Tag Archives: gay

America the Beautiful is Still America in Multiple Languages

By now you’ve probably heard about the controversial Coca-Cola ad that aired during the Super Bowl. The spot featured “America the Beautiful” sung in various languages and displayed images of various American families, including a gay couple (yes, that’s apparently still scandalous).

You’ve also probably seen the lists of tweets from people rebelling against it and threatening to boycott Coke products (Good luck with that – they are everywhere). The outrage over the commercial sparked the hashtag #SpeakAmerican. Are we really surprised? That sort of backlash is to be expected whenever a company or campaign tries to embrace the “otherness” that America was founded on.

What is inspiring though is the amount of people that have stood up in support of the ad, toasting it for it’s depiction of America’s core values of diversity and togetherness. One noble newswoman added her two cents that sum up the situation very nicely:

Her line about the Statue of Liberty not saying “give me your English-speaking-only-Christian-believing-heterosexual-masses” is especially applaudable. What’s even more ironic is that the song’s lyricist Katherine Lee Bates lived with her female partner in Boston for 25 years.

When controversies like these occur, one has to wonder if some of us received a different course on American history. Were some of us not told that America was a country founded by foreigners? The Puritans came from England to escape religious persecution and thus our forefathers created a Constitution that intended to give a religious safe haven and a fair chance to anyone that came to America’s shores. That’s not to say that America has been perfect at embracing diversity. In fact we’ve been far from it – you only have to look at the Civil Rights Movement or the current fight for marriage equality to see that. But does the sound of America the Beautiful being sung in the languages of America’s people – all kinds of them – really still enrage us? Why does that feel so unnatural to some of us?

Tolerance will never develop overnight, and we may never see a day of universal acceptance of religion, race and sexual orientation. Yet we can ask to move forward. The advertising gurus at Coke seem to appreciate that, and so do people like this news anchor and all those that supported this ad.

Get involved: Your Holiday Mom

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I went to high school in North Carolina. Being located at the heart of the United States Bible Belt, my home state isn’t known for it’s hospitality towards the LGBTQ community. However, my last two years of high school I went to a public residential magnet school which became sort of a liberal bubble set apart from the conservative influence of our outside community. Our head of residential life actually made a promise that he’d lose his job before he ever made a student come out of the closet to their family, so besides being a place where nerds could actually live at school, it was a safe place for those teens who felt persecuted or unsafe identifying their sexuality in their home schools. Thus, we had a much more vibrant LGBTQ teen community at our school, with alliance clubs and leadership positions created specifically to create healthy dialogue for students questioning or coming to terms with their sexualities.

It created a unique experience that most southern kids don’t get to have. Of course, growing up in a “Will & Grace” era I did horrifying things like try to collect gay friends like Pokemon cards – because to my 16 year old mind having gay or lesbian friends was a novelty and I hadn’t fully figured out that people are people, no matter who they like to sleep next to at night. I am so thankful for the experience and the open mindedness it provided me going into adulthood and that I now have many great friends that just happen to be gay.

However, we still live in a world where that kind of attitude isn’t adopted by everyone. And the other day when I was scrolling through my own blog dashboard I was reminded that there are thousands of kids out there who don’t have a home or school to go to that encourages, and embraces, them to be who they are. Each year we hear of teens who feel so outcasted and lonely because they’re LGBTQ that they self-harm or worse – take their lives. The pressure and depression over this can get even worse around the holiday time when these young people don’t feel safe or welcome in their own homes.

Then I discovered “Your Holiday Mom” – an outreach effort by moms and supportive LGBTQ allies from the internet who are trying to give those teens something to make them feel warm this holiday season. The virtual support group collects letters from moms and allies alike from the internet with messages of love, acceptance and hope and publishes them for anyone struggling this holiday season around family members or friends who don’t support them. The letters each remind the reader that they are loved and they have the place in more progressive hearts, so they’ll know someone is thinking about them and caring about them during the season.

I love this idea because it’s a small thing that can mean the world to someone in trouble. Sometimes charity or giving isn’t always about dollar bills, but opening our hearts to help others. Last year the campaign posted over 40,000 letters. This is the second year and they hope to get even more. Will you help? Here are the submission guidelines. Tell a stranger that you love them this holiday season and you could save someone’s life.

Russian Anti-Gay Laws Cause Olympic Controversy

Screen Shot 2013-08-07 at 11.51.56 AMControversy has erupted in the past week over statements made by Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko regarding the LGBT community and the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics. Recent anti-gay laws set in place within Russia this June have made life as a member or ally of the LGBT community very difficult.

Individuals are not allowed to discuss what Mutko calls “non-traditional sexual orientations” in front of children. They are also prohibited from creating and presenting “propaganda” in public (ex. a rainbow flag) on behalf of the community. The exact details of what activities violate this law appear to be kind of wishy-washy, which means it’s difficult to know what kinds of activities are actually illegal. Regardless, offenders may be placed in jail, charged fines, or even deported.

A few days ago, disagreements began to run rampant as Mutko issued a statement that the laws will continue to be upheld throughout the Winter 2014 Olympics, which contradicted the previous statements made by the International Olympic Committee. With this law in place, competing athletes and spectators would be put at risk. Mutko stated, in an interview with R-Sport:

No one is forbidding an athlete with non-traditional sexual orientation from coming to Sochi, but if he goes onto the street and starts propagandizing it, then of course he will be held accountable.

Somewhat soon after, in what seems like a response to the uproar that followed these statements, Russian officials reversed them, saying that they plan to do the “politically correct” thing.

What do you think about the situation?

8 Breathtaking Rainbows to Celebrate the Supreme Courts’ Rulings on Prop 8 and DOMA!

Following Tuesday’s controversial ruling on the Voting Rights Act, the Supreme Court may have won a few hearts back today by overturning California’s Proposition 8 and thus allowing same-sex couples in that state to be legally wed. The ruling doesn’t extend beyond the state’s borders, and other bans on same-sex marriage around the country will remain in tact – for now. But the Court simultaneously struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which until now inhibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages legalized by individual states. So if you’re in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage (welcome to the ranks, California!) then your marriage will also be recognized by the federal government. If you’re not, then keep working and rallying your energies because the general tide has shifted, and total equality is where we’re headed.

President Obama called the plaintiffs and lawyers who worked on overturning Prop 8 to congratulate them – a heartening gesture that shows the president truly is on the side of equal rights. In the spirit of equality, here are eight breathtaking rainbows to celebrate the Supreme Courts overturning of Prop 8 and DOMA:

If you’re in a same-sex relationship in California, are you planning on getting hitched? Does the Court’s ruling on Prop 8 impact your decision? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

Texas Judge Orders Lesbian Couple to Split “for the Sake of the Children”

url4No, you didn’t read that headline wrong. Judge John Roach Jr. of Collin County, Texas has ordered Page Price to move out of her house where she lives with her partner, Carolyn Compton, and Compton’s two children. Is that even legal, you may be wondering?

Technically, yes. Roach’s ruling calls upon a “morality clause” that Compton signed as a part of her divorce settlement two years ago. The clause states that anyone with a “dating or intimate relationship” with the parent, not related by blood or marriage, is not allowed in the house after 9pm when the children are present. Though neutral-seeming enough, many are accusing the ruling, and morality clauses in general, of particularly targeting LGBT families.This is made all the more insidious and problematic in a state like Texas where homosexual couples can’t even nullify morality clauses by getting married. Their only options? Split up, move to another state, or maintain a solely daytime relationship.

In response, Price and Compton are complying with the order while simultaneously launching a Facebook campaign to spread awareness around this issue and raise money for their appeal. Price writes:

Carolyn Lang Compton and I have been together almost three years and have a very happy and healthy home. Our children are all happy and well adjusted. By his enforcement, being that we cannot marry in this state, I have been ordered to move out of my home. Said Judge offered further information to our attorneys that if he could throw her in jail for being gay he would…

Judge Roach Jr. placed this “Morality Clause ” in their divorce papers with no end date at his will during their final divorce hearing stating that he did not like Carolyn’s “lifestyle”…

Now I realize there are those of you who don’t agree with my “lifestyle”, but the fact is that I wasn’t given a choice. I also know that those of you who know me know that I am a good person and would never hurt a child in any way. Tell me how this is just. Equal rights?

gavelbang_320x245Price goes on to describe Compton’s tenuous relationship with her ex-husband, which involves him having been charged with 3rd degree felony stalking, hiring a private investigator to gather evidence for his case against them, and visiting his children just “12 times in 3 years.” The unsettling ruling may have uprooted the Price/Compton family environment, but it seems to have at least galvanized their efforts in the name of a cause for non-discrimination and equal rights. Price writes:

We didn’t want to be the face for this movement, but it looks like God has bigger plans for us. We will stand up and fight this for our family and hope that it helps pave the way for marriage equality in Texas! The support we’ve felt has been incredible and has given us the hope and strength to push forward and hopefully put an end to this type of discrimination. We are strong and we will get through this TOGETHER!

Morality clauses are a tricky subject, in general. The idea is that a court, company, or agency has the right to dictate people’s behavior and lifestyle choices for the sake of propriety, children’s well-being, brand image, etc. But when “morality” presents such a hazy, variable standard for living, does the court have any right to legislate it?

What do you think? Do morality clauses seem acceptable to you, and, if so, what kinds of lifestyle habits should or shouldn’t be regulated? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

Give It Up For Beautiful Mother’s Day Cards Representing LGBT and Alternative Families!

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Mother’s Day is coming up this weekend, and you may be scrambling to get cards, gifts, and plan get togethers with those special moms in your life. But for many families in the United States, this holiday is more problematic. After all, does Mother’s Day representation in media and on greeting cards pay equal tribute to single moms, young moms, queer moms, incarcerated moms, or minority moms? And what about families headed up by two dads – should they just wait until Father’s Day and leave it at that?

One organization, Strong Families, is tackling this issue head on. This grassroots organization states that their mission is to help all families thrive regardless of race, class, age, sexual orientation, citizenship status, or any other marker of relative enfranchisement and alienation. Strong Families’ line of custom alternative Mother’s Day cards is as  beautiful as it is groundbreaking. Take a look at these amazing cards, and if you feel inspired, go ahead and create on for a special parent in your life:

Click here to make your own Mother’s Day card using one of these beautiful templates from Strong Families.

How will you be celebrating Mother’s Day this year?

 

Images from http://strongfamiliesmovement.org

6 Hilarious Reactions to Westboro Baptist Church’s Protest Against Jason Collins

NBA star Jason Collins rocked the sports world this week when he publicly announced his homosexuality, making him the first active athlete in the four US professional sports to “come out.” Many have voiced support for Collins on Twitter and other social media sites, including Kobe Bryant:

Proud of @jasoncollins34. Don’t suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others.

Michelle Obama:

So proud of you, Jason Collins! This is a huge step forward for our country. We’ve got your back! —mo

Steve Nash:

The time has come. Maximum respect. RT @Baron_Davis: I am so proud of my bro @jasoncollins34 for being real. …

Bill Clinton:

I’m proud to call Jason Collins a friend.

And many others. One group that isn’t pleased with the news is, surprise surprise, Westboro Baptist Church. Always eager for an opportunity to make some anti-gay noise, congregation members took to the streets with signs and shouts of eternal damnation. But no demonstration is complete without a witty and irreverent counter-protest! Here are 6 of the best scenes captured from these twin protests:

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Photo credit: Christian Petersen / Getty Images

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Photo credit: Twitter

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Photo credit: Twitter

Houston Rockets v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Five

Photo credit: Getty Images

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Photo credit: Instagram

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Photo credit: BustedCoverage

Thursday Morning Melody: Same Love

We’ve all heard “Thrift Shop” about a million times on the radio, but equally catchy and much more poignant, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love” will leave you in tears. The song is a ballad for equal rights and marriage equality, which the video captures with an entire dramatized tale of a boy growing up, falling in love, and struggling for acceptance. Even if you’ve heard the song, seen the video, and moved on from the Macklemore craze, take a moment to let yourself fall in love again with this gripping tune. And while you watch, keep in mind the incredible leaps our society has taken of late for love equality, and the road that still awaits for us to travel.

When I was in the third grade I thought that I was gay
‘Cause I could draw, my uncle was, and I kept my room straight
I told my mom tears rushing down my face
She’s like “Ben you’ve loved girls since before pre-k tripping, ”
Yeah, I guess she had a point, didn’t she?
Bunch of stereotypes all in my head.
I remember doing the math like, “Yeah, I’m good at little league”
A preconceived idea of what it all meant
For those that liked the same sex
Had the characteristics
The right wing conservatives think it’s a decision
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
Man-made rewiring of a predisposition
Playing God, aw nah here we go
America the brave still fears what we don’t know
And God loves all his children, is somehow forgotten
But we paraphrase a book written thirty-five-hundred years ago
I don’t know

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
I can’t change
Even if I try
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me
Have you read the YouTube comments lately?
“Man, that’s gay” gets dropped on the daily
We become so numb to what we’re saying
A culture founded from oppression
Yet we don’t have acceptance for ’em
Call each other faggots behind the keys of a message board
A word rooted in hate, yet our genre still ignores it
Gay is synonymous with the lesser
It’s the same hate that’s caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins
It’s human rights for everybody, there is no difference!
Live on and be yourself
When I was at church they taught me something else
If you preach hate at the service those words aren’t anointed
That holy water that you soak in has been poisoned
When everyone else is more comfortable remaining voiceless
Rather than fighting for humans that have had their rights stolen
I might not be the same, but that’s not important
No freedom till we’re equal, damn right I support it

