It's more evident than ever: discrimination and hate aren't reserved for far right politicians and pastors.
Last month at The Master's School outside Hartford, CT, a model student told school administrators she was a lesbian – and was immediately told to withdraw.
And just last week in New Jersey, a special education teacher publicly tore into gays and lesbians in a hideous tirade on Facebook, calling homosexuality "a perverted spirit."
It's all happened in the last few weeks around National Coming Out Day, a time to encourage openness – not intimidation, discrimination, or hatred.
If incidents like these make you want to stand up and say "No more!" you're not alone. Since we launched our new Call it Out campaign, HRC supporters have written hundreds of thousands of letters holding people accountable for discrimination..
HRC has made remarkable progress together in the last few years. From repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," to boosting awareness of bullying, to winning marriage equality in New York – our movement has only grown in its victories.
But opposition to LGBT rights continues, and it isn't relegated to the far-right fringe. You and I are up against mainstream, powerful organizations like the Catholic Church, whose top U.S. bishop just sent a letter to President Obama threatening a "national conflict between church and state of enormous proportions" if he continues to stand up against the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act.
We won't stand for these damaging attacks, and I know you won't either – certainly not when lives and livelihoods are at stake.
Demand school policies that protect students, just as we did this week when HRC supporters like you sent 49,619 letters to The Master's School asking that they adopt a non-discrimination policy;
Continue to push New Jersey school officials to investigate teacher Viki Knox for her anti-LGBT Facebook rant;
Mobilize red-state communities to fight for equality and help stop bullying through our "On the Road to Equality" national bus tour; and,
Grow our Welcoming Schools program, which helps school communities embrace family diversity and reject harmful bullying and name-calling.
I was chatting with a man online today. He described himself as a bisexual cross dresser. I understand the bisexual part. I think that every person is sexually attracted to the same sex in some way (say on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being almost exclusively attracted to the opposite sex and 10 being almost exclusively attracted to the same sex). The person's choice (yes I said choice) to act on their personal (genetically predisposed) attraction to the same sex as a sexual partner, is totally based (I believe) on their upbringing and where they fall in that scale. For people on the low end of the scale they may never act on that attraction, while people on the higher end of that same scale may never act on the opposite.
My upbringing as a practicing Catholic fooled me into believing that acting on the same-sex desires that I had all through my young life, was wrong or sinful. I did act on them periodically but always felt dirty and sinful afterwards. I pretended for years that I was near the bottom of that 1-10 scale, got married two times (to women), and have four great children as a result of my religious beliefs (and those marriages). I do not regret any of that especially knowing that I was not the only one to stifle those desires for a same sex encounter or relationship.
Now for my point (as vague as it may seem to be), I have dressed up a total of three times in my life, as a woman. The first was when I was 9 or 10 and I dressed up like Aunt Jemima for Halloween. The second time (also for Halloween) was as the "Church Lady" from SNL in the early 80's. The last time was as Lady Gaga last year for a neighbor's Halloween party (yes the photo above was me, not the real Gaga). I am a pretty open-minded guy, but for something other than a Halloween "scream", why would any man think he would be sexy or attractive to another man if he was dressed as a woman? Personally to me, I am sexually attracted to men that are MEN (not that I don't like a good Drag Show)...
Today is my baby brother's 53rd birthday... How in the world have we gotten this old? Wait... Don't answer that, I'm not ready for the truth...
I have posted about my coming "out" stories before and since tomorrow (10/11) is National Coming Out Day, and today is my brother's birthday, I figured I'd write something about his reaction when I finally came out to him...
I was very concerned as to how he would think of me if I were to tell him I was gay so when I came out (actually quite inadvertently on 10/11/2005) I did not call him or talk to him for a couple of months.
As a little back story here, I have always been very proud of my little brother. He has always had an entrepreneurial spirit and passion and I so admired him for that, but I really never knew where he stood on issues (such as gay rights). Even though he moved to Cape Cod many years ago, I suspect that there are still a few conservative souls left in that State/Commonwealth... He and I became closer over the years that he was promoting Star Trek conventions all over the country and world and would call me (in Miami) and fly me to the city he was hosting a show (asking if I could help him out), but I still really never knew how accepting he would be.
On Christmas Day in 2005, he called me. By then he had probably talked to several other family members, but in his words to me that day, he wanted to hear it from me. I hemmed and hawed a little before just blurting out that I was gay and felt that I always was, even though I was married and had four kids...
I waited for his response...
He said: "Tom, I am so proud of you, that you have done this, I'm sure it took a lot of consideration, and I am so happy for you and so proud to be your brother"...
Not at all what I expected, and to this day I still don't know why. He has always been supportive and never gone off on rants (like I sometimes do), he is the only of the 4 boys to stay married to the first person he wed. I guess by not confiding in him in those years preceding my coming out, I was the one that missed out on something...
To my little brother: Happy Birthday, thanks for being my friend, and I love you!
Over and "Out" Six years tomorrow, from Portsmouth, VA USA
I was watching Regis and Kelly yesterday morning. Kelly was talking about being on a panel at Rutgers University (the night before) as a part of an AC360 (Anderson Cooper) special about bullying.
After she explained what it was all about, she added that her kids go to a very "progressive" school and recounted a lesson by one of the teachers at that school. The following is paraphrased based on my limited recollection and does contain a little artistic license:
"The teacher gave each student a clean crisp sheet of paper. She then instructed the class to crumble up the piece of paper, toss it around, get angry with it, and stomp on it.
After which, she told the students to return to their seats (with their piece of paper), flatten it out on the top of their desks, making it as flat and perfect as they can, and finally, apologize to the paper.
When all the students had done their best to iron out the paper and apologize to it, the teacher picked up the paper on the first classmates desk, held it up so the entire class could see it and said:
If this piece of paper had been another person, and you had done all those things to him or her, by making them feel less than perfect (through your words or actions), these are the scars you would leave. That person would never be the same, no matter how many times you tell them you are sorry, no matter how many times you try to smooth things out..."
What a great way to make a point. While I am a firm believer in the "It gets Better" campaign, wouldn't it be so much better if we all learned this lesson beforehand? I think even most of out politicians can learn from this too...
Over and "Out" from Portsmouth, VA USA
ps: If you liked this please leave a comment or click on "Home" above and read more of my story... and thanks to ocalamom.com for including a gay man's website link to your stories...