The past year certainly has been an interesting one here at InterstateQ.com. From personal changes and trips around the country to website changes and the advancement of my professional career, this year has seen exciting progressions, some slight setbacks and history making occurances in my life, the life of the LGBT community and the life of InterstateQ.com
We take you back now for a year in review, of the top stories on InterstateQ.com.
The transition wasn’t an easy one. With over 1000 posts at the time of the change, hours upon hours of work went into moving old material to the new site. Because of technical problems on my end, I ended up copying and pasting Database commands and content to transfer the old ‘Q-Triad’ blog posts to the new InterstateQ.com server and database.
The end result was a new, more brandable and more easily accessible blog for all.
After a year, I’ve still yet to go back and update all the old hyperlinks. My bad.
Civil rights pioneer Joseph Lowery speaks at UNCG
The Reverend Doctor Joseph Lowery, often referred to as the “Dean” of the Civil Rights Movement, was the keynote speaker at UNCG’s 21st annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration on Wednesday, January 17, 2007.
In a packed Cone Ballroom (seating capacity 700 people) in UNCG’s Elliott University Center, the Reverend Lowery spoke on being “Chaplains of the Common Good” and of “applying Martin’s healing salve to the ‘affected areas’ of life and society in America.”
Lowery spoke on seven main points: International Relations; the Oneness of the Human Family; Economic Justice; Opportunities in Education; the Criminal Justice System; Division & “Weapons of Mass Distraction;” and “Weapons of Self-Destruction.”
At the end, during the Question and Answer period, I rose and walked to one of the available microphones not to ask a question, but to thank the Reverend for what his message had meant to me (you can hear this on the audio). As a gay man in American, it meant more than I can describe to just sit and listen to such a great and wise Civil Rights leader like himself affirm me as a human being and affirm me as an American citizen. Thank you, Reverend Lowery.
To this, Reverend Lowery responded: “God didn’t call us to judge. He called us to love… and when you love, you have no time to judge. The Bible says that when you judge, you will be judged. With the same measure you judge, you shall be judged and none of us wants to live with that.”
Audio available in the archived post:
‘The Matt Hill Comer Problem’
In the Jan. 23 issue of UNCG’s The Carolinian I was the subject of a scathing anti-gay, radical right attack column from the campus’ arch-conservative Jason Crawford.
Intelligent, talented people bear a great responsibility. They can tragically stifle their ability altogether or squander it purely in the pursuit of selfish ambition. On the other hand, other such individuals may choose to actively channel their abilities towards accomplishing real good. History has shown that seismic changes that have worked for the real good of all humanity are almost always initiated, if not always ultimately carried out, by exceptionally bright people.
But what is maybe even more tragic than seeing an intelligent person squander his or her ability is when such a person chooses to utilize that God-given capacity to advance the cause of evil. How much worse is a life that is prostituted to a cause which wrecks the lives of other human beings and deceives others that are perhaps less gifted? As much as I hate to name names, one person in particular among us seems to be proudly starring in his own tragedy, unreservedly turning his abilities toward advancing the tide of spiritual darkness. That person is Matt Hill Comer.
However embarrassing it is for me to have to mention Matt by name – and it is – it does not compare to the humiliation he will endure when he discovers his activist lifestyle has been predicated upon an elaborate web of self-deception. No one should think I have unfairly singled him out. Matt is every bit as zealously aligned with the homosexual movement now as I was with the conservative movement three years ago. And whenever a man prostitutes his soul for a man-made cause, particularly an immoral one, true love demands somebody get in his face.
The campus community rallied. The next issue of the paper contained four letters to the editor (one defending me against a separate attack column published in the same issue as “The Matt Hill Comer Problem”) and one guest editorial.
Myers Park booted from the State Convention
Myers Park set the chain of events in motion when they announced that they did, indeed, go against North Carolina Baptist State Convention policy on gays.
On Feb. 9, I posted about Myers Park’s letter to the convention. They sought dialogue; the Convention sought exclusion.
In November, the Convention voted overwhelmingly to disfellowship the Charlotte, N.C.-based church.
The Equality Ride
In March and April, I embarked on a two-month journey of a lifetime. The Soulforce Equality Ride 2007 was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. Thoughts on the Ride are included in my Dec. 29 Q-Notes “retrospeQtive2007″ editorial:
Highlights from the Ride:
March 8 — East bus defaced in Iowa
March 24 — Clinton, Miss. Police, harrasment
March 27 — Sit in at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Video)
April 10 — Video from Bob Jones University
April 18 — Brigham Young revises policy on gay students
April 23 — Matt arrested at Cornerstone Univ., Grand Rapids, Mich.
April 24 — Pipe Bombs found in Riders’ Ohio hotel
April 27 — Matt on WUNC/N.C. Public Radio
At the end of the Ride, we learned that the Riders amassed more than 90 civil disobedience arrests throughout the trip.
On May 15, 2007, Jerry Falwell, a national leader in the religious right and founder/chancellor of Liberty University in Lynchburg, V.A., passed away in his office on the universities campus.
Those in the more left-sided portion of the LGBT community jumped for joy, many stooping to Falwell’s level, resulting in crass name-calling and disrespectful commentary. Other defended public civility and got slammed.
Tully Satre, a youth activist and former Advocate.com columnist, remained with the latter. The slamming didn’t follow too far behind.
Satre wrote at Advocate:
News of the May 15 death of the Reverend Jerry Falwell was warmly welcomed by hundreds of LGBT bloggers. I find this to be a horrible representation of the LGBT community.
In my opinion, this sort of display deserves criticism not only from mourning right-wing conservatives but from our own LGBT peers. It is in times like these that our wit and will is tested and we must stand with dignity—despite the actions of a man who has opposed us throughout his life’s ministry. Although I do not support the politics of the Reverend Jerry Falwell, I do not support the celebration of his death or the promotion of a sense of “gain” for our cause.
If anything, take after Mr. Andrew Sullivan, who wrote of the Reverend Falwell, “Since I can think of nothing good to say about him, I’ll say nothing. And pray for the repose of his soul.”
Maybe it was Tully’s good-natured Southern gentility or, perhaps, it was just plain human kindness.
Queerty.com readers, however, had this to say:
Back to the matter at hand, I feel no shame in rejoicing the death of an enemy. There can be no mitigation of this statement. Jerry Falwell was our enemy. I don’t want to forgive him. I don’t want to forget the evil he helped to spread.
Be sad all you want. Nothing will change the way I feel about that son of a bitch. Nothing.
Tully’s prose has always reeked of the typical sanctimonious, holier-than-thou, I know whats best for you, b.s. that only a teenager convinced of their inherent superior intelligence over everyone else, and who have a chip on their shoulder the size of Ayers rock, can muster.
He did some good activism in Virginia to be sure, but then again so do lots of other people (god knows we need all the help we can get here) and they haven’t turned into completely pompous asses. Hopefully college will cure him of his ills.
As far as Falwell goes, am I a little sorry for his family that they lost their brother/father/husband? yes a little. But am I glad that one of the most racist, homophobic, hate mongering, life ruining, despotic, and financially shady people in the world has died?
Really I want to be sad someone died, but I can’t help but do the snoopy dance deep down in my soul.
Where’s buried? I want to piss on his grave.
But it wasn’t all negative:
I don’t understand how any of you can say such things. It appalls me that so many of you are attacking someone for their belief that we shouldn’t demonize the dead. Whether I am right or wrong, I believe Tully’s point was that Falwell demonized himself enough and that there’s no point in celebrating his death.
There is a fine line between “them” and “us” and it’s obvious that we must show “them” what we truly are. Falwell believed gays to be the absolute incarnate of pure evil, why not show his people the opposite? In death, one has the ultimate chance to ambush their enemy with jeering attacks, why not in life? In life why not fight against Falwell the best you can, as a combatant, as your enemy, and in death be respectful of his life as your combatant? It is cowardly to attack someone so viciously after they can’t defend themselves, so why do it? Instead, if you had the chance to fight him one on one, be glad.
Likewise, this article is poorly written. Why throw in a moot point about his selection of quotes? He is writing his opinion, not a factual piece, and therefore it does not matter. Would it make a difference if he got the quote from a famous philosopher, someone who spends their entire life pondering about it so much only to end up with their own opinion after they die? Or maybe the Bible?
While Falwell may have had an over-inflated ideologue it’s not fair to celebrate his death like a coward, not looking in his treacherous face and condemning him for the disgusting human being that he was. However, it is appropriate to be the better man and show him how much better you are by showing him respect in death and showing his people that you are also human and not an animal eating the carcass of your enemy.
