Tim Cook to LGBTQ Youth: You Are a Gift to the World

Music Video: Don't Give Up by Maggie Szabo

Church Offers Free Mom Hugs at Pride Parade

Will & Grace Celebrate Pride Month

The Future Is Not In Front of Us, It's Inside of Us

Trump's Latest Attacks on Same-Sex Couples

Bisexual People Are Not Confused or Closeted

Warrior Women are the Role Models We Need

Tyler Clementi's Mom Has a Message For You

Worst Question People Ask About Being Gay


Let's Hear it for the Gay White Boy


By Amanda Kerri / Advocate Magazine / April 2019

Remember when the big measuring stick of a candidate's electability was how much you wanted to have a beer with them? Boy those were much better times. Nowadays, we have to weigh absurd criteria like their stances on race, gender, health care, and such. These are absolutely insane metrics to judge a politician on. Never in our history have we cared about their defense policy or financial history; we’ve always judged candidates on the meaningless things that appeal to us personally, no matter how petty and shallow. That is why I am so glad that people have decided that Pete Buttigieg is the candidate we don't like because he just isn’t gay or diverse enough.

Oh, I mean sure the sexism that Harris, Warren, and others are being subjected to is terrible, but let’s just be perfectly honest here; have you met our country? The reason that ICE is confining undocumented immigrants in hastily built cages under highway underpasses, reproductive rights are being eroded, and our democracy is dying from cancer is because too many people thought that voting for a woman who didn’t shut up when the men were talking was a bridge too far. However, I’m talking about Pete “Gay Isn’t Diversity” Buttigieg here, and by God, I love the fact that it’s not the conservatives acting horrified at voting for a gay white man, but the insane-from-sleep-deprivation-woke people out there.


God bless you folks. Instead of focusing on his policies, so many of you have decided that being gay is just not good enough to not merely vote for, but to even give the basest levels of respect to. I appreciate the fact that your impression of gay men is entirely based off of the stereotypes of the ones in your immediate personal circle and the queens on Drag Race — in this world gays fart rainbows and glitter while giving queer studies lectures in Emma Goldman drag. While so many of you have tweeted your thumbs raw with calls for diversity, inclusion, and pointing out when discrimination occurs, one has to simply marvel at the moment that a gay man doesn’t fit into your preconceived ideas of what a gay man should act like or think about himself.

While it’s easy to understand why so many folks are eager to see a woman (possibly a Black woman!) obtain the highest position in our country outside of The Voice judge, to decide that a white gay man is just not diverse enough takes an amazing amount of cognitive dissonance. One has to assume these folks dissing Pete as same old-same old consume lots of LGBTQ media, since they're so interested in diverse voices; so certainly they're aware gay white men still suffer discrimination in this country. I mean, yes, gay white men have white privilege and all that entails (like uttering "All Lives Matter," yikes), but they’re still gay men, which means they can be legally denied a job, insurance, housing, and other protections in half of this country. They are still physically attacked, denied medical care, and suffer abuse to the point they would rather kill themselves than suffer another day of it. Even if they grow up in wealthy households in safe neighborhoods and attend great schools, they are still subjected to the pressures of heteronormativity and toxic masculinity, which cause lifelong emotional trauma and pain many turn to substance abuse to cope with.

In no way am I comparing the suffering of gay white men to those of queer women, especially POC and trans women. I know very well that white privilege exists, and it holds many benefits, but that does not ever negate the other disadvantages they have, just that their whiteness will not be one of them. In fact, some of wokest folks hating on Pete are the people who taught me that. Strange how once that becomes an inconvenience to a candidate before the first primaries even begin. The calls for diversity stop the minute that it’s not the right diversity.

It also is a marvel that this critique of Buttigieg is based around how he expresses himself as a gay man. People have critiqued that he came out for the wrong reasons, that he isn’t as in tune with the latest in queer theory, state his politics as a gay man are wrong, and posit that he hasn’t self-reflected enough. Being gay, lesbian, trans, bi, or any other thing is not done to a damn syllabus with assigned projects and reading. Diversity isn’t just showing up with a skin color, gender, or sexuality; it’s experiences too.


The LGBTQ experience and expression isn’t stamped out on a factory line in a third world country and sold at a huge mark up at a Pride booth like a rainbow flag with a socialist rose on it. LGBTQ identity is the only thing that unites us, other than that everything is fair game. We don’t all follow celebrities and fashion, nor do we know all know who Harvey Milk or Sylvia Rivera are, much less graduated with a degree in a minority studies. We’re not all socialists or Democrats; some of us are actually kind of conservative.

If your beef with Buttigieg is that he is the wrong kind of gay, then take a hike and your fetishized idea of what a gay man should be like with you. This is not some closeted conservative passing anti-LGBTQ legislation, or some gay man siding with Trump to grift some money and power out of him (Peter Thiel, cough, Richard Grenell, cough). Pete Buttigieg is a Democrat from Indiana with the ideas and opinions that come with that. Yes, he is diverse enough because, if you forget, he lived in a state run by Mike Pence, which you know, makes him an additional oppressed minority (LGBTQ Indianan is a double whammy).

He is the “right type of gay” because there really is no right type of gay to be. Now go find some other petty reason to hate the guy that doesn’t make you sound so shallow.


NY Times: Pete Buttigieg Might be President

CNN: Pete Buttigieg Doing Well in the Polls

Washington Post: Is Pete Buttigieg Gay Enough?

South Bend Tribune: Mayor Buttigieg Marries Partner


Kamala Harris Comments on Smollett Case


By Tracy Gilchrist / Advocate Magazine / February 2019

California Democrat Kamala Harris was one of three US senators, along with Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Tim Scott (R-SC), who introduced a federal antilynching bill that passed in the Senate. Harris and Booker argued passionately for the bill just hours after actor Jussie Smollett appeared on Good Morning America to discuss details of an attack he said he suffered in Chicago that included racist and homophobic epithets and a noose being tied around his neck.

Harris also tweeted in support of the actor when news broke of the alleged attack. Now, responding to new reports that Smollett was arrested on felony charges of falsifying a report that he’d been attacked, Harris has released a statement via Twitter.

“Like most of you, I’ve seen the reports about Jussie Smollett, and I’m sad, frustrated, and disappointed. When anyone makes false claims to police, it not only diverts resources away from serious investigations but it makes it more difficult for other victims of crime to come forward,” Harris wrote.


“At the same time, we must speak the truth: hate crimes are on the rise in America,” Harris added, pointing out a 17 percent increase in hate crimes in the country over the past year.

While arguing for the passage of the antilynching bill, which would amend the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act that President Barack Obama signed into law in 2009, Harris did not mention Smollett by name. But her comments echoed Booker’s and he did reference the actor.

"We must confront hate in our country. ... We are now making clear there will be serious, swift, and severe consequences,” Harris said.

As reports began to surface that Smollett may have falsified a police report, journalists confronted Harris as she exited a meeting with activist and commentator Al Sharpton. But she declined to comment specifically about the case. "I will say this about that case," she said. "I think that the facts are still unfolding, and I’m very concerned about the initial allegation that he made about what might have happened."

"And it’s something we should all take seriously whenever anyone alleges that kind of behavior, but there should be an investigation," Harris added. "And I think that once the investigation has concluded, then we can all comment, but I’m not going to comment until I know the outcome of the investigation."

In her Twitter response to Smollett’s arrest, Harris noted that there are those who’ve latched on to the case as a way to diminish the real threat of hate-based crimes in the country.

“Part of the tragedy of the situation is that it distracts from the truth, and has been seized by some who would like to dismiss and downplay the very real problems that we must address,” Harris wrote. We should not allow that. I will always condemn racism and homophobia. We must always confront hate directly, and we must always seek justice.”


Advocate Mag: Kamala Harris Comments on Smollett Case

LGBGTQ Nation: Jussie Smollett Files Fake Hate Crime Report

Huff Post: Tyler Perry Comments on Smollett Case

On Top: Smollett Charged with Filing False Police Report

Why I Don't Regret Believing Jussie Smollett

Jussie Smollett Cut from Empire Episodes

Gay Youth and Affirming Educators


By Daniel / San Diego LGBTQ Pride / November 2018

As a child, I never really understood what it meant to be gay. I never understood the strict borders between pink and blue, between dolls and race cars, between pretty dresses and sports-related t-shirts. I never understood why these boundaries existed, and why I was on the “wrong” side of the wall. Nonetheless, I kept going, and I became who I am now, someone strong, both mentally and emotionally, and someone who loves himself and who is willing to help others love themselves too.

My name is Daniel. I am fifteen years old and a sophomore at Point Loma High. It’s been two years that I’ve been out of the closet, and eight years knowing I like boys. Though I face challenges at school, I’m still largely accepted in school, which makes me very grateful. The largest challenges I’ve faced are stereotypical judgements like “All gay guys are insanely flamboyant and overly dramatic,” and the occasional peer who uses homosexuality to make jokes. As irritating as these problems are, I know not to take them seriously.


Being gay has never been easy, but my experience has been facilitated thanks to some of my current and previous teachers and counselors who point out anything they believe can help me, like clubs, groups, and books. Without them, I wouldn’t be who I am today, and I wouldn’t be writing this essay. My counselors have helped me through problems, from dealing with emotions to finding places where I can be myself. I truly am fortunate to have them.

As open as our school is, it is far from being perfect. Point Loma High is really great, but I believe there are more ways it could support our LGBTQ youth. One way is by having more clubs or groups that support the LGBTQ youth and community in the school. Another way I think the school could support us is by having an all school Pride Day, or Pride Week, allowing the students to wear their sexual orientations’ colors and expressing themselves. The last way I think the school could support us is by having assemblies talking about our community, sexual orientations, and to speak out when there is bullying and hate present. This would encourage the students to take us seriously, stop making jokes, and allow us to show not only our own, but the school’s support and dedication to the LGBTQ youth of today and the years to come.


At this point, I know that the determination and ambition of others along with my own can change the way schools see the youth of a different sexual orientation, and how that goal isn’t far from becoming a reality. I know that I share this wish with others, and I am eager to find out how high we can go in making this dream take shape. I know that together, we can bring the wall down, I know that together we can speak out. With pride. For pride.


Blog: San Diego LGBTQ Pride

Tim Cook to LGBTQ Youth: You Are a Gift to the World

Music Video: Don't Give Up by Maggie Szabo

HRC: LGBTQ Youth Report

Students Have the Right to Form LGBTQ Clubs

Info: LGBTQ Youth

Teaching Tolerance: Creating an LGBTQ-Inclusive School Climate

TED Talk: Problems Facing LGBTQ Youth

AAMFT: Gay and Lesbian Youth

Video: Interview with LGBTQ High Schoolers

Students Succeed When Diversity is Valued

Info: Educational Considerations

TED Talk: Why We Need LGBTQ Education


Message From Tyler Clementi's Mom


By Jane Clementi / LGBTQ Nation / September 2018

Eight years ago, my son, Tyler Clementi, died by suicide after vicious cyberbullying at Rutgers University because of his sexual orientation. He was 18 years old.

Tyler was not the first gay youth to die after cruel attacks by peers, and sadly, he wasn’t the last. Study after study continues to find that LGBTQ youth are at a higher risk for suicide than their heterosexual peers. And those raised in religious communities, many of which teach that being LGBTQ is a sin, are even more likely to attempt suicide.


Think about that. Religious communities are supposed to be a source of strength and love, as my church family was, providing comfort when my son died. But the fact remains that being a part of a religious community increases the risk of an early, tragic death for LGBTQ youth.

In sharp contrast, participation in a religious community decreases the risk of suicide for heterosexual people. What is different about the treatment of LGBTQ people in religious communities that creates such tragedies?  My family once belonged to a church that taught being LGBTQ was a sin. Like so many other LGBTQ youth, Tyler must have felt rejected, unwanted and shamed. My son did not believe he could be both Christian and gay.


When theology is used to inflict harm and exert power over vulnerable people like my son, it becomes religious bullying. Church teachings are used as social and political weapons to exclude, degrade and dismiss LGBTQ people. The irony is that religious communities are uniquely positioned not only to end bullying in their houses of worship, but also to support LGBTQ youth who face isolation and cruelty in other aspects of their lives. By acknowledging religious bullying and working to rectify it, religious communities can support some of their most marginalized members while adhering to their own teaching to love their neighbors.

It should not take yet another LGBTQ youth suicide to end religious bullying.

When he came out to me, I had to begin reconciling the teachings of my church with my unconditional love for my son. I am grateful to worship now at a church that affirms the lives of LGBTQ people. It is a church that welcomes and accepts everyone as perfectly created in the image of God, adhering to the teachings of Jesus to love and be kind to all, where no one is excluded, marginalized or treated cruelly because of who they are or whom they love.

My husband and I founded the Tyler Clementi Foundation to prevent bullying, including what happened to my son before he died. We hope to see a world where youth like Tyler are respected and treated with kindness – not only by their peers but by their churches.

I want parents to think about how our religious communities treat people who are different. Regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, our children deserve to be taught about love and acceptance, not shame and rejection.  The choices we make about where our families worship can save lives. Don’t make those decisions lightly.


LGBTQ Nation: Tyler Clementi's Mom Has Something to Share With You

CBS News: Tyler Clementi Suicide
NPR News: Student's Suicide is Deadly Reminder of Intolerance
NY Times: Private Moment Made Public, Then a Fatal Jump
Huffington Post: Rutgers Student Commits Suicide


How to Respond When Someone Comes Out to You


By Malia Wollan / New York Times / September 2018

“Remember that it’s not about you,” says Telaina Eriksen, a creative-writing professor at Michigan State University in East Lansing, who wrote a book about her daughter’s coming out as a lesbian. No matter what kind of relationship you have with the person, don’t immediately turn the conversation to yourself by saying something like “I knew it all along!” or “How could you do this to me?” If you are in a position of authority (a parent, teacher or coach) be extra careful; what you say will be imbued with that power differential. “Whatever you do,” Eriksen says, “don’t say, ‘Are you sure?’”


Eriksen learned what not to do as a preteen in rural Michigan in the early 1980s when her mother raged against and demeaned her older sister when she announced she was a lesbian. “To be so utterly rejected and threatened by the person who has brought you into the world profoundly impacts your sense of self,” Eriksen says. If someone comes out to you, make that individual feel heard, seen and respected by saying something like “Thank you so much for trusting me and telling me that.” Reiterate your care and love. Ask what you can do to provide support. Protect the person’s privacy; before the conversation ends, ascertain whether it’s OK to tell other people. If you have religious beliefs against homosexuality, this is not the time to bring them up. “Judging people isn’t loving,” Eriksen says.

If you say something you regret, apologize right away. “Most people are pretty open to sincere efforts to try to get it right,” Eriksen says. While it is true that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people suffer more stigma, violence, prejudice, depression and suicide, don’t tell the person coming out how worried you are. Eriksen’s daughter came out 10 years ago, when she was 12, and Eriksen still frets about her emotional and physical safety. “My responsibility isn’t to tell her, ‘Don’t hold hands with your girlfriend in public,’” Eriksen says. “My responsibility as a straight person is to work to change our society so that my daughter can walk down the street safely holding her girlfriend’s hand if she wants to.”


How to Respond When Someone Comes Out to You
Reaction All Parents Should Have When Their Child Comes Out

Best Coming Out Scene

Coming Out: Parents Guide to Supporting Your Gay Teen

All Things Queer: Coming Out Stories


Church Offers Free Mom Hugs at Pride Parade


By Alex Bollinger / LGBTQ Nation / August 2018

A church in Texas gave away free “mom hugs” and “dad hugs” at a recent Pride parade. Jen Hatmaker, a conservative blogger who was unceremoniously kicked out of the Christian media world because she opposed Donald Trump’s election and supports LGBTQ equality, posted on Instagram about what her “beloved little church” was doing to spread the love at Austin Pride.

"My beloved little church went downtown to the Austin Pride Parade and gave out Free Mom Hugs, Free Dad Hugs, Free Grana Hugs, and Free Pastor Hugs like it was our paying jobs. And when I say hugs, I mean the kind a mama gives her beloved son. Our arms were never empty. We happy hugged a ton of folks, but dozens of times. I’d spot someone in the parade look our way, squint at our shirts and posters, and race into our arms. These were the dear hearts who said: I miss this...  My mom doesn’t love me anymore...  My Dad hasn’t spoken to me in three years... Please just one more hug.  You can only imagine what Pastor Hugs did to folks. So we told them over and over that they were impossibly loved and needed and precious. And we hugged until our arms fell off."

And just like anyone who goes to an LGBTQ space and offers unconditional love, the members of the Austin New Church heard terrible stories.  It’s too common for LGBTQ people to have not-so-great relationships with their parents, and too many churches spend time hating LGBTQ people instead of loving them. An open heart and some love can go a long way to healing old wounds.


Selma, Stonewall and Beyond

Matt Fishel: Radio Friendly Pop Song

People Guess the Sexual Orientation of Strangers

Courts Advancing LGBTQ Rights Worldwide

Rainbow Riots: LGBTQ Voices From Uganda

Changing: Trans Teen Music Video

Open Letter to the Queer Community


Worst Question People Ask About Being Gay


By Marla Stevens / Bilerico Report, LGBTQ Nation / January 2018

I’ve never been comfortable basing our rights on a ‘we can’t help it’ rationale. It suggests that we’re somehow pitiful things, that non-exclusively heterosexual sexual orientation is a defect instead of every other point on the infinite-points line that is normal human sexual orientation.

It also begs the denial of rights to those who do exercise any level of control over their attractions (the stuff of sexual orientation at the combined sexual, affectional, and emotional levels) if such a thing is possible or to make conditional of those rights the exercising of abstinence or other-directional control of behavior related to those attractions.


Rights are rights. They are not meant to be conditional on accidents of birth or behavior one wouldn’t expect of others. They are meant to just be, as we are meant to just be.

I’m always suspicious when someone even wants to know why we’re other than exclusively heterosexual without wanting to equally understand why people are exclusively heterosexual. I mean, when was the last time you heard such a balanced inquiry outside of a university sexology department anyway?

Worse, this be-nice-to-the-queers-because-they-can’t-help-it strategy sends a message of brokenness to our people when we should be instilling pride and strength in who we are.

The Kinsey researchers, as if they were precursors to The Matrix’s Morpheus, used to ask a question of their gay-identified subjects, “If you could take a pill that would make you not homosexual, would you?” Most in those dark days near the dawn of our fight answered that they would.

How often today do we hear the question, “Who in their right mind would choose to be gay?” Can you imagine anyone asking who in their right mind would choose to be black or Jewish or any number of other non-majority members of protected classes just because they’re oppressed?

‘Neo’-queer that I am, I would not take that pill. I prefer to live an authentic life, unplugged from the matrix of het convention, demanding in body, soul, word, and deed to be exactly the queer I am blessed to be.


If truth be known, I’m a gay supremacist, firm in the knowledge that we’re better than hets in many ways that matter to me (and were proven superior by researchers acting on behalf of the US Army, no less, trying to figure out if they could more easily tell who the queers were so they could more efficiently keep us out of the service).

Even if I wasn’t a queer supremacist and despite having suffered loss of family, jobs, and other opportunities, as well as having been subjected to anti-gay violence, including rape, due to my sexual orientation – enough of the standard reasons given for why people in their right minds wouldn’t choose to be queer to count and then some – I’d still choose to be a lesbian and it doesn’t define me as crazy.

How else, after all, would I have the spousal love of my wife that grows fuller and deeper with every day of our lives? Where would I find such a delightful subculture so rich with beauty and humor and the sort of strength forged in adversity that so fits my soul?

I love our freedom to define ourselves as we see fit and the creative diversity with which we’ve done so. If I were exclusively heterosexual, I’d be denied the depth of intimacy that comes from sharing love with someone whose body and mind responds so like mine and would be relegated to the state of never really fully grasping what the object of my affection really felt (that same feeling of always reaching, never quite there, no matter how hard they try, that hets suffer).

They may say "vive l’difference."  Although I’ll admit to feeling compassion for their loss, I say, "horsepucky! vive l’homogeneite!"

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t support any sort of anti-het oppression. After all, some or all of them might not be able to help it.


What Could a Gay Utopia Teach Urban America?

It Takes a Lot of Courage to Be Your True Self

TED Talk: Why We Need LGBTQ Education

Will & Grace Celebrate Pride Month

Introduction to the LGBTQ Community

What Has and Has Not Changed

Courts Advancing LGBTQ Rights Worldwide

We're Living LGBTQ History: Will We Remember It?


Six Reasons to Use the Word Queer


By Zachary Zane / October 2017

The word “queer” has a complex history. With a literal meaning of “unusual, strange, or odd,” people used queer as a pejorative towards members of the LGBTQ community in the late 19th century. It was specifically used for men who acted effeminate. However, starting in the 1980s, members of the LGBTQ community began reclaiming the word. Today, the word “queer” no longer has a hateful connotation. For that, you can thank the LGBTQ community. Queer is a powerful word, and here are 6 reasons you should use it more.

"Queer" communicates inclusivity - The word “queer” is inclusive for all members of the LGBTQ community. As the LGBTQ community grows to recognize all genders and sexualities, a word to reflect the community’s diverse membership is desperately needed. The most inclusive acronym currently in use is LGBTQQIAAP (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Allies, and Pansexual), but that still leaves out many genders and sexualities (and is ridiculously long).


"Queer" is the un-label-y-ist of labels - Labels can be harmful, especially for those of us who don’t feel as though we neatly fit into any label. Having the word “queer” as an umbrella term for all sexualities and genders helps to solve the problem. It also accurately describes sexuality as fluid, which it is for many people.

There is power in reclaiming "Queer" - There is great power in taking a word that once was hurtful and making it our own. It’s a feat of the LGBTQ community, and one in which we should take great pride.

"Queer" is necessary for those questioning - Some of us knew we were part of the LGBTQ community from a very early age. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for all of us. Having a term that, for lack of better words, keeps our options open as we question and discover our genders and sexual identities can be liberating. It allows us to explore without feeling confined.

"Queer" breaks down binaries - The belief in sexual and gender binaries is one of the biggest and most harmful fallacies for members of the LGBTQ community. It perpetuates biphobia, panphobia and queerphobia. Having an inclusive term that’s non-binary helps dispel misconceptions about gender and sexuality. It can be a powerful tool in combating LGBTQ phobias.

"Queer" unites the LGBTQ community - Despite being one community, there are still hostility and misconceptions between subgroups of the LGBTQ community. While we should celebrate our differences in gender and sexuality, we must remember that we are still part of a larger community. The word “queer”unites us.


Video: Celebrating Halloween With Kids

TED Talk: The Gift of Living Gay

Still I Rise: A Look at the LGBTQ Struggle

Sage Advice to Young Queers From a Gay Elder

We're Living LGBTQ History: Will We Remember It?

Scientific Perspective on Sex and Gender

By Science Teacher / Facebook / September 2017


I just saw a transphobic post that was like, "In a sexual species, females have two X chromosomes and males have an X and a Y chromosome. I'm not a bigot. It's just science." 


Well, I am a science teacher, so I posted the following comment.


First of all, in a sexual species, females can be XX and males can be X, as in insects.  Females can be ZW and males can be ZZ, as in birds.  And females can be females because they developed in a warm environment and males can be males because they developed in a cool environment, as in reptiles. Females can be females because they lost a penis in a sword fighting contest, as in some flatworms. Males can be males because they were born female but changed sexes because the only male in their group died, as in parrotfish and clownfish. Males can look and act like females because they are trying to get close enough to actual females so they can mate with them, as in cuttlefish and bluegills. Or you can be one of thousands of sexes, as in slime molds and some mushrooms.


Oh, did you mean humans? Okay then. You can be male because you were born female, but you have 5-alphareductase deficiency and so you grew a penis at the age of 12. You can be female because you have an X and a Y chromosome, but you are insensitive to androgens, and so you have a female body. You can be female because you have an X and a Y chromosome, but your Y is missing the SRY gene, and so you have a female body. You can be a male because you have two X chromosomes, but one of your X's has a SRY gene, and so you have a male body. You can be male because you have two X chromosomes, but also a Y chromosome. You can be a female because you have only one X chromosome at all. And you can be a male because you have two X chromosomes, but your heart and brain are male.  And vice versa.


Don't use science to justify your bigotry.  The world is way too weird for that shit.


TED Talk: The Gift of Living Gay


When Can I Call My Boyfriend My Husband?

By Boris Dittrich / Human Rights Watch / Advocate Magazine / August 2017

The one sentence that brought marriage equality to Germany.  Small moments can lead to enormous change, like when Angela Merkel was politely confronted on LGBTQ rights.

Most Western European countries have embraced marriage equality. Germany was late to the table but eventually got there. The final proof will come October 1, 2017 when the first same-sex marriages take place.

Germany had been a hard nut to crack in terms of legislation. But to everyone’s surprise, on June 26, 2017 it was one young man, Ulli Köppe, 28, who set a chain of events in motion leading to the long-sought-after equal marriage legislation. At a public event he asked Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, a simple, but powerful question:  “When can I call my boyfriend my husband?”


German lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender organizations and their allies have been advocating equal marriage rights for many years. In 2001, the year the Netherlands adopted the first marriage equality law, Germany introduced registered partnership for same-sex couples. Since 2010 opposition parties in the German Parliament have taken steps to introduce same-sex marriage, but these were blocked by the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union parties in two subsequent governing coalitions. Merkel, chancellor since 2005, had made opposition to marriage equality a condition of a coalition agreement with her CDU/CSU party.

In the summer of 2015, Human Rights Watch took the initiative to bring some 20 German nongovernmental organizations together in our Berlin office to open the Ehe fur Alle (Marriage for All) campaign. Marriage equality had popular appeal. In 2016 a study by Germany’s federal antidiscrimination agency showed that 83 percent of people interviewed favored marriage equality, but Merkel and her CDU/CSU party remained dismissive.

The chancellor did not budge until the evening of June 26. She was speaking at a public event organized by the women’s magazine Brigitte. Ulli Köppe, interested in politics and social issues, and a fan of Merkel as a politician, went to hear her speak in the Gorki Theater in Berlin. When it was time for questions from the audience, Köppe spontaneously grabbed the microphone and asked his simple question: “When can I call my boyfriend my husband?”

Angela Merkel, seemingly thinking out loud, answered that same-sex marriage should be decided by each individual member of Parliament. Köppe had not realized the significance of this answer, but one journalist who was attending recognized its political implications. The next morning Köppe received calls from reporters from every corner of the world.

Merkel had given in and was in favor of a free vote in Parliament. Perhaps Merkel shifted her stance because her potential coalition partners in a future government had indicated same-sex marriage should be adopted and it would be very difficult for Merkel’s party to form a new government after the September elections while refusing equal marriage rights.

Be that as it may, Köppe’s question and Merkel’s answer led to a vote of conscience, which Merkel’s coalition partner SPD (Socialdemokratische Partei Deutschland) called for on June 30. The vote was 393 to 226, with four abstentions. From the 393 yes votes, 75 came from Merkel’s own party. Merkel voted no. The bill was approved by the Bundesrat (Upper House) July 7, and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier signed it July 21, after which it was formally published in the law gazette. The legislation will come into force October 1.

This chain of political events happened at an incredible speed, triggered by one question. Ulli Köppe came to the Human Rights Watch office in Berlin, and I asked him what strategy he used to break down Angela Merkel’s firm wall. His answer moved me: “My question was spontaneous. It came from love.”


German Lawmakers Vote to Legalize Same Sex Marriage

The One Sentence That Brought Marriage Equality to Germany

Angela Merkel's Dinner With Lesbian Couple

Gay Pride in Berlin

First Gay Couple Married in Germany

Why Pride? An Explanation for Straight People

By Brandan Robertson / Huffington Post / June 2017

"Remember, straight people flaunt their straightness all day, every day, in every part of this country."

Brandan Robertson

"When all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free."
-President Barack Obama


June is national pride month, a month set aside to remember, celebrate, and empower queer people and our contributions to the flourishing of humanity. All across the country, LGBTQ people and our allies will be gathering for festivals, parades, parties, demonstrations, and marches that boldly proclaim that we are not ashamed of our queerness and that we will not be silent until we have achieved full freedom and equality in our society and every society around the world.


Yet during this month, there will also l be a lot of pushback from the heterosexual communities and individuals who just don’t understand what this whole pride thing is about. I cant tell you the number of times I have been cornered by straight people who look me in the eyes and say, “I’m okay with you all being gay, but why do you have to flaunt it in the streets? You don’t see straight people doing that!” To which I respond, “bullshit”.

I mean that in the kindest, most sincere way possible. But straight and cisgender people are the most visible people on planet earth, not just because of their sheer numbers, but because their relationships, sexuality, and gender expressions are seen as the “normative” expressions, and therefore, uplifted and repeated in every community around the country. Straight, cisgender people hold hands as they walk down the street without fear of getting accosted. They watch television shows and movies, listen to music, and read books that center on their relationships and gender expression. The majority of advertisements on billboards, websites, and television center on heterosexual and cisgender people. And our government is set up to privilege and favor heterosexual relationships above all others.


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In short, straight people flaunt their straightness all day, every day, in every part of this country. And despite the far-right narrative that the “gays” are taking over our country, for a majority of LGBTQ people in America, it is still incredibly uncomfortable at best, dangerous at worst to express ourselves in our communities. In a majority of states across our country, our rights and dignity are not fully protected by the law, and, in fact, there are fierce movements that seek to oppress and marginalize us and our relationships.

So, while we have seen tremendous progress in the fight for LGBTQ equality, inclusion, and rights in the United States, the reality is that we are incredibly far from being fully equal in every realm of society. And that is why pride is so important.


For many LGBTQ people, pride is the one time of the year that they can be out and proud of who they are and who they love. It’s the one time of year that they can stand boldly in the streets with droves of other queer individuals, proclaiming that we are fully human and deserve to be celebrated and uplifted just like everyone else. Even in cities that are seen as LGBTQ friendly, it is still an incredibly healing experience to get to march in parades or attend festivals where thousands upon thousands of LGBTQ people are letting their lights shine before all people without fear. Pride is often the beginning of the process of healing from the trauma inflicted on us by our heterosexist, patriarchal society. Pride is a time where we step out of the shadows and declare that we will no longer forced to suppress our truest selves because of heterosexual fragility and fear.

Now, of course, in the midst of all of the deeper causes and meanings behind pride, it is also, most importantly, a time of celebration. It’s a time to party, to relax, and to let loose in public, which is something that heterosexual and cisgender people get to do every single day of the year, but something that LGBTQ people simply don’t get to do. So yes, people of all shapes, sizes, religions, ethnicities, races, and cultures will be marching through the streets shirtless, and perhaps even pantless (hello speedos!) but this has a lot less to do with LGBTQ being hyper-sexual or promiscuous. Instead, it’s a radical display of liberation and safety, a time to let our bodies and lives be seen as the beautiful displays of creativity and majesty that they are- something, again, that straight people get to see and do every single day.


Pride marches and festivals were started as subversive displays of light in the midst of the darkness of heternormitivty and hatred, and today, for many, if not most LGBTQ people, they still retain this important meaning and power. Though they may look like giant parties in the street, take a second and think about what it feels like to march through a city, freely expressing who you are, whom you love, and what you desire for the first time without fearing that you’ll be accosted, abused, or mocked. Think about all of the children and teenagers who know they are LGBTQ but cannot even begin to fathom taking a step out of the closet for fear of abuse from their families, churches, or peers, who look out at those celebrating pride and see a glimpse of hope that things can get better, and that they can be free, safe, and celebrated for who they are. That is the power of pride, and that’s why pride month is so damn important.


So, if you’re a straight person and you’re finding yourself perplexed by the pride celebrations taking place in your city this year, stop and remember that you get to live out and proud every single day without fear, without oppression, and without even thinking about it. That is a unique gift that majority of LGBTQ people have never gotten to experience. Think about all of the hurdles to equality that still exist in our nation, and the trauma that so many LGBTQ people have faced simply because of who they are or who they love. And as you reflect on the reality of LGBTQ people, I hope you begin to realize the importance and power of pride, and perhaps will even decide to pick up a rainbow flag and stand on the sidelines cheering on your local LGBTQ community as they fearlessly express their beauty in your community.


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Catholics Should Accept and Love All LGBTQ People


By James Martin / Jesuit Priest / June 2017


Last year, a gunman stormed into the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, a place frequented by many in the gay community, and killed 49 people. It was the largest mass murder in US history. In response, many religious leaders expressed sympathy for the people of Orlando, as well as for the LGBTQ community.


Many Catholic leaders did the same. But of the over 250 Catholic bishops in this country, only a handful mentioned the words gay or LGBTQ. It was as if speaking those words would signal a tacit approval of a group that the Catholic Church has long held at arm’s length. To me, it was a confirmation of what many Catholics already knew: There is no group more marginalized in the church today than the LGBTQ community. Even in death they remained invisible.


In my almost 30 years as a Jesuit priest, I have heard the most appalling stories of LGBTQ people being ignored, excluded and insulted by the church. Last week I received a message from someone who said that a gay friend of hers was dying in a hospice in the Southwest US. Did I know, she wondered, a priest who would pray with him? The priest assigned to the hospice, she said, was refusing to. Because he was gay.  How unchristian this is! And how unlike what Jesus would want us to do.


In some parts of the Gospels, Jesus’s actions remain somewhat mysterious. Or open for interpretation. And the question “What would Jesus do?” can occasionally be hard to answer. But one thing about his ministry is clear: Jesus continually reached out to people who were on the margins of society--men and women who were ignored, excluded and insulted. Much like LGBTQ people are today.


The Gospel of Luke recounts the story of Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector in the ancient city of Jericho. In that time and culture, because he would have been colluding with Rome, he would also have been seen as the “chief sinner” in the city. Zacchaeus, described as “short in stature,” climbs a sycamore tree to “see who Jesus was,” as the miracle worker from Nazareth passed through his town.


When Jesus spies the tax collector perched in the tree, he doesn’t shout out, “Sinner!” He says something more surprising. “Hurry and come down,” says Jesus, “for I must stay at your house today.”  What’s he doing? He is offering Zacchaeus a public sign of welcome.  The townspeople “grumble,” the Gospel tells us. They don’t like what Jesus is doing. In response, Zacchaeus “stands his ground” and says he will repay all his debts. So for Jesus, it is usually community first, conversion second. Welcome comes first.


Catholics are growing in their recognition of the need to welcome their LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Why? Mainly because more of their family members and friends are coming out, and being open about their sexuality and identity. A few decades ago many Catholics would have considered themselves “safe” from the “problem” of LGBTQ people. No longer.


A few months ago, after a talk at Yale University’s Catholic Center, an elderly woman approached me. With white hair and a twinkle in her eye, she looked like the quintessential grandmother. I had just given a lecture on a book I had written on Jesus, so I thought that she would say something like, “I just made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.” Or “Let me tell you my favorite Gospel passage.” Instead she said something surprising.


“Father,” she said, “my grandchild is transgender, and I love her so much. All I want for her is to know that God loves her, and that she’s welcome in our church.”  A few years ago, her grandchild may never have shared that with her. So for this elderly woman the issue of LGBTQ people might have remained one that did not touch her life. But today more and more Catholics are affected.


This means that ministering to LGBTQ Catholics means ministering not simply to the relatively small percentage of Catholics who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, but to a whole constellation of people touched by the issue: grandparents and parents, aunts and uncles, sisters and brothers, college roommates, coworkers, friends and fellow parishioners.


Why should Catholics accept and love LGBTQ people? For countless reasons, but let me suggest three. First, they are our brothers and sisters. Second, Jesus would ask us to reach out specifically to those who feel they are on the margins, and today this means LGBTQ person. Third, and most importantly, for Jesus there is no one who is outside the community. There is no one who is “other.” For Jesus, there is no us and them. There is only us.


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Message to the Little Boy Playing with Barbies

By Seamus Kirst / Journalist, Essayist, Author / September 2017


When I was a little boy I loved to play with Barbies and dolls. Though my parents were supportive and loving, they could not shield me from the world. It didn’t take long for me to realize these toys weren’t meant for me, whatever that means. It didn’t take long for me to realize I risked verbal lashings or physical violence from other kids if I didn’t learn the role I was meant to play.

So, I played with Barbies and dolls in secret, behind locked doors and under covers, always scared that I would get caught. I was terrified of what it meant that I liked “girl toys” instead of those that were meant for boys, and confused about how my childlike inclinations could make grown adults so ill at ease.


I wish I could go back, knowing what I know now, and tell that little boy a few things. I wish I could tell him that he need not feel shame for doing what makes him happy, and that people being uncomfortable about what toys he plays with only speaks volumes about them, and reflects nothing about him. I wish I could tell him all of the times life was going to try to tell him to be one way, and how he always had the option to be himself. I wish I could tell him not to waste his time pretending to have crushes on girls, or forcing himself to walk with what he thought was the gait of a man, or feeling angry that these things did not come naturally to him. I wish I could tell him that while the threats of violence he feared are real, and that he would be called a ‘faggot’ more than once (lots more than once) or made to feel ‘less than’ based on something he could not control, that he would one day create a life where he felt comfortable being who he was.

I wish I could tell him that he wasn’t alone, and that he’d never been alone. I wish I could tell him there were people at that moment who were fighting and risking their lives to make things better for him, and that one day it would be his job to do the same thing for the other people who needed it.

I wish I could tell him that the world was big, and not always so scary, and it would one day open like an oyster, despite the times he tried to close it, and that he deserves love from other people, yes, but most importantly, from himself.


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My Proud Life as a Gay Stereotype

By Michael Musto / Village Voice / July 2017

I’ve written before about how I happen to unwittingly fulfill various clichés of the single, witty (I hope) gay man in the corner, and how I’ve gradually come to terms with my plight. But on reflection, it goes far beyond all that. In fact, I’m clearly a living, breathing monument to all kinds of gay stereotypes—just about every one you can think of, though I certainly didn’t plan any of this; in fact, I’m basically a self-made personality who grew up with no out gay role models and had to form my persona from instinct. I’m proud of myself for being out and vocal, and if I fit too neatly into certain gay slots, at least I do it my way. But there’s no denying that I’m as stereotypical as an interior decorator with a lisp and a handbag. Let me lay it all out for you, in stereotypical fashion:


--I love show tunes! I can’t help it, but I’m a clichéd theater queen who lives for a good musical. I grew up watching excerpts from Broadway musicals on TV variety shows, longing to see them in person because I knew their glitzy spunk would lift me out of my shell and drive me way over the top. Alas, the first show I was taken to see was Man of La Mancha, a muddy, moody, very brown enterprise that wasn’t exactly what the gay doctor ordered. But in the following decade, when I caught the original productions of A Chorus Line and Chicago in the same year, my head spun from the joy, invention, and musicianship on display. That cemented my theater queen status for all time, and now there’s never a musical I miss—including the one about Tourette’s syndrome a few years back. And I stayed for Act Two!



--I live for divas! I love a good, strong, glittery female performer—any time, any place. Even back in the Broadway shows I mentioned, it was the women—Donna McKechnie, Gwen Verdon, Chita Rivera—who made my blood boil with excitement. There’s nothing more fun for me than a peppy, funny, powerful lady with pipes and personality, whether it be Judy, Barbra, Liza, Diana, Madonna, Rihanna, or Gaga. And what could be more stereotypical than that?


--I’m terrible at sports! At school, I used to dread having to go on the parallel bars or be thrown into the pool. I eventually managed to get into the school orchestra, partly so that would give me an out from having to go to gym class. But that didn’t mean my torture had ended--hardly. In the schoolyard, I was not even the last one chosen when the kids divvied up teams. After they picked everyone they wanted, they would simply leave me there, as unselected as non-organic kale! There was a brief period when I became interested in the New York Mets, mainly because it was a way to bond with my father, but watching them play was as far as I was going to go when it came to participatory sports. And as the world’s perception of gays in sports kept evolving and gay didn’t equal klutzy anymore, I stubbornly clung to my pathetic-ness, more of an old stereotype than ever. Even a game of Chess is too strenuous for me. But at least when all the gays started obsessively working out, I only went to the gym a total of four times. Dodged a stereotype that time!


--I adore campy movies. My favorite kinds of movies aren’t necessarily the Oscar winners—they’re glossy, overproduced, hyper-acted “trash” like Valley of the Dolls, Mahogany, and Mommie Dearest. Watching these godforsaken gems over and over again, I can’t even see anything wrong with them. They are pure joy and work for me on every level, from fashion show to cautionary tale and beyond. I’d go so far as to say they’re good. Stereotype, anyone?


--I live for the nightlife. Like a good (clichéd) gay, I can’t get enough of bars, even after all these years. I break the mold in that I don’t drink or dance, so I’m definitely a stranger in a strange land, but still, I ritualistically feed off the ambience of nightspots where slightly cracked but fascinating people get together to let out their ya-yas and express themselves. And if that makes me a stereotype, so be it.


So there you have it. I’m an old school gay cliché from my asymmetrically coiffed head to my ultra light loafers. And rather than crawl under a gay rock about it, I’ve decided to embrace my status because it’s not a choice, and besides, “stereotypical” behavior is often stuff that emerges as a direct result of being gay. When I was growing up, “sissies” weren’t generally chosen to play on teams (as I mentioned), which certainly dampened our interest in sports. And “sissies” like me escaped into divas and show biz and playing parts in school plays (and instruments in the orchestra), where we could pretend to be someone else, while gleefully making our own kind of music. Also, we learned to cultivate our witty, cutely catty sides in order to get positive attention and be popular at gatherings—it was always the wit of the outsider, gaining access to the mainstream through zingy intellect. And speaking of gatherings, we eventually immersed ourselves in nightlife because there, we found other like-minded, damaged but lovable weirdos who suddenly belonged because we’d created a family of fabulous freaks. If that all makes me a stereotype, so be it.


After all, some stereotypes happen to be endearing (we’re real people, not just formulas with bank accounts), as long as you bring some originality to them. And I know I do! Yes, I’m stereotypically smug too.


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Get to Know the New Pronouns: They, Theirs, Them


By Riki Wilchins / Advocate Magazine / March 2017


Young folks are chipping away at the gender binary. We should embrace their courage, not run from it.


For years I fought a running battle with many of the current leaders of the transgender movement. They were committed to identity politics and a narrow reading of trans-only for the basis for the movement. I wanted to not only open up the politics to include LGB people but move beyond that toward genderqueerness.


I lost.  It wasn’t even close. The movement moved on. I was at least two decades ahead of schedule.


I coined the term “genderqueer” back in the 1990s in an effort to glue together two nouns that seemed to me described an excluded and overlooked middle: those of us who were not only queer but were so because we were the kind of gender trash society couldn’t digest.


A prominent gay columnist immediately attacked me in print for “ruining a perfectly good word like ‘queer.’” (Harrumph!)


Joan Nestle, Claire Howell, and I then used the word for the title of our anthology of emerging young writers. But I don’t think anyone expected the term or the concept to really catch on.


Then one year I was attending the Creating Change conference and using the (wonderfully gender-neutral) bathrooms, and saw someone had posted a sticker on the wall that read, “A Genderqueer Was Here!” I thought, Hmm, that’s really interesting. Someone is using that not as a descriptor, but as the basis for their identity. So it begins.



Fast-forward about 20 years and I was just reading Matt Bernstein’s anthology Nobody Passes, and in it writer Rocko Bulldagger bemoans the term’s very existence, declaring, “I am sick to death of hearing it.”


Such is the arc of a new idea. But if you opened your eyes at all, you could see all this coming a long way off.


At Camp Trans, outside the now-defunct Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, I’d meet one young person after another simply known as "boychik," "demigirl," “transmasculine,” “tryke,” and any number of exuberant genders few of us had contemplated.


Camp Trans itself was always overrun by one set of teens and 20-somethings explaining patiently, if exasperatedly, to their lesbian mothers (who’d brought them in tow to experience the beauty of womanhood) that they needed to move beyond their transphobia and accept trans people as women and not men. And a totally different set of teens and 20-somethings were joyously destroying by example the categories of men, women, lesbian, and transgender.


We’ve spent almost 40 years fighting for a bunch of identity categories that are based entirely on the implicit acceptance that there are two and only two basic sexes, with the associated possible gender identities and sexual orientations that come from them. And now young people are about to blow all that up.


I was reminded of this while watching Showtime’s hit TV show Billions, which introduced a new character, Taylor, whose gender I was having fun trying to puzzle out.


Taylor is an intense, brilliant intern, who wears a shirt, tie, and buzzed crew cut, but otherwise has no identifiable landmarks by which the viewer might navigate the gender terrain.


Finally, they are introduced to Bobby Axelrod, the head of multibillion-dollar hedge fund Axe Capital.  As played by Asia Kate Dillon, they reply: “Hello, sir, my name is Taylor. My pronouns are ‘they, theirs, and them.’”


Cutting-edge stuff. And a signpost for where the gender dialogue is going. Just like when student Maria Munir, 20, came out to a nonplussed President Obama as “nonbinary.”



In a recent article at Refinery29, Dillon explained that they didn’t just read for the part. As they read the part, “I did some research into non-binary, and I just thought, Oh my gosh, that’s me. When I read the script for episode two and I saw the ‘they, theirs and them,’ that’s when the tears started to well up in my eyes. Then when I read Axe’s response, which is, ‘Okay,’ and then the scene just continues, that’s what ultimately moved me to full-fledged tears.”


This is powerful stuff. And it’s only the start. The trans movement is going to have to accommodate and open the boundaries perhaps more than it would like. But if it’s the job of young people to expose and explode their elders’ paradigm, these young people are off to a wonderful start.


“Hello. My name is Riki. My pronouns are ‘they, theirs, and them.’”


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Why We Won't Go Back

By Jared Milrad / Actor, Writer, Lawyer, Entrepreneur / December 2016

The last decade was a time of historic progress for our country. Now, as 2016 comes to a close, we have come upon an uncertain crossroads: whether to return to a time of even greater discrimination and inequality, or to declare with one clear voice that We Won’t Go Back.

Late in the night of November 8, as I stood beneath the Jacob Javits Center’s towering glass ceiling in Manhattan alongside my husband, Nate, that crossroads came into clear view. A few steps away, a little girl was sobbing on the floor. She had spent hours coloring a map of the United States, atop which large, colorful crayon print read, “Hillary for President.” By then, the map had more red than blue, and we realized that little girl’s wishes (and more than half of the country’s) were not to be. As we exited the building amid fallen American flags and discarded “Clinton/Kaine” buttons, I unconsciously whispered, “It feels like we’re in an alternate universe.”

That sentiment was certainly shared by millions of my fellow citizens November 8. But for me, the outcome of the electoral vote soon felt both very personal and real, that somehow the collective decision of more than 62 million strangers was a recalibration of everything I thought true about my country. Perhaps this was because, like many other young people, I had volunteered and worked for Barack Obama even before he decided to run for president, holding a “Draft Obama” sign on the frozen streets of Manchester, NH, working for his campaign in 2008 and 2012, and later in the White House.



Then, on New Year's Eve in 2012, I had asked my fiancé to marry me inside the historic Stonewall Inn, the site of the origin story for the modern LGBTQ movement. And just over a year before walking inside the Javits Center, I married my husband in front of our friends and family, equal in their eyes, but also equal in the eyes of the country I love.

Suddenly, on November 8, 2016, the progress that I felt in my own life seemed to be reversed by 46 percent of the electorate, and many of the reasons why are well documented.

Donald Trump is assembling one of the most anti-LGBTQ Administrations in modern American history. Jeff Sessions, Betsy DeVos, Ben Carson, James Mattis, and many others filling his Cabinet (without even mentioning the abysmal record of Vice President-elect Mike Pence) have categorically opposed equality for years. And then there’s the troubling rise of hate crimes since the election; the disconcerting spike of calls to suicide hotlines, many of them LGBTQ; and the elevation of a candidate who has personally promoted bigotry, misogyny, and division throughout his entire pursuit of elective office. Surely, these developments were more than enough to keep millions of my peers and me curled up in a fetal position for a few days in early November.

Yet in the thick of my vow never to leave my house again, I was reminded of the words of the legendary LGBTQ activist Sylvia Rivera: “Hell hath no fury like a drag queen scorned.” Said differently: We Won’t Go Back.

Surely, those four words must have motivated great Americans like Sylvia, when she rioted for justice in front of Stonewall; they must have inspired Harvey Milk when he confronted likely death to tell us that we must “never be silent”; and they surely gave James Baldwin solace when he said, bravely, “Love him and let him love you. Do you think anything else under heaven really matters?”


For me, We Won’t Go Back not only summed up the LGBTQ struggle to come, but also the African-American, Latino, immigrant, American, and human struggle as well. As soon as I said those four words out loud at the end of that long week in November, I again found hope. So I created a campaign with the same name to give Americans of all backgrounds the opportunity to fight for the highest ideals of the country they love.

We Won’t Go Back is now a place to contact our elected officials; to support the causes we believe in; to organize, volunteer, and get registered to vote; and to build an inclusive, hopeful future. Most importantly, I hope We Won’t Go Back enables new voices to be heard and stories to be told. Using #WeWontGoBack, you can tweet, write, or record a video telling the world why you won’t go back, what you’re fighting for, and what’s at stake for you, your family, and your community.

As one of our supporters said, “I won’t go back because I’ve fought so long to be here.” Indeed, we all have. And we’ve come too far to turn back now.


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Here’s Why We Grieve Today

By John Pavlovitz / Pastor of North Raleigh Community Church / November 2016

I don’t think you understand us right now. I think you think this is about politics. I think you believe this is all just sour grapes; the crocodile tears of the losing locker room with the scoreboard going against us at the buzzer. I can only tell you that you’re wrong. This is not about losing an election. This isn’t about not winning a contest. This is about two very different ways of seeing the world.

Hillary supporters believe in a diverse America; one where religion or skin color or sexual orientation or place of birth aren’t liabilities or deficiencies or moral defects. Her campaign was one of inclusion and connection and interdependency. It was about building bridges and breaking ceilings. It was about going high.



Trump supporters believe in a very selective America; one that is largely white and straight and Christian, and the voting verified this. Donald Trump has never made any assertions otherwise. He ran a campaign of fear and exclusion and isolation, and that’s the vision of the world those who voted for him have endorsed.

They have aligned with the wall-builder and the professed pussy-grabber, and they have co-signed his body of work, regardless of the reasons they give for their vote:

Every horrible thing Donald Trump ever said about women or Muslims or people of color has now been validated. Every profanity-laced press conference and every call to bully protestors and every ignorant diatribe has been endorsed. Every piece of anti-LGBTQ legislation Mike Pence has championed has been signed-off on. Half of our country has declared these things acceptable, noble, American.

This is the disconnect and the source of our grief today. It isn’t a political defeat that we’re lamenting, it’s a defeat for Humanity. We’re not angry that our candidate lost. We’re angry because our candidate’s losing means this country will be less safe, less kind, and less available to a huge segment of its population, and that’s just the truth.

Those who have always felt vulnerable are now left more so. Those whose voices have been silenced will be further quieted. Those who always felt marginalized will be pushed further to the periphery. Those who feared they were seen as inferior now have confirmation in actual percentages. Those things have essentially been campaign promises of Donald Trump, and so many of our fellow citizens have said this is what they want too.


This has never been about politics.
This is not about one candidate over the other.
It’s not about one’s ideas over another’s.
It is not blue vs. red.
It’s not her emails vs. his bad language.
It’s not her dishonesty vs. his indecency.
It’s about overt racism and hostility toward minorities.
It’s about religion being weaponized.
It’s about crassness and vulgarity and disregard for women.
It’s about a barricaded, militarized, bully nation.
It’s about an unapologetic, open-faced ugliness.

And it is not only that these things have been ratified by our nation that grieve us; all this hatred, fear, racism, bigotry, and intolerance, it’s knowing that these things have been amen-ed by our neighbors, our families, our friends, those we work with and worship alongside. That is the most horrific thing of all. We now know how close this.

It feels like living in enemy territory being here now, and there’s no way around that. We wake up today in a home we no longer recognize. We are grieving the loss of a place we used to love but no longer do. This may be America today but it is not the America we believe in or recognize or want.

This is not about a difference of political opinion, as that’s far too small to mourn over. It’s about a fundamental difference in how we view the worth of all people, not just those who look or talk or think or vote the way we do.

Grief always laments what might have been, the future we were robbed of, the tomorrow that we won’t get to see, and that is what we walk through today. As a nation we had an opportunity to affirm the beauty of our diversity this day, to choose ideas over sound bytes, to let everyone know they had a place at the table, to be the beacon of goodness and decency we imagine that we are, and we said no.

The Scriptures say that weeping endures for a night but joy comes in the morning. We can’t see that dawn coming any time soon. And this is why we grieve.


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If Loving You is Wrong: Letter to My Partner


By Pam Rocker / Huffington Post / May 2016

On our first date, you may have thought it was oddly endearing that I explained the Stonewall riots in detail and railed against anti-gay Texan politicians. Over romantic candlelight, you held my hand gently as I criticized the Pope and quoted homophobic lines from his last three speeches. To my surprise, you stayed for dessert, looked into my eyes and simply listened. I can’t remember what I ranted about during the peach cobbler.

Miraculously, hundreds of dinners later, you still listen to me. Sometimes softly nodding and sometimes screaming in unison against the realities of injustice. I love you for this but I can’t help but wonder — what would we have time to talk about if being ourselves was universally accepted? If we didn’t have to fight? If we didn’t hold our breath every time “Christians” debated what we’re allowed to do and where we’re allowed to go to the bathroom? What would we do with all the extra time? Would we take up gardening? Probably not. But we could. We’d have the option.

Remember that time when we were walking in the mall and a guy yelled right in our faces because we were holding hands? For months after that, whenever we held hands, I felt this tug on my heart, a twinge of anger, a surge of adrenalin, bracing myself for it to happen again. It was such a small thing in comparison to what other people have gone through, and even that broke my heart. It’s horrific that something as simple and sacred as holding your hand would make me worry about our safety. I can’t help but wonder — what would holding your hand feel like if I never had to wonder?

Don’t get me wrong, I love being gay. Especially with you. If I wasn’t gay when I met you, I would choose to be gay in a second. There’s just no way around it. And I know I am privileged in many ways. I am/we are lucky. Still, pieces of our lives are stolen without our consent, because we are forced to pause. To stop and read article after article after article, poring over legislation and resolutions about how our love may put us in danger.

We sign petitions and come out over and over again and worry about our LGBTQ friends in other countries and ask and ask and ask people to not get tired of caring because we are tired as hell. It’s not that I don’t want to care. I just don’t want to care about THIS.

Our love story should be about celebration, not avoidance of tragedy. Because we are far more than that. I just want to know what it’s like to not have our relationship be the target of political or religious ammunition. I want to stop defending our existence. We could use that extra time to do whatever we wanted. How glorious it would be to eat Kraft dinner at midnight with nothing interesting to talk about! How wonderful to open our newsfeed and be bored by the lack of controversy then watch Netflix together! How beautiful it would be to hold your hand and never wonder.

But until then... thank you. For being next to me for the desperate sighs and the 2am tap-tap-tap typing of letters to editors. For being next to me for all of the victories and rainbow colored picket signs and lesbian activist potlucks. Maybe one day we’ll get all of that time back, but in the meantime, I’ll take whatever time I can have with you.

If Loving You is Wrong: A Letter to My Partner


Message to the Orlando Shooter


By Kevin Chorlins / June 2016

You tried but you foolishly came after the wrong community. You forgot we wake up every day to face a world that is against us. You failed to consider that living our lives takes much more than just bravery. It takes blistering defiance.

You may come into our sanctuaries of safety and shoot 103 of us, but you forgot; we’ve been tortured, tormented, thrown off buildings, gassed, stripped of our rights, tied to fences and beaten.

You underestimated our defiance. And every time one of us dies, suffers or gets marginalized, we get that much more defiant. This weekend we got 103 times more defiant.


We sob for the loss, but our wounds will heal. And we will continue to defy you with grace, compassion, inclusion, celebration, joy, humor, creativity, peaceful assembly and protest in the way only our community can. That’s how we defy. We defy every day by unapologetically living our lives in a world that’s against us.


We don’t kill. We don’t terrorize. It’s pure weakness.

You forgot where we came from. You failed to see where we are now.

You forgot that no one will ever stifle our defiance. No terrorist. No legislator. No presidential candidate. No bully. No zealot. No one.

We’ve never been more defiant than we are today. Your plan failed. Now we will stand taller. We will be prouder. We will dance freely in our clubs. We will get loud. We will hold hands in public, even if we don’t feel safe. We will spit in the face of bigotry.

This weekend we got 103 times more defiant. You failed.


TED Talk: Fifty Shades of Gay

US News: American Culture War

Millennials Support Full LGBTQ Rights

Rolling Stone: Worst States for LGBTQ People

TED Talk: Why Am I So Gay?


The LGBTQ Movement is Not Just About Sexuality

By Stephanie Farnsworth / Charity Worker, LGBTQ Rights Activist / January 2016

For a great number of people their sexual orientation does match their romantic orientation -- but not always. The LGBTQ movement has managed to conflate sexual and romantic orientation through the decades and yet this risks leaving many people confused about where exactly they fit.

The narrow definitions and conflation of identities have been so clearly shown by the treatment of aromantic and asexual people within the LGBTQ community. Aro and ace communities have been far better at recognizing different nuances of identities than the wider LGBTQ movement. The grey scale is a term in itself which clearly shows the wonderful world of complicated and personal identities. It is an acceptance that there are not just 'on' or 'off' switches with sexuality and romantic experiences. Yet ace and aro people face erasure regularly within the LGBTQ community. Conversations are designed around sexuality, the right to always have sex but excluding those who do not have the same desires. It is all about sex with members of the same gender. Queer spaces are so often simply pulling spaces, particularly when centered around alcohol.


LGBTQ people do need places to fulfill sexual and romantic desires free from harassment but that shouldn't be the sole focus of spaces claiming to be for all identities. We also need to address our terms, not only is crying that we're for 'the freedom of love' incorrect as it erases trans people, but it also erases aromantic people which immediately says that this movement is not for them.

The shift to make LGBTQ politics respectable has risked abandoning many people who should be embraced into the community. The constant focus on presenting LGBTQ people as always in stable, loving, same gender relationships (especially marriages) and with children presents a very one dimensional idea of who belongs in this community. If you don't want a romantic relationship but just want sexual partners then there is the implication that you're doing harm to the reputation of the community. If you don't want sexual relationships with someone of the same gender then the implication is you don't fit in at all. Everything is designed around making LGBTQ people's presentation as acceptable as possible to cisgender heterosexual people.

This is also an issue for many who do not identify as asexual or aromantic. For instance: it is entirely possible to experience sexual attraction to one gender but romantic attraction to another gender. One may be heterosexual but that doesn't mean that are automatically heteroromantic. I myself am bisexual yet homoromantic (although because I experience romantic attraction exclusively to women then that means I often find far more acceptance in the LGBTQ community than other bisexual women I know because they are heteroromantic).

The LGBTQ world has become a marketing machine. Our images and PR campaigns whether it comes to marriage equality or floats at Pride have become carefully crafted over the years. Gone are the radical political elements that wanted to smash binaries and capitalism and in its place is the LGBTQ happy family presented in a very narrow and manipulated way.

LGBTQ organizations have become solely focused on selling the Disney story: where two white, middle class cis guys or two cis girls fall in love, get married and have wonderful children. We've forgotten why we started this fight. It was not for cis, straight, white, middle class people to finally be able to tolerate us but for the complete liberation from narrow binaries and prejudices that dominate society. It was not just for 'gay love' but for people to be treated and recognized as human beings who deserve nothing more or less than total respect for their identities. It was for all those outside of the norms society tried to force upon us and that includes all of the variations of sexual and romantic attractions that are not solely heterosexual or heteroromantic.


The Year to Be Queer

Why I Am Coming Out Now

Why We Won't Go Back

Why I Must Come Out

What Could a Gay Utopia Teach Urban America?

What Has and Has Not Changed


Having an LGBTQ Sibling Makes You a Better Person


By Kim Quindlen / Thought Catalog / December 2015 


Having a brother or sister who is LGBTQ changes you in some very profound ways. It gives you a perspective on life you would not otherwise have. Having an LGBTQ sibling actually makes you a better person in the following ways.


--It shows you, in a very intense way, the power of embracing who you are. Chances are your sibling did not have an easy time coming out, even if you have the most understanding family in the entire world. No matter how progressive the world is getting, coming out still essentially means having to announce to everyone in your world that you are different from the majority of them in a large way. Watching a sibling go through this shows you how important it is to be open, proud, and unapologetic about exactly who you are.


--It reminds you that everyone is struggling with something. My older sister was third in her high school class, took more AP classes than I thought was humanly possible, and graduated from Vanderbilt with an insanely high GPA. When I think back to how people viewed her before she came out in her early twenties, they were always commenting on how smart and impressive she was (and still is). But internally, she spent years struggling with an identity that was initially very emotionally traumatizing for her. When your sibling comes out to you, it hits you in a very hard way that everyone you know, even those you least expect, are often suffering in a way you could never even imagine.


--You learn not to get so defensive and aggressive about things you don’t understand. We’re a world of hotheads, especially now that social media is a key factor in our lives. When someone believes something or does something that is different from us, human nature makes us want to react with anger and aggression, sometimes even violence. But having an LGBTQ sibling teaches you that everyone has a story, and that the only way we are going to grow as people is if we start with compassion.


--You get a strong reminder that nobody is exactly like you. Your sibling grew up with the same religious and socio-economic background as you, and unless adoption was involved, you share the same DNA, same race, same ethnicity, and many physical similarities. And still, they are so different from you in so many ways. It’s a beautiful lesson that no person is ever going to feel, think, and behave exactly like you.


--You better understand the ways in which you are privileged. I don’t think anything is better for the human soul than having friends and loved ones from all sorts of diverse backgrounds, to remind you that the world will never be homogenous, nor should it be. An LGBTQ sibling teaches you that the things that come easy to you do not always come easy to other people. No anxiety about bringing your partner to the office holiday party for the first time, no worries about whether or not all your relatives will come to and support your wedding, no mistreatment from homophobic people.


--It reinforces that you should never judge a book by its cover. You will never ever have the ability to look at a person and know exactly what they’ve been through and exactly how their world works.


--You learn what “family” actually means. After my sister came out to everyone in my immediate family, it was a while before the rest of our relatives and social circles knew. And oddly enough, it brought us closer, probably because my family’s way of dealing with any slightly difficult situation is to use inappropriate humor. I know that our situation was more like the exception than the rule. But whether your family embraced your sibling or rejected them, you learn the definition of a real family: those people who, while not always blood-related, loved your sibling unconditionally and supported them for exactly who they are.


--It makes you more aware of the word choices you make. I used to ask females if they had a boyfriend and males if they had a girlfriend, because I was a female, and I liked males, and I forgot that that’s not how it works for everyone. But after my sister came out to me, it was a much-needed reminder that you should be very conscious about what you say, in all situations. Some people are not heterosexual. Some people suffer from depression. Some people’s parents are deceased. Some people don’t feel comfortable in the body that they were born into. You shouldn’t walk around on egg shells, but you should pay more attention to the things you say and what they could imply.


--You have a close relationship with someone who is wise beyond their years. Your sibling probably started feeling like they were a little different from their peers at a very young age. And they probably kept a lot of their fear, anxiety, (sometimes) self-loathing, depression, and questions to themselves. They experienced stress and worry that many people don’t encounter until adulthood. You have the timeless advice, help, and wisdom of a young soul in an instant, through a text, phone call, or a conversation at Mom’s house.


--It broadens your view of exactly what love means. As a child, love is a couple of Disney characters who fall for each other within five minutes of meeting. In real life, you’ve learned (much from the help of your sibling) that real love is about courage, honesty, struggle, difficult choices, acceptance, trust, and truth.


When My Brother Came Out

Coming Out: How Siblings Factor In 

Celebrities with Gay Siblings

Video: Coming Out to My Sister

Things You Learn About Life From Your LGBTQ Sibling

Having an LGBTQ Sibling Makes You a Better Person

Brothers and Sisters of Lesbians and Gays

My Brother Just Came Out as Gay

Me and My Really Cool LGBTQ Sister


Respecting Same Sex Marriage and Religious Freedom

By Ana Navarro / Republican Strategist & Commentator / June 2015


I support marriage equality. For many years, I felt like being a pro-same sex marriage Republican would land me in a 12-step program. Unlike Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and so many other Americans, I didn't evolve on the issue. I don't remember a time in my life when I thought gay people were entitled to fewer rights than I was. I don't think same-sex marriage is a threat to the institution. On the contrary, the more, the marrier (pun intended).

I never saw a conflict between conservative values of less government intrusion and personal freedom and supporting marriage equality. There is no freedom more personal than deciding who to commit your life to. Government shouldn't mandate whom we choose to love.


As state after state legalized same-sex marriage, many of my gay friends legally wed. My home state, Florida, was one of the last states in a series of states that legalized same-sex marriage and only after a protracted court battle. Many Floridians, including men and women I love dearly, traveled to other states so they could make their unions legal. I saw how much it meant to them to be able to say, "my husband" or "my wife."

They felt their love was legitimized. Their relationships were equal. These are not people who want to chip away at the tradition of marriage. They want to participate in it and make it stronger. My gay friends were the reason I was a signatory on the two Republican amicus briefs that were filed with the Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage.

From a personal point of view, my heart was filled with joy and celebration at last week's Supreme Court decision making same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. From a political point of view, I find myself hoping that this fight is over and we can move on.

Some of these people are also my friends and relatives. My 74-year-old Nicaraguan Catholic father cannot get himself to accept same-sex marriage. God knows, I've tried.

I know my dad. It is not in his nature to discriminate against anybody -- well, maybe with the exception of communists. My dad cannot get his arms around the idea of two men walking down the aisle. His views are shaped by his culture and guided by his religion. On social issues, he'll side with The Vatican over me.


There are people on both sides of this issue who I respect and love. It is time for everyone to remember that tolerance is a two-way street. We must be respectful of people's rights -- that includes the right to marry who you choose, and also the right to practice the religion that you choose. These two rights can co-exist.

We are a pragmatic nation. We can and must find a solution to the conflict. There can't be that many bakers, caterers and florists in America who don't like to make money. The wedding industry is a multibillion dollar business. Most wedding vendors will be happy to charge same-sex couples for their services. The few that don't are refusing the business based on religious objections.

I get the "it's the principle of the thing" argument. On the other hand, who wants to pay for and eat a cake baked by someone who thinks you are committing a sin? Thank you, I'll pass.

In a country as big, diverse and democratic as ours, we can come up with narrowly crafted exemptions for cottage industries and small vendors whose religious beliefs do not allow them to participate in a same-sex wedding.

Before we embark on countless legal challenges and the elderly evangelical baker making cakes out of her garage in Arkansas gets dragged into court, isn't it worth trying to find a little sliver of common ground? I know I sound naive.

Our society is so politicized and polarized, reaching agreement can be hard to imagine. I urge both sides of this issue to take a deep breath and reflect on how we can live and respect each other's freedoms, rights and beliefs.


The Year to Be Queer

Why I Am Coming Out Now

Why We Won't Go Back

Why I Must Come Out

Why Am I So Gay?


What Does it Mean to Be a Queer Hindu?

By Ricky / Queer Sri Vaishnava / Jnana-Dipena / April 2015


It means that despite you knowing from a very young age that you were ‘different’ (whether you liked the same sex, or both sexes, or you didn’t identify with the sex you were assigned at birth) none of that matters. Everyone will tell you that you’re just “confused” and you need to be shown that being a cisgender, straight person is the only way to live in our society.

It means living in fear. If your parents or grandparents find out that you’re queer, they could disown you, or try to change you. In India, you can be arrested for having same-sex sex, or be pressured into a mixed orientation marriage to ‘cure’ you. In the US, your employer can still legally fire you and your landlord can legally evict you, just because of your LGBTQ identity, in over half the states in the country. In addition, there will be constantly be debates over whether or not business owners should be allowed to refuse people like you service because of their religious beliefs, because they claim that their religion condemns your “lifestyle”. Politicians will tell you that you should be grateful that you’re even allowed to exist peacefully in this country, because in several countries around the world, homosexuality is a crime punishable by death, or by physical punishments which will likely leave you close to death.


When you go to the temple to worship and associate with other devotees, you will constantly be checking yourself. For example, when you try to befriend another devotee, or really any person you meet, you’re aware there is always a 50% chance that when this person finds out you identify as LGBTQ, they will feel the need to call you sinful and disgusting (or even worse), even if they know nothing else about you. You’re queer. That is enough to condemn you. You’re used to this, because this has been going on your whole life.

You will be constantly asked, “But how do you regulate your sex life?” as if that is the most pressing issue in your life. People will never be interested in protecting your civil rights, because they need to know whether or not you have gay sex. You will never be looked upon as a person. You will always be reduced to the sexual acts you have in the privacy of your own home. You will always be seen as sexual, never as spiritual.

You will be referred to as “garbage” by people who claim to love the same God you do, the same God who has said in the Bhagavad Gita that He hates no one, because He dwells in every being.


Queer Themes in Hindu Mythology

What Does it Mean to Be a Queer Hindu?

Advocate: LGBTQ Hindu Gods

Hinduism and LGBTQ Topics


Witness to Extraordinary History

By Chris Gregoire / Governor of Washington / December 2012

We have few occasions in life to be witness to extraordinary history. This is one of those days. Today same-sex couples in Washington are getting married under a law approved by the voters. For the first time in the United States, their marriage is legal not because of actions by legislatures or courts but because their equal rights were affirmed by their peers across the state at the ballot box. That shift is momentous and one of which I am incredibly proud.

On election night I was overcome by emotion as I took the stage for a celebration of our state's same-sex marriage efforts. I looked out over a crowd of several thousand who had fought so hard for this moment. They were young and old, families and couples, military members past and present, businesspeople and public servants, of all races and all backgrounds, and for the first time marriage equality was within their reach. It was the most memorable moments in my 20 years in elected office.


Like any journey, ours was one of a million steps by thousands of everyday people. Nearly 25 years ago Washington elected the first openly gay member of our legislature, Cal Anderson. Today, 17 years after his death, Cal's dream has been realized. We stand on his shoulders and the shoulders of so many who brought us to this point.

In Seattle the first couple to receive their marriage license had been together for 35 years. Today, after a very long engagement, they are getting married. Across Washington similar stories abound. Hundreds stood in line overnight so that they would not have to wait a moment longer for the rights they deserve. Within the first 24 hours more than 800 same-sex couples applied for marriage licenses.

Just as importantly, the voters have told all our families that they are equal under the law. They told the children of same-sex families that their parents' love is not different. To the parents who have fought so fiercely for the rights of their much-loved gay and lesbian children, Washington said they, too, will someday witness their son's or daughter's wedding. And we told the young people out there who are wondering about their future that it does in fact get better, that they will have the chance to grow up in a state that loves and values them for who they are, not for whom they love.


As my own daughters taught me, this is indeed the civil rights issue of our time. There will come a time when, across our country, the ability to marry the person you love will not be an issue. Future generations will look back and wonder why we ever denied this basic human right. We can't rest until that moment. I will be with you every step of the way.


TED Talk: LGBTQ Pastor's Journey

NY Times: Corrosive Politics That Threaten LGBTQ Americans

The LGBTQ Movement is in Chaos

NY Times: The Big Sway

TED Talk: Coming Out of the Closet

Coming out as a Christian

Where Would MLK Have Stood on Marriage Equality?

TED Talk: Some Boys Are Born Girls

Congress Needs to Pass Employment Non-Discrimination Act

By President Barack Obama / November 2013

Here in the United States, we're united by a fundamental principle: we're all created equal and every single American deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law. We believe that no matter who you are, if you work hard and play by the rules, you deserve the chance to follow your dreams and pursue your happiness. That's America's promise.


That's why, for instance, Americans can't be fired from their jobs just because of the color of their skin or for being Christian or Jewish or a woman or an individual with a disability. That kind of discrimination has no place in our nation. And yet, right now, in 2013, in many states a person can be fired simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. As a result, millions of LGBTQ Americans go to work every day fearing that, without any warning, they could lose their jobs -- not because of anything they've done, but simply because of who they are. It's offensive. It's wrong. And it needs to stop, because in the United States of America, who you are and who you love should never be a fireable offense.


That's why Congress needs to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, also known as ENDA, which would provide strong federal protections against discrimination, making it explicitly illegal to fire someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Americans ought to be judged by one thing only in their workplaces: their ability to get their jobs done. Does it make a difference if the firefighter who rescues you is gay -- or the accountant who does your taxes, or the mechanic who fixes your car? If someone works hard every day, does everything he or she is asked, is responsible and trustworthy and a good colleague, that's all that should matter.



Business agrees. The majority of Fortune 500 companies and small businesses already have nondiscrimination policies that protect LGBTQ employees. These companies know that it's both the right thing to do and makes good economic sense. They want to attract and retain the best workers, and discrimination makes it harder to do that. So too with our nation. If we want to create more jobs and economic growth and keep our country competitive in the global economy, we need everyone working hard, contributing their ideas, and putting their abilities to use doing what they do best. We need to harness the creativity and talents of every American.


So I urge the Senate to vote yes on ENDA and the House of Representatives to do the same. America is at a turning point. We're not only becoming more accepting and loving as a people, we're becoming more just as a nation. But we still have a way to go before our laws are equal to our Founding ideals. As I said in my second inaugural address, our nation's journey toward equality isn't complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.


In America of all places, people should be judged on the merits: on the contributions they make in their workplaces and communities, and on what Martin Luther King Jr. called "the content of their character." That's what ENDA helps us do. When Congress passes it, I will sign it into law, and our nation will be fairer and stronger for generations to come.


TED Talk: Problems Facing LGBTQ Youth Today

CNN: We Have a Role in Fight Against LGBTQ Discrimination

Teen Ink: LGBTQ Equality Rights

TED Talk: Why Am I So Gay?

People Guess the Sexual Orientation of Strangers

Voice of America: The LGBTQ Debate

TED Talk: Myths of Gay Adoption

NY Times: Challenges That Remain for LGBTQ People

Gay is Good for America

By Nathaniel Frank / Slate Magazine / September 2012

At their convention, Democrats finally say it loud and clear. More than a dozen speakers mentioned LGBTQ equality on the first two nights of the Democratic convention, including Michelle Obama, who positioned marriage equality as a new ingredient of American greatness: “If proud Americans can be who they are and boldly stand at the altar with who they love, then surely, surely we can give everyone in this country a fair chance at that great American Dream.” Openly gay speakers are getting primetime billing. A record-setting 8 percent of delegates are LGBTQ. The party’s unprecedented embrace of gay equality comes a week after Joe Biden thanked gay rights advocates in Provincetown for “freeing the soul of the American people.” The gay rights movement, said the vice president, was advancing the “civil rights of every straight American.” For gay people’s “courage,” he said, “We owe you.”

There you have it: For the first time ever, Democrats at their most public, high-profile moment are treating gay rights as a political winner. They’re moving along with public opinion: In the latest Harris Interactive poll, 52 percent of likely voters favored same-sex marriage, including 70 percent of Democrats and 55 percent of independents.

If the gay love affair is part political calculation, it also reflects a lesson from both American history and queer theory: minorities need not always conform to the majority, and their advances can actually make things better for everyone. This message helps rewrite the false script conservatives have created (with too much help from liberals) that representing the needs of minorities is mere interest-group politics, the doling out of goodies in exchange for votes.

Instead, equality is increasingly (and correctly) cast as a means of improving not only the lot of minorities, but the country for us all. New York magazine recently reported the trend of a growing number of straight couples quoting gay marriage court decisions in their own wedding ceremonies. Expanding access appears to be rejuvenating rather than destroying the institution. As Slate reported earlier this year, statistics bear this out. The marriage rate in Massachusetts, the first state to allow gay couples to wed, actually went up in the years same-sex marriage became legal, even adjusting for the initial 16 percent increase caused by pent-up demand by gay couples waiting to wed. What’s more, in each of the five states that legalized same-sex marriage starting in 2004, divorce rates dropped even while the average rate across the country rose. These figures give the lie to breathless warnings that same-sex marriage will harm marriage. Also, an estimated 2 million kids have a parent who is LGBTQ, and a subset of them have two gay parents who are raising them together—for all the reasons conservatives praise marriage, these kids benefit when their parents can make their commitments legal, another benefit to LGBTQ equality that goes beyond the rights of gays themselves.

Add to the list the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The policy deprived the nation of thousands of capable service members across its 17 years (on average, two were kicked out every day, at a taxpayer cost of hundreds of millions of dollars). Many were mission-critical specialists with skills like Arabic translation and counterterrorism expertise. Today our military can harness that talent. And now that the controversy has been resolved, elite colleges that used to supply our military with top talent are again welcoming recruiters whom they’d moved off campus due to their discriminatory policy.

Equal rights fosters openness, which has positive fallout of its own. There are no doubt fewer sham marriages than there were in the 1950s. Gay-straight friendships are more authentic without a lifelong secret blocking discussion about love and intimacy. Straight men are likely more forgiving of their own nonconformist impulses (perhaps including passing same-sex desires). Parents have fewer estranged relations with sons and daughters whose deepest secrets and fears they once could never know, and whose struggles with depression and loneliness they sought in vain to understand. And the nation has embarked on an important discussion about bullying and youth suicide that stands to have real benefits for all young people, not just LGBTQ ones, who feel despair because they sense they are different or alone.

The principle that minority equality helps the majority was one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s most important insights during the black civil rights movement. “The stirring lesson of this age,” King declared, “is that mass nonviolent direct action is not a peculiar device for Negro agitation,” but a “method for defending freedom and democracy, and for enlarging these values for the benefit of the whole society.” As the historian, Taylor Branch has explained, “The civil rights movement liberated segregationists themselves,” just as King had theorized. Racial terrorism dropped and integration led to business growth and a decline in poverty. Enfranchised black voters helped revive a genuine two-party political system in the South as the politics of white supremacy faded. Meritocracy replaced arbitrary exclusion.

In 2009, Brent Childers, a Southern Baptist and onetime anti-gay bigot, wrote movingly in Newsweek of the kind of personal liberation that both King and Biden described: “Once I walked away from the Church’s teachings of rejection and condemnation of gay people, my relationship with God transcended to a higher spiritual plateau.” Childers’ religious transformation is a secular experience for many others. But the point is the same. Americans suffer for holding prejudices that we know enough to shed. The souls of Americans really do need freeing. And the battle for gay rights is helping. It’s good for the Democrats that they’ve figured this out. More importantly, it's good for the country.


TED Talk: Fifty Shades of Gay

US News: American Culture War

People Guess the Sexual Orientation of Strangers

Millennials Support Full LGBTQ Rights

Rolling Stone: Worst States for LGBT People

TED Talk: Why Am I So Gay?


The Places I Have Come Out

By J.E. Reich / Huffington Post / October 2013

--In the school library. My father is away at a conference for a distant summer in Germany. He will be the hardest to tell, I reason, for the missed linguistic cues, the generational gap as precarious as a lion's hinging jaw, or, rather, because he just doesn't get it. It's a safe bet. I write him a 10-page email, glancing at the other computer carrels. Due to competing time zones, I receive his response the next morning: "Surprised, but not shocked. Love, Dad."

--In a vestibular instant messenger window, to the girl who will become my first girlfriend. We will break up eight months later, over a girl from Connecticut whom she meets in an online forum. Like other lesbians I know, we remain close friends to this day.

--On the front porch of my mother's house, coiled on a swing. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. In the spirit of the high holidays, in the spirit of atonement, I confess my predilections to her. These things weren't supposed to happen to her, she says. This isn't what she envisioned for me. "You're not gay." She repeats it until the words are kite tassels fluting upwards beyond our heads.

--Sitting at my desk in Dr. F's AP European History course. My friend E is sick of my whining. "You need to get laid" is the underlying sentiment of her diagnosis. The solution becomes a coming-out party. There will be wine, pilfered from the cabinets of a St. Patrick's Day house party, where D snowboarded down the stairs and I accidentally broke a futon bed, and where it turned out that the host was actually the house sitter and got sent to a juvenile detention center the next morning, after she was discovered cradling a jar of peanut butter amidst broken bottles. So wine from that party, and a chocolate fondue fountain. E turns to a classmate of ours, asks if she knows that I'm gay. The classmate is baffled. "We're having a party," says E, "and you're on the guest list." By the end of the day, we have the venue at H's dad's house (he'll be out of town) but in the end the party does not occur, and now everyone knows.

--At my mother's book club. People talk.

--On the back couch in Harrison's Cafe, after hours in the vacant, locked-up shop. I reassure her that it's not an experiment. Afterwards, we cruise around in her father's pickup, drinking beers named after rocks and ice with a tannic aftertaste. I come home to find that I have missed a loop in my refastened belt.

--In my first college classroom. I fill up my schedule with prerequisites. In my public speaking course we are asked to bring in three objects and identify what they mean to us. The only rainbow article of clothing I own is striped underwear. In retrospect, I wonder how many times the professor had witnessed similar antics.

--Around my uncle's dining room table during Passover seder. My aunt asks when my younger sister, a sophomore in college, will marry her boyfriend. "She'll probably wait until after graduation," I say. She replies, "Besides your other sister, she's our only hope."

--On my ex-girlfriend's graduation day. Her mother knew that her daughter would bring her boyfriend, the one that her sisters always mentioned, that person with the apartment in Allston. If her daughter was seeing someone so often (as her daughter had never done) then it had to be serious.


--On the pavilion by the Boston Harbor, we meet for the first time. I'm the best friend she's never heard of. During the celebratory luncheon in Cambridge, she sneaks looks, furtive and observatory, as I push my tuna niçoise around with a fork. So, this is it.

--On Franklin Avenue, holding hands. We are lucky. The previous Fourth of July in Boston, my then-girlfriend and I had our arms around each other while a man with a shaved head made catcalls. I told him to be quiet: "Shut your mouth." It was only after she had me in her arms again, pulling me away, that I realized I had punched someone for the first time.

--In the police precinct. I sit with the officer to file a report as the victim of (as the officer decides) lewd conduct. The man in my apartment building came toward me, pants down, but intent can only go so far. My then-girlfriend is next to me as the officer asks me about discernible scars, piercings, tattoos. The officer has seen our apartment bedroom, our connubial bed with the crumpled blue duvet. Still, he calls her my roommate.

--In the dark. In the light.


Still I Rise: A Look at the LGBTQ Struggle

Sage Advice to Young Queers From a Gay Elder

We're Living LGBTQ History: Will We Remember It?


Gay Mega History in the Making

By Michaelangelo Signorile / Huffington Post / November 2012

“No longer will politicians (or anyone) be able to credibly claim to be supportive of gays, and to love and honor their supposed gay friends and family, while still being opposed to basic and fundamental rights like marriage.”

The re-election of Barack Obama, as well as the wins in states wherever gay marriage was on ballot (in Maine, Minnesota, Maryland and Washington) is a massive watershed for LGBTQ rights. No longer will politicians (or anyone) be able to credibly claim to be supportive of gays, and to love and honor their supposed gay friends and family, while still being opposed to basic and fundamental rights like marriage. The very ads pushed by the enemies of gay rights, like the mastermind behind the antigay ballot measures, Frank Schubert, which claim you can support gay equality but be against gay marriage, no longer hold water.


From now on, you're no friend to gays if you don't support full equality, and you're a bigot if you try to defend that position, as Mitt Romney did. Many people previously hid behind the idea that since the president, prior to May of this year, didn't support marriage equality, but could still be considered "pro-gay," they could be considered pro-gay too.


But President Obama not only evolved; he set a new standard: being pro-gay means supporting full equality. This is a president who ended "don't ask, don't tell," signed a gay-inclusive hate crimes law, urged voters in the states to vote for marriage equality and wrote a letter to a 10-year-old last week offering her support against bullies who might stigmatize her for having two dads. He's a president whose administration helped transgender Americans get full protections in employment under existing laws banning discrimination based on gender and made sure his health care law fosters full access and equality for gay and transgender people. And he was re-elected. That re-election happened, make no mistake, because the president energized his based, including LGBTQ activists who pushed him hard and made it clear that they wouldn't be energized if he didn't stop dancing with the right and stood up for full equality. He learned how that could work for him, and his re-election proves that it can done. No longer will there be an excuse for politicians who claim to be pro-gay but who drag their feet for fear of repercussions.


The wins on marriage in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and probably Washington (votes are still being counted but activists are almost certain they won) are groundbreaking, and it's only the beginning. The tide has turned after losses on marriage at the ballot in over 30 states. It's a direct result of the shift in public opinion and the president both capitalized on that and helped change public opinion further. The enemies of gay equality are now on the run.


Those enemies, however, still have a hold on the Republican Party, and the GOP will have to reckon with that. Certainly it will be front and center in the GOP's own coming civil war over the fallout of this election. The Human Rights Campaign rightly said in a press release that last night's victories, which included the election of Wisconsin's Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay or lesbian person to win a U.S. Senate seat, and other pro-equality big wins, were a landslide for LGBTQ rights. Opponents of LGBTQ rights were stomped, and the pressure will be on the GOP to oust them for good. As the Rick Santorum wing claims the 2012 losses mean the party needs to double down on cultural issues like gay marriage, there will hopefully be those who make the correct point that, in fact, the party needs to drop gay-bashing and move into 21st century if it wants to survive.

TED Talk: LGBTQ Pastor's Journey

NY Times: Corrosive Politics That Threaten LGBTQ Americans

The LGBTQ Movement is in Chaos

People Guess the Sexual Orientation of Strangers

NY Times: The Big Sway

TED Talk: Coming Out of the Closet

Coming out as a Christian

Where Would MLK Have Stood on Marriage Equality?

TED Talk: Some Boys Are Born Girls


Discrimination is Immoral

By Matt Foreman / Executive Director / National Gay And Lesbian Task Force

I'm hearing both gay and straight people say that the long string of losses we've faced at the polls around marriage equality are really our own fault. Our community pushed too hard and too fast, they argue. The prominent theme being generated is that we have failed to "educate" the public about who we really are and get beyond the stereotypes of leather people, butch dykes, circuit boys and drag queens. And that it is now our obligation to reintroduce ourselves to the American people. I also repeatedly hear that it's up to us to reframe the terms of the debate away from "moral values" to simpler concepts, such as fairness, which polls indicate resonate most with the public.

I disagree. This is nothing more than the blame-the-victim mentality afflicting our nation generally and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) movement specifically. Rather than reframing the debate away from moral values, we must embrace them. Or more precisely, the utter immorality of the escalating attacks against LGBTQ people. And, equally, the utter immorality in the failure of so many people of good will to stand with us. It is time for us to seize the moral high ground and state unambiguously that anti-gay discrimination in any form is immoral.

Webster's defines discrimination as "unfair treatment of a person or group on the basis of prejudice." By any measure, LGBTQ people are targets of discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. FBI statistics show that more people are being murdered because of their sexual orientation than for any other bias reason. Our young people are still routinely bullied in schools. The examples of injustices in the area of partner and family recognition are too many to list. No thinking or feeling person can deny these realities, which, as always, fall hardest on LGBTQ people of color and those who are poor.

But, alarmingly, rather than seeing a groundswell of support for measures to combat these injustices, the opposite is occurring. In Congress and in statehouses nationwide, it's rhetorical and legislative open season on LGBTQ people. For example, over the last nine months, anti-marriage state constitutional amendments were put on the ballot in 14 states, 10 of which also prohibit the recognition of any form of relationship between people of the same gender. It's likely another 12 states will have similar measures on the ballot within 3 years. Nothing like this has happened since the Constitution was ratified in 1791 – essentially a national referendum inviting the public to vote to deprive a small minority of Americans of rights the majority takes for granted and sees as fundamental.

And who's been there to fight these amendments? Basically us, the very minority under attack. Mainstream media and churches are largely silent to our opponents' lies. Most progressive organizations and political campaigns, meanwhile, steer clear. There have been sterling exceptions, but they have been few and far between.

Many people who see themselves as supporters of equal rights for all tolerate this because they believe prejudice on the basis of sexual orientation is profoundly different than that based on race or religion (that it comes from an understandable disapproval of our behavior) not on some "immutable characteristic." Homosexual behavior, they feel, is "unnatural" (doesn't the Bible say so?). Pundits say there is an "ick" factor, that the thought of gay sex revolts non-gay people, and that this seemingly innate reaction is proof there is something wrong with homosexuality.

This rationale is hardly unique to gay people. Scholars point to comparable "ick" sentiments about Irish immigrants in the 1880s, and describe how in preceding generations sexual ideology was used to strengthen control over slaves and to justify the taking of Native American lands, and that for centuries Jews were associated with disease and urban degeneration. Fact is, there is no justification for anti-gay prejudice; the "justifications" for it are as unfounded as those used to support the second-class treatment of other minorities in past generations. So, what needs to be done?

First, everyone must realize that when straight people say gay people should not have the freedom to marry, they are saying we are not as good or deserving as they are. It's that simple, no matter how one attempts to sugarcoat it. This is unacceptable. And it is immoral.

Second, while we should talk to straight people honestly about our lives, we must flatly reject the notion that we are somehow to blame for all of this because we have not effectively communicated our "stories" to others. Fundamentally, it is not our job to prove to others that we can be good neighbors, good parents, and that gee whiz, we're actually people too.

Third, equality will remain elusive if we keep relying on intellectualized arguments or by dryly cataloguing, for example, each of the 1,138 federal rights and responsibilities we are forced to forgo due to marriage inequality.

The other side goes for the gut; it's now our turn. In this vein, we must put others on the spot to stand up and fight for us. As the cascade of lies pours forth from the Anti-Gay Industry, morality demands that non-gay people speak out with the same vehemence as they would if it was another minority under attack. Ministers and rabbis must be challenged with the question, "Where is your voice?" Elected officials who meet with and attend events of the Anti-Gay Industry, must be met with the challenge, "How can you do that!? How is that public service?"

The orchestrated campaign to deny us jobs, family recognition, children, and housing is immoral. Silently bearing witness to this discrimination is immoral. America is in the midst of another ugly chapter in its struggle with the forces of bigotry. People of good will can either rise up to speak for lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender Americans, or look back upon themselves 20 years from now with deserved shame.




Association for Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender Issues in Counseling of Alabama