A friend of mine still living in Winston-Salem, N.C., pointed my direction to a handful of ill-conceived, tasteless and offensive political cartoons syndicated by Cagle Cartoons and published by The Winston-Salem Journal following Wednesday’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal signing.

Perhaps the worst of the three political cartoons is Brian Fairrington’s which pictures a flag-draped coffin and a newspaper lying side-by-side. The paper’s headline reads, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repealed,” while a comment bubble over the coffin says, “You Go Girl!” The cartoon, in one fell swoop, manages to not only make light of the sacrifices of lesbian, gay and bisexual servicemembers but also each and every American who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to their nation.

Though the flag-draped coffin is the worst, the other two are just as tasteless. Again, they make light of the service of lesbian, gay and bisexual servicemembers and the personal and public sacrifices they’ve had to make to serve this nation especially in this time of war. Mike Lester’s cartoon, picturing an older man imagining the worst possible “queering” of the military, serves only to perpetuate the exact prejudices and bigotry that made “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” possible and kept it in place for 17 years. The same is true of Daryl Cagle’s cartoon, picturing not a valiant and respectable gay servicemember but rather a servicemember “flaunting” his sexuality along with his service awards.

Gay and lesbian members of the U.S. Armed Forces are disrespected in these cartoons. Their tireless service on behalf of our freedoms and safety, along with that of their heterosexual colleagues, is reduced to serving as punch lines of insensitive jokes.

The cartoons are below. Two were published on the Journal’s site and one published in the paper on Dec. 23, 2010. Links to each cartoon on Cagle’s site are provided below.

Artist: Brian Fairrington. On Cagle: link

Artist: Mike Lester. On Cagle: link

Artist: Daryl Cagle. On Cagle: link

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Anti-gay incumbents reelected to WSFCS board

On Sunday, I started up a last-minute campaign to raise awareness on the anti-gay history and records of seven incumbents on the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education. It was a last-ditch effort to get folks out to the polls and aware of some of the outrageous statements and behavior of board members Buddy Collins, Jane Goins, Victor Johnson, Donny Lambeth, Jeannie Metcalf, Marilyn Parker and Jill Tackabery.

For three years, Winston-Salem’s CHANGE (Communities Helping All Neighbors Gain Empowerment) had led the effort to turn the education races from partisan to non-partisan and to raise awareness on issues like school choice and diversity.

In addition, long-time advocate Janet Joyner penned a four-page, in-depth history of these seven members’ anti-gay records. That history was published along with my Sunday-Tuesday effort to get people to “Say NO to BIGOTRY in Winston-Salem Schools.”

It was a valiant effort, yes. But it came too late for any real good. I know that. All of the WSFCS Board of Education’s incumbents were reelected yesterday. There was one positive outcome: Lori Goins Clark, incumbent Goins’ daughter, was not successful in her bid for office. Had she been elected, she would have been the eighth anti-gay member of the board. West Forsyth High grad and straight ally Mark Shields addressed that point perfectly in a May 2010 letter to the editor on Metcalf’s history and Clark’s position on bullying.

Perhaps, in the future, a more organized campaign can be mounted to finally oust these members and vote into office true defenders of education — people who will vow not only to educate our young people but also keep them safe while these youth are in their care.

Until next time… keep on keeping on.

It’s a year of anti-incumbency. All across the nation, conservatives and Tea Partiers are pushing to oust any and all incumbents who haven’t stuck to their hard-core anti-establishment, anti-immigrant, anti-working class, anti-gay, anti-[fill in the blank] agenda.

Yet, in Winston-Salem, N.C., there’s a different kind of anti-incumbent fever sweeping through the races for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education.

Here at my site, I’ve documented over-and-over, time-and-time again the outrageous anti-gay zealotry and bigotry exhibited by members of this board. As an alumnus of their district (RJRHS ’04), I know first-hand the effects of this board’s inaction. In high school, I joined with local advocates in attempting to persuade these people to do something about the rampant anti-gay harassment and bullying in their schools. Their response was nothing short of jaw-dropping: board members either treated us with silence and a cold shoulder, or others chose to make purely hateful, anti-gay comments all of which are recorded and documented by area media. Pam and her host of Blend baristas have also become attuned to not only the words, actions and beliefs of America’s religious right, but also of those in this state and in Winston-Salem.

The board of education there is overwhelmingly composed of incumbents who’ve had their seats for almost a decade or longer. In the same amount of time, local advocates’ pushes to get the board to do anything at all to protect LGBT students went no where. And, after all that time, the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education was ultimately forced to protect LGBT students when the state legislature passed the School Violence Prevention Act in 2009. Yet, board members there continue to ignore real problems. They might have an inclusive policy, but that doesn’t mean its being enforced.

Longtime advocate Janet Joyner, a former five-year member of the State Department of Education’s Safe Schools Advisory Board, is circulating an in-depth history of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education’s anti-LGBT actions. The document, which you can read after the jump, is extraordinary. That any school official, elected or otherwise, would go to such amazing lengths not to protect students boggles the mind and chills to the bone.

The board of education is being reelected, finally, on non-partisan tickets. Joyner and a host of other advocates are hoping the non-partisan races will give them a chance to defeat longtime, anti-LGBT incumbents.

I encourage you click on past the jump and read Joyner’s history below. It’s a shocker, and all the proof anyone needs to vote against every incumbent on this board of education on Tuesday.


PLEDGE YOUR SUPPORT:
Say NO to BIGOTRY in our schools. Throw Them Out!
Visit the Facebook Group and spread the word.

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Blue America and Americans for America have teamed up to present this ad attacking Rep. Virginia Foxx, a Republican representing North Carolina’s 5th Congressional District, on some of her most outlandish and outrageous “accomplishments.”

DownWithTyranny reports:

At the end of July, Blue America and our pals at the Americans For America PAC launched the first in a series of videos that highlights what kind of people now lead the Republican Party. We featured Sarah Palin, Rand Paul and John Boehner. And we asked the readers at DWT,C&L and Digby’s Hullabaloo to tell us who to do the next ad for. Lots of votes for Ken Calvert and Michele Bachmann but it was North Carolina reactionary haridan Virginia Foxx who got the most votes.

Billy Kennedy, Foxx’s Democratic challenger, responded to the ad in a release:

“Dishonest politicians try to divide us and turn us against each other in order to win an election on wedge issues. Politicians of both parties emphasize wedge issues to distract us and avoid talking about the serious problems we face. It is a tactic used to mislead us in order to hide how they really vote about issues that matter.

“More and better jobs, a commitment to Medicare and Social Security, fair taxation, and the failure of bailouts and subsidies to corporations are not wedge issues.

I want to make it clear.  I support freedom and equal rights for all people. I will protect all individuals’ Constitutional rights, without allowing politicians to pick and choose which Amendments deserve to be taken seriously.

“I want to focus on what all of us can do to improve our lives.  I’ve been listening these last few months to people all over the district.  I’ve made over 18,000 phone calls, and I will not allow my opponent to play politics on questions of economic fairness and individual liberty.”

The ad isn’t yet running, but you can contribute and help make it happen.

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‘Porn’ at the Greensboro library?

An old Greensboro friend and blogging buddy Roch Smith asked me a couple weeks ago if I’d be willing to help him out with a little project. Of course, I said yes.

The Greensboro City Council was considering the addition of stronger pornography filters to the computers at its libraries. Unfortunately, most porn filters end up filtering out more than just porn. Many times, the filtering software limits access to non-obscene, medically accurate and beneficial information. Sometimes that is an unforeseen byproduct of the service/software providing the filtering. Other times, as was the case in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School System when I was a student there, improper filtering of non-obscene material is by design. Continue reading this post…

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Public prayer losing ground in North Carolina?

buncombecountysealCounty commissioners in the sleepy, liberal town of Asheville, N.C., have made a “consensus” decision to end public prayer at their meetings.

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners are set to bring the topic up for official discussion on Jan. 5. They’ll likely vote to stop opening board meetings with prayer. The move comes after a federal magistrate recommended a similar public prayer policy in Winston-Salem, N.C., violated the the First Amendment.

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Nat’l org salutes Triad Equality Alliance

tea_longenough

Freedom to Marry, a national advocacy and education organization on marriage equality issues, is saluting North Carolina’s Triad Equality Alliance for their media advocacy efforts. The organization has funded several LGBT awareness building billboards in Greensboro and Winston-Salem.

Freedom to Marry writes:

Freedom to Marry salutes the Triad Equality Alliance for their brilliant work in delivering effective messages to their North Carolina community that have put a face and personal spin on the marriage equality debate!

[Disclosure: I've appeared on two billboards for the organization.]

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Yes, but will he lead like Terry Sanford?

Former N.C. State Sen. Cal Cunningham, a Winston-Salem, N.C.-native living in nearby Davidson County, has announced his challenge to Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, also of Winston-Salem.

Other than the interesting regional connection between the two pols and what that means for the continued East-to-West political shift in the Tar Heel State, I was also intrigued by a portion of Cunningham’s announcement. More below the fold…

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Not in the least bit surprised

Sing with me… It’s that time of year, when I sit at my desk and research the year, sifting through… o-old stories of important ga-ay news!

I was in the office late last night putting our Dec. 12 print issue of Q-Notes to bed. I wanted to get in the office and start work on our last issue of the year. Our Dec. 26 print issue will include a run-down of the LGBT Carolinas’ most important news and happenings over the past year, as well as a profile on Q-Notes‘ Person of the Year 2009.

This will be my third “retrospective,” year-end issue since joining the staff in the fall of 2007. As with the previous two years, I’m looking forward to and will enjoy sifting through each of the preceding 25 issues of this year’s papers.

Continue reading this post…

Good news from my childhood hometown and school system: The North Carolina Senate passed a “local bill” on Monday, changing current Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education elections from partisan to non-partisan. Already passed by the House and not in need of the governor’s approval, the bill is now law. The Winston-Salem Journal has the full report.

This welcome change from partisan to non-partisan elections is a longtime coming. Starting in 2010, non-partisan elections will benefit Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school children and open the door to electing more fair-minded and LGBT-friendly candidates like Sandra Mikush, who ran unsuccessfully on a non-partisan ballot in 2006.

The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education has long been dominated by conservative, anti-gay Republicans. Among the most outspoken have been Buddy Collins, Donny Lambeth and Jeannie Metcalf.

In a Feb. 4, 2003 Journal article, Metcalf was quoted saying, “I think homosexuality is a sin. If they want to make fun of them, I don’t have a problem with it.”

By their very essence, non-partisan elections create an atmosphere in which more people untainted by the gotcha games of party politics have a better chance of being elected and serving their communities. If left to partisan politics, the Winston-Salem board would have surely remained as anti-gay and conservative as it has always been.

It remains to be seen whether the change to non-partisanship will bring about the much more needed change for the area’s LGBT students, who remain without fully-inclusive anti-bullying and non-discrimination protections. My guess is that non-partisan elections will bring those students closer to safety than ever before — if the General Assembly, by passing the School Violence Prevention Act, doesn’t do it for them first.