Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween: Movie Review Special

image HELLBENT is the terrifying original feature from writer/ director Paul Etheredge-Ouzts and Joseph Wolf, the co-creator of such horror classics as Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Taking place at the famed West Hollywood Halloween Carnival, there is a serial killer on the loose. A group of four gay friends will have to fight for their lives to make it through a night where flamboyant costumes, beautiful people, drugs, music, dancing and sex are everywhere.
A wild, relentless ride that combines winning and appealing characters, unexpected surprises, and shocking scares, HELLBENT is a refreshing new classic for the horror genre.
Since I first saw this movie, a real gay horror movie, (not one of those straight boys in their underwear horror movies that David DeCoteau has made so many of), I have watched this movie every Halloween.  It’s scary with a lot of eye candy, what more could you ask for on Halloween.
Tonight, I might also add another hot horror movie, which is considered one of the Top 5 Unintentional Gay movies on  Ranking #4 on their list is The Covenant from 2006:
#4. The Covenant (2006)

Caleb is the leader of a gang of "undercover" male witches who spend a lot of time showering together. He is obsessively targeted by a mysterious stranger, Chase, the new kid at their exclusive private school.
We don't want to read too much into the fact that the school's female students are featured mostly as blurry, indistinct figures in the background. Why read anything at all when we have an all-male naked locker room fight scene to watch?

"I'm gonna cast a magic spell. A magic ass spell. On your ass."
Yes, it's the classic story of male friendship: One man defends another in a naked brawl, sparked when one of the men is called gay. Our memory is a little hazy, but we're fairly certain that's how Mel Gibson met Danny Glover in the first Lethal Weapon.
After their bond if forged through butt-naked combat, Chase and Caleb hit some bars together and engage in extended male swimming competitions while wearing tiny, tiny shorts. Their relationship reaches its climax when Caleb discovers the secret that Chase hides away from the world in the clos ... cupboard deep within his soul. We're of course talking about the fact that Chase is also an undercover witch.
Chase becomes desperate to consume Caleb's magic, when he learns that Caleb has a special magic that will only fully develop once he turns 18. Chase stalks him, threatens his friends and eventually holds him down and kisses him.

"This is how we steal magic, right?"
This brings us to the final conflict, and the point at which the film pretty much whips the audience in the face with the homoerotic symbolism: In the climactic scene, the two men hurl magic translucent white globs of power at each other as Chase begs for Caleb's consent.
Best Line:
"How about I make you my wi-atch?"
Wait, Are You Sure This is "Unintentional"?

"Be careful, my magic is very sticky and if it gets in your hair, you'll never get it out."
In this case, at least, all of the homoerotic subtext lurking just beneath the surface (and sometimes prominently above it) seems to be a strange, misguided attempt to appeal to the young women who this film was plainly aimed at. The filmmakers must have spent some time in some chat rooms, and decided that homoerotic fanservice is all that is needed to sell tickets in these modern times.
To be fair, the obligatory girl-girl make-out scenes in modern slasher flicks demonstrates that producers don't have a much higher opinion of male horror fans.
Read more:

October Is GLBT History Month: Finally

Eleanor Roosevelt
First Lady
b.  October 11, 1884
d.  November 7, 1962
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
image Eleanor Roosevelt transformed the role of First Lady. She served as a diplomat and was a tireless champion of international human rights.
Roosevelt was born into a wealthy family in New York City. Both her parents died before she was 10; thereafter, she moved in with her grandmother in upstate New York. At the age of 15, she lived in England, where she learned to speak French and Italian fluently.
Soon after her return to New York, Roosevelt met her future husband, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, her father’s fifth cousin. Franklin was attending Columbia Law School. The couple married and had six children, five of whom survived infancy. Franklin took his first leap into politics, winning a seat in the New York State Senate. The family moved to Washington, D.C., when he was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy by President Wilson.
Life in the nation's capital kindled Eleanor's interests in policy making.  She joined the board of the League of Women Voters in 1924 and became involved in Democratic Party politics. In 1928, after her husband was elected governor of New York, she became actively engaged in domestic and international issues. She wrote a syndicated newspaper column titled "My Day."
In 1933, Roosevelt became First Lady of the United States, a position she held for 12 years. While she assumed traditional duties, she did not allow them to compromise her ideals. In 1939, she announced in her column that she would resign her membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution, after the group refused to allow Marian Anderson, a black singer, to perform in Washington's Constitution Hall. "The basic fact of segregation," Roosevelt wrote, "is itself discriminatory."
While First Lady, Roosevelt developed an intimate relationship with Lorena Hickock, a journalist who covered the White House. The relationship lasted for the rest of Roosevelt’s life.
Eleanor Roosevelt's commitment to public service continued after her husband’s death in 1945. President Truman named her a delegate to the United Nations, where she was elected chairwoman of the Commission on Human Rights. In that position, she helped draft the influential Universal Declaration on Human Rights. 
Roosevelt was a member of the Board of Trustees of Brandeis University and delivered the school's first commencement address. She also authored several children's books. In her lifetime, she received many civic awards and honorary degrees.
Jalal al-Din Rumi
Sufi Mystic/Poet
b. September 30, 1207
d. December 17, 1273
"Only from the heart can you touch the sky."
image Jalal al-Din Rumi was a poet, theologian and Sufi mystic. He founded the Order of the Whirling Dervishes, a branch of the Sufi tradition that practicies a gyrating dance ritual representing the revolving stages of life.
Rumi was born in the Persian province of Balkh, now part of Afghanistan. Rumi’s father was an author, a religious scholar and a leader in the Sufi movement—the mystical dimension of Islam.
When Rumi was 12, his father moved the family to escape the impending invasion of Mongol armies, eventually setting in Konya, Anatolia, the westernmost tip of Asia where Turkey is today.
In 1231, after his father died, Rumi began teaching, meditating and helping the poor. He amassed hundreds of disciples who attended his lectures and sermons.
Rumi was married and had one son. After his wife’s death, he remarried and fathered two more children. In 1244, Rumi met a man who changed his life. Shams of Tabriz was an older Sufi master who became Rumi’s spiritual mentor and constant companion. After Shams died, Rumi grieved for years. He began expressing his love and bereavement in poetry, music and dance.
Rumi had two other male companions, but none would replace his beloved Shams. One of Rumi’s major poetic works is named in honor of his master, "The Works of Shams of Tabriz." Rumi’s best-known work is "Spiritual Couplets," a six-volume poem often referred to as the greatest work of mystical poetry.
In “Rumi: The Book of Love Poems of Ecstasy and Longing” (2003), Rumi expresses his perception of true love. "Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along."
Rumi died surrounded by his family and disciples. His tomb is one of the most revered pilgrimage sites in Islam and is a spiritual center of Turkey.
David Sedaris
b. December 26, 1956
"A good short story would take me out of myself and then stuff me back in, outsized, now, and uneasy with the fit."
image David Sedaris is an award-winning best-selling author whose short stories depict, variously, the life of a young gay man in 20th century America, the experience of an American living abroad and the comedy of family life.
Sedaris, who was one of six children, was born in Binghamton, New York, and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. In 1983, he graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He began writing and supported himself with odd jobs in Raleigh, in Chicago and eventually in New York. His big break came on National Public Radio, where he read his short stories.
Called the "preeminent humorist of his generation" by Entertainment Weekly, Sedaris is the author of numerous collections: "Barrel Fever" (1994), "Naked" (1997), "Holidays on Ice" (1997), "Me Talk Pretty One Day" (2000), "Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim" (2004) and "When You are Engulfed in Flames" (2008), which was number one on the New York Times best-seller list. He edited a 2005 collection of stories called "Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules," the proceeds from which benefit a nonprofit writing and tutorial center.
Sedaris is known for his distinctive style, combining elements of memoir, humor and the traditional short story. He is clear that his stories are embellished. "I’m a humorist," he says. "I’m not a reporter."
Sedaris is a frequent contributor to the award-winning "This American Life" public radio show. Along with his sister Amy, he is the author of numerous plays written under the name "The Talent Family." He has been nominated for two Grammy Awards and was named Time magazine's Humorist of the Year in 2001. In 2008, he delivered the commencement speech at Binghamton University and was awarded an honorary doctorate. 
Sedaris lives in London, Paris and Normandy with his longtime partner, Hugh Hamrick. 
Matthew Shepard
b.  December 1, 1976
d.  October 12, 1998
"Every American child deserves the strongest protections from some of the country’s most horrifying crimes." – Judy Shepard
image As a gay college student, Matthew Shepard was the victim of a deadly hate crime. His murder brought national and international attention to the need for GLBT-inclusive hate crimes legislation.
Shepard was born in Casper, Wyoming, to Judy and Dennis Shepard. He was the older of two sons. Matthew completed high school at The American School in Switzerland. In 1998, he enrolled at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. Soon afterward, he joined the campus gay alliance.
On October 6, 1998, two men—Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson—lured Shepard from a downtown Laramie bar. After Shepard acknowledged that he was gay, McKinney and Henderson beat and tortured him, then tied him to a tree in a remote, rural area and left him for dead. Eighteen hours later, a biker, who thought he saw a scarecrow, found Shepard barely breathing.
Shepard was rushed to the hospital, but never regained consciousness. He died on October 12. Both of Shepard’s killers were convicted of felony murder and are serving two consecutive life sentences.
Despite the outcome of the trial, the men who took Shepard’s life were not charged with a hate crime. Wyoming has no hate crimes law, which protects victims of crimes motivated by bias against a protected class. Shepard’s high-profile murder case sparked protests, vigils and calls for federal hate crimes legislation for GLBT victims of violence.
Shortly after their son's death, Judy and Dennis Shepard founded The Matthew Shepard Foundation to honor his memory and to "replace hate with understanding, compassion, and acceptance." Judy Shepard became a GLBT activist and the most recognized voice in the fight for a federal hate crimes bill.
In 2009, more than a decade after Shepard’s murder, The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA) was signed into law. HCPA added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes, giving the United States Department of Justice the power to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violent crimes against GLBT victims.
Dozens of songs have been written and recorded to honor Matthew Shepard's legacy.  Several films, television movies and plays about him have been produced, including "The Laramie Project" (2002) and "The Matthew Shepard Story" (2002).
Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir
Prime Minister of Iceland
b. October 4, 1942
"Egalitarian policies are the best way to unite and empower people."
image Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir is the first female prime minister of Iceland and the world's first openly GLBT national leader.
Sigurðardóttir was born in Reykjavik, where she received the equivalent of a high school diploma from the Commercial College of Iceland. Her first job was as a flight attendant for what is now Icelandair. After six years in that position, she became a union organizer with the airline—a move that served as her entree into Icelandic politics.
Sigurðardóttir was elected to Iceland’s Parliament in 1978. Viewed as a rising star, she was named minister of social affairs in 1987. In 1990, she ran for the top spot in her party, the Social Democrat Alliance. She narrowly lost that race, declaring, "My time will come," which has become a common catchphrase in Iceland.
In January of 2009, following the collapse of the nation’s economy in the worldwide recession, Iceland’s president asked the Social Democrat Alliance to form a new government, which elevated Sigurðardóttir to the office of the prime minister. At the time of her appointment, she was the longest-serving member of Iceland’s Parliament.
Four months later, Sigurðardóttir’s party, along with its coalition partner, won a majority of seats in the Parliament, handing her a strong mandate to lead Iceland’s economic revitalization efforts and to work toward joining the European Union. While focusing on these important tasks, Sigurðardóttir has not forgotten the value of equity in politics. "A society that does not use the intellectual power of its female population fully is not a wise society," she says.
Sigurðardóttir was married to a man prior to coming out. She and her ex-husband are the parents of two adult children. On June 11, 2010, by a vote of 49 to 0, Iceland’s Parliament approved same-sex marriage. On June 26, 2010, the first day that legislation became effective, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir and Jónína Leósdóttir were married. 
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
b. May 7, 1840
d. November 6, 1893
"Music’s triumphant power lies in the fact that it reveals to us beauties we find in no other sphere."
image Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is one of the most popular composers in history. His best-known works include the ballets "Swan Lake," "The Sleeping Beauty," and "The Nutcracker";  the operas "The Queen of Spades" and "Eugene Onegin"; and the widely recognized Fantasy Overture “Romeo and Juliet" and "1812 Overture."
Tchaikovsky was born in Votinsk, Russia, a small industrial town. His father was a mine inspector. His mother, who was of French and Russian heritage, strongly influenced his education and cultural upbringing.
At age 5, Tchaikovsky began piano lessons. His parents nurtured his musical talents, but had a different career path in mind for their son. In 1850, the family enrolled him at the Imperial School of Jurisprudence in St. Petersburg, where he prepared for a job in civil service.
After working in government for a few years, Tchaikovsky pursued his passion at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. After graduation, he taught music theory at the Moscow Conservatory and worked on new compositions. Tchaikovsky created concertos, symphonies, ballets, chamber music, and concert and theatrical pieces. His passionate, emotional compositions represented a departure from traditional Russian music, and his work became popular with Western audiences.
Despite his career success, Tchaikovsky’s personal life was filled with crises and bouts of depression. After receiving letters of admiration from a former student, Tchaikovsky married her. Historians speculate the marriage took place to dispel rumors that Tchaikovsky was gay. The marriage was a disaster and Tchaikovsky left his wife after nine days.
Tchaikovsky began an unconventional relationship with a wealthy widow, Nadezhda von Mek, who agreed to be his benefactor on one condition: they were never to meet face to face. The couple exchanged more than 1,000 letters, until von Mek abruptly ended their 13-year liaison.
The famed composer died suddenly at age 53. The cause of his death, believed by some to be suicide, remains a mystery.
Rufus Wainwright
b. July 22, 1973
"It’s important for famous people to be an example for gay teens."
image Known for his unique style and daring artistic endeavors, Rufus Wainwright is one of the most accomplished singer/songwriters of his generation. He has produced six albums and is the recipient of two Juno Awards and five GLAAD Media Awards.
Wainwright’s musical talent was shaped by his folksinger parents, Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainwright III. He was born in Rhinebeck, New York, and holds dual United States and Canadian citizenship. After his parents divorced, he spent most of his youth with his mother in Montreal.
At age 14, Wainwright broke into the entertainment world with a song he composed and sang in the film "Tommy Tricker and the Stamp Traveller," earning him a Juno Award nomination for "Most Promising Male Vocalist of the Year." That same year, he was sexually assaulted by a man he met at a bar. Deeply disturbed by the attack, he remained celibate for seven years.
In 1998, following the release of his first album, Wainwright was named "Best New Artist" by Rolling Stone. He composes music for theater, dance and opera, and has contributed to numerous film soundtracks, including "Moulin Rouge" and "Brokeback Mountain." Additionally, he has acted in "The Aviator" and "Heights," among other films.
As a collaborator, Wainwright has worked on albums with music greats Rosanne Cash and Elton John. John hailed him as "the greatest songwriter on the planet." His first opera, "Prima Donna," premiered in 2009 at the Manchester International Festival and was the subject of a documentary film that premiered on Bravo! in 2010.
Despite fame and success, Wainwright struggled with crystal meth addiction, a habit he eventually recovered from in 2002. With two decades of performing under his belt, Wainwright assures his fans that he won’t be retiring any time soon: “I am a self-sustaining, vibrant, long-term artist, and I’m not going away!” 
Mel White
b. July 26, 1940
"I'm perfectly happy going on TV now and saying I'm a gay man. I'm happy and proud to say that."
image Mel White is an ordained minister who left his career as an adviser to prominent Christian evangelists when he came out during the mid 1990’s. White has dedicated his life to gaining acceptance for GLBT Christians.
In 1962, White graduated from Warner Pacific College. He received a master's degree in communications from the University of Portland and a Doctorate of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, where he was also a professor.
Early in his career, White served as a speechwriter for evangelical leaders Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. He married a woman with whom he had one son. When he realized he was attracted to men, he tried to “cure” his homosexuality with therapy and exorcism.  Acknowledging that nothing could alter his sexual orientation, White attempted suicide.
White ultimately accepted his sexuality and amicably divorced his wife. In 1993, he publicly acknowledged that he was gay when he was named dean of the Dallas Cathedral of Hope of the Universal Fellowship at Metropolitan Community Churches. Two years later, he published “Stranger at the Gate,” a book that chronicles his struggles as a gay Christian.
In the early 1990’s, White shifted his focus to GLBT advocacy, both within and outside of the church. In 1996, White led a two-week fast on the steps of Congress as the Senate considered and ultimately passed the Defense of Marriage Act. He moved the fast to the White House, where he was arrested. "How can we stand by in silent acceptance while the president and the Congress sacrifice lesbian and gay Americans for some ‘greater political good’?” he asked.
In 1998, White and his partner of more than 25 years, Gary Nixon, founded Soulforce, an organization whose mission is to "seek freedom from religious and political oppression" for GLBT people. Its name comes from "satyagraha," a term meaning "soul force" used by Gandhi in to describe his civil rights struggle.
White is the author of nearly 20 books, including "Religion Gone Bad: Hidden Dangers from the Christian Right" (2009). His story is featured in "Friends of God" (2007), a documentary film about evangelical Christians.
In 2008, White and Nixon were legally married in California. In 2009, White and his son, Mike, were a team on the 14th season of "The Amazing Race."
Emanuel Xavier
b. May 3, 1971  
"Being Latino and gay gives me much to write about. Anything that oppresses us as artists is always great fodder for art."
image Emanuel Xavier is a poet, author and editor. He is one of the most significant openly gay Latino spoken word artists of his generation. 
Xavier was born in Brooklyn, New York, the child of an Ecuadorian mother and a Puerto Rican father who abandoned the family before his son was born. When Xavier was three, he was sexually abused by a family member. At 16, when Xavier came out to his mother, she threw him out of the house.
A homeless gay teen on the streets of New York, Xavier soon turned to sex and drugs for money. He became a hustler at the West Side Highway piers and sold drugs in gay clubs. After landing a job at a gay bookstore, A Different Light, Xavier began to write poetry and perform as a spoken word artist.
"Pier Queen" (1997), Xavier’s self-published poetry collection, established him in the New York underground arts scene. "Christ Like" (1999), Xavier’s novel, was the first coming of age story by a gay Nuyorican (Puerto Rican living in New York) and earned him a Lambda Literary Award nomination. Fellow author Jaime Manrique said, "Once in a generation, a new voice emerges that makes us see the world in a dazzling new light. Emanuel Xavier is that kind of writer."
"Americano" (2002), another poetry collection and Xavier’s first official published work, advanced his prominence within the literary community of color. Xavier edited "Bullets & Butterflies: Queer Spoken Word Poetry" (2005), for which he received a second Lambda Literary Award nomination. 
In 2005, Xavier was the victim of a random attack by a group of young men. As a result of the beating, he lost all hearing in his right ear, but continued to write and perform.
Xavier reflects on the assault in his poem "Passage":
Had they known I was gay they would have killed me
None of my poems about peace and unity
would have kept me whole
Also an activist, Xavier focuses his work on homeless gay youth. He has organized benefits for many organizations, including The New York Pier AIDS Education Coalition, Live Out Loud, and Sylvia’s Place, a shelter for homeless GLBTQ youth.
Xavier has appeared on HBO’s "Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry" and "In the Life" on PBS. In 2010, his CD "Legendary—The Spoken Word Poetry of Emanuel Xavier" was released to critical acclaim.

Can Someone Send Him Over?


My cold seems to be getting better, but I think he could make me completely well again.

Friday, October 29, 2010



Sorry guys for the lack of posts this week.  If you read my other blog, you know that I have a horrible cold and feel like crap.  This blog always takes more time and energy than my other and sadly I have been neglecting it this week in order to try and get some rest and get well.

This weekend I plan to take Nyquil and stay in bed all weekend long.  Hopefully, I will be better on Monday.  Again, I apologize for the lack of posts.

Monday, October 25, 2010

UPDATE: Gay student teacher 'thrilled' to get Beaverton job back

On Sunday, October 3, I wrote a post “Teacher Fired For Telling Student He Is Gay” which told of Seth Stambaugh who was fired when he told one of his students that he was gay.  I was horrified when I heard about this, and if you’ve been reading the blog, you know that I am a teacher who is in the closet, but wish that I didn’t have to be.  Some places in America will take longer to be more accepting (I live in such a place), but you expect the Northwest to be more open and accepting.  That is what made this story so discouraging when I first read it.  I was very happy to read an email from a new reader named Phil that informed me that on Thursday of last week, that Mr.. Stambaugh was reinstated in his position as a student teacher.  Parents in the school district wrote the following letter to the school board requesting that he be reinstated:

This is a message from concerned parents whose children are in the classroom at Sexton Mountain from which the Beaverton School District removed our appreciated student teacher, Mr. Seth Stambaugh.

We as parents were grateful that Mr. Stambaugh was going to be an additional educator and mentor to our students this year.  We were pleased that he had begun to develop lesson plans for our children.  We know that he had a positive rapport with our children and that he worked well with his mentor teacher.

Our children are now deprived of that additional educator in their classroom at a time when our school is already struggling with budget cuts to education.  We are deeply concerned about the messages the District's action, and continued inaction, sends to our children: that some people are more equal than others and identifying differences can lead to expulsion.

We are not pleased that we learned about the District's summary removal in the news, and not directly from the District or from Sexton Mountain.  We are concerned that the District and the School made such a dramatic and rapid choice that affects the future of our children's education after speaking to only one or two parents.

The good news is that this is a repairable situation and an opportunity to show our children that when a mistake is made we must take every opportunity to correct it.  We believe that Sexton Mountain, and the Beaverton School District, can be better than this.  The first step is for Mr. Stambaugh to be unconditionally re-instated  to our children's classroom without delay.


Concerned Parents

Thankfully, the school board responded positively and reinstated Mr. Stambaugh.  Below is the video of the news story and then the article about his reinstatement.

BEAVERTON, Ore. – A gay student teacher told reporters he was thrilled to have his position back after being dismissed for a conversation about gay marriage.

Seth Stambaugh, a Lewis & Clark Grad School student teacher, had been removed from Sexton Mountain Elementary School following a complaint by a parent, based on a conversation Stambaugh had with a student about his marital status in which he stated it would be illegal for him to marry because he would choose to marry a man.

Stambaugh was reinstated Thursday by the Beaverton School District. His lawyer, Lake Perriguey, said the offer of reinstatement came at an afternoon meeting at Lewis and Clark College.

“This is a huge teachable moment,” Stambaugh said in a press conference Friday. “I'm glad I can be back in the classroom with the students I gained a great rapport with.”

When asked whether he planned to file a discrimination lawsuit, Stambaugh said, “I’d prefer not to.”

Perriguey said, “Mr. Stambaugh is joyous beyond belief. He is celebrating privately with friends and family.”

Stambaugh will resume his student teaching duties at Sexton Mountain Elementary School next Thursday, returning him to his regular Thursday and Friday schedule.

At the time of the incident, Stambaugh was paired with a teacher in a fourth-grade class at Sexton Mountain. He was leading a writing lesson when a fourth-grader asked him if he was married. Stambaugh said no. The student then asked why. Stambaugh replied that it would be illegal for him to get married because he would be choosing to marry another man.

On Sept. 15, the school district informed Lewis and Clark that Stambaugh would not be allowed back as a student teacher at the school. Stambaugh said that he was only told his comments were "inappropriate."

Earlier this week, 22 parents of students at the school wrote a letter in support of Stambaugh, calling on the district to reinstate the student teacher, whom they said had "positive rapport" with his students.

The two schools released the following statement on Thursday:

The Beaverton School District and Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education have jointly agreed to offer Seth Stambaugh the opportunity to return to his original student teaching placement at Sexton Mt. Elementary School starting late next week. Lewis & Clark and the Beaverton School District will continue to provide Mr. Stambaugh with a high level of support as we do for all student teachers as they begin to serve students and the greater community. We are moving forward with our common values and principles of equity, respect and inclusion.

Thank you Phil for letting me know about the update on this story.

Friday, October 22, 2010

October Is GLBT History Month: Week 3

Matthew Mitcham
Olympic Diver
b. March 2, 1988
image"Being ‘out' for me means being just as I am with nothing to be ashamed about and no reasons to hide."

Australian diver Matthew Mitcham is one of the few openly gay Olympic athletes. At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Mitcham won a gold medal after executing the highest-scoring dive in Olympic history.
Mitcham grew up in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. He competed as a trampoline gymnast before being discovered by a diving coach. By the time he was 14, he was a national junior champion in diving. A few years later, he won medals in the World Junior Diving Championships.
In 2006, after battling anxiety and depression, Mitcham decided to retire from diving. The following year, he returned to diving and began training for the Olympics.
In Beijing, Mitcham won an Olympic gold medal in the 10-meter platform dive. It was the first time in over 80 years that an Australian male diver struck Olympic gold. After his triumph, he leaped into the stands to hug and kiss his partner, Lachlan Fletcher.
Mitcham was the first out Australian to compete in the Olympics. There were only 11 openly gay athletes out of a total of over 11,000 competitors in Beijing.
Mitcham was chosen 2008 Sports Performer of the Year by the Australian public. The same year, Australia GQ named him Sportsman of the Year. After accepting the GQ award, Mitcham joked, "Oh, my God, I’m a homo and I just won the sports award!"
Mitcham competed in the 2010 Gay Games in Cologne. He is studying at Sydney University and training for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
"I look at the last 20 years as a long, winding path of lessons and some hardship," Mitcham said in 2008. “I hope I do have more lessons to learn. I look forward to that."
Jamie Nabozny
Youth Activist
b. October 14, 1975
image "Kids are becoming a lot stronger, and with my case I hope they realize that they’re not alone."
Jamie Nabozny was the first student to successfully sue a school district for its failure to protect a student from anti-gay harassment. His 1995 lawsuit helped pioneer the Safe Schools Movement for GLBT students.
Nabozny was emotionally bullied and physically abused as a high school student in Ashland, Wisconsin, after he revealed his sexual orientation. Classmates urinated on him, simulated raping him and beat him to the point that he needed surgery. Although he and his parents reported the bullying repeatedly, Nabozny was told that, because he was openly gay, he should expect such behavior.
"I was numb most of the time, and I had to be numb to make it through," Nabozny said. He left the school, moved to Minnesota with his family, and passed the GED exam.
His lawsuit against the school was initially dismissed, but the Nabozny family appealed. The appellate court, basing its ruling on the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, allowed the lawsuit to go forward. A jury then found the school liable for Nabozny’s injuries; the school district eventually agreed to a nearly $1 million settlement.
Nabozny’s story is featured in a documentary film and teaching kit produced by the Southern Poverty Law Center. "Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case that Made History," and its accompanying materials have been distributed to schools nationwide.
Nabozny has submitted written testimony to Congress and has lobbied lawmakers about school safety for GLBT youth. He was honored for his pioneering efforts by Equality Forum, which recognized him with its 1997 National Role Model Award.
Nabozny lives in Minneapolis. He travels the country speaking to diverse audiences about his experience and the importance of safe schools.
Cynthia Nixon
b. April 9, 1966
image "I never felt like there was an unconscious part of me that woke up or came out of the closet. I met this woman and I fell in love with her."
Cynthia Nixon is a television, film and Broadway actress best known for her role as Miranda on "Sex and the City." She is one of only 15 performers to receive a Tony, an Emmy and a Grammy Award.
Nixon is a native New Yorker, the only child of Walter Nixon, a radio journalist, and Anne Kroll, an actress and a researcher on the television series "To Tell the Truth." Cynthia’s first television appearance was at age 9 as an imposter on the show.
At age 12, Nixon began her acting career with a role in an ABC Afterschool Special. Her feature film debut came soon after in "Little Darlings" (1980), followed by her first role on Broadway in "The Philadelphia Story."
Nixon graduated from Hunter College High School and attended Barnard College. As a freshman, she made theatrical history acting in two Broadway plays at the same time, "The Real Thing" and "Hurlyburly."
A working actress since the 1980’s, Nixon received a Best Supporting Actress Emmy Award in 2004 for "Sex and the City." In 2006, she was honored with a Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in "The Rabbit Hole." In 2008, Nixon received a second Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit."
In 2008, "Sex and the City" became a movie franchise. Nixon and her television co-stars reprised their roles in the film and a 2010 sequel, "Sex and the City 2." The original film grossed over $415 million worldwide, making it one of the most successful R-rated comedies.
Nixon is engaged to Christine Marinoni. The couple plans to tie the knot in Manhattan when  same-sex marriage becomes legal in New York State. "We want to get married right here in New York City, where we live, where our kids live," Nixon says. She and Marinoni share parenting responsibilities for Nixon’s two children from a previous relationship.
In 2009, Nixon shared a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for reading Al Gore’s "An Inconvenient Truth." In 2010, Nixon received the Vito Russo GLAAD Media Award for promoting equal rights for the gay community.
Nixon is a breast cancer survivor and a spokeswoman for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Catherine Opie
b. April 14, 1961
image "Let’s push the boundaries a little bit here about what you guys think normal is."
For over a decade, photographer Catherine Opie has used the power of her lens to create visibility for queer subcultures existing on society's fringes. Her raw and honest photographs challenge viewers to reevaluate notions of sexuality and societal norms. Her groundbreaking work has adorned gallery walls worldwide, including The Guggenheim in New York and The Photographer's Gallery in London.
At the age of 9, Opie decided to become a social documentary photographer after studying the work of Lewis Hine. Inspired by Hine's use of photography as a means to effect social change around child labor, Opie pursued her  passion for documenting the world with her camera. At 18, she left her home in Sandusky, Ohio, to study at the San Francisco Art Institute where she received a BFA in 1985. She earned an MFA from California Institute of the Arts three years later.
In 1995, Opie's career gained momentum after her provocative portraits of gay fringe groups appeared at the Whitney Biennial, one of the world’s leading art shows. Images of pierced, tattooed and leather-clad members of Opie's inner circle were presented to the public in a bold and unapologetic fashion. "Looking at her pictures can be uncomfortable," observed The New York Times, "not because of their confrontational content but because they reveal as much about the beholder as the beheld."
In addition to documenting sexual minority communities, Opie photographs landscapes and architecture. In her exhibit "Freeways" (1994-95) she explores the intricacies of Los Angeles's highway system. In "Mini-malls" (1997-98), she reveals the rich ethnic diversity of Southern California's shopping centers. Combining both landscape and portraiture in her series "Domestic," Opie traveled nationwide photographing lesbian couples living together.
Opie is a professor of photography at UCLA. She has received various awards, including the Washington University Freud Fellowship in 1999 and the Larry Aldrich Award in 2004. In 2006, she was awarded the prestigious United States Artist Fellowship.
In an exhibit catalog interview, Opie reflects, "I have represented this country and this culture. And I’m glad that there is a queer, out, dyke artist that’s being called an American photographer."
Sunil Babu Pant
Nepalese Politician
b.  June 28, 1972
image "People in general do not wish to discriminate against their fellow neighbors."
Sunil Babu Pant is the first openly gay politician in Nepal. His 2008 election to the national legislature followed years of activism on behalf of the Nepalese GLBT community.
Trained as a computer engineer, Pant received a scholarship to study in Belarus. It was there that he first heard the word "homosexual" and identified as a gay man. It was also where he was first exposed to entrenched homophobia, inspiring him to fight for equality in his home country.
In 2002, Pant founded the Blue Diamond Society. The group consists of more than 20 organizations and 120,000 members representing the interests of the country’s GLBT and HIV/AIDS communities. Leaders and members of the society have continued their advocacy in the face of threats of arrest and violence.
The Blue Diamond Society was party to a 2007 case that led Nepal’s highest court to declare that GLBT individuals were “natural persons” who deserve protection and civil rights. The court also ordered the establishment of a commission to study same-sex marriage as well as the addition of a third gender option on official government documents.
Pant was elected to Nepal’s Constituent Assembly as a member of Nepal’s Communist Party United. His legislative goals include equal justice and economic rights. He serves on a committee charged with rewriting Nepal’s constitution. In spite of his many accomplishments, Pant insists that his work is far from complete: "With our progress, however, is the awareness that so many more need to be served."
In 2005, Pant and the Blue Diamond Society were awarded the Utopia Award, Asia’s leading GLBT honor. In 2007, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission bestowed the group with its Felippa de Souza Award.
Pant, who lives in Nepal's capital city, Kathmandu, recently founded Pink Mountain, a company that offers GLBT-geared travel packages to Nepal.
Annise Parker
Mayor of Houston
b. May 17, 1956
image "The voters of Houston have opened the door to history. I know what this means to many of us who never thought we could achieve high office."
In 2009, when Annise Parker was elected, Houston became the largest city in the nation with an openly gay mayor. Houston is the fourth most populous city in the United States.
Annise Parker was born and raised in Houston. Her mother was a bookkeeper, and her father worked for the Red Cross. Annise received a National Merit Scholarship to Rice University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and sociology.  
After graduation, Parker began a 20-year career as a software analyst in the oil and gas industry. In 1997, she won a seat on the Houston City Council, making her Houston’s first out elected official. In 2003, Parker was elected city controller. She served two additional terms before being elected mayor.
Parker’s mayoral triumph didn’t come without a fight and controversy. Conservative groups criticized Parker for her “gay agenda” and distributed fliers featuring Parker and her partner, asking the question, "Is this the image Houston wants to portray?" Parker campaigned with her partner, Kathy Hubbard, and their three children.
Despite the attacks, Parker won the election in a city that denies its employees domestic partner benefits, and in a state where gay marriage and civil unions are constitutionally banned.
Parker was recognized as Council Member of the Year by the Houston Police Officers Union. In 2008, Houston Woman Magazine named her one of Houston’s 50 Most Influential Women. 
John A. Pérez
Speaker of the California Assembly
b. September 28, 1969
image "Yes I’m gay, and I’m a politician. It’s a descriptor. I don’t think it’s a definer."
John A. Pérez is the openly gay speaker of the California Assembly. He is the first GLBT person of color to hold such a position and only the third out leader of a legislative body in United States history. 
Pérez was born in working-class Los Angeles, the son of Felipe, a Mexican immigrant who was disabled from a workplace accident, and Vera, who directed a community clinic. At age 14, Pérez became politically active, motivated by government cuts in disability payments to his father and in government subsidies to his mother’s clinic.
After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, Pérez spent several years as a labor organizer in Southern California. He served as political director for the United Food and Commercial Workers in Orange County.
Before he held an elective office, Pérez was actively engaged in public service. He was integral in founding California’s statewide GLBT organization, now called Equality California. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush appointed him to the President’s Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS.  Pérez was a gubernatorial appointee to a panel charged with reforming California’s initiative system and a mayoral appointee to the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency.
Pérez was elected to the California Assembly in 2008, winning 85 percent of the vote in his Los Angeles district. Two years later, he was selected as speaker by members of the Democratic Party and formally elected by the Assembly. Assemblywoman Fiona Ma said, "He’s someone who sends a signal to the nation that being gay is no longer a barrier to greatness."
Pérez is a fan of classical music, art museums and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010



It does get better.  Never forget that.  Patience is a virtue, and it will pay off eventually, even if there are ups and downs along the way.  At my conservative little school, we had several kids wear purple today.  I would have thought it merely an accident if one of the students had not mentioned why she was wearing purple.  I am very happy to know that some of them believe in acceptance.  Through growing acceptance and the greater visibility of GLBT people, my students are more open of their support of GLBT people, even if the adults at the school are not as accepting, the students grow more so everyday.

Not only did some students wear purple in support of those who recently died, there were also some talking about gay family members today. All of what was said by students today was positive.  Not once did I hear anything negative.  It makes you feel a little better.  But we still can’t forget about those who struggle.  As a teacher, I still strive everyday to make their lives more positive.  To make sure that they are not bullies to others.  So please take a moment to remember those who sadly felt they had no way out and didn’t realize that it does get better.

Billy LucasBilly Lucas, 15. Greensburg, Indiana. Hanged himself Sept. 9 in his family’s barn. He was a freshman at Greensburg High School. Although he never told anyone he was gay, he was constantly bullied including being called “fag,” according to media reports.

Tyler ClementiTyler Clementi, 18. New Jersey. The Rutgers University freshman jumped from the George Washington Bridge after leaving a Facebook message on his page on Sept. 22 saying, “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry.” Dharun Ravi, Clementi’s roommate, and fellow Rutgers student Molly Wei, have been charged with two counts each of invasion of privacy after they allegedly used a webcam in Clementi’s dorm room and livestreamed on Sept. 19 Clementi with another male in a “sexual encounter.”

Asher BrownAsher Brown, 13. Houston. Died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound with his step-father’s gun on Sept. 23. The day he died he told his step-father he was gay. He was bullied for numerous reasons including being Buddhist, short, and not wearing name-brand clothes.

Seth WalshSeth Walsh, 13. Tehachapi, Calif. Hanged himself in his backyard. He was openly gay. Died Sept. 28 after nine days on life support. Friends said he endured years of bullying.

Raymond ChaseRaymond Chase, 19. Openly gay, he was a sophomore at Johnson and Wales. He hanged himself in his dorm room on Sept. 29. No clear reasons for his suicide have been reported.

Zach Harrington

Zach Harrington, 19. Norman, Okla. Harrington killed himself a week after attending a city council meeting where the council eventually decided to recognize October as Gay History Month. However, there were hours of very anti-gay comments made during the meeting and Harrington’s parents believe the “toxic” debate contributed to his suicide on Oct. 5.

Aiyisha Hassan

Aiyisha Hassan, 20. The Metro Weekly reported she was struggling with her sexuality at the time of her death. She killed herself Oct. 5 in her home state of California after attending Howard University in Washington, D.C., from 2008-2009.

It Gets Better

We Give a Damn

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday Night Football

Lowres-132 tumblr_lagh34zzeB1qcbnafo1_500
I will readily admit it, my biggest fault is that I love gossip.  I especially love gossip about someone that I don’t like.  I know that it is wrong, but I think that is why I love history so much.  History in reality is just the gossip that survived the test of time.  Two of the best pieces of gossip I have heard in the last week have been about athletes.  One is the Duke Fuck List, which I might do a post on for Wednesday (it sort of depends on my mood).  However, the gossip I want to discuss to day is about the NFL and particularly, Brett Farve—the slimy, drug, alcohol, and sex addicted, son-of-a-bitch who won’t seem to fucking retire.  Yeah, I don’t particularly like him, in fact I much prefer the football pics above.  Those of you who know much about me personally may be a little surprised at this, but all the people I know who have had encounters with this man have nothing good to say about him.
Now it seems that he was harassing a female sidelines reporter for the Jets named Jenn Sterger.  For those who don't know (or forget, I for one didn’t really know or care before this) who Jenn Sterger is: she is formerly buxom Florida State Cowgirl who gained internet notoriety for being a buxom Florida State fan who parlayed that popularity into a full-time career. She did Maxim shoots. Playboy shoots. She wrote a "Confessions of a Cowgirl" column for Sports Illustrated. Then, in 2008, Ms. Sterger joined the Jets as an in-house sideline reporter. It was during that fateful time that her and Mr. Favre's paths began to cross. Sort of.
Last winter, close to the Super Bowl, Ms. Sterger and Deadspin were discussing a possible collaboration on the proposed "Deadspin Swimsuit Project," which turned into a conversation about the whole "athlete dong photo" phenomenon. She claimed that she's been on the receiving end of several of those types of cell phone interactions by drunk men, some of whom were professional athletes. They later had a phone conversation about who some of the more well-known dong-shot senders were. favre01 One person, she claimed, who was very into cell phone-donging her was none other than Brett Favre. Now, at one point in his career, this news wouldn't be too surprising. Favre's time in Green Bay is littered with stories about his boozing and carousing. But gray-haired Favre? Oh yeah, she said. Sterger said that Favre first began to call her early in the season and leave strange, friendly messages on her voicemail. She played me one of these voicemails over the phone. It was Brett turning on the Mississippi simpleton charm on his way to practice giving Jenn a friendly good ol' boy hello to a pretty lady. It was odd, but nothing incriminating. Then the phone calls from Brett started to turn weird.
Sterger claimed she spurned Favre's advances because he was married, but also because she was working for the Jets at the time she didn't think it was the best idea to start a torrid affair with the team's highest profile player. Plus, if she went forward with how aggressive he was and how skeeved out she was to some of her superiors, she suspected she might lose her job. The interactions were flirty and strange but she didn't think there wasn't anything that made her too uncomfortable. But then, one night, Sterger received a picture on her phone which was so shocking that she just tossed it across the room. It was his dick. favre02 Brett Favre's dick. And it happened multiple times. In fact, Sterger claims that, in one of the photos Favre allegedly sent her, he's masturbating — while wearing a pair of Crocs. In another photo, Favre is holding his penis while wearing the wristwatch he wore during his first teary-eyed retirement press conference.
There is more to the story as covered by Deadspin, but I think you get the just of the details.  If you would like to see the Deadspin video which has the voicemails and texts, click here (penis photos at 2:08 mark but I also put them above).  If you don’t want to watch the evidence, here is a breakdown of the reasons I believe it is Farve, besides the fact that he is a slimy sonofabitch. Yes, there's a possibility that the person communicating with Sterger was not actually Brett Favre, but rather someone trying very hard to appear to be him. But let's look at the evidence: For an individual to put forth the effort to 1.) acquire a cellphone with a Mississippi area code where Farve lives; 2.) take some voice lessons because not only does it sound like Farve, but the person has an authentic South Mississippi accent (a true southern knows his variations in southern accents); and 3.) implicate Jets handlers and perhaps other people, all within a very short period of time and for no discernible reason other than to mess with Sterger, well, that's some very aggressive role-playing. Sterger believed it to be him. Others believed it to be him. We've seen far too many supposedly family-oriented and upstanding professional athletes whose off-field behavior contradicts their well-manicured public persona. If Sterger is right, Brett Favre really is like a kid out there.  He also has a rather smallish dick (technically averaged size, but considering all the stories I had heard about him flashing it around Mississippi while he was in college, you’d think it would be big enough to brag about).
If you don’t know who the hell I have been talking about in this post, here is Brett Farve: