Monday, February 16, 2009

Ignorant Morehouse College column makes me wonder

I love my African-American heterosexual brothers and sisters but let's face some facts: the black community in general is highly ignorant when it comes to acknowledging and supporting gays and lesbians of color.

How else can one explain the words in this recent hot mess of a column by Morehouse University writer Gerren Gaynor:

It's not so much that "straight" men of Morehouse are uncomfortable with the gay lifestyle, but more so because it is constantly and quite robustly thrown in their face. Does being a gay man include adopting the traits of a woman? Because if that's the case, there's a more fitting school, and it's called Spelman College.

I'm all for being who you are. If you like women, go on and date women. If you like men, be my guest and date men. But if you are born a man, you should be just that--a man. If I have to look twice to tell if I'm looking at a man or woman on an all-male campus, then something is tragically wrong.

At this rate, Morehouse College may find itself in a difficult situation. What happens if and when one of our gay Morehouse brothers decides to go the next step and undergo a sex-change operation, and is then physically considered to be a woman? Does Morehouse have the right to ask that student to leave?

It's ironic that Mr. Gaynor claims to have support for gay men and then proceeds to throw out some of the most offensive stereotypes that could have only come from being locked up in a room for 24 hrs and forced to watch repeated clips from shows like In Living Color and movies like Soul Plane.

For the record, homosexuality and transgenderism are two different things entirely. Just because someone is openly gay doesn't necessarily mean will seek to have sexual reassignment surgery.

Mr. Gaynor's fickless bullshit is rooted in an unfortunate facet of the African-American community - this push to hypermasculinity.

You can see it in so many images on African-American oriented shows - it's not enough for a black man to be masculine. He must be hypermasculine. Everything about him must exude masculinity, even his gas.

But I really don't blame Mr. Gaynor for his ignorance regarding the gay community because it is prevalent in the black community.

Lgbts of color are nonexistent in the black community as far as our leaders, magazines, radio shows, and networks are concerned.

We are not people in the actual sense. We don't have lives or families. We are soulless props designed as warning stops to "real brothers and sisters." Or cariactures designed for laughter and amusement - clowns whose only functions are to induce laughter or pity.

We are constantly bombarded with either invisibility or negative stereotypes of weak feminine men or hypermasculine sexually aggressive men.

Yet this is the same community that cries about its high HIV rate in our community.

This is the same community who chuckles and says things like "we knew it all the time" when people like Pastor T.D. Jakes's son is arrested.

And we are the same community that gives birth to supposedly intelligent black men like Mr. Gaynor who will write ridiculous nonsensical filled columns.

So . . .

To Harry Jackson, Ken Hutcherson, Alveda King, and the rest of the black ministers and spokespeople who spout silly homilies like “don’t equate my skin with your sin” and help propagate the lie that the lgbt orientation and the African-American identity are mutually exclusive.

To all of the black ministers nationwide who knowingly have lgbt of color congregants but will not pursue private one-on-one nonjudgmental conversations with them

To Ebony, Essence, Jet, Emerge and other African-American oriented magazines who write very few articles regarding lgbts of color.

To all of the African-American social organizations who will not even mention lgbts of color.

To all of the African-American oriented television shows (such as House of Payne) who feature no lgbt of color characters.

To all of the African-American motion pictures who feature lgbt of color characters strictly as vehicles for the worst form of comedy.

To all of the civic minded African-American spokespeople and leaders who will not even address the fact that lgbts of color exist.

To all of those in the African-American community who reduce lgbt of color relationships to sexual innuendoes by their patronizing comments like "not caring about who someone sleeps with."

I lay Mr. Gaynor's ignorance as well as the ignorance of the entire black community at your feet.

What are you going to do about it?
Student sues college, religious right feeding frenzy begins

We will hear about this story repeatedly over the next few days:

A classroom dispute at Los Angeles City College in the emotional aftermath of Proposition 8 has given rise to a lawsuit testing the balance between 1st Amendment rights and school codes on offensive speech.

Student Jonathan Lopez says his professor called him a "fascist bastard" and refused to let him finish his speech against same-sex marriage during a public speaking class last November, weeks after California voters approved the ban on such unions.

When Lopez tried to find out his mark for the speech, the professor, John Matteson, allegedly told him to "ask God what your grade is," the suit says.

Lopez also said the teacher threatened to have him expelled when he complained to higher-ups.

In addition to financial damages, the suit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, seeks to strike down a sexual harassment code barring students from uttering "offensive" statements.

Jean-Paul Jassy, a 1st Amendment lawyer in Los Angeles, said a number of cases have explored the tension between offensive speech and the expression of religious views. Often, he said, the decision depends on the specifics of the situation.

"Free speech really thrives when people are going back and forth, disagreeing sometimes and sometimes finding things each other says offensive, but there are limits, particularly in a school setting," Jassy said after reviewing the lawsuit.

Lopez, a Los Angeles resident working toward an associate of arts degree, is described in the suit as a Christian who considers it a religious duty to share his beliefs, particularly with other students. He declined to comment. Matteson could not be reached.

Lopez is represented by the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal organization based in Scottsdale, Ariz., and co-founded by evangelical leader James Dobson of Focus on the Family.

If the story turns out to be true, the professor should be reprimanded. That is if the story turns out to be true.

Unfortunately there seems to be a bigger issue here. The Allied Defense Fund and its allies are now engaging in a p.r. battle regarding this situation.

It's been done so many times before:

- An alleged incident of discrimination against a Christian takes place.

- The Allied Defense Fund sues "on behalf" of the innocent Christian and sends out a press release.

- The press release is "conveniently" picked up by right wing sources like World Net Daily, Free Republic, right wing blogs, etc.

- One News Now publishes a one-sided article making sure to add "details."

- The incident is featured on talk shows and radio shows featuring the "innocent Christian" giving only his or her side of the story.

- The incident will be used to
incorrectly claim that pro-gay laws (such as hate crimes legislation) are going to lead to the imprisonment and persecution of Christians.

- We find out that the incident was blown out of proportion, but after all of that build up and hype about "Christians being persecuted," no one really gives a shit.

This incident has already hit One News Now complete with the usual whiny comments about "intolerant purveyors of tolerance," "Christians are being persecuted all over" and other things we can come to expect from One News Now supporters and readers.

I don't remember comments being posted to a One News Now story so quickly. It's obvious that the phony news service will be pushing this situation hard.

And the right wing blogs have gone haywire over it. I cringe to see how many entries on Free Republic have been dedicated to the incident.

My guess is that Mr. Lopez will be featured in a new AFA video on "silencing Christians."

But as I reiterated before, I want to hear the entire story. If Mr. Lopez's version of the story is true, then I hope a suitable solution is reached.

However, given the track record of his allies, I have more than enough reason to doubt Mr. Lopez's version of the story.

For now that is.
Fears of a phony 'homosexual agenda' even encompasses school janitors

At times, I can't help but to laugh at religious right groups because of how they interpret situations with the most extreme forms of hyperbole.

Take for example, a recent incident in Massachusetts.

At the beginning of the year, parents of children attending the Clara Barton Elementary School received a reasonable letter informing them that an employee, a janitor, had transitioned from male to female:

Dear Clara Barton Families,

Welcome back to a new school year! I hope that you all had a safe, rest filled and refreshing summer. A lot of work has taken place over the summer to get the school ready for this year.

Although we do not usually make formal announcements about our employee's [sic] personal lives, a matter has come up that has the potential to impact the school environment. We believe that it is important to inform everyone openly. Our night custodian has informed us of his decision to change his gender and, as we begin the school year, he will begin living and working as a woman. He has been a valued employee of the Oxford Public schools for many years, and we expect his exemplary performance to continue as he changes gender roles.

The custodial uniform is the same for men and women. However, our students may notice and ask about the differences in our custodian from last year to this. If they ask at school, they will be given a simple and straightforward answer. The best thing to tell them is that our custodian used to be a man. She has changed her gender role and is now a woman.

This can be a difficult topic about which to talk and likely a conversation that no one expected to have. Included with this letter are some resources that provide information about transgender issues that will be helpful should you choose to learn more.

Whether or not one agrees with or supports the decision of our custodian, it is important to note that the Oxford Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or disability. We expect our custodian to be treated with the same respect as every other employee. We teach respect by demonstrating respectful behavior.

If you have any questions or concerns that are not addressed by this letter or by the resources provided, please do not hesitate to contact either one of us.


Ernest Boss
Superintendent, Oxford Public Schools

Norman Yvon
Principal, Clara Barton School

The school deserves kudos for the professional way it handled the matter.

But the local religious right group, Mass Resistance (an official hate group according to the Southern Law Poverty Center), said the following (You will forgive me for adding my little editorial critiques in the middle of Mass Resistance's ramblings):

The radical transgender agenda is proceeding quickly into the schools, now reaching the youngest of children. (Editor's note - That's right. Our 'agenda' is to take over the school janitor's union. And next year, it will be the cafeteria workers.) What was completely unthinkable just a few years ago is now being forced as mainstream by public officials. And as usual, no one cares how this affects the fragile psychology of children. Pushing the political ideology as fast as possible takes precedence over everything. . .

. . . Written simply in an eerie informational style, the parents were told that one of the male custodians will now be coming to school dressed as a woman, and is now considered a "woman", and that parents should inform their children of this because the school intended to tell them if they asked about it. "The best thing to tell them is that our custodian used to be a man. She has changed her gender role and is now a woman," the letter said to parents. It's extremely Orwellian. (Editor's note - Yes, I am sure that George Orwell had the proliferation of transgendered janitors in mind when he wrote 1984).

. . . This is where the homosexual movement is taking your children. It's like a science fiction movie . . . (Editor's note - I resent that. This is like a James Bond movie).

Mass Resistance's love of hyperbole seems to be matched by that of One News Now's coverage of the situation:

Transgender janitor shocks elem. school parents

I would be beating an old horse if I told you all that the headline is blatantly misleading. The One News Now article offers no proof that parents are shocked. It doesn't quote parents of the students attending Clara Barton Elementary School.

The only person quoted is Brian Camenker, who just happens to be the head of Mass Resistance. Camenker claims that parents are "afraid" to speak out because their children may face reprisals - shades of the David Parker lie indeed.

How convenient.