(I don’t know)

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

We press play, don’t press pause
Progress, march on
With the veil over our eyes
We turn our back on the cause
Till the day that my uncles can be united by law
When kids are walking ’round the hallway plagued by pain in their heart
A world so hateful some would rather die than be who they are
And a certificate on paper isn’t gonna solve it all
But it’s a damn good place to start
No law is gonna change us
We have to change us
Whatever God you believe in
We come from the same one
Strip away the fear
Underneath it’s all the same love
About time that we raised up

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
I can’t change
Even if I try
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
Love is patient
Love is kind
Love is patient
Love is kind
(I’m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(I’m not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind
(I’m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(I’m not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind
(I’m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(I’m not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind
(I’m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
Love is kind

* * *

This post is part of  our Thursday Morning Melody series. Every Thursday we feature the music video and lyrics to a song that touches us deeply. If there’s a melody you wish to share with the Intent community, please share it with us in the comments below! Click here to listen to past Thursday Morning Melodies.

Lessons in Loving While My Father Was Dying

Fifteen years ago at my grandmother’s funeral was the last time I saw my dad. Two weeks ago I was standing in front of him face to face. It wasn’t the visit I had hoped for. He had departed his body 3 days earlier, and I was in attendance at his funeral. As I looked at my dad’s lifeless body I said goodbye in my mind as a deep sense of love, gratitude, and amazement, mixed with the grief that comes from not wanting to let go, swept over me.

The gratitude and amazement were directly related to the journey of resolution and healing I began with my father nine months ago. Last November I heeded the call to heal and resolve what had essentially been thirty years of an estranged relationship. Thirty years ago my mom and dad split up. The catalyst was a torrid affair he chose not to end. So, my mother changed the locks and put his stuff on the porch. It was a terrifying time. My dad’s business went bankrupt and my mother was left with very little resources to take care of me and my two brothers. She went on welfare and within a couple of years got back to work and was able to keep our home. I did have interaction with my father that was always strained and cold, at least until high school. The truth is, he and his wife embarrassed me. I internalized all of the judgments my mother had passed, who largely remained embittered and cynical about the situation until she died in 2003. They were uneducated, lacked any sort of style, class, were essentially socially inept, and of course, my father was a “no good_____,” you fill in the blank.

Regardless, ten years ago, while living in San Francisco, I began the process of healing my relationship with him on a mental level. At that time standing in a bar in the Castro with beer in hand, and shockingly loud dance music that you had to scream over, a friend asked, “WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR FATHER LIKE?!” My response, “I DON’T HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH MY FATHER!” In that moment something shifted. I immediately realized that I did indeed have a relationship with my father. I knew in that moment that I had a choice to make, and I did. I knew that not only was “I don’t have a relationship with my father,” the description of my “relationship” with my father, but also that I could choose the relationship that I desired.

As a result of this realization I began the process of reconnecting with my father and even moving into forgiveness. Six months earlier my father learned from an uninvited source that me and my twin brother are gay. My father wasn’t happy with this discovery and at one point on a birthday had the audacity to suggest that I consider “homo-reparative” therapy. I said to my dad, “Dad, it’s my birthday. We can end this conversation now and never speak again, or you can wish me a happy birthday.” He wished me a happy birthday. Our relationship continued strained, with a phone call every few months at most. After my mother died in 2003 I decided, again, that I would attempt to repair my relationship with my only living parent, and continued infrequent, superficial, yet cordial phone calls.

Nine months ago I realized that my movement towards resolution over those years was a process of going through the motions, in which I had not let go of all my old judgments and misinterpretations. I had yet to fully embraced my father in my heart. There was more work to do. So, my intention embarking upon this journey nine months ago was to resolve the past and learn to love my father.

I had no idea last November when I made the call with this intention that he had just been diagnosed with Liver Cancer. You might say my timing was uncanny. I executed a full on action plan to heal my relationship with him and nurture him from afar. It included daily prayers, and visualizations in alignment with my desired outcome. It included weekly calls and e-mails keeping him abreast of what was happening in my life. It included doing deep emotional work to resolve all of the old judgments and beliefs that I had bought into many years ago.

At moments I found myself feeling resentful. I resented that I was finally moving into a more loving relationship with my dad at a time when every conversation we had was about the latest trip to his oncologist, the latest diagnosis on whether or not this cancer battle would be won, and the recent hellacious, treatment side effects. I found myself asking, “When do I get to have a father? Why am I the one doing the nurturing here?” An answer came quickly, and I realized I was being given an opportunity to act in alignment with the level of emotional and spiritual maturity I had realized since my mother’s death six years earlier. I was being given an opportunity to fully reside in self-loving and understand that in order to effectively nurture another I must deeply nurture myself.

My dad opted for a year-long oral chemotherapy treatment that had killer side effects. One month ago he was rushed back to the hospital to discover the cancer spread to his lungs. The doctors made it clear, “There is nothing more we could do.” When these words landed on my ears from my brother’s mouth 3000k miles away my body leaped into survival mode. My heart began racing and sweat began to ooze from my pores. I thought to myself, “Who makes these decisions?” “There is nothing more we can do.” I had heard these words six years prior when my mother died and we were forced to make the choice to remove her life support. I began asking, “What do you mean? How can this be? This isn’t right! This is wrong! He is a young man (69)! What do you mean there is nothing more we can do? He just has to die?!? This can’t be!” I am not sure exactly who I thought I was being in that moment, suggesting that I had the power to say what could and couldn’t be in regards to my dad’s death. I realized quickly that this was my ego’s grand attempt at control. It also dawned on me that in my experience of death it is this initial loss of ego control that is perhaps the greatest cause of the pain that is experienced upon losing a loved one. I have learned from some of my greatest teachers that suffering is actually the sum of pain times resistance (suffering=pain x resistance). In this context it is the ego’s resistance to letting go of control rather than accepting the painful circumstance that yields suffering.

My dad on the other hand was a fine example of ease and grace as he went through this experience. Less than two weeks after being sent home with the message, “There is nothing more we can do,” he expired his body. I am faithful that although he could have easily been around for another 6 months or more that he and spirit conspired to ease his suffering and the suffering of his loved ones by “checking out,” before his cancer reared an even uglier head.

My dad lived a humble existence. For many years I judged the fact that he never made a lot of money and left my mother on welfare. I didn’t know at that time that all of the events of my past were brought into my reality to teach lessons that were meant uniquely for me. I am grateful for the lessons I have received through my father’s willingness to play his role perfectly in my life. Some of the lessons include turning inward to know the boundless love that exists for me inside. When I realized the loving that resides within me I then realized that it is not possible for a parent to not love a child. The simple act of conception itself is a divine act made of loving. In this realization, for what felt like the first time, in my heart I came to embrace My Father.

After fifteen years I decided I would go see him. Prior to my trip a colleague asked, “When you visit, what would you like him to say to you?” Through tears I answered, “I want him to say, ‘I am proud of you.'” I thought I would make it while he was still living. Alas, that was not what spirit had in store for me. However, after my last conversation with him, while he was still in the hospital, he was fairly coherent, and asked, “What are you up to?” I shared some significant accomplishments with him that were going on at the time. He responded, “I am proud of you.” That was the last conversation I had with my father alive.

Originally published in 2009

Gay Rights are Human Rights

Author Kevin Mendez writes in Remnants of Higher Thought,“It is unimportant whether a man marries a man, woman marries a woman, or man and woman marry. Only the love between them is relevant.” Upgrading the teachings of the wise man Jesus, Kevin challenges readers in Remnants of Higher Thought to love others more than they love their self because as a San Francisco based Holistic Therapist he has found that many people do not love themselves very much. 

Our religious government

The United States has proven itself a Christian country, whose beliefs are firmly rooted in the God of the Biblical Old Testament. Interestingly enough, Jesus – the God of the New Testament taught to love others as you love yourself and makes no reference to Gay relations as sinful.   

Gay rights are human rights. Distinction results from ignorance and religious dogma.  Same sex marriage is still perceived as an alternative life style in San Francisco and throughout the world.

The beauty of San Francisco

Growing up in San Francisco same sex relations seemed perfectly normal to me. The city by the Bay is considered the Gay Capital of the world and rightfully so.  San Francisco is one of the few cities where same sex couples can comfortably live without fear.

Untold truth

Many young people today associate Aids to same-sex relations. This in my opinion is by design in an attempt to steer people away from gay relations. The Biblical Old Testament among other mythological texts speaks about the consequences that homosexuals faced when participating in same sex relations.  

Many experts are convinced Aids was synthetically created through secret US government programs directed at African Americans and homosexuals as part of a larger eugenics program.  As a Psychic and Remote Viewer I can say with certainty there is truth to this. 

Cures for cancer have existed for 50+ years. There is no disease known to man without a cure. In a capitalist country there is no profit in cure or peace so war and disease are here to stay – for now.

We perpetuate the problem by buying into religions and belief systems that encourage discrimination, hierarchies and separation.  There is nothing more important in life than fostering quality relationships with ourselves, others and our planet. 

The first thing that should be taught to children is self-love. Through this one teaching all good things will flow.  

 

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