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Posts for March, 2010

No Corpus Christi in Texas

Timothy Kincaid

March 27th, 2010

corpus christiIn 1997, playwright Terrence McNally wrote Corpus Christi. The play is a Christ tale, not intended to revise the historical and theological Jesus, but to present a parallel adapted to a more current time wherein Joshua, the Christ figure, and his disciples confront societal rejection and internal conflicts in ways that are reminiscent of, but not identical to, those recorded in the Gospels.

Christ tales are not uncommon. Nor do they generally generate controversy. For example, while C.S. Lewis denied that The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is an allegory (smart him), it is clearly a Christ tale, and one which has come to be revered by Christians of all denominations. When the Waldon/Disney film was released in 2005, religious reviewers praised the production and churches organized viewings.

But McNally introduced one element in his tale that has resulted in protests, death threats, and even a fatwa. While Christians could handle an animal Christ figure, they were horrified that McNally’s Joshua and his disciples are gay. And they have fought nearly every production of the play.

Corpus Christi (latin for “body of Christ”) is set in the 1950s in the Texas town where McNally was raised, Corpus Christi. So it is only fitting that the latest flap over the play come from Tarleton State University in Texas.

In Tarleton’s advance directing course, students each select a play and produce an abbreviated workshop production. John Jordan Otte, a gay Christian, selected McNally’s play. And the Earth went spinning off it’s orbit, the stars crashed from the sky, and the seas rose up and drowned millions. Or so you would think from the public reaction.

In came the letters and the demands that the school ban this student from blaspheming. Protests were organized and the president of the university wrote an op-ed to both denounce the play and express its limitations (Star Telegram):

The university does not endorse the play.

The play is not a university-sponsored production in the Fine Arts series at Tarleton.

The play is a project for a class. It is not intended for the public any more than a student’s math assignment.

The performance is part of the student’s project. It is not open to the general public. The audience includes only the class members and relatives invited to attend.

The play is a class assignment in an advanced directing course. Students were allowed to pick any play to produce an abbreviated workshop performance.

Direct costs associated with the production are paid for by the student director.

The actors are volunteers, and no student is required to be in the play.

Any student in the class who finds the material objectionable will not be required to attend.

President Dottavio called the play “offensive, crude and irreverent” and said it had “no artistic or redeeming quality”. He mad it clear that were it not for that pesky First Amendment, he’d put an end to it. And to further discourage viewing, the production was rescheduled and attendance was restricted.

The production called “Corpus Christi” was to be performed, at the school in Stephenville, at 4 p.m. Saturday.

A news release provided Thursday to The Associated Press says the student-produced play will now start at 8 a.m. Saturday. A private audience of invited guests and relatives of the cast will be the only people allowed to watch the play, the school said.

But that was not adequate for the Lieutenant Governor, who apparently is a complete idiot. David Dewhurst, running for re-election, weighed in (Dallas Morning News)

Says Dewhurst in a statement: “Every citizen is entitled to the freedom of speech, but no one should have the right to use government funds or institutions to portray acts that are morally reprehensible to the vast majority of Americans.”

And is seems that censorship ruled the day. Last night, the school released the following statement:

The four student-directed plays, including “Corpus Christi,” scheduled to be performed at Tarleton State University on Saturday, March 27, 2010, have been canceled this evening by the professor. The professor cited safety and security concerns for the students as well as the need to maintain an orderly academic environment as reasons for canceling the plays. The performance of these four class plays will not be rescheduled.

This is sad for the students, infuriating for those who love liberty, and embarrassing for Texans who are trying to live beyond the stereotype of “good ol’ boy”. But there is little doubt that ‘God fearing, Bible believing Christians’ are celebrating their victory over the homosexual agenda.

Which is both ironic and fitting.

I am certain that few who complained about the production have seen it. I have.

My church hosted a bare-set production a few years ago. Having heard that it was sacrilegious and blasphemous and disrespectful, I was a bit hesitant about what I was going to see. But what I found was a presentation that did not seek to mock or demean the Christian faith, but rather to make it relevant.

The play removes the Christ story from its distant setting, its forgotten political/religious squabbles, and a culture that is foreign both in place and thinking. It takes the focus off of the trapping of the story and looks at what happens when the outcast challenges the religious structure. It was a touching, thought provoking, and intensely spiritual journey that left me with a greater respect for the life and message of Christ.

So it is ironic that Christian folk are up in arms at a play that inspires and deepens faith. But, considering that it also challenges where we each fit in the oppressed/oppressor dynamic and asks us to step outside our presumptions and dogma and look at what Christ represents, it is only fitting that churches should find it so threatening. And the response of the authorities illustrates the current relevance of Corpus Christi.

GA Teen Going to the Prom, But Where Does He Go Afterwards?

Jim Burroway

March 24th, 2010

Derrick Martin

Derrick Martin pulled off an amazing accomplishment this week. The 18-year-old gay senior wanted to take his boyfriend to the Bleckley County High School prom, something that had never happened in this small Georgia town. Apparently being the prudent young man that he is, he asked school officials if that would be okay. To his surprise (and to the surprise of many of the rest of us) the school said yes. He can take his boyfriend to the prom. While there are a few objections, the town seems to be taken the startling developments with aplomb.

Well, not his parents. They kicked their son out of the house. He is now staying with a friend.

Mormon/Boy Scout sexual abuse problem

Timothy Kincaid

March 19th, 2010

mormonscoutAcross the country boys bond in scouting, enjoying the experience of nature, learning social values, and earning recognition for doing good deeds. And the Boy Scouts of America provide a memorable and often rewarding experience for boys – provided that these boys are not same-sex attracted or skeptical about the Abrahamic God.

But for fourteen percent of Scouts, their experience could be more accurately described as religious training in the beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the “Mormons”). Unlike a scouting group hosted by the local Methodist Church which meets in their basement, for the Mormons scouting is a part of the church, an official teaching mechanism that places theology as a higher priority than socialization. It serves not only for inculcating the beliefs of the church, but as an outreach tool.

Elder Robert Backman was recognized by the Boy Scouts of America in 1986 for his efforts in incorporating Scouting into the LDS Church’s Young Men organization. He is quoted in the Aaronic Priesthood Boy Scout Guide:

As you know, we are vitally concerned about our youth and feel that with the proper attention we can save many more than we are doing at the present time. I am convinced that Scouting is a mighty activity arm to hold these boys close while they learn to appreciate the honor of holding the priesthood of God.

If we do all else and lose the young man, we have failed in our sacred stewardship. We must not allow a separation of priesthood, Scouting, or athletics.

Every phase of the Scouting program should help young men and their leaders understand that Scouting activities are carried out to accomplish priesthood purposes.

For Mormons, family is a valued concept. But part of the definition of “family” is the concept of church brotherhood and the expectation that Mormons will raise their children to be integrated into the faith at a young age. Scouting is more of an expectation or obligation than an optional club.

And evidence is arising that the Boy Scouts of America may have taken steps to hide evidence of sexual abuse. And they may have done so for decades. (No. County Times)

The “perversion files,” a nickname the Boy Scouts are said to have used for the documents, have rarely been seen by the public, but that could all change in the coming weeks in an Oregon courtroom.

The lawyer for a man who was molested in the 1980s by a Scout leader has obtained about 1,000 Boy Scouts sex files and is expected to release some of them at a trial that began Wednesday. The lawyer says the files show how the Boy Scouts have covered up abuse for decades.

And it further appears that the Mormon Church may have played a roll in giving some predators access to children.

The lawsuit also named the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because the Mormons acted as a charter organization, or sponsor, for the local Boy Scouts troop that included the victim. But the church has settled its portion of the case.

The Mormon bishop who also served as head of the Scout troop, Gordon McEwen, confronted Dykes after receiving a report of abuse by the mother of one boy in the troop in January 1983.

In a video deposition played for the jury, the bishop said Dykes admitted abusing 17 boys. But McEwen said he contacted the parents of all 17 boys and the boys themselves, and none would confirm any abuse.

Dykes was arrested in 1983 and pleaded guilty to attempted sexual abuse, received probation and was ordered to stay away from children.

Clark told the jury Dykes continued with his scouting activities until he was arrested in July 1984 during a routine traffic stop while he was driving a van full of Scouts on a camping trip.

It has yet to be determined whether Mormons are a significant segment of the thousands of Boy Scout sexual abuse cases. But this is not the first time that the Church has been accused of enabling predators.

SF Appeal, November 2009,

The three men, who are brothers now aged 39, 41 and 43, claim that William E. Knox, 65, a Mormon church and Boy Scouts leader, molested them repeatedly in Sunnyvale between 1977 and 1987.

A brother identified as John Doe 2, who now lives in Georgia, said, “I’m a victim and a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. It was devastating to me. I’ve been abused hundreds of times over several years.”

The brother alleged, “During the abuse, I told the church leadership responsible to protect me and they did nothing to protect me.”

The Idaho Falls Post Register chronicles a story of abuse at an LDS scouting camp in the 1990′s which boggles the mind.

1988 Brad Stowell, 16, admits to Blackfoot police, his mother and his LDS bishop that he molested a 6-year-old neighbor. He is sent to LDS Social Services counseling.

1988 Stowell is hired to teach first aid at Camp Little Lemhi. He has testified he started preying on campers that summer.

1991 Richard J. Scarborough reports to the national Boy Scouts of America that a child molester has been hired to work at Camp Little Lemhi.
January 1994 Richard Scarborough writes to the LDS church president, complaining that local church leaders are ignoring his warning about the pedophile in the LDS Scout troop.

January 1995 Carol Scarborough tells Camp Little Lemhi program director Jim Summers that Brad Stowell molested a neighbor boy.

1995 Camp Little Lemhi director Richard Snow hires Stowell as aquatics director.

It continues in horrifying detail until Stowell is arrested in 1997 after repeated abuse.

And such abuse will continue for as long as the Scouts (and the Mormons and the Catholics and a whole host of other) continue to focus on and exclude gay people while ignoring the true source of the problem. They fear and expel gay men who are attracted to other adult men while ignoring the married, church going, men who secretly prey on available children of both sexes.

Now advocates for victims of child abuse are eagerly awaiting what the newly opened files will tell them. I’m certain that the Scouts are worried. I wonder if the LDS Church has reason to be concerned.

Our condolences to the Burke family

Timothy Kincaid

February 6th, 2010

burkesIn November 2009, Brendan Burke came out to the world. He had come out to his famous hockey coach father Brian Burke two years earlier.

Burke’s story was happy in that it revealed that a sport as drenched in testosterone as hockey could accept Brandon with a shrug. His father, his coach, an his team were all supportive and even when reporters went searching for a story they could not find anyone in hockey willing to be disrespectful to him.

On Friday, Brendan Burke was in a fatal accident. While driving on a treacherous snowy road in Michigan Indiana, his vehicle slid sideways into the path of a truck and he and his passenger were both killed.

But Brandon Burke will be remembered for being brave. And for helping to illustrate to the next generation of hockey kids that homophobia need not be part of the sports world and helping to dispell the stereotype that gay men cannot be physically tough competitors.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and teammates at this time of their grief.

Rob Tisinai’s video on the danger to children

Timothy Kincaid

January 25th, 2010

In April of last year, Rob Tisinai prepared a video debunking many of the claims made by anti-gay activists about the consequences of marriage equality. Tisinai skillfully simplified each claim its essentials and by using easily understood graphics provided visual clarity to reveal the lies.

Tisinai has now taken the same approach to the false connection between homosexuality and pedophilia. Using data similar to that in Box Turtle Bulletin’s report Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?, Tisinai shows that there is a threat to the safety of children and that threat is fed by false assumptions and the political demonization of gay men.

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Wheatland WY is a place for hate

Timothy Kincaid

January 23rd, 2010

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 to oppose the defamation of Jewish people. Although their primary focus is still on anti-Semitism, they have expanded their focus to oppose all forms of bigotry, defend democratic ideals and protect civil rights for all.

One of their current projects is a school based anti-bullying program called No Place for Hate.

No Place for Hate® was developed to organize schools to work together and develop projects that enhance the appreciation of diversity and foster harmony amongst diverse groups. The campaign empowers schools to promote respect for individual and group differences while challenging prejudice and bigotry.

Every day we make choices. We can choose to let anti-Semitism, racism, and other forms of bigotry go unchallenged and potentially escalate, or we can choose to confront the bias that we see in our workplaces, homes, schools, and communities. As our world becomes smaller and our schools and communities more diverse, it is more critical than ever to actively build bridges to cross-cultural understanding and mutual respect.

bannerSchools across the nation participate in the program, including Wheatland High and West Elementary in Wheatland, Wyoming. They went through the steps of qualifying for participation and received banners which they hung at school, announcing that their campuses were No Place for Hate.

But then there were some protests and the banners were removed. In order to offer the program free to schools, ADL had sponsors whose names were included at the bottom of the banner.

They weren’t upset that Qwest, the communications company was listed. And they didn’t mind that the David & Laura Merage Foundation helped pay for the program. But that red circle with the words “Gay and Lesbian Fund” was simply unacceptable. So down they will stay. (WyomingNews)

Platte County School District 1 trustees voted 4-3 to keep the Anti-Defamation League’s “No Place for Hate” banners down at Wheatland High and West Elementary.

The trustees made no pretense at masking their anti-gay animus:

“If this is the way one chooses, then they can lead this particular lifestyle, but I don’t believe it needs to be publicly displayed in a school,” Dunham said.

Joe Fabian, another board member, said he believes the Anti-Defamation League is pushing an “agenda that is pro-gay marriage” and that the community of Wheatland is not supportive of that.

“They wouldn’t want the organization, the Anti-Defamation League, dictating to their children that an alternate lifestyle is a normal lifestyle,” he said.

Oh, but they like the rest of the program. Can’t they just continue with being a ‘not place for hate except for gays‘?

No. The ADL was quick to note the irony and will not not let the schools participate in the program if they encourage and reward biases.

So Wheatland, Wyoming, a seventy-five mile drive from Laramie, now has a new designation, an adopted identity. Wheatland IS a Place for Hate. And if you’re a gay kid attending those schools, now you clearly know it.

Reason.com looks at the Miller-Jenkins case

Timothy Kincaid

January 5th, 2010

reason'Reason magazine (and Reason.com, its online presence) approach issues from a libertarian bent. In Who’s Your Daddy? Or Your Other Daddy? Or Your Mommy?, Ronald Bailey, Reason’s science columnist, looks at three cases of disputed parenthood.

Case 1: Sean and Donald Robinson Hollingsworth’s dispute with Donald’s sister (a non-biological surrogate) over their twin girls.

Case 2: “Mike L in Pennsylvania” who is paying child support to his spouse and her new husband for a child that test show is the biological child of the new husband rather than Mike.

Case 3: Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins’ custody battle over Isabella.

Anti-gays seeking to justify Miller’s absconding with Isabella like to point out that the girl is not the genetic child of Jenkins. But Bailey makes what I think is a reasonable and consistent argument.

When Miller and Jenkins joined in civil union and decided together on having a child by artificial insemination, it was clear that both would be parents regardless of genetic ties. Now Miller apparently wants to make the claim that genetics should have priority when it comes to child custody.

Rather than wading into questions of genetics, why not apply an ethical analysis of contractual obligations to these cases? In the New Jersey surrogacy case, the sister agreed to bear children using donor eggs and sperm from her brother’s partner for the male couple.

In the case of Mike L, his wife broke their marriage contract when she cuckolded him and bore a child that was not his.

In other words, the best interest for children is that their parents act like adults and live up to their obligations, contracts, and commitments. It sounds like sound policy to me.

LAPD drops ties with the Boy Scouts

Timothy Kincaid

December 28th, 2009

boyscoutsIn 2000, the Boy Scouts of America went to the US Supreme Court to defend their right to exclude members based solely on their sexual orientation. And since that time, they have insisted that all scout troops – even those in which the community, the scout leaders, and the parents wish otherwise – expel and exclude gay scouts and leaders. They also exclude atheists and agnostics.

I support their right to do so. Generally, I believe that membership based social organizations should be free to grant or deny membership based on whatever arbitrary or ridiculous reason they wish, even if it be odious and hateful. Even if I believe the policy to be ill conceived and harmful.

But they should not do so with my tax dollars.

And, increasingly, the Scouts have been discovering that the cost of their exclusionary policy is not an inconsequential one. There has been a steady stream of cities that have severed ties or revoked special privileges which the organization had enjoyed. No longer does the City Berkeley provide free berthing to the Sea Scouts. The City of San Diego revoked its $1 lease on a portion of Balboa Park, and the City of Philadelphia evicted the Scouts from a city owned building.

Of course, those who demand their right to discriminate often are outraged and indignant when they think that they are on the other side of the equation. So the Boy Scouts have sued in each of these cases, claiming that revoking their special privileges and taxpayer sponsored handouts is (you saw it coming) discrimination against them.

Yet with each passing year, they are discovering that local governments and institutions give less leeway to the Scouts. Their blind insistence on defining themselves as a religious organization free to disassociate the ungodly also puts them at conflict with establishment of religion issues.

And, frankly, more and more, their pigheadedness is seen as distasteful. Civic institutions don’t want to put gay elected officials or employees in the uncomfortable position of having to deal with a group that considers them not to be “clean” or “morally straight”. And it feels burdensome of the Scouts to put them in this position.

So this organization, once revered and considered an integral part of American youth, is increasingly give the heave-ho. And the latest to sever connections with the Scouts is the Los Angeles Police Department (Daily Breeze).

Since 1962 the Explorers, a program for youth who wish to become police officers, has been affiliated with the Boy Scouts. That will end on Friday; the Police Commission has voted to change the name of the program and cease using the Scout affiliated insurance service (the LAPD has administered the program itself for the past decade).

Commissioner Robert Saltzman, who is openly gay, said that because he cannot support the Boy Scouts, he has invested a lot of time to ensure the new youth program is “as good or – I’m confident – better than the program it replaces.”

“The Boy Scouts are clear that they discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender identity and religion, and the result of that is I could not be active on the Boy Scouts,” Saltzman said.

None of this is a happy resolution. The Scouts are weaker, the program is less respected, ad hoc solutions are pasted about in attempts to keep programs operating, and children are now less connected to their local governments. All the good that comes from connecting with nature, teaching values by example, efforts for self improvement and a call to selflessness has now been tainted by exclusion, discrimination, and recrimination.

All so that some ultra-religious administrators can self-righteously declare that only good god-fearing heterosexuals can be associated with their organization. Oh, and all this sadness and destruction is justified because their bigotry is “for the children”.

Episcopalians house homeless gay youth

Timothy Kincaid

December 8th, 2009

Matthew 25:34-40

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Christendom has a well-deserved reputation of behaving abominably towards gay people, particularly gay youth. Every gay person knows someone who during their youth was mocked, tormented, or thrown out of their home, all in the name of Christianity. For some, it was even worse.

We regularly confront those who, like those “family” organizations that testified in opposition to marriage equality yesterday in New Jersey, come bearing the title of minister but blatantly spew hatred and lies. We know that when we hear “the Bible says” that it is almost invariably going to be some quotation of Scripture that is selected to bash, condemn, or demean gay people.

The Catholic Church in D.C. recently went so far as to claim that if gay people received equal marriage treatment under the law, then they would stop providing care for the poor. There is little wonder that for many gay people, all of their experiences tell them that “Christianity = Hate”.

So Carl Siciliano, the founder of the Ali Forney Center, a group that helps homeless gay youth, was hesitant when he was approached by a Christian group. Although they said they wanted to help, gay people are accustomed to “help” that is less charitable than it is an attempt to “save the homosexual from his sinful and destructive lifestyle”. (New York Times)

“For a lot of us, when we hear about Christianity, our stomachs kind of churn,” Mr. Siciliano said in an interview. “Another part of me is very grateful the church is making this kind of gesture.”

But this time the help was genuinely charitable. The Episcopal Community Services of Long Island and the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island contributed $200,000 to create and house a new 16-bed shelter at the Church of St. Andrew’s in Astoria.

aliforney

But the partnership is less about politics than about simple charity, said Bishop Lawrence C. Provenzano, who represents 146 congregations in the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island (which includes Brooklyn and Queens).

“I think it’s an obligation to care for God’s people,” Bishop Provenzano said. “This is basic nuts-and-bolts Christianity.”

Amen.

There is no small amount of anti-Christian hostility from many readers of our site. And though we try to minimize broad-stroke attacks on people of faith, there is no doubt that public Christianity has earned mistrust and even hatred from gay people many times over.

But perhaps this story – and I do see this as part of a trend – can begin the process of repairing the image of the faith. And I dare say that if all Christians behaved like the Episcopalians on Long Island, far more Americans – including our readers – would see religion as a positive force in the world rather than a vehicle for superstition, bigotry, and control of others.

Texas kid beaten with metal pole, entirely preventable

Timothy Kincaid

November 19th, 2009

LanghamCreekHighSchoolFew hate crimes are specifically preventable. It is not often that the intended violence is known in advance and reported to authorities. Which makes the case of Jayron Martin so frustrating and infuriating.

A fellow student warned Jayron that a group of students planned on beating him because he’s gay. So Jayron reported the threat to two assistant principals, who did nothing to protect him.

When Jayron got on the bus to go home (as the school opted not to call his mother) so did the group of attackers. Jayron then told the bus driver and begged for help. He didn’t get any.

So he ran. As fast as he could. Which wasn’t fast enough.

Unable to make it home, he ran into a neighbor’s house; but this didn’t deter his attackers. They followed and one beat Jayron with a metal pole while eight others watched.

It wasn’t until the owner came downstairs with a shotgun, and cocked it, that they ran off leaving Jayron with a concussion, bruised and bleeding.

Those who oppose gay-straight alliances or other support systems for gay students like to pretend that gay students face no greater threats than any other students. And when situations occur, they comfort their biases with the thought that the student must have provoked the situation or didn’t take the expected steps to protect himself.

I wonder what excuse they will give this time. But, then again, I also often wonder how they sleep at night.

Anti-gay Purdue library prof’s blogging gets press attention

Timothy Kincaid

November 12th, 2009

Indystar.com has an article about the brouhaha arising from Professor of Library Science Bert Chapman’s “economic case against homosexuality“. Mostly, it seems that while some students are calling for his firing, most are just wanting to make the student body aware of Chapman’s anti-gay attitudes.

A statement by a coalition of West Lafayette rights groups, Pride Lafayette and the Purdue Queer Student Union said it supports free speech.

“Supporting free speech does not mean that there are no consequences for such statements,” the statement said. “While it’s clear that all individuals have the right to print anything they wish regardless of the lack of value or research, it’s also true that statements in print (or in this case online) should be rejected and called out when they damage a segment of the community.”

But, as appears to be a growing attitude among anti-gay activists, Chapman believe that freedom of speech exempts their speech from criticism. He, and other anti-gay professors around the country, see this exposure of his attitudes as “censorship” and Chapman as a victim.

Jonathan Katz, a St. Louis-based Washington University professor, enraged many on that campus by his “defense of homophobia” on his personal blog and said Chapman is a victim.

“You see here bullying and an attempt at censorship by a pressure group that is afraid of speech that disagrees with its position,” Katz said. “Bullying dissenters by calling for their dismissal is routine. If people let themselves be dissuaded by bullying from exercising their right of free speech, then that right will atrophy, and we will lose it.”

And like many anti-gay activists, Chapman appears to see his attack on “homosexuality” to be unassociated with any actual gay persons. He’s just attacking “a lifestyle”, not those who “live that lifestyle”, you see.

Yet gay people are about as receptive to vile denunciations of a homosexual lifestyle as Latinos are to a stereotyped attack on “the Latino lifestyle” or Greeks are to calls to deny spending on those who live “the Greek lifestyle” in favor of those who adhere to traditional non-Greek standards. Such careful phrasing only creates a distinction without a difference.

Just as denunciations of “people who wear yarmulkes” is no different from antisemitism, so too does “condemnation of the homosexual lifestyle” in the terms used by Chapman equate to anti-gay ranting.

But Chapman pretends that his opinions, just being opinions you know, should not reflect on him and should have caused no concern at all.

Chapman said he was surprised at the backlash his blog had caused in the pages of the daily campus newspaper, which has run several letters calling for his job. Hearing rumors of a student protest, he said he wished the matter would simply go away.

Well that’s the funny thing about an unprovoked attack on your students. They aren’t much inclined to laugh it off or let it “simply go away”.

Purdue Professor Spews “An Economic Case Against Homosexuality”

Timothy Kincaid

November 6th, 2009

Purdue Professor of Library Science Bert Chapman wrote an article on his TownHall blogsite in which he sought to lay out an economic argument against the civil rights and liberties of gay men.

His premise is that AIDS is expensive so gay men should be denied any benefits, both from the government and from private employers. (He is all for “the biblical condemnation of the homosexual lifestyle”, but he seems unaware that Lesbians exist).

The money wasted on AIDS research could be returned to taxpayers or transferred to more worthwhile areas of public health research such as cancer, heart disease, and combating pandemic conditions like H1N1 flu.

Chapman’s rant is factually flawed, poorly contrived, based on false assumptions, and is void of exactly what he thinks an alternative might be (e.g. let sick people die in the street?).

Not only does he seem to think that all gay men have AIDS, the poor man also appears to think that US AIDS relief spending in Africa is somehow related to gay men. And in a leap of irrationality, Chapman suggests that gay people getting married would lead to increased rather than decreased sexual disease transmission.

Naturally, some Purdue students aren’t pleased. They expressed concerns about gay students and about the university’s commitment to non-discrimination policies.

But I think the bigger issue is that Purdue has a Professor of Library Science who seems incapable of researching even the most basic of facts. As an advocate for information access, Chapman has an obligation to use the information ready at his fingertips rather than rant on uninformed.

Which brings me to my favorite response. Kevin Casimer, a senior in the College of Liberal Arts, made a tongue in cheek economic case for getting rid of librarians. Frankly, of the two, his argument was stronger.

Getting rid of librarians makes economic sense. Walmart trusts people to check out their groceries, so surely we could implement self-checkout at our libraries. Replacing librarians with minimum wage workers to put books back on the shelf and assist people with self-checkout would save billions. This process could even generate new income if we allowed police to access these systems and fine those who don’t return books. Of course, a degree of service would be lost without librarians. However, I think we’ll manage locally as long as someone teaches the new workers to be as helpful as the last Purdue librarian I spoke to who offered to “help me do a search on ‘the Google.’”

School Board Objects to Pictures of Gay Americans

Timothy Kincaid

October 28th, 2009

A school board in Michigan decided last week that a display by the Diversity Club had put up for gay history month which showed pictures of successful gay Americans was just too offensive for their precious high school aged children.

From the wildly homophobic Argus-Press *

The Corunna Board of Education voted Monday to remove a club project in a display case at Corunna High School that highlighted the acceptance of homosexuality and alternative lifestyles.

The Diversity Club’s display featured about nine photos of athletes, politicians and educators who live a homosexual lifestyle, Corunna Superintendent Dr. Mark Miller said.

It was just shocking, shocking!, that the little darlings were exposed to a picture of Neil Patrick Harris.

But it turns out that even school board members can get an education at a public school. And the ACLU was on hand to grade this little pop quiz.

From the Michigan Messenger

A local Shiawassee County school board plans to hold a meeting as soon as Monday to rescind a decision it made Oct. 23 to order the removal of an extracurricular club display honoring gay history month.

“We have violated the First Amendment rights of the students and the Diversity Club,” Maureen Stanley, president of the Corunna Board of Education, said. “We limited their expression.”

But it does make you wonder. Did the complaining parent really object to the existence of gay people at all? Did the school board really think that saying, “these Americans are gay” was something to refer to a health advisory committee?

I guess their “thinking” is best illustrated by this quote:

“We did not feel that was something that needed to be highlighted in the school, that’s basically it,” Trustee Lyle Brooks said.


UPDATE

* I am delighted to tell you that I was completely wrong in categorizing the Argus-Press as “wildly homophobic”. Dan Basso, the editor, contacted us to inquire as to why I made such a statement and to indicate that this does not reflect his intentions. We had a meaningful and useful correspondence about the use of certain words and terms such as “homosexual” v. “gay” and “lifestyle” and I think that Mr. Basso and I both have a greater understanding of each other.

I believe Mr. Basso when he tells us that it was not his intention to offend or report in a way that appears opposed to the gay community. And I am satisfied that he intends to update his stylebook and direct his staff on the use of language in stories related to our community. And I am appreciative of an editorial – not available online – in which the editor strongly disagreed with the action of the Board.

I was wrong. And sometimes it is great to admit being wrong.

HPV Vaccine OKed for Males

Timothy Kincaid

October 27th, 2009

Hardly an anti-gay activist can keep the excitement from their voice when they breathlessly declare that Gay Men Die From Anal Cancer!! And, indeed, gay men do die from anal cancer. In fact, about 0.35% of gay men do get anal cancer (a higher rate than non-gay men) and, if not treated, some of them die.

The primary contributor to anal cancer is infection with the HPV virus, the same virus that contributes to cervical cancer in women, causes genital warts, and is linked to some rare oral cancers in straight men. HPV is very common and most sexually active adults will be infected at some point in their life.

But some day that may no longer be true.

As we told you in June, a vaccine for the virus – which the CDC has been urging to be provided to all girls – is also effective in preventing infection in boys. And now the FDA has approved the vaccine for such use. (NYTimes)

The vaccine was approved last week by the Food and Drug Administration for use in boys and men ages 9 to 26. Wednesday’s action, by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is intended to guide national policy on use of the vaccine; its recommendations are typically adopted by professional medical associations and set the standards of practice for physicians.

But it probably won’t lead to universal vaccination. After all, it would be mostly appropriate to boys who may some day engage in sex with someone of the same sex, and we aren’t so foolish as to assume that public health policy will be directed by what is beneficial to future gay citizens.

The new recommendation means, in effect, that doctors and clinics may now administer the vaccine at their discretion to boys and men ages 9 to 26, but they are not expected to offer it. Parents may consider the vaccine as an option for their sons, but some health insurers may choose not to cover the shots.

Yet this is good news. And it is important that we spread the news to gay-straight alliances and gay youth groups and to parents of kids that are a bit gender-nonconforming and even those parents who put their kids’ health above their dreams of a daughter-in-law. This simple step could possibly save a life.

And in the process remove one more bullet from the arsenal of those who attack our lives and freedoms.

But In Other Catholic News

Jim Burroway

October 23rd, 2009

It’s not all bad. Judge Memorial Catholic High School in Salt Lake City Catholic will go forward with its production of Rent, after the school’s superintendent reviewed the play at the request of the Bishop:

Sister Catherine Kamphaus, superintendent of schools in the Salt Lake City diocese, said she read the script at the request of Bishop John Wester, and she watched a dress rehearsal Tuesday.

“There is absolutely nothing that would be offensive,” Kamphaus said Thursday. “It wasn’t condoning the gay and lesbian lifestyle.”

Rather, she said, the play shows friends forming a loving and caring community while facing AIDS and other challenges. …The superintendent praised Judge’s use of the play as a springboard to teach about the Roman Catholic Church’s compassion for outcasts, the sick and the hopeless.

A special school edition of Rent bcame available in the past year. The school edition removes one song, “Contact,” along with profane language.

The Real Reason they don’t like Kevin Jennings

Timothy Kincaid

October 16th, 2009

A group of 53 Republican congressmen sent a letter to President Obama asking him to fire Kevin Jennings from his job running the Education Department’s Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools. No, there are no surprises on the list.

The congressmen lay out four reasons why they oppose Jennings, with the first one serving as their primary objection. And the real reason why they don’t like Kevin Jennings is… wait for it… because HE’S GAY!!!

Well, actually, it’s because he’s a homosexual activist. But, then again, so is every single gay person who isn’t masquerading as a doormat.

As the founder of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), Mr. Jennings has played an integral role in promoting homosexuality and pushing a pro-homosexual agenda in America’s schools—an agenda that runs counter to the values that many parents desire to instill in their children. As evidence of this, Mr. Jennings wrote the foreword for a book titled Queering Elementary Education: Advancing the Dialogue About Sexualities and Schooling. Throughout his career, Mr. Jennings has made it his mission to establish special protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students to the exclusion of all other students. The totality of Mr. Jennings’ career has been to advocate for public affirmation of homosexuality. There is more to safe and drug free schools than can be accomplished from the narrow view of Mr. Jennings who has, for more than 20 years, almost exclusively focused on promoting the homosexual agenda.

Translation: “He’s gay, gay, gay, gay, gay, gay, gay!”

They also object to:

Two: The now debunked Brewster misinterpretation:

Mr. Jennings recounts a 15-year old student confiding in him that he had a sexual relationship with a much older man… Mr. Jennings’ only response was to ask if the underage boy used a condom.

Those of us who bother to care about honesty will note that even if one were to pretend that the story was supposed to be strictly factual rather than allegorical in nature, Jennings never said the man was “much older” or “And that’s all I ever told him.” And I’m sure they forgot to note that Brewster himself told us that he wasn’t having sex.

Ah but honest concern is seldom a real component of anti-gay outrage.

Three: a failure to oppose drugs

In his memoir, Mama’s Boy, Preacher’s Son, Mr. Jennings describes his use of illegal drugs, without expressing regret or acknowledging the devastating effects illegal drug use can have on a person’s life.

I will give the benefit of the doubt and assume none of them actually read the book. Otherwise they’d know that the “illegal drugs” they reference was a single sentence about smoking pot once with a boy who was a bad influence during a period when Jennings was desperately trying to fit in.

But that doesn’t fit their agenda quite so well

And lest you think that either of these two additional “concerns” are central to their objection, they close with the following:

You should replace him with someone who has a record of educating children in a safe and moral environment. [emphasis added]

In other words, someone who isn’t gay.

But I Thought that Prop 8 Was Supposed to Stop That

Timothy Kincaid

October 13th, 2009

thomasson.gifRandy Thomasson, the wacky spokeman for SaveCalifornia.com has dire predictions:

Randy Thomasson of SaveCalifornia.com tells OneNewsNow that in light of the governor’s signature on SB 572, schools in The Golden State are now a source for homosexual indoctrination.

“Now children are going to be taught to admire the homosexual activist, his entire homosexual/bisexual agenda — even a cross-dressing agenda,” he asserts.

My, oh my. But isn’t that what Prop 8 was supposed to stop?

Remember, it wasn’t about civil rights for same-sex couples, or equality under the law. No, it was about children being told in school that they could grow up to marry either a prince or a princess.

Well, gosh. Now that the Golden State is a source for indoctrination of the entire homosexual/bisexual and cross-dressing agenda, then I guess there’s no reason not to reverse the ban on marriage equality.

Guilty by Association by Association

Timothy Kincaid

October 12th, 2009

harry hayFor weeks those who oppose any appointments of gay people (or, perhaps, any appointments of anyone by President Obama) have been obsessing on Kevin Jennings. Jennings is a particularly appealing target because, as founder of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), any attack on him is also an attack on the credibility of the organization that most strongly serves as advocate and ally for gay youth.

First they focused on the story of “Brewster“, an allegorical tale that Jennings used to explain his motivation for becoming a youth advocate. Anti-gay activists were “outraged” that Jennings did not adequately respond to the tale of an underage kid having sex with adult men.

And then “Brewster” himself reported that he was not underage (he was 16, of legal age in Massachusetts) and he was not having sex with adult men. Some chose to believe that this was “highly suspect” and not really the youth in question, but it did take the wind out of their sails.

So now they’ve changed tactics. Now they question Jennings’ qualifications to serve as a safe youth advocate because he admires an early gay activist who – in addition to his contributions – had some unsavory views. The argument goes like this:

  • Jennings has expressed admiration for Harry Hay, who in 1950 co-founded the Mattachine Society, an extremely influential early gay rights organization.
  • Three decades later, Harry Hay defended and supported the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) when the rest of the community repudiated this group and refused to allow them participation in community events.
  • Therefore, Jennings is tarred by association with NAMBLA and should be disqualified from his position.

And while such reaching arguments are expected from extremists and haters, even the usually-reasonable Dr. Warren Throckmorton is “asking questions”.

Should gay leaders speak out about this now, especially during gay history month? When conservatives refer to someone like Paul Cameron or Scott Lively, they are criticized (and rightly so, to my way of thinking). Should those who laud Hay be questioned about their support for someone who walked with NAMBLA?

I don’t defend Harry Hay. He was a kook and his dedication to anti-establishment activism and non-conformity above all sometimes led to very poor choices (like his defense of NAMBLA) and ultimately enmity with the newly arising community activists. By his death he was an anachronism and an embarrassment.

But I respect and appreciate the work that Hay did on behalf of me and my community when there were very few willing. While he devolved into a bit of a joke, I think it would be appalling, callous, and astonishingly crass to dismiss his contributions and paint the man as nothing but a curmudgeous old fool tied to pedophiles, as anti-gay activists would selfishly have us do.

Throckmorton also notes that Jennings edited a book which praised Hay as an early activist, but left out reference to his support for NAMBLA.

Jennings has spoken positively about Hay and wrote about him in a book titled Becoming Visible, which is a gay history book for teens and college aged adults. In this book, Jennings referenced a biography of Hay (The Trouble with Harry Hay, by Stuart Timmons) which mentioned Hay’s support of NAMBLA but Jennings did not disclose this to his readers.

But the book in question which Jennings edited was not about The Life of Harry Hay. Indeed, the chapter which is so “objectionable” was titled Harry Hay and the Beginnings of the Homophile Movement. In it is some 19 or so pages about the origins and activities of the Mattachine Society from about 1950 to 1953 and how this group was instrumental in organizing gay men in their own defense.

There was one paragraph on Hay’s life after 1953 and the book did not, in that one paragraph, disclose Hay’s defense of NAMBLA. Nor, in his intro to the chapter, did Jennings. The much larger and more extensive book from which the material was selected, Stuart Timmins’ The Trouble with Harry Hay does discuss the NAMBLA controversy which occurred in the late 1980′s – the story takes up one page.

I think it is reasonable to assume that most books for teens which contain limited excerpts of larger biographies do not dwell extensively on the character flaws of those whose accomplishments they seek to extol. Nor does NAMBLA appear to be a large part of Hay’s life – or certainly not to the extent where it would be biographically relevant in a short article. Hay was very involved in other organizations – some rather peculiar ones – and those involvements were briefly mentioned in the book.

But let us not suppose that Jennings’ critics are applying a standard that is consistent, logical, or meaningful. While I suspect that Throckmorton’s involvement with this story relates more to his long-running resentment over anti-bullying program wars, the chorus he joins is motivated by a deep dislike of anyone or anything gay – especially those gay persons or groups that seek to shelter, protect, and support gay kids.

They know that Kevin Jennings does not support NAMBLA. Since Harry Hay passed on, virtually no one in the gay community does. But that doesn’t matter – truth is irrelevant to those who seek the destruction of gay men and women.

Take for example, Throckmorton’s chief example of critic, Scott Baker, who in a video claims:

It is important to note that this is not a small episode in the book. It is, in fact, the dramatic conclusion to the book.

It is not either the dramatic conclusion nor a large episode. It’s one page. Out of 300.

So why does Baker claim it is central to Timmons book? Because it is all that Baker cares about in Hay’s life. He finds the previous 295 pages to be irrelevant and inconsequential; he only cares about what can be used to discredit Hay and Jennings.

And Baker knows – as all anti-gays know – that NAMBLA is despised and feared by parents – or really anyone, gay or straight – and their very existence is a thorn in the side of the gay community. So if they can get the name “Kevin Jennings” and the name “NAMBLA” on the same page, it doesn’t matter how weak the link.

Make no mistake. This is a smear tactic conducted by those who are dedicated to anti-gay activism. The “concern” has nothing to do with safe schools or children. This is an effort – now that the first smear campaign has backfired – to find something, anything, to use as an attack on Kevin Jennings.

And if they can’t actually tie Kevin Jennings to NAMBLA, then they are perfectly content in implying guilt by association by association.

Maine’s “Gay Activist” isn’t Gay

Timothy Kincaid

October 9th, 2009

In their latest ad, Safe Schools, Stand For Marriage Maine responds to a pro-marriage equality ad which explains that same-sex marriage will have no negative impact on Maine schools. Rather than address the facts, they play the pro-marriage ad in the background and say, “this Maine teacher is a gay activist already pushing this type of agenda”.

Fear her. She’s gay and is pushing that homosexual agenda. Scary.

The problem is that Sherri Gould, the teacher in the pro-equality ad is not a “gay activist”. She isn’t even gay. An email from the No on 1 campaign clarifies:

“Sherri Gould is the straight mom of three grown children who share her strong belief in full equality,” said [Ron] Dodson, whose older daughter was a founding member of the Nokomis GSA and whose younger daughter joined the GSA this year. “Sherri was the first teacher advisor of the Gay/Straight Alliance at Nokomis High School because she was concerned about the levels of anti-gay language and harassment.”

Gould is the sort of person that anti-gays just can’t understand. She is a straight woman who believes in treating gay people just as though they were equal to her. How bizarre.

In the anti-gay worldview, if you don’t think gay people are lesser creatures, well then you must be one yourself.

Growing Up Gay Attending Coastline Bible Church, Day I of IV

"What My Church Taught Me About My Sexuality"

Daniel Gonzales

October 6th, 2009

When I entered middle school my family switched to Coastline Bible Church (known then as First Baptist Church Ventura) because it had a more active youth program.  What my parents were not aware of were the radical right wing ideas and anti-gay gospel taught at the church which even filtered down into youth programs.

As an ex-gay survivor activist I have spent the last several years telling my story of having gone though ex-gay therapy but have never elaborated much on how my church’s teachings affected my decision to pursue therapy.

This series of short videos will run through the end of the week. Today I present day I, “What My Church Taught Me About My Sexuality.”

Far too many gay youth who grow up attending church are taught horrible, awful, terrible things about their own sexuality. For me to say that 15 years ago I was taught homosexuality was simply “wrong” would be silly. Rather I prefer to illustrate how I learned about homosexuality in church, by recalling specific incidents that would shape the rest of my life.

I believe the years of anti-gay teachings I endured as a minor at this church amounts to psychological child abuse — To not tell my story and how my life was harmed by my church’s teachings would be a disservice to other gay youth currently enduring the same thing.

Part I, “What My Church Taught Me About My Sexuality”
Part II, “The Harm Of Trying To Fit Into Someone Else’s Mold”
Part III, “Distrusting Science When It Doesn’t Agree With Your Faith”
Part IV, “Gender Conformity And Giving In To Peer Pressure”

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