I spoke to Mark Binker at The News & Record (Greensboro, N.C.) on Wednesday regarding Rep. Virginia Foxx’s “hoax” comments regarding Matthew Shepard. Speaking about her district, I said:

“She’s not going to have any blow-back there,” Comer said. “More than likely, there will be a lot of people who agree with her.” Most of the outrage over her remarks, Comer said, would be limited to the gay community.

Wrong. Dead wrong. On Wednesday evening, or so I hear, Foxx’s phone lines were jammed and the voice mail box full. She’s getting plenty of backlash.

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Fessing Up: Promiscuity & Unsafe Sex

This is the second installment of the five-week commentary series, “Fessing Up: exploring the dirty little secrets of the gay community.” The purpose of the series, will be to open community discussion with frank and honest thoughts and debate. Ignoring problems that exist inside our community and among some of our LGBT siblings is dangerous. In order to make our community better, stronger and more equal, we have to begin taking responsibility and speaking out when our own community, personal and social health is threatened.

Although the series will deal specifically with gay and bisexual men, as well as men who have sex with men (MSM), it will contain possible truths and discussion for the whole LGBT community.

We know that issues like substance abuse, promiscuity, unsafe sex, HIV/AIDS and STD infection rates and unattainable ideals of male beauty have an impact on the sexual, social, legal, physical and psychological health of the LGBT community, but we have utterly failed at having open and frank conversation about how we can address these issues, support our LGBT brothers and sisters and make our entire community more healthy and more equal.

Last week, a commenter at Pam’s House Blend – where I cross-posted a portion of the first installment in this series – took issue with my plans to address promiscuity and unsafe sex, saying “do-gooder Christians” who “think they are activists” shouldn’t have a part in the conversation.

He said, “Frankly I think promiscuity in males is good and healthy and I don’t want people to be pressured to conform to “christian morality” just because some christians are willing to teach that being gay isn’t a sin – but promiscuity is.”

First, it is this kind of thinking – the misguided presumption that gays can’t also be Christian and also speak out on LGBT rights – that is damaging to discussions like these. Second, I think the Pam’s House Blend commenter is going to be slightly surprised by my opinions.

What is this installment in the “Fessing Up” commentary series about? Well, it is not about gay promiscuity. It is, instead, about promiscuity and unsafe sex.

Continue reading this post…

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Fessing Up: Substance abuse

This is the first installment of the five-week commentary series, “Fessing Up: exploring the dirty little secrets of the gay community.” The purpose of the series, announced last week, will be to open community discussion with frank and honest thoughts and debate. Ignoring problems that exist inside our community and among some of our LGBT siblings is dangerous. In order to make our community better, stronger and more equal, we have to begin taking responsibility and speaking out when our own community, personal and social health is threatened.

Although the series will deal specifically with gay and bisexual men, as well as men who have sex with men (MSM), it will contain possible truths and discussion for the whole LGBT community.

We know that issues like substance abuse, promiscuity, unsafe sex, HIV/AIDS and STD infection rates and unattainable ideals of male beauty have an impact on the sexual, social, legal, physical and psychological health of the LGBT community, but we have utterly failed at having open and frank conversation about how we can address these issues, support our LGBT brothers and sisters and make our entire community more healthy and more equal.

In bars and clubs, online hook-up sites and gayborhoods across America, there’s a hidden – and sometimes not so hidden – social epidemic running through the gay community. Meth and alcohol are our poisons of choice, and they are harming and killing members of our community at an alarming rate.

If there is one thing the gay community doesn’t do well it is introspection. We all know there’s a serious drug and alcohol abuse problem but many of us either aren’t aware or just don’t talk about it. I’d venture to say that substance abuse is among three topics the gay community finds anathema; the others being promiscuity and unsafe sex.

Continue reading this post…

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I love college Charlotte

Just had to share… hilarious, silly, over the top… yeah

I’d heard the song on a local radio station days ago. Didn’t know there was a video. (h/t CLTBlog)

Much has been made of a new report from the Department of Homeland Security concerning the rise of right-wing extremism.

I have no doubt that right-wing hate groups are on the rise. Recent reports from the Southern Poverty Law Center tracking the creation and spread of these groups give credence to DHS’ worry over right-wing extremism and its recruitment and growth.

But, the new DHS report contains this curiously and dangerously broad definition of right-wing extremism:

Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.

Under this new definition, groups and associations of people who are proud American patriots will no doubt come under scrutiny and observation.

I take particular issue with the latter portions of it; there are legitimate organizations and associations committed to restoring state and local authority where and when it exists as outlined by the U.S. Constitution, and legitimate, non-hate groups that are committed to addressing abortion or immigration.

The John Locke Foundation in North Carolina, while a group with whom I’d certainly have my disagreements, is also a group that is full of American patriots. Their association could easily fit into this overly broad DHS definition.

Maybe, one day, a third or fourth political party could even become suspect under this new “extremism” definition.

This definition and report from DHS is, perhaps, precisely the reason why there are groups of people who seek to limit the powers of the federal government and respect constitutionally-governed state and local powers.

The one thing I despised most about the Bush Administration was its continual disrespect and disregard for the U.S. Constitution and the principles contained within it. The Department of Homeland Security, under the Obama Administration, is now engaging in similar constitutional disrespect and disregard. The only difference between then and now is where the disrespect is happening, who is doing it and who is being targeted.

It is dangerous for government to issue these types of broad definitions. Just as some LGBT groups were targeted for surveillance under the Bush Administration, have no doubt that continued encroachment into our Constitutional rights and civil liberties will mean continued rises in abuses to American citizens and the continued destruction of the Constitution.

We would all do well to remember and to often reflect on the following: “I do not agree with a word you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.”

(h/t MeckDeck)

bostonteapartyAmericans across the country today will organize locally to produce “Tax Day Tea Parties” in cities large and small.

On organizing website after website, conservative grassroots activists cry and gnash their teeth over the stimilus bill and other Congressional actions to get us out of our economic mess. They throw out words like “socialism” and scarey historical figures like Karl Marx.

The tea parties and their organizers are disingenuous. I find it hard to believe they really care about this country. How can they throw up the Declaration of Independence and Constitution to defend their position? Where were these people when the Bush Administration slowly but surely eroded our civil liberties and freedoms?

If the tea party organizers truly cared about our nation and the ideals and principles upon which it was founded, they would have not only been speaking out today, but also years ago when our nation and its people were under attack by its own elected officials.

In the coming weeks, InterstateQ.com will publish a five-week, in-depth commentary series, “Fessing Up: exploring the ‘dirty little secrets’ of the gay community.”

fessingupsmallbannerThe purpose of the series, written by me and other contributors, will be to open community discussion with frank and honest thoughts and debate. Ignoring problems that exist inside our community and among some of our LGBT siblings is dangerous. In order to make our community better, stronger and more equal, we have to begin taking responsibility and speaking out when our own community, personal and social health is threatened.

Although the series will deal specifically with gay and bisexual men, as well as men who have sex with men (MSM), it will contain possible truths and discussion for the whole LGBT community.

The five-week series won’t deal specifically with HIV/AIDS, but each of its five subject areas will have a lot to do with the crisis. In a way, each of the subject areas offer us a chance to move forward on the goal of ending the out-of-control HIV/AIDS crisis:

  1. Substance abuse in the gay community
  2. Promiscuity and unsafe sex in the gay community
  3. HIV and STD infection rates
  4. The social and sexual disenfranchisement and stigmatization of HIV+ gay, bi and MSM men
  5. Ideals of gay masculinity and beauty

We know that increased risks of drug and alcohol abuse in the LGBT community contributes to promiscuity, unsafe sex and increased risks of contracting HIV and other STDs; that many gay, bi and MSM men are having a lot of sex, but doing so unsafely and with high risk; and that HIV and STD infection rates have skyrocketed, and will continue to skyrocket, inside the MSM community. We know that HIV+ gay, bi and MSM men are being cast to the side, despite the fact that many of the HIV- men doing the stigmatization are engaging in some of the very same risky behaviors that might well mean they will contract the disease. Finally, we know that nearly god-like ideals of male beauty and masculinity can leave a debilitating scar on gay, bi and MSM self-esteem, body image and self-worth.

And, while we know that all of these issues have an impact on the sexual, social, legal, physical and psychological health of the LGBT community, we have utterly failed at having open and frank conversation about how we can address these issues, support our LGBT brothers and sisters and make our entire community more healthy and more equal.

Look for the first of the five-week series in a few days.

qnoteshomepageIt has been a year, this month, since my day job, Q-Notes newspaper, upgraded its website from a mis-matched collection of simple, static HTML pages to a fully automated content management system (CMS). In the year since, I’ve learned a lot about new media and how it complements and improves traditional news-media, including the gay news publishing business.

In Q-Notes‘ case, we chose to use WordPress as a CMS. Really, the “software” is a blogging platform. Its uses, though, are almost limitless. Tweak your site design/template and the way in which you post your information and it makes a great CMS for a small newspaper or magazine; student newspapers across the country, I hear, are using WordPress and other similar blogging platforms as CMS solutions.

The choice was easy for us. WordPress is an open source project. It is free to use and the worldwide community it has spawned provides plenty of technical support and information. It’s amazing, really, that so many people around the world would seem to have a vested interest in something like a blogging platform.

Our online news publishing process before our CMS was cumbersome, slow and horribly out-of-date and behind the times. Prior to our use of a CMS we’d have to wait two weeks before the website was updated. In the most urgent of cases, we’d call up our out-of-office web designer and have him add a small notation regarding a breaking event or news on the front page. WordPress immediately changed the way Q-Notes utilized online mechanisms to publish news. Updating breaking news stories or publishing recent headlines on a daily basis became a reality, improving our connection to readers and keeping our content fresh, exciting and new.

Continue reading this post…

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89-72

tarheels

Oh, don’t worry. Still not a sports person. Tar Heel pride is showing through tonight (and the boys are cute). So wishing I were on Franklin Street right now.

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InterstateQ has changed…

Notice something different? Yeah, well… InterstateQ has changed; as if that weren’t obvious enough.

This change will be more than just a redesign, though. Gone are the days of multiple posts each day (unless I’m feeling generous). As my life gets more and more busy and hectic and as I pick up more and more responsibilities at the day job, I’m finding it harder to come up with content multiple times a day for InterstateQ.

So, anticipating that more tasks will pile up on the desk at work and my intention to start school again in the fall, InterstateQ is changing formats.

From here on out, I’ll post less frequently but with greater insight and depth. Expect, on average, two-three posts per week, one of which will be extended commentary or research.

Hope you’re digging the new logo, by the way.

Over the weekend of April 3-5 and through the week of April 6, please send me any bugs you see or experience and expect blog pages and other features to change a bit as I get the new design broken in.