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.

—  admin

SEX… in a fashion

The DMA’s exhibit on the fashions of Jean Paul Gaultier exudes sex appeal with a big dose of flamboyance

Fashion-1

DRESSED TO KILL IT | Gay fashion pioneer Jean Paul Gaultier oversees his own exhibit (Below) as an Animatronic mannequin, a fascinating technology that only accentuates the brilliance of the designs. (Photography by Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

 

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

For a man best known for creating the Valkyrie-like conical breastplate that shot Madonna into the pop culture stratosphere, Jean Paul Gaultier is a surprisingly humble person. While he’s clearly delighted to have his fashions on display — as they are at the Dallas Museum of Art in the traveling exhibit The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, which runs through February — he makes one thing plain: He does not consider fashion “art.”

“My work is not art,” he says flatly. “My job is to make clothes that have to be worn. My role is not to create in the abstract but to be inspired by the needs and desires of the people. So I am in service to that. Art is art — it is a personal vision of the artist.” He pauses, then adds with a smile, “My collections are my babies, though.”

While the designer himself may not consider his work product “art” in an academic sense, there are probably few who would agree with him. More so than most fashion designers, Jean Paul Gaultier’s style is instantly recognizable, even without seeing the label.

He almost single-handedly moved the bustier from the boudoir to the arena stage, cladding Madonna in a corset for her Blonde Ambition tour in 1990, immediately making legends of them both.

It’s not just brassieres, but lace bodysuits, silk leotards, men in skirts — Gaultier takes fashion rules and sets them on their heads, turning out wearable art (there, we said it) that is both old-fashioned, even classical, and futuristic — but always oozing sex.

“My love for fashion belongs to the fact I saw a movie from the 1940s when I was 12,” he says. “In the movie, they did a beautiful description of couture.” (Now, when he works with a film director — as he did recently with Pedro Almodovar on The Skin I Live In, or Luc Besson on several films — “it is like I return to that [moment]”.)

But really, the germ of his style was started by what a pre-teen Jean Paul found in his grandmother’s wardrobe.

“I was fascinated by the whole world of my grandmother’s closet — it was beautiful and different,” he says. “It was underwear that could be worn as outerwear. I stole my ideas from her.”

Though not just her. Gaultier was inspired by television, by old movies, by showgirls — anything that offered a view of beauty he could re-imagine on the runway.

“My definition of beauty — there’s not one type. Beauty is beauty — you can find it in different places,” he says.

It’s a keystone not only of his design style, but of the DMA’s astonishingly exciting exhibit. (Anyone who doesn’t think a Gaultier gown deserves formal museum treatment obviously hasn’t seen the show.) In just a handful of rooms, we move from camp to punk — with many, many visits to edgy haute couture.

In the first gallery, visitors are introduced to Gaultier himself, talking about his fashions via a quasi-Animatronic mannequin that captures his actual face and voice, projected with unnerving authenticity. That happens with a lot of the mannequins, some of whom seem to look back, even judge you. (One Mohawk’d man in tights and a codpiece seemed to be flirting with me; I bet he does that with all the boys.) Lanky sailor boys in striped Apaché T-shirts look as if they leaped from a Tom of Finland drawing; that cone bra is also unmistakable.

Walk further, and the second room oozes the dark romance of a bordello, approximating (with its window-like display cases) the red-light district of Amsterdam. “I think when you exit this room, they should give you a cigarette,” I told another patron. She didn’t disagree.

Another room shows the movement of the pieces, sort of, with a moving catwalk that is like a time machine of Gaultier runway fashions, including representative designs from his famous Men in Skirts that took MOMA by storm some years ago. That’s only the most obvious example of the genderbending that is a Gaultier hallmark — and a central theme of the sexual forthrightness of the DMA’s exhibit.

“Androgyny is part of the thing that interests me,” he says, “that moment when the young can pass to adolescence [and] their beauty is between feminine and masculine at the same time. I use it to show in reality how [both sexes] can assume [the identity of the other sex]. In Scotland, you will see me in kilts and they are very masculine — it’s not feminine to wear a skirt [in that context].”

That, Gaultier says, is the essence of freedom, showing that “men can cry just as well as women can fight.”

And this exhibit shows that a designer can be an artist with a bold sense of sex — even if he doesn’t think so.

………………………

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE

Visit DallasVoice. com/ category/ Photos to see more of the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the DMA.

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

—  Kevin Thomas

NAACP’s Ben Jealous visits Manhattan’s LGBT Community Center; promotes One Nation Working Together

This week history was made as the first visit by the President and CEO of the more than century-old NAACP to Manhattan’s LGBT Community Center. Jealous was there to promote the upcoming One Nation Working Together rally a coalition of over 150 groups from across the country committed to ensuring that everyone is treated equally. It will be held in DC on October 2. The coalition of over 150 groups with many different constituencies and missions, have bound together for the march to support equality, including:

  • Prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or sex.
  • Expand anti-discrimination laws to be inclusive of everyone.
  • Respect all families.
  • End all forms of workplace discrimination.
  • Provide all children equal access to high quality education in a safe environment.
  • End all forms of discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing and housing.

The policy platform of One Nation Working Together is here.

Among the LGBT organizations that have endorsed One Nation Working Together are the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Transgender Equality, PFLAG National, the Equality Federation, the National Black Justice Coalition, National Stonewall Democrats, Immigration Equality, Lambda Legal, Pride at Work, UNID@S, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal, the Bronx Community Pride Center, Equality Maryland, and Equality Pennsylvania.

Jealous was peppered with questions during the event at the Community Center, that was covered by Gay City News.

A Rhodes Scholar who formerly worked at Amnesty International on issues of prison rape, the criminal justice system’s treatment of juvenile offenders, and racial profiling, Jealous earned a warm response from a crowd of more than 100 with a discussion about the possibilities for progressive change through coalition politics; his remarks showed him well versed in LGBT issues. Mentioning having in his family both HIV and a gender-nonconforming brother who’s been beaten up, Jealous talked about the NAACP’s advocacy for black gay student victims of homophobic violence at the hands of African-American attackers in a Coffee County, Georgia college; the school responded by kicking those assaulted out of their dorm.

“It is the NAACP in places like Coffee County, Georgia,” he said, “that is the civil rights institution, not the black civil rights institution, the people of color civil rights institution, the civil rights institution.” The group, he said, let the school “know that nothing like this would ever happen again.”

…Audience members who stepped forward to ask questions voiced appreciation for Jealous’ visit but didn’t hesitate to challenge him on sensitive and politically complicated matters. One questioner was direct in asserting that homophobia is a problem in the African-American community and pressing the NAACP leader to explain how the group proposed to address it.

The moment could well have been a tense one, but Jealous betrayed little defensiveness in his response. He acknowledged the problem was real and serious, but also argued that it was by no means one confined to the black community. He noted that the African-American community is poorer and has stronger religious affiliations than society generally, but said that as with white communities, acceptance of gays is strongest among better off and more secular black Americans, an analysis borne out by a detailed examination of the 2008 voting patterns on the Proposition 8 question in California.

One of the other questions put to Jealous was whether his civil rights organization would support the addition of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression as protected classes in the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Jealous responded by saying he welcomed the conversation, and noted that the NAACP had not previously been asked to support this measure by the the Executive Committee of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, comprised of 30 members, of which the only LGBT representative is the HRC.

Here is video from the event.

Here’s the link for bus tickets from New York to D.C. for One Nation Working Together: http://onenationlgbtnyc.eventbrite.com

More below the fold.
My two cents

In 2009, the NAACP rolled out the LGBT Equality Task Force, a partnership with the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) to help address homophobia in the black community and the socially conservative religious communities (see Eddie Long’s woes, for example, for one pathology playing itself out).

Earlier this year I had a chance to sit down for an informal chat with Ben Jealous when I attended the NAACP Leadership 500 Summit earlier this year. He is sincere in support for LGBT rights and does understand and is frank, as he was at the above event at the community center, in acknowledging the challenges in his constituency.

To be blunt, the bulk of the NAACP’s membership is “well seasoned,” from the same generation that less likely to understand or support LGBT equality in large numbers. Couple that with a membership that is very wedded to organized religion, and you have a ship that will take a long time to steer in the right direction.

That’s why Jealous has deemed the Leadership 500 Summit the place where younger leaders of the NAACP can network, share ideas and resources because the org has a reputation for being out of step and out of touch with this generation’s black middle class. This is a major step in the right direction. I spoke with quite a few young people who are out there in the community having to fight the “old fogey” image of the NAACP, and are LGBT-supportive. These are the people who will be in leadership in the future.

During that conference I decided to become a lifetime member. Why? I found myself, as an out lesbian who discussed LGBT issues on a panel, quite lonely there. That has to stop and visibility has to be upped. I was not disrespected in any way, mind you – I actually had a nice conversations with a number of people who were supportive of points I made on the panel – but there were simply not many openly gay LGBTs there. None approached and self-identified. That needs to change as well to move the culture forward.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

GetEQUAL visits Senator Jim Webb. Servicemembers leave their combat boots.


Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) voted against the compromise DADT amendment in the Senate Armed Services Committee on May 27th. He’s getting a visit from GetEQUAL today, which you can follow on GetEQUAL’s Facebook page and via twitter. Servicemembers will be leaving their combat boots for Webb, which is a powerful symbol. During the 2006 campaign, Webb wore the combat boots of his son who was serving in Iraq.

We’ll have more on this soon.

Also, SLDN released its target list — and Webb is uncommitted on the filibuster:

KEY SENATORS UNCOMMITTED ON BREAKING THE FILIBUSTER:

–Susan Collins (R-ME)

–Olympia Snowe (R-ME)

–Mark Pryor (D-Ark.);

–Richard Lugar (R-IN);

–Judd Gregg (R-NH);

–Jim Webb (D-VA)

–George Voinovich (R-OH);




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright