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Michael Brown’s ‘Queer’ sideshow

Concord’s Michael Brown, leader of the anti-gay Coalition of Conscience and FIRE Church and School of Ministry, released this week his new book, “A Queer Thing Happened to America: And What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been.”

I haven’t yet had the chance to read the book, though I know Brown cites/references/mentions me and/or some of my writings (unless something’s changed since the last time he and I chatted).

The book’s title and imagery are eye-catching. It’s also a bit deceptive. And, unsurprisingly, devoid of all understanding. I don’t know many trans folks or gay men who wear black socks and pink pumps. All joking aside: I expect Brown’s book, if anything like its cover, to paint a wholly inaccurate and woefully biased and prejudiced picture of LGBT people in this country.

From Brown’s blog, Voice of Revolution, a summary of the book:

Forty years ago, most Americans said they didn’t know anyone who was homosexual and claimed to know little or nothing about homosexuality. Today, there’s hardly a sitcom without a prominent gay character, movies like Milk and Brokeback Mountain have won Oscars, and even People Magazine celebrated the marriage of Ellen Degeneres and Portia DeRossi. Forty years ago, the word “queer” was considered to be an extremely insulting, ugly slur. Today, we have books like Queering Elementary Education and The Queer Bible Commentary, while Queer Eye for the Straight Guy was a cable TV sensation and even school children are learning the meaning of “Gender Queer.” Forty years ago, people were fired from their jobs for being gay. Today, college professors have been fired for taking issue with same-sex practice, counselors have been dismissed for refusing to affirm gay and lesbian relationships, and even pastors have been arrested for saying that homosexual behavior was sinful.

A Queer Thing Happened to America chronicles the amazing transformation of America over the last forty years, literally, from Stonewall Inn to the White House, and addresses the question head-on: Is there really a gay agenda, or is it a fiction of the religious right? Written in a lively and compelling style, but backed with massive research and extensive interaction with the GLBT community, this forthright and yet compassionate book looks at the extraordinary impact gay activism has had on American society – from nursery school to college, from the pulpit to Hollywood, and from science to semantics – also analyzing the foundational arguments of the gay civil rights movement and exposing the extreme intolerance of those calling for tolerance. This could easily be the most controversial book of the decade. Read it and find out why the publishing world was afraid to touch it.

And, Voice of Revolution Editor Marcus French touts the book’s number slot in Amazon.com’s Gay & Lesbian Nonfiction list. French writes:

The screenshot below, taken at 12:15 PM ET on March 17th, shows the Amazon Bestsellers Rank for ‘A Queer Thing Happened to America.’ As you can see, it is now #1 on Amazon’s ‘Gay & Lesbian Nonfiction’ chart! (A chart, by the way, I would not recommend navigating to, as it contains all sorts of sexually explicit material.) If you would like to help it stay at that position in the ‘Gay & Lesbian Nonfiction’ chart as a redemptive witness, and climb higher on the overall chart, you can help by purchasing the book on Amazon here.

After running scared from anti-LGBT protesters for five years, Charlotte’s annual LGBT Pride festival will finally move back to Uptown Charlotte and back into the public square.

From a Pride Charlotte press release:

The Queen City’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Pride festival will be held this year on Aug. 27 in Uptown Charlotte, along S. Tryon St. between 3rd St. and the new Levine Center for the Arts. Pride Charlotte, which attracts thousands each year, is the culmination of a week-long slate of events highlighting the social, cultural, ethnic, artistic and political diversity of the metro Charlotte area’s LGBT community.

“We are very excited to move our festival Uptown and to the heart of Charlotte’s artistic and cultural center,” said Jonathan Hill, Co-Chair of the Pride Charlotte organizing committee. “The S. Tryon St. location provides a unique opportunity for our event to grow and to raise more visibility for this city’s diverse gay community.”

I’m lucky enough, again, to serve on the organizing committee for Pride Charlotte. In fact, I should offer a full disclosure and say I wrote the primary draft of the release I just quoted. Regardless, this post (like every other post on InterstateQ.com) is entirely my own opinion; trust me, it doesn’t come even close to representing the official views of anyone.

Anyways… This year we’re not only moving to Tryon St. (exciting and landmark news in and of itself), but we’re also expanding and committing ourselves to greater community-level coalition building and teamwork. Speaking as someone who has seen Pride as both a current and former committee member, as the editor of the local queer paper and as a general community member and Charlottean, I think it all adds up to phenomenal news and a wonderful change in the pace of the last few years’ events.

For far too long, Charlotte’s queer community has been weak and timid in the face of anti-LGBT prejudice, protesting and bigotry. Despite the relatively small number, we’ve allowed anti-LGBT protest groups like Operation Save America and Coalition of Conscience to dictate to us the terms of our own community’s outspokenness, political involvement and civic engagement. No more. Come August, Pride Charlotte will be back in the public square and in the heart of Uptown. LGBT Charlotteans are no less deserving of full participation in the political, social, artistic, cultural, civic and religious lives of this city. This is the year we take back our God-given rights to be who we are, openly and proudly, and as fully-deserving citizens and residents of the Queen City.

Pride Charlotte’s move back into the public spotlight comes after five years of nearly-closeted Pride festivities. After a 2005 Charlotte Pride event in which scores of protesters caused distraction (and later proclaimed to the city council, “Charlotte Pride is back in the closet. And it’s back in the closet because the church of Jesus Christ came out of the closet. And because you, city council, helped us to do that very thing.”), organizers of a new event (“Pride Charlotte”) organized under the umbrella of the Lesbian & Gay Community Center moved the event to Gateway Village. The new, privately-owned Uptown venue left much to be desired; enclosed on three sides, a passer-by would never have known what was happening there. I never could understand why we were “hiding,” though organizers always rejected the accusation they were running from anybody or anything.

Last year, Pride Charlotte organizers took the closeting of Charlotte’s gays a step further. The N.C. Music Factory is a phenomenal building. Great bars and restaurants, and the Center is even located there (that’s an entirely different story, altogether). But, like Gateway Village, the choice to move Pride to the Music Factory felt to many, including me, another instance of closet-ization. How are we supposed to “Stand up, Stand out, Stand Proud” when no one in the city can see or even knows about our community’s premier cultural, political and social event each year?

I believe this year will be unlike any of the past years’ Pride festivities I’ve known. We’re out. We’re proud. We’re visible. We are what an LGBT community should be. With any luck, we’ll see that spirit spill over into other local, LGBT organizations. Perhaps, this is the year Charlotte will start working toward becoming a better, more LGBT-inclusive city. We’ve waited long enough, wouldn’t you say?

Photo Credit: JenelleRW, via Flickr.

crisisbookOn Feb. 25, I was honored to participate in a forum with North Carolina businessman and Faith in America founder Mitchell Gold and Faith in America executive director Brent Childers at a small gay bar/lounge here in Charlotte. Usually, politics and religion don’t go well with bars, but it was a great and attentive crowd — we couldn’t have asked for better. We were able discuss issues addressed in Gold’s book, “CRISIS: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay In America,” to which both Brent and I also contributed.

Before that later evening event, Mitchell Gold was a special guest of Campus Pride and local LGBT youth support group Time Out Youth at Myers Park Baptist Church. There, a little more than 100 folks turned out to hear Gold speak about his book, his experience growing up as a gay youth and issues of anti-LGBT, religion-based bigotry and prejudice.

A day before the event, I spoke to Campus Pride executive director Shane Windmeyer and asked if it would be appropriate to invite to the Myers Park lecture the editor of Voice of Revolution, a Charlotte-area online magazine run by anti-LGBT theologian and activist Dr. Michael Brown. (You can read my previous, in-depth Special Report on Brown here.)

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2009: The year that was (or wasn’t)

Another year has come and gone. Since I began blogging, first on Blogger, then my own hosted blog and then here at InterstateQ.com, I’ve always done a year-end recap of my biggest stories of the year.

This year’s rewind is kind of sad, to be honest with you. As the economy continued to falter and challenges mounted up for print media across the nation, we felt our own sting at my day job. My friends and fellow staff at QNotes managed to hold our own, but responsibilities there led to a decline in my frequency of writing here.

Regardless, I managed to pull off some good stories here although many weren’t the “breaking news” I used to publish before I made the leap from blogger to “traditional media” gig.

So, in a way it was the “year that wasn’t” here at InterstateQ.com. Regardless, catch my Best of 2009 after the jump…

(P.S. — Be sure to check out my “The defining decade of my youth” at Bilerico Project.)

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Dr. Michael Brown, founder of several Charlotte-area ministries including the activist Coalition of Conscience, says he has “serious concerns” about the anti-gay Ugandan law that would punish homosexuality by death.

His statement was emailed to me as I was writing an article on the subject for Q-Notes. Despite his “concern,” his statement falls far short of a outright condemnation of the law. More below the fold…

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After being called out for his use of militant and violent rhetoric regarding his “Jesus revolution,” anti-gay leader Dr. Michael Brown, of Charlotte’s Coalition of Conscience, released a statement “categorically and unequivocally denouncing” the shootings at a Tel Aviv LGBT youth center on Saturday evening.

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Audio: Matt Comer on ‘Line of Fire’

Below is audio from my appearance on Dr. Michael Brown’s “Line of Fire” radio show on Thursday, July 23, 2009.

You can also listen at Brown’s website. For background, read “On the edge: Religious militancy in the Queen City.”

Hour One

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Hour Two

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Introduction

The cover to a 6-disc DVD set of an anti-gay lecture series delivered by Dr. Michael L. Brown in February 2007.

The cover to a 6-disc DVD set of an anti-gay lecture series delivered by Dr. Michael L. Brown in February 2007.

How thin of a line exists between violent word and thought, and violent action and deed? That’s a question answered plenty of times before, from Christian Crusades and Inquisitions of ages past to the modern day of radical Islamic terrorism. But, it is a question yet to be answered in Charlotte, N.C., where I believe there is a potentially dangerous and violent threat ramping up its efforts to counter the annual LGBT event, Pride Charlotte.

In times of great social change, there are often two opposing extremes: One path seeks to change society through violent and militant means. The other seeks change in the spirit of non-violence, a practice of living — in thought, word and deed — modeled most famously by Jesus Christ, Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

In Charlotte, it seems some religious leaders have chosen the former path, preaching and teaching with violent and militant theology and rhetoric, painting the social conflict over LGBT equality as a “battle” and a “war.”

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