Monday, June 24, 2019

Arson claims 32 lives

We wrote here about this tragedy back on June 12th and also wrote about the mass murder that occurred three years ago in Orlando.  What many people don't know about the New Orleans arson at the UpStairs Lounge, is that very little was said about it being a gay bar.

Thirty two people died in that horrific fire on this date back in 1973.  Some of the bodies were never claimed.  Some churches refused to hold funerals.  (I can recall the same thing happening during the early days of AIDS).  A local Episcopal priest held a small memorial liturgy with about eighty people present.  The priest received hate mail as a result and his bishop expressed sharp disapproval that the service had been held.

While this tragedy didn't get much publicity at the time, a documentary about the fire, UpStairs Inferno  was released n 2015.  Two years ago an Off-Broadway musical called The View Upstairs opened at The Lynn Redgrave Theater in New York City. 

The most likely suspect was never charged and took his own life a year later.   There was never any solid evidence proving that the arson was motivated by hate or homophobia.  It was the deadliest known attack on a gay club in this country until the 2016 Pulse shooting in Orlando.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

We need to know our history

Hearing a story this week about someone who wasn't quite sure who Marsha P. Johnson was, I knew I had to write something here.  (A random person on the street had described her to a friend of mine saying "Oh! Is she the one who threw the first bottle at Stonehenge?"  Um.  No).

Marsha P. Johnson was an activist in New York City from the 60s to the 90s. Co-founder of the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, Marsha was also a visible presence at protests and marches and at the same time was a mother figure to young trans women. Facing ridicule, bullying, and harassment, Marsha did not yield from being her true self, and in doing so made a huge difference. (The middle initial P, according to her was Pay it No Mind).

Many of us are aware of those who make a difference in the town where we live, but folks in other places do things that lead to a better life for us all.  Whether you are from New Jersey where Marsha was born, New York where she became known, or the other side of the earth, it's important to know that things she did, made a difference. 
 
Although the police report her death as suicide, there is much evidence to suggest that her death was as a result of a hate crime.  As part of her legacy, we should all pledge to do everything possible to end the plague of hate crimes against our trans sisters and brothers.


Saturday, June 22, 2019

All the letters

Most people are familiar with the rainbow flag and the trans flag is fairly well know too, but what about this flag?  Do you recognize it?  This is the bisexual flag created by Michael Page to represent and increase visibility of bisexuals within the LGBTQ community and also within society as a whole.  Pages says the pink represents sexual attraction to same sex only (lesbians and gay men).  The blue field represents sexual attraction to the opposite sex only (heterosexuals).  The overlapping purple represents sexual attraction to both sexes (bisexuals).

When Pride events first began, most of the emphasis was on gay men.  Gradually it changes to include the entire LGBTQ umbrella, but some still don't get as much attention.  All of the letters are important, not just the first two.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) wrote an open letter to bisexuals which you can read in full HERE.  That letter says in part "Pride can be a hard time for those who fall within the bisexual, pansexual, queer and sexually fluid community.  Studies show that bi people make up nearly 50% of the LGBTQ community, but too often it can feel like we’re all alone, walking a line between being 'too queer' or 'not queer enough.'"
 
During this Pride Month, remember your bisexual sisters and brothers and remember too that all groups are important. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Trevor Project

Yesterday I mentioned The Trevor Project, but today I want to say a lot more.  (I really should have done this last night when they presented an amazing program and fundraiser).  This incredible organization provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning youth and helped so many kids get their lives on track.  I was pleased to see Eugene Lee Yang's connection and so many other celebrities.

I watched TrevorLIVE last night as they celebrated 21 years of our life-saving work. It was a heartwarming program, and as I said earlier, I wish I had told you about it yesterday, so many of you could have tuned in.  I do hope many of you will donate though.  The easiest way is through their secure website HERE.  You can also find out much more about them by going to https://www.thetrevorproject.org
 
I hope you will share this information with family and friends too.  All too often lgbtq youth are disowned by their parents or other relatives.  Feeling alone and isolated can be a terrifying experience.  How wonderful that The Trevor Project is there for people who find themselves all alone.  If you know of anyone thinking about suicide, they deserve immediate help - please call the Trevor Lifeline at 866-488-7386.

Monday, June 17, 2019

I'm Gay

Over the weekend, Eugene Lee Yang came out as gay.  That might not be huge news and some of you might be asking just who is Eugene Lee Yang.  Well he is an actor who became best known from the internet and is part of The Try Guys an online comedy series currently available on YouTube.  On Saturday, the Try Guys released a video which Yang wrote and directed and which is his coming out story.  The video is stunning.

I don't know much about his hometown or how difficult it might have been for him growing up.  Yang is from Pflugerville, Texas - ever heard of it?  It's a suburb or Austin.

There has probably been more written about Eugene Lee Yang in the past 24 hours than in all of his 33 years.  Most of what I have seen isn't centering on his talent and career, but on the spectacular way he told the world he is gay.  If you want to see the video, click HERE.  Share it with your friends too.  It can be a difficult and courageous action, but what Yang did this weekend - so appropriate during this Pride Month, can be a source of strength and encouragement to so many.  He could have just posted "I'm gay" on social media.  Instead he presented a visual experience that will be remembered for years to come.  By the way, ODESZA provides the incredible music for the video.

One more thing:  Yang tweeted "I've also created a fundraiser for the Trevor Project to help save LGBTQ+ lives."  (The Trevor Project is one of my favorite organizations, and I will write more about them tomorrow).  Thank you so much Eugene for making a difference! 

Sunday, June 16, 2019

It's going to happen, whether you like it or not

California's Governor, Gavin Newsom is not a gay man but he believes that gay men and women should have the same rights as everyone else, particularly in the area of marriage.  It was he, while he was Mayor of San Francisco, who directed the county clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and got the marriage equality ball rolling. 
 
This is not to say for one second that others were not a part of this fight and credit should certainly be given to City Attorney Dennis Herrera and to so many faithful love warriors.  Gavin Newsom though played a major role and it was fitting that he would officiate the wedding of gay pioneers Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon.
 
Would we have gotten where we are today without Newsom?  Probably, but not as quickly.  Every movement needs a beginning, and for this one, it was his actions.  Newsom is not just a lgbtq supporter in the area of marriage, he has proudly supported the lgbtq community over and over and I'm certain will continue to.

Earlier this month he issued a proclamation declaring June 2019, as “LGBTQ Pride Month” in the state of California and speaking of "our remarkable capacity to live together and advance together across every conceivable difference."  The proclamation says "This June, we stand with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community of California as they declare their pride in who they are and who they love."

Newsom has participated in San Francisco's Pride Parade for many years, but later this month he will do it as Governor of California and will be the first sitting governor of the state to do so.
 
Of all his statements in support of the lgbtq community, I will always remember his speech regarding same-sex marriage in which he said "It's going to happen, whether you like it or not."

Saturday, June 15, 2019

all kinds of heroes

The Pride Celebrations of the LGBTQ communities all around the world are happy and joyous, in part - but they are also rallies for justice and continuations of the fight for equality.  Along the way there have been many heroes.  In this blog, I write about making a difference, and during Pride Month this year I am zooming on the lgbtq community all month long.  There have been numerous leaders over the years, a couple of whom I have already mentioned here.  Not all of the lgbt heroes identify as lgbt.  There are numerous non-gay lgbt allies who have made an incredible difference.

These days we know more and more names because folks are less fearful of the gay, bisexual, or transgender label.  Many celebrities are coming out, and that in itself makes a difference, with more visibility.  More people are coming out to family and friends too.  Think for a moment.  How many people do you know who are part of the lgbtq community?

The heroes?  Well there are certainly too many to write about in just one short blog post, but they include Cleve Jones, Phyllis Lyon, Dan Choi, Harvey Milk, Gavin Newsom, Ken Jones, Dustin Lance Black, Barbara Gittings, Neil Giuliano, Gilbert Baker, and Vic Basile. Also Troy Perry, Bayard Rustin, Adam Bouska, José Sarria, Chaz Bono, Seth Owen, Blake Brockington, Ryan Cassata, Dan Savage, and Cecilia Chung.  The list can go on and on, and hopefully more and more folks will come forward and fight for what is right - equality for all.  I'd like to add a few folks from my town who did some incredible things earlier this month!

Please do feel free to share your lgbtq Pride stories.  What is the most moving experience you have ever had.  Who are your heroes?