Thursday, September 30, 2010

UK Gay Studies Published

There have been a couple of studies of gay people published this week and I wanted to go over them here on the blog. One was a study by the office of national statistics which for the first time asked a random sample of people their sexuality, the other was a consultation undertaken by the BBC to find out how it is doing on gay issues.

BBC told to be more realistic:


The BBC recently commissioned a wide ranging study into its own portrayal of gay people on the corporation's various media. The study followed a raft of controversies over its coverage of homosexuality. The best known of these was an online debate stupidly titled "Should homosexuals face execution?".

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Possible Repercussions Of The Bishop Eddie Long Scandal

Another anti-gay Mega-church pastor is caught up in a gay sex scandal. Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Georgia has been accused by four young men...and possibly more...of enticing them into sexual relations when they were teenagers in Bishop Longs congregation. The allegations go on to say that Long used his position in the church and its funds to shower these young men with expensive gifts, trips abroad alone with Long, and coercing the young men into sexual acts with Long..sometimes through with the help of drugs. Bishop Long denies everything quite stridently, even as the allegations have grown from two men a third and now a fourth man coming forward...all sharing similar backgrounds and telling eerily similar accounts of how they were enticed into sex by Bishop Long. In his most recent sermon Long addressed the allegations claiming, "I am not that man". He also vowed to fight the charges, likening himself to David fighting Goliath.

Every time this kind of thing happens, we take it as reinforcement for the hope that America is seeing the disconnect between the message these men espouse (that gays and lesbians are evil).....and their actions. In them, we hope that people see the inner hatred that these men feel for themselves that they have directed outwards at the gay community. However... sometimes my brain kicks me in the butt...this week it challenged that assumption that these scandals always have positive effects for the gay community. It asked me to consider the story as it might be seen from one of Bishop Longs congregants....when a man of his position and history of anti-gay rhetoric gets found out, does that always help us?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Who needs enemies....Gay Inc. In The U.K.

By: Craig Rigby
There has been a festering sore at the centre of gay politics in the UK for a while. This week was the party conference for the smaller of the two parties in the governing coalition and it seems to have brought the puss filled ulcer to a greasy, leaking head. Only time will tell if the boil can be lanced or if it will cause blood poisoning and death for the patient.

The patient in this case is the gay rights organisation Stonewall. Stonewall was founded in the 1980s to lobby the government for civil rights for lesbian and gay people. It has had a lot of success in its time. It successfully lobbied for gays in the military, employment protections, and the right of equal access to goods and services. Stonewall was also instrumental in gaining the very strong UK civil partnerships laws, laws which are different to marriage only by name.

But this is where the trouble began, while most gay people are happy with civil partnerships as they stand, most are also irritated by the lack of the word itself. Many people blame Stonewall for the situation. At the time of the consultation on gay partnership rights, Stonewall decided that pushing for every right associated with marriage was good enough. As long as gay people had equal legal entitlements, they were willing to let the word go. I for one think this was a mistake, it would have been far better to push for everything and be turned down than to roll over meekly.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

DADT..Are We Done Yet?

By "done" I don't mean "done" I mean finished letting our lives be in the hands of people who don't care about us or civil rights in any sense of the word. Are we done allowing our lives to be used as bargaining chips in the power game they play in Congress?

I don't even know where to begin...The botched "deal" made by Democrats where they allow soldiers to continue being discharged so they can "secure votes" a joke. How about the fact that prior to the vote, Joe Biden only called ONE republican senator to lobby for his vote...Obama called NO ONE and issued ZERO statements encouraging the repeal. Wheres the fierce advocacy here? Or...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The View From Under The Bus

Of the goals the gay community has as signposts on the way to full legal equality, three of the biggest are:

1) ENDA the Employment Non-Discrimination Act whose passage would make it illegal to fire someone from their job on the basis of sexual identity. This one sees most of its resistance because it includes a provision for transgendered peoples.
2) DOMA....repealing the Defense Of Marriage Act which currently protects states from having to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states stands as a barrier to the recognition of same-sex marriage on a federal level. this dovetails with the individual state fights for same-sex marriage recognition.
3)DADT....also a repeal action, giving Don't Ask, Don't Tell the ax would end the discharge of LGBT people from the United States armed forces on the basis of their sexual identity.

They are also specific items that the White House has promised to specifically in the case of Don't Ask, Don't Tell...or promised to work toward as part of their advocacy and "change you can believe in".

Boiling them down to their essence... employment protection, military service, and marriage equality...all have the common denominator of seeking equal treatment under the law for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered U.S. citizens. No special treatments or provisions...just the ability to reap the same legal benefits from our society that our straight fellows enjoy...seeing as how we are expected pay our taxs and fulfill all other obligations of U.S. citizenship....expecting equal legal treatment is not too much to ask....but then, why is it so easy for lawmakers to throw us under the bus? Since, despite promises, it's likely that we will see NONE of these things accomplished this

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Has The Negative Stigma Shifted To Being IN The Closet?

By: Craig Rigby
This week at work an interesting thing happened, one of the girls I work with fell out of the closet. The interesting thing was the reaction… most people in the office were angry with her, including me. We were angry because she had worked with us for two years and never said anything. In my department there are three other gay people and two bisexuals, there are countless in the business. As far as I am aware, there has never been a homophobic incident in my workplace. She told us she never said anything because she was embarrassed....but this just doesn’t wash.  I for one, feel that she has a problem with gay people. It's as if she is saying we should have something to be ashamed about.

The situation was more or less resolved. People talked it through with her, pointed out that her attitude and some of the things she was saying were homophobic and moved on. I think it will take a while for her friendships to recover, but she is fine for now. However, I should point out that she is in her mid thirties and in my opinion, has had plenty of time to work through her homophobic feelings. I know for a fact that her friends and family would have no problem with her homosexuality. The only person with a problem with gay people seems to be her.

Looking back, this all seemed like quite an extreme reaction. Had she been a teenager I am sure the reaction would have been different...the feelings of deception and homophobic judgement would not have been there. It made me think of several recent press outings and how they had been handled in the press. There seems to be a big divide between the incidents of people being honest and people being found or suspected of being in the closet.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gay Youth...Too Many Lights Gone Out

To be Young and know that you are gay is to live in an emotional pressure cooker....Everywhere around you, your friends are pairing off into couples and making their first discoveries about love..and yes, sometimes sex. But, for gay teens life is so much more complicated. You may know the truth about yourself and want to fight it with every fiber of your being. Alternatively, But, if you can accept that you're gay doesn't mean that your friends or family will....leaving you alone with the feeling that their is something about you that sets you irrevocably apart from everyone you love.

Moving beyond issues of self identity, their is the longing to experience the first steps into love and relationship that you see taking place all around you in your peers. If you don't date the opposite sex to divert suspicion, then you face the invasive questions and bullying of other teens. Even if you could date someone you wanted to, how do you find someone when everyone is living in stealth too?  Especially if you live outside of an urban area. Its a tremendous emotional load to bare...especially for those who don't have the support of their families and friends.

Some kids do push back. The news occasionally brings us stories of teen taking their dates to prom and exceptional examples of courage like Constance McMillan banned from her high school prom for wanting to bring a same sex date, Ceara Sturgis banned from her high school year book for appearing in a tuxedo , or Derrick Martin who fought to be able to bring a same-sex date to his prom. These are kids who fought back and won...though most also paid a heavy price in losing the support of their family or friends.

But sometimes the pressures can be too great and a large number of gay teens simply don't make it to see a day when they can build the life of their choosing. Today brought us two more...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Dinner At The Leffew House

Dinner at our our house has always had  its ups and downs. Sure we had two kids who by and large were still learning table manners, but it was managable.  But not we have had our two nephews and their baby sister for almost half a year now and dinner time has taken a horrible turn. What in the heck happens to ordinary children when you increase their numbers? Its like they become an angry mob wielding sippy cups and half eaten dinner scraps.  Something has happened that has turned our once normal dinner routine into a horrific splatterfest of epic proportions.

The carnage scenario goes something like this:

Friday, September 10, 2010

Under The Cloud Of Fear

Fear is one of the most primal of human emotions. The biological mechanisms that produce fear are buried deep within a portion of our brain called the amygdala...a portion which has been dubbed "the reptilian brain" since it has been present since the age of dinosaurs and predates other brain structures responsible for emotion and logical thought. Indeed, all the brain structures responsible for "higher" thought are built around the structures responsible for survival instinct. Fear is an integral part of being human and neccesary to our survival...except when it seeks to dehumanize...

Fear is often the source of...and most common tool used in, discrimination. Many people throughout history have been the target of fear based discrimination which can seize on almost any detail of your being(gender,ethnicity, religion, etc.) and turn you into a shadowy threat working to destroy society.

In the national debate over homosexuality and its equal treatment under the law, fear is often evoked in an attempt to make us look like we are mindless monsters bent on destroying all life...dont believe me? Take a look..

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Pink Guide to Adoption

By: Craig Rigby

When I got home from work this week on my hall table I found, wrapped in somewhat excessive amazon packaging, "The Pink Guide to Adoption". Jake and I have joined a group called New Family Social. They support gay people through the adoption process in the UK and give help and advice to potential adopters at all stages of the process. They recommended to me this little pink book and now I am going to recommend it to you.

The book is, as you probably expect, a guide to adoption focused at gay people. It is published by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, who also publish other step by step guides to the legal process involved in adopting a child. The book sets expectations of the process and provides an outline of every hoop that needs to be jumped through. Its great strength is in how it points out the pitfalls peculiar to gay people, and provides advice and case studies from people who have already gone through the process.

 This isn't going to be a book review in the traditional sense; I find it impossible to read things about adoption objectively. Instead I am going to mix in a lot of what the book told me about the adoption process and how that affected my expectations of my own journey. Not always positively!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Happy 40th To My Husband

Yes is true! My husband Jay turns the big 4-0 today!

How to you show your love for someone who has given so much of himself to his family, who has put up with my crazy behind through thick and thin. He is my best friend, the person to whom I can tell everything(no matter how crazy) and even if he doesn't understand...he listens. He has done his best to put his family first, oftentimes in place of his own needs. I knew from the moment I met Jay that he was someone special....and then one day, a kiss cemented that forever.

Now, here we are almost fifteen years later. We've adopted two amazing children and taken on three more. Our lives are filled with things that have to be done yesterday. Some days we are running with the needle on empty...but running anyway. But its sometimes life puts your blessings in perspective for you...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Catholic Britain

By: Craig Rigby
It is almost here! The Pope is coming! On Saturday the 18th of September he will be here, in all his splendour. It will be the first time since the 80's since a Pope has been to the UK. It will be the first state visit and only the second visit overall for hundreds of years. I, and several thousand other people, fully intend to remind the catholic church why they stopped coming.

There are two reasons I, and many other people, intend to protest his visit. Firstly this is a state visit. That means we, the British taxpayers, have to pay for the whole silly affair. Now, as a citizen of Europe and the leader of a large religion the Pope should, of course be free to tour our country. But why the hell should we pay for the privilege?

Secondly while the Pope should be free to come here, he needs to realise that this is a free country and that many people are unhappy with his views. To me, many of these are vile, repugnant and evil. I think he needs to be confronted with this.