Bigot of the Day: Voddie Baucham

Voddie Baucham

Voddie Baucham is a preacher at Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas. On Saturday, he addressed the opening session of the 2011 National Religious Broadcasters, an annual gathering of Christian broadcasters that’s taking place in Nashville. According to The Christian Post, Baucham urged them “to not buy into the ‘gay is the new black’ propaganda, but instead to remain committed to defending biblical marriage on the airwaves.” Baucham lamented that some broadcasters have become reluctant to bash gays on the air:

“The reason is the homosexuals have effectively co-opted blackness…to where now, we actually believe gay is the new black and we actually believe homosexual marriage is a civil rights issue,” he explained.

“I’m insulted that people equate not just a sinful behavior but a behavior that’s a special category of sin called abomination with the level of melanin in my skin,” he said.

On a more positive note, the Rev. Cindi Love will appear Tuesday at the National Religious Broadcasters. Love, a former Dallas resident who now serves as executive director of Soulforce, reportedly is the first gay or lesbian leader invited to NRB. According to a press release, Love will participate in a Public Policy Debate on the church’s response to the gay rights movement. The panel will be moderated by socially conservative radio host Janet Parshall, and Love will square off with Joe Dallas, “former homosexual” and “ex-gay rights activist” and co-author of The Complete Christian Guide to Understanding Homosexuality.

“I’m grateful that the NRBC has offered me the opportunity to debate a prominent opponent of LGBT rights before an audience of Christian broadcasters,” Love said. “Christian media has played a major role in spreading and heightening anti-gay sentiment in the U.S. and around the world. The most recent horrific example has been in Uganda, where the use of media as a tool by American evangelicals to spread misinformation and inflammatory rhetoric about LGBT people and support anti-gay legislation has created a climate of hatred, violence and fear for the country’s LGBT population. By participating in this debate, I intend to confront the rhetoric that has cost lives around the world, and attempt to open up an honest dialogue that has been absent for far too long.”

—  John Wright

Guest column by Jake Goodman: A Coalition Gathers in Brooklyn: Hate is the Abomination (Not Queers)

A Coalition Gathers in Brooklyn: Hate is the Abomination (Not Queers)

by Jake Goodman

This past Thursday, a broad coalition of Jewish and queer New Yorkers gathered on in sub-freezing temperatures for a protest march through the heart of the Jewish neighborhood in Flatbush.  The event, titled “In God’s Name,” was organized by grassroots activist group Queer Rising – of which I am a proud member.

“In God’s Name” turned out to be one of the most powerful, effective events I’ve experienced.  I’d like to take a moment to explain why.


Why We Fight:  October 2010

Who could forget October 2010?  Suicides by queer youth made headlines every day.  Young people faced harassment, terror and shame so extreme that they felt compelled to take their own lives.  At the same time, reports of hate crimes against LGBT people surfaced.  In New York City alone, gay men were attacked in Chelsea and at the historic Stonewall Inn, of all places.  Most horrifying to me, in the Bronx a group of kids ages 16-23 calling themselves the Latin King Goonies tricked, trapped, then tortured three men for being gay.  

On October 10th, at the very height of this violent epidemic, NY gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, in an anti-gay speech written by Rabbi Yehuda Levin, the infamously homophobic fringe rabbi of Flatbush, Brooklyn, said,  ”I don’t want [children] brainwashed into thinking homosexuality is an equal valid and successful option.  It is not.”   I watched, mortified, as the media repeatedly replayed the video of ultra-Orthodox Jews applauding and approving this inciting speech.

In that moment, the link between anti-LGBT rhetoric and the recent rash of suicides by queer youth became tragically clear for me.  Radical-Right religious and political leaders, role models to many, spew hateful speech that strips queer people of their humanity and dignity.  Others hear this rhetoric (aided by an ill-informed media machine) and internalize it as tacit permission to enact violence onto individuals who are, not to mince words, called abominations.

The fact that such vitriol was coming from the mouth-or rather, the pen-of someone who purported to be a spokesperson for my religion was beyond the pale.  As was stated by the always-eloquent Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (CBST), “As Jews, we are horrified at the anti-LGBT bigotry coming in the name of Judaism at many of our youth, Jewish and non-Jewish.  We want religion to be a force of liberation, not a force of oppression.”

How We Fight: Building Coalition “In God’s Name”

When planning “In Gods Name,” we had a choice.  Initially, we wanted to do an action that directly attacked Rabbi Yehuda Levin on his home turf, shaming him for his vicious homophobic rhetoric, accusing him of having blood on his hands for the deaths and wrecked lives of people who listened to and internalized his words.  After speaking with many people within diverse Jewish communities (Orthodox, ultra-Orthodox, Reform, unaffiliated, queer), we quickly realized this was not the right tack to take.

Yehuda Levin is a fringe rabbi.  Despite the picture the media paints, he has very few actual followers-maybe 14?-and we do not want to elevate him.   Oftentimes, protesters simply compare homophobic Jewish leaders to Hilter, inciting a community that is hyper-sensitive to attacks of anti-Semitism and dashing any support that might otherwise exist. Finally, and most importantly, what would an angry protest accomplish?  We would have made our point, sure, but what would change?  Nothing.

So we decided instead to build a coalition. We communicated with over 100 rabbis from every denomination.  We visited support groups for ex-Orthodox gay Jews.  We partnered with other organizations and communities that were doing related work.  We mobilized both Jewish and queer organizations to collaborate.

In the end, the success of “In God’s Name” can be measured by who showed up:  people of every sexual orientation, Jews of every denomination (including the unaffiliated), non-Jews, atheists, old people, young people, white people, Latino people, African Americans.  Rally speakers included a lesbian rabbi (Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum), an Orthodox rabbi (Rabbi Maurice Appelbaum), an Israeli nonprofit executive (Idit Klein) and a gay union leader (Stuart Appelbaum).  We were endorsed by synagogues large and small, queer and AIDS-related activist groups, hospitals, arts youth groups, community centers, etc.

Together, in solidarity, we demanded an immediate end to anti-LGBT rhetoric spoken “in God’s name.”  We vowed that we would no longer stand idly by when we personally heard such hateful speech.  We proved that there is strength through community.  This community will rise up again and again, growing larger and more diverse, into a mass movement affirming that HATE IS THE ABOMINATION: NOT QUEER PEOPLE.

In God’s Name – Hate Is the Abomination from David Wallace on Vimeo.

Endorsing Partners:  Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (CBST), Keshet, Storahtelling, Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, Jewish Chicks Rock, Kolot Chayeinu/Voices of Our Lives, Nehirim, The Power, Project ACHIEVE & Columbia University Medical Center

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

‘Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives,’ ‘March On’ and more at Austin gay film fest this weekend

If you’re in Austin this weekend, you may want to stop by the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, site of the 23rd Annual Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Fest.

Gay Dallas filmmaker Israel Luna’s controversial “Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives” is showing at 9:45 tonight, and will be followed by a talkback discussion.

And at noon Sunday, Dallas activist Laura McFerrin’s documentary about last year’s National Equality March, “March On,” will make its world premiere. We’ve heard  most if not all of the folks whose stories are featured in “March On” will be on hand for the screening.

Of course these are plenty of other films at the festival worth seeing, too. For example, we’re intrigued by “Faith of the Abomination,” about a lesbian couple (shown above) that went undercover and infiltrated an evangelical church in Austin a few years back.

For a full schedule, go here.

—  John Wright

Don’t kiss, don’t tell, don’t care

Next time someone mentions Judeo-Christian values, point to this one, which comes more from the Judeo side, I imagine.

The liberal Israeli newspaper HaAretz published a photo over the weekend of an Israeli soldier kissing another man, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Mostly the paper was concerned with how hot the kiss was.

The picture was taken at Jerusalem’s Pride parade on July 29.

The article takes two paragraphs to describe the kiss graphically. “Both stand in a public place, giving a performance, showing how it’s done correctly, feeding him to become his own,” the author writes in Hebrew. But after describing the passionate kiss, he says “people stand around not even looking.”

“I can kiss the person I want the same way that another soldier can kiss whoever he wants,” the writer says. (I believe that’s an imagined quote, describing the scene, rather than something the solider actually told him.)

In the past there have been demonstrations against a Pride parade in Jerusalem. This year, bystanders hardly looked, he said. The last paragraph, however, talks about the older man with the mustache taking a picture of the two men. The writer wonders what the man captured in his camera and questions if he was even looking at the two men embracing since his eyes seem to be looking more at the writer than the men.

Israel eliminated its voluntary deferment for gays and lesbians to serve in the military in 1993. That same year, the U.S. began “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

My translation may be a little off because my Hebrew school classes prepared me to say things more like “you shall not eat flesh from a cloven-hoofed animal like a pig or a camel because it is an abomination” rather than “two men kissed each other passionately in Jerusalem to show straight people how to do it.” However, synagogues take note: Using articles like this may be a better way to keep students interested.

—  David Taffet