‘They got ugly in their bones’

Despite another gay teen suicide, right-wingers in Tennessee want to give kids a license to bully LGBT youth under guise of religious liberty

Phillip-Parker-Age-14

BULLIED TO DEATH | Phillip Parker, 14, who took his own life last week due to anti-gay bullying, was the second Tennessee teen to do so in as many months.

Habaerman.Hardy.NEW
Hardy Haberman  |  Flagging Left

 

My family tree’s roots spread in two directions. My father’s side of the tree spreads toward Eastern Europe and my mother’s side into the hills of Tennessee.

I mention this because having those Tennessee roots has given me a fondness for that state and its beautiful scenery and its people — most of them. Unfortunately, it also contains some of the ugliest people I’ve ever met. Not physically ugly, but deeper. As my hillbilly grandfather would say, “They got ugly in their bones.”

The people I am talking about are the strange citizens of the Volunteer State who feel it is their God-given right to verbally and physically abuse anyone they feel is worthy of their scorn. They are bullies, plain and simple, and they are doing it under the guise of religion.

As the Tennessee Legislature takes up a bill (HB 1153) to protect bullying as religious expression, comes the news of yet another teen suicide in the state. Phillip Parker, 14, of Gordonsville is the latest in a series of suicides directly related to being mercilessly bullied for being gay.

You would think the good lawmakers of Tennessee would have some sympathy for these poor children, but it seems more than one state representative sees it differently. Republican John Ragan noted the statistics showing higher suicide rates among LGBT youth and said that therefore, it had “more to do with his own proclivities and behavior than anything to do with schoolmate bullies….”
Blame the victim!

To be fair, some in the state are calling for a stop to the fatal bullying.  There is an opposing law (SB 1621) also being considered that is designed to eliminate bullying and provide “a safe and civil environment … for students to learn and achieve high academic standards.”

This law has powerful adversaries like the Family Action Council of Tennessee. This group, a branch of Focus on the Family, are the same folks who last spring tried to push through a “Don’t Say Gay” bill. These same kind folks also overturned a local ordinance in Nashville that protected LGBT workers from discrimination.

So what the heck is it with Tennessee? Well, they are not alone. Already another “license to bully” bill is moving through the Michigan Legislature. And of course here in Texas there are a whole bunch of ugly people who are incensed that we have moved a series of anti-bullying laws through the Legislature. Of course one of those groups is the Plano-based Liberty Institute, an affiliate of Focus on the Family. They are already screeching about free speech and how these laws impinge on their freedom of religion.

So my question is this. How the heck does bullying a teenager so mercilessly that he takes his own life rather than face the continued abuse constitute “religious expression”? The right wing talks about the slippery slope of offering protections to LGBT youth as “special rights,” but I seriously doubt if the shoe were on the other foot they would see it that way.

Imagine if my religion called for me to make animal sacrifices in the public square. Imagine if my religion said I should close all tattoo shops and barber shops. Imagine if my religion said the bank had to forgive all debts every 49 years. After all, those are all in the Bible along with a whole lot of other things that would seem even stranger.

No, the right wing is not worried about “special rights.” They are specifically concerned with denying rights to LGBT people. We have become the bogeymen for a generation of far-right fundamentalists who can’t seem to find anyone else to blame for their problems. These people must have someone to blame because of their warped view of religion and the “will of God.” When you try to take the Bible literally, you run into all kinds of problems, not the least of which is the need to find scapegoats. After all, why else would their lives be so difficult if it weren’t for someone standing in the way of getting their just rewards from God?

I have noted the anger of the religious right previously, and the bullying that manifests itself in our schools and playground is just the next generation of that anger acting out. Though I started by focusing on Tennessee, I assure you that the problem is everywhere and it won’t be stopped easily.

I am pretty sure nobody can change the warped attitudes some of these people have toward LGBT folk, but I do know that we can provide legal protections to assure that under the law, everyone has equal rights. If the right believes that their freedom of speech extends to bullying and abuse, then it’s time for some serious education in what it means to have a civil society. There is enough ugliness in the world without trying to create more.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a board member of the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 27, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

QUEER CLIP: ‘THE IDES OF MARCH’

Queer-PicksRyan Gosling has discovered a cool little niche for himself recently: He gives equal time to parading around shirtless showing off his abs on magazine covers and in digestible Hollywood pabulum (Crazy Stupid Love, The Notebook) and staring off blankly under the guise of acting in regrettable art films (Drive, All Good Things). That formula has won him praise by easily fooled critics, who appear to be the target audience for The Ides of March, a slow and pretentious political thriller in which Gosling gets to be the love interest and the intellectual hero, all without betraying anything bordering on genuine emotion.

Set during a presidential primary, it’s little more than a middling episode of The West Wing, laden down with a weak performance by Evan Rachel Wood, a contrived, unconvincing political scandal involving candidate George Clooney (who also directs, woodenly) and even a self-important title. Vote “no” on this ballot measure. Please, Ryan, just strip and stop trying.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Two stars. In wide release.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 7, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

She’s a wonder!

For drag diva Celeste Martinez, Wonder Woman isn’t an act — she’s a way of life

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

……………………

CELESTE MARTINEZ
The Rose Room inside Station 4,
3911 Cedar Springs Road. July 1­3. Shows begin at approximately 11 p.m. and midnight. Caven. com.

……………………

When Michael was a boy, his parents divorced and he went to live with dad, who worked all the time and was seldom home. So little Michael found a role model on TV.

“That’s when Wonder Woman came on television,” he recalls, referring to the CBS series starring Lynda Carter. “Wonder Woman was a second mother to me, one who taught me right from wrong in a way. She stood for something. Plus she was so statuesque and feminine and graceful, but still stern and strong. I watched that show religiously and as soon as the episode was over, I was back outside, reenacting what had just happened.”

The series ended in 1979, but by the time Michael had grown into drag diva Celeste Martinez, the Amazonian princess was still a powerful force. Since 1993, appearing as Wonder Woman has been the hallmark of Martinez’s drag act.

It’s not just a passing fancy, either. Martinez has every single Wonder Woman comic book since 1983. “When I got my first job, the first thing I did with my paycheck was get a subscription to Wonder Woman,” she says.

Martinez’s devotion has also made her a regular at Zeus Comics, the gay-run superhero store on Lemmon. Such a fixture is she there, Martinez even appears in the next episode of The Variants, the web-based comedy series set at Zeus. (See sidebar.)

“I’ve known [store owner] Richard Neal for years,” she gushes. “They are a fun group.”

But before her debut as a Web star, Martinez will show her patriotism this Independence Day weekend with a series of shows at the Rose Room — all in the guise of her hero, whom she sincerely tries to evoke onstage in spirit as much as appearance.

Martinez’s costume — golden lasso, bullet-deflecting bracelets, tiara, cape, boots and star-spangled panties, all in the colors of the America flag — is familiar to fans of the classic character as well as the TV series, but maybe not so much the new generation of comic readers. That’s intentional.

“With issue no. 600 [of Wonder Woman], they were trying to get a bigger audience so they updated her look, but the real Wonder Woman fans were not happy,” Martinez explains. “They are about to do another reboot with all of DC Comics characters, so as to make the original Wonder Woman fans happy.”

The timing of the show is fortuitous: Wonder Woman is a perfect image for the Fourth of July, Martinez affirms.

“She represents the best of humanity in the sense she’s non-judgmental and sees the best in everyone. She’s gracious and empowers strength and the best in all of us,” she says. “And she does it in red, white and blue.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 1, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

‘ Gay families aren’t real families’ – a NOM supporter further sinks their phony guise of love

crossposted on Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters

One thing that has been deliciously excellent about the National Organization for Marriages' failed marriage tour is it showed NOM supporters in their true homophobic light.

Yesterday, we saw the “state-sanctioned sodomy” guy. Today, its another NOM supporter in Harrisburg.

Watch the entire thing, especially his comparison of gay marriage to pedophilia. But keep a special eye out on his nasty words about gay families and single mother families.

So much for that phony NOM love.

Hat tip to Joe.My.God.

Related post: 
 
A little ' state-sanctioned sodomy' for your Sunday night

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright