1

InterstateQ.com’s top stories of 2007

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.

‘Q-Triad’ becomes InterstateQ
In January, the blog moved from its paid hosting with TechTriad to its new home and branding at 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:
http://www.interstateq.com/archives/1809/

‘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.

He wrote:

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.

Archived posts:
Nov. 13 Updates: http://www.interstateq.com/archives/2444/
Nov. 20 Forum Audio: http://www.interstateq.com/archives/2444/

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.

Falwell passes
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.

Outing teens
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.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

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.

Q-Notes the premier LGBT news source of North and South Carolina, has announced that they will endorse former North Edwards Endorsed by Q-NotesCarolina Sen. John Edwards for President.

From Q-Notes:

Statement from the Editorial Board of Q-Notes:

“After a series of meetings between the editors, the staff and the publisher, Q-Notes has endorsed John Edwards for President. His concrete, progressive policy positions (including steadfast support for pro-LGBT issues), his commitment to returning power to the people from moneyed special interests, his outstanding polling strength against the Republicans and his positive impact for down-ticket candidates nationwide combine to make him the best candidate in the race.

Q-Notes encourages all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender voters to support John Edwards in the primaries and beyond.”

I am proud to be a part of this editorial staff and I’m happy to say that John Edwards is our endorsed candidate.

Stay tuned to the Jan. 12 issue of Q-Notes for the full endorsement.

More from Eric Stern of Out for Edwards:

Q-Notes Endorses John Edwards for President

I am proud to announce that Q-Notes, the leading LGBT news source for North Carolina and South Carolina has decided to endorse John Edwards for President. This is a particularly significant LGBT endorsement in the 2008 Presidential Election given that South Carolina will be holding its primary on January 26th, 2008–only 7 days after the Nevada Caucus and during the same month as the first contests in Iowa and New Hampshire.

This important state LGBT endorsement of John Edwards for President follows the earlier endorsement by New Hampshire State Represenative Mo Baxley and the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition. The Edwards Campaign worked hard to earn these endorsements and is honored to have such deep LGBT support in the early contest states.

About Q-Notes
Q-Notes is the premier newspaper serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities of North & South Carolina. We have over 250 distribution points across the Carolinas and a readership of approximately 26,000. We publish every two weeks and are based in Charlotte, N.C.

Q-Notes has been in operation since 1986 and is the largest, longest running, and most recognizable news media publication for the LGBT community in the Carolinas. We also publish online at www.q-notes.com.

We also have distribution points and subscribers in Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, Washington, D.C. and West Virginia.

Our publisher is Jim Yarbrough. Matt Comer and David Stout serve as editor and associate editor, respectively.

Further information on Edwards:

John Edwards: Strongest on Equal Rights for LGBT Americans

LGBT Issues Scorecard:

ISSUE

Edwards

CLINTON

OBAMA

SCORING

Protecting American Families

· Defense of Marriage Act

2

1

2

Full repeal = 2; partial repeal = 1; no repeal = -1

· Marriage Equality

1

1

1

Supports full marriage equality = 2; supports civil unions = 1; none = -1

· Federal Marriage Amendment

2

2

2

Opposes FMA = 2; supports FMA = -2

· Equal Adoption Rights

2

2

2

Supports equal adoption rights = 2; opposes = -1

· Immigration Equality

2

1

1

Supports Uniting American Families Act = 2; opposes Act, but supports immigration equality “in concept” or “in principal” = 1; opposes = -1
Ending Employment Discrimination

· Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

2

2

2

Supports full repeal = 2; opposes repeal = -1

· ENDA

2

2

2

Supports inclusive ENDA = 2; partial ENDA = 0; opposes ENDA = -1
Protecting Health and Safety

· Universal Health Care

2

2

1

Universal health care plan = 2; partial, but expanded, plan = 1; status quo = -1

· HIV/AIDS

2

2

2

Comprehensive plan to address HIV/AIDS = 2; partial plan = 1; status quo = -1

· Needle Exchange

2

2

2

Federal funding = 2; no federal funding, but local control = 1; status quo = -1

· Hate Crimes

2

2

2

Supports full inclusion = 2; opposes = -1
Standing Up and Speaking Out Immediately confronts bigots like Gen. Pace = 2; sidesteps addressing bigoted comments = 0; sidesteps and uses homophobes to woo voters = -1
Walks the Talk

2

0

-1

TOTAL

23

19

18

Out of a possible total of 24 points

Note: these scores are based on each of the candidates’ recent activities and current positions (as of Dec. 2007). The analysis and scoring represent only the views of the authors and not those of any of the campaigns. Source: Eric Stern, Out for Edwards.


2

Confused children…

It seems as though former participants of the N.C. Governor’s School have taken to attacking me on my public outspokenness against the anti-gay mother who claimed Governor’s School turned her son gay.

But I think they are confused. Their Facebook group, where one of my many Governor’s School articles is linked, as about saving the summer enrichment program, not debasing it. Why is my article the subject of an attack?

The easy answer: My article isn’t “in the spirit of Governor’s School.” I guess it is a good thing I never went to Governor’s School.

If Ms. Anti-gay Momma Burrows has every right to spout of her prejudice, ignorance and hate, then I have every right to point that out. Case settled.

But, on the bright side, Anti-gay Momma Burrows’ son has spoken up.

Patrick Burrows says:

Light and peace to you all,

Yes, I’m the illustrious/infamous Patrick Burrows, GSW ’05. I’ve been pretty quiet about all of this, and for good reason. Let me advise you all on a few things.

1) You all think you know the circumstances of my coming out to my parents, but none of you are correct. Although I like the flock of people holding me up (believe me, that’s what helped me through 2005-2006), I am not the hero that you want to make me. If you want to know the specifics, contact me. However, unless I speak to you directly, let’s not gossip–no matter how kind-hearted it may be.

2) In the same way that you all don’t know me, you don’t know my mother. It’s taken me a long time to understand why she has done what she has. Unless you really take time to understand all of the aspects of where she’s coming from and what’s going through her mind (things my father doesn’t realize all the time), you won’t be able to know the other side of this whole fiasco.

3) There are powers behind NCGS of which—I hazard to guess—most of you aren’t aware. Yes, the student voice is important, but there’s only so much that can be said that will shake the minds of legislators, lobbyists, and lawyers. It is best to let the leadership of NCGS do what they can before we put our voices into an already turbulent mess.

4) The last time a forum like this was started (my own MySpace group), reporters got hold of some of the posts and used them in their stories. Unless you want your words taken and used against you, I advise you all to calm down.

5) From what I can see, most of you are from classes ’06 or later and you weren’t completely aware of what all was going on. From research which my mother showed me (strangely enough), this debate has been going on since the NCGS’s founding. It has never been without controversy and as long as it survives, it never will be. Perhaps that’s what we love about it, but perhaps that’s what will doom it.

In short, everyone needs to calm down, stop jumping to conclusions, and intuit the things that you can’t see (think rose-colored glasses). Starting a riot isn’t going to help anything. Just stop, breathe, and look around you. You might be surprised what you find.

Peace be with you all,

Patrick

High schoolers… Please understand that this fight over Governor’s School is about one thing — and one thing only: Anti-gay bigots upset that the state actually recognized gay people, and gay youth in particular, exist and have the right to exist.

The Alliance Defense Fund’s history makes their objectives very clear. From their sponsorship of the so-called “Day of Truth” and support of extremely anti-gay leaders and other activities, Alliance Defense Fund has made it clear that their agenda is to totally alienate all LGBT people by pushing them back into the closet and into invisibility.

If you can’t understand the dangerous agenda behind Alliance Defense Fund, then perhaps you aren’t as smart as you think.

Okay… rant to the high school children done.

All past posts on the Governor’s School (and there are many!): Click Here

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

0

Break forth

The annual InterstateQ.com Christmas Eve post (one correction, 2012 year since Christ’s birth):

Break Forth, O Beauteous, Heavenly Light
December 12, 2004
Two thousand nine years ago a little baby was born. To Christians, such as myself, this little baby, born of a virgin and into a life free of sin, is the Saviour Jesus Christ, the Perfect Lamb of God. Now we could get into the scholarly debate on whether or not Christ was actually born in Bethlehem or whether or not a star even existed to lead the supposed Wise Men to Christ, but that is not my concern. My personal belief is that Christ was born in Bethlehem and that, yes, a star did guide the Wise Men to Christ (even though the Bible points out that the Wise Men were not present at the manger scene).

That star was created by God, just as everything else in existence was. That beautiful and glorious star shone light throughout the world on that Christmas night and so did the light that came from the host of heavenly angels singing to the shepherds.

On that night the angels sang one of the most beautiful songs that humans might have ever heard and might never hear again: “Gloria in excelsis Deo et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis,” that is “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill among people.”

The question that I put forth is that why, in the two thousand nine years since the angels sang that song, have humans yet to fulfill its message of hope, peace and goodwill. Why has humanity not come to that ultimate epitome of goodwill toward men? More importantly, why have we not come to extend God’s goodwill to ALL of His children?

As Christ grew to adulthood and as He started His ministry, the most important message that He extended to the people of His time was one of love, forgiveness acceptance. He turned no one away and he showed immeasurable and unconditional love to even the most sinful people. Humans, specifically Christians, have failed to live up to their most ultimate goal: to live as Christ lived, to love as Christ loved and to forgive as Christ forgave.

As we enter this Christmas season my hope is that somehow, someway we will be able to come closer to proclaiming God’s peace on earth and God’s love to all. I say, “Break forth, O beauteous, heavenly light” and let all people know that God does indeed love them and may God help as all to remember that we are all made in His image and created as His children. Let us love one another as He Himself loved us.

0

Off for the holidays… Merry Christmas

SantaworshipjesusAs of 10:00 p.m. on Saturday evening, I am off for Christmas. I was lucky to be able to get Sunday off. It is production weekend at the Q-Notes office. I guess it is a good thing our copy editor is Jewish?

I go back to work shortly before noon on Wednesday, Dec. 26 (although I’m technically “working from home” — I am in the news business you know, and news never stops).

Posting of news will be light for the next few days, although I’ll keep up with the continuing comment thread on the “An awkward ‘homecoming’ – Part Two” post. I’ll also be posting some Christmas reflections and the annual re-posting of my signature Christmas post (I think it might get an update this year, as well).

By now, you’ll have noticed the color changes. Red and Green have replaced blue and gray in recognition of the Christmas holiday.

Your first Christmas reflections are below. They are the quotes from two of my most favorite Christmas songs (one featured in the header image and the other in an image below each post and above each posts comment section).

Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother,
And in His Name all oppression shall cease,
Sweet hymns of joy, in grateful chorus praise we,
Let all within us praise His Holy Name,
Christ is the Lord, Let ever, ever praise we.
Noel, Noel, O Night! O Night Divine!

No more lives torn apart,
That wars would never start,
And time would heal all hearts,
Everyone would have a friend,
And right would always win,
And love would never end,
This is my grown up Christmas list.

Merry Christmas.

The choir director of my childhood church, Grapevine Baptist Church, has responded to my previous post, “An awkward ‘homecoming,'” in which I describe portions of my childhood and my recent “homecoming” and confrontation at the church where I first learned the harsh lessons of hate, bigotry and exclusion in the name of God.

His comments (click here to view his original comment posting) are quoted below (in the gray boxes) with my comments following.

Matt, Amazingly I Google’d Grapevine and look what popped up. This is Bro. Tarron from Grapevine and you forgot to mention there was a third person in the room during your conversation. It’s often said when there’s a disagreement, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. While you did express truth in your post about the comments you made, you also left out some very important points made by Pastor Comer.

Brother Tarron… Thanks for stopping by my website/blog; if you haven’t already, I hope you will take the time to look around. I have great Google PageRank, so I’m not surprised that my site popped up when you searched for Grapevine. It is good to know others who may be looking for information about the church will be able to find the truth via my website. I didn’t mention you because I did not think it necessary to include you. I assumed you were there only for witness sake (or, if I happened to have only come back to crawl for the church’s mercy and forgiveness for something I have nothing to be ashamed of).

Matt, I wasn’t going to post this, but when you say our church is filled with hatred, bigotry and oppression, I felt obligated to write a comment, especially as a person who was in the room and also tried to encourage you as a youth, and I can’t think of a time when Michele or I were ever mean or rude to you. I remember taking you to many youth activities including conferences at the very church Bro. Steve Cox (who you rip pretty well) is out of.

You are right, Bro. Tarron: Neither you nor Ms. Michele were ever mean or rude to me. In fact, I have fond memories of you both. When I look back into that mixed bag of a childhood, I think of you and Ms. Michele. You two were definitely bright spots. In your first comment, you imply I’m not being totally honest. If I were to say that Grapevine was a wonderful church that taught real Christian values, I’d be lying. Hence, the purpose of my post. Bro. Steve Cox is no better than Preacher Comer; he, like Preacher Comer, preaches hate, exclusion and bigotry against another group of people. If you cannot see how teaching children not to shake hands with their neighbor isn’t hate or exclusion; or if you can’t see how teaching children that all gays should be exiled from society on an island where you hope they die of AIDS isn’t hate or exclusion, then you are well past the point of being persuaded by anything I have to say.

I’m amazed that for a church of “hatred, bigotry and oppression” we “haters” are the ones that send buses into neighborhoods, picking up kids (and adults), feeding them and trying to teach them about Jesus. Our church of “hatred, bigotry and oppression” is the ministry you were saved under and called to preach under. The problem’s started when your point of view changed, not our church’s, because it hasn’t.

Yes, Bro. Tarron, Grapevine does operate a very successful youth and bus ministry. Not only do you teach them about Jesus, you teach them a Jesus and a Gospel that is un-biblical and entirely antithetical to the purpose of Christ’s life, lessons, ministry, trials, death, resurrection and ascension. While you teach these children a false Christ, you throw in (I guess, for good measure?) hate, bigotry and exclusion.

Again, you are right Bro. Tarron; Grapevine is the church where I first learned of Christ and where I was saved. For that I am thankful — eternally grateful. Grapevine is also the church under which I was called to preach, even at such a young age as 8, 9, 10 or 11. For that, I can only be thankful that I was able to get out of such a church. If I had not, I would still be there contributing to the preaching of hate, exclusion and bigotry. In the process I know I would have blood on my hands, contributing to the isolation, depression, exclusion and eventual attempted (or, God forbid, completed) suicide of another lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender young person.

Bro. Tarron. You are wrong about where the problem started. The problem started when Grapevine decided to preach and teach that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are less than, undeserving, unloved, untouchable and unwanted by Christ. The problem began when Preacher Comer — whether he remembers it or not — preached that gay people should die (I have to give him credit — he did stop just short of calling for execution of gay people). The problem started when Grapevine thought it was a good idea to tell a 14-year-old that all he had to look forward to in life was drug abuse, alcoholism, pedophilia, depression, suicide and the eternal hate of God Almighty.

The problem started when Grapevine took on the role of God. The problem started when Preacher Comer took of his tie and coat, slipped on a robe, ascended a judge’s bench and decided to dole out justice and judgement where and when he saw fit. The problem started when Grapevine forgot about the two greatest commandments, the two upon which all of the entirety of the law hangs.

Matt, everyone at Grapevine, to my knowledge, has been kind to you. If they haven’t, please accept my apology for us. You could call Pastor Comer today and ask his counsel on any matter and you know he would be there for you, he would not be rude or nasty toward you in any way.

You mistake outward kindness and Southern gentility with true love. A person who believes in exile or death for those unlike him cannot truly love a person. Furthermore, I’d dare say that while I still attended Grapevine many people did not yet know of my sexual orientation. It was only after I stopped attending Grapevine (because I was made to feel unwelcome and unsafe) that my sexual orientation became publicly known to the world through my activism and advocacy.

As far as Sister Ruth, perhaps that situation should have been handled differently, but as a father of six, I can tell you, I wouldn’t let my kids go to any activity that I thought could disagree with my beliefs. I don’t let my kids spend the night with their cousins, not because I think I’m high and mighty and they’re not, it’s because I believe differently than they do about a lot of issues. Furthermore, I wouldn’t give 5 cents for any parent who wouldn’t try to protect their children.

Yes, the situation could have been handled much differently. What activity would disagree with your beliefs, Bro. Tarron? A sleep over? I have news for you: I am not a pedophile. Being gay does not make a person a pedophile. No friend of my 14-year-old brother could have been “influenced” (Preacher Comer’s words) by me. I am simply me when I am at home. My sex life, like the millions of other young people my age, is not a topic of regular conversation in my family. If a friend of my brother would have been “influenced” by anything, it might have been true Christian values of true love and tolerance.

Matt, I believe homosexuality is a sin, I believe their are plain teachings in the Bible against it. That’s my belief, that’s Grapevine’s belief and you know that no one their “hates” you even though your beliefs differ from ours now.

Bro. Tarron, please explain to me why so much focus is put on this one “sin” at Grapevine? Why so much attention to homosexuality? By far, the number of gay members at Grapevine is the extreme minority. On the other hand, those guilty of other sins discussed with much greater length in Scripture are not faced with a constant of barrage of hateful and exclusionary rhetoric and dogma.

Bro. Tarron, you are overweight correct? You are overweight to so much of an extent that you are, without a doubt, obese, correct? I’d dare say that your obesity is bordering on morbid obesity. There are also many other members of Grapevine guilty of the same sin of gluttony, far many more than those who are “guilty” of the “sin” of loving another person.

Gluttony causes more deaths than any the religious right attempts to pin on homosexuality. The entirety of American culture focuses on more, more, more… eat, eat, eat… drink, drink, drink… buy, buy, buy… McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s.

If Grapevine is so concerned about the total teaching of Scripture and denying “sin,” why isn’t there a bigger focus on gluttony — a sin discussed more in Scripture than any perceived passages of homosexuality, a plague affecting more Americans — and Grapevine members — than homosexuality and a death sentence facing more Americans — and Grapevine members — than homosexuality.

Wait… Those words hurt you didn’t it? Welcome to my life… every day of it.

I’m sorry once again, if you truly feel we are a church of the things you mentioned earlier, I think deep down, you know that’s not the case.

You are being deceived by lies built upon false doctrines of hate, exclusion and bigotry. You are so blinded by the dogma, you can’t even see hate for hate anymore.

I wish you would focus your energy as much on getting folks saved as you do on the issues you believe in on this website. (And you may! If you do, put that info on your website as well!) I wish you nothing but the best for you and your brothers as I’ve spent time with you all, and despite what you may think, I enjoyed seeing you at Grapevine and will be praying for you. Take care!

I have spoken plenty of my personal religious beliefs on my website. The public is well aware of my personal religious beliefs and I mince no words when discussing my belief in Christ, the Messiah and Saviour.

View the original “An awkward ‘homecoming'” here.

Related:

Matt Comer’s Testimony — Anti-gay group hosts “Can you be Gay and Christian?” forum

In my past post, “An awkward ‘homecoming,'” I mentioned that I agreed with a lot of what Preacher Comer said in his sermon the day I returned to Grapevine. In that sermon he spoke of how he didn’t believe suicide was a sin that would send someone to hell. What he said made a lot of sense, theologically and spiritually. But when I was 11, 12, 13 and 14, I certainly did believe suicide would send a person to hell. Even now, I’m still not sure about that one.

Addendum: The fact that I allowed Bro. Tarron’s comments to remain public on my website, and the fact that I responded, should act as a testament to who is right in this debate. I have very little hope that I’d ever be given the chance to publicly air my personal testimony on Grapevine’s home turf (a home of which I was once a member, a “son of the church,” if you will). In fact… I challenge the church today. Preacher Comer, elders of the church: Allow me to give the sermon one Sunday. I guarantee it will be one you’ll never forget.

Dawn Chaney, an early leader of the annual Greensboro, N.C. “Green Party” HIV/AIDS prevention fundraiser and, later, the Guilford Green Foundation, was recently profiled in a Philanthropy Journal article written by GGF Executive Director Cecelia Thompson.

A local philanthropist, Chaney has raised money for and contributed to the Greensboro area LGBT community and GGF for over ten years:

In 1996, with her help and enthusiasm, the board of the Green Party decided they had outgrown the once-a-year dance party, and the Guilford Green Foundation was officially formed to assist with not only HIV and AIDS but the entire gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

As such, it seemed only natural that I approach Dawn this year when the Guilford Green Foundation was looking to expand our donor base of women.

Once again, Dawn saw an opportunity to make a difference and enthusiastically agreed to host an all-women’s fundraising party.

Dawn’s generosity and spirit of giving continued as she offered to match all donations at the event up to a total of $5,000. With that in mind, we made a goal to raise $10,000 that evening.

On October 17, 2007, Dawn and foundation chair co-chair Ruth Heyd hosted the first ever GGF Women’s Party.

In a dynamic speech, Dawn described the current need for funding for the lesbian community and proclaimed, “Women can make a difference; powerful women make change.”

In a one-night, extraordinary display of generosity, women donated more than $20,000 to the Guilford Green Foundation.

Check out the full article at Philanthropy Journal.

Learn more about the Guilford Green Foundation at www.ggfnc.org.

Full disclosure: I’ve been on the GGF Board of Directors since March 2007. 

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

North Carolina Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jim Neal will now be contributing regularly to the LGBT-oriented news, commentary and blogging site The Bilerico Project.

N.C. blogger Pam Spaulding introduced him on the site today:

As a fellow native Tar Heel, I want to give a hearty welcome to North Carolina U.S. Senate candidate Jim Neal, who joins The Bilerico Project as a contributor. He’s making history as the first openly gay man to seek the office, and Jim plans to unseat the ineffective, unresponsive, rubber stamp for the Bush administration, Republican incumbent Elizabeth Dole.

[…]

While it’s his first run for office, Jim is not a newcomer to politics. He was a national finance committee member of the Wes Clark for President and the Kerry-Edwards campaigns, and a national fundraiser for U.S. Senate candidate Erskine Bowles in 2004. You may recall that in 1998 John Edwards, with no previous political experience, ran and won election to the U.S. Senate here. It’s a challenge, but can be done — Dole is polling poorly.

Welcome Senator — I mean, Mr. — Neal. I’ll look forward to reading your thoughts and wisdom.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

3

Re-design

I’m going to make people mad again. I know, I always change my design when I get bored, but really, there is a reason this time.

New design features: less bulky and large header, faster-loading pages, simpler and cleaner design, cool blue and gray colors, designated ad space outside of post content (that should make Brian smile) and more.

Report any bugs or mis-haps on our Contact Page.

UPDATE: Things left to do… work on the sidebar and configure ad, archive listing and category listing placement on home page, single pages and single posts… minor adjustments.

Kourt Osborn, the 22-year-old transgender student denied housing at Southern Utah University, filed a formal grievance with the University on Friday, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

Originally reported on InterstateQ.com on Dec. 14, Kourt’s experience with discrimination at the University has now reached into the mainstream press.

According to The Salt Lake Tribune:

Neuman Duncan, SUU’s housing director, says the school is not discriminating against transgender students, but simply following a policy to ensure the comfort and safety of all students.

“He has not transgendered completely so we are unable to assign him men’s housing. It’s a housing policy that we require transgender students to provide a letter from a doctor that says they have undergone all necessary treatments and hormone therapy has been completed,” says Duncan. “Where they’re in the process [of gender transition] I have no place to put them.” Equality advocates criticized SUU’s policies as “old thinking” that uses irrelevant criteria for determining gender.

“That they would requires someone to have surgery to live in the dorm is just wrong. It’s absolutely irrelevant. They don’t ask anyone else for proof of gender. They shouldn’t be checking his genitals,” says Mara Keisling, executive director for the National Center for Transgender Equality. “Universities shouldn’t be making medical decision for students. That should be left up to patients and doctors.” On Friday, Osborn filed a formal grievance with SUU. Thanks to publicity about his case, a Cedar City resident has offered her basement apartment, but he still hopes SUU revises its housing policies and apologizes.

The Advocate has also reported on the story on its website.

Related Posts:

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,