Upstate NY newspaper runs trans-tastic series

A view of Downtown Albany from the Hudson River

My college town newspaper, the Albany Times Union, is running an awesome series of articles about the transgender community this week that I wanted to share.

When I was in school, the Times Union was the conservative newspaper and the now-gone Knickerbocker News was the liberal paper. But the surviving paper knows its audience and Albany is liberal. No, that should read LIBERAL.

This whole series is worth a read. But not only are the articles good, so are the comments. The biggest complaint is that the LGBT community is getting too much coverage. Imagine that in the local Dallas newspaper. I expect more negative comments right here in a Texas LGBT newspaper than an Upstate New York mainstream paper is getting.

Here’s an article filled with statistics. They claim more than 8 million LGBs in the U.S. and 700,000 transgenders. There’s no census count so I’m not sure where the numbers come from.

Here’s the main page — Transgender: A Special Report. The online version begins with 75+ photos.

People just know me as Pat

The long, difficult journey of how a man became a woman

Surgery, pain, humor and no turning back

Going from Kenny to Kym was no easy road

For Drew, nothing is written

‘I like my fluid identity’

A little about Albany

Albany is a small city of about 100,000 people. The capital of New York, it’s about 150 miles north of New York City, north of the Catskills, south of the Adirondacks and where the Mohawk River empties into the Hudson River. Where the northbound New York State Thruway makes a sharp left turn to head west to Buffalo — giving the city its nickname — the armpit of New York.

Oh, and Albany is a very liberal city. So it’s not surprising they’d run this series. I just don’t know when another mainstream daily has devoted this much space at one time to transgender issues.

Albany is home to the first LGBT community center ever created in the country. Located in a brownstone a few blocks the Capitol, it’s now called the Capital Pride Center. The building was purchased in 1974 by a professor at my school and a group of us helped renovate the building. That was the first time I ever helped build stairs. Hopefully they’ve been rebuilt since then.

And Sen. Gillibrand — who represented Albany before becoming senator — was a leader in getting rid of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and pushed for marriage equality along with Governor Andrew Cuomo.

—  David Taffet

Chronicle blogger blames ‘It Gets Better” project for LGBT teen suicides

Kathleen McKinley

Kathleen McKinley

Kathy McKinley is a self-described “conservative activist” who blogs for the Houston Chronicle under the monicker “TexasSparkle.” In a recent post McKinley took the “It Gets Better” project to task for what she believes is their culpability in the suicides of LGBT teens:

“These kids were sold a bill of goods by people who thought they were being kind. The “It will get better” campaign just didn’t think it through. They didn’t think about the fact that kids are different from adults. They handle things differently. They react differently. Why? BECAUSE THEY ARE KIDS. You can grumble all day long how unfair it is that straight teens can be straight in high school, and gay kids can’t, but life is unfair. Isn’t the price they are paying too high?? Is it so much to ask them to stand at the door of adulthood before they “come out” publically? Because it may save their life.”

McKinnley’s primary confusion about the “It Gets Better” campaign (other than its name) is the assumption that the goal is to encourage teens to come out of the closet, or encourage them to become sexually active:

“Why in the world would you give teenagers a REASON to tease you? Oh, yes, because the adults tell you to embrace who you are, the only problem? Kids that age are just discovering who they are. They really have no idea yet. The adults tell you to “come out,” when what we should be telling them is that sex is for adults, and there is plenty of time for figuring out that later.”

I would like to encourage Ms. McKinley to watch the “It Gets Better” project’s founder Dan Savages’ video. Please, Ms. McKinley, listen, and tell me if you hear Savage or his partner Terry say anything about teens coming out or having sex. I think what you’ll hear them say is that all of the things that most kids, gay and straight, dream of (falling in love, starting a family, having the support of their parents, co-workers and friends) are possible for LGBT teens. I think you’ll hear them talk about how difficult their teen years were, and about the fears they had that their parents would reject them, that they’d never find success and that they’d always be alone.

Choosing to have sex is one of the most personal decision a person will ever make. For LGBT people, choosing to come out is another. I have not watched all of the thousands of videos from people who have participated in the “It Gets Better” project. It’s possible that there are a few that tell kids to come out right away, or to become sexually active, but I doubt it.

Every video in the project that I have seen has had the same simple message: that the person making it understands how tortuously awful the experience of being Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender in Junior and High School can be, but there is a wonderful world of loving, vibrant, successful, engaged LGBT adults out there and if queer teens can just hang on, just for a few years, they can join it. I doubt that any of the contributors to the project think that hanging on for a few years will be easy. I suspect that most of them remember, with excruciating clarity, contemplating ending those temporary years of terror with a permanent solution and that is why they choose to reach out.

I grew up without role models, where people like Barbara Gittings, Bayard Rustin and Harvey Milk didn’t exist . I grew up in a small town where the two men with the pink house were talked about in hushed tones that immediately fell silent when I walked into the room, because it wasn’t appropriate for children’s ears. I grew up in a world where my mother wouldn’t tell me what “gay” meant, where the evening news was turned off if it reported on the AIDS crisis, where I wasn’t given words to describe who I was, and so the only word I could find was “alone.”

I was lucky. My suicide attempt failed.

I was lucky, I survived, and went to college, and found a church that embraced and loved LGBT people. That’s where I met doctors and lawyers and business owners and teachers who were like me. That’s where I met two wonderful women who had built a life together for over 50 years. That’s where I discovered I wasn’t alone and that being gay didn’t mean that i couldn’t have all of those things I’d dreamed of.

That is what McKinley missed in her blog post. In her haste to lay blame on anything other than the overwhelming prejudice perpetuated by schools, churches and governments against LGBT people McKinley missed the fact that kids need role models. In her rush to shove queer teens back into the closet she forgot that human beings need the hope of a better world, lest they give up in despair.

McKinley got one thing right in her post. She titled it “Are Adults Also To Blame For Gay Teen Suicides? Yes.” Adults are to blame for LGBT teen suicides. When adults hide the stunning diversity of God’s creation from their children they create a vision of reality that some of those children can’t see themselves in. When adults tell LGBT teens that they should be invisible then it is all too clear who is to blame when those teens believe them, and take steps to make themselves invisible permanently.

To all the LGBT kids out there: it does get better. There are adults who care about you and want all the wonderful things you dream of to come true, but you have to hang on. If you need to keep who are secret to remain safe then do so. If you need someone to talk to please call the Trevor Project at 866-4-U-Trevor (866-488-7386).

—  admin

Choose between O.M.D at HOB or k.d. Lang at the Meyerson

Decisions, decisions

Whether you’re in the mood for swoony torch songs or synth-pop from the ’80s, tonight is your night. k.d. Lang stops in town with her new band the Siss Boom Bang in support of her latest album Sing it Loud. She’ll likely have you as putty in her hands once her mouth hits the microphone. Or for some flat-out fun pop that will take you back a few decades, hit up Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (or O.M.D.) tonight. The band hit it big with “If You Leave” and “Dreamin’” back in the ’80s and then kinda faded away. But last year, they dropped History of Modern and tour and have been getting raves ever since.

If only you could be in two places at once.

DEETS: k.d. Lang and the Siss Boom Bang, Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora St. at 8 p.m. $40–$100. DallasSymphony.com.

O.M.D., House of Blues, 2200 N. Lamar St. at 8 p.m. $25–$45. HouseofBlues.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Driver’s Seat: Mark Trimble, Flutist

Name: Mark Trimble, 44.

Occupation: Musician (flute) and music educator.

How might we know you: My partner Ami Sadeh and I helped create the BearDance events.

Type of car: Blue 2008 Nissan Altima Coupe.

Best car memory? Driving my Nissan 350Z the first time with my partner around town with the top down!

Funniest road trip story: I don’t know if it’s funny or sad, but I had an audition in Tennessee and a drunk driver sliced off a big chunk of metal off the side of the trunk. It was my dad’s Oldsmobile Delta 88. I had to tie that chunk of metal back on the car as it flapped all the way back to Cincinnati where I lived.

Hmmm… we vote sad. OK, buy or lease? Lately I prefer leasing. I get the itch for something new or different about every three to four years. It doesn’t hurt that you can get a bit more car for less money per month!

You play the flute, but ever in the car? I think I’ve played it in my partner’s car while he’s been driving. It’s not at all practical for the driver and it doesn’t work well in the passenger seat either. There are better places to practice. Now I will practice finger patterns for music on the steering wheel from time to time though, and that’s a great way to practice without the instrument.

What do you jam out to? NPR or BPM on satellite radio. Sometimes it’s Beethoven or Lady Gaga.

Don’t you musclebear types drive Jeeps or big trucks usually? Am I really that now? Ha! Maybe I do need to get the requisite truck!  I’m not about all my image with my car, it’s more about the driving experience for me, and I like fun-to-drive cars usually as long as they are roomy enough for me.

Since it’s hot as hell out, how’s your A/C? It is fantastic! I’m lucky to have a garage to park in at home so that it’s not all heated up when I leave the house in the summer, but even when it’s been out in the sun, it cools down very quickly.

Sounds great. So, one last thing: flootist or flautist? Well, it can be both actually.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 26, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Son of a beach

A family vacation proves unexpectedly gay as Myrtle Beach, S.C., gets Pride

RAINBOW TOUR | Nearly 200 beachcombers — including the author (dark green, just right of center) — stepped away from the surf and gathered in a field to form a human rainbow flag.

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

The trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., had more to do with a family reunion than finding a good destination for gay travelers. After all, Myrtle Beach is a pretty lazy, conservative town in the perennial Red State, one where teenaged spring breakers and families gather to enjoy the warm surf and the resort-town appeal of seafood and beachcombing and overpriced cocktails. Queer travelers can hit one of the three gay bars, all within blocks of each other — Club Traxx, Time Out! and the Rainbow House (a lesbian club).

But the weekend I arrived , just by coincidence, it turned out to be Gay Pride.

Keep in mind, the gay community in Myrtle Beach is small, so “Gay Days,” plural, felt more like Gay Day, singular: One major event and then life as usual in Coastal Carolina.

The major event, though, was an ambitious one: Gathering members of the LGBT community and their allies to form a “human rainbow flag:” People signed up to wear a pastel-colored T-shirt and arrange themselves in the traditional configuration. A few others wore black, forming the flagpole.

The entire event was threatened by showers late Friday and early Saturday, but despite a slightly muddy field, nearly 200 people turned out, huddled closely on a muggy afternoon, while a photographer flew above in a helicopter.

Numbers weren’t uniform; there were too many reds and too few purples; but the effect was one of a flag waving in the breeze.

In order to do the shoot, members faced each other before bending forward to allow the broad field of their shirts to form the colors. Directly across from me stood Elke Kennedy, a resident of Greenville in the Upstate. Elke and her husband established SeansLastWish.org, raising awareness of anti-gay violence, after their gay son was beaten to death and his killer spent less than a year in jail.

Elke spoke at a rally following the photoshoot, and dozens in attendance listened to her recount her  son’s harrowing attack and death before two drag queens performed and a DJ spun dance hits. People started to file out after a while, off to the beach, or the clubs, or even the boardwalk, where the Texas Star-like Skywheel gives great views of the beach … and sits next door to the campily named souvenir shop the Gay Dolphin.

The latter was always may favorite place when I was growing up; you’d think my parents would have caught on sooner.

