(And the Cedar Springs Halloween Block Party happening tomorrow night — Saturday, Oct. 25), I thought it was appropriate to share this video here on Instant Tea. Thanks, Hardy Haberman, for sharing it with me.
Six LGBT community members told their stories as part of The Dallas Way’s Outrageous Oral 5 on Thursday.
Candy Marcum began the evening with the story of how Oak Lawn Community Services came into being. She partnered with counselor Howie Daire to begin a counseling service for gay people. Without the Internet, they promoted their business by talking to bartenders who made many referrals.
Marcum said she ended up with many male clients because it would have been unethical for Daire to work with anyone professionally whom he had sex with.
Darryl Baker spoke about being prevented from entering the gay clubs without four forms of identification and Nell Gaither’s piece was about her work for the transgender community today.
Steve Atkinson mostly talked about his work to pass local and state legislation. But he told about death threats he got while doing that work and said it was the first time he told the story in public. The police took those threats seriously but were not able to trace the call in an era before caller ID.
Hardy Haberman told about how he became part of the leather community and Cordell Adams wrapped all of the stories together before telling his own story of growing up in East Texas and moving “across the tracks.”
The Dallas Way taped the presentation, which will be available on its YouTube channel. The organization is working with University of North Texas to preserve Dallas LGBT history.
Someone asked me recently when I first “came out.” I started to rattle off a date, but decided to consider my answer more seriously. For me coming out was a process. I had a pretty good idea I liked guys by my first year in high school, but at that time, 1964, there was little support for someone like me.
I first realized there were others who might share my desires in a very strange circumstance. I was on a jet, bound for London, with my parents. The flight attendant was passing around magazines and I ended up with the June 1964 issue of LIFE magazine. That issue had a bombshell article in it called “Homosexuality in America,” and though it was supposed to be an expose of a sordid world, the double-page photograph of the Tool Box Bar spoke to me only of desire. It was a shadowy, black and white photo of dozens of men, most wearing leather jackets and caps, crowded into what was one of the early San Francisco leather bars.
To a 14-year-old boy who had never quite been able to put his finger on what he wanted sexually, it was all I could do to not scream out, “YES, that’s what I want!”
It took another three years before I finally spoke with my mother about my sexuality, and then only in the most general terms. My father died when I was 18 and our household was pretty much in upheaval, so I don’t think my mom really got what I was telling her. My friends already knew, and in fact I had already had sexual experiences with a few of the guys I hung out with. To them it wasn’t important to “come out”; we were just exploring sexual possibilities and by the time I entered college, there were plenty of opportunities to explore.
In today’s Voice we have a column by local leatherman and regular contributor Hardy Haberman about the straight pastor of a predominantly African-American church in St. Paul, Minn., whose support for marriage equality cost him 72 percent of his flock and now poses a financial threat to the very survival of his congregation.
Haberman focuses on how the pastor, the Rev. Oliver White of Grace Community United Church, did the right thing regardless of the potential consequences when he voted in favor of a resolution supporting marriage equality at a United Church of Christ meeting in 2005.
Haberman reports that he got wind of White’s predicament when his own pastor, the Rev. Jo Hudson at Cathedral of Hope UCC in Dallas, issued an appeal on behalf of Grace Community UCC during a recent service.
On Thursday, Religion News Service and the Washington Post picked up this same story, shedding some light on the ensuing response from Haberman’s fellow worshippers at the Cathedral.
Turns out, although White sent letters seeking financial assistance to 40 UCC congregations across the country, he got only three responses — one for $500, one for $600 and “a miracle donation from Dallas.” The donation from the Cathedral, raised during two services on the same Sunday, totaled $15,000 and has allowed Grace Community UCC to keep its doors open, at least for now.
The Cathedral, commonly referred to as the world’s largest gay church, also happens to be UCC’s fourth-largest congregation.
Below is a snippet from the WaPo piece, which you can and should read in its entirety by going here:
Pontiff once again speaks out against LGBT equality, saying same-sex marriage is a threat to ‘the future of humanity’
Hardy Haberman Flagging Left
When you hear someone with as powerful a voice as the pope say something is a threat to “the future of humanity itself,” you take notice. Pope Benedict uttered these weighty words this week, and what was he talking about? Nuclear capabilities in Iran? Global warming? Famine? Drought?
The Holy Father was speaking about marriage equality. Apparently in the rarified air of the Vatican, allowing LGBT people to affirm their relationships and have the same legal rights as heterosexual couples would have apocalyptic results.
In his statement to a gathering of diplomats from 180 countries, the pope said that children need the proper settings in which to grow, and that “pride of place goes to the family based on the marriage of a man and a woman.”
He went on to assert that, “This is not a simple social convention, but rather the fundamental cell of every society. Consequently, policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself.”
This little gem was part of his yearly address to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Vatican. Unlike with any other religion in the world, the U.S. actually has an ambassador to the Vatican, representing the Catholic Church, as do many other countries.
It is a mystery I fail to understand, but it is what it is.
This statement comes on the heels of the elevation of New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan to the status of cardinal. Not surprisingly, Dolan is one of the leading anti-LGBT voices in the Catholic Church.
And Pope Benedict himself is certainly no friend of LGBT folk either. In a 1986 pastoral letter he wrote before becoming pontiff, then-Cardinal Ratzinger said that homosexuality was “an intrinsic moral evil” and “an objective disorder.”
Now to put this in perspective, the Catholic Church claims 1.3 billion adherents worldwide. This is why what the pope says is news.
But I fail to see this statement coming from the voice of the moral high ground.
The Vatican has been implicated in numerous scandals in recent years, and most of them involve inappropriate sexual behavior with minors. Many of these same scandals not only involve priests, but the systematic coverup of the crimes.
The courts of the U.S. and Europe have been busy prosecuting these cases, and the new media has covered them ad nauseam.
For me, the big question is this: In a world with so many social and humanitarian problems, why is preventing LGBT people from marrying worthy of such hyperbole?
Will allowing my partner and me to marry for the purposes of gaining the 1,000-plus legal benefits awarded to straight couples in the U.S. going to shake the foundations of our country? Is a gay marriage going to cause straight people to throw up their hands saying, “Well there goes the neighborhood” and divorce?
This all has to do with control — and few people understand control as well as the current pope. Cardinal Ratzinger was the “enforcer” for the Vatican before his elevation to pontiff. His office was the Supreme Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a group previously known as (until 1965) Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition. You remember them and their always “unexpected” counterpart, the Spanish Inquisition?
The pope will continue to demonize LGBT people and oppose our relationships as long as it serves to increase his control. Much like right-wing politicians, the pope can use this issue as a wedge issue, prying the faithful away from any attempt at social justice in the matter of LGBT rights.
Moreover, this is also designed to bolster the argument that “hate speech” should be protected as a freedom of religion issue, a recent tactic being used by the far-right to oppose LGBT rights and anti-bullying efforts.
Am I suggesting that the pope is colluding with politicians to deny LGBT people their rights? Perhaps not. But his statements will surely be used by the right wing to bolster their arguments.
I just find it sad that the man who has assumed the mantle of the vicar of Christ can so conveniently ignore that Jesus said nothing about LGBT people in any recorded documents. He did, however, say something to the effect of, “Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick and visit the prisoner.” Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a board member of the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com.
Alan Turing’s pioneering work made modern technology possible. But because he was gay, he remains, technically, a criminal
Last week my partner and I gave each other early Christmas gifts: We exchanged iPads. As we got home with our new gadgets, I made an assessment of the number of computers we had in our house, and I was astounded.
Between us we have no fewer than eight computers, not counting the tiny computers we carry with us that we mistakenly call our telephones.
I remarked to my partner, “We are living in the age of Star Trek, minus the replicators, transporters and warp drive.”
And that is pretty much a true statement. The things we can do now with our iPhones would have astounded the top minds at IBM just 15 short years ago.
So many amazing gadgets that make our lives easier, better and richer are to a great extent the result of the pioneering work of a gay man from the United Kingdom named Alan Turing. Turing was a brilliant mathematician whose contributions to the concepts of algorithms and computation made all those computers in our house possible.
Hardy Haberman Flagging Left
Furthermore, his work in cryptanalysis in the now-famous Bletchley Park Government Code and Cypher School led to the development of a machine known then as the “bombe.” It was an electromechanical code-breaking computer that broke the German Enigma code and helped stop Hitler. Because of his work, Turing was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1945, an honor roughly equivalent to a Congressional Medal of Honor.
His amazing body of work, most of which is so highly technical that it is hard to describe in such a short space, has led historians to call Alan Turing the “Father of Computer Science.” Without Alan Turing, I would most likely be typing this column on an electric typewriter. Such was his impact on our modern world.
The dark side of his story happened in 1952. That year, he met a man outside a cinema in Manchester and they struck up a relationship. Turing invited the man, Arnold Murry, to his house several times. On one of those visits, Murry opened Turing’s house up to a thief, his accomplice, and they stole several things from his home.
When Turning reported it to the police, he admitted that Murry was more than just a visitor; Murry was his lover.
And that’s where the story gets dark.
Turing and Murry were both charged with “gross indecency” because homosexual acts were illegal in the United Kingdom at that time. Turing was convicted and given an onerous choice: He could go to prison or he could accept probation, the terms of which included chemical castration via hormone injections.
Turing’s security clearance was rescinded and he was prevented from ever working in the field of cryptanalysis again. He was even prevented from ever discussing his work during World War II.
Turing was found dead on a June morning in 1954, with a half-eaten apple beside his bed. The autopsy showed he had ingested cyanide, possibly from the apple, and his death was ruled a suicide.
What makes this tale even sadder is that to this date, Alan Turing has never received an official pardon from the British government.
Today there are statues and plaques and tributes to the “Father of Modern Computing.” He even received a posthumous apology from then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009.
But his criminal record still stands.
The inhumane treatment Turing endured has been acknowledged, but this great man deserves more.
Today there is a movement to have the government pardon Alan Turing as we enter the new year. One hundred years after his birth, the global scientific community has declared 2012 as “Alan Turing Year, a Centenary Celebration of the Life and Work of Alan Turing.” It seems fitting that during his commemorative year, the British government could offer a posthumous pardon to a man to whom we all owe so much.
So far there are only a few thousand signatures to the petition. It is my hope that every LGBT individual will sign it as an offering to one of our own who gave us so much. Why it has taken this long is truly an enigma.
Why honor a man who spent years not just hiding in the closet, but working with those who oppressed his LGBT brothers and sisters?
In a move that has stunned a lot of folks, Out Magazine has named Ken Mehlman one of its 100 most inspiring people of the year. I was stunned not just by Mehlman’s inclusion in the Out 100 list, but the use of the word “inspiring” to describe him.
Let me explain.
Ken Mehlman was campaign manager for the 2004 re-election of George W. Bush. You remember him?
He was the president who threatened to veto the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, which added sexual orientation to the list of protected classes in existing hate crimes laws. And he was the president who supported the federal Marriage Protection Amendment, a heinous law that — luckily — failed to pass.
Then, from 2005 to 2007, Mr. Mehlman served as the chairman of the Republican National Committee. During that time, he supported the Republican Platform, which included opposition to same-sex marriage.
Well, maybe that’s water under the bridge. But I have to say, I do not find Mr. Mehlman in any way inspiring.
What is inspirational about a man hiding in the closet, actively working against LGBT rights on perhaps the largest scale imaginable?
What is inspirational about a man who served as the guiding force of a Republican Party that stepped up its use of anti-gay rhetoric and propaganda to motivate the most conservative of its members?
What is inspirational about a man who, when he finally decided to come out at 43, assembled a team of strategists to make his coming out as painless as possible?
Now to be fair, since he has opened his closet door, Mehlman has gone on record as supporting many LGBT causes. He even lent his support to the American Foundation for Equal Rights.
Good for him. But Out Magazine’s criteria for their selection is “the extraordinary power of the individual to inspire and motivate by example.”
What kind of example has Mehlman set?
From what I can tell, his example is this:
• Stay in the closet as long as you can, and do anything necessary, even if it means supporting people who actively work to discriminate and inflict suffering on the LGBT community.
• Do anything necessary to gain power and wealth and influence for your own gain, then once you are well situated, carefully come out while offering support to the same people you helped oppress.
• Come out once there is little danger of your actions hurting your own personal wealth or celebrity status.
• Lastly, make a grand show of your compassion and support for LGBT causes with sufficient effort and cash to buy your way into prominence as a gay icon.
Harsh words? You betcha.
Here is the deal: I understand just how difficult it is to come out, every LGBT person does. We have not reached a time when coming out is simple and non-traumatic.
I also understand how everyone comes out at their own pace. For me it was a process that took several years, starting when I was 18 and continuing until I was 20.
During that time I was conflicted and confused and sometimes hid my orientation. But I never actively tried to oppress my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.
Still, giving Ken the benefit of the doubt, maybe he didn’t realize he was gay until 2010. Whatever his story, I have sympathy for him in his personal struggle, but absolutely no sympathy for his active participation in the oppression of LGBT people and the encouragement of homophobic smear campaigns which stepped up the level of hatred and discrimination in our country.
Maybe I need to take a page from the fundamentalists’ creed, and “love the sinner, hate the sin?” The problem with that is I would still be “hating,” and that’s not going to help anyone.
I don’t hate Ken Mehlman; I just find him a very sad person who may or may not be trying to atone for his past behaviors. That is a very human struggle and one we all face at one time or another. To do that with grace and humility might be something truly inspiring.
For that, I will wait and see.
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 November, 11, 2011.
So here it is, our first episode of Pink Noiseon Rational Radio. Still a few kinks to work out — and speaking of kinks, local leatherman Hardy Haberman was kind enough to be our guinea pig guest. We talked about the controversy involving State Rep. Jim Pitts, Troy Aikman’s fighting words for Skip Bayless, Rob Schlein and Rick Perry, Chaz Bono on Dancing With The Stars, and of course Hardy’s BDSM habit. Tune in live next Friday from 4 to 5 p.m. at RationalBroadcasting.com. You can also subscribe to Pink Noise on iTunes, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook. The video version of Friday’s show is below.
When those on the religious right attack, their hatred is born of fear and frustration. But we have to remember not to react in kind
HARDY HABERMAN | Flagging Left
This weekend I watched some clips of right-wing evangelicals on YouTube. Aside from raising my blood pressure a few notches, it gave me an insight into the reason these folks are so angry — and more specifically, why they are so angry at LGBT people.
Imagine you are a fundamentalist. That means you say you believe that everything in the Bible is literally true — the great flood, Jonah and the big fish, Noah and the ark, Adam and Eve, all the miracles, etc.
It sounds comforting at first, to believe in a world where everything is in God’s control and our fates are decided. But if everything in the Bible is “literally” true, then we are stuck with a paradox: The God who Jesus depicts as loving and filled with grace, becomes an almost psychopathic killer if all the stories of the Old Testament are true.
Suddenly you are standing on shaky ground.
Furthermore, to really believe the literal interpretation of the Bible, you have to live in a cognitive dissonance, where in your daily life you confront a reality that does not match what you read in the “literal” Bible.
That takes a lot of work to keep things straight and to keep reality from seeping in to what you say you believe.
I think this is why fundamentalists as a group always seem so angry. They are exhausted and frustrated.
Imagine how difficult it would be to read a story about God creating the world in six days while at the same time seeing scientific evidence that creation took billions of years.
You begin denying science and slide down the slope into creating justification for why there are creatures like dinosaurs which never are described in the Bible. You come up with things like, “The fossils were put on Earth to test our faith.”
Frustrating, isn’t it?
What’s more you begin to suspect that the real problem is that some people, yourself not included, are making God mad, and if the Old Testament is to be taken literally, you don’t want to do that!
Who are these people? Well, they are anyone different from you, obviously, and LGBT people fall smack in the middle of that group.
It really is little wonder we as LGBTs are being scapegoated by these fundamentalist folk. They are seeking a way to explain away the problems of their world, and since we are so obviously different from them, we must be the problem.
That’s why they are so adamant about “defending marriage.” If we LGBT people start getting married and have our relationships accepted as
mainstream, it chips away not at their heterosexual marriages, but at their lock on being favored by God.
Remember: They believe only a small group of righteous people will be saved when the grand finale comes. In the mind of these people there has to be a group who is “worthy” and a group who is “unworthy.” If we start paring down the qualifications of what makes a person worthy, it lessens their chances of being in that group.
Now before you go wondering if I am some kind of atheist heathen, I assure you I am not. I consider myself a follower of the teachings of Jesus, and that makes me a Christian. And that’s the real point of this whole discussion.
As a gay man who is Christian, I am a double threat to the fundamentalist right-wing. I am stripping away another of their “get into heaven free” cards, and this makes them even more angry.
My problem as a Christian is remembering Jesus’ most important teaching — that whole “love thy neighbor” thing. It’s really hard to do when your neighbor would just as soon see you disappear.
But the alternative is to live with the same anger and frustration as the fundamentalists, and that just doesn’t seem to be a very good alternative.
So what I have resolved to do is this: The next time I am angered by someone thumping their Bible on TV and ranting about the “evil homosexuals” who are leading the country to ruin, I will see through their hatred and recognize the scared and vulnerable person underneath who is fighting against the wind of justice.
I will try to remember that their struggle is ultimately futile. I will try to find some love in my heart for them.
Then, I will promptly get online and donate money to a worthy cause that works for real justice for LGBT people and make that donation in their name. Kind of poetic justice isn’t it?
Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a board member of the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at http://DungeonDiary.Blogspot.com.
Looking back on the battles we’ve fought, and forward to the battles yet to come, as another year is marked off the calendar
HARDY HABERMAN | Flagging Left
Last week I stumbled across a picture of myself from the 1980s. Now that doesn’t seem so long ago to me — until I talk to friends who were born during that decade! And then I start to feel really old.
The photos pretty much sealed the deal. Who was that slender — or at least average-sized — guy with dark brown hair who looked like such a child? What’s worse, I was already in my 30s back then, already no spring chicken.
Age has its advantages. There is the whole “older and wiser” thing, and being older does give you a sense of perspective on minor problems that used to seem like life-altering crises when I was younger.
Today, I really don’t worry about missing a night out at the bar or making sure I am not wearing last season’s fashion. That just isn’t all that important in the grand scheme of things.
What is important is something I paid little attention to as a young man: Quality of life.
That doesn’t mean much to someone in their 30s, since most have few problems aside from sports injuries or the occasional hangover. But to a gay man creeping into his 60s “quality of life” is very much “top of mind.”
First of all, I never expected to live this long. After all, many of my gay friends from the 1980s died during the first wave of AIDS. Watching all those men prematurely age and pass away really can put a damper on your expectations for the future.
Amazingly, I have survived and remain HIV-negative. Now what do I do?
If you are younger than me, here’s what you may have to look forward to: Aches. Muscles, bones and especially joints just don’t feel the same as they did. I don’t bound up stairs anymore, and the idea of dancing the night away seems almost ludicrous to me now.
First of all, my legs just don’t have the pep they used to have. Secondly, 61-year-old guys dancing to Lady Gaga just look like a cry for help.
Aside from dancing, I don’t have the desire to do as much as I used to. Part of that comes from being settled down with a loving partner for more than 16 years, and part is just from the whole age thing. The idea of a nice dinner at home and an evening of TV and conversation with my guy is much more appealing than hanging out in a bar or an evening of retail therapy.
Yet, the more things change, the more they remain the same.
Though we’ve had 30 years of education and research into AIDS/HIV, it is still with us and once again a growing problem for gay men. You’d think we would have gotten the message, but the younger generation has recklessly embraced barebacking and the older generation has forgotten that AIDS does not discriminate because of age.
It’s time to haul out the safer sex information that was squelched in the name of “abstinence only” and start educating again.
As the election cycle approaches, the same-sex marriage issue will continue to be on the forefront, while the real issue of full civil rights for LGBT citizens is pushed aside. I guess it’s not sexy enough to get media attention.
So I guess I will have to keep pounding away at the real equality issue until our politicians can get some kind of focus on the big picture.
And the whole idea of an aging generation of LGBT seniors has yet to hit the activists’ radar. Oh, there is a lot of talk about it, but who is going to assure that when I get old enough to need assisted care, my sexuality and my partner will not be ignored?
Guess there is still a lot to do. Time to get up off the couch and start getting busy.
Perhaps that will keep me from just being an old curmudgeon — like a kinky, gay Andy Rooney.
So time to get busy. If 60 is the new 40, then I fully intend to have an action-packed middle age.
Hardy Haberman, who will celebrate his 61st birthday on July 27, is a longtime local LGBT activist and a board member of the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com.