Safe Schools in N.C. — House passes first-ever pro-LGBT bill in state history
At the end of May, the North Carolina House of Representatives was the site of a statewide debate on safe schools and the treatment of LGBT students. Debating the School Violence Prevention Act, House members went back and forth on whether to protect LGBT students.
Democrats who sponsored and supported the bill had included “sexual orientation” and “gender-identity and expression” in a list of enumerated minorities/personal characterisitcs that would be protected under the bill.
Primary sponsor, Rep. Rick Glazier said at the beginning of debate, “It seems to me it is the quintessential job of a legislator to make gentler the flow of daily life for our most vulnerable children and protect them from violence and hatred and harassment. There is a saying: ‘If I am not for me, who will be, but if I am only for me who am I?’ and ‘If not now when?’ Today is the day when we speak as a voice and protect children.”
Glazier also explained why the enumerated categories were necessary, as Republicans had argued they weren’t. “I think there are some very major reasons why the amendment should be defeated. Rep. Stam pioints to the fact that the bill states specifically that the categories are only part of the bill. We know from the data from this state and nation that there are some kids more vulnerable than others. We know that from political pressure or ideological pressure that those are the kids who are not fully protected by districts or schools.”
One Republican legislator proposed an amendment that would have stripped specific questions out of the bill. When it came time for a vote, the House tied at a 45-45 split. Speaker of the House Joe Hackney broke the tie, voting to keep the protections in the bill.
The bill passed the House and was sent to the state Senate. Unfortunately, the enumerated categories were eliminated in committee there. Although the bill eventually passed the Senate, it will have to be heard in conference in 2008, to work out the differences between the two versions. House leaders have said they’ll fight tooth and nail to keep the provisions protecting LGBT students and others.
In June, an 18-year-old staffer for former Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo received national attention on the blogosphere after being “outed” by a blog in Washington, D.C. I explained my argument on why he shouldn’t have been outed then… but he wasn’t really “outed” either. The whole thing was confusing.
Here’s what I said then (accompanied by a video post in the original writing):
As far as any “outing” goes… I think not. Tyler had already begun to come out to friends and people close to him. Tyler was beginning to come out on his own. So, and this goes for me as well, let’s stop calling this an “outing.” Tyler wasn’t “outed.” Tyler came out on his own and, being the person he is, involved in the high-level politics he is in and working for the campaign he works for, I’m not surprised that someone in the media found out, the media then reported on it and the blogosphere picked it up (or the blogosphere first and then the media, either way… it is the same).
So, there we have it: Tyler came out and the media reported on it. Tyler was not outed.
I give the kid some major kudos. Coming out is tough. In the situation he is in, I bet it is even tougher. He’ll have a lot to deal with as he continues to come out. He’ll lose friends. He’ll lose support. Heck, he might even lose family members over it. I’m sure he had some good reasons for coming out as slowly as he had, but…
Again… Let’s not forget that Tyler is only 18 years old. He’s still growing, maturing and figuring out who he is. The same goes for me at age 21.
It isn’t fair to pick on Whitney. It isn’t accurate to say he was “outed.” He’s figuring himself out and I say SHAME ON THE LGBT FOLKS who are treating Tyler with such disdain. Let the boy come out. Let him be who he is. Give him the support he needs and let him figure out who he is. Don’t attack him.
I still stand by what I said then. He was too young. He was still growing and maturing. I know that what I believed and said when I was 18 hardly matches up to what I believe and say publicly now that I’m 21 (going on 22). Whitney will come around (hopefully), but if he doesn’t the ultra-liberal gays have only themselves to blame.
Can you be Gay and Christian?
On Sept. 20, I attended a “forum” entitled “Can you be Gay and Christian” hosted by the anti-gay, right-wing Coalition of Conscience (or CoC). The forum, or so leader Michael Brown claimed, was to be a time where both sides of the “debate” could air their arguments. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your view), gay and gay-friendly clergy didn’t take Brown’s bait.
From my synopsis of the long, long posting the day after:
On Thursday, September 20, 2007, I was able to attend the “Can you be Gay & Christian” forum hosted by the Coalition of Conscience at the FIRE Church in Concord, NC. I posted about the forum first last month and then on Thursday (there is some good discussion on Thursday’s post).
