Friday, April 28, 2006

Conservative to Bishop: Thank You, Hell No

Fellow conserva-blogger Boi from Troy reported today on Bishop Gene Robinson's speech before the Liberty Education Forum in Philadelphia, in which the Bishop exhorted the audience as follows:

Calling religion, “the greatest source of our oppression,” the openly-practicing-homosexual clergyman called upon religious gays and lesbians to “come out as religious.”

Only religious people can combat the assault on gay by people who claim to be religious, so Robinson advises to, “come out as religious…and become a teacher.”

Gee. Bishop, I'd love to, but I simply haven't a thing to wear to my funeral.

No, it's not that the religious folks would get me; it's the reception I'd get from other gays.

If you are ever stumped and need synonyms for a speech or a sermon, go to any gay blog and post anonymously about the importance of faith in your life and following Christ's example. Odds are, you will be overwhelmed by the sheer generosity of the other commenters in providing you a veritable freshet of words that mean "ignorant", "backward", and "superstitious". Don't be surprised if they come up with a few pet names for you as well; "Jewish Nazi" tends to be most common, but the occasional "Uncle Tom" sneaks in as well, demonstrating the gay community's remarkable commitment to diversity in insult while completely avoiding it in thought.

Were we all at least paid the same degree of lip service respect that you are, Bishop, we might also believe that the solution is for religious gays to go educate the masses. But what you fail to recognize is that the reason you aren't treated the same way as we are isn't because of the magnamity of the gay community towards religion; it's because they need a token or two to cloak the fact that a) the gay community's attitude towards religion is, to be kind, radically different than the majority of Americans, and b) that a) is a big part of why we keep losing the public relations and political battles.

Most of us who are religious and gay have had to go out of our way to convince our fellow members that we're not going to storm down the aisle and piss in the Communion cup, wear garish rainbow sashes, toss used condoms at parishoners, teach in Sunday school that the reason John was the "the disciple who Jesus loved" was because of what he had under his robe, or blame them for every problem in our lives from low self-esteem to bald spots.

This is not because they imagine these things; it's because they've seen the self-appointed guardians and arbiters of "gay" practice that and more on TV, radio, website, newspaper, magazine, tabloid, eight-track, and six-cassette book on tape as read by James Earl Jones.

So in short, Bishop, it's not that too few of us aren't out as religious; it's that too many of us are far too eager to associate "gay rights" with whatever anti-religious action tends to take their fancy. And frankly, those of us who ARE out as religious are getting a mite tired of all the abuse we're taking from them.

I believe it was the Man Himself who said, "Take the log out of your own eye before going after the speck in your buddy's."

When you say that to the gathered leaders of HRC, NGLTF, LCR, and others who are asking you to provide them religious cover, then we'll talk.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Breaking News

Tonight, since it was Dining Out For Life night here in San Francisco, I met my partner down in the Castro proper at Starbears (which, for those of you not familiar with our furry subculture, is the correct name for the Starbucks located on 18th Street at Castro), planning to go grab a bite to eat at one of the participating restaurant.

My husbear is an inveterate conversationalist, especially with other cute bears, and I was more than a bit impatient to get going, certain we were not going to get a table. Finally, he wrapped up, and we headed back up 18th to the Castro intersection. While we were waiting for the crosswalk signal, I turned to speak to one of our friends who had accompanied us to the corner.

Suddenly, from up Castro towards Market -- behind me -- I heard a noise -- squealing of brakes, the slamming of metal. I distinctly remember thinking, "Great, another grocery truck. Why do they always sound like they're falling apart?"

Then the loud BOOM of an explosion echoed down the street.

I spun instantly and saw the unthinkable; a car, facing us, going the wrong way on Castro, smashed hood and headlights...and off to one side raging angrily, an orange glow that immediately sent fear stabbing through my back at a remembered memory.....gasoline fire.

"Come on, get across," I said, grabbing my partner's arm as he stared at the fire, virtually pulling him across Castro, instincts driving me to move, get the hell away. In what seemed like an instant, we were across; I turned to look back -- and saw a long tongue of fire pouring down Castro, racing under the cars parked along the curb, their tires starting to smoke, running towards the corner on which, seconds ago, we had been standing

Fear gripped me. I expected a hail of exploding metal any second.

