Randy, Oral Roberts’ Gay Grandson, Says: ‘#ItGetsBetter…and It’s Complicated.’


Close-Up – by A. R. Ammons

Are all these stones


I said

and the mountain



but reluctant to

admit my praise could move it much


shook a little

and rained a windrow ring of stones

to show

that it was so


Stone felled I got

up addled with dust


and shook


without much consequence


Obviously I said it doesn’t pay

to get too

close up to



and the mountain friendless wept

and said

it couldn’t help


Re-Imagining Religion: “Falling In Love Will Not Send You to Hell.”

                          – Randy Roberts Potts

“All students are required to sign a pledge stating they will live according to the university’s honor code. Prohibited activities include lying, cursing, smoking, drinking, and a range of sexual acts including homosexual behavior and sex outside marriage.”

                                                                   – Excerpt, ORU Student Codes , Oral Roberts University

Wouldn’t you know it: every time the “gay agenda” is reexamined, the “master plan” appears to become more and more normal on the face of it. Because it is.

“The gay agenda” is “the human agenda:” we all want love. Hope. Home. Family. We all desire the same things.

Back in 2010, Oral Roberts’ out, gay grandson Randy Roberts Potts read a letter to his closeted gay Uncle Ronnie (Oral Roberts’ eldest son) and recorded a viral video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYa0wi4XzeI) to honor Ronnie’s life, as unfortunately, his uncle had already passed away when Randy was just a kid (in June of 1982).

Randy’s irrepressible spirit remains to alchemize life’s tests and turn them into life’s testimonies.

In the video, after 2:38 minutes of silence (during which time we see the handwritten letter for his uncle), Potts reads a revelatory poem entitled “Close-Up” written by A. R. Ammons. Then, Randy moves into his own compelling testimony about the strange magic behind growing up with a gay uncle (around whom Randy’s mom was most captivated), and how it affected Potts himself.

We witness Potts as he entreats Ronnie’s spirit (for healing? For explanations?), “When my mother spoke of you, a look of awe lit up her face. You were the one voice in her life that could inhabit multiple worlds at once…. You stood for everything she was afraid I would become: gay, intellectual, and godless. And yet nothing caused my mother’s face to light up like your memory. I was jealous, and I always hoped to be you.”

Randy recounts following in his uncle’s footsteps simply by following his heart, and reminisces about the tragedy of losing a loved one who took his own life because he felt he had no options. No hope. Because he felt that life would not and could not get better.

“I’ve seen pain and loss and sorrow,” Potts continues. “I would have held you in my arms had I been a man at the time…. but there’s no one holding you, because you’re holding on to no one. And now I’m here sharing the same destiny…. your path and mine are crossed. They intersect…in some ridiculous dance.”

With a tonality not unlike Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Goodnight,” Potts brings us into present day. Yes, he is angry, but we can somehow see the light at the end of the tunnel, the burning hot flames of passion for living forever aglow in Randy’s heart. We somehow feel his uncle lives in some kind of virtual second life, through Randy.

Another “Gay Agenda,” Another Pleasant Valley Sunday.

Oral Roberts was the first and one of the biggest of the televangelists. He brought the Pentecostal faith to mainstream America, he started a self-named university, and of course lived a rich life through his relentless please for money from his followers. His grandson Randy Roberts Potts grew up with him…steeped in that really sheltered, Far Right Christian world. Now he’s following a calling like his grandfather, but with an unexpected message.”

Reporter Page Hopkins for MSNBC

In sharing his story with MSNBC, Potts did indeed reveal he’d felt suicidal too—coming out was unthinkable to him. Having married a woman and raising three children with her, Potts’ coming out narrative is a common one that always feels mysterious and new during the discovery process. He told Hopkins, “Honestly, I thought I was just a really good christian that I just didn’t sexualize women.”

Though Potts’ closeted gay uncle passed away when Randy was just a boy, as he unfolded the discoveries about Ronnie’s life, they paralleled discoveries of his own.

It is now Randy’s life mission to reach back across the table and minister tolerance and inclusiveness to evangelicals themselves. Potts informed Page Hopkins that he’s doing so non-publicly, holding confidential meetings with religious leaders and consulting with them regarding family cohesion, suicide prevention and myriad other positive effects of practicing religious tolerance.

In one of the most romantic and courageous activism campaigns out there, Potts and his partner are now conducting what they call an ongoing “performance project designed for conservative towns with visuals of domestic gay life.” Potts is setting up storefronts from town to town , choosing to put his normal day-in day-out familial relationships on display, in a performance art piece called—what else…

“…The Gay Agenda.



Reach out to Randy @randyrpotts and connect with ORU Out, ORU LGBTQ alumni and ombudsmen) at http://oru-out.tumblr.com.

To watch Potts’ It Gets Better video in its entirety, please click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYa0wi4XzeI

Have you got time to sit and pray a while? Check out Randy Roberts Potts – Re-Imagining Religion Series at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uYWf2WfPH8. During his ministerial speech in this video, Potts reveals that his brother is also gay and his family still ostracizes them both.


And for more information about suicide prevention and LGBTQIA resources and support, please visit the It Gets Better Project at http://www.itgetsbetter.org.






Grok These, Please: Queer Slam Poems and Creative Poetry Videos


Praising and Raising our Work: On Mindshare and Memory

Riveting. Emo. Uplifting. Heartbreaking. Heart-opening. Poetry heals, helps and heartens all who encounter its majesty, power, artistry.

When a poem is passed from hand to hand, eye to eye, heart to heart, soul to soul, the bearer and the receiver are forever changed.

Writer Neil Hilborn’s touching performance in his slam poem “OCD” has recently gone viral, bringing to mind the many LGBTQIA poets and creatives in our midst with their own stories of love and life.

Slam poems and artistic poetry performance videos dovetail so nicely into the framework of social media, aka “Short Attention Span Theater.” All the while, the popularity of such creatives and their efforts debunk the myth that we’re all becoming bots, drones and distracted Internet denizens who can do nothing but lower the bar when it comes to being entertained. As we praise the art, we raise the art.

Queerly Speaking: Queerious Poems & Artistic Feats

There are many queer artists of late who’ve come to shine brightly, find their audiences and clock hundreds of thousands of views for sharing their feelings, style, art, writing and messages in video form—and thank goodness for them. With each new word experienced, we’re reminded to walk through this life: chin up, spirits high, feet facing forward.

Women of the World Poetry Slam winner Denice Frohman’s “Dear Straight People” video is one of the many gorgeous works capturing our imaginations. Garnering clicks, attention, ongoing #lolz and serious praise, Frohman’s hard-hitting truths hammer out insightful words of witticism and encourage laughs of recognition. Here are but a few gems encapsulated in a handful of minutes:

“Sexuality and gender…? Two different things. Combined in many different ways. If you mismatch your socks, you understand.”

“Dear Hip Hop: why are you fascinated with discovering gay rappers? Gay people rap. Just like gay people ride bikes and eat tofu.”

“Dear straight bullies, you’re right: we don’t have the same values. You kill everything that’s different. I preserve it.”

Words cascade like waterfalls. Prosaic glitter and poetic license, new beats and audio treats make their way towards all who have ears to hear, fingers to snap, hands to clap, and believing hearts to respond.

Visit the links below to watch these and so much more: it’s compelling, queer-powered poetry in motion.

Denice Frohman

“Dear Straight People” (WOWPS 2013)





Tanya Davis

“How to Be Alone”




Shane Koyczan

“Pork Chop” from the To This Day Project


Shanita Jackson and Dakota Oder 

“Civil Rights”


Noah St. John 

“Noah St. John Performs at Queeriosity 2010”


Stayceyann Chin

“Feminist or a Womanist”


Andrea Gibson

The Jewelry Store



To watch all of these videos as a playlist, please click the link below.


Mindshare & Memory: Slam Poems & Creative Poetry Videos


The Gay Divorcee, No, not the 1934 Astaire-Rogers Movie

Statistics from The Williams Institute

One of my favorite comediennes and television stars lesbian Jane Lynch, aka Sue Sylvester, the caustic cheerleading coach on the popular GLEE television show, filed for divorce on July 13, 2013. Lynch, who has won Emmy, Golden Globe, and People’s Choice Awards, married in May 2010 psychologist Lara Embry who has a child. A wonderful actress, Lynch has had several recurring guest roles as Charlie Harper’s psychologist in Two and a Half Men. She played a lesbian in the hilarious mockdocumentary “Best in Show” as well as in the “L” Word.”

How Many Other LGBTS Are Getting Divorced?

With gay marriage is so much in the news, especially since the June Supreme Court ruling last June, you wonder how many average Joes and Janes have filed for divorce? To find out, I turned to a reliable source: The Williams Institute, a gay-legal think tank located at UCLA – Los Angeles Study of Divorce and Marriage Rates for Same-Sex Couples.

Williams Institute Findings on Divorce
Although the study by M.V. Lee Badgett and Jody L. Herman is dated almost two years ago when same-sex marriage was legalized in only six states (as opposed to thirteen plus the District of Columbia currently), the authors found that:

• The data shows that same-sex couples marry at much higher rates than they enter civil unions or other legal statuses.
• When a state allows marriage for same-sex couples, over 60% of those who marry come from other states.
• The divorce rate for same-sex couples in legal unions is about 1.1 percent as opposed to 2% of married different-sex couples divorce.
Researchers concluded that the lower divorce rate may be owing to the fact that gay couples tend to have been together for longer periods of time, and have “weathered the stormy middle years of coupledom.” The LGBT persons have consciously committed to being a family, according to Badgett and Herman, lawyers.

Limited Data Available

As gay marriage is so new, and not every state has legalized same-sex marriage, it is difficult to gather statistics. The Massachusetts Health Department, says “there is no gender field on a divorce certificate in Massachusetts,” the first state to legal gay marriage. Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate at 2.2 per 1,000 married couples. Generally, the divorce rate is 20% lower in states where gay marriage is legal. In Nevada, where gay marriage is not legal, the divorce rate is the highest.

“It’s Complicated”

According to Susan Somer, Director of Constitutional Litigation for Lambda Legal which litigates on behalf of gay rights, most states won’t grant divorces for same-sex unions formed in other states. It gets exceedingly complicated if, for example, a same-sex couple moved to a new state, splits, can’t get a divorce, and one of the partners wants to re-marry someone of the opposite sex in a new state.

While no one wants to walk down the aisle with divorce in mind, attorneys say the smartest thing is to plan for a possible divorce in the state in which you live.

Gay Activist & Writer Larry Kramer Weds

Marries Long-time Partner Architect David Webster

Larry Kramer has always done things his way.  While many people would shop for the perfect venue for their wedding and the perfect outfit to wear, Larry, on July 24, 2013, married David Webster his long-time partner in the ICU unit at NYU’s Langone’s Medical Center.  Wearing a hospital gown and recovering from a surgery performed on July 21, owing to a bowel obstruction, Kramer and husband Webster, an architect and designer, were married by Judge Eve Preminger in a noon ceremony. Twenty friends and relatives attended the unscripted vows that included an exchange of Cartier rings. The groom, Kramer, was not able to make his own reception afterward at Riverpark. ”We’ll have a party once he’s out of the hospital,” said Webster, 67, who met Kramer in the 1970’s.

The couple had planned to be married on their Greenwich Village terrace of their apartment (they also have a Connecticut home that Webster has renovated) a few weeks earlier before Kramer’s health flared up while Webster was on a trip. Kramer, for a long time, was critical of state laws permitting what he called “feel good” marriages for gays without federal benefits. Once the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was struck down in states where same-sex marriage is legal, Kramer decided it was time to marry his partner of over twenty years.

A Lifetime Spent in Opposition

Larry Kramer now seventy-eight, attended Yale University where The Larry Kramer Initiative for Lesbian and Gay Studies is now named in his honor.  After the Centers for Disease Control declared that a “gay” cancer, Kaposi’s Sarcoma, was affecting young gay men in New York and San Francisco in 1981, Kramer founded, along with others, in 1982, The Gay Men’s Health Crisis, a New York City-based non-profit, volunteer-supported and community-based AIDS Service organization still active. It was the first and largest advocacy and protest organization.

Once called “the angriest man in America,” Kramer resigned in 1983 to form the more militant ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) in 1987 when the AIDS crisis was in full bloom.  New York’s and President Reagan’s Administrations were not responding quickly enough to the tragedy – the thousands of lives that were lost.

Kramer’s play, “The Normal Heart,” dealt about this 1980’s plague and had more than 600 productions.  Revived in 2011, the same year that New York legalized same-sex marriage, it was a roman a clef about his involvement with Act Up.  Winning a Tony for best play revival, I happened to see the riveting drama after which Kramer was handing out fact sheets about HIV and AIDS at the theatre exits.  He’s never lost his chutzpah nor energy for which he received a Special Tony for humanitarian service in June.




Picture this Romance: Gorgeous Lesbian Indian Wedding Photos

Apart from Love, everything passes away.

The way to Heaven is in your heart.

Open and lift the wings of Love!

When Love’s wings are strong, you need no ladder.

– Rumi

“We are a typical couple, at least to us. We are an interracial couple of Indian and American descent who found love at first sight. Well, let’s make that Shannon found love at first sight. The day I met Seema, I was teaching one of my boot camp classes and I turned to another instructor and said ‘I’m going to marry her.’ Of course, Seema fell in love shortly after, and six years later it became true.”

Shannon and Seema, to Buzzfeed

With Love, From Shannon and Seema

Bringing with it all the vibrant, colorful imagery of Deepa Mehta’s “Fire,” this story, these images—it’s the stuff of modern myth—but what a beautiful surprise—this is in fact the real deal.

Huffington Post Gay Voices recently profiled photographer Steph Grant and her dear friends, newly-wedded couple Shannon and Seema, complemented with gorgeous, romantic and exquisitely rich images of two women who are deeply in love.

Put A Ring On It And Take A Picture, Please

“I have photographed Indian weddings before and I have photographed gay and lesbian weddings before, but never have I ever shot an Indian lesbian wedding,” photographer Steph Grant wrote about her recent (and lovely) wedding photography assignment.

While it is decidedly challenging to be out and proud in India (most especially for women) as well as in Indian diasporic culture, this recent news item is a hopeful reminder that change is possible. The wedding itself took place in Los Angeles, though the ceremony incorporated Indian wedding traditions and attire.

Continuing the story on her blog, Grant enthused, “I have been anticipating this wedding for years now! Shannon and Seema are special to me and I am honored that they chose me to be their wedding photographer. I flew into Los Angeles a few hours before the wedding festivities began. I was greeted by a house full of friends, family and a lot of laughter. It was going to be an exciting day.”

“Beautiful Indian culture, stunning brides & style for miles!” she continued. “Couldn’t ask for more. WOW. My heart! There was so much love that consumed the SmogShoppe that evening. Friends and family came pouring in with smiles, hugs and tears… these two are clearly loved and in love. I am writing this blog a month after the wedding and I am proud to say that so much progress has been made in our country with the Supreme Court striking down DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and Prop 8 in California! Love wins. ALWAYS. Congrats Shannon & Seema. Love you guys!”

To check out the rest of the exclusive photos from this auspicious occasion, visit Steph Grant’s blog here: http://www.stephgrantphotography.com/blog/shannon-seema-indian-lesbian-wedding-los-angeles-ca

Have you ever seen such fabulous wedding photographs? And do you think you’ll ever get hitched? If you do, will you go “flossy-flossy” fancy, or do you think you’ll elope instead? Share your thoughts, Darl’s.


LZ Granderson: The Myth of The Gay Agenda

“…I have taught myself to sew, cook, fix plumbing, build furniture – I can even pat myself on the back when necessary…. There’s nothing I need from anyone except for love and respect. And anyone who can’t give me those two things has no place in my life.”

– Arnold from “Torch Song Trilogy.”

Visit Bing or Yahoo. Google or Duck Duck Go.

(Don’t worry, we’ll wait.)

Now: search for the words “Gay Agenda.”

(We’ll be right here, so be sure to come back. Better yet, open up another window or tab. There you go.)

Here’s what you’ll find: you’ll discover and learn more about us here at GayAgenda.com (please do that!).

You’ll also see many, many other “interesting” finds. Most notably, you’ll encounter a lot of people who have coined the hateful term and idea of the “gay agenda,” words we happily reclaim.

Among the search results you’ll find will be CNN reporter-journalist LZ Granderson’s world renowned, fact-filled, heartwarming and humorous TED Talk, “The Myth of the Gay Agenda.”

Remember that “Gay Agenda” search engine quest from before? LZ really, really went there too—in fact, he went into some extended search action…!

The results he found included a wealth of hate-monger speech and ignorance-laden articles and updates about the “dangerous gay lifestyle,” and the “dangerous gay agenda.”

On thumbing through result after result of anti-gay propaganda, Granderson reflects: “If I’m gay and I’m doing something that’s going to destroy civilization, I need to figure out what this stuff is. And, I need to stop doing it right now!” [The audience laughs.]

“I took a look at my life—a hard look at my life,” he goes on, “And I saw some things very disturbing. And I want to begin sharing these ‘evil’ things that I’ve been doing with you, starting with my mornings.

[The audience continues laughing along with LZ.] He continues the in-joke: “I drink coffee. Not only do I drink coffee. I know other people who drink coffee.”

Granderson directs us to the first slide of a PowerPoint presentation with the laughable title, “The Super Duper Evil Gay Lifestyle,” emblazoned with the rainbow flag.

He walks us through his happily partnered life and the daily goings on of being a busy parent. He then goes on to masterfully, ironically illustrate his points. “Run for your heterosexual lives, people!” Granderson humorously “threatens” during the conference, dismantling the hateful rhetoric that anti-gay bigots just so happen to throw around.

At the end of the day, LZ Granderson’s presentation fights for, in his own words, “Love and respect….trying to find your place in the world.” It seems so simple—the real “agenda” has to do with those who seek to complicate it. To destroy rights that have already been granted, and to prevent acquisition of others.

Finding and enjoying “love and respect:” in essence, this is everyone’s “agenda.” Granderson brilliantly brings these and other heartening ideas to the fore.

When he talks about love, his family, adoption and marriage equality, your eyes will get misty, your lips will quiver, you’ll be reminded of your own humanity. His talk is quite lovely and forever relevant.

LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. He spoke at TEDx Grand Rapids in May 2012. TED is a nonprofit organization dedicated to “Ideas worth spreading” which it makes available through talks posted on its website. (http://www.tedxhappyvalley.com/lz-granderson-the-myth-of-the-gay-agenda/)

You can tweet your reactions and support to LZ  @Locs_n_Laughs.

Click here to watch the video—with choreographed light saber moves and all the belly laughs you can stand included. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CstD6O95L-o)

So what did you think of LZ Granderson’s TED Talk ?

Keep It Together: Resources and Support for LGBTQ Families

It’s All in the Family

“Keep it together in the family

They’re a reminder of your history

Brothers and sisters they hold the key

To your heart and your soul

Don’t forget that your family is gold.”

– Madonna, from “Keep It Together”

For those who may oppose or who may not understand LGBTQIA culture (which often includes ourselves, those in-community), it can be easy to forget we are individuals who come from families. Who make up families. Who make up families of choice.

As we seek out kin, allies, a tribe, BFFs, support, resources and fellowship, because it is so common for LGBTQIA persons to experience marginalization even for supporting queer culture (as well as of course for being in it), we forget about our extended family. We don’t realize the broad spectrum of resources made available to us for finding connections, assistance, and even family-focused entertainment or advantages (such as social, educational financial or medical help).

We may then perhaps lose hope for reconciliation with our birth family, and/or don’t seek alternatives for creating new and more empowering familial networks.

Partying, playing and freedom of sexual expression is all well and good: it’s a blessing to have an opportunity to fully express all sides of ourselves (and fight for our rights in places where this is not yet a reality).

When it’s time to come down, gather together, find home and hearth, your family/family of choice is your go-to place to touch down, reboot, chillax. Find peace of mind.

But what happens if you don’t have a family, your community doesn’t support your family, or you don’t have a stable family?

Here are a few helpful resources, for finding family support and structure, below:


Get Help, Find Fam, Keep It Together

PFLAG / Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays – http://www.pflag.org

In addition to education, outreach and public speaking, PFLAG provides regionally-based support groups for queer and questioning persons (including youth), as well as for people who are trying to understand their LGBTQ family members, or people who do not have family support.

Family Equality Council – http://www.familyequality.org/get_involved/programs

Per their website, “The Family Equality Council is a community of parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren who for 30 years have raised our children and raised our voices toward fairness for all families.” While they do quite a bit of advocacy work, they also sponsor Family Equality Pride events and regionally-based family outreach programs (such as support groups and activities for queer parents and the community).

COLAGE – http://www.colage.org

For people with an LGBTQ parent: focused mostly on kids and teenagers, COLAGE unites peer-based networks and helps youth find support. Their specialty, in their own words is to help: “nurture and empower each other to be skilled, self-confident, and just leaders in our collective communities.”

Transforming Family http://transformingfamily.org/about-us

Championed by Chaz Bono. With a trans* focused outreach in its purview, Transforming Family is a Los Angeles based family support group creating a positive environment for children, adolescents and their families to explore issues of gender identity.

Our Family Coalition http://www.ourfamily.org/programs

This is a community of leaders who provide family-based policy and advocacy for change as well as sponsoring various family functions and social events.

Gay Parent Magazine –http://www.gayparentmag.com

A leader in gay parenting resources – founded in 1998.

API Family Pride http://www.apifamilypride.org

The mission of Asian and Pacific Islander Family Pride is to end the isolation of Asian and Pacific Islander families with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members through support, education, and dialogue.

Soffa Support – http://soffasupport.tumblr.com

An online zine that helps to connect people with support and advice for significant others, family, friends, and allies of the trans* community.

National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth http://ncfy.acf.hhs.gov

The National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth is an information resource of the Family and Youth Services Bureau within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They help to provide various resources of support for many, including LGBTQIA-specific assistance, referrals and education.

Intersex Society of North America

Support Groups and FAQ (For FAQ, Click FAQ Link on this page) http://www.isna.org/support

The Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) was founded in 1993 in an effort to advocate for patients and families who felt they had been harmed by their experiences with the health care system. From these scrappy, brave, and confrontational beginnings, ISNA evolved into an important resource for clinicians, parents, and affected individuals who require basic information about disorders of sex development (DSDs) and for how to improve the health care and overall well-being of people with DSDs.

R Family Vacations – http://www.rfamilyvacations.com

R Family Vacations is an LGBT vacation entertainment company that provides luxury cruise ship trips with a focus on inclusive activities for children and services including same-sex marriage ceremonies.

National Resource Center on LGBT Aging –http://www.lgbtagingcenter.org

Resources include – Caregiving services, Aging in Place Providers, LGBT Organizations, referrals, help for LGBT older adults or caregivers.

JQY / JQYouth – http://www.jqyouth.org

JQY is a nonprofit organization supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Jews and their families in the Orthodox community.


A Word About Finding Local Resources

If you find these suggestions aren’t close to you, don’t be afraid to shout them out on social media, email or call them, and ask for help finding resources that are local for you. Should they be unable to, they’ll be able to provide other alternatives for you. Never give up.

There are many more resources where these came from. Have you got a good recommendation? Please let us know.

When times get tough or you’re looking for support, who do you call your “family?”


New Zealand Now Has Gay Marriage

15th Country to Allow Same-sex Marriage

On Monday, August 19, 2013, New Zealand became the thirteenth country to welcome same-sex marriage.  Some newlyweds, estimated at three dozen, took advantage of the new law such as  Rachel Briscoe and Jess Ivess as well as Richard Rawstorm and Richard Andrew in Rotorua, New Zealand.  As promised, the Modern Family star was present at the marriage of Lynley Bendall and Ally Wanikau for the first gay wedding in New Zealand..

Married at 39,000 Feet

Activist Ferguson, with his new husband laywerJustin Mikita, who were married in New York City last month, attended the wedding aboard Air New Zealand,  “What an unforgettable way to mark the new law and “a great celebration of New Zealand’s diversity!” exclaimed Chief People Officer Lorraine Murphy. The flight went from Queenstown to Auckland and carried family, friends, and their three foster children. of Bendall and Wanikau. Together for thirteen years, the couple, both childcare workers, were married by celebrant Kim Jewell Elliott. Following the ceremony, an unexpected choir performed the traditonal “Pokarekare Ana,” a love song that was sung last April when the New Zealand Parliament marriage equality law was passed. Commented the airborne couple, “to be married at 30,000 feet beneath strings of fairy lights with our children, friends and family as witnesses makes an already memorable day that much more special. It was surreal to have Jesse play a part in the ceremony too – we’re big fans of “Modern Family.”

Reasoning Behind Marriage En Flight

Bendall and Wanikau won a promotion by national carrier Air New Zealand.  In the winning video of the competition, their foster children held handwritten signs saying why their parents should get married on a plane.  One read “Wow!! Imagine that for news at school!”

Why Ferguson and Mikita Were Attendees

Although not bosom buddies with the lesbian couple, Ferguson, who advocates for marriage equality through his appearances and tietheknot. organization that raises money for same-sex marriage, “was present to bring some attention to this great day.” Ferguson said that with gay marriage not legally recognized in thirty-seven U.S. states,” there is plenty of work to do there to change attitudes. “Modern Family,” which normalizes homosexuality,” is a great way to sneak into a lot of living rooms with no agenda.”

Nearby Australia does not have legalized same-sex marriage, but a measure to do is expected soon.  The U.S. Ambassador to Australia, John Berry, recently married to Curtis Yee, is openly gay.



Attacks on Queers in Haiti Show Religious Intolerance

The most recent homophobic attacks in Haiti show a determined part of a country that is trying to be more open to tourism.

A mob of dozens of locals attacked a private party where a British man and his Haitian partner were celebrating their engagement with friends. Several people were injured in the private residence, where the mob set fire to cars and threw Molotov cocktails and rocks through windows. The French News Agency AFP reported that police were alerted and arrived last-minute to break up the mob in order to prevent the engagement arty from being killed, which was the intent of the rioters.

After the terrifying incident, Charlot Jeudy, an official from the Haitian group Kouraj (Courage), stated that, “This is a criminal act and homophobic. There is no justification for this kind of attack on people in a private residence. Hopefully the justice authorities will react to the perpetrators of this act.” Kouraj is an activist group working to protect lgbtq people and their human rights in Haiti.

The British man identified himself only as Max, a member of the Red Cross, who did not want to speak of the incident for fear of identifying and making vulnerable his partner.

Almost expectedly, this attack didn’t come from nowhere. The fact is that some political and religious leaders are seeing the world become more tolerant and accepting of queer people and are trying to prevent the same equal sentiments from taking a great foothold within Haiti.

Back in July over 1,000 people protested in the capital, