Rev. Amy Delong, tried by Methodists for being a lesbian, to preach at Bering Memorial Methodist Church

Rev. Amy DeLong

Paperwork can be the bane of any job. For Rev. Amy Delong a simple annual report catapulted her into the maelstrom of the United Methodist Church’s debate on accepting LGBT people. DeLong visits Houston’s Bering Memorial United Methodist Church (1440 Harold) on Sunday, Feb. 12 to preach at both the 8:30 and 10:50 service.

In 2009 DeLong was approached by two women who wanted to get married. After conducting premarital counseling with the couple Delong agreed to perform the ceremony. As a clergy person, DeLong was required to report on her activities at the end of the year, including any weddings she had performed. She knew that the Methodist Church did not allow same-sex marriage but thought “I don’t know if anybody even reads these.” Boy, was she wrong!

With-in three days she was hauled into the her boss’s (the bishop) office. DeLong’s relationship with her partner Val was well known to her colleagues. “I’ve never had a bishop or a leader in the church or a pastor who didn’t know that I was gay,” says DeLong. “Everyone knows Val.” But the church was determined now to make an example of her, and DeLon’s relationship would now be an issue.

In 2011 DeLong was tried in the church’s court with violating the Methodist “Book of Discipline” by being in a same-sex relationship and by performing a same-sex wedding. During the trial she refused to answer pointed questions about her and her partner’s sex life. “No heterosexual couples are ever asked if they
still engage in genital contact in their marriages,” says DeLong. That refusal left the court with no evidence against her on the first charge.

She was convicted of performing the wedding and suspended from ministry for 20 days. The court also required DeLong to work with a group of ministers to prepare a statement on how to “help resolve issues that harm the clergy covenant, create an advesarial spirit or lead to future trails.” “This sentence is complicated,” says DeLong. “It doesn’t lend itself well to media soundbites. So a lot of folks have been saying to me ‘I can’t tell, is this penalty good?’” DeLong responds with a resounding “Yes!” Saying that she welcomes the opportunity to write, teach and study on a topic dear to her heart.

DeLong recalls that during that initial meeting in the bishop’s office one of the bishop’s assistants referred to her as a “self-avowed practicing homosexual.” To which she responded “Val and I aren’t practicing any more… we are pretty good at it by now.” The assistant laughed. More than anything that is the impression one gets of DeLong: someone with a lot of humor and aplomb who is unwilling to back down from a fight for justice.

After the jump watch a clip of DeLong talking about her experience.

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“Gen Silent” explores challenges facing the elderly LGBT community

Gen Silent PosterThere are almost 38 million LGBT Americans over the age of 65. This number is expected to double by 2030. Yet in a Fenway Institute study fifty percent of nursing home workers said that their co-workers are intolerant of LGBT people. That collision of a rapidly aging queer population and a nursing home system ill-prepared to serve them is explored in Gen Silent, a documentary showing at the GLBT Cultural Center (401 Branard) on Thursday, January 26, at 6:30 pm.

Gen Silent, from award-winning director and documentary filmmaker Stu Maddux, follows six LGBT seniors as they struggle to make decisions about their twilight years. These seniors put a face on what experts in the film call an epidemic: gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender seniors so afraid of discrimination in long-term health care that many go back into the closet.

Gen Silent startlingly discovers how oppression in the years before Stonewall now leaves many elders not just afraid but dangerously isolated and at risk on not receiving medical care. The film shows the wide range in quality of paid caregivers –from those who are specifically trained to make LGBT seniors feel safe, to the other end of the spectrum, where LGBT elders face discrimination, neglect or abuse, including shocking bed-side attempts by staff to persuade seniors to give up their “sinful” lifestyles.

This free screening will be followed by a call-to-action and panel discussion with some of Houston’s GLBT senior leaders.

View the trailer for Gen Silent after the break.

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Putting our children at risk

David Webb
The Rare Reporter

Child sexual abuse a concern for everyone, especially LGBT parents

Most people would probably agree there is no resource that a society cherishes more than its children. So it is hard to fathom how sexual predators manage with such apparent ease to carry out horrendous, undetected assaults on children practically under the noses of their families and others who are charged with their protection.

As horrific as the crime of child sexual abuse is, there are no firm estimates of its prevalence because it often goes undetected and is seriously underreported, according to agencies that study child abuse.

Less than 100,000 crimes of sexual abuse are reported each year because children fear telling anyone, and adults who become aware of the activity are often reluctant to contact law enforcement agencies, even though there is usually a legal requirement to do so.

With so many LGBT households now raising children, it is obviously vital that all parents be aware of the tactics used by sexual predators to seduce children without arousing the suspicion of their families, and aware of the symptoms victims of child sexual abuse exhibit.

The critical need for sustained intervention into child sexual abuse recently gained national attention following a grand jury’s indictment of retired Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on 40 counts of child sex abuse involving eight victims over a 15-year period. The victims reportedly came into contact with the now 67-year-old, married Sandusky in connection with the Second Mile, a children’s charity the former football coach founded.

Although Sandusky denied, this week in an NBC interview, engaging in any type of sexual activity with the pre-pubescent boys, he acknowledged showering and “horsing around” with them after exercise. He also admitted hugging young boys and putting his hand on their legs when they sat next to him.

His admissions shocked viewers and confirmed in many minds what was already suspected — Sandusky is most likely a pedophile that has taken advantage of young boys with the unwitting complicity of their families.

It is a devastating scandal that will likely rival the one that rocked the Catholic Church a decade ago when it became known that untold numbers of Catholic Church priests sexually abused young boys and violated the trust of their families.

If the charges against Sandusky are true, the accounts by the victims portray a classic pattern of enticement and betrayal practiced by the former football coach in his pursuit of the young boys. Likewise, the lack of action by those who knew about Sandusky’s alleged criminal activity parallel what often happens when the abuser commands power and respect in a community.

Much of the difficulty in combating child sexual abuse can be attributed to its relative youth in terms of public awareness about the crime. The first studies on the molestation of children began in the 1920s, and the first estimate of the prevalence of the crime was reported in 1948.

In 1974 the National Center for Child Abuse and Neglect was founded, and the Child Abuse and Treatment Act was created. Since then, awareness about the problem has grown dramatically, and much more is known about deterring the crime and assisting victims of it.

Children’s advocates have identified “red flags” to help parents and others protect children from sexual predators. They warn parents to be wary of someone who wants to spend more time with their children than they do, who attempts to be alone with a child, who frequently seeks physical closeness to a child such as hugging or touching, who is overly interested in the sexuality of a child, who seems to prefer the company of children to people their own age, who lacks boundaries, who regularly offers to babysit,who often gives presents or  money to children, who frequently walks in on children in bathrooms or locker rooms, who frequents parks where children gather, who makes inappropriate comments about a child’s appearance or who likes to photograph children.

Signs of possible sexual abuse in children include a fear of people, places or activities, reluctance to undress, disturbed sleep, mood swings, excessive crying, fear of being touched, loss of appetite, a drastic change in school performance, bizarre themes in drawing, sexually acting out on other children, advanced sexual knowledge, use of new words for private body parts and a reversion to old behavior such as bedwetting or thumb sucking.

Aside from the moral responsibility to protect children and other weaker members of society that all people share, it is essential to intervene in child sexual abuse because of the long-lasting psychological damage it usually causes. The problems can include feelings of worthlessness, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and distorted views of sexuality.

Also, victims of child sexual abuse tend to become sexual predators as adults, making it a crime that begets more crime.

The Sandusky scandal will undoubtedly lead to devastating repercussions for Penn State, for the Second Mile charity with which the former football coach is no longer affiliated and for law enforcement and university officials who became aware of concerns about the former football coach’s activities and failed to act on them.

But the real tragedy — if the allegations are true — will be the lasting impact upon the victims.

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has covered LGBT issues for the mainstream and alternative media for three decades. E-mail him at davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com.        

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 18, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

What’s Shakin’ – Stone Soup at F Bar, Washtonians support marriage equality

Stone Soup1. For people living with AIDS proper nutrition is more than just healthy living, it’s a vital part of the regimen that keeps them alive. Unfortunately the struggling economy and cuts to government HIV/AIDS nutrition programs mean that, for some, eating right, or just eating, is a challenge.  That’s where the AIDS Foundation Houston Stone Soup Food Assistance Program steps in.  Kelly McCann, CEO of of AFH, says that the program has recently seen a 40% increase in request for assistance and needs an additional $25,000 a month to meet demand. F Bar (202 Tuam) is doing its part to help out tonight, collecting monetary and food donations from the community. Donors will receive a VIP invitation to an appreaciation party on Nov 22, and be entered in a raffle to win fabulous prizes.
2. Washington may soon become the seventh state to have full marriage equality, if a recent poll by the University of Washington, Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race & Sexualityis accurate.  The poll asked 938 registered voters in the evergreen state if they would support a same-sex marriage law were it to appear on the 2012 ballot: 47% responded that yes, they would strongly support it, only 32% said they would strongly oppose.
3. Voter turnout in Harris County is slowly catching up with the last municipal election cycle in 2009, but continues to lag.  So far 28,679 people have cast their ballots, 81% of the 34,485 who had voted at this point in the process the last go around.  Early voting continues through November 3.  Election day is Nov 8. A list of all early voting locations and sample ballots  are available at harrisvotes.org.

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Local Briefs

GAIN holding monthly meeting

GAIN, the GLBT aging interest network that is a program of Resource Center Dallas, will meet Thursday, April 28, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Resource Center, 2701 Reagan.
Educator, public speaker and writer Deneen Robinson, BSW, will present the program on Alzheimer’s and dementia in the aging LGBT community.
Hors d’oeuvres and beverages will be served.

Students seeks study participants

Cindy Chwalik, a clinical psychology student at Walden University who is interning with Youth First Texas, is looking for natal females (those who were born biologically female) who were born in the South and came out as lesbians while living in the South to participate in a research project she is conducting. She is particularly looking for women born in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina.

Participation involves a 60-to-90-minute interview. Chwalik said there is no compensation for participating, but the information will help those who come out in the future.
Contact her via email at cindychwalik @aol.com.

TDWCC to hear from candidates

Texas Democratic Women of Collin County will hold their next general meeting Monday, April 25, at 6:45 p.m. at the Preston Ridge Campus of Collin College, 9700 Wade Blvd. in Frisco, Founders Hall, Shawnee Room F148.

The program will feature a forum of candidates in the upcoming non-partisan municipal elections. Confirmed thus far from Plano are Judy Drotman, campaign manager for City Council Place 3 candidate Andre Davidson; City Council Place 5 candidate Matt Lagos; City Council Place 5 candidate Jim Duggan, and City Council Place 7 candidate Pat Gallagher.

Candidates in the Frisco elections who have confirmed so far are Mayor Maher Maso, City Council Place 5 candidate Bart Crowder, and Frisco ISD candidated Anne McCausland and Dody Brigadier.

—  John Wright

Study Finds “Pervasive” Antigay Bias in Utah

Poll x390 (Photos.com) | Advocate.comA new study to be distributed to state lawmakers in Utah shows that employees face significant discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Advocate.com: Daily News

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DADT: possible WH signing Wed, Palm study on Pentagon training, and Faux News on gays in showers

Some timely news — Obama to sign ‘don’t ask’ repeal this week — may hold news conference.

Any bets as to who will be invited to the signing ceremony — Joe Solmonese? Dan Choi? Victor Fehrenbach? Who do you think should be there?

Though the schedule is being finalized, Gibbs said he expects a formal White House signing ceremony Wednesday morning to sign the “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal.

“I think there are a lot of people who are interested in attending,” Gibbs said.

***

And in terms of how the military might roll out a repeal, the Palm Center released this information…

New Study: Pentagon Can Train Entire Force Rapidly

Politico.com’s Morning Defense column is reporting today about a new Palm Center study that concludes that the Pentagon could easily train the entire force in preparation for the elimination of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” http://www.politico.com/morningdefense/  According to the study, “any claim that DADT cannot be repealed until after the completion of exhaustive training is inconsistent with actual military needs.”  The Palm Center provided a preliminary copy of the study to Politico.com and will publish a final version this week.

The new study reviews tools that the Pentagon uses to rapidly train the entire force, including troops deployed in combat zones, and offers case studies in which the Defense Department provided force-wide training within a matter of days or weeks.  The study shows as well that in most cases, the Pentagon implements new policy concurrent with training, rather than waiting for the completion of training before implementing new rules.  Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to demand a delay lasting through most of 2011 to train the forces in preparation for the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Palm Center scholars argue that training for the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” is an uncomplicated task.  Aaron Belkin, Palm’s Director, said that “the troops already know how to interact with gays because they do so every day.”  The RAND Corporation concluded in 1993 that the “new policy should be kept as simple as possible,” and lessons from foreign militaries confirm the same point.  Belkin added that, “When you read the Pentagon’s 87-page implementation plan, you see that the transition requirements can be boiled down to just two things: strong leadership and simple rules.  This really isn’t rocket science.”

***

However, Fox gets right to the heart of what DADT repeal really means (via StopBeck)…

DOD report: straights must shower with gays
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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Study: Fox News Viewers Misinformed

FOX NEWS X390 | ADVOCATE.COMA new study has found Fox News viewers are “significantly more likely”
to believe false information on current events and topics than the
audience of other news networks.
Advocate.com: Daily News

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Study: positive family attitudes have major health and well-being implications for LGBT kids

For the first time, researchers have established a clear link between accepting family attitudes and behaviors towards their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) children and significantly decreased risk and better overall health in adulthood.  The study shows that specific parental and caregiver behaviors — such as advocating for their children when they are mistreated because of their LGBT identity or supporting their gender expression — protect against depression, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts in early adulthood. In addition, LGBT youth with highly accepting families have significantly higher levels of self-esteem and social support in young adulthood.

This may seem obvious to we LGBT folk, but as we know it is not necessarily obvious to parents, friends and other family members.  For example, watch members of a California family describe their individual paths to understanding these truths in this amazing video.

Major research findings include:

* Family accepting behaviors towards LGBT youth during adolescence protect against suicide, depression and substance abuse.

* LGBT young adults who reported high levels of family acceptance during adolescence had significantly higher levels of self-esteem, social support and general health, compared to peers with low levels of family acceptance.

* LGBT young adults who reported low levels of family acceptance during adolescence were over three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts and to report suicide attempts, compared to those with high levels of family acceptance.

* High religious involvement in families was strongly associated with low acceptance of LGBT children.

Results of the research are being translated into practical tools for parents by the study’s author Dr. Caitlin Ryan and her team at the Family Acceptance Project in collaboration with Child and Adolescent Services at the University of California, San Francisco, with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  They use a behavioral approach to help ethnically and religiously diverse families decrease rejection and increase support for their LGBT children to reduce risk for suicide, depression, substance abuse, and HIV, to promote well-being and to prevent homelessness and placement in custodial care. This approach helps communities and providers to engage diverse families as allies in decreasing their LGBT children’s risk and increasing their well-being while respecting the family’s deeply held values. This work is being conducted in English, Spanish and Chinese with families from all ethnic backgrounds, including immigrant and very low income families, and those whose children are out-of-home in foster care and juvenile justice facilities.

The study is published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, a journal of the International Society of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses, in a peer-reviewed article titled “Family Acceptance in Adolescence and the Health of LGBT Young Adults.”
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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Pentagon to Release the Fabled DADT “Study” a Day Early

SECDEF Robert Gates has decided to release that DADT “study” to Congress on November 30 instead of December 1st, citing a need to accomodate the Senate Armed Services Committee's desire for time to review and hold hearings on the contents. From the Armed Forces Press Service:

SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia, Nov. 21, 2010 – The report of a working group he created to research the ramifications for the Defense Department if the law banning gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military is repealed will be released to Congress and the public Nov. 30, Defense Department officials announced here today.

Gates formed the working group in February, appointing Gen. Carter F. Ham, commander of U.S. Army Europe, and Jeh C. Johnson, DOD’s general counsel, to lead the effort.

“Secretary Gates is pushing all involved in the Comprehensive Review Working Group's report to have it ready for public release on Nov. 30 in order to accommodate the desire of the Senate Armed Services Committee to hold hearings as soon as possible,” Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said. “Frankly, Dec. 1 was already an aggressive deadline by which to complete the report, incorporate the views of service secretaries and chiefs and for the secretary to make a recommendation on the way ahead, but he has further compressed the timeline in order to support Congress' wish to consider repeal before they adjourn.

“Now,” Morrell continued, “the secretary has instructed his staff, without cutting any corners, to have everything ready a day sooner because he wants to ensure members of the Armed Services Committee are able to read and consider the complex, lengthy report before holding hearings with its authors and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

A whole day. Wow. Let's not forget that President Obama, the Commander-in-Chief, allegedly started consulting upper-level brass on how to study repeal in March 2009. I'm just curious as to why it took a whole year to formulate a series of biased, derogatory questions at a taxpayer cost of .4 million. Well, at least the entire “study” will be released a day early so John McCain can have his hearings. I can't wait for that dog and pony show.

Let's keep in mind the political warfare perpetuated against LGB troops by Republicans, and I don't just mean John McCain. Back in March, during the House Armed Services Committee hearings on DADT, Republican Rep. Joe “You Lie” Wilson accused the Pentagon of having a biased study in favor of repeal, and relying “too heavily” on the 1993 Rand study which showed that repeal of the ban on openly LGB servicemembers would have no impact. He actually used the phrase, “cook the books to the President's desires.” It's already been leaked that the Pentagon study is favorable to repeal. John McCain has said that the fact that the study was leaked invalidated the results, and he wants a do-over (presumably, as many do-overs as it takes to get the results he wants). The next talking point will be that the study was biased in favor of repeal. In fact, that talking point has already been around for a while.

As we say in the Navy, “Stand by.” The next act in the three-ring repeal circus is about to begin.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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