The original intent of the forum, according to Coalition of Conscience director Dr. Michael Brown, was to have an open and honest dialogue between the Coalition of Conscience and members of the Charlotte-area gay & gay-friendly clergy.
Brown said he had invited members of the clergy from thirteen area churches – including the New Life Metropolitan Community Church, MCC of Charlotte, Myers Park Baptist Church, St. Martin’ & St. Peter’s Episcopal Churches, Holy Covenant UCC and Jay Bakker’s Revolution Church. Brown also said up to 500 personal invitations to the event were handed out at the Pride Charlotte festival at the end of August. He also noted that this was his third or fourth attempt at organizing a public discussion on issues of sexuality & Christianity with members of the Charlotte-area LGBT community.
Unfortunately, none of the invited gay or gay-friendly clergy or many (if any) of the LGBT community members showed up to the event. In fact, I did not meet even a single other openly gay (and self-affirming) person at the event other than my friend Shawn (who was nice enough to come with me to the event).
In a pre-event interview with Brown, he explained the purpose of the event.
“We want to open a door of grace to the gay & lesbian community. We are convinced from the Scriptures that Jesus is against homosexual practice. We are equally convinced that Jesus died for homosexual and heterosexual alike,” Brown said, “We know there is a lot of misunderstanding. We know that a lot of gays and lesbians have been driven out of churches as if homosexuality was the worst of all sins…. Just by saying, ‘Let’s talk about it,’ hopefully we can break a wall down there.”
At the beginning of the forum, however, Brown made his point very clear: One cannot be gay & Christian, or rather, one cannot be a self-affirming gay person and Christian:
“If you mean, can I be a devoted follower of Jesus while struggling with unwanted sexual desires, while saying I know these are wrong, I resist them, I don’t give into them, I do not practice homosexuality, I’m celibate and I’m abstaining from these things and my goal is to be pure in front of the Lord, but I’m still struggling with these things… Can you be gay and follow Jesus? In that sense, yes. And that’s the same as a heterosexual struggling with lust, desire, temptation outside of wedlock. However, if you mean can I practice homosexuality? Can I engage in romantic and same-sex relationships and does God endorse those things and can I be a follower of Jesus at the same time? The answer is absolutely, categorically no. The Scripture leaves no room to question that.”
And the video and audio:
Gay & Christian: Matt Comer’s Testimony
Gay & Christian: Response to Matt Comer’s Testimony
Perhaps the most distressing part of the forum came when my claims about extremist anti-gay views (such as those of my child-hood church) being an extension of the message being taught at the forum were confirmed by a member of the audience.
A Christian audience member first says that he agrees with me in that gay & lesbian people should not be killed, but then goes on to advocate the use of capital punishment against gay & lesbian people. His claims are similar to those I related in my personal testimony from my experiences in my childhood church. Dr. Brown, Mr. Bennett and Mr. Turek respond vigorously against the claims, although the Christian audience member’s words support my claims that it is only a small step from condemning so-called “homosexual behavior” and actively pushing for more violent and extreme responses against gay & lesbian people themselves.
The audio below contains the full exchange.
You can download the audio to your computer with this link (right click & save file as or save target as)
Highlights of the Forum
And, perhaps, the BIGGEST story of 2007
On Oct. 1, I started my position as the new editor of Q-Notes, the leading source of LGBT news in the Carolinas. I’ve learned a lot from just my first three months on the job and I’ve loved every minute of it, no matter how stressful it might actually be.
From the introductory Q-Notes article:
Q-Notes publisher Jim Yarbrough has hired Matt Comer as the new editor of the biweekly LGBT newspaper of the Carolinas. His time at the helm of the 21-year-old publication begins with the current issue.
“We are excited to have Matt on our team and look forward to the energy and fresh outlook he brings,” Yarbrough said. “His activism and journalism, particularly in new media, will benefit our current readers as well as the new readers he will attract.”
Comer replaces David Moore, who stepped down at the end of September to pursue other opportunities. As he revealed in his final Editor’s Note, Moore is also caring for his mother who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer shortly before his departure.
“I am grateful to Mr. Yarbrough, his staff and all those who have given me this wonderful opportunity to work daily for the community I hold near and dear to my heart,” said Comer, a native of Winston-Salem.
Stay tuned to the blog in the next few days. I’ll be posting some 2007 re-cap articles from Q-Notes, including my end of year editorial.