Last week, I posted an opinion piece by Wayne Besen called, " Drop the Washington Crack Pipe
." In the article he said that the current political discourse of gay marriage in the U.S. and "Don't Ask Don't Tell" has "become an aphrodisiac that has seduced our community away from equally important issues." He brought up the issues of HIV/AIDS, the ex gay industry, funding for youth thrown out of their homes, scholarships to help LGBT people get into school and stay in school, and global abuses of LGBT people around the world as equally important issues.
This blog is guilty of smoking some of that "Washington crack pipe." Most of the blog entries center around "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and gay marriage. Those are important issues and worthy of mention, but the struggle for equality is bigger than that. For this blog, I'll try to get away from Washington politics some and focus on other issues. With that said, here's the news.
The first is not a story, but a feature I came across on BET's website. When talking about everyday privilege, it is a privilege to see other people in the news who are like you. It could be argued that BET was created for that very reason. Anyway, I was impressed to see a "Who's Who"
feature of black LGBT people in the community. While the list did not appear to feature any bisexual or transgender individuals, it's still a step in the right direction. Some names that appeared on the list include WNBA player Sheryl Swoops, comedian Wanda Sykes, Sabrina Sojourner- the first open lesbian elected to congress, E. Lynn Harris author of "Invisible Life", hip-hop artist Mélange Lavonne, and singer Toshi Reagan. Also included on website is a list of "Must-See Lesbian and Gay"
I liked BET's LGBT feature because young African-Americans need to be exposed to LGBT people in their community. The LGBT community is often guilty of featuring mostly white people in media. When you do see LGBT African-americans featured, they're depicted as if they are a "rarity"; an "exotic" of sorts. Being LGBT is not exclusive to white folks, and I do find the exclusion of other races in media outlets deeply offensive & hypocritical. I also think an important part of combating homophobia within the African-american community is to show a community that is diverse one, with prominent supporters (ex: Coretta Scott-King, Bayard Rustin) of LGBT-rights.
The first story this week occurred yesterday. A group called the "Health Global Access Project", staged a protest at the U.S. capitol in hopes of garnering support for an increase in global AIDS funding. Part of the reason for the protest was that congress was discussing financing of a health care plan, and protesters were challenging congress to "fully-fund" global AIDS programs, housing programs for low-income people living with HIV or AIDS, and the federal ban on syringe exchange programs. The protesters entered the capitol chained together, with some holding signs. 26 protesters were arrested for suspicion of unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct.
The next story comes from India where the Dehli High Court decriminalized same-sex relationships
after 149 years (a gift via British colonialism). The decision has important implications on the struggle against HIV/AIDS, gang violence against LGBT people, forced marriages, discrimination from financial institutions, discrimination from law enforcement agencies and the judicial system. You can read one article from the BBC here
, and another one from the LA Times here
. If anybody reading this has LGBT family in India, or is LGBT and lives in/is from India, I'd love to hear your perspective on what this means to you. Also, here's the link
to a great photo of people celebrating after the ruling from Saurabh Das of the Associated Press.
Currently there is a House bill in congress that amends another bill to include bullying and harassment programs in public schools. I previously wrote
about the story of Carl Walker-Hoover, an 11 year old who hung himself after being brutally harassed at school. His mother testified in front of a subcommittee in support of this bill. Assuming this bill gets past the subcommittee, I would suggest you contact your representatives in Congress and tell them to support this bill. You can find our who your representatives are here
. You can also read the full text of the bill here
Finally, the last story comes from Iraq. Something that has not been well reported on is the volatile conditions for LGBT people in Iraq. According to the article a number of LGBT people (many young men) are being murdered, tortured, and beaten by militia & religious groups, and also law enforcement. Many LGBT people are told to seek refuge in safe houses. It's an interesting article and there is to be a radio broadcast in the UK on the matter. I left out some of the grizzly details, but you can read the full article here
Before I publish this blog, I want to give a shout out to our site owner Jeff
for changing the GLB forum to the more inclusive LGBT forum. It's a change that is long overdue and I'm sure he'd appreciate a thank you.