A counter-protester holds a sign near anti-gay protesters at Charlotte Pride, Aug. 24, 2013, Uptown Charlotte. Photo Credit: Matthew Cummings/StillOut Photography Club.

Three weeks ago, Dr. Michael Brown, a leading anti-LGBT activist and religious leader in Charlotte brought 40 of his ministry schools’ students and other friends to Charlotte Pride, the city’s annual LGBT Pride festival and parade, on whose board of directors I sit. While at the event, Brown’s students and others circulated the festival area, speaking to attendees and asking attendees to complete a survey entitled, “Are You Open Minded?”

I took offense to Brown’s outreach efforts this year, calling his tactics dishonest, underhanded and deceitful. I even appeared on Brown’s radio show on Sept. 3 to discuss my disagreements with his survey and tactics. I discuss more about that experience in my latest editorial in the current issue of QNotes, hitting newsstands and online today. In the editorial, I call Brown’s outreach efforts this year a “spectacular failure.” You can read more about why in the editorial.

Here, though, I’ll run through and answer the several questions Dr. Brown’s students posed to Charlotte Pride attendees. Brown and I had meant to answer a few of these questions together on his radio show. Unfortunately, we ran out of time. Here though, I hope I’ll be able to offer a more balanced view and some more informed answers and insight I thought was missing from Brown’s Aug. 26 radio discussion of the survey results.

First, all the questions (src):

  1. 1. Do you agree with the statement “I have the right to marry the one I love”?
    Yes No
    If so, are there any exceptions? (Polyamory? Polygamy? Consensual adult incest [opposite sex? same-sex?]? Age of consent for marriage?)
    Yes No
  2. If same-sex marriage becomes the law of the land, should religious exemptions be allowed for those who do not want to participate?
    Yes No
    If so, does that apply to churches? Businesses? Individuals?
    If not, what should the penalty be (for churches, businesses, individuals)?
  3. If someone is not happy with their gender, should they be allowed to pursue a change of gender?
    Yes No
    If they are not happy with their sexual orientation, should they be allowed to pursue a change of their sexual orientation?
    Yes No
    If so, should they have to wait until they reach a certain age?
  4. If you could snap your fingers and change your sexual orientation or gender, would you?
    Yes No
  5. Is it bigoted to believe that homosexual practice is sin?
    Yes No
  6. Is it bigoted to say there is only one way to God?
    Yes No
  7. How would you characterize yourself?
    Male Female Other
    Gay Straight Bi Trans Other

And my answers:

Do you agree with the statement “I have the right to marry the one I love”?

Yes.

If so, are there any exceptions? (Polyamory? Polygamy? Consensual adult incest [opposite sex? same-sex?]? Age of consent for marriage?) 

Yes. All people should be able to marry the person they love, but there are common-sense restrictions, mostly protecting possible victims from abuse. Such is the case with age of consent laws and laws forbidding incest. Family law, however, should also recognize that not all families are the same; families with multiple unmarried parenting partners deserve the same or similar protections for their and their children’s well-being that couples receive. Such families may, indeed, be polyamorous, but many others are commonplace, including single parents who depend upon relatives or friends for co-parenting. Marriage alone should not be the gateway through which we determine who is entitled to the legal and social means to protect their families and the interests of their children.

If same-sex marriage becomes the law of the land, should religious exemptions be allowed for those who do not want to participate?

A simple “yes”-or-“no” option to this question is misleading and doesn’t provide for a full context needed for an answer. Brown’s survey provided follow-up questions where this context can be explored. See below.

 If so, does that apply to churches? Businesses? Individuals?

CHURCHES: Religious exemptions regarding marriage and any other religious sacrament or rite are already woven into the fabric of U.S. law. This nation, unlike others (as is the case in England), has no established church body entangled with government, and, as such, no government agency or official can force a minister or person of faith to conduct any marriage. Any pastor or officiant has the right to refuse to perform, conduct or participate in a marriage ceremony. In fact, many pastors require couples to meet certain criteria (e.g., faith requirements, church membership, couples/pastoral counseling, etc.) before they will agree to perform the ceremony.

BUSINESSES: For the most part, statutory and case law on business discrimination is largely settled. Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination in public accommodations. Specifically, the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides all people the “full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.” Elsewhere, the act states that all people are “entitled to be free, at any establishment or place, from discrimination or segregation of any kind on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin…” In many states, these laws have been extended beyond public accommodations (hotels, restaurants, movie theaters, etc.) to apply to all businesses operating in the public and to protect other characteristics like sexual orientation or gender identity. In one particular New Mexico case, a photographer lost a lawsuit after she refused to photograph a same-sex couple’s wedding. Salon’s Mark Joseph Stern writes: “Legally, this ruling was correct; the photographer offered her skills solely as a business service, not as a form of personal expression. It’s the equivalent of a taxi refusing to pick up a gay couple, or a restaurant refusing to serve a gay family.” Courts have ruled that constitutional interests of fair treatment and equal access outweighs an individual right to discrimination. The reasons for such laws are clear: (1) Arbitrary discrimination, or discrimination for the sake of discrimination alone, does not represent a legitimate business interest, and (2) Government has a legitimate interest in proscribing arbitrary discrimination in the offering of goods and services, primarily in protection of free commerce and trade and the protection of individuals who may be adversely affected by mass discrimination. Can you imagine what the U.S. would look like today if private businesses had been able to continue refusing services to people of color? The same “religious liberty” arguments being used by opponents of LGBT equality today are eerily similar to many arguments used by racist business owners in the past. As the racist arguments of times past sound ridiculously hateful, silly and arbitrary today, so, too, will arguments in favor of anti-LGBT discrimination sound as equally hateful, silly and arbitrary in the years and decades to come.

[As an aside: Brown has asked if laws prohibiting discrimination by businesses would apply to a gay business owner who is asked to provide a service for an organization espousing beliefs with which she disagrees. The simple answer is yes. However, all business owners are free to refuse service for a variety of reasons which are not unlawful or arbitrary. Among those circumstances, one stands out: Businesses are free to refuse service when a customer may harass or intimidate employees or other customers. So, should a gay owner of a T-shirt business refuse service to a church which seeks to have T-shirts printed with the text of John 3:16? Most likely, no. But, should the gay owner be allowed to refuse service when the Scripture in question is calling for their death, such as Leviticus 20:13? Most definitely, yes.]

[Second aside: Many of the most recent cases regarding anti-gay business discrimination centers around marriage equality. Businesses have included wedding photographers, flower shops and bakeries. Each have claimed their religious belief that same-sex marriage is sinful prevents them from providing the service. I find such arguments from “Christian” business owners hypocritical unless they can also prove they have queried each and every past customer on their sexual practices and beliefs; for example, has the business owner provided a cake, photography or flowers for a couple who are not virgins and who have had sex before marriage, or have they provided services for a couple which intends to engage in an open, non-monogamous relationship after marrying? The only difference between these scenarios and the gay couple’s scenario is that the business owner is aware of the gay couple’s sexual orientation; the business owner may not have been aware of another couple’s actions, which they may believe to be “sin,” but they have still, even unwittingly, participated in a “celebration” of it. You might say that one can’t “unwittingly” or unintentionally be a hypocrite, and I’d agree. But, the fact that a business owner holds on to such cherished beliefs — so cherished that it prevents them from providing services to an entire class of people — and, yet, does nothing to see that such beliefs are not applied equally and fairly to all of their customers, is, without a doubt, hypocritical.]

INDIVIDUALS: Individuals are free to associate with whomever they wish. No law can force an individual to visit a particular retail establishment, stay at a particular hotel or eat at a particular restaurant. Similarly, no law can force an individual to join an organization. Constitutional rights to freedom of association and expression apply. This particular “individual harm” argument is a red herring.

If not, what should the penalty be (for churches, businesses, individuals)?

CHURCHES: Exemptions for religious institutions are already represented in most law. Next.

BUSINESSES: Most public accommodations and commercial non-discrimination laws and ordinances apply civil penalties to unlawful discriminatory practices. Civil penalties should be fair and equitable, as a faithful reliance on justice requires; it’s cliche, but it’s true: “The punishment should fit the crime.”

INDIVIDUALS: No issue here. Individuals are free to associate with whomever they wish. Next.

If someone is not happy with their gender, should they be allowed to pursue a change of gender? If they are not happy with their sexual orientation, should they be allowed to pursue a change of their sexual orientation?

Again, simple “yes”-or-“no” option for this pair of questions doesn’t give it full justice. But, simply and quickly, yes. See more below.

GENDER: Yes. The experiences of transgender and other gender-variant people are well-established medical, scientific and psychological phenomena. Book closed.

SEXUAL ORIENTATION: Yes, which, at first glance, may seem radical to some in the LGBT community. Though I do not personally believe sexual orientation is changeable (and most all legitimate medical, scientific and psychological literature agrees), I see no valid, legal reason to prohibit an individual from seeking to live life the way they see fit. It’s a complicated answer, I recognize. It also includes a great many questions on the veracity of claims made by “ex-gay” “therapists,” the efficacy of such “therapies” and the many ethical questions involved, especially among the many “ex-gay” therapists and groups which have been found to engage in unorthodox and potentially harmful therapeutic techniques, have failed to fully inform their clients of the body of medical and psychological research, literature and expectations on the topic, practice personal, religious intimidation and, at times, have been found to engage in sexual exploitation and abuse (here’s a good example).

If so, should they have to wait until they reach a certain age?

Again, “yes”-or-“no” won’t cut it. See below.

GENDER: Call me a radical if you wish, but I happen to believe that children are far smarter and have far more insight into their own personhood than adults often give them credit. This recent story about a young boy who personally enjoys more feminine clothing, toys and other items is a perfect example of a young person who knows his gender as he perceives it now but who is allowed by his parents to exhibit a perfectly healthy and, what should be, perfectly normal affinity for items not traditionally interpreted as “masculine.” Parents of children with gender-identity issues should consult with their physicians and with psychologists to determine the best course of action for their young people. I, for one, am not a medical expert, and, so, I won’t pretend to be. But, I’d imagine it’d be most healthy that gender affirmation surgery be considered in a young person’s later adolescent years, following puberty.

SEXUAL ORIENTATION: As “ex-gay” “therapies” have been shown repeatedly to be potentially harmful and abusive to young people, and as the medical, scientific and psychological literature is clear that sexual orientation is a mostly-immutable characteristic, such “therapies” should not be open to minors. No parent should be allowed to forcefully change their child’s sexual orientation; these are decisions for an individual to make. I support laws that prohibit the use of “ex-gay” and “reparative” “therapies” on minors.

If you could snap your fingers and change your sexual orientation or gender, would you?

Absolutely not. I am who I am today because of the unique life experiences I have encountered, many of which would not have been without my identifying as gay. There was a time when I might have answered yes, especially when I was younger and subjected to near-daily and sometimes brutal verbal and physical harassment. It’s shameful that our culture bullies young people into hating who they are.

Is it bigoted to believe that homosexual practice is sin?

Very simply, yes.

Is it bigoted to say there is only one way to God?

Bigoted? Depends, I guess, on how you apply it. I believe I have chosen a path — the one, true path for me — that leads me to reconciliation with God. It should come as no surprise to any rational person that another’s journey toward and understanding of God may differ wildly from mine or any other person’s. Is that bigoted? No, I don’t think so. But, if you’re one who thinks you can speak for God and eternally condemn, carte blanche, an entire group of people simply because you personally disagree with them, yeah, that’s a little bit bigoted. If you use such a condemnatory personal belief to legislate against entire groups of people, well, yeah, that’s extremely bigoted, and nothing short of theocracy.

How would you characterize yourself?

Gay. Male.

I got my first taste of Boy Scouts in first or second grade. A friend of mine was a member of a local Cub Scout unit. Of course, I just had to be a member, too. For whatever reason, I ended up fading out of that pack. It wasn’t until fourth grade that my interests were piqued again. This time, several friends of mine at South Fork Elementary were members of the Cub Scout Pack 715, their home base the church right next-door to the school. I became a member, and that’s where I stayed, eventually working my way into Boy Scout Troop 715.

My Boy Scout cap, bandanna and merit badge sash.

I wouldn’t be the person I am today without my childhood and adolescent experience in the Boy Scouts. The lessons, values, principles and ideals imparted to me there have become part-and-parcel of my being. They will last a lifetime. Unfortunately, my involvement with the Boy Scouts of America couldn’t last the same lifetime.

After I came out of the closet, I was dismissed from Scouting. I’ll save you the gory details — a lot of nasty, behind-the-scenes and bureaucratic red-tape things were said and done, that’s all you need to know. (Some background via old press clips here, here, here, here and here.)

What I will tell you, though, is just how the feelings of abandonment, rejection and betrayal that I felt as a 14-year-old recently-out gay kid are just as strong today as they were then. My troop’s scoutmasters, other leaders and my peers were more than mentors and friends. Many of them were family. Never in a million years would my naive, young mind have anticipated the actions of my adult leaders and friends. Just as the lessons the Scouts gave me will be with me for the rest of my life, so, too, will the hurt they left in my youthful heart and soul.

A couple weeks ago, I was emboldened and encouraged when I read Scouting magazine’s editor, Eagle Scout Bryan Wendell, posting about GLSEN’s No Name Calling Week. I wrote in a post for the day-job:

There even seems to be a breath of fresh air in some of the most ardently anti-gay organizations. Eagle Scout Bryan Wendell, the senior editor of the official Boy Scouts of America Scouting magazine blogged on Monday about No Name Calling Week. That the Boy Scouts, who still hold virulently anti-gay policies that prohibit openly gay or bisexual youth and young men from membership and leadership roles, would openly discuss and promote an anti-bullying event sponsored by an LGBT organization is a sure sign of progress. Young people — no doubt influenced by their many peers organizing in high school or college LGBT student organizations — are making strides to make their communities, organizations and, ultimately, our nation a better place.

Today — Feb. 8, 2012 — the Boy Scouts of America celebrated their 102nd birthday. As another year passes and the organization becomes older, I wish for it to become wiser. As younger members — like Scouting‘s Wendell — rise into adult leadership positions, I have hope that they will.

The Boy Scouts of America is a great organization. The work they have done building up the lives and spirits of America’s boys and young men is gargantuan. The annals of history are filled with the good deeds of men who learned their first lessons in patriotism, loyalty, honesty and dedication from their childhoods in the Boy Scouts.

On this birthday, I wish only the best for the Boy Scouts of America — that, in time, they grow to understand the true value of their essential mission and its importance to the lives of America’s boys and young men, and that they come to uphold the promise they made in their first edition of the Boy Scouts Handbook in 1911, that “every American boy shall have the opportunity of becoming a good scout.”

I might not have ever had the opportunity to earn my Eagle Scout award, but in the future, perhaps, other gay young men will.

When you blow out your candles today, Boy Scouts, I hope your wish is the same as mine — that your friends and all of the boys and young men who follow you will be treated with the dignity, respect, love, friendship, brotherhood and acceptance that they deserve.

I don’t think I could have imagined last fall just how challenging and, at times, frustrating returning to school would be once I actually set foot in class this January. After nearly four years of absence, I decided last fall to finish that elusive bachelor’s degree I put off when in September 2007 I was offered and accepted the position of editor at Charlotte’s QNotes.

Belk Tower. UNC Charlotte. Photo by Andy Ciordia.

Excitement and anticipation ruled the day in January and it continued throughout the semester, even as school and professional work piled on to make my life more stressful than it’s probably ever been. While I’ve enjoyed the renewed college experience (though my experience of “college life” is mighty different now that I’m a little older), I have one major, frustrating regret: I closeted myself.

Yes, me: Big queer activist since the age of 14; gay blogger and citizen journo since college; editor of an LGBT newspaper; volunteer and grassroots organizer; the “most flamboyant, outspoken queer teen Winston-Salem had ever seen,” or so I wrote in my chapter in 2008’s “CRISIS: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay in America.”

It wasn’t an intentional closeting by any means. LGBT subjects — save ancient Greek pederasty, and I don’t think that counts — never came up in class; had they, I’d likely have spoken out. I simply went to class, took notes, studied for exams and left campus to head back to my office or home when the day was over. But, seemingly out of no where, I was forced to face prejudice and hate I hadn’t experienced first-hand since high school, or, at least, my earliest days in college.

“That proctor guy is a faggot,” the boy sitting behind me said of the young male student assisting our professor that day.

I, along with about 200 other students, sat in an auditorium-style classroom awaiting our instructor and her assistant as they prepared to administer our exam.

“Who?” the boy’s friend asked.

“That guy. That faggot. He’s been staring at us since we sat down. He’s a fag,” I overheard behind me, each instance of the slur stressed, pointed and dripping with hate.

I froze. I did and said nothing. My heart began beating faster.

“Should I turn around and say something?” I asked myself. “What would I say? How would I say it?”

It didn’t turn out to be a very good exam day for me. I panicked — memories from high school bullying flashing back to my head. It wasn’t until later that evening, once I was home and had related the day’s events to a friend, that I came up with what I thought could have been a witty response.

“The next time you call someone a faggot, make sure the person sitting in front of you isn’t one.”

I thought about putting it on the back of a T-shirt and wearing it the next time I had the same class. But, I decided to ignore the comment.

“I don’t need a confrontation in the middle of a class full of students,” I told myself.

I was lucky enough to be working with Campus Pride last fall when they released their landmark report, “The 2010 State of Higher Education for LGBT People.” The in-depth, first-of-its-kind study documents the experiences of some 6,000 LGBT students, faculty and staff across the nation’s institutions of higher education. Though much attention is often given to anti-LGBT bullying, harassment and discrimination in K-12 schools, and campaigns like “It Gets Better” promises good days to teens who simply “stick it out” ’til college, Campus Pride’s report drove home a sobering point: anti-LGBT harassment and prejudice doesn’t magically disappear once a student crosses the stage to receive their high school diploma.

I found myself reflected in Campus Pride’s various key findings (emphasis added):

  • One quarter (23%) of LGBQ staff, faculty, and students reported experiencing harassment (defined as any conduct that has interfered with your ability to work or learn). Almost all identified sexual identity as the basis of the harassment (83%). An even greater percentage of transgender students, faculty, & staff reported experiencing harassment (39%) with 87% identifying their gender identity/expression as the basis for the harassment. The form of the harassment experiences by transgender people was more overt and blatant.
  • One-third of LGBQ (33%) and transgender (38%) students, faculty, and staff have seriously considered leaving their institution due to the challenging climate.
  • More than half of all faculty, students, & staff hide their sexual identity (43%) or gender identity (63%) to avoid intimidation.
  • More than a third of all transgender students, faculty, & staff (43%) and 13% of LGBQ respondents feared for their physical safety. This finding was more salient for LGBQ students and for LGBQ and/or Transgender People of Color.

Why didn’t I ever say anything? What was it that scared and intimidated me so much? Shouldn’t a 25-year-old, outspoken gay man like me have had the courage to enforce my own zero tolerance attitude toward anti-gay harassment?

What happened to me in class this semester reminds me of my friend Brian Murphy’s similar challenges when dealing with families, friends and other close relationships:

I do not do that which I know I should do. She says something insulting and I let it slide. He calls me Peter’s “friend” and I don’t correct him. They make jokes which aren’t really funny and I chuckle enough to not attract attention. It seems that family, friends, and closer relationships impede the cause of justice by compromising our words and actions, by elevating relationships over rightness.

Such insecurity and uncertainty, as I can attest, isn’t limited to personal relationships. In my case, complete and perfect strangers stopped me dead in my tracks.

As my first semester back at school wraps up, I’ve determined to make a new resolution. When the fall semester rolls around and I again find myself in class, I’ll not let my inner meekness get the best of me. I’ll take a chance, gulp down a shot of courage and confront the bigotry and ignorance that will (hopefully not) drift my way.

All-in-all, though, the experience served as a mighty important personal lesson. No matter how comfortable I think I might be. No matter how accepting or welcoming an environment I think surrounds me and no matter how much I’ve nearly insulated my daily work and personal life with LGBT or LGBT-friendly people and causes, I’m never truly comfortable. There’s still an awful lot of work to do — in high schools and colleges, in neighborhoods, in states and in our country and world. Silence can’t be an option.

On Monday, both the North Carolina House and Senate adopted resolutions honoring the Boy Scouts of America in recognition of their 101st anniversary yesterday.

Unsurprisingly, neither resolution (House, Senate) mentions the Scouts’ anti-gay and religious discrimination against youth members and adult leaders. And, unsurprisingly yet again, not a single member of the legislature had the courage or conviction to vote against the resolution.

Dear state lawmakers, do you actually care about children — all children — or just the straight and religious ones?

North Carolina’s favorite conservative columnist, Wilmington’s Mike Adams, brought back some fond memories of my days at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) today.

In his most recent column at TownHall.com, Adams rants and raves in his usual sarcastic, smart-ass-style against UNCG’s Speech and Hearing Center’s courses for transgender people undergoing transition. He brought back one of his trademark digs. Welcome to the return of “UNC-Gomorrah.” Continue reading this post…

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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.

Continue reading this post…

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‘The least of these’

There’s been an eery silence from anti-gay evangelicals and other religious leaders in response to the string of reported teen suicides over the past few weeks.

Perhaps they are all pondering these words from Jesus (Matthew 25:31-46 NRSV):

‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”

Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?”

And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.”

Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?”

Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’

UPDATE (10/1/2010, 10:25 a.m.): They’re done reading, and the divine wisdom didn’t sink in. From PHB, “In wake of anti-lgbt youth climate, Focus on the Family attacks GLSEN.”

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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.