Gay Rights Activist Murdered

Tanzanian gay rights activist Maurice Mjomba has been found dead at his house in Dar es Salaam, it have been announced.

Julius Lumanyika Kyaruzi, the coordinator at the Centre for Human Rights Promotion where Mjomba was a Training Coordinator confirmed Mr Mjomba, 29, had been found dead at his home. It is believed he could have been dead for some time and according to local sources there are clear indications he was murdered. At this stage it is not clear if his murder was motivated by homophobia, although that seems highly likely.

It is believed that Mr Mjomba, who was a leading member of Stay Awake Network Activities, a group dealing with sexual health education for men who have sex with men, was strangled to death at his home, some time ago.

At the time of writing the results of an autopsy were still pending.

The Family Acceptance Project

Family Rejection of GLBT Teens Has Dire Consequences

  • Did you know that 4 in 10 homeless youth are GLBT?
  • Over 40% of the homeless either were kicked out of their homes or ran away from home  due to abuse and because they were not accepted for their sexual orientation or gender identity?
  • LGB students in grades 7 through 12 were up to three times more likely than heterosexual teens to have experienced school expulsions, police stops, juvenile arrests, adult convictions?
  • Family rejection puts GLBT youth at high risk for social isolation and depression?
  • Rejected GLBT adolescents were over three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts?

Family Acceptance Makes All the Difference

These poor choices that depressed teens can make such as suicide and substance abuse can be counteracted by family acceptance. Caitlin Ryan, Ph.D., founder of the ongoing Family Acceptance Project at The Marian Wright Edelman Institute at San Francisco State ( found that LGBT children whose mothers and fathers showed them unconditional love had significantly higher levels of self-esteem, mental health and social support.

First Major Study of How Families Affect Their LGBT Children’s Risk and Resiliency

Dr. Ryan’s ongoing Family Acceptance Project (FAP) is directed and developed by Dr. Ryan and Rafael Diaz in 2002.  The project, which studies families in the U.S., Mexico, S. America, and Europe, is a Research and Intervention Initiative that studies the influence of family reactions on the health and mental health of LGBT adolescents and young adults. It is designed to:

  1. Study parents’ families and caregivers reactions and adjustment to an adolescent’s coming out and LGBT identity.
  2. Develop training and assessment materials for health, mental health, and school-based providers, child welfare, juvenile justice, family service workers and community service providers on working with LGBT youth and families.
  3. Develop resources to strengthen families to support LGBT children and adolescents.
  4. Develop a new model of family-related care to improve health and mental health outcomes for LGBT adolescents.

FAP Supportive Families, Healthy Children Voted No. 1

“Designated 1st “Best Practice Resources for Suicide Prevention for Gay & Transgender Youth” by National Registry. More than 100,000 copies of the family education booklets have been disseminated across the U.S. and other countries for use in schools, primary care and behavioral health programs, foster care and juvenile justice services, family service agencies, suicide prevention programs, pastoral counseling and faith-based organizations. They are also used in colleges, universities, professional training programs and by government agencies.

Agencies and community groups that use the Family Acceptance Project’s “Best Practice” materials and family intervention approach report substantial positive changes in prevention and practice.

Download their booklet “Supportive Families, Healthy Children at:http://familyproject/

The River of Chaos

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes, turn and face the strain… Ch-ch-Changes, just gonna have to be a different man.”  These lyrics from David Bowie’s song “Changes” are as pow­erful and meaningful now as they were when Bowie first sang them in 1973.

The power of change is strong.  It can propel one forward to new begin­nings depending on the reaction to it.  Change can also create chaos in one’s life.  Strength to overcome chaos is the biggest challenge to meaningful change.

As a closeted youth in the 70’s, many instances of chaos were pre­sented to me. Looking back I see how my reaction to those changes determined what decision I would make and which direction I would go.

Due to the inability to adequately conquer the societal issues over homosexuality and the prejudice that pre­vented one from coming out in the 70’s, along with my own internal conflicts, my chaos created reactions that produced even more chaos, thus drifting aimlessly for many years.  So it seemed at the time. However, I now clearly see that was not the case. The events and decisions I made in reaction to them, determined my path; the right path that I needed to traverse.

My turmoil over being queer and being in the closet was difficult but this time in my life would ultimately get me to the point I am at now; an out, proud, self-confident individual, not afraid to take chances, and accepting change as a blessing.

Chaos can be draining. At times I have allowed myself to be immersed in the river of chaos, struggling to find the next high spot along the riverbank. The high spots do come.  Once change occurs, it is a remarkable feeling to know that a significant challenge has been overcome, due to tightly holding on to the vision of a higher purpose.

To the many closeted queer people reading this column, it is YOU that I am trying to reach.  Accept your chaos as a blessing and make the changes you need to make in response to it to move you forward toward your higher purpose.

I encourage you to find your next high ground along the river of chaos. You need to find it by dig­ging deep within yourself. It is there, hidden. All you need to do is find the strength to get beyond your chaos.  Make your decision to change and not drown in the river.

Problems Defining One’s Sexuality

Labels Too Narrow for a Wider Margin

Renna Communications tweets today about the Aids Conference 2012 (#AIDS 2012) raise an interesting concept about gay identity:  “some queer men have sex with transgender women, masculine women – doesn’t MSM (Men who have sex with men) exclude them?”

Brown of S.Africa’s Tutu HIV Program tweets:  “found gay identity often associated with Western Culture; MSM not linked with any one culture or tribe.” Also, in S. Africa, MSM seen as liars, promiscuous, sex addicts, afraid that med. providers will out sexuality and HIV status.”

You see the connection. Out yourself, and you’ll experience discrimination, and in this case, physical punishment in Africa and other parts of the world. Thus, MSM in India, Africa, and other continents are underreported for fear of retaliation, thus hindering studies of gender identity.

How Do People Identify Sex?

What constitutes sex? Was Bill Clinton lying when he said “I didn’t have sex with that woman!”

If sex is defined as only sexual intercourse when there is penile-vaginal penetration, then technically he’s not as fault. If oral sex is considered sex, and Monica Lewinsky becomes his humidor, then he’s guilty.

When is a Girl Technically a Virgin?

Anal sex is on the rise among the young, especially with heterosexuals, as studies indicate. Yet, by the unchanged definition of a virgin, one who has not engaged in vaginal intercourse, females who have had anal sex with males are “technically virgins.” How does that define their partners? Virgins, too?

Labels, Shmabels

Alfred Kinsey reported that sex is a continuum and that it is not unusual for heterosexuals to have same-sex experiences. Not knowing Kinsey’s research, however, would a guilty teen who’s had oral sex with a good friend believe he’s gay? If he were filling out a questionnaire for a sex survey of his age group, how would he identify himself? Gay or straight? Same dilemma for a girl who may have been petted to orgasm by a friend? Does she think she’s a lesbian? Or is she sophisticated to know that this is not the case.

Interpretations of Behaviors and Attractions

Ritch C. Savin-Williams, author of The New Gay Teenager, and Professor of Clinical and Developmental Psychology at Cornell University, found in his research of college students that the words gay teenagers used to describe their sexual preferences have changed radically over the past 40 years as well as their attitudes towards same-sex relationships. In fact, many of them like to be regarded as “fluid.”

Savin-Williams says that gay adolescence is using outmoded universal, linear sexual identity models which fail to capture the diversity and complexity of sex lives.

The Trouble With Surveys

All these findings point the finger at the inadequacy of the survey authors. Unless they know beforehand how the survey takers define sex, their funded-studies are going to be inconclusive. I wonder if the one in ten figure attributed to the gay population in the United States isn’t low. It’s no wonder when defining sexual identity can be easily misinterpreted and society makes the respondent be ashamed to document the truth.





Visualize Yourself!

One’s race, ethnicity and sexual orientation are not usually topics that are discussed together as an inclusive and dynamic entity.  We are accustomed to focusing on minority groups in distinct and separate terms.  It is not often that we visualize a perspective in which sexual orientation is considered as a separate inherent trait and part of the whole being within the context of race and ethnic background.

A way to personalize this visualization is to understand how we see ourselves and how we interact with others.  Some people very rarely visualize themselves in a good way; enjoying life and being truly happy.  For the white population, envisioning this condition is much easier than the visualizations of various queer individuals of varying ethnic and racial backgrounds.  Not only do internal feelings of self-doubt due to race and ethnic background have to be overcome, the self-doubt related to inherent sexual orientation must also be dealt with.  This further delays one’s ability to visualize themselves as a truly happy person, living the life they were meant to live, in an open, meaningful and recognized way without prejudice or discrimination.

Full, complete minority equality can be achieved if we visualize ourselves as a unified and complete community working toward the same goals and objectives that will benefit all racial, ethnic and queer minority groups encompassed within.  We need to begin to change our thought patterns away from the more focused attention we seek to achieve for our own individual constituencies.  Our detractors seek to exploit that fracture amongst and between minority groups to further exploit their own narrow focused tunnel vision view of how society should be.  They prey on ones’ feelings of insecurity and self-doubt in an attempt to further entrench their narrow view of society on the rest of us.

Visualizing ourselves as being equal to everyone else in society entitled to all the benefits that are bestowed on the rest of society empowered by a unified minority vision will begin to foster feelings of self-worth and self-respect.  This will ultimately create an environment where true personal happiness may be found.  The visualization of oneself will be based upon the true self, not influenced by racial, ethnic and queer prejudice and discrimination.  Visualize yourself as believing that you can be the ideal person that you want to become.  Visualize yourself!

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll of Fl. Issues Apologies to Equality Florida

Nadine Smith, Equality Florida’s Executive Director, received a letter of apology yesterday from the current Florida Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll. The only black to hold this office, Carroll had defended her position against the allegations that she and  “Bibi” Ramos, a female aide, were found in a “compromising position” in her office. Carroll told a reporter that “black women who look like me don’t engage in relationships like that.” Carroll, a former Trinidadian and U.S. Navy veteran, has raised her profile over the last few months chairing the governor’s Task Force on Public Policy, resulting from the Rayvon Martin slaying in Florida. Her profile is even more pronounced now with the sex scandal; she is married with three children and holds the second highest elected office in Florida since 2010. The plot thickens.

While Nadine Smith , a black lesbian, accepted Carroll’s apology, she states, “instead of simply denying the claims, she stereotyped black lesbians in order to deflect her own charges. With that one quick statement, Lt. Governor Carroll appealed to racial and homophobic stereotypes that do real harm.” Carroll’s statement was also indicative of her naivete. Has she never heard of “lipstick lesbians?”

Smear Campaign or Truth?

Is Carroll the victim of a smear campaign by a disgruntled former spokeswoman for her, Carletha Cole, who was fired last year? Supporters believe she is. Cole allegedly taped a conversation between Carroll and her chief of staff John Konkus with a “smart pen.” (In Florida, all recordings must be made with the consent of those being recorded). In those conversations, the former chief of staff was allegedly critical of Gov. Rick Scott. The recording was turned over to a reporter. Cole was arrested in October and could face up to 5 years in prison if found guilty.

A minister and grandmother, Cole had been fired after going public with inter-office squabbles within Carroll’s office. Gov. Scott refuses to comment on the accusations by Cole of his second-in-command.

Cole’s Side of The Story

Cole, who arranged travel plans for Carroll said that at one point, she was told by Beatriz “Bibi” Ramos to find adjoining hotel rooms whenever Ramos and Carroll traveled together. When Carroll and her husband travelled together, Cole was chastised for booking simultaneously an adjoining room for Ramos. Cole claimed she was never given a reason for the change. According to Cole, Ramos was also living in the lieutenant governor’s house.

Was Jennifer’s Sex Scandal Fabricated?

Is Cole a “glory-seeking woman and an unapologetic Obama supporter” as The Florida Federation of Republican Woman painted her? Is she seeking revenge on this “shining model for all women and a true example of the American dream” as the FFRW label Carroll as they come to her defense?

The lie detector test that Cole took, which is not permissible in court, appeared  to be truthful, according to the News Service of Florida, and reflected what she saw between Carroll and Ramos. Some information in the case is kept confidential according to the State’s wishes.

Carroll May Be A Lesbian Who Feels Ashamed

It’s hard to tell if Cole is just pissed for being fired. So what, if Carroll, is a lesbian?  As one respondent Ernie Kruse, wrote to The Miami Herald, “ I don’t care if she slept with Donkeys as long as she does her job and I feel she does, so nip it now.”

Obviously, Carroll cares.  Women in power hate to admit being gay. According to The Wall Street Journal, July 25, 2012,  “A Silence Hangs Over Gay CEOs,” among the country’s 1,000 largest companies, Zero CEOs have publicly revealed themselves as being gay.”






Scotland Says “I Do” To Gay Weddings

First Country in UK to Introduce Policy

The country that gave you Robert the Bruce and Rob Roy announced plans to become the first jurisdiction in Great Britain to allow same sex marriages .With no referendum, if the bill passes through the Scottish parliament without a hitch, gay couples would be able to legally wed by 2015. The Scottish government says that they are amending UK equalities laws to ensure that celebrants cannot be prosecuted by gay couples if they refuse to take part or speak out against same-sex ceremonies (protection for freedom of speech and freedom of religion). The Scottish Parliament would bring in the change through a bill this year.

How This Came About

Nearly 80,000, a record number, responded to a government consultation on the gay marriage issue demonstrating a need for the legislation. As it stands now, same-sex couples in Scotland have the option to enter into civil partnerships and the Holyrood government has insisted that the religious community will not be forced to hold same-sex weddings in churches. Such protection is provided for under existing laws.The Scottish government is going ahead with another consultation for extra measures to protect religious beliefs of teachers and parents in schools.

Unlike America, civil partnerships in Scotland offer the same legal treatment as marriage but aren’t regarded as marriages even though they offer marital benefits such as inheritance, life insurance, child maintenance, next of kin and immigration rights and pensions provision.

Who’s For It?

Major Scottish political parties are backing the measure. Prime Minister David Cameron of the UK backs legalizing same sex marriage. A “rainbow coalition “ of organizations including The Equality Network, Amnesty International, Unison, the Humanist Society of Scotland as well as the United Reform Church, the Quakers, Buddhists and the Pagan Federation support gay marriage.

“Confirms Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s deputy first minister, “we are committed to a Scotland that is fair and equal and that is why we intend to proceed with plans to allow same-sex marriage and religious ceremonies for civil partnerships – we believe that this is the right thing to do.” (http://BBC News Scotland Politics, 25 July 2012)

Those Opposed, Say Nay

Two thirds of respondents oppose the change.

The proposals have provoked ire from religious groups such as The Church of Scotland and the Catholic Church. The Church of Scotland expressed discontent that the government was rushing ahead with its plans. Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric labels the plans a “grotesque subversion of a universally-accepted human right.” The cardinal, who leads the church in Scotland, supports the Scotland For Marriage campaign against same-sex marriage. A Catholic Church spokesman believes “the Scottish government is embarking on a dangerous social experiment on a massive scale.”

A former SNP leader, Gordon Wilson, fears that plans for same-sex marriage could alienate people considering voting for independence in the 2014 referendum.

The Future

The UK Government has also carried out a consultation on same-sex marriage, but has yet to publish the results. England and Wales, in their proposals, envision same-sex civil marriage ceremonies in a registry office or approved premises, with status quo for religious marriages. Before taking further steps, UK officials are waiting for results of the public consultation.






More Gay Athletes Than Ever

The London Olympics are simply a matter of hours away now and these 2012 games look set to be the most gay and lesbian inclusive in the history competition.

There will be at least fourteen openly gay and lesbian athletes participating during the games in the UK’s majestic capital. The information comes from, who published the list last week yet simple statistics would suggest that there are many many more gay or lesbian competitors taking part, yet for whatever reason are not publicly ‘out’ about their sexuality. Even if it was just one per cent of the total athletic contingent of 12,602 were gay or lesbian then we’d be talking of a number around 126, rather than the fourteen currently accounted for.

Some of the courageous athletes known to be openly gay or lesbian include:

Matthew Mitcham (Australia, diving);

Edward Gal (Netherlands, equestrian);

Lisa Raymond (U.S., doubles tennis);

Judith Arndt(Germany, cycling);

Seimone Augustus (U.S., basketball);

Imke Duplitzer (Germany, fencing);

Megan Rapinoe (U.S. soccer);

Marilyn Agliotti (Netherlands, field hockey);

Maartje Paumen (Netherlands, field hockey);

Natalie Cook (Australia, beach volleyball);

Alexandra Lacrabère (France, handball);

Jessica Landström (Sweden, soccer);

Carole Péon (France, triathlon):

Jessica Harrison (France, triathlon);

There is still a perceived or actual fear of hostility and / or rejection by many sportsmen and women which may indicate the relatively low number of out athletes. Whilst most sporting bodies purport to be inclusive and non discriminatory in their selection process many insiders suggest an athlete typically stands a better chance of making a national team if they remain in the closet.


All In The Family

“All in the family” brings many thoughts to mind.  First and foremost is the 1970’s sitcom that made fun of bigots and got us thinking about diversity.  It was a stark reminder that a homogenous society in which everyone thinks, acts, dresses, and looks the same, has the same religious, moral and societal beliefs as everyone else is a dangerous thing.  “All in the Family” made us realize that there are others that are not white, heterosexual males.  We have to ask ourselves, however, have things really changed all that much?

Yes we have laws that protect individual rights, personal freedoms, and just about everyone and everything in our society.  But there is an underlying prejudice that pervades our society despite these advances.  While discrimination is much harder to legitimize, it is still quite alive and well.

The queer community is still largely unprotected and is constantly under attack by a very vocal and narrow focused minority.  A day does not go by where we do not read instances of queer people being discriminated against.  The queer community has come a long way since the days before the Stonewall Rebellion.  Many same sex couples are getting married, raising children, and are just living their lives the way they choose to live them.

However, a majority of the queer community is not yet able to live the lives they want to due to incessant attempts to take away hard earned rights and privileges and to deny those rights and privileges enjoyed by the heterosexual community.

Marriage rights are still largely denied to most queer persons.  Gay adoptions happen but are not as prevalent as those in heterosexual relationships.  The right of same sex couples to raise a family under the same parameters as that of a heterosexual relationship is denied due to someone else’s definition of morality and what marriage should be and how children should be raised.

Our country was founded on the premise that all are created equal and have the freedom to express themselves as individuals.  Yet the queer community is constantly under attack for being who we were born to be.  We must remain diligent in our perseverance to fight back the tide of discrimination and settle for nothing less than full and equal rights in all areas of society as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.

Victory Against Workplace Bullying

A married father in Leeds is celebrating this week after he was awarded £44,000 at an employment tribunal in Leeds, UK last week, after suffering homophobic bullying at work.

Michael Austin, a straight forty-eight year old has been subjected to a torrent of homophobic abuse from his work colleges simply because he wasn’t a football fan, reports Jason Shaw.

Workers at the packaging firm Samuel Grant bullied Austin for not liking football, which he was informed proved he was gay. According to other employees, the tribunal heard, it was a common inference in “north east England football circles, in that anybody not into football must accordingly be homosexual”.

Mr Austin’s interest in the finer arts fueled the homosexual perceptions of him and subjected him to further bullying. One colleague pretended to have Tourette’s Syndrome, swearing intermittently at him. Austin described the experience as “an absolutely unbearable, dreadful nightmare from day one”

The managing director of the firm Samuel Grant, Ian Laidlaw unfairly dismissed Austin when he complained of the homophobic treatment he had had to endure.

The tribunal said: “It was a series of treatment by two people over a period of several months during which Mr Austin was treated atrociously, by being referred constantly to being gay, homosexual and a crafty butcher (a Northern derogatory term for a gay person). It was extreme, frequent and very unpleasant. All he wanted to do was get out and get on with his job.”

“He was subjected to unwanted religious discussions, then when he made a complaint was dismissed. It has obviously had a deep-seated emotional effect on Mr Austin.” The tribunal found in favor of Austin and ordered the company to pay him £44,000 in compensation.

Regardless of Mr Austin’s sexuality, this verdict sends a clear message that homophobic bullying is not acceptable in a modern work place and has been welcomed by human and gay rights activists and commentators in the UK.