"An executive at Fox News Channel said that Ms. Palin would appear on the program of the conservative host Sean Hannity, and that the interview was scheduled to run through several commercial breaks. The announcement came on Thursday, another day when Ms. Palin was figuring prominently in the discussion surrounding the Tucson shooting rampage, for her video statement about the shootings that she released Wednesday morning to stinging reviews from liberals and even some Republicans.
Ms. Palin is a paid Fox contributor, but she has been laying low on the network in the wake of the shooting. Her agreement to sit for an interview comes as even some Republicans have urged her to put herself out there for questions amid the criticism she is facing."
Kerry Eleveld of the Advocate finally gets her sit down interview with President Obama. The White House “gay charm offensive” is in full swing. Kerry finally got her interview after two years of trying (she did interview candidate Obama, but the President didn’t sit down with gay press until two months ago when he sat down with Joe and four other bloggers). And Joe and I, and Robin of GetEqual, Dan Choi, Pam Spaulding, Paul Yandura, and lots of other critics of the President got invited to the DADT bill signing today.
The White House is clearly reaching out, as it should, and as it should have long ago. Not that we didn’t have contacts with the White House, we did. But there was a certain distance between the White House and the Netroots, such as not inviting anyone to the White House Christmas party, not inviting folks to the previous bill signings for Hate Crimes, for example.
The point isn’t getting invited “because it’s cool.” Rather, it’s about how the White House perceives activists, the Netroots, and more generally, the base of the party. Invites to bill signings and Christmas parties are an indication of who the White House perceives as powerful and needing to be wooed. Outside of the large groups, who tend to worry more about currying favor with the White House than holding them accountable, the less sycophantic usually are written off as less serious, and thus less worthy of such invites (other than HuffPo, which the WH can’t afford to write off). The rest don’t count, or haven’t until now.
It’s all about reading tea leaves, and isn’t very different from the old days when we used to look for lights on in the Kremlin late at night to discern whether something catastrophic was taking place in Moscow. The invite to the bill signing is nice, but it’s a larger gesture. And it may even signal a welcome change from the White House. At least until the 2012 election is over.
Joe Sudbay, of AmericaBLOG Gay, interviewed GetEQUAL’s Robin McGehee about her meeting at the White House. The interview was posted in the piece GetEQUAL’s Robin McGehee discusses her meeting at the White House. In an over 17-minute long interview, Robin explains in detail what she told White House Staffer Brian Bond in her November 17th meeting. Here is Joe Sudbay’s interview, presented in two parts:
You might recall that back in September, I blogged that I had to make a quick trip to NYC because I was selected to be part of a photo shoot and feature for Interview magazine‘s November issue. It’s on newstands now.
The article is called “Stand Up for Your Rights: activists, organizers and political voices” — it doesn’t appear to be on Interview‘s web site yet, though portions of the issue are up. The project is the brainchild of photographer David Mushegain and Dustin Lance Black, Academy Award winner for Best Original Screenplay in 2009 for “Milk,” and board member of the American Foundation for Equal Rights.
From Dustin Lance Black’s introduction:
Back in 1973, Harvey Milk said something that’s become one of my favorite quotes: “Masturbation can be fun, but it does not take the place of the real thing. It is about time that the gay community stopped playing with itself and get down to the real thing.”
From long-time organizer David Mixner’s bold call for a march on Washington in May 2009, to fellow activists Jones and Robin McGehee’s answer to that call in the face of Congressional opposition later that year; from openly gay serviceman Dan Choi chaining himself to the White House in March and April, to the American Foundation For Equal Rights’ move to fight Prop 8 at the federal level, rejecting the self-loathing sentiments behind a piecemeal approach, it’s clear the gay movement is shifting back Milk’s way.
In short, the LGBTQ movement is doing what no other movement has previously done. It’s emerged from a corporate culture and given birth to a new grass roots. But how can this new energy be captured in images or words? Inherent in the term grass roots is the notion that there is no single leader or prevailing philosophy. Instead, there are thousands of voices with differing points of view and strategies, often speaking in opposition to one another and occasionally at each other’s throats. (Lord knows I’ve got the bite marks to prove it.) But it’s these disagreements that are making this movement strong again.
In a country as diverse as this one, it’s going to take a multitude of approaches and voices working concurrently and aggressively to win full equality in our lifetimes. And yes, I want to get married before I die, but more important than that, none of us want to see another LGBT kid grow up being told he or she is less of a person – or deserves fewer rights – than anyone else. So let me be clear, in no way do these profiles define the new grass roots. It would take an encyclopedia to do that. These are simply some of the new grass roots, representing thousands just like them, and hopefully inspiring more men and women to take singular stands or to form their own bottom-up organizations to take on city hall or the United States Supreme Court. Because the new gay movement isn’t playing with itself anymore. It’s after the real thing again.
Also featured in the piece are Dan Choi, Rick Jacobs of the Courage Campaign, Robin McGehee of GetEqual, Chad Griffin of AFER, Cleve Jones, activist David Mixner, actor Alan Cumming and other newsmaking members of the LGBT community.
As always, I feel humbled by being included with so many people who are making an impact on LGBT equality; it’s not always clear to me that what I do online (knowing that I am standing in for LGBT citizen journalists/Cheetos-stained, PJ-wearing bloggers in this piece) is meaningful. Sometimes it can have an impact – by extending the voice of non-professional LGBTs to the ears of those with access. Other times you do feel like you’re shouting into a void and cannot effect change precisely because we don’t have direct access to power. I don’t think there’s any single answer to the question of how we impact the movement. I give it a bit of a shot in this article (the text of mine is after the jump),
As you can see by the photo (I’m on page 101 with Gavin Creel of Broadway Impact and Constance McMillan), I don’t look like my normal blogmistress self — no glasses, in a form-fitting wool dress, and wistfully, about 15 lbs lighter than I am now. That’s because I’ve had to boost my insulin levels prior to surgery, and it puts the weight on quickly (thankfully it’s leveled off and not still increasing at the present time). Sigh. Hopefully back to the weight loss after the alien uterus is ripped out in a couple of weeks.
Below the fold, amusing background on the photo shoot and a larger version of that photo with the full text. The photography took place outdoors on the rooftop of a Lower East Side apartment building. From my earlier post:
I wasn’t told much in advance other than to have 1) blue jeans, 2) a black T-shirt, and 3) a white button down shirt. The latter I had to go out and buy because I don’t wear button-down shirts because my boobage usually causes irritating gaps. I didn’t know if I needed to wear any makeup, so I showed up bare-faced. Anyway, I arrive and David greets me. He’s an incredibly nice guy, btw. Very laid back. There were stylists that we waited for. Of course I was hoping they could do something to ensure that I looked fabulous, or at least not embarrassing.
But there was a complication — they didn’t have my clothing or shoe sizes, so they had to guess. I think to myself, “oh no, nothing will fit.” Stylists are not used to working with short, top-heavy, overweight women. I cringed to myself. They opened the bag of clothing options and most were fall/winter things (it’s November issue). One item that looked like it might fit was one of those designer “little black dress” outfits – the all-purpose kind that I prayed would get over the boobage and not look like ass on me.
I came out and lo-and-behold, the size L fit well enough to do the job. Thank goodness for stretchable fabric. It wasn’t like sausage stuffing, but still. And there was no makeup person, so I was going to be shot as-is. OMG. All I had on me was lip gloss. Imagine the terror. Oh well, go with the flow. So we went onto the roof…
David’s theme is a 1950s B&W Polaroid look. What was fascinating about it was that he was using a 1950s camera that he had rebuilt, and David was using film that he acquired via auction. This stock was really old – as in the boxes had expiration dates that were over a decade old. Also, this particular size of Polaroid film is no longer made. He was going to work from the negatives, not the prints themselves, and took some digital shots for backup.
The weather was very nice – not hellish hot as it had been the last time I was in NY – and I was shot in full sun. We took many photos with my glasses on, since that’s how most people recognize me, and several with them off, standing and seated.
So after he went through quite a few of those old Polaroid cartridges, David was happy with the look he wanted. Now I don’t know which one will end up in the magazine, but it seemed everyone agreed on two that were without my glasses, so it’s quite likely you’ll see me without specs, my hair down and not smiling. Very different look. But you know how those old photos no one seemed to smile, so I understand what he’s going for. I have a hard time not smiling or laughing. Modeling is hard work.
I was the last shoot of the day; he had already photographed David Mixner as well as Alan Cumming. David Mushegain showed me the Polaroids of theirs and the shots looked fabulously 50s.
Before I left, I asked for one of the reject prints from the shoot, and David kindly wrote a nice note on the back thanking me for my work and for participating in the project. I wonder what Kate will think of the shot.
Interview‘s editors sent me early copies of the issue, and unfortunately (or is it good fortune) they listed me as 37 years old. While I’d love to be 37 again, I always cop to my actual age of 47. They apologized profusely, but you know these things happen.
Pam Spaulding didn’t set out to have one of the most popular blogs dedicated to gay civil rights, but pamshouseblend.com quickly went viral. “When I launched the blog in 2004, it was really just to personally vent about the state of the political situation at the time,” the 37-year-old 47-year-old North Carolina-based blogger says. “[George W.] Bush was up for reelection. I was seeing the level of rancor on the side of the religious right over LGBT rights. When I started, I wasn’t thinking about people reading my work.” Soon, Spaulding was serving on panels to speak about the discriminatory political landscape and guest blogging on sites like the Huffington Post. She became what she terms an “accidental activist,” with a blog that racks up almost 250,000 visitors a month. Part of the site’s draw is that it allows readers to submit diaries about what’s going on in their cities. “I think the Internet has given voice to people who are terribly frustrated, with feelings of isolation. Now they can go on and see what other people are doing by reading blogs like mine,” she says. Spaulding knows it’s not just people in the gay community trafficking her site. “The first time I was called by the White House communication over a year ago, I nearly dropped my phone,” she remembers. “The [White House is] reading the blog and responding to either criticism or praise that I have.” It would be easy for bloggers to hide in anonymity – especially when the government is watching – but Spaulding purposely uses her own name. “I feel like I have to speak for people who are unable to, just to show that you can do this,” she says. “I have a full-time day job. I can’t quit and just blog. I like to have more voices than silence. Everyone needs to speak.” -LS
I have about four or so interviews from the Southern Comfort Conference (SCCATL — the conference Pam’s House Blend baristas attended last month in Atlanta, Georgia) accomplished, and I’m just beginning to process these videos.
I feel very honored (and a bit humbled too) in calling Allyson Robinson my friend. This video below — the first I’m posting from SCCATL — is an interview of the HRC’s Allyson Robinson. She is the Associate Director of Diversity for the Human Rights Campaign, and a board member of the International Foundation for Gender Education (IFGE). In the interview we discuss what she does in those positions not only for the transgender community, but for the broader lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community.
Allyson’s personal history seems incredibly interesting to me. She’s attended West Point, graduating after four-years of schooling there. She then served in the Army as a Patriot Missile Battery Officer for an additional five-years — so total time committed to U.S. Army was nine-years. After her service, she became a American Baptist Minister in Portugal — later completing seminary.
Near the end of the video, Allyson and I discuss privilege — she discussed it in terms of ethics and morality. Her take on privilege seems a very powerful statement to me. Her quote on privilege from the video (emphasis added):
Autumn: Now you have a comment that you make…You have a concept about what you with privilege. I’m always fascinated — You mentioned something about if you have privilege, what do you do with it?
Allyson: Well, this kind of rose out of the same issue of representing a community. Whether it’s to an organization as a diversity officer in the context of a training event, and being there as an example of the trans community.
I recognize very clearly — largely because of the work that I did in ministry in some of the poorest communities in Europe where the first context of ministry for us was that I have a tremendous amount of privilege. And then when I transitioned, my privilege only became clearer.
I tell a story about — I was living in Texas at the time when I first began my transition, and driving home from an event one evening. Very, very late. Presenting as female when I hardly ever presented as female, and having this thought of “What would happen if a Texas State Trooper pulled me over right now for speeding?”
I suddenly became the safest driver in all of Texas.
Allyson: And when I called my sister the next day to tell her about this experience, she said “Well, honey, I’ve always done this when I drive at night. I’ve always had to be concerned about these things.”
It was a recognition moment — a light bulb moment for me — about my male privilege.
And so, taking that awareness and that understanding, and filtering that through the kind of ethical training that I had in ministry, I came to the conclusion that really the only ethical thing — the only moral thing — to do with privilege, when you know you have it, is to give it away. To give it away on behalf of people who have less than you do.
It’s a powerful statement — this statement on what to do with the privileges one knows one has — that very much resonates with me.
The batteries in my video camera went dead right pretty much right after that comment by Allyson, so the video ends rather abruptly. I didn’t do a second take to add my usual my closing comment of “So this is Autumn Sandeen with Pam’s House Blend, with Allyson Robinson saying ‘Bye!’” So, if the abrupt end bothers you, you can just mentally add that sign-off comment right after the interview ends. Pam’s House Blend – Front Page
I received an email from the highly talented and entertaining David Pakman of Midweek Politics, who apparently has not yet earned the reputation of “do not return his calls” among the fundies, bigoted airheads, and crazies who take his questions on the air and proceed to make asses out of themselves to the rest of us. Peter LaBarbera is one of his “greatest hits.”
David wanted to share with Blenders his “best of” reel, called “Epic Anti-Gay Moments Highlight Reel…the Worst of the Worst.” Protect your keyboard, sit back and relax and prepare to laugh. Special guest appearance by Terry “Burn the Koran” Jones, Shirley Phelps-Roper, Paul Cameron and of course, The Peter.
You’ll recall that yesterday, Sen. John McCain was cornered by The Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld and MetroWeekly’s Chris Geidner about his outrageous claim that there aren’t any witch hunts going on under DADT after the Senate failed to break a filibuster on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
MCCAIN: I dont’ care what you say! And I don’t care what others say. I’ve seen it in action. I’ve seen it in action. I have sons in the military, I know the military very well. So they’re not telling you the truth.
ELEVELD: Senator, just to make sure…
MCCAIN: Just to make sure. We do not go out and seek out and find out….
ELEVELD: Private emails are not being searched? Private emails are not being searched?
MCCAIN: …See if someone is gay or not. We do not go out and see whether someone is gay or not.
ELEVELD: There are documented cases…
MCCAIN: They do not, they do not, they do not. You can say that they are, you can say [inaudible] it’s not true!… Yea, I’d like to see…
Today, Mike Almy has come forward to comment on the Arizona Senator’s befuddled assertions in a letter.
September 22, 2010
U.S. Sen. John McCain
241 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
I testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee in March of this year and told the story of my discharge from the military because of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). You were in attendance that day and heard me tell my story of how the Air Force conducted an open-ended search of my private emails, solely to determine if I had violated the DADT law.
On Tuesday, September 21, you emphatically denied that the military conducts searches of private emails because of DADT. When challenged by reporters who mentioned my name, you said “bring him to my office.” Senator, I respectfully ask for an opportunity to do so to discuss this law that took my career.
In this letter I will again share with you my story, as I did during the committee hearing last March.
Almy continues below the fold.
Once DADT is history, I plan to return to active duty as an officer and a leader in the Air Force.
For thirteen years, I served in the United States Air Force where I attained the rank of major before I was discharged under DADT.
As the Senate Armed Services Committee considers including repeal in the Defense Authorization bill, we’re very close — just two or three votes — to passing repeal in committee. I ask for you to voice your support to put us over the top.
I come from a family with a rich legacy of military service. My father is a West Point graduate who taught chemistry at the Air Force Academy, flew helicopters in Vietnam, conducting search and rescue operations for downed aircrews, and ultimately retired as a senior officer from the Air Force. One of my uncles retired as a Master Gunnery Sergeant from the Marine Corps, with service in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Another uncle served in the Army in Korea.
Growing up, I didn’t really know what civilians did, I just knew I would follow in my father’s footsteps and become a military officer.
I joined Air Force ROTC in 1988 and was awarded a scholarship. I earned my jump wings in 1991. In 1992, I graduated from ROTC in the top 10% of all graduates nationwide. In 1993, I went on active duty, just as DADT was becoming a law.
Stationed in Oklahoma, I was named officer of the year for my unit of nearly 1,000 people. Later, I was one of six officers selected from the entire Air force to attend Professional Military Education at Quantico, Virginia.
During my career, I deployed to the Middle East four times. In my last deployment, I led a team of nearly 200 men and women to operate and maintain the systems used to control the air space over Iraq. We came under daily mortar attacks, one of which struck one of my Airmen and also caused significant damage to our equipment. Towards the end of this deployment to Iraq, I was named one of the top officers in my career field for the entire Air Force.
In the stress of a war zone, the Air Force authorized us to use our work email accounts for “personal or morale purposes” because private email accounts were blocked for security.
Shortly after I left Iraq — during a routine search of my computer files — someone found that my “morale” was supported by the person I loved — a man.
The email — our modern day letter home — was forwarded to my commander.
I was relieved of my duties, my security clearance was suspended and part of my pay was terminated.
In my discharge proceeding, several of my former troops wrote character reference letters for me, including one of my squadron commanders. Their letters expressed their respect for me as an officer, their hope to have me back on the job and their shock at how the Air Force was treating me.
Approximately a year after I was relieved of my duties, my Wing Commander recommended I be promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, even though the Air Force was actively pursuing my discharge.
But instead, after 16 months, I was given a police escort off the base as if I were a common criminal or a threat to national security. The severance pay I received was half of what it would have been had I been separated for any other reason.
Despite this treatment, my greatest desire is still to return to active duty as an officer and leader in the United States Air Force, protecting the freedoms of a nation that I love; freedoms that I myself was not allowed to enjoy while serving in the military.
Senator McCain, I’ve had no greater honor than leading men and women in the United States Air Force, in harm’s way, to defend the freedom’s we enjoy in this country, as you yourself have honorably done. I genuinely hope you will support me in my endeavor to return to the Air Force as an officer and a leader.
Former Major, USAF
Statement by Army veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis:
“Sen. John McCain is either ignoring U.S. Senate testimony that showed the military was proactively seeking out gay and lesbian service members for discharge under ‘Don’t Ask’, or he is openly deceiving Americans after his shameless filibuster. Either way, McCain is grossly out of touch and factually off the mark. Air Force Major Almy testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee, where McCain was present, that the Air Force proactively went into his emails – authorized for “personal or morale purposes” while at war – and found that he was gay. Major Almy never made a statement, even after being asked by his command, to his sexual orientation. And if McCain didn’t filibuster the bill that included repeal, Major Almy also testified that he’d return back the day repeal is certified.”