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View Article  LGBTQ Youth Suicides: Three Reports in One Day

From Garden State Equality (NJ) comes word of a Rutgers freshman who committed suicide after a video of him being sexually intimate with another male was circulated by his roommate.  The video was made without his knowledge. 

For immediate release

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Statement of Garden State Equality Chair Steven Goldstein, cell (917) 449-8918

 All of us at Garden State Equality are in a state of shock over one of the most unconscionable, hate-related deaths of a student in the history of the State of New Jersey. Today we learned that a Rutgers freshman committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate and other students apparently broadcast the freshman - without his knowledge - making out with another man.  According to reports, the other students disseminated the video widely by Twitter.  The freshman was seemingly so distraught, he leapt to his death.

There are no words sufficient to express our range of feelings today.  We are outraged at the perpetrators.  We are heartbroken over the tragic loss of a young man who, by all accounts, was brilliant, talented and kind.  And we are sickened that anyone in our society, such as the students allegedly responsible for making the surreptitious video, might consider destroying others' lives as a sport.  As this case makes its way through the legal system, we can only hope the alleged perpetrators receive the maximum possible sentence. 

That the victim's roommate was also a freshman, just months out of high school, demonstrates once again that our high schools are not doing enough to educate their students that harassment, intimidation and bullying of other students is unacceptable in every instance.  It is grotesque to think that people such as these alleged perpetrators went onto college without, apparently, ever having been taught basic life lessons of decency - and that they made their way through the educational system before allegedly committing this unconscionable act.

Garden State Equality is currently working on a new anti-school bullying bill that if enacted, would be the nation's strongest such law. It would follow the three anti-bullying laws the state has enacted since 2002, all of which include bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

We have also reached out to the Rutgers University administration and LGBT campus groups. We will keep you apprised of developments.

We are sickened.

With more than 77,000 members, Garden State Equality is New Jersey's largest civil rights organization.  Since Garden State Equality's founding in 2004, New Jersey has enacted 211 laws at the state, county and local levelsGarden State Equality is the only statewide advocacy organization in American history to be the subject of an Academy Award-winning? film. 

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Meanwhile, a 13 year old boy has died after hanging himself after years of bullying because he was gay.

And in Texas, another 13 year old  shot and killed himself because of bullying about his gay identity. 

Imagine what the 18 year old Rutgers' student endured prior to college?  Or how much bullying his roommate got away with to get to the point of posting video on Twitter? 

Thank God for grown men like Dan Savage taking a stand with his It Gets Better project on YouTube.  It is a damn shame our educators and elected school board officials can't do the same.  Damn shame.

This is the sort of thing that makes me quiver with anger when I think about so-called-allied elected officials dragging their feet to make the world better for gay people.  You have the power to send a message that might, just might, get some idiot to rethink their opinion that we deserve to be bullied and you WON'T do it? 

You basically suck. 

View Article  Rift in the LGBTQ Community

From Congress.org comes this insightful analysis on what the looming failure to repeal DADT says about activism within the national LGBTQ community.

The grassroots folks are calling for more accountability from Gay, Inc.  perhaps to form a more cohesive and inclusive strategy to getting *something* accomplished?

Personally, I think stripping away the veneer of cooperation is the best way to forge more sincere relationships and move forward.  The artifice is probably the most difficult thing to swallow along with the smug sense that we should trust the privileged to know what's best for us.

I don't proclaim to be any more knowledgable or smarter than you on these issues (even with my master's degree!), but I just continue to be tired of having to smile and dance while we admire the emperor's new clothes.  On the other hand, I do get that electing quasi-Democrats is in our own best interests. 

I was invited to attend the Onorato fundraiser this weekend.  I was probably too curt and snippy in my response and not just cause Onorato is a faux-gay ally.  But they scheduled it during the Steelers game!  I have no idea who could possibly think this is a good or viable idea.  I don't watch the Steelers, but even I'm practical enough to know that the very folks you really really need to connect with are not giving up the Steelers for a campaign that is simply the lesser of the evils. 

I was actually going to go, but then I just realized that I don't care.  I plan to vote for Onorato, but I can't imagine him saying a single thing that would inspire me to do anything more.  And that makes me really sad.  I could tell him some of my libertarian acquaintances are very impressed with his conservatism and plan to vote for him which is good for him and not so much for me.

This is the sort of organizing tactic that widens the rift.  Not only between mainstream Pgh Gay Inc and moi (and I doubt anyone cares about that), but between the informed political gay elite and the everyday LGBTQ folks who they want to turn out.  It is that ongoing lack of understanding that undermines forward movement. 

I'm really surprised Joe Hoeffel doesn't get this.  He's coming to the event to rally the progressive faithful and I know he gets the power of sports in Pittsburgh.  I read a lot into that decision. 

As I've said before, Pgh does not have a thriving grassroots activist community around LGBTQ issues.  We have Gay, Inc and we have the queer anarchists.  The missing link is a serious problem.  All the voices are needed for the continuum of organizing to work effectively.  If that doesn't turn around soon, the rift will widen and apathy will become even more entrenched.

Lest you think I'm a malcontented middle aged lesbian, take a gander at what Pam and Autum are posting on the largest lesbian blog in the nation.  I'm just applying the analysis locally in the political blogger sort of way.

With statements from President Obama telling us progressives that our alleged "apathetic" feelings about voting are "inexcusable," and Vice President Biden telling us progressives that we need to "stop whining" and "buck up" -- Is it any wonder many progressives like me aren't very enthused to vote this November?

I didn't vote against the other guys in 2008; I voted for candidates that I thought were going to boldly follow though with their campaign promises. I voted for President Obama and Vice President Biden in part because Presidential Candidate Obama said he was going to be a "fierce advocate" for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. If the best the cowardly Democrats in the House, Senate, and White House can offer us is "we're better than the other guys," I know my motivation level is going to be low. If they're going to insult my intelligence by telling me I should be more motivated to vote -- even though the Democrats didn't live up to their campaign promises -- I'm even less motivated. I'm sharply angry at beltway Democrats, not apathetic in the slightest.

Oh, I'll vote this coming November as I was already planning to do, but I'm not excited at all to vote like I was in 2008 -- not by a long shot.

sdf

View Article  The Candidate: Let's Support PA Congressman Patrick Murphy

US Congressman Patrick Murphy is an ally.  He doesn't promise to vote for repealing DADT.  He is a military veteran who openly pushes for repeal.  Check out his website.

 

He has positive polling in his district.

But he's not polling well in terms of reelection. 

Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), an Iraq war veteran, is behind Republican Mike Fitzpatrick, an attorney and a former U.S. House member, by a margin of 46 percent to 36 percent among all registered adults in the district.

Still, about 17 percent of registered adults said they?re undecided in the race.

The situation is worse for Murphy when the screen is restricted to likely voters. Fitzpatrick?s advantage increases to 49 percent while 35 percent of respondents continue to support Murphy. Among likely voters, 15 percent say they?re undecided.

The poll, published Thursday by Franklin & Marshall College, is based on phone interviews conducted between Sept. 14 and Sept. 19. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

According to the poll, about 41 percent of registered adults in the district rate Murphy?s job performance as ?excellent? or ?good? and about the same proportion, 40 percent, say he deserves re-election. Still, almost half of these respondents, 47 percent, say it?s time for a change.

Murphy narrowly unseated Fitzpatrick in the 2006 election by less than one percentage point when Fitzpatrick was a one-term incumbent and Murphy was the challenger.

Time for a change?  Back to the previous Representative?  Huh? I'd like to take a peek at the political ads in that race. 

Visit Patrick Murphy's website.

This is one of the races where you can make a difference without playing into the party's self-destructive annhilation of their progressive base. 

 

View Article  Progressive Revolt

Is it possible that after the Dems are slaughtered in November, us "dissatisfied" progressives will revolt in Tea Party style and wrest control of our party away from capitulating milquetoasts? 

Did I even spell that correctly?  Do I care enough to check?  No.  I just want to find some hope in the future and some hope that is not grounded in Jon Stewart's leadership of the American liberals.  Or leadership toward sanity.

Mind you, I think you should work you ass off for the candidates you believe in and support.  I'm not really in a high profile district except for the Toomey-Sestak campaign.  I have no hope whatsoever that Onorato will win, but you should vote for him.  It will be interesting to see if he actually provides domestic partner benefits when he loses and realizes he needs to turn out the progressive base, not pander to his actual social conservative base.  But that's another election away.  Infinonymous cracks me up:

Anyone else wondering whether Pennsylvania Democrats wish they'd nominated a Democrat to challenge Corbett?

For the record, my home screen saver still says "Elect Joe Hoeffel"   Sigh.

The national LGBTQ leadership debate over incrementalism v substantial change just makes me hang my head.  Here in Southwestern Pennsylvania, incrementalism means ... well, there's really no need to revisit that. 

So I'm going to the Onorato fundraiser in October.  I have promised myself I will not bring up domestic partner benefits, I will not bring up domestic partner benefits.  That's not a campaign issue. I am going to write it on my hand.  Maybe I'll just stay in the background and tweet the names of anyone who isn't a white middle class gay man that comes to the event (excluding staffers and women who have to be there). 

Then I'm going to write a check to Joe Sestak's campaign.

So what do we do after November 2?  Coffee parties are already been there, done that.  Maybe we should just all hang out with Natalia Rudiak? 

God, I'm bitter.  I need to go find my Atlantic and head up to bed. 

 

View Article  40 Tote Bags for my 40th Birthday

October 22 marks my 40th birthday.  Some people celebrate with a tattoo, a new outfit, or an adventurous vacation.

I'm focused on red velvet cake and tote bags.  What?  Yes, I'm hoping my friends, readers and do-gooders of all stripes will help me collect 40 tote bags that I can pass along to the food pantry where I work.  This pantry provides people food AND pet food through partnerships with the University of Pittsburgh, Animal Friends and the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. 

For our customers who don't have their own study bags, we must rely on regular plastic bags to carry some heavy items home for the month.  Throw in a bus ride or a long walk and you can see the challenge.  Tote bags have proven enormously useful in the past and I'd like to help this year for my birthday wish.

The idea came to me a few years ago when I was at a food distribution at the Food Bank itself in Duquesne.  I saw people struggling with breaking bags and oversized items.  The generosity was plentiful, but it seemed like a logistics challenge.  So I began tweeting about it and have made tote bags a personal mission ever since.

If you have any new or gently used tote bags lying around your home, please consider chipping in.  You can bring them to my offices in Oakland (not too far from Magee), drop them at K..S. Kennedy Floral on Western Avenue on the Northside, or send them in the mail to:

40 Tote Bags

CHS- c/o Sue Kerr

368 Lawn Street

Pgh, PA 15213

View Article  Save the Date: Lambda Bash November 20, 2010

Put on your cool clothes and plan to be at the Andy Warhol Museum on Saturday, November 30, 2010.  Lots of exciting sneak peeks ahead ....

The honorary event chair is gay ally F. Dok Harris. 

 

View Article  Pgh Lesbian & Gay Film Festival Celebrates 25 years this October

It is an anniversary milestone for an important piece of Pittsburgh's LGBT cultural heritage - the annual film festival brought to us by the Lesbian & Gay Film Society.  This marks the 25th anniversary of this important institution. 

 

There are some lovely films for your viewing pleasure.  I've found the Southside Works to be a good venue and has a lovely old fashioned feel to it. 

There's a movie the night of my 40th birthday about DADT.  I'm thinking we should catch it ... called A Marine Story.

 

The Film Society is an important community resource.  Expect big things in the coming year as the group works to become even more relevant to the ever emerging queer community.  Show your support by attending at least one film and perhaps getting involved in the organization. 

This is our chance for a few weeks of quality LGBTQ entertainment so be sure to head down to the Southside, pick up your popcorn and enjoy a great movie. Or two. 

What a great autumn date night!

BTW, thanks to the Film Society for donating two passes to the Political Blogging Panel at Pittsburgh Podcamp.  Our winner was the lovely and talented Jen England who asked some great questions about anonymous commenters.  Congrats to Jennifer and hurrah to the Film Society for supporting free speech!

View Article  One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Another Positive Court Ruling on DADT

From the Washington Post courtesy of the Post-Gazette.

A federal judge on Friday ordered the reinstatement of an Air Force nurse discharged from the military under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that forbids openly gay service members.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton told a packed Tacoma, Wash., courtroom that evidence at a six-day trial showed that former Air Force Reserve Maj. Margaret Witt was an "exemplary officer" who should be "reinstated at the earliest possible moment."

"Good flight nurses are hard to find," he said in a 15-page opinion.

In a statement, Ms. Witt said she was proud of her career. "Wounded people never asked me about my sexual orientation. They were just glad to see me there," she said.

Ms. Witt was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, which said the ruling was the first time that a judge had ordered a reinstatement of a service member discharged under "don't ask, don't tell."

Judge Leighton had dismissed Ms. Witt's first challenge to her 2006 dismissal. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals told him to reconsider under a standard of review that put the burden on the military to show why Ms. Witt's discharge was necessary to the government's interest. In effect, the appeals court ruling said judges should be examining the military's decision to discharge individual service members -- not whether the law itself was justified.

"The evidence produced at trial overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that the suspension and discharge of Margaret Witt did not significantly further the important government interest in advancing unit morale and cohesion," Judge Leighton concluded.

The erosion of DADT may come case by case as discharged military seek redress through the Courts and the military is unable to meet this criteria of "furthering government interest".

The same government which refused to debate this on the Senate Floor can't make a substantial court case to show why this policy is necessary.  The Republicans use rhetoric of fear, hatred and intolerance to rally their base and the Democrats expect their progressive base aka "us" to be content with the drip drip drip approach. 

Do we really expect the ACLU to take up every discharge case?  Does that mean our campaign contributions are better invested in judicial races and legal organizations than advocacy groups?  I mean that ACLU is accomplishing something.

A few more injured members of our military will receive top notch nursing care when the best and brightest are rightfully restored to "our" armed services.

sdf

View Article  How seriously does the party take the mid-term elections?

A Dem State Party staffer and former Onorato campaign staffer (and liaison to the homos) was busted for posession of like a lot of pot plants.  Not a little bit of pot in her pocket.  Growing in her basement pot. 

I mean who is stupid enough to do this six weeks before a huge election?  You can't bartend to supplement your income?  Sheesh.  Sometimes we are our own worst enemies.

At least my contributions to the downfall of the Democrats stem from actual issues, not idiocy. 

 

View Article  Dan Savage reaches out to LGBTQ kids "It Will Get Better"

I read about this in the Pittsburgh City Paper this afternoon.  Savage Love columnist Dan Savage is responding to yet another tragic suicide because of gay bullying by sending the message that "It Will Get Better."

He's set up a You Tube channel to solicit videos from everyday gays about their experiences in school and the process of things getting better as they grow older. 

I wasn't out in high school, but I've written before about the abuse my friends endured.  What's worse was the silent complicity on the part of teachers and administration. 

Hey West Mifflin kids, it does get better!  And I've reached out to my friends who were out in high school and asked them to contribute to the project. 

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