Category Archives: Resources

Turn The Internet Red #LoveCantWait

 You may have noticed that my header and profile picture are now tinted red.  On April 28, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Obergefell v Hodges, a case originating in Ohio. In January, the Supreme Court announced that it would hear Obergefell along with three other cases from Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The arguments have been consolidated and the case has formally been named Obergefell.

The HRC is hoping to make lightning strike twice and to do so, they need our help. As we await the Supreme Court‘s decisions on two historic marriage equality cases, we have a great opportunity to turn the web red once again in the name of equality and love.

 

To demonstrate the incredible support for marriage equality, we’re asking everyone to make the red equal sign their social media profile picture once again — NOW through decision day, whenever that is. 

Red

If you participated in our campaign to turn the Internet red for marriage equality back in March, you know how meaningful it was. Missed the March marriage madness? Now is your chance to show your support.

Update your profile picture with a red logo so your entire social network knows that you’re standing on the right side of history. Go to http://www.hrc.org/red to easily convert your Facebook or Twitter profile picture to a blended picture of your profile and the red marriage equality sign.  And then ask your friends and family to join you! And if you’re sharing on Instagram, use the hashtag #time4marriage to participate in our marriage equality photo collage, Picturing Equality.

For the latest and breaking news from the Supreme Court, be sure to stay tuned to www.hrc.org/supremecourt.

The HRC will be launching brand new, innovative engagement tools throughout the month to help us show our support and connect with an expansive community of fair-minded Americans. 



Building a Better Tomorrow: Project One America

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The Human Rights Campaign, or HRC, was in Montgomery, Alabama, last night to discuss the launch of a new gay rights campaign targeting three Southern states: Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama. The Project One America, as it’s called, is a three year, $8.5 million dollar effort to secure marriage rights and other protections, such as employment non-discrimination against LGBT people, at the state and local level. I attended the meeting, but my post today is not going to be to talk about all that was discussed there. We were asked not to blog or tweet about issues and personal stories shared at the meeting, so that the meeting could be an open and inviting place to talk. I was a bit disappointed because that is what I had planned my blog topic to be today, so instead I am going to discuss the new HRC program, Project One America, which was behind the meeting last night.

The President of the HRC, Chad Griffin grew up in Arkansas and much of his family is still there. With a Southerner at the helm, the HRC has finally decided to pay attention to the South, which it has largely ignored during much of its existence, except for a source of campaign contributions. When asked if him being a southerner had anything to do with why HRC is launching a campaign in the South, Griffin replied:

No, it doesn’t, but I can certainly tell you that it informed this work. There is no question that my experience growing up as a kid of the South, deeply closeted, growing up Southern Baptist, going to church Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and usually Wednesday nights too certainly informs my experiences and how I approach this work.

But the reason we are going to these three states specifically is there are a few things that are unique about these states. Number one, these three states are – unlike other states across the country, including the South – three states that have no fully-resourced statewide LGBT groups. So, no full time paid staff that are working day in and day out on behalf of equality.

The second, and really important and unique difference about these three states is that they’re the only three states where there’s no statewide non-discrimination protection, there’s not even a single city or municipality that has workplace non-discrimination, or public accommodation, or housing non-discrimination ordinances or laws.

So, those two things make these three states uniquely situated and, quite frankly, these three states need this work and need this investment. They have been dramatically underresourced, and we intend to change that.

Unlike other states in the South — including Texas, Georgia, Kentucky and North Carolina — these three states lack fully resourced and staffed LGBT statewide equality campaigns. According to a report by Funders for LGBTQ Issues, in 2011-2012, grant funding for LGBT advocacy totaled $10.10 for per LGBT adult in the Northeast. That number was only $1.71 per LGBT adult in the South. In these three states, the numbers are $0.71 per LGBT adult in Mississippi, $0.35 per LGBT adult in Arkansas, and $0.31 per LGBT adult in Alabama.

