communicates it very well.

For more information on the AIDS/LifeCycle, including how to donate or sign up for the 2012 ride, please see the group’s official website.

Whatever your orientation, if you are or have been sexually active, please wrap it up and get tested regularly. Enter your zip code below to find an HIV testing center or other services in your area.

Find HIV/AIDS Prevention & Service Providers

Enter your address, city and state, or ZIP Code:

GO

For more information on this widget, please visit AIDS.gov.

(h/t Chase Whiteside)

The Devotion Project’s First Must-See Short Film, ‘More Than Ever’

I stumbled across the most poignant piece of film this afternoon. More Than Ever, directed by Anthony Osso for The Devotion Project, debuted this past summer, but this is the first time those of us in fly-over country have had a chance to see it. The award-winning short film is about New Yorkers Bill Campbell and John Hilton, a couple who have been together for 54 years.

Watch it here in its entirety. (Have a box of tissues handy.)

Stay tuned for more from this wonderful series; word is that the second short film for The Devotion Project is nearly finished, with several more in the works.

Logo by Daniel Pando of Captured Energy (Click for more)

VIDEO: Documentary ‘Miss Representation’ Trailer; Must See Television Premiere Tonight!

A friend linked me to this trailer for the documentary Miss Representation a few weeks ago, and I’m totally stoked that the film is being aired on television. Filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom has gathered an impressive group of leaders and experts to explain the very real problem of the inequity women face.

Miss Representation will premiere tonight at 9PM Eastern/8PM Central exclusively on OWN, Oprah Winfrey’s (relatively) new network, so set your DVRs!

(If you don’t have time for the full eight-minute trailer, here’s a shorter version.)

From the official Miss Representation website:

miss-representationIn a society where media is the most persuasive force shaping cultural norms, the collective message that our young women and men overwhelmingly receive is that a woman’s value and power lie in her youth, beauty, and sexuality, and not in her capacity as a leader. While women have made great strides in leadership over the past few decades, the United States is still 90th in the world for women in national legislatures, women hold only three percent of clout positions in mainstream media, and 65 percent of women and girls have disordered eating behaviors.

Stories from teenage girls and provocative interviews with politicians, journalists, entertainers, activists and academics, like Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, Margaret Cho, Rosario Dawson and Gloria Steinem build momentum as Miss Representation accumulates startling facts and statistics that will leave the audience shaken and armed with a new perspective.

Honestly, it’s killing me that since I don’t have access to OWN, I won’t be able to see Miss Representation until the DVD eventually comes out. I’m counting on all of you to fill me in, so get to watching!

This Is Why I Love Dolly Parton

Sometimes you just know a situation is going to work out exactly right. Such was the case two weeks ago when a lesbian couple from Knoxville, TN faced discrimination from an employee at Dollywood. Here’s the story from the local NBC affiliate.

“I was in disbelief. I didn’t think it was the policy of Dollywood to discriminate against the LGBT community,” said Odom.

She said the front gate host asked her to take off her t-shirt and turn it inside out.

“I looked at him and I was like really? He said ‘This is a family park,'” she said.

Her t-shirt read “Marriage is so Gay.” The shirt raises money for an organization that promotes gay marriage.

If this had happened at Disney World or most any other theme park, I would have been worried. After I saw that it was Dollywood, though, I decided to hang back a bit.

That instinct was proven correct yesterday when Dolly Parton personally responded to the incident with an outright apology and a restated commitment to correct the situation. From ABC News Radio:

Dolly Parton has released a statement to ABC News apologizing for the incident. The statement reads:

dolly-parton-together“I am truly sorry for the hurt or embarrassment regarding the gay and lesbian t-shirt incident at Dollywood’s Splash Country recently. Everyone knows of my personal support of the gay and lesbian community. Dollywood is a family park and all families are welcome.” Dolly adds that the policies on clothing or signs with profanity or controversial messages are in place to protect the person wearing the shirt and keep disturbances at the park to a minimum. Dolly concludes saying, “I am looking further into the incident and hope and believe it was more policy than insensitivity. I am very sorry it happened at all.”

Everybody involved in this incident did absolutely the right thing, with the exception of the employee who had a problem with the t-shirt. Odom and Tipton moderated their response to a company owned by a long-time straight ally, the folks at Dollywood made overtures to speak with Odom and Tipton rather than just brushing them off, the Campaign for Southern Equality offered to meet with the Dollywood representatives and come to an acceptable solution.

And, of course, Dolly was just… Dolly.

(Here’s her latest video, just released in July. The song is Together You And I.)

No Masks At Disappointing Gay Best Friend’s Wedding!

It’s been four days since last Friday’s big victory in New York and I still haven’t said anything about it. While it’s a pretty damn big win and it’s been great to see how excited people got*, I find that I don’t really have a lot to say about it that everybody else hasn’t already said.

So here’s a heck of funny youtube clip from the always hilarious Disappointing Gay Best Friend video series by Mikala Bierma and Tyler Coates, directed by Mike Lacher.

She means well, y’all. She really does.

And I just can’t help but share my favorite installment so far:

Sadly, I am Tyler in both of these videos. Tragic, I know.


* Par exemple, this fabulous gay boy's video reaction to the news:

He’s a spunky kid and I’m not gonna lie, I’m kind of jealous of him right now.

A Message To Jewish LGBTs (and anyone else who cares to listen in)

Okay, so I just published a post about an anti-gay Jewish group. When I talk about anti-gay Christian groups, I feel fairly confident that people will understand that not all Christians are anti-gay. A) I’m a gay Christian who isn’t anti-gay, and B) when you’re talking about a majority group, people understand that one part doesn’t necessarily speak for the whole.

But as soon as I hit the Publish button on that post, I had this familiar itch on the back of my neck that tells me when something’s unfinished.

From the perspective of a minority group member, I know that a lot of (probably most) straight people lump all gay people together. When one of us speaks, s/he is viewed to be speaking for us all. We are rare enough that it’s easy to view us as a monolith. People don’t always do this on purpose, it’s just part of being in the majority.

With that in mind, I want to make sure that everyone understands that not all members of the Jewish community believe as Agudath Israel believes. For example, there’s the gay-positive Jewish friend I mentioned in the post.

There’s also this tremendous submission from the It Gets Better project.

I don’t want anyone who comes to my blog to think that there isn’t room for them in their faith tradition. Sometimes it’s a tight fit, sometimes it takes years of introspection to be at peace, and sometimes some distance is necessary and even healthy.

To any LGBT Jewish kids or adults who got here on a google search, I want you to know that you are not alone. I want you to know that the lies they tell about you aren’t true.

Even if you aren’t ready to believe it yourself, you are good and you are whole and you are just as G-d made you to be.

Visit JQYouth and The Gay and Lesbian Yeshiva Day School Alumni Association for more information.