Please: No more ‘us vs. them’

justiceLast night (Monday, Nov. 24), officials announced that the grand jury had decided not to indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson on any criminal charges in connection with the August shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. As expected, protests, riots and looting exploded in the streets of Ferguson and elsewhere in response.

And of course, the Internet exploded, too. Journalists on location in Ferguson and at the sites of other protests were Tweeting minute-by-minute updates. News outlets were posting articles examining the issue from every angle and op-ed pieces from all sides. And on social media sites like Facebook everybody with access to the Internet was posting their own personal opinions. Television news was also swamped with stories.

And with every word I heard or read, I felt myself growing a little more sick to my stomach. I am sick to think that another young man has died needlessly. I am sick to think a police officer will carry the weight of that death for the rest of his life. I am sick to think that some people think stealing from the Family Dollar Store or setting a car sales lot on fire is an appropriate or helpful way to respond to injustice. I am sick to think that others believe the protestors are all a bunch of thugs who need to just get over themselves.

And I am sick to death of the whole idea of “us vs. them” and all the hyperbole and name-calling.

Not every police officer is a jack-booted, power-hungry racist Nazi in disguise, just waiting for a chance to hurt or kill somebody they don’t like. But neither is every cop one of the good guys. There are very good cops, and there are very bad cops.

And not every person — regardless of gender or color — who ends up hurt or killed in a confrontation with police was some sweet saint just minding their own business and unfairly targeted by the brutish cops. But neither were all of them “thugs” who “deserved what they got.”

And you know what else I am tired of hearing? I’m tired of hearing that the protesters and rioters and looters — and those are very distinct groups, because not all of the protesters are violent and none of those taking advantage of the unrest to loot are protesters — are “hurting their own cause.” What is “their own cause”? Civil rights? Equality? Justice? Well you know what, none of those things are “their cause.” Those things should ALL be OUR cause. We should ALL be dedicated to making sure that every person is treated equally and that justice prevails (justice, not necessarily the law, since we all know of some unjust laws) in every situation.

Justice should be the end goal for everyone. But I don’t believe we will ever reach that goal as long as we continue in our “us vs. them” mentality: Blacks vs. Whites. Cops vs. Thugs. Rich vs. Poor. Native vs. Alien. Gay vs. Straight.

In the LGBT community, every October we celebrate National Coming Out Day, because we know that even though “society” may hate us as a group — the faceless “them” — it is much harder for an individual to hate another individual once they get to know each other. We know that people who know an openly gay person — as  a relative, a friend, a coworker, etc. — are less likely to oppose equality for LGBT people as a whole.

The same principle holds true in every facet of life and society, I think: It is harder to hate a group of people for being different from you when you actually know someone in that group.

In other words, we have to start looking at people as individuals, not as part of some larger group. Michael Brown not just a black teenager. Darren Wilson is not just a white cop.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying we don’t have racial problems in America. We most certainly do. “Walking while black,” “driving while brown” — that most definitely happens. Yes, there are bad cops. We cannot ignore that. But neither can we find a way to fix the problems, to reach our goal of justice unless we put aside the “us vs. them” way of doing things and start to see each other as individuals and each situation as unique.

They say that Justice is blind. Maybe it is. But if we truly expect to find Justice, then we have to start looking with our own eyes wide open, seeing all sides and not just our own.

—  Tammye Nash

16 LGBT rights organizations express grief over Michael Brown death

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An undated photo of Michael Brown, an 18 year old black killed by a police officer, in Ferguson, Mo.

Sixteen LGBT organizations signed onto an open letter decrying the tragic murder of Michael Brown, an unarmed, 18 year old black man killed by a police officer this week in Ferguson, Missouri. The accounts ofd the incident of the events, but it’s a sobering reminder, according to the August 12 letter, of the all too familiar experience of harassment and violence toward marginalized communities.

Among them are the Human Rights Campaign, Soulforce and the National Center for Transgender Equality.

The 16 organizations denounced the brutality and called on “the national and local media to be responsible and steadfast in their coverage of this story and others like it — racialized killings that have marred this nation since the beginning of its history.” See a copy of the letter here.

The St. Louis suburb has been in turmoil following his death. Numerous leaders and organizations have called for investigations amidst the ongoing anger and violence sweeping the city. Attorney General Eric Holder said he has opened an investigation.

 

—  James Russell

Is Wyoming the next gay marriage battleground?

State Rep. Cathy Connolly

In the state-by-state march toward marriage equality, four states have been on the radar for possible legalization of same-sex marriage this year. This week, a fifth state became a new possibility.

According to the Billings Gazette, Wyoming State Rep. Cathy Connolly, D-Laramie, will file two bills. One would legalize same-sex marriage, the other civil unions. Connolly is lesbian.

Wyoming does not have a constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage. Bills have been filed to change that, and Connolly’s bills are in response.

Like Iowa, where same-sex marriage became legal a few years ago, Wyoming does have a history of equality. When Wyoming was admitted to the union in 1890, it became the first to allow women to vote and was the first to elect a woman governor. (That was 1924 and Texas elected a woman — “Ma” Ferguson — that year as well).

In Wyoming’s 60-seat lower house, only 10 of those seats are held by Democrats. In the Senate, only four out of 30 are Democrats.

Four other states that may consider marriage equality this year are New York, Rhode Island, Maryland and Minnesota.

Of those four, Rhode Island and Maryland are the states where it is most likely to pass. Rhode Island’s new governor favors marriage equality and Democrats hold a strong majority in both houses. Their former governor opposed equality although the state already recognizes marriages performed elsewhere.

Maryland has been studying equality for more than a year and a bill is progressing.

New York recognizes marriages performed elsewhere and two courts have upheld that recognition. The state’s new governor, Andrew Cuomo, supports equality, as did their former governor, but the state Senate has a one-vote Republican majority that may block passage.

In his inaugural speech, Cuomo said, “We believe in justice for all, then let’s pass marriage equality this year once and for all.”

Minnesota’s new governor campaigned as an LGBT ally, countering his opponent’s staunch anti-gay bigotry. Support of the Republican is what led to an unorganized Target boycott. The new Democrat has said he supports marriage equality and would like to see a bill pass.

—  David Taffet

Watch: Alec Baldwin is Angry He Can’t Marry Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Baldwin

Alec Baldwin responds to the announcement in August by Jesse Tyler Ferguson that they're getting married, in a new spot for Fight Back NY.

As you may recall Fight Back NY is the PAC targeting anti-gay lawmakers in the New York Senate. Their current target is Queens senator Frank Padavan. If you feel inclined to take Alec's advice, help them out here.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP



Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

Could the Emmys have been any gayer?

Jane Lynch

The first half hour of the Emmy Awards on Sunday night were gay. Gay. Gay. Gay. And lesbian.

Ryan Murphy, winner of best director of a comedy, kissed his boyfriend before running up on stage to accept his award.

Jane Lynch, who won best supporting actress in a comedy, kissed her wife and then thanked her on stage.

The controversy about ABC’s gay-friendly comedy “Modern Family” has been when will Cam and Mitchell kiss? They answered that question last night. Erik Stonestreet won best supporting actor in a comedy. He kissed his wife and then kissed his TV husband, Jesse Tyler Ferguson.

Neil Patrick Harris won best guest appearance in a comedy by an actor. Golden Girl Betty White won best guest appearance by an actress. Harris thanked the Academy for allowing a gay man to host the show two years in a row. (Harris, who hosted last year, is gay. No one would be surprised if Jimmy Fallon, who hosted this year, came out.)

The show straightened up after the first awards, with a few more gay Emmys through the night. Aaron Paul, who won best supporting actor in a drama for his role in “Breaking Bad,” kissed his partner. The writers for the Tony Awards won best writing for a special and “Modern Family” won best comedy.

—  David Taffet

Jesse Tyler Ferguson + Eric Stonestreet Are Going to Lock Lips Any Second Now

Guys. The Modern Family same-sex episode is totally coming, so chillz, OK? They're almost ready to shoot it! And showrunner Steve Levitan is sticking to his script that they were going to do this scene before y'all started complaining in May.

CONTINUED »


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—  John Wright