Why LGBT people should join the Occupation

16 reasons the LGBT community should be joining the Occupy Wall Street protests around the country

Leslie Robinson
General Gayety

My view of the Occupy Wall Street protest is that it’s an unfocused jumble — but at least somebody’s doing something. At last. What began with a few dozen demonstrators on Wall Street has grown into a national conniption over corporate greed and government collusion.

It’s easy for those in power to dismiss the protesters as young people devoid of both sense and hygiene. But all sorts of people are protesting. And that includes us.

LGBT folks are demonstrating from New York to Seattle. I’m pleased about that. I can think of a lot of reasons we should be involved in this fight:

1. Gay men bring a certain verve to any gathering.

2. We are in the middle of our movement, still battling for our civil rights, so some of us are ready to demonstrate at the drop of a tweet.

3. Our experienced protesters can advise others on being arrested with maximum exposure and minimum pain.

4. LGBT anthems might be inspiring.  I’m thinking of “I Will Survive,” not “It’s Raining Men.”

5. During the considerable down time — many of the protests involve camping out — we could introduce party games. Maybe plan a wedding for a laid-off steel worker and an underemployed librarian.

6. We have been the victims of Wall Street shenanigans, too, losing our homes, our jobs, our hope. Corporate greed is very equal opportunity, savaging straight and gay alike.

7. We have also been the victimizers. If you’ve abetted corporate criminality, it’s time to grow a conscience, sell one of your houses and post bail for protesters. Or see to it that the demonstration in your city becomes a catered affair.

8. Spiritual guidance. If demonstrators want a blessing or just clerical panache, our community can provide it in the form of lesbian rabbis, MCC ministers, gay priests, Radical Faeries and lesbian Buddhist nuns.
9. The protests are irritating Glenn Beck, and that’s reason enough to participate.

10. Passion. Throngs of people. Close quarters. A sense of being real: Occupy Wall Street is Pride out of season.

11. As with Pride, the opportunities for meeting a soulmate or a bedmate are ripe.

12. LGBT persons soaking up the agitation over corporate power might be moved to examine how we produce our annual festivals. Should Pride be about gay freedom or grapefruit vodka?

13. For a few, these demonstrations would provide a professional challenge: the chance to give an anarchist a makeover.

14. LGBT leaders have learned the importance of allies. We need to keep these ties strong. When gay people visibly participate in Occupy Wall Street, we stand with youth, liberals, unions, people of color, faith groups, veterans, professionals, anti-war activists and environmentalists. And confused tourists.

15. It would be best all around if these protests were nonviolent, and who better to diffuse tension between demonstrators and police than a quick-thinking drag queen? If well delivered, the line “Does this demonstration make me look fat?” should do the trick.

16. The struggle for gay rights is a lengthy undertaking, and the obstacles and backward steps are draining. Occupy Wall Street could rejuvenate our spirits. It might remind us what people can do when they’re angry, fighting for their lives and sort-of-kind-of-somewhat have a goal.

If she weren’t already female, Leslie Robinson would consider becoming a drag queen. E-mail her at lesarobinson@gmail.com, and check out her blog at www.generalgayety.com for all types of humorous postings. 

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 14, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Fox News’ ‘coverage’ of the Occupy Wall Street protests, and the interview they chose not to air

Occupy Wall Street protestor Jesse LaGreca schools an interviewer with Fox News.

The New York Observer is taking Fox News to task this week for Fox’s not-so-fair-and-balanced coverage of the Occupy Wall Street protests going on in New York City.

The Observer article by Drew Grant points out that Fox News has failed to cover the protests at all, except for a couple of instances.

In what is apparently supposed to be a “prank” interview along the lines of something you’d see on The Colbert Report or the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Bill Schulz of Fox’s Red Eye with Greg Gutfield program goes “undercover” as a protester to interview other protesters and make fun of them (embedding has been disabled on this video, but you can watch it on YouTube here.). Maybe it’s just me, but I think Schulz is the one who comes off looking stupid in this footage.

And on The O’Reilly Factor, Fox News producers interview OWS protesters in a segment the Observer says was edited to make all the OWS protesters look like half-wit idiots (watch the first video below). It’s tempting to think perhaps that’s just sour grapes on the part of the liberals who don’t like looking stupid on TV — until, that is, you see the footage of the interview with a protester named Jesse LaGreca that Fox chose not to air (watch the second video posted below).

LaGreca thoroughly schools the Fox producer conducting the interview, as shown in footage shot by a third party as the interview was taking place. First of all, he starts by suggesting that the protesters won’t get a fair shake from Fox News, which is part of News Corporation that is under investigation, and when the producer suggests that the protestors couldn’t get their message out without Fox News, LaGreca points out what a good job Fox did of covering — and promoting — Glenn Beck’s Washington, D.C., rally that was, LaGreca says, a low point in American history.

—  admin

Bill Maher at the Winspear on Sunday night: ‘Your new theater isn’t gonna be clean for long’

Bill Maher

I’ve seen Kathy Griffin perform live, and Joan Rivers and Lisa Lampanelli and Chris Rock — and they are all hilarious and edgy and daring comics who say outrageous things and go places that scare a lot of other comedians — but none of them can hold a candle to Bill Maher. Bill Maher is a shock comic who doesn’t say things just to shock: He says them because they are true.

Last night, at the Winspear Opera House, Maher spoke the truth for a nearly two-hour set, and, in my mind, established himself as the pre-eminent political commentator of a generation. He’s a comedian, too, of course. But really, he’s a voice.

The concert played out more like a rally than a comedian’s concert. “Your new theater isn’t gonna be clean for long,” Maher joked early in the set, before letting loose a parade of F-bombs and angry rants that touched on some easy pop targets (Justin Beiber, Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen), but were most concerned with weighty issues including gay marriage (Maher said people in the military and the clergy have managed to scare people into thinking that just the sight of gay people will make you gay — in other words, “cock is like dessert at a restaurant — it’s what they’re known for, maybe I should try it”); Democrats’ wishy-washy leadership (when 75 percent of the American public supported repealing the ban on gays in the military, it “was still not enough political cover for these pussies”); his avowed atheism and even Lee Harvey Oswald (“Oh, yes, I went there — even in this town,” said the former North Texas resident).

It’s that fearlessness — he acknowledged that some people would probably be uncomfortable with some of his remarks about religion, not to mention calling Sarah Palin a “cunt” (“there’s just no other word for her”) — that makes Maher the most dangerous person in comedy. He’s painfully well-informed, which means he takes no bullshit from anyone. President Barack Obama took it on the chin almost as much as Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck. How dare the President say he would not settle for America being No. 2 — America is already out of the top 10 in most international lifestyle and human rights categories (health care, education, social mobility, women in high political positions). “I’d be thrilled if we were No. 2,” he ranted, noting it’s nice to be behind Bosnia in life expectancy (where the chief cause of death is wolfman attacks, he joked).

Every single Republican in the U.S. Senate, he noted, refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of global warming. One of the reasons for this, he said, is that oil is very macho: “You’ve got to drill and take it. Wind is a very gay way to get our energy. It’s drill baby drill, not blow baby blow.”

Maher kicked off the evening, though, in defense of the gays, before a largely gay (and certainly gay-friendly) audience, and came back to it time and again. “Tea-baggers have taken a gay sex act — one man dragging his balls across another man’s face — and somehow turned it into something tawdry and disgusting.” Obama was criticized for demanding additional “readiness studies” before repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” (“How do they conduct those studies?” he wondered. “Johnson, get in here and blow me while I fire this rifle at a target and we’ll compare my scores to before”). His assaults on George W. Bush, the oil industry and all religion (especially the Mormons, though), was particularly pointed in Bible Belt Texas, where even flamers go to church every week. But that’s exactly what I loved about him. You don’t have to agree with everything he says to respect the way he says it — not just to be humorous but to make you think. If our politicians were so brave, we might not be in such deep shit. (Thanks to John Wright for writing down some of the jokes!)

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Glenn Beck equates Reform Jews to radical Islam over support of Obama’s DOMA position

Glenn Beck

After the Obama administration decided to drop its defense of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism praised the move.

In reaction, Fox News talk show host Glenn Beck compared Reform Judaism, the largest branch of Judaism in North America, to radical Islam.

The RAC, a social action organization affiliated with Reform Judaism, wrote, “The announcement by the Obama Administration, through the Justice Department, that it will no longer defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage act is as welcome as it is overdue. Now is the time for Congress to repeal the discriminatory law once and for all.”

Beck’s anti-Semitic response was: “Reform rabbis are generally political in nature. It’s almost like Islam, radicalized Islam in a way… radicalized Islam is less about religion than it is about politics. When you look at Reform Judaism, it is more about politics.”

But most mainstream Jewish groups supported the Obama administration’s decision.

—  David Taffet

Who is really guilty?

It’s time for all of us to take responsibility for helping create a climate of violence and hate

HARDY HABERMAN | Flagging Left

I am guilty — guilty of seeing a connection between the rabble-rousing rhetoric of Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and others as a catalyst for the actions of a twisted Arizona man.

Guilty of sensing the tragic and outrageous events in Tucson as some kind of clarion call.

Guilty of hoping the tone of political discussion in this country might in some way be softened by the senseless murders and injuries caused by a man with a gun.

Guilty of thinking to myself these words, “See, now look at what you have done!”

Yet my confession does nothing to ease the pain and suffering of those in Arizona. The families of the murdered political aide, the innocent girl, the elderly couples will still grieve, and the husbands, wives and lovers of the injured will still worry and spend sleepless nights at hospital bedsides.

Like so many others, I long to make sense of the events in Arizona by casting about for someone to blame and until the man who committed the murders confesses, I will have no proof. The reason is locked in his mind, and all the pundits and psychologists and TV talking heads cannot know the real answer.

I am guilty of trying to figure that out as well.

It’s natural to look for reasons for unreasonable acts. It is what makes us human, our desire to somehow connect the dots and make sense of what happens around us and to us.

Unfortunately, doing that can lead to wrong conclusions. Less fortunate still is the desire to use inexplicable events as an excuse to further our personal agenda.

I could easily point to Sarah Palin’s website with the now infamous “bull’s-eye map” and ask, “How is that not a direct call to action for every mentally unstable person with a firearm?”

I could point to the Tea Party and their signs reading “Bury Obamacare with Kennedy,” and ask, “How is that kind of jingoism not a call to violence?”

I could point to the YouTube videos of the accused shooter who ranted about “There’s no flag in the constitution. Therefore, the flag in the film is unknown. Burn every new and old flag that you see.”

I could point to those videos and ask how could he not be a deranged anti-government mad man?

I could point to the pundits and commentators and politicians who have jumped to conclusions they fear are the truth.
More telling about this whole event is the number and direction of the finger-pointing — not just by me, but by people on both the right and the left.

Most of those fingers point to the vehemence of the rhetoric and what passes for political discourse. When the Pima County Sheriff spoke of Tucson being Tombstone, the metaphor was not lost on many.

The fact that Sarah Palin’s staff removed the “bull’s-eye map” only minutes after the shootings, the fact that politicians told their staffs to be more vigilant and aware of possible threats, the fact that commentators on both sides jumped to the conclusions about the “tone of the discussion” may hold an answer.

Whatever the reason Jared Lee Loughner may have had for opening fire at point-blank range on Congresswoman Giffords, the act gave substance to what so many have feared.

All the talk and ranting and chanting could erupt into violence, that is the biggest fear, even of those using the harsh language.

It makes for great visuals to whip a crowd into a frenzy, but beyond the visuals, it creates a force that can take on a life of its own — the “mob.”

And though it might not operate en-masse, mob mentality can still push individuals to violent acts.

That’s why everyone from John McCain to President Obama are urging calm. That’s why it’s time to do a bit of soul searching. That’s why it’s time to retract those pointing fingers and start examining our own actions.

Sadly, not everyone will heed the call. Already, irresponsible voices are screaming on radio and TV, looking to exploit the still-fluid situation and the fog of facts.

Already, the sad cult led by Fred Phelps is heading to Tucson to wave inflammatory signs lauding God’s vengeance for the murders and blaming America’s acceptance of homosexuals for the crimes.

And once again I find myself guilty of trying to find someone or something to be the target of my anger and grief.

I only hope that my sincere belief in the power of peace will be greater than my baser instincts. My desire to hope is stronger than my surrender to despair. My passing reaction to hate will not succumb to my instinct to love.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 14, 2011.

—  John Wright

Let’s all get aboard the crazy train!

Lately the crazy train has picked up speed. I don’t know if it’s the upcoming midterm elections or people are scared by gay court victories or what, but we’re in a period of nutty.

Take David Barton. Please.

An evangelical minister, teacher at (Glenn) Beck University and former vice chairman of the Texas Republican Party, Barton — a self-styled historian — is the founder of WallBuilders, a group devoted to the idea that America was founded as a Christian nation.

On his WallBuilders radio show recently, Barton discussed with Rick Green how health-conscious America is, regulating cigarettes and trans fats and salt, yet allowing something to slip through that is such an obvious threat to the health of Americans: Jersey Shore.

Okay, he didn’t say that. Instead, Barton reeled off fanciful statistics, like, “Homosexuals die decades earlier than heterosexuals,” and “nearly one-third [of homosexuals] admit to a thousand or more sex partners in a lifetime.”

Barton said, “I mean, you go through all this stuff, sounds to me like that’s not very healthy. Why don’t we regulate homosexuality?” That’s the moment he boarded the crazy train.

Barton, the quack historian, cited a 1920s study that found nations that “rejected sexual regulation like with homosexuality” didn’t last “past the third generation from the time that they embraced it.”

Have gays been embraced? When will the third generation appear? It’s important to know when we’re supposed to make this country collapse. We have a schedule to keep.

Rick Green’s role in this production was to be properly aghast that the breathtakingly unhealthy gay lifestyle is promoted and protected.

That makes Green — recently a candidate for the Texas Supreme Court — the porter on the crazy train.

If David Barton wants the government to regulate gay sex, Andrew Shirvell’s goal is much more modest. But Shirvell is the conductor on the crazy train. For almost six months, Shirvell has railed in a blog against Chris Armstrong, the openly gay University of Michigan student assembly president.

Shirvell, a Michigan grad, accused Armstrong of so many things — including being anti-Christian, hosting a gay orgy, trying to recruit freshmen to be gay and, my favorite, sexually seducing a conservative student and influencing him to the point that he “morphed into a proponent of the radical homosexual agenda.”

Good strategy, that seduction. Armstrong should be able to convert everybody on campus by the time he’s 106.
During his anti-Armstrong crusade, Shirvell protested outside Armstrong’s house, and called him “Satan’s representative on the student assembly.”Paranoid much? All this would be plenty bad enough, but the fact that Shirvell is a Michigan assistant attorney general launches the affair into the realm of the bizarre. Rod Serling couldn’t have made this up.

Shirvell’s boss, Attorney General Mike Cox, cited the guy’s right to free speech, while also telling CNN he’s a “bully.” Cox said that Shirvell’s “immaturity and lack of judgment outside the office are clear.”

This is more than a case of bad judgment. Shirvell is obsessed with Armstrong’s homosexuality. I have to wonder if Shirvell — now on a voluntary leave of absence — is an immense closet case, or a few ties short of a railroad track.

Either explanation or both might apply to Fred Phelps, leader of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, but it’s his daughters who recently clambered on the crazy train.

Margie Phelps recently represented Westboro at the Supreme Court in the dispute over protests at military funerals, and after, while addressing the press, she and sister Shirley Phelps-Roper broke into song. They warbled a few lines of a variation on Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train.” Osbourne declared his displeasure that they used his music to advance “despicable beliefs.”

When the Prince of Darkness looks civilized compared to you, your caboose is loose.

Leslie Robinson assumes the Phelps daughters will never sing Indigo Girls.  E-mail Robinson at lesarobinson@gmail.com, and visit her blog at GeneralGayety.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 15, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

Broden makes his position on LGBT issues clear

Stephen Broden is running for Congress against Eddie Bernice Johnson. He is the Republican even though his web site and campaign literature mention “Tea Party” but do not say “Republican Party.”

After we mentioned in a previous post that Broden’s literature uses anti-gay buzz words, John Charles McKee pointed us to the above clip of Broden on Glenn Beck’s show, where he was quite specific about what he thinks about equality for gays and lesbians. The 30th district includes a large LGBT population.

Broden states his opposition to hate crime legislation that includes the LGBT community and to employment non-discrimination. Here’s what he says toward the end of the above clip:

BRODEN: I just want to beg to differ with my colleagues there. I think the failure of pastors to take the lead in this issue — on these issues is the reason why we are seeing the kind of problems or melees that we’re seeing in our culture today.

In addition to that, I want to introduce my friend to the idea of hate crime legislation, introduce them to the idea of a 501(C)(3) that is used to knock Christians around and keep them silent, from speaking out in America today.

I want to introduce them to the idea of ENDA, which is Employment Non-Discrimination, which is bullying people and pushing Christians into hiring people that they should not hire.

McKee wrote to us, “It’s vital for both our community and decent people everywhere that Stephen Broden is not just dog whistling anti-gay policies, he has stated his desire for the gay community to be persecuted by Christians flat out.”

The Morning News endorsed Broden on Monday. The basis of the endorsement is their disenchantment with Johnson who funneled scholarship money to relatives. Broden’s hatred of the district’s huge LGBT community did not figure into their endorsement. They wrote:

He pastors a small mission church near Fair Park, whose goal is to transform the lives of pimps, prostitutes and addicts. Having seen the district’s needs from the ground up, he believes much more could be done to create jobs and stability.

Apparently The DMN believes those jobs for pimps should come from the LGBT community.

—  David Taffet

Boycott Glenn Beck and make a real difference

OK, I am lukewarm about the Target boycott. I have spoken about this before and won’t go into it again here, but this is a boycott that can really have a sweeping effect. I am talking about Glenn Beck.

This demagogue is spewing hate, not even candy-coated hate, just plain vile raw hatred. He does wrap it in he alleged message of “restoring honor” but everyone knows his meaning: Get America back into the hands of white conservative Christians.

So, what to do? Read this and then click the link and get involved.

Glenn Beck doesn’t just poison the airwaves with hatred. His hatred actually incites violence and murder.

• On 7/18/10, Beck inspired a gunman to attack the little-known Tides Foundation, after demonizing them for 18 months. The gunman got into a massive shootout with police and wounded two of them.

• On 4/4/09, Richard Poplawski murdered 3 Pittsburgh policemen after posting Beck videos on a neo-Nazi website.

• On 4/9/09, Beck poured “gasoline” on an “average American” and asked, “President Obama, why don’t you just set us on fire?”

• On 8/16/09, Glenn Beck dramatized giving Speaker Pelosi a glass of wine with poison.

Join over 60,000 progressive activists who are boycotting Fox News advertisers: http://www.democrats.com/boycott-fox-news-advertisers

Our boycott of Fox News advertisers is having a huge impact — over 200 advertisers have pulled their ads from Beck’s show. No sane company wants to destroy its brand through association with Glenn Beck’s hate.

— Hardy Haberman, Dungeon Diary

—  John Wright

Making hay out of hate

Journalists, politicians generate fear for personal gain over plans for mosque near site of 9/11 attack

I recently saw a video clip that sent chills down my spine of a supposedly “grassroots” rally outside a closed Burlington Coat Factory in New York City where protesters were chanting against building a mosque on the site. They were chanting words this publication wouldn’t print.

The hatred was so great that, at one point, a carpenter working on the new building that will replace the World Trade Center passed through the crowd and was verbally and physically attacked. Apparently the hate-filled crowd thought he was a Muslim. He was simply a black man with a skullcap. The level of vitriol was hard to watch: So much anger — and at what?

The truth is not nearly as sensational as the people at Fox News would have you believe. Cordoba Center, the building that is proposed, is not just an Islamic Cultural Center, it will also contain interfaith spaces for Christian and Jewish worship and meditation. Of course you have not heard that story in the news, because it is easier and more sensational to call it the Ground Zero Mosque and show pictures of scary guys in turbans for ratings.

The fundamentalists and right wing have grabbed onto this issue like a chew toy and are shaking it for all the fear and hatred it is worth.

That is what bothers me the most. Fear and hatred are two tools that have been used to galvanize people against us for centuries, and I suspect we are uniquely attuned to recognize them.

It is easy to see where all this is coming from as well. It is a great deal the fault of the right-wing media, like Fox News with their demagogues Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly. But it also has become a cause célèbre for politicians seeking a little extra boost. It would be easy to look at these videos and events and see a “clash of cultures” building. But that is not the reality of the situation.

What we are seeing is a carefully orchestrated fear mongering narrative guided by some pretty cynical folks. Just think back a few years ago when candidates were using the fear of homosexuals to rile up their base.

Fake research groups like the Family Research Council published papers claiming that “35 percent of pedophiles are homosexuals and a child molester is 17 times more likely to be homosexual than heterosexual.” Both these figures are intentional misinterpretations of the actual studies done by real researchers.

The point is, both these “issues” are really no more than jingoistic talking points that rally people into a frenzy. These kinds of false controversies only feed on the underlying real issues of racism, homophobia and xenophobia and blur the picture.

That leaves the question of why? Why would anyone want to stir up this kind of anger? Again, I look to the cynical folks causing it.

For fundamentalist preachers and organizations it is an “easy sell.” Every tent revivalist knows you can get a much fuller collection basket when the congregation is riled up.

The same holds true for the organizations like American Family Association. Fear fills their coffers. For politicians, the answer is obvious. As Sarah Palin says, “mama grizzlies,” once angered, are hard to stop. A populace who is scared will vote for whoever offered them “security.”

Just look to the previous administration and how they successfully manipulated a manufactured war to win re-election. For the “news” organizations like Fox, fear sells. Why spend money on real reporting when you can create events?

As a sidenote, it is further proof of the cynical nature of right-wing media that Al-Walid bin Talal, a Saudi financier, owns a big chunk of Fox News and is also funding the “Ground Zero Mosque” through his charitable contributions. You’ll never hear in the fear narrative being pushed by Fox.

We LGBT Americans know just how powerful fear and hatred can be. We need to look past the sound bites and bumper stickers and see the real issues behind this whole ruckus. It’s about the right to be different. That is a founding principal of our country: Freedom to build a place of worship, a community center, an AIDS clinic or whatever should not be hindered by baseless fears. If we fall prey to the media spotlight beating the drums to “stop the mosque,” we should not be surprised the next time that spotlight falls on us.

It isn’t easy to see past the glare of this craziness. Like the lyrics to the song from the musical Chicago say, “… how can they see with sequins in their eyes … Razzle dazzle ‘em. And they’ll never catch wise!”

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 27, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

Mayor Annise Parker makes Time's list of 'World's Most Influential People'

Annise Parker is #13 on most influential list
Annise Parker is No. 13, just behind Glenn Beck

Houston’s hot and sexy new mayor, Annise Parker, came in at No. 13 on the Time magazine list of “World’s Most Influential People.”

In the list of leaders, Parker ranks right after Fox broadcaster Glenn Beck but before Tidjane Thiam, a former politician from Cote d’Ivoire and current head of British insurer Prudential that is buying AIG’s Asian unit.

Really? People know who the head of Prudential in Great Britain is?

And Barack Obama? He’s only No. 4. Brazilian President Luis da Silva gets the top spot. J. T. Wang, president of Acer computers is No. 2 and Admiral Mike Mullen is No. 3.

Um, I think the President of the United States is more important than the president of the number two computer maker.

—  David Taffet