Tag Archives: LGBTQ

Here We Go Again

Gay groups denied permission to march in St. Patrick’s Day parade in South Boston Wait a minute, that sounds eerily familiar…

Oh yeah, deja vu all over again!

Last year, I found out about a group of LGBT Irish who sought to march in the NYC parade and were turned down. I was upset, thinking that those people wanted to celebrate the fact they were Irish and were refused because they also happened to be gay. They would have to choose whether to celebrate a part of their heritage that basically rejected them simply because of who they were. So I wrote a column for the Chronicle and cited a similar case in Boston that actually was the precedent that the NYC parade organizers used to exclude the group of LGBT Irish.

In the column I mentioned how hard it was to find the policy online. Turns out I didn’t know where to look. Perhaps the rule cited by the parade council is unwritten and barely spoken about, but the court case ruling that favored the parade council in Boston over 15 years ago was easily found once I got the case name, thanks to the Boston.com article.

The decision, to quote Wikipedia

Justice Souter delivered the unanimous opinion of the court on June 19, 1995. The Court reasoned that, even though the Council did not have a narrow, set message that it was intending to convey, the parade nevertheless constituted a message that the Council had a right to protect. Noting that, while the Council had been fairly lenient in its guidelines for who they chose to allow in their parade, the Court said this did not necessarily mean that the Council waived its right to present its message in a way it saw fit. The right to speak, the Court reasoned, includes the right to determine “what not to say.”  Of primary concern to the Court was the fact that anyone observing the parade (which regularly gained a large number of spectators) could rationally believe that those involved in the parade were all part of an overriding message the Council was seeking to provide.  In this vein, the unanimous Court said that the Council could not statutorily be prohibited from excluding the messages of groups it did not agree with. Effectively, the Council could not be forced to endorse a message against its will.

Like with most supreme court rulings, it takes a couple read-throughs to comprehend it. But at least it does have a sense of logic, even if that logic was used to come to a decision that I disagree with.

I just hate the idea of this accepted practice of exclusion. It won’t change anytime soon, as the court ruling basically said it was up to the parade councils to determine what kind of “message” they wanted to say with the units in their parades. Have the parade organizers not heard of the axiom that actions speak louder than words? By not including Gay and Irish groups for many years in a row, they are telling the public that they are old fashioned and narrow-minded, maybe even bigoted.

They are also sending a message to gays: that are gay first and foremost and that makes them less Irish than their straight counterparts.

The only solution I can see is a game of patience. The Gay Irish groups must sadly wait for the last of the old guard who wish to exclude them to die off. Then they can approach the parade’s councils again and hopefully march openly.

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Gay Martyrs?

After our school held a Vigil for the recent LGBTQ suicides, I had a conversation with my roommate about who was a gay martyr. That conversation in part inspired my third column, which my editor titled Message of gay empowerment not to be confused with martyrdom of those who committed suicide.

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Questioning (LGBTQ) community’s talk of Tyler as a martyr isn’t accurate. Yes, Tyler did commit suicide, primarily because of the harassment he received, but at most it just adds him to the long and growing list of LGBT youth who have committed suicide. All martyrs are victims but not all victims are martyrs.

Tuesday, October 12th marks the 12th anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s death. Matthew Shepard was a 21-year-old college student from the University of Wyoming who was robbed, beaten and murdered because he was gay. You may be familiar with his story if you have read or seen The Laramie Project. Shepard’s two killers were tried and found guilty of felony murder and are serving two life sentences. They were not charged with a hate crime because there was no Wyoming statue allowed a hate crime charge.

Emphasis is my own.

What I didn’t include is a discussion of other famous Gay Martyrs. Perhaps Harvey Milk was a gay martyr, as he was the first openly gay man to be elected into public office. But he was assassinated by a fellow city councilor who was angry over losing his job, so there were political undertones to his assassination. (The mayor was also murdered at the same time)

Perhaps another gay martyr is Lawrence King, who was shoot while he was in school on February 12, 2008. His killer, also a fellow student has been charged with murder and a hate crime. But he has remained silent as to why he did it.It’s possible he hated Larry for a different reason.

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The Outcast

This week I have watched a lot of Star Trek and for a show that’s supposed to be evolved, there isn’t much mention of LGBTQ issues at all. You can spin it in a way that in the 24th century, those issues don’t matter anymore, but the reality of it was that Star Trek always had to tread carefully with the networks and it’s audience. Even though the show was supposed to be futuristic, it still had to deal with present conceptions. (Star Trek was the first television show to have an inter-racial kiss back in the late sixties. Thankfully they didn’t receive negative mail.)

It wasn’t until The Next Generation in the late eighties and early nineties that the show brushed upon LGBTQ and gender identity issues. In the style of Star Trek, the main cast never dealt with these issues directly, but only with aliens (out side the Federation) who had these issues. In one episode called “The Outcast” Commander Riker falls in love with a member of an androgynous race who secretly and illegally identifies as female. The climax of the episode is when she is put on “trial” for her identity. She gives this impassioned plea:

I am tired of lies. I am female. I was born that way. I have had those feelings, those longings, all of my life. It is not unnatural. I am not sick because I feel this way. I do not need to be helped. I do not need to be cured. What I need, and what all of those who are like me need, is your understanding and your compassion. We have not injured you in any way. And yet, we are scorned and attacked. And all because we are different. What we do is no different from what you do. We talk and laugh. We complain about work and we wonder about growing old. We talk about our families, and we worry about the future. And we cry with each other when things seem hopeless. All of the loving things that you do with each other, that is what we do. And for that we are called misfits and deviants and criminals. What right do you have to punish us? What right do you have to change us? What makes you think you can dictate how people love each other?

When I watched this scene, I realized how easily it would be to switch out female and put in lesbian. The wording and the emphasis are the same. So even though this episode is supposed to be about gender identity, I definitely saw a homosexual subtext.

Later on in the episode, Riker comes to rescue Soren from the treatment she must undergo because of her gender identity. But he is too late, as she refuses to go with him. She tells him that she “was sick and had terrible feelings and urges.” The treatment has already begun because she has accepted she was “sick” even though only a few scenes earlier she gave her impassioned plea.

“The Outcast” isn’t the only episode to deal with gender identity or LGBTQ issues in Star Trek. But it’s only among a few.  The most recent on TV was in 2003 and it dealt with HIV/AIDS (allegorically of course, I mean this is Star Trek)

For more info on this Topic check out http://www.ex-astris-scientia.org/inconsistencies/homosexuality.htm

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Religion Class Part II

For Thursday’s religion class we needed to read Andrew Sullivan’s column from 2003 about leaving his Church.

There were a lot of emotions in the class, but unfortunately we only really discussed the article for about a half hour. We had 3 presentations and had to do class evaluations as well.   I was not the only one who was shocked, angry or depressed after reading the column. Mr. Sullivan was unable to reconcile being gay and going to Church after his parish asked a gay couple to leave the choir when they went to Canada to get a marriage license and had a newspaper article written about it. This couple had been members of the choir for over 25 years. It brought up the way Vatican has handled gays over the past few years. Pope John Paul II met with the man who tried to kill him, but he wouldn’t meet with openly gay Catholics.

I really sympathized with Andrew because I could feel his anger and pain. I could imagine that going  from attending mass weekly at the same parish for your whole life (Andrew says 40 years…) to being unable to enter a church because of all the anger would be very painful. I wouldn’t be able to handle not going to church because of the strong connections I’ve made.

But the biggest question that reading the column brought up for me was whether you are denying part of yourself when you sit in the pews and are gay. I think your sexuality is between you and God. Period. God knows what you do and who you like, but God loves everyone equally (and probably couldn’t care less about your love life…)  But I’m reminded of what happens with a Bishop finds out when a politician voted Pro-Choice. He’s denied Communion, asked not to participate in mass. I can only imagine what would happen if those same bishops who would deny Communion to people who voted for Pro-Choice politicians found out there were gay Catholics in their diocese.

Gay Catholics are out there. There’s an organization called Dignity USA that celebrates all LGBT Catholics. I looked at the Boston chapter and learned they worship in an Episcopalian church. They don’t receive any support or resources from the Boston Archdiocese.

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Bisexual or Lesbian? Please make up your mind

A lesbian friend posted this article on her facebook page.

Nikki Dowling wrote how when she was just got into girls her date lamented that she wasn’t totally lesbian. It seems that some lesbians don’t like bisexual women for their associations with guys.

But, alas, in parts of the gay community, being bi or being a lesbian who has hooked up with guys in the past is like having horns or an incurable disease.

from the article, by Nikki Dowling

The straight girls who get really drunk and kiss other girls for attention don’t help at all so I see their point.

But where does this put me? I’ve been on this journey for a little under a year. I was questioning, Bi-curious and finally Bisexual. My mom (who has no problems with my coming out) has asked me a few times “Are you sure you’re not a lesbian?”

“No, Mom, I’m Bisexual but I’m looking for a girlfriend right now.”

I don’t blame her for being confused. It seems like Sexual Identity has evolved  from Straight or Straight, to Straight or Gay/Lesbian to Straight, Bi, Gay/Lesbian and (hopefully) everywhere in between. I don’t mean to bring up the Kinsey Scale because it seems like some people don’t believe it is right, but I do think Sexual Identity is a scale. And I’m somewhere in between the Bi and Lesbian parts. Maybe Kinsey only got the part about no one being completely one way or the other wrong. Maybe the Scale idea is on the right track.

One can hope 🙂

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