"Get moving! We've got to get AWAY from this!" Slowly I herded them up 18th, the crowds slowly backing away from the blazing inferno. Sirens wailed; the buzz of a news helicopter who happened to be in the right place at the right time echoed off the buildings as we ducked through the Walgreens's back parking lot and up Collingwood. The fire engines were racing down Market as we re-crossed Castro, and they were more than needed -- the smoke was thickly billowing over the front of businesses, the single engine that had instantly responded from the nearby house valiantly pumping foam onto the licking flames.

Later, after a nervous dinner at Blue, we walked back towards the Castro, not sure what we were going to see, worried about our friends, and fearing the worst.

At the corner, we met one of our acquaintances comforting another man, who gave us more details. As it turns out, the car facing the wrong way had turned left from Market onto Castro, running the red light, careened out of control, and struck a row of motorcycles. That had triggered the fire; the gas torn out of the bikes kept it going. His bike had been completely destroyed; others were badly damaged. One person who had been sitting in a parked car and was struck was confirmed dead; the driver of the wrecked car was badly injured. Fortunately, most people who had been on the sidewalk were able to get inside, into one of the near could have been a lot worse.

Crowds were gathered along the police tape as we crossed over to the west side of Castro, looking almost in disbelief at the damage. A row of cars were parked askew along the curb, hoods torn open, some with crumpled bodies, blackened with smoke and soot. Fuzio's looked OK, All-American Boy wasn't showing much damage, but the famous red awning above Clift's Variety Store, a Castro icon, was melted and falling, and the paint on the building was yellowed with the heat and fumes. Next to it, the white lettering on A Different Light's black awning was grayish and coated with charred particles.

As we stood there staring, my partner said very quietly, "Do you realize that we were just seconds away from walking right into the middle of that?"

We, and likely a few hundred others.

With the density of the Castro's population, plus the fact that it was a nice evening with several people out for the Dining Out for Life event, someone or something was definitely looking out for the homosexuals tonight. My sympathies and prayers are with the victims and their families.

A video of the fire and aftermath is on the Channel 5 site; the San Francisco Chronicle site has more details. I'll let you know more as information is made public.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Castro Culture Conservation

Fellow Californian and occasional SF visitor Boi from Troy pointed out an article from the Friday edition of the Los Angeles Times outlining the ongoing tug of war between those who want San Francisco's legendary (or notorious) Castro district to take a cold shower and those who want it to stay up, as it were.

Both he and erstwhile City resident Dunner are of the mind that the Castro ought to be left as-is in its bound-and-gagged glory, Dunner weighing in as such:

I think the best point of view in the story comes from a publisher of a magazine for same-sex parents:

"That culture existed long before they arrived," said Angeline Acain, a New Yorker who's editor and publisher of Gay Parent, a nationally circulated magazine. "If you see a window display you find offensive, don't take your kid down that block."

Along those lines, Dunner brings up a potential solution:

But instead of fighting the well-known tradition of the Castro in choosing to live there, why not raise your kids in any other of San Francisco's beautiful neighborhoods?

This isn't a bad thought, and it certainly might work well for some people.

However, to me, the tradition of the Castro is about much more than the sex shops; it's about the culture of openness, freedom, and community of which those shops are a part. The Castro has always been a neighborhood where, no matter what you were, black, white, Jewish, Christian, Republican, Democrat, conservative, liberal, gay or lesbian, you were able to be out and be yourself. Even more so, it truly is a gay shtetl; everyone knows everybody (for better or worse) and watches out for each other.

While sex is very much a part of gay culture just by the simple fact that it is what defines us as gay, there's far more involved in the history and tradition of the Castro than that. Every other permutation of gay exists and thrives here; indeed, I think it's selling us short to be less than completely opening and welcome to parents and their children, straight OR gay. Being a parent is not easy in the first place, and I frankly hate the thought of gay parents being forced to self-exile from our community and the support structure it represents because they're not comfortable with their kids seeing naughty window displays.

So what's the solution?

I agree that the basic idea is, as stated above, for parents to avoid displays that they find offensive. However, what I would point out is that it would help if one knew that BEFORE one walked down the block. Perhaps what is needed is for merchants to get together and devise a handy "ratings system", marked where one could see it at crosswalks. Blocks that wanted to be "family friendly" could limit window and front-of-store displays as they saw fit; blocks that didn't mind would be marked appropriately as advance warning.

Not only would this help parents with kids, it would also help tourists (of which the Castro seems to be getting more lately) and other visitors, who may not wish to see as much "local color" as one can get here. Finally, it's a nice touch from a PR standpoint, showing that the gay community is concerned about what's portrayed publicly and is willing to help accomodate those of differing views.

Bevan Dufty, are you listening?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Those Who Live in Glass Condos....

Interesting news coming out of DC today; seems the senior Democrat on the House Ethics Committee has temporarily stepped down under growing allegations of financial misconduct

Of course, Nancy Pelosi swooped in immediately to denounce the charges.

While Mollohan's troubles threaten to become a major campaign problem for Democrats, Pelosi, of California, said in a statement that Mollohan decided on his own to step down and that she accepted his decision.

"The allegations against Congressman Mollohan originate from the National Legal and Policy Center, which engages in highly partisan attacks on Democrats," Pelosi said.

Such as when they caught her with her hand in the cookie jar.

Of course, this isn't the first time Pelosi has been found to be breaking rules that she herself championed; however, instead of arguing that the rules are far too byzantine as they stand (a reasonable charge), she simply tries to weasel out.

Fortunately, my vote now counts in HER elections. (evil grin)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Our Newest Public Service

Having made the formal announcement of my move to San Francisco just in time for a certain episode of South Park, the good-natured abuse commentary from various points has been rather overwhelming.

So, in the age-old tradition of making lemonade out of sticks and ditchwater, I present to you the Official SFCA Smug Alert Warning System. This highly-scientific analysis crunches the numbers to determine on a regular basis the level of smug in the Bay Area's atmosphere, all the way from humble to hyper-narcisstic, and is communicated to you in a handy color-coded analysis on our sidebar -- with pictures of everyone's favorite smug-generating phenomena!

So sit back and relax, secure in the knowledge that, when the next smug front begins to'll be ready!

Monday, April 17, 2006

What's Really Important

Tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of the Great Quake -- the almost complete destruction of the city of San Francisco by a massive temblor and resulting fire.

As one might expect, the city has been gearing up for this for months, with exhibits, memorials, and other events outlining the damages, the suffering, and the immediate reaction and long-term consequences of the disaster. If you've been watching The History Channel or other such networks, you've seen or will be seeing numerous retrospectives.

Like it or not, San Francisco lives both in spite of and because of the 1906 quake. The utter devastation of much of the city laid open a path for a complete infrastructure redesign and restructuring, led by visionary mayors and city engineers, that laid the groundwork capable even today of supporting a city whose needs were scarcely even imagined when it was built. The ability of leaders today to engage in needless bickering and posturing is due in no small part to the fact that they don't have to worry about mundane day-to-day operations; all that was anticipated when the city was built.

However, that relative lack of worry has transformed into a singular lack of concern about seismic activity, despite the fact that the Bay Area represents one of the most densely-populated and built-upon fault areas on the planet. Not one, not two, but eight faults cross the region -- yet, even with the reminder of the 1989 Loma Prieta quake, the contracts for seismic retrofit and reinforcement of the Bay Bridge and Transbay Tunnel have either just been or are about to be awarded.

Contracts, folks. Not construction or completion, despite the fact that the two public works in question move literally hundreds of thousands of vehicles and people on a daily basis and were compromised almost to the point of collapsing fifteen years ago.

You can go on and on -- the building codes that weren't revised until the late '70s, the drive to get rid of San Francisco's fireboats despite the fact that they represent the only way of reliably getting water to fires in the absence of mains -- you get the idea. But I think a far better way of showing it are the projections of what could happen if a similar quake struck today.

Pretty sobering.

What amuses (or appalls) me is this state's priorities. Spending billions of dollars on universal preschool is all well and good, but that will be little comfort to four-year-olds when they don't see their parents for weeks -- because they were unlucky enough to be on opposite sides of the Bay when the Tube and Bay Bridge collapsed. The irony, of course, is that universal preschool will then be unnecessary -- given that, without transit links, city services, and other things, their parents will now have plenty of time to spend on them, since their jobs and companies will have dried up and blown away. It will be interesting to see how San Francisco's cottage protest industry survives once city government is forced to actually spend money on work rather than on pandering, or how its constant avoidance of efficiency by raising tax rates manages when half of the property in the city is erased.

More than all that, it makes me mad. If a quake comes, right now, there are three possibilities; one, I'm at home and safe, two, I'm at work and stuck in Oakland, and three, I'm in transit and hoping a 40-year-old system that's already been strained by one earthquake survives a second one long enough to get me out of it.

Two out of the three have me separated from my partner, likely unable to communicate with him, and wondering whether he's alive or dead.

That tends to reorder what you think is important. Perhaps it's time Nunez, the Assembly, Schwarzenegger, and others remembered that.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Tea for Tomorrow

Of the comments I received on Wednesday's post concerning the relative ignorance, real or studied, of "gay rights" groups toward the amendment process and how it negatively affects our strategies, one in particular, from Gryph of Gryphmon's Grumbles, stands out:

As far as your statements on the gay community and public relations, there is a great deal of truth to it. But you also seem to think that if everyone just sits down together and has a nice cup of tea and discusses the issue that everyone will come around to your point of view. Thats unrealistic.

Just as there are some really nasty people out there that really would do deliberate harm to kittens, there really are people that "hate" gay people. And they are for the most part not wearing sheets and swastikas.

Of course there are. Probability, logic, and psychology dictate that there will be people out there who have an irrational fear of homosexuals; even more so, there will be people out there for whom hatred and loathing of gay people are so integral a part of their philosophy that changing that would be akin to dynamiting the foundation of a house to fix a structural problem. They'll be found in every clothes type from haute couture to hayseed, every education level from preschool to postgrad, every location from sea to shining sea, and every skin color across the spectrum.

Thus, it's perfectly logical to say that you can't bring everyone around to your point of view.

The problem with "gay activism", though, is that it is fixated on the small minority of those genuinely-dangerous antigay people who abuse religious or political ideology as an excuse for bad behavior.

To respond directly to Gryph's point, no, I don't expect everyone to come around to my viewpoint with a nice cup of tea and conversation. But I don't need them to come around to my exact viewpoint; all I need them to do is realize that the antigay folks are fixated on the small minority of genuinely-dangerous gay people who do abuse gay rights as an excuse for bad behavior.

Does that tactic sound familiar?

Real change in this country will not come until the vast middle realizes that we're being manipulated by con people on the left and right. Joe Solmonese, Elizabeth Birch, and other so-called "gay leaders" are no different than Jerry Falwell; all are unscrupulous and hypocritical con men who play on the fears of others to coerce behavior that enriches them and increases their power. Their calls for "unity" and their demonization of "the other side" are nothing more than cheap propaganda attempts to keep us chained and dependent so they can sell us and our votes to desperate politicians and unpopular interest groups.

Thus, I will continue to advocate for teatimes with straight people in the hopes that I learn from them and they from me. I will gladly gamble that I will meet far more erudite than extremists, and in the process tear numerous leashes from the fumbling fingers of the Falwell-esque.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Can You Say, "Amendment"?

I don't know if it's the air, the phase of the moon, or some kind of massive psycho-social-electro-hyper-magnetic-converging-consciousness event, but I have been asked the same question in several different variants today.

The clearest example, from commentor Brian Holmes over at Independent Gay Forum:

So, where, exactly, does the state get the authority to write the whims of the majority into law?

Um.... Article V, Constitution for the United States of America.

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

Read twice, make sure that it sinks into your consciousness.

What this means is that nothing is beyond the reach of a determined majority. The procedures outlined in Article V increase the requirements for enacting a change, but they never abrogate the point -- namely, that even the most fundamental law of our country is subject to "the whims of the majority".

Unfortunately, this is not a concept universally known, or even recognized, within the "gay community".

The reason why is relatively simple. Were the power of voters to be acknowledged, much of the gay community would have to come to grips with their attitudes towards them. Public contempt, hate, and mockery for them would become all too obviously a suicidal set of behaviors. The conflating of unrelated issues, such as unlimited abortion and removal of parental notifications, with gay rights would be exposed as counterproductive, inasmuch as it forces voters to choose between opposition to gay rights and support of these other issues.

In short, if they recognized this reality, "gay rights" groups and activists would have to focus on appealing to people with whom they don't agree in a mature and respectful fashion. Furthermore, they and their boards would have to forego their links with the organizations and groups that provide them handsome personal payments and cocktail-party invitations in exchange for supporting these groups' unpopular positions.

Pigs will fly first.

However, we'd better begin working on porcine aerodynamics, then, because the practical implications of this studied or real ignorance have been made all too clear over the past few years. Driven by the concern, real or imagined, that the judiciary will overturn state restrictions on gays and the fact that gay rights have been associated with leftist causes ranging from removal of parental rights to pedophilia, voters have repeatedly and in large margins rewritten fundamental law to put a stop to matters.

Rather a high price to pay for falling asleep in civics.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Sully's View

In the "Better Late Than Never" category, Andrew Sullivan had a post last week concerning the next "gay generation" and how some of them aren't taking well to the previous one.

Certainly his reader has some points. There are things that the "gay community" has done or enshrined as virtuous that have been at best damaging, and, at worst, devastating to the cause of gay acceptance. A reader writing in to GayPatriot this past week showed in stark detail how gays' public image is still negatively affected by extremists.

Whenever I see this sort of thing, though, I think back to a quote from Alexander Graham Bell; When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.

The gay community, in its own way, reflects the life struggles of each of its members. All of us have known pain, embarrassment, humiliation, and other experiences that seemed world-ending when they happened. If asked, very few of us would choose to voluntarily repeat these experience; if given the opportunity, we would gladly UNDO them.

But, the universe being what it is, that isn't an option. Disciplines from the most arcane of philosophies to the most prosaic of stain-removal instructions make it clear that nothing is ever completely reversed or undone. Every action leaves its indelible mark on that which it touches.

To Bell's point, we are then faced with two choices; do we mourn that which we had, or do we take that which we have been given?

Sullivan puts it best with this simple statement:

But life is a flawed journey; and the point, at least in my Catholic soul, is the struggle and forgiveness in that struggle.

I couldn't agree more. As I look back on my own life, there is much to regret; yet when viewed through Bell's prism, I would be less than I am now had these catastrophes not taken place. Each one forced me to take action, a step I'd been postponing, a choice I'd refused to make, an option that had never existed. There were plenty of blunders and false steps, but each marker on my pathway now stands for something -- a lesson learned and a richness added to my experience.

In the same fashion will the gay community learn and be richer for our experience.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

What's More Important than Gays?


That's right, folks. The recent party celebrating the 35-year anniversary for the trailblazing Bay Area Reporter newspaper was rather sparsely attended by local dignitaries. Why?

Because the host hotel is one of the ones currently being boycotted by the local hotel worker's union, ever since a strike and retaliatory lockout in 2004.

Of course, the hotels have calmly gone on their way, buoyed by San Francisco's rapidly-rebounding tourism industry (indeed, the number-one industry in the city) and regular influxes of workers, plus the fact that many of the unionized workers were more than willing to go back to work without a contract when the hotels lifted the lockout (aided, no doubt, by the fact that the union strike wages were a paltry $200/week).

Given that, it should seem obvious that the union leadership blundered big-time. But who can they frighten, if not employers, and who can they manipulate, if not their workers?

You guessed it -- politicians and gays.

The politicians part is understandable, if pathetic. But the gays part frankly leaves you wondering, especially the depth of response:

Several members of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club contacted (BAR Publisher) Horn and general manager Michael Yamashita late last week to make their concerns known. Some club members wanted the paper to move the party to another venue....

Greg Shaw, president of the Milk Club, told the B.A.R. this week that he was one of those who discussed the issue with Horn. The matter came up at the club's March 28 meeting and the membership directed Shaw to approach the publisher.

"People weren't too happy about it," Shaw said of club members. "It's a priority of the club to support Local 2 this year."

Of course, it all makes sense once you consider another few points:

Kelly Dugan, with Local 2, told the B.A.R. that she and other union members had hoped the newspaper "would have done the right thing."

"We have an ongoing boycott and are asking groups to cancel events," Dugan said.

Dugan, who's also vice president of the Milk Club, said that the union hopes to recommence negotiations soon.

Or, my favorite:

Longtime gay activist Cleve Jones, who was hired last week as Unite HERE's national liaison to the LGBT community, also called the paper last week.

"I'm shocked and disappointed," Jones said. "It's an important break in solidarity."

That last is pretty bad, though. Cleve Jones, who throughout time has stressed the importance of remembering gay history and those who are part of it, wants people to ditch an event celebrating exactly that because it might piss off a union whose workers it almost impoverished and who are mostly apathetic towards it.

Paid shills like Jones and Dugan who insist on linking "gay rights" to unpopular causes because it benefits them personally are one of, if not THE single most obvious of, the reasons that gay rights are not progressing as they should be.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

You Will Be Connected...When, We Know Not

In news today, San Francisco chose a partnership between Google and EarthLink to provide Mayor Gavin Newsom's promised wireless Internet access throughout the city. The system will run faster for paying customers and slower for nonpaying ones (a concept that Muni ought to consider).

Interestingly enough, this system has not faced the opposition from private industry that has come up for New Orleans's similar one. Perhaps they're gambling on people being willing to pay to pop their porn more pronto.

Then again, they may also be figuring that, in terms of consumer satisfaction, this government network installation will be as reliable and consistent as other ones.

This Old House

When it comes to your place of residence, a person's home is their castle -- unless enough people object to having Windsor next door.

Across the United States, driven by dollars and demographic shifts, more older and historic houses are being knocked down for the land on which they sit -- and replaced with newer, larger houses. Faced with this onsluaght, municipalities are fighting back.

I am of two minds on this matter.

On the first, it bothers me on several levels to put restrictions on land use. Your Taj Mahal replica design, as long as it doesn't create a physical hazard, is very difficult for me to justify as a reason for denying you the freedom to spend your money on your property as you please.

On the second, though, as someone who lives in the last remaining Victorian on a block otherwise crowded with dull row houses and marred by a cinderblock monstrosity next door, I am reminded every morning as I walk down it that freedom sometimes comes with a rather high price for others.

Perhaps the solution is not to restrict the construction of new homes, but to provide incentives to restore the old, be it preferential approvals, tax abatement, or others. Properly used, this could be a powerful tool for cities to better attract the money and development they need while retaining the character and aesthetics that make them popular.

Either that, or someone needs to figure out how to bottle and distribute taste.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

So They Can Use the Courts, Too

I'll be interested in seeing how this turns out.

Comparing the Board of Supervisors to the Ku Klux Klan, a Catholic group and two city residents filed a lawsuit Tuesday claiming Catholics’ constitutional rights were violated when the board passed a strongly worded resolution condemning a church official for prohibiting Catholic Charities adoptions by same-sex couples in the Bay Area.

The Catholic League for Civil Rights and Justice and city residents Dr. Richard Sonnenshein and Valerie Meehan are seeking a judgment permanently prohibiting the Board of Supervisors from “attacking” religion as well as damages for the plaintiffs, said Richard Thompson, the head of the Thomas More Law Center, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs.

I'll post the actual resolution once it becomes available.

Dressing-Room Tantrums

Some of the most important things that gay rights organizations can do, in my opinion, are educational presentations. In several cases, that isn't easy, especially when presenting to or in schools, where several groups have been turned away involuntarily, as happened in Williston, Vermont.

However, what blows my mind is when groups are voluntarily choosing not to come.

A Vermont LGBT civil rights group that was turned away from a Williston school moments before it was to give a speech on bullying has been invited to return, but new conditions may result in the group rejecting the offer.......

The issue of whether to extend a new invitation for Outright Vermont to address students divided the community. Earlier this week more than 200 people attended a special meeting called by the School Board.

Most people supported having the group speak but a handful of residents engaged in a heated debate.

In the end the board decided to invite the group back but allow parents to pull their students out of the assembly if they objected.

Outright Vermont spokesperson Kate Jerman said she wasn't sure her organization would participate if it was subject to different conditions than other presenters.


It was to have been a speech on diversity but the head of the national Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) cancelled after a group of parents claimed it was nothing more than "propaganda for the gay agenda" and the principal attempted to make what GLSEN calls "unnecessary and serious modifications" to the speech.

Members of Somers High School's Human Rights Club invited Kevin Jennings, GLSEN's executive director to speak after several students heard him deliver an address at a school in Westchester......

As the pressure mounted, GLSEN and Principal Linda Horisk met numerous times with Horisk to discuss the speech.

GLSEN says that Horisk wanted to make attendance at the assembly optional, something the organization says would have sent a wrong message to students.

Horisk also wanted to make changes to the speech, which Jennings said would have "gutted" the speech and he was not prepared to do. He said she also refused to administer GLSEN's standard school climate survey, "which seeks to understand levels of homophobic, racist, and other biased name-calling that occurs at schools".

Jennings then decided to cancel his engagement at the school, saying the changes would have made the speech ineffective.

I suppose you can call each of these an example of a principled stance.

But that then begs the question; what is the most important principle?

If it's that all presenters should be treated equally, then this makes sense. But if it's that people need to hear this sort of thing, it seems silly for these groups to reject the opportunity to speak to them, even under less-than-perfect conditions.

In my opinion, it should be the latter; gays don't have enough opportunity or demand at this point for us to play prima donna. Jerman and Jennings were invited; the fact that things aren't exactly the way they want should be immaterial.

In short, suck it up and get on the field.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Another Coming-Out Story

As I didn't previously mention, I switched jobs and companies as part of the move to San Francisco; even after a month-plus, I am still not completely familiar with our offices.

This afternoon, I had just dropped off my notebook and reserved my table space in preparation for our weekly staff meeting. I figured I'd answer the call of nature so as to avoid making decisions under pressure, as it were; however, the hallway door we ordinarily use to get to the restroom was a long way down the corridor, and I had barely two minutes to spare.

Suddenly I remembered earlier this week that I had seen a few people exiting and entering our office space from down this way; I looked up quickly and there was a door, just off to my right.

Chuckling at my own cleverness, I headed for the door, confidently pulling it open -- and walked face-first into a pile of coats, discarded legal pads, and leftover storage boxes.

Stumbling, backing out of the darkness, I looked over -- and saw the REAL exit door.

As y coworker who had observed the whole thing dryly put it: "That's the first time you've ever been in the closet at work."

A Change of Heart

Thanks to an alert reader, I was tipped off to the fracas taking place on Americablog over John Aravosis's comment on his report from the Washington DC Radio and Television Correspondent's Banquet.

The best comes first. Yes, me and Katherine Harris. Interestingly, she was very nice, and a friend who knows her quite well says Harris is the nicest, NICEST person you will ever know. Doesn't mean we like her politically, but it amazes me how "nice" so many of the most strident Republicans are in person. Compare that to some of the most strident Democrats - they can be less nice.

Well, THAT certainly brought down the wrath of his readers.

Of course, Aravosis, not one to take such things lying down, retaliated in kind.

What he wrote is completely true. And a nice change from his previous practice of encouraging hateful behavior based on political affiliation, on which I've regularly reported.

It seems he's discovered the wisdom of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who once stated as follows:

There is nothing more tragic than to see an individual whose heart is filled with hate. He comes to the point that he becomes a pathological case. For the person who hates, you can stand up and see a person and that person can be beautiful, and you will call them ugly. For the person who hates, the beautiful becomes ugly and the ugly becomes beautiful. For the person who hates, the good becomes bad and the bad becomes good. For the person who hates, the true becomes false and the false becomes true. That’s what hate does. You can’t see right. The symbol of objectivity is lost. Hate destroys the very structure of the personality of the hater.

Unfortunately, what Aravosis seems to be finding out is the same thing as did Faust; the trick is not in summoning Mephistopheles, but in banishing him.

At any rate, I applaud his new attitude and wish him the best of luck with his demons.