The HRC has nine launch goals for Alabama:

1. Empower LGBT people (and straight allies) to come out.
2. Raise the visibility of LGBT people and issues with the general public.
3. Create safer environments for LGBT young people.
4. Build partnerships with faith communities, communities of color, business communities, and conservatives.
5. Create a more inclusive workplace for LGBT people
6. Build support for enduring legal protections that ensure LGBT equality.
7. Expand participation in HRC’s Municipal Equality Index in these three states.
8. Create a more inclusive healthcare environment for LGBT people
9. Equip LGBT people and non-traditional allies as spokespeople.

For the HRC to be successful they will have to number one, and first and foremost, change the hearts and minds of Alabamians. They can change hearts and minds by building bridges and by having a conversation with business leaders, with faith and religious leaders, with community leaders, and also with elected officials at the community level and at the state level. The HRC plans to accomplish this by having organizers: community organizers, organizers in the business community, organizers in the faith and religious community. Ultimately, our goal will be to bring about the much needed protections at the local, as well as ultimately at the state level.

A greater presence in the South is something Griffin has talked about since He became HRC President. The Human Rights Campaign is also the single largest organizer in the South. One-third of our members are from the South – which is a surprising number to me. That’s over 500,000 HRC members who are from the South, including over 60,000 just in these three states alone.

So after the Supreme Court made that historic decision just a year ago, it became quite clear that we have two Americas when it comes to equality. We have the ‘haves,’ largely situated along the coast with a couple of bright spots in the middle, and then we have the ‘have-nots’ when it comes to legal equality, and that’s places like Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama. So, Project One America is designed to specifically close that gap.

Chad Griffin says that he is absolutely optimistic that the South is, in fact, ready for equality. But he said he wanted to underscore that this is hard work. It will be a lot of work, and it won’t be easy. The South is not going to become a place for LGBT equality overnight, but with the right education, involvement, and momentum, it will happen.


The ‘That’s So Gay’ Impact

Now, there are times when saying “That’s so gay” is entirely accurate and appropriate, for example when a gay man is describing hand making curtains with silk fabric and trim.  Or, like when I was watching “Warehouse 14” on Syfy Monday night and Agent Jinks, a gay character on the show, does a double take when seeing the ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz” in the warehouse. Most of the time, however, this is not the kind of situation that this phrase is most often muttered.

“That’s so gay” has been part of the adolescent lexicon for some time, but a new University of Michigan study has revealed the phrase could have deep consequences for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students.

Published in the current issue of the Journal of American College Health, the study reportedly examined the impact of hearing “that’s so gay” among 114 LGBT students between the ages of 18 and 25, CBS Detroit is reporting.
The resulting data found that LGBT students who heard the phrase frequently were more likely to feel isolated and experience headaches, poor appetite or eating problems than those who didn’t. Still, the study also revealed another troubling statistic: a mere 14 respondents (13 percent) hadn’t heard “that’s so gay” at all throughout the duration of the survey.
“Given the nature of gay-lesbian-bisexual stigma, sexual minority students could already perceive themselves to be excluded on campus and hearing ‘that’s so gay’ may elevate such perceptions,” Michael Woodford, an assistant professor of social work and co-author of the new study, said in a statement. “‘That’s so gay’ conveys that there is something wrong with being gay.”
Woodford went on to suggest, “Policies and educational programs are needed to help students, staff and faculty to understand that such language can be harmful to gay students. Hopefully, these initiatives will help to eliminate the phrase from campuses.”
In 2007, the phrase was at the epicenter of a controversial lawsuit, after a California teen’s parents claimed their daughter’s First Amendment rights had been violated after she was disciplined by her high school for uttering the phrase, which “enjoys widespread currency in youth culture,” to classmates who were allegedly taunting her for her Mormon upbringing, according to court documents cited by the Associated Press.
Still, retired teacher Rick Ayers, who helped compile and publish the “Berkeley High School Slang Dictionary,” told the AP, “I wouldn’t be surprised if this girl didn’t even know the origin of that term. The kids who get caught saying it will claim it’s been decontextualized, but others will say, `No, you know what that means.’ It’s quite talked about.”

Source:  Huffington Post (Gay Voices), “‘That’s So Gay’ Impact,” by Curtis M. Wong 


10 Colleges With a History of Gay Pride

Every June, Americans recognize Gay Pride Month via famous parades and other advocacy events promoting marriage equality, adoption, health, teen bullying and suicide prevention, and other social and political issues related to LGBT rights, which directly impact an estimated 10% of the population (and indirectly impact a far higher percentage of loved ones). Because the country is still slowly growing to accept sexual and gender identity minorities, this means many college students head off to their higher education careers isolated, lonely, depressed — or worse. Most campuses these days offer some semblance of a support structure to ensure a safe experience for all LGBT students, and queer studies courses, minors, and majors have started popping up in catalogs across the country. And it’s all thanks to some of the following pioneers, who took a chance on equality when such things still stood as highly taboo.
CITY COLLEGE OF SAN FRANCISCO:  In 1989, City College of San Francisco revolutionized LGBT and queer studies when Jack Collins established America’s very first department promoting the inchoate field. Founded upon Dan Allen’s pioneering 1972 gay literature course taught in the English department, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Studies Department really wowed students, teachers, and administrators when it launched, attracting hundreds of enrollees for some of its courses. Because the school sits in one of the world’s most LGBT-friendly cities, the classes beneath the organization’s umbrella often benefit from the surrounding communities’ participation and input.
INDIANA UNIVERSITY:  More famous for Alfred Kinsey’s in-depth studies of American sexual habits at a time when such things popped monocles and inspired pearl-clutchings, Indiana University also happens to exist as a largely LGBT-friendly campus. Activist Shane Windmeyer of Campus Pride fame also established the Lambda 10 project here alongside the school’s Greek leaders in 1995. Today, it exists as the only nonprofit fully dedicated to making fraternity and sorority houses safe spaces for LGBT students. Notable, because neither institution enjoys the healthiest reputation for inclusiveness, tolerance, and equitability.

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY:  Spring 1970 saw this historically progressive college offering up the nation’s very first undergraduate course in queer theory. Other schools in Illinois, New York, and even Nebraska quickly followed suit, paving the way for an entire academic field. The Gay Bears Collection pulls from Berkeley’s extensive archives — as well as its own inquiries — to provide students, faculty, staff, and visitors with detailed information about both hidden and not-so-hidden names, dates, and faces involved in the campus’ LGBT history.
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN:  Many — if not most — colleges and universities these days sport some form of official LGBT outreach, usually through an organization or dedicated student services department. University of Michigan launched the very first back in 1971, inspiring more and more to follow suit and provide comfort and safety to an unfairly marginalized segment of the community. Known as the Spectrum Center, it has spent the past four decades ensuring an equal place for LGBT students, faculty, and staff.
KENT STATE UNIVERSITY:  One of the oldest, most inspiring LGBT student organizations in the nation started at Kent State University in 1971, following the precedent set by Berkeley’s groundbreaking undergraduate courses. It started out as the Kent Gay Liberation Front and set about organizing talks, rallies, and even classes on the cause of equality. More than 70 people showed up to the very first meeting scheduled by sociology student Bill Hoover and English professor Dolores Knoll, and the school’s administrators largely supported their banding together and coming out.
YALE UNIVERSITY:  When it comes to the more staunchly traditional Ivy League schools, one probably doesn’t think them bastions of LGBT tolerance and equality, though Yale has historically held a more progressive stance on the matter than its associates. It became the first of its type to organize a Gay Rights Week, rally, and dance celebrating sexual and gender diversity in 1977. Three years later, the school established a Gay and Lesbian Co-Op, which continued promoting LGBT rights, hosting lectures, promoting poetry and film, and other events furthering the cause.
UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO:  Thanks to LGBT Phoenixes, America’s third-largest city enjoyed its very first gay rights organization, which quickly branched out into groups and events not affiliated with an academic establishment. The University of Chicago Gay Liberation Front banded together in 1969, and OutLaw — dedicated to LGBT law students — followed suit in 1984. By 1992, it was offering the very same domestic partnership benefits to lesbian and gay couples as it did heterosexuals. 
OBERLIN COLLEGE:  Oberlin College frequently lands on lists of the most LGBT-accepting institutes of higher learning in the United States. While its older nature meant at some point it did, in fact, reflect the overarching climate’s prejudices, by the 1960s some semblance of sociopolitical revolution began burbling to the surface at the Conservatory. The 1970s saw more organizations, rallies, dances, and other events bringing the fight to campus, with the Oberlin Gay Liberation Front establishing itself in 1971. More contemporary scholars enjoy the Oberlin College LGBT Community History Project, which offers up first- and second-person accounts of LGBT community history both at the school and the broader social climate.
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY:  Yale may be one of the most notable Ivy League schools when it comes to sexual and gender identity equality, but it certainly doesn’t fly solo. Since 1967, the Columbia Queer Alliance has served as a safe haven and political rallying point for its LGBT student community — the very first of its kind in the world. Originally known as the Student Homophile League, organizers had to fight, fight, fight, and bite, bite, bite for years before Columbia officials finally green-lighted their group. It stood as one of the cornerstones of the equality movement before the Stonewall Riots two years later inspired others to action.
WILLIAMS COLLEGE:  Thanks to the efforts of Daniel R. Pinello and his 1971 Williams Advocate article “The Homosexual at Williams: Coming Out,” students felt inspired to embrace their sexuality and group together in 1976 as the Williams Gay Support Organization. Reaction to its establishment and subsequent events, which included frank discussions about AIDS, coming out, and even a support hotline, showing love and support to a marginalized minority proved extremely mixed, if not outright hostile. In fact, much of the administration actively shot down attempts to celebrate diversity and promote equality. It wasn’t until 1985, when instances of bullying whipped up a crowd of 300 supporters, that the campus started turning around.



OutHistory.org

This is a wonderful source for LGBTQ history that I recently found.  I found it when I was searching for information about gay men in colonial America, and I came across this web page, which had a wealth of primary source information.  I kind of got lost in reading it for a little while.  I hope you will check it out and help support OutHistory.org.


Liberating the LGBTQ Past to Understand the Present and Inspire the Future

OutHistory.org is a website in development about gender and sexual history, a site that, at its best, should encourage us to think deeply and critically about historical evidence and what it means to understand LGBT and heterosexual life in the perspective of society and time. OutHistory should help us ask and begin to answer questions about the gendered and sexual actions and feelings of people within social structures over time. OutHistory includes elements of an almanac, archive, article, bibliography, book, encyclopedia, library, and museum, but it is not identical to any one of these. It’s a history website — on it, time is of the essence. What this history website is, and what it does, will become clearer as it develops its own historical life and identity over time.

OutHistory.org is produced by The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies (CLAGS), located at the City University of New York Graduate Center. The site is directed by Jonathan Ned Katz and the OutHistory Project Director for CLAGS is Lauren Gutterman. The content of OutHistory.org is provided by volunteers. The official launch of OutHistory.org took place October 21, 2008. From September 2011 on OutHistory is being directed by historians John D’Emilio and Jennifer Brier at the University of Illinois, Chicago, in consultation with Jonathan Ned Katz, and in cooperation with the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at the City University of New York Graduate Center, and other interested advisors.

OutHistory.org is a freely accessible, community created, educational, non-profit website on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and, yes, heterosexual history.

OutHistory was awarded the 2010 Allan Berube Prize in Public History by the Committee on LGBT History of the American Historical Association.


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


Your Mental Health: Surviving the Holidays

Your mental health: Surviving the holidays
by Eric Albert, Brandon Browne, Jonathan Mohr
PGN-The Philadelphia Gay News

The holidays can be a stressful time for LGBTQ people and their families, but there are several strategies you can use to help reduce stress and create a happy holiday this year.

Traveling home

Before heading home for the holidays, make a decision about being “out” to each family member. If you are bringing a partner, discuss in advance how you will talk about your relationship and show affection with one another (and plan your sleeping arrangements in advance!). Have alternate plans if the situation becomes difficult at home. If you’re traveling, find out about local LGBT resources. And if you plan to “come out,” have support available, including PFLAG materials and the number of a local PFLAG chapter.

Don’t assume you know how somebody will react to news of your sexual orientation or gender identity — you may be surprised. Realize that your family’s reaction to you may not be because you are LGBTQ; the hectic holiday pace may simply be taking its toll on family members. Remember that “coming out” is a continuous process. Don’t wait for your family’s attitude to change to have a special holiday. Remember that it took you time to come to terms with who you are; now it is your family’s turn. Let your family’s judgments be theirs to work on, as long as they are kind to you. If you are transgender, be gentle with your family’s pronoun “slips.” Let them know you know how difficult it is.

During your visit focus on common interests and reassure family members you are still the same person they’ve always known. If you are partnered, be sensitive to his or her needs as well as your own. Be wary of the possible desire to shock your family — and at the same time, remember that you don’t need your family’s approval. It may help to connect with someone else who is LGBTQ — by phone or in person — who understands what you are going through.

If it’s too difficult to be with your family, create your own holiday gathering with friends and loved ones.

Holiday blues

While we like to think of this season as a time of joy, festive parties, warm family gatherings and optimistic hopes for the new year, sometimes our idealized expectations are not met and we end up feeling anxious, let down, disillusioned, alienated and/or stretched to emotional limits.

— Keep your expectations for the holiday season manageable.

— Remember the holiday season does not supercede reasons for feeling sad or lonely.

— Limit predictable sources of stress: shopping, decorating, traffic, your Aunt Nancy, etc.

— Don’t fall prey to commercial hype.

— Spend time with supportive and caring people.

— Attend holiday community events.

— Engage in volunteer activity.

— Don’t abandon healthful habits.

— Make time to get physical exercise.

Staying sober over the holidays

For some in recovery, the holiday season is a particularly trying time. Financial pressures, family stress and the dramatic increase in social gatherings can tempt even the most resolute individuals. Though everyone has specific strategies that enable them to pursue lifelong sobriety, the following are a few common-sense tips that can help you remain alcohol-free throughout the holiday season:

— Plan for success. Knowing you might be tempted, it’s a good idea to plan ahead, and limit the likelihood that you’ll encounter situations that strain your commitment to sobriety. For example, inviting a dependable friend or a member of your 12-step group to accompany you to a gathering where you know alcohol will be present can provide you with the support you need to stay sober. Consider inviting a dependable friend or a member of your 12-step group to join you at a gathering where you know alcohol will be served, for some added support. You may want to schedule an extra session or two with your therapist or plan to attend more 12-step meetings than you normally do. Also, make sure that you continue to eat healthy and exercise regularly.

— Identify your triggers. If your family members traditionally follow Thanksgiving dinner with a football game and a few beers, consider making alternate post-dinner plans, or enlisting your family’s assistance to get you through those potentially tempting hours. If the stress and arguments that accompany your family’s get-togethers threaten to push you back toward the bottle, you may have to make the difficult — but ultimately healthy — decision to skip these events, or limit your attendance to an hour or two until you have a firmer grip on your sobriety. Don’t put your health at risk by exposing yourself unnecessarily or without proper preparation.

— Create new traditions. If you’ve always welcomed the New Year with a quiet evening at home, highlighted by a champagne toast at midnight, substitute sparkling grape juice and keep everything else the same. But if you’re used to celebrating at a local bar or nightclub, it would probably be wise to find another way to mark the year’s passing, such as hosting an alcohol-free party, attending a concert or some other event that won’t include or revolve around drinking. A great tradition to start this season is writing a letter to at least one person who has touched your life in a particularly meaningful way during the previous year. In addition to giving this person the gift of knowing they have made a positive difference in your life, writing a letter like this will strengthen your connection with an important source of support and remind you how far you have progressed in your recovery.

— Ask for help. When you were mired in the depths of addiction, you may have felt you were alone in your misery. But as you began to walk the path of recovery, you found there were many others who understood what you were going through, and were more than willing to lend whatever support they could to help you regain control over your life. During the holiday season, make an extra effort to connect with the members of your support network.

— Reach out to others. There will likely never be a shortage of people in need of some assistance. People who will be experiencing their first sober holidays, underprivileged youth, hospital patients and residents of homeless shelters are just a few of the many folks who could benefit from your volunteer time, your advice or simply your company. Volunteering to serve others is a fantastic way to take your mind off your own worries and problems, to give back to the community and to remind yourself how rewarding life can be every day that you resist the urge to drink or to use.

In general it’s important to remember that life brings changes: as individual lives change, as families evolve and grow, traditions often need to adapt to the new configurations. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by comparing this year’s holiday season with the nostalgia of past holidays. Each holiday season is different and can be enjoyed in its own way.

Eric Albert, Brandon Browne and Jonathan Mohr are peer-engagement specialists at Mazzoni Center, the region’s only LGBT-specific health center. For a detailed holiday survival guide and a list of community holiday activities, visit www.mazzonicenter.org and click “resources.” Thanks to Anita Gooding, Jennifer Greenman and Kira Manser for contributions to the article, and to Hugh McBride for providing source material.

Read more: PGN-The Philadelphia Gay News. Phila gay news. philly news – Your mental health Surviving the holidays


Courage Is Our Virtue and Freedom Is Our Goal


The UN Combating Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity


“As men and women of conscience, we reject discrimination in general, and in particular discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity…  Where there is tension between cultural attitudes and universal human rights, universal human rights must carry the day”

— UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, New York, 10 December 2010.

Every day, around the world, individuals suffer discrimination, vilification and violent attack because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI). In more than 70 countries, homosexuality remains a criminal offence, exposing gay men and lesbians to the risk of arrest, imprisonment and, in some cases, torture or the death penalty.

While the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and United Nations human rights treaties do not explicitly mention “sexual orientation” or “gender identity”, they do establish an obligation on the part of States to protect people from discrimination, including on the basis of “sex … or other status.” UN treaty bodies, whose role is to monitor and support States’ compliance with treaty obligations, have issued a series of decisions or general comments[1] all confirming that such language is sufficiently broad as to encompass “sexual orientation,” effectively establishing sexual orientation as a prohibited ground of discrimination under relevant human rights treaties. This view has also been endorsed by 17 special procedures (independent experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to monitor and report on various human rights issues), as well as by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Secretary-General.

In a landmark speech on the subject delivered on Human Rights Day (10 December) 2010, the Secretary-General noted that “As men and women of conscience, we reject discrimination in general, and in particular discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. When individuals are attacked, abused or imprisoned because of their sexual orientation, we must speak out…” He pledged to put himself “on the line,” promising “to rally support for the decriminalization of homosexuality everywhere in the world.”

Activities of the human rights office

OHCHR is committed to working with States, national human rights institutions and civil society to achieve progress towards the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality and further measures to protect people from violence and discrimination on grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity. While this work is still in its infancy within OHCHR, planned activities include:
  • Privately raising concerns and putting forward recommendations for reform in the context of dialogue with Governments.
  • Monitoring and bringing to light patterns of human rights violations affecting LGBTI persons in public reporting, including reporting produced by OHCHR field presences.
  • Engaging in public advocacy of decriminalization and other measures necessary to strengthen human rights protection for LGBTI persons, including through participation in events, speeches and press statements and newspaper articles.
  • Working with UN partners to implement various public information and related educational activities intended to counter homophobia and violence motivated by animosity towards LGBTI persons.
  • Providing support for the special procedures mandate-holders in the context of their fact-finding activities and confidential communications with Government.
  • Supporting the human rights treaty bodies, a number of which have addressed the issue of discrimination linked to sexual orientation in previous general comments and concluding observations and continue to highlight steps that individual States should take in order to comply with their international treaty obligations in this respect.
  • Providing support for the Universal Periodic Review, which provides a forum for concerns regarding the rights of LGBTI persons to be aired and for recommendations to be developed.
The Office’s work on LGBTI human rights is coordinated from OHCHR-New York.


1. Human Rights Committee (inter alia, Toonen v. Australia, 1994, Young v. Australia, 2003, Joslin v New Zealand, 2002, and X v. Colombia, 2007); Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (General Comment No. 14 of 2000, General Comment No. 15 of 2002, General Comment No. 18 of 2005); Committee on the Rights of the Child (General Comment No. 4 of 2003); Committee against Torture (General Comment No. 2 of 2008); Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (General Comment No. 28 of 2010)

Tomorrow Is Coming Out Day!

Whether you’re lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or a straight ally, be proud of who you are and your support for LGBT equality this Coming Out Day!

In the Beginning, There Was a March

On Oct. 11, 1987, half a million people participated in the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. It was the second such demonstration in our nation’s capital and resulted in the founding of a number of LGBT organizations, including the National Latino/a Gay & Lesbian Organization (LLEGÓ) and AT&T’s LGBT employee group, LEAGUE. The momentum continued four months after this extraordinary march as more than 100 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists from around the country gathered in Manassas, Va., about 25 miles outside Washington, D.C. Recognizing that the LGBT community often reacted defensively to anti-gay actions, they came up with the idea of a national day to celebrate coming out and chose the anniversary of that second march on Washington to mark it. The originators of the idea were Rob Eichberg, a founder of the personal growth workshop, The Experience, and Jean O’Leary, then head of National Gay Rights Advocates. From this idea the National Coming Out Day was born.

To this day National Coming Out Day (NCOD) continues to promote a safe world for LGBT individuals to live truthfully and openly.

The People of NCOD

The success of NCOD, which from inception quickly expanded to include participation from all 50 states and foreign countries, is because of the hard work of celebrities, volunteers and activists.

  • Rob Eichberg and Jean O’Leary were the originators of the idea of NCOD
  • Sean Strub and Keith Haring- In 1987, Activist Sean Strub got Haring to donate his now-famous image of a person fairly dancing out of a closet
  • Lynn Shepodd – In 1990, Shepodd, who later became a member of HRC’s Board of Governors, was hired as executive director and obtained tax-exempt status for the organization
  • Geraldo Rivera- In 1991, Geraldo Rivera hosted a coming out day TV program that featured Dick Sargent, a gay actor famous for playing Darren on Bewitched, openly gay California Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl and Eichberg.
  • Wes Combs in 1994 was named HRCF’s project director for National Coming Out Day
  • Candace Gingrich, half-sister of then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, became a National Coming Out Project spokesperson and full-time activist in 1995
  • Dan Butler, who played the character Bulldog on NBC-TV’s Frasier, was NCOD spokeperson in 1995
  • Rock musician Melissa Etheridge did a radio public service announcement, reminding people that “Labels belong on records, not on people.”
  • Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., spoke at the “Come Out Voting” rally in Washington, D.C., Oct. 11, 1996.
  • Fashion photographer Don Flood in 1996 shot past spokespeople Bearse, Butler and Gingrich, along with Olympic diver Greg Louganis, actor Mitchell Anderson, newly minted gay activist Chastity Bono and Sean Sasser, who had appeared in MTV’s The Real World.
  • In 1996, actress Judith Light, pro golfer Muffin Spencer-Devlin and, in her first appearance at a gay rights event, Cher spoke at a Come Out Voting rally in Washington, DC
  • In September 1997 the project brought in its first straight spokesperson, Betty DeGeneres, mother of actress/comedian Ellen DeGeneres.
  • Patrick Bristow (formerly of the Ellen TV show), Dan Butler, San Francisco Supervisor Mark Leno, longtime activist Donna Red Wing, Betty DeGeneres, Gingrich and SF Mayor Willie Brown were featured in a 1998 NCOD event in San Francisco’s Delores Park
  • Chicago-native and founding member of the rock group Styx Chuck Panozzo celebrated a special homecoming in 2001 when he came out at the Human Rights Campaign annual Chicago dinner.
  • On National Coming Out Day, Oct. 11, 2002, a benefit CD featuring the songs of openly LGBT musicians and straight allies was released. Cyndi Lauper, Queen, k.d. lang, Jade Esteban Estrada and Sarah McLachlan are among the artists who donated songs to the album.
  • Etheridge’s name appears on a poster celebrating the 2002 theme along with 18 other openly LGBT artists, including Ani DiFranco, Michael Stipe, the Indigo Girls, RuPaul, Rufus Wainwright and The Butchies

Living Openly

However you identify, HRC and its Coming Out Project hope these guides help you meet the challenges and opportunities that living openly offers to each of us:

Find coming out guides and other resources

Are You a Straight Ally?

Check out A Straight Guide to LGBT Americans to learn about the emotional spectrum that people typically feel after someone comes out to them and find easy ways to learn more and demonstrate your support for LGBT Americans and equality.

Download the guide


Straight But Not Narrow

I came across information for the Straight But Not Narrow (SBNN) organization on SECRETGUYSTUFF’S BLOG. More about SBNN in a moment, but I did want to take a second to say that SECRETGUYSTUFF’S BLOG is one of the coolest blogs that I have come across in a long time.  It’s a blog about “It’s guys talking about guy stuff. You know, the inside stuff, the stuff we want to know about, the stuff we want to discuss, the experiences we want to share, and the questions we can’t ask our moms. So share it, dare it, enjoy it.” From discussions about lubes to masturbation myths to body hair to the various degrees of sexuality. It is a blog about all of the stuff that I wondered about as a teenager and young adult. I eventually found many of the answers on my own, but I wish this blog had been around back then. I still learn a few things here and there, and this blog is a fun way to learn about the secret guy stuff and it is also a bit nostalgic for those of us who have already experienced these points in our lives.  So before I begin to talk about SBNN, I wanted to introduce you guys to SECRETGUYSTUFF’S BLOG.

Straight But Not Narrow is an organization that was started by asking that very question.  There have been a number of great campaigns and charities that have recently emerged to show support to gay youth and teens. However, SBNN noticed one significant niche missing in the efforts. the message to the young, straight male. Its an unfortunate reality that most of the bullying and harassment that gay teens face comes from them. It is for this reason that we are building a campaign that is primarily directed to the young, straight male by using comedy and their peers to positively influence their views on LGBT teens.

SBNN was founded by Avan Jogia.  Avan, an actor, musician, writer, and big picture thinker. His idea, his passion, his voice started it all.

Back to school should be a fun time for everyone. The sad truth is, this can be a tough time for a LGBTQ students. Straight But Not Narrow are rally their troops to do their part in making sure this back to school is awesome for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation.

They are asking allies to make a pledge.  Here’s the pledge:

“I will do my part to make sure this is a great school year for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you are gay, straight, or somewhere in between. Just be you, because it’s all good with me”. I’m Straight But Not Narrow (the last line is optional if, of course, it doesn’t apply to you).

SBNN has also had a series of YouTube videos to get their point across.  Here is one by Ryan Rottman (who I had to look up too, but he is very cute).

Ryan Rottman (born March 17, 1984) is an American actor. He is best known for his role as Joey Colvin on the TeenNick series Gigantic, which premiered October 8, 2010.  Ryan Rottman started his career in 2008 as an extra in the film The House Bunny. Before that he starred in the plays at Texas Tech University. In 2009, he appeared in films The Stuntman and The Open Road. Rottman’s other television credits are Viva Laughlin, Greek, Victorious and the webisode series Valley Peaks.

One of the most fascinating things that I have found while teaching at the conservative little private school where I teach is that I often hear the girls in the school say that they wished they had a “gay best friend.”  It is generally said in response to a homophobic comment from one of the boys in the class and sometimes it is just random.  They don’t know that I am gay, and it is probably better that way (mostly because of school politics), but the students know that I don’t tolerate derogatory language in my class in any form.  Therefore, it often gives me a warm fuzzy feeling when the girls put the guys in their places when they are being insensitive.  I also find it particularly funny that there are a few of the girls who have said that, who I am almost 100 percent sure that their male best friend is actually gay, they just don’t know it yet.  We have a few students at school who either have not yet admitted it to themselves or are still in the closet because of home and school prejudices.  I try my best to teach all of my students acceptance of those things they do not understand.  People are far too often scared of things they don’t understand and that fear turns into prejudices.  It is a sad state of affairs, but it is something that I am working to change.


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