Click here for additional photos.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 26, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Drawing Dallas

Even with a big family (3 kids and 5 grandkids), retired schoolteacher Richard John du Pont projects a dandy’s fashion sense

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator
mark@markdrawsfunny.com

Name: Richard John du Pont

Occupation: Retired elementary school teacher

Spotted at: Kroger’s on the Strip

Colorful and vibrant, Richard was born and reared in upstate New York in a small town on the Mohawk River called Crescent. Retired since 2003, this tireless educator spent 30 years teaching 4th and 6th grades, and continues as a substitute teacher for the Dallas I.S.D (Sam Houston Elementary and Maple Lawn Elementary). He graduated with a bachelor’s in elementary education from the Central University of Iowa and a has masters in education from North Texas State University at Denton.

A man of taste: This silver-haired taste maker owns an exquisite collection of antiques, tastefully chosen to accent his beautiful home. He also lends his skill and expertise as a salesman to two estate sales and as a sales rep for Metrotex at the four large annual shows at the Dallas Trade Center.

Daddy dearest: This proud patriarch of two sons, one daughter and five grandsons sees family as the root of his life. His close-knit clan lives in the area so he is able to spend a lot of time with his children and grandchildren.

His hobbies include volunteer work for DIFFA, Legacy Counseling Center and Fresh, as well as traveling, reading, working out at Gold’s Gym Uptown, dancing and shopping. He collects vintage clothing and jewelry (more than 100 suits at least — he attends the Cathedral of Hope every Sunday in one of them with an antique brooch), and Converse and Vans shoes.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 29, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

N.J. Town Acts As Backdrop for Gay Attacks

ARREST HANDCUFFS FINGERPRINTS HATE CRIME ASSAULT X390 (THINKSTOCK) | ADVOCATE.COMThree men are facing bias crime charges in relation to two separate
murders against a transgender woman and a gay man in New Jersey this
year.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  admin

Excerpts from Toxic Town Hall that led to Gay Suicide

I’ve often said that Oklahoma is ground zero for extremist Evangelical, or “Talibangelical” hatred of the LGBT community. This is what it looks like at an Oklahoma public town hall that led to the suicide of gay teenager Zack Harrington. I’m fairly certain the young Zack, naively perhaps, was hoping to hear citizens discuss a simple proclamation recognizing October as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender History Month in the city.

John also posted a link with more extensive recorded video from that meeting here.

Compare the hateful remarks and expressions of hatred you will see and hear with, Joel Burns, the brave gay city councilman in Fort Worth.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

Obama Discusses Bullying, ‘DADT’, Whether Being Gay is a Choice, at MTV Town Hall

Obamamtv

At an MTV Town Hall with young people this afternoon, Obama faced a number of questions on LGBT issues.

One question dealt with online harassment, and bullying (transcript via the White House): 

Q    Hello, my name is Allie Vonparis (ph).  I’m a junior at University of Maryland in College Park and also — this is more of a personal question — but I’m also a victim of anonymous, hurtful, degrading harassment over the Internet.  Police and university officials have been unable to help put a stop to it.  My question to you is, what can you do, if anything, to put a stop to these vicious attacks over the Internet while preserving our rights to freedom of speech?  I also ask this in light of the recent — the tragic deaths recently on the news of young people who are bullied and harassed online.  Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, it’s a great question.  And obviously our heart breaks when we read about what happened at Rutgers, when we read about some of these other young people who are doing nothing to deserve the kind of harassment and bullying that just completely gets out of hand. 

 And so we actually, the Department of Education, has initiated a — we had a summit a couple of weeks ago just to talk about this issue:  How can we help local and state officials set up structures where young people feel safe, where there’s a trigger that goes off when this kind of bullying starts taking place so that immediately school officials can nip it at the bud?  So there are a range of cooperative efforts that we can initiate.

Now, in terms of the Internet, you’re right, it is a challenging thing because the Internet — part of the power of the Internet is, is that information flows out there and it’s generally not censored and it’s generally not controlled by any single authority.

But at your school, for example, I think there is nothing wrong with instituting policies that say that harassment of any form, whether it comes through the Internet or whether it happens to you face to face, is unacceptable; that we’ve got zero tolerance when it comes to sexual harassment, we have zero tolerance when it comes to harassing people because of their sexual orientation, because of their race, because of their ethnicity.

And I think that making sure that every institution, whether it’s our schools, our government, our places of work, take these issues seriously and know that in some cases there are laws against this kind of harassment and that prosecutions will take place when somebody violates those laws.  Sending that message of seriousness is something that I think we all have to do.

 Now, the last point I would make is that the law is a powerful thing but the law doesn’t always change what’s in people’s hearts.  And so all of us have an obligation to think about how we’re treating other people.  And what we may think is funny or cute may end up being powerfully hurtful.  And I’ve got two daughters, 12 and nine, and Michelle and I spend a lot of time talking to them about putting themselves in other people’s shoes and seeing through other people’s eyes.  And if somebody is different from you, that’s not something you criticize, that’s something that you appreciate.

And so I think there’s also a values component to this that all of us have to be in a serious conversation about.  Because ultimately peer pressure can lead people to bully, but peer pressure can also say bullying is not acceptable.

Another question, via Twitter, asked "Dear President Obama, do you think being gay or trans is a choice?"

Obama answered: 

"I am not obviously — I don't profess to be an expert. This is a layperson's opinion. But I don't think it's a choice. I think people are born with a certain makeup, and we're all children of God. We don't make determinations about who we love. And that's why I think that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is wrong."

White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett apologized earlier today for language she used in a Washington Post interview which referred to being gay as a "lifestyle choice".

A third LGBT-related question dealt with "Don't Ask, Don't Tell:"

Q    I voted for you in the last elections based on your alleged commitment to equality for all Americans, gay and straight, and I wanted to know where you stood on “don’t ask, don’t tell.”  I know that you’ve mentioned that you want the Senate to repeal it before you do it yourself.  My question is you as the President can sort of have an executive order that ends it once and for all, as Harry — as Truman did for the integration of the military in ‘48.  So I wonder why don’t you do that if this is a policy that you’re committed to ending.

THE PRESIDENT:  First of all, I haven’t “mentioned” that I’m against “don’t ask, don’t ask” — I have said very clearly, including in a State of the Union address, that I’m against “don’t ask, don’t tell” and that we’re going to end this policy.  That’s point number one.

Point number two, the difference between my position right now and Harry Truman’s was that Congress explicitly passed a law that took away the power of the executive branch to end this policy unilaterally.  So this is not a situation in which with a stroke of a pen I can simply end the policy. 

Now, having said that, what I have been able to do is for the first time get the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, to say he thinks the policy should end.  The Secretary of Defense has said he recognizes that the policy needs to change.  And we, I believe, have enough votes in the Senate to go ahead and remove this constraint on me, as the House has already done, so that I can go ahead and end it.

Now, we recently had a Supreme Court — a district court case that said, “don’t ask, don’t tell” is unconstitutional.  I agree with the basic principle that anybody who wants to serve in our armed forces and make sacrifices on our behalf, on behalf of our national security, anybody should be able to serve.  And they shouldn’t have to lie about who they are in order to serve.

And so we are moving in the direction of ending this policy.  It has to be done in a way that is orderly, because we are involved in a war right now.  But this is not a question of whether the policy will end.  This policy will end and it will end on my watch.  But I do have an obligation to make sure that I am following some of the rules.  I can’t simply ignore laws that are out there.  I’ve got to work to make sure that they are changed.

Video on DADT question, AFTER THE JUMP



Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

After Ruling Prop 8 Unconstitutional, Vaughn Walker Went Out On The Town

In what counts as gossip among San Francisco's elite, we learn the evening of Judge Vaughn Walker's Prop 8 ruling, which he did not read from the bench but instead e-filed, he enjoyed a night out on the town at concert singer Monica Mancini's opening at the Rrazz Room. "The judge, who was not introduced and seemed to be unrecognized by other audience members, is a good friend of Mancini's husband/drummer, Gregg Field." He's a good friend of all of yours now too, yes? [SF Chron, via]


Permalink | 1 comment | Add to del.icio.us


Tagged: , , ,

Queerty

—  John Wright