The It Gets Better Project is a nationwide dedication to end LGBT bullying, spread awareness, and let people share their stories about discrimination, coming out, respect, acceptance, and how life can get better. This is an important message that highlights the discrimination and violence that many LGBT teens face. Over 532,000 have joined the movement and signed this pledge of support:
Guest blogger Talia bat Pessi is a teenage Femidox (feminist Orthodox) pro-Israel Jew. Her work has appeared in over 40 publications, including the Jewish Week, Ms. Magazine blog, Jerusalem Post, Girl w/ Pen!, Jewish Press, and FBomb. She’s not quite sure how she manages to find spare time, but when she does, she enjoys going to rock concerts, fuzzying with her rescue dog, eating (a lot), messing around in Photoshop, and procrastinating on the Internet.
As well as being a feminist, I am an Orthodox Jew. While I had always been active in gay rights advocacy through my feminism, I never really thought about how Orthodox individuals who are LGBT+ grapple with their sexuality. I recently did some research into this. Considering that the religious right, including the mainstream Orthodox Jewish community, is known for its anti-gay stance, it may seem surprising that there are observant Jews who also identify as LGBT+. However, they do exist.
Over the past two decades, observant LGBT+ Jews have organized in order to petition for increased recognition and inclusion within the Orthodox Jewish community. In 1994, the Gay and Lesbian Yeshiva Day School Alumni Association (GLYDSA) was established as a social group for Orthodox gay and lesbian Jews. Jewish Queer Youth (JQY) was created in 2001 by observant Jewish undergraduates who “were looking for other people in similar situations that could understand and relate to each other’s struggles” about sexuality, according to the JQY website.
Senator Kirsten Gillbrand recently announced plans to introduce the “Every Child Deserves a Family Act” in the U.S. Senate. With the National Adoption Month here – not to mention the release of a groundbreaking study highlighting the implications of anti-gay “family values” rhetoric on children and LGBT families – this is the perfect time to get the legislative ball rolling.
As more and more LGBT couples are getting married and starting families, we have a great opportunity to place children without a family into happy homes, either by adoption or foster care. But unfortunately, discrimination against both adoptive and foster parents based on sexual orientation or gender identity is still pervasive in this country. Currently, five states prohibit same-sex couples from adopting, and there are six states that ban same-sex parents from adopting their partner’s children. In all, 31 states practice some form of discrimination against LGBT families.
Precisely why we desperately need this legislation. [Read more...]
I think it’s fair to describe myself as a pretty sexual person. Before I met my current partner, Jason, and got married, I identified my sexuality as bisexual because I thought it was the only “don’t really care” category of human sexuality. But since then I’ve learned a lot more about myself, gender and sex. If I were to define my sexuality today, I would identify as pansexual or omnisexual.
I say “if” because this thought recently occurred to me: Does defining my sexuality matter anymore? [Read more...]
Several of my friends have posted an article on Facebook arguing that the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), the military’s policy that bans gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military, is not a victory for economic justice. I agree.
But. I think the article misses some important points. My take:
The authors are right to say that military service should not be the only jobs program available and that government funds could be better used, and the poor better served, by other types of economic development. The problem is this: whether or not the military SHOULD be the de facto jobs program, it HAS been the de facto jobs program. This means that gay men and lesbians (who, contrary to popular notions, are not always better off economically) have joined the military as a way to better their economic situation. The repeal of DADT is a victory for them.
The repeal of DADT is a victory for other reasons, too. It is a victory for gay and straight service members who have been targeted and forced out using the ban’s vague language and murky enforcement policies. While I am fairly certain that a good number of gay service people will remain in the closet, despite the repeal, at least it will not be a weapon in the arsenal of people who would go to any lengths to ruin the careers of others.
Regardless of what people think about the military, military funding, war, peace, justice, etc., the repeal of DADT is a victory for GLBT folks in general. I’m not saying “wooo whoo, now gay people are included in the military and that means they will be accepted into society” (as though societal acceptance or “normalcy” is even a good thing, necessarily), but it is one more nail in the coffin of the extreme right and those that would use religion, hate, fear and misinformation to steer the entire country away from policies that include GLBT folks. And that’s a good thing. [Read more...]
The Friday after Thanksgiving is typically a big day for Mormons in Phoenix. The Mormon Temple flips the switch on hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights on Black Friday, kicking off one of the Mormon Church’s biggest outreach events of the year.
This year the lighting ceremony was contrasted by a group of approximately 100 LGBTQ activists, many of them former Mormons, who wanted to use the lighting ceremony as an opportunity to raise awareness about the high suicide rate amongst LGBTQ Mormons. Participants held candles and distributed contact information for Affirmation, a support group for LGBTQ Mormons, and The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention hotline for queer youth.
Bobby Parker, one of the event organizers, explains that “We said, ‘Merry Christmas!’ and handed people a card. If they asked what it was, we said, ‘We’re giving the gift of life this Christmas. There are suicide prevention numbers on both sides and information for gay and lesbian Mormons.” [Read more...]
Last month we told you about a speech that Mormon leader Boyd K. Packer gave at the Mormon Church’s bi-annual general conference, where Packer stated that being gay is a choice, and that God wouldn’t make people gay, since homosexuality is a sin. This speech is part of the same old, same old for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. But in light of the recent media attention on LGTBQ youth suicides, it’s time to say that enough is enough.
The Phoenix GLBT Coalition for Mormon Action is planning a demonstration aimed at stopping gay Mormon suicides in Arizona, set for Friday, November 26th from 6:00-10:00 PM, coinciding with the Christmas lighting ceremony at the Mormon Temple in Mesa. The purpose of the demonstration is to make gay Mormons aware of The Trevor Project Suicide Prevention National Hotline and the local Gay and Lesbian organization for gay Mormons, Phoenix Affirmation. The demonstration will also continue the national message, “It Gets Better.”
Packer has been called upon to recant his words in a talk given to the 13,000,000 members of the church via satellite from Salt Lake City. The organizers of the November 26th rally believe these words have put the estimated 40,000-60,000 gay Mormons in Arizona in grave danger and may contribute to suicides. Utah, which is the stronghold of the Mormon faith, has a suicide rate 3 times the national average. [Read more...]
Yes, I said it. A national priority. For far too long we have had to sit back, waiting around for the president to get the courage to act righteously, while his administration works to acquiesce the LGBT community with tokenist attempts to include a “gay” agenda. Since 1993, when Clinton’s good intention manifested itself into a destructive policy known as ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ roughly 13,500 U.S. citizens serving in the armed forces have been discharged. Professional, courageous, committed, intelligent, service members with merit and passion are being turned away because of who they choose to love and who they choose to sleep with. Nearly $363 million dollars have been waisted within the span of 16 years, to enforce a policy that tells people they are less then human if they are gay, lesbian, trans, or bisexual.
According to a 2008 Washington Post-ABC news poll, 75 percent of Americans believe openly gay people should be allowed to serve. Right now there are roughly 65,000 homosexuals serving in the U.S. military, along with one million gay veterans. This is not a debate about a couple LGBT identified soldiers wanting access to the armed forces, and even if it were, it doesn’t change the truth about how net-detrimental DADT is to every person in our country. [Read more...]
The following is a cut and paste dialectical discussion about sexism in the LGBT community. The players are me and me, with some borrowed quotations from some fellow dudes for choice. This is part 1. Please, extend the discourse.
Q: In what ways have you seen or experienced sexism in the greater LGBT community?
A: Lots of people mistake me as being a “bear” based solely on my gender performance as masculine. However, I find that my gender is just as ambiguous as the next person. To paraphrase myself in Shira Tarrant’s latest book: Gender, being a performance with performative factors, takes more practice than we like to admit. It is, in fact, the role of a lifetime. Most of the work that goes into performing gender operates at the unconscious level begging the question: how much of gender is a choice. Thus, my bear-ness, is solely based on a viewer’s (read: ignorant gender enablers) limited perception of how one can be gay (or anything else for that matter) within the LGBT community. [Read more...]