Friday, February 22, 2013

Labels, Schmabels

I am venting today about the need of public figures to come out.  Do we care that Chief Executive Officer of Sony Music Entertainment, Clive Davis, came out as bisexual in his recent memoir The Soundtrack of My Life? He told Cynthia McFadden on ABC’s “Nightline” that he, 80, twice divorced, had sex with a man in the 1970’s and has been in a monogamous relationship with a man for the last seven years.  The most intelligent tidbit he told McFadden was that bisexuality does exist. 

Motives Behind Coming Out
It may be cathartic for Davis who launched the careers of Whitney Houston, Barry Manilow, among others, to write about his sex life, but do we need to know?  Sex sells, maybe it catapults memoirs to the Best Seller’s List.  Or maybe he is trying to be an ally to the Gay Rights Movement, you know normalizing the behavior so the public will gain greater acceptance of gays and lesbians?  Or maybe, leading by example with his openness (or self-serving ambition?), he is trying to get others to come out.
And, do we care that Kelly Clarkson, whose career he helped launch, is annoyed with him.  Her sexual orientation seems to be in question and she wallows in the flattery that “hot lesbian chicks come on to her?”

My Take
In any case, I’m of the old school that you don’t have to be explicit about your sex life that is no one’s business.  If you’re gay, and want to say so, fine.  If you want to introduce your partner, why not?  But skip the details.  Please don’t feel pressurized to tell the world.

Of course, I hope there will be day when anyone’s sexual orientation isn’t talked about, in private or public.: “ I didn’t know he was gay”; “ she’s too girly to be a lesbian.”

Other Labels
This week, The Associated Press got into trouble with gay rights activists over how to address gay married couples.  In a leaked memo, the AP stated that “generally AP uses ‘couples ‘or ‘partners’ to describe people in civil unions or same-sex marriages.”

Huffpost Gay Voices Editor-At-Large Michelangelo Signorile, in a huff (tee-hee) took umbrage.  Civil unions are not the same as same-sex marriages legalized in nine states and The District of Columbia). Said Signorile, “by deciding that gay marriages and heterosexual marriages are not equal, presumably until every state and the federal government recognizes gay marriages, the AP is taking the side of those who claim that marriages of gay couples performed and legally binding in nine states and The District of Columbia are not legitimate.  That’s not a judgment that journalists should be making.”

The Associated Press clarified its stance: “regardless of sexual orientation, husband or wife is acceptable in all references to individuals in any legalized recognized marriage.   Spouse or partner may be used if requested .”

What Do you Think? 
Should a person be defined as bisexual, gay by another?  Or if married, be called a “husband,” “wife,” “spouse” or “partner?”

Post your comment here.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Boy Scouts of America’s Half-Ass Solution

BSA Decision on Gay Ban Postponed Until May
The Boy Scouts of America have faced turmoil in the past six months.  After the Scouts in June had announced their intent to keep the gay ban in place, corporate companies including Merck & Co. and Intel Corporation pulled funding. Angry former scouts in disgust mailed their former badges.  To show solidarity with expelled gay leaders, petitions with upward of 1,000 signatures were sent to BSA’s headquarters in Texas.

The proposal to allow the local groups that charter Scout units to create their own rules on gay membership had been on this week’s agenda for the executive board.  This lame proposal caused rifts within the organization and would have placed a heavy burden on individual troops and chartering organizations. How do you decide whom to let into your troop?  This is not a country club, but a 103-year-old iconic organization associated with morals, values, community service, and the American way. But its membership since 2000 has declined nearly 19%.

Under BSA’s new plan, members of its wider 1,4000-member national council will decide at the Scouts’ May annual meeting whether to change the policy. “After careful consideration and extensive dialogue within the Scouting family, along with comments from those outside the organization, the volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy.”

Religious Conservatives Think Lifting Ban will Entice Pedophiles Into Troops
Pat Robertson of Christian Broadcasting network thinks we’ll see “predators as Boy Scouts and pedophiles who will come as scout masters.  Linda Harvey, President of Mission: America, says “gay scouts present a serious threat to straight scouts.” 

