Monthly Archives: January 2012

Second Class Citizens

I have a series of posts coming up and I knew that this post could not wait until I had finished those posts. Some of you may have already seen this, but in case you haven’t, it is worth watching. I have been in the process today of catching up on emails and blogs. This was posted Friday on Break the Illusion Blog by Davey Wavey. Here is how he described it:

The clip is a trailer for a film to be created by Ryan James Yezak – with the bulk of the funding coming a fundraising appeal on kickstarter. Ryan set a goal of $50,000 to produce the film – and, to date, he’s raised more than $137,000 from more than 3,300 individuals.
Watching the clip, you can’t help but be in awe of how far we – as a movement – have come. And at the same time, it’s abundantly clear that we still have a long ways yet to go. We’ll get there, one heart at a time.

When I had finished watching this video, I had tears in my eyes. I don’t know how someone could not be moved by this.

Click here to be part of this effort to create change: http://kck.st/zUspXy
Click here to tweet this video: http://clicktotweet.com/fRNEm
http://facebook.com/2ndclasscitizenshttp://twitter.com/2ndclassctzn
If you are currently being discriminated against and would like to be considered as a subject for the documentary, please email Ryan: ryanyezak@gmail.com

Ryan’s Info…Twitter: ‪http://twitter.com/RyanJamesYezak‬Facebook: ‪http://tinyurl.com/yeezy8hGays of the Week: http://youtube.com/gaysoftheweek‬Google+: http://t.co/3iJ39X8


A Major Benchmarks in LGBT History?

I came across this article last week, and thought that I would pass it along to you.  This is the first half of an article titled “Two Major benchmarks in LGBT history.”  You can read the rest of the article by clicking the link below. I hope that you will read it, and let me know what you think.

Major benchmarks in LGBT historyby Mark SegalBay Windows contributor
If you sneezed last week, you might have missed them. Two major changes in the fight for LGBT equality took place — and they literally will change the playing field forever.
During the Republican presidential debate last Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” before the New Hampshire primary, a new benchmark in LGBT equality — at least for Republicans — was christened. And the surprise was who set it and who shrugged it off. The frontrunner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, did the honors.
Here’s the thumbnail version. One of the moderators quoted a pro-gay equality statement from Romney that was published in Boston’s LGBT newspaper Bay Windows, then asked Romney what he will do for nondiscrimination. (A well-phrased question, journalists should note.) Romney, who, it seems during this nomination process has cast aside his previous limited LGBT equality record, stated very clearly that he supports nondiscrimination and that, as governor, he appointed LGBT people to his administration and as judges. He then said clearly that he does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. So he answered the question and you’d think that was it, but the journalist — this guy was good — then asked: “But what will you do to further the rights of LGBT people?” (Again, journalists please note the phrasing of the question.) Romney clearly says, “I just did that.” Applause. He adds that the only difference he has with the gay community is that he believes “marriage” is solely between a man and a woman. Applause from the audience again.
Here’s the surprise, and why this is a moment that will be marked as the beginning of the long road to reality for Republicans: They then went to Santorum with the question. He attempted to make a joke but it was obvious that the audience was not amused, so he sidestepped the question that has been a hallmark of his campaign. It was his chance to stand out and he knew that disparaging gays would no longer work. And so did every candidate standing up there, since no one took Romney on.
How serious of a change is this? The Obama campaign was quick to send out a press release Monday morning suggesting that Romney was stepping away from comments made at the debate, but that was based on a 2002 flyer that Romney’s team had disavowed. Point is, the handwriting is on the wall and Republicans see the inevitable. Americans are tired of them trashing the gay community. So the frontrunner has drawn a new line in the sand: We believe in nondiscrimination up to the issue of marriage.
So enjoy the next few months and watch the dying gasps of the anti-equality Republican rhetoric, since this is the last presidential race you’ll hear it. They won’t go quietly, but Romney’s statements, if he’s nominated, make that change inevitable.

Mark Segal, PGN publisher, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. He can be reached atmark@epgn.com.

With Newt Gingrich’s win in South Carolina yesterday, is this really “the dying gasps of the anti-equality Republican rhetoric?”  I honestly do not think so.  The Republicans have had three Primaries and three different winners, Santorum (after a recount in Iowa), Romney (NH), and Gingrich (SC).  Trends show that since no Democrat has won in South Carolina since Jimmy Carter in 1976, that it is the trend setter for the Republican nomination.  Since 1980, the winner of the South Carolina Republican Primary has soldiered ahead and captured the Republican Presidential nomination.  So I have three questions for you:

  1. Do you think that Romney’s comments in the debate mentioned above really was  “the dying gasps of the anti-equality Republican rhetoric”?
  2. Do you think that winning the Republican Primary in South Carolina will give Gingrich the push to win the nomination?
  3. How can the religious right and family values Republicans support a candidate, i.e. Gingrich, who has had two failed marriages because of infidelity and is currently on his third marriage?

Moment of Zen: Peeking


Have A Purr-fect Day!

A cat can be trusted to purr when she is pleased, which is more than can be said for human beings.


Percent Of Students Identify As LGBT On College’s New Application

Currently in the midst of its first-ever application cycle where it has asked prospective students to identify their sexual orientation or gender identity if they felt comfortable doing so, Elmhurst College reports that the vast majority of students have answered the question without hesitation.

Inside Higher Education reports that since the new policy began last fall at the private liberal arts school located in the western suburbs of Chicago, thought to be the first American campus to ask a question of the kind, about 5 percent of applicants have identified themselves as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender).

Although some critics were concerned that the question would either make applicants feel uncomfortable or entice some straight students to pass themselves off as LGBT for a crack at the school’s diversity “enrichment scholarship,” worth one-third of Elmhurst’s $29,994 tuition, the school’s admissions dean Gary Rold said they have not run into these sorts of issues to date.

The new policy is intended to let prospective LGBT students know they are welcome at Elmhurst College. Rold said in August, when it was introduced, that the new question was part of the school’s commitment to “looking at diversity in all of its forms.” If students choose not to answer the question, they have the option of skipping it altogether.

“We took this step in an effort to better serve each of our students as a unique person,” Elmhurst President S. Alan Ray explained in a statement. “It also allows us to live out our commitments to cultural diversity, social justice, mutual respect among all persons and the dignity of every individual.”

According to the Chicago Tribune, of the 109 applicants who identified themselves as LGBT, 63 were accepted to the school. It is estimated that between 85 and 90 percent of prospective students responded to the question, which appears in a series of questions asking applicants about their religious affiliation, languages other than English spoken in their home and other factors.

Other schools are reportedly also considering adding their own comparable questions, most notably Harvard University. In November, the Harvard Crimsonreported that the school was contemplating the question as a means to “send a positive signal to students who are grappling with the issue of [sexual orientation] or gender identity.”

While The Common Application, a standard document used by over 450 colleges and universities, has also considered the question, the group’s board of directors ultimately rejected the idea last year as some feared that it could cause anxiety for some students during their already stressful college application process.

SOURCE: Huffington Post.


Coffee Talk

I don’t know how many of you remember “Coffee Talk with Linda Richman,” but it was a sketch performed by Mike Myers on  Saturday Night Live. It ran from October 12, 1991, until October 15, 1994, although Myers (who had since left the show) reprised the role once more on March 22, 1997.

In the sketches, Myers plays a stereotypical Jewish middle-aged woman named Linda Richman with an exaggerated New York accent who sports long, painted fake nails; lots of gold jewelry; gaudy sweaters; large dark glasses; and big hair, which she constantly adjusts. This character was a spoof on his real-life mother-in-law, Linda Richman.  The above clip is a classic skit with Mike Myers, Madonna and Roseanne Barr as their characters.

Richman’s hero was Barbra Streisand. She constantly “dedicated” the show to her, often claiming her to be the greatest actress in all of history.

In what could be considered to be the sketch’s most memorable moment, Myers was joined on February 22, 1992, by special guests Madonna and Roseanne Barr as other stereotypical Jewish women. Madonna also lampooned herself by having her character attack Madonna as a bad example for teenage Jewish girls (“She is such a tramp. Please! Every week with the different boyfriend already!”). They discussed Streisand’s film The Prince of Tides (1991) on the show.

Whenever Richman would get upset, she would put her hand on her chest and say “I’m all verklempt” or “I’m a little verklempt.” Then she would say, “Talk amongst yourselves,” sometimes waving her hand in a dismissive gesture toward the audience. She would often follow this with an example by saying, “I’ll give you a topic.” The topic would usually follow this format: “[two- or three-part phrase] is neither [first part] nor [second part] (nor [occasional third part]). Discuss.” (Or: “Discuss amooangst yooaselves”).

The one that I will always remember is “The Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire. Discuss.” (This quote is based on a famous comment by Voltaire.)  By the way, I always use this in class when I discuss the Holy Roman Empire, but few of my students ever get the reference, because they are too young to remember Mike Myers on SNL.

This is a roundabout way of doing what started as a short post, but believe it or not there was a point, and it had nothing to do with cross-dressing comedians, gay icons Barbara Streisand or Madonna.  By the way, I never understood Streisand as a gay icon. I, personally, never liked her that much, to which some of you might get upset about and get “all verklempt”  in which case I am going to give you the following quote (the real reason I started this post before I decided that I might need to explain Coffee Talk):

These names: gay, queer, homosexual are limiting. I would love to finish with them. We’re going to have to decide which terms to use and where we use them. For me to use the word “queer” is a liberation; it was a word that frightened me, but no longer.
Derek Jarman

Discuss amooangst yooaselves.
By the way, as a post that started out as a way of just have a discussion about a quote, I think I have made a darn good post, LOL–not to brag on myself or anything.  Y’all might think this is a crappy post. 

Let America Be America Again

Let America Be America Again
by Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed–
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek–
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean–
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today–O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home–
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay–
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again–
The land that never has been yet–
And yet must be–the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine–the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME–
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose–
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath–
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain–
All, all the stretch of these great green states–
And make America again!

In Rick Santorum’s bid for the Republican nomination, he had used a line that echoed this poem as a campaign slogan. His slogan was “Fighting to make America America again.”  The line was apparently removed, when Santorum, a well-known conservative, backed away from the phrase — saying he had “nothing to do” with it — after being told it derives from a poem by Langston Hughes. Apparently, using a phrase by one of America’s greatest African-American (and probably most disturbing to Santorum) gay poets.

Hughes, who died in 1967, was an African American Communist who advocated for civil rights and social justice. A key figure in the Harlem Renaissance, evidence suggests that Hughes was gay; some of his poems were homoerotic and others defended gay rights.

Personally, I think Santorum and all politicians in America could learn from this poem.  Though the poem only alludes to the closet of homosexuality and the fight for equal right for the GLBT community.  If I were to add to this poem, it might look something like this:

I am the gay man, full of love and compassion,
Tangled in the rainbow of desire.
I am the American who begs for equality,
Who struggles each day in and out of the closet.
Where is the America for us?
Where is the America we were promised?

However, I am not much of a poet, so forgive me for the added stanza.


I Have a Dream

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: “For Whites Only.” We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

There is little doubt that this is one, if not the, most famous Civil Rights speech in history. On this day that we celebrate the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr., how would King have treated the struggle for GLBT rights?  King would now be an 83 year old man if he were still alive, and no doubt would still be a revered civil rights leader.  It is well documented that during his lifetime, he was uncomfortable with homosexuality, but we will never know if he would have changed his mind on this issue.

Bayard Rustin

Master strategist Bayard Rustin was Martin Luther King Jr.’s organizer for the 1963 March on Washington, but because he was gay, he has been hidden from history. In 1956, Bayard Rustin was hidden in the trunk of a car and snuck out of Montgomery during the Montgomery Bus Boycott because it was feared that having an openly-gay man as an advisor would discredit the efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King and the other leaders of the African-American Civil Rights Movement.

In 1937, at the age of 25, Bayard Rustin started training at the American Friends Service Committee. By 1963 he was perhaps one of the most important figures in African-American and GLBT history. Rustin fought social and politician causes behind the scenes and thus his name is rarely spoken. Yet few would imagine it was he, an openly gay man, that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. tapped to organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the 1963 March on Washington. Neither King nor Rustin did what they did for the glory. They saw an injustice in the country and the World and dedicated every ounce of themselves to making it right–one person at a time.

In ‎1983, Congressman Walter Fauntroy, one the organizers of a Washington March marking the 20th anniversary of the iconic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, (where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech,) attempted to prevent representatives from gay and lesbian rights groups from speaking, thereby insulting the memory of the openly-gay Bayard Rustin, the architect of the original 1963 civil rights march.

King’s late wife, Coretta Scott King, was a supporter of GLBT rights but was strongly criticized by some African-American pastors. She called her critics “misinformed” and said that Martin Luther King’s message to the world was one of equality and inclusion.  In 2003, she invited the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force to take part in observances of the 40th anniversary of the March on Washington. It was the first time that an GLBT rights group had been invited to a major event of the African American community.

As you take time away from work or school to commemorate the great achievements of Dr. King, think about how you can make a difference. The state of our world can be overwhelming and each of us within it may seem insignificant, but King and Rustin were only single people who used their individual strengths for a common cause.

What is your dream?

Politics and Homosexuality

Issues such as same-sex marriage and gays serving in the military have played an important role in American politics for at least the past 10 years and may do so again in next year’s presidential and congressional elections.

During such an era, gay life is inevitably touched by the politics that surround it, but has it been overly influenced by it?

And we have done more in the two and a half years that I’ve been in here than the previous 43 Presidents to uphold that principle, whether it’s ending “don’t ask, don’t tell,” making sure that gay and lesbian partners can visit each other in hospitals, making sure that federal benefits can be provided to same-sex couples.
Barack Obama

We must make it clear that a platform of ‘I hate gay men and women’ is not a way to become president of the United States.
Jimmy Carter

From a religious point of view, if God had thought homosexuality is a sin, he would not have created gay people.
Howard Dean

There is so much work to be done to treat gays and lesbians and gay and lesbian couples with the respect that they’re entitled to. They deserve, in my judgment, partnership benefits. They deserve to be treated fairly when it comes to adoption and immigration.
John Edwards

I’m used to being in the minority. I’m a left-handed gay Jew. I’ve never felt, automatically, a member of any majority.
Barney Frank



Moment of Zen: Exercise

Exercise definitely gets endorphins flowing in the body. Endorphins (“endogenous morphine”) are endogenous opioid peptides that function as neurotransmitters. They are produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus in vertebrates during exercise, excitement, pain, consumption of spicy food, love and orgasm, and they resemble the opiates in their abilities to produce analgesia and a feeling of well-being.  Whatever endorphins do,  coming across hot guys like this exercising gets blood flowing in other places.  Which is a nice moment of Zen also.