Saturday, June 25, 2016
Call me gullible but when I read that President Obama had declared June 26, 2016 as National Equality Day, I was thrilled! It made sense. After all, June is Gay Pride Month, according to Obama.
The month of June has many LGBT victories: On June 26, The Supreme Court decided in favor of James Obergefell (Obergefell v. Hodges) that set a precedent for same-sex marriage throughout the United States just a year ago. The laws banning so-called sodomy were struck down in Lawrence v. Texas.on June 26th in 2003, and a significant part of the Defense of Marriage Act (Windsor v. U.S.) was coincidentally struck down on June 26th .
In just three days, Stonewall, the gay bar and tavern on Christopher Street will have its forty-seventh anniversary of its riot against the police who were trying to raid their hangout. Some consider that retaliation against the police the official beginning of the modern gay rights movement that lead to pro civil rights’ groups.
This week, The White House did designate Stonewall a national monument, an addition to America’s National Park System. All of these June events were the result of courage by the LGBT community against the status quo. Obama called these fighters “heroes and deserve to be recognized for their courage and sacrifice.” Supposedly, the President added, “I can’t think of anything more deserving of a national holiday than fight for equality.”
As these accomplishments by the LGBT population could warrant a federal holiday just like Martin Luther King Day, I was surprised to learn and miffed that this was a canard. An article spoofed U.S. Today in which Obama supposedly called on Congress to enshrine June 26th as National Equality Day.
Supposedly, it was reported to many blogs that President Obama told comedian and podcast political commentator Marc Maron that he couldn’t think of anything more deserving. Congress didn’t add National Equality Day to the calendar nor did he use his executive order to declare June 26th as National Equality Day.
Too bad as the LGBT long struggle for equal rights has finally been recognized so why make light of it?
Monday, June 13, 2016
President Obama proclaimed on May 31st that June is LGBT month. Said he, “ I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people. “
Despite his announcement, on the cusp of Gay Pride Month, Omar Marteen, who lives in St. Lucie County, Florida and has sworn his allegiance to the Islamic State, decided that LGBT persons are better off dead than living their lives as homosexuals. Isis doesn’t believe in the separation of church and state. Consequently, he killed more than fifty LGBT persons in a gay nightclub called Pulse in Orlando.
It was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history and what Obama called an “act of terror against people who are LGBTQ. It was an attack on the fundamental belief in equality and dignity for all people.”
Although Gay Pride celebrates the advancement of civil rights for gays, from a time when it was illegal for LGBT people to congregate at a bar or for bars to even serve LGBT people. (hence the Stonewall Inn rebellion in June 1969). It also celebrates sexual and gender identities in public.
But recent happenings also remind us that we have a long way to go. Unrelated to the Pulse shooting, James Wesley Howell, 20, of Jeffersonville, Indiana, was headed to the West Hollywood, California gay pride parade. However, he wasn’t planning on marching or being in solidary with the LGBT population.
He, like Marteen, came equipped to harm. Howell was found with three assault rifles and chemicals used to make explosives in his car and was stopped by police.
Unrelated to the nightclub massacre in Florida, Howell’s plan gives one pause. How many others are out there with similar hatred? How can we assure safety for LGBT citizens?
While great strides in LGBT rights such as legalized gay marriage, gay adoption, why this backlash? What do you think? As a mother of a gay son, I worry for his safety as well as others.
Frank Langella, in his Tony Acceptance Speech on June 12th, said “when something bad happens, we have three choices: we let it define us, we let it destroy us, or we let it strengthen us. “ United in spirit and offering food, shelter, and blood to those who were maimed, let us continue to support those in need of equality.
Friday, June 3, 2016
A few weeks ago, I was at the welcoming LGBT Community Center on west 13th Street in New York City. I wanted to look at the space at the BGSQD (bookstore/event hall) within this well-known community center.
As you might expect, all their restrooms are LGBT-friendly. I eventually had to use the facilities so I went into a stall in one of the restrooms. There were, I think, judging from the shoe sizes, two men in the next two stalls.
It didn’t seem weird to me at all. I wasn’t mugged, accosted. I minded my own business as I took care of business. My experience has me wondering why conservatives like actress Stacey Dash likes bathroom laws that are subject to court battles like in Mississippi and North Carolina that require transgender people to use the bathroom that aligns with their birth. Dash’s rationale: “why do I have to suffer because you can’t decide what you wanna’ be that day? I’m not gonna’ put my child’s life at risk because you want to change a law.”
Her remarks are understated compared to evangelist James Dobson’s comments in his latest piece for the Right Wing organization “Family Talk.” Dobson called President Obama a tyrant , “warping our children” for legalizing unisex bathrooms for public school students.” Writes Dobson, “would you remain passive after knowing that a strange-looking man, dressed like a woman, has been peeking over toilet cubicles to watch your wife in a private moment? What should be done to the perverts who was using mirrors to watch your children?
You have a greater chance of being harassed in a bathroom by a sex offender who is straight. I am waxing philosophic here but I think people criticize what they don’t understand. And transgendered people are misunderstood. The statistics are alarming:
- 41% of trans people have attempted suicide.
- 58.7% of gender non-conforming students have experienced verbal harassment in the past year because of their gender expression compared to 29% of their peers.
- 49% of transgenders reported physical abuse in a 2007 survey.
- 50% of trans persons have been raped or assaulted by a romantic partner.•
- 1 in 5 transgender people have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives.
- 1 in 8 have been evicted from their housing due to their transgender status.
- 80% of trans students feel unsafe at school because of their gender expression.
Statistics from www.transstudent.org/tdov
Transgendered persons need to blend into mainstream society, as LGB people have done recently. They need to be visible. Dobson’s rhetoric is apprehensible – akin to the late Governor George Wallace’s remarks favoring segregation of blacks in the mid-1960’s.
Transgenders should not fear for their lives when they come out of the closet or, for that matter, use the water closet.