Research Says Otherwise
To these notions, GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) sent an open letter to “concerned parents and educators” signed by one hundred experts from the fields of sex abuse prevention, psychology, social work, psychiatry, child advocacy, faith outreach, criminology, education, and coaching allaying the fears that children and minors will be less safe with gay men than they would be with straight men.

While every parent wants his child unharmed, danger lurks everywhere, not just in Boy Scout tents.  Not just relegated to the playground anymore, pedophiles can be found in schools, the Internet, even in churches where they are protected and when caught shuffled to another diocese. 

You can’t legislate homosexuality.  There are already current and future gay Boy Scouts in troops. Studies have shown that it is not uncommon for straight teens to experiment with gay sex; it doesn’t mean their gay. Sexual experimentation might be going on in your house during teen sleepovers.

BSA Out of Sync with The Times
Lastly, America has evolved with Obama.  Most Americans now support gay marriage, the Armed Forces ban on openly gay service members has been lifted, the Supreme Court is considering striking down DOMA, Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage between a man and woman.  But the Boy Scouts has not kept up with the times. A Quinnipiac University poll done between January 30 to February 4th found that American voters, 55-33, percent say that the BSA should drop its ban on openly gay members.

I was a Girl Scout Troop Leader and we never had any of this divisiveness because the Girl Scouts of America is all-inclusive. I admire the Brooklyn troop leader who found a charter that would allow him to start an all-inclusive troop with both boys and girls.

Should the Boy Scout Drop the Ban?  Post your comment here. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

This Is Not a Shaggy Dog Story

This Is Not a Shaggy Dog Story
Yesterday, I read in Huffpost Gay Voices about a Tennessee dog owner who wanted to euthanize his dog because he suspected the dog was gay. (Just because a male dog mounts another one, does not mean he’s homosexual, it could be a matter of dominance. Anyhow, homosexual behavior is well documented in over 500 different species.)

Luckily, the pitbull/American bulldog mixed dog was spared his death at a high-kill “Jackson Rabies Control Animal Shelter” in Tennessee through a frenetic plea on Facebook, resulting in adoption. 

Some LGBT Kids Discarded Like Unwanted Dogs
But the dog tale reminds me of how cruel biased parents can be toward their gay kids. Many, like the dog, are evicted from their homes because they are gay. It is estimated that almost 40% of LGBT kids living on the streets have been kicked out of their homes for no other reason than their parents can’t accept their same-sex orientation. It’s a slow euthanization. Dubbed “throwaways,” they lead a dog-eat-dog existence, often trading sex for drugs and temporary shelter.

What Can a Disapproving Parent Do?
Some parents have such an ingrained homophobia that it takes over their parenting skills. Blinded by their prejudice, their parental love, that used to be unconditional, has now turned conditional. So, how does a parent learn to love unselfishly again when he doesn’t accept his child’s sexual attraction?

Reframe Your Expectations
1.     You can hate the sin (if you believe homosexuality is a sin), but not the sinner.
2.     Remember that this is the same child you’ve always loved since birth.
3.     You are not alone.  Kids are coming out younger nowadays while still living under the same roof as their parents.
4.     Consider it a compliment that your child revealed a true part of himself, all the while knowing that he is probably disappointing you, but nevertheless taking the risk because he feels secure in your love.
5.     You still have an obligation to parent.
6.     Studies have shown that kids who are rejected have greater incidence of drug abuse, suicide, low self-esteem, and depression.
Get Started Now!
1.     If you are slow to accept, give it time, but you may want to start by:
2.     Confiding in a non-judgmental friend, particularly one who has a gay child.
3.     Seeking support on-line with such groups as PFLAG (Parents of Lesbians and Gays), with nationwide chapters.
4.     Read memoirs written by straight parents of gay kids such as recent bestseller “Oddly Normal” written by a New York Times writer John Schwartz.
5.     Keep abreast of gay marriage, LGBT rights on such sites as Human Rights Campaign, Lamda Legal, GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network), so you’re in the know and can discuss with your child. It shows interest in issues that affect his life and ultimately yours.
6.     It is never too late to ... give a hug or say “I Love you.” Or in the case of rejection,          “Love is having to say you’re sorry."

What has worked for you?  Please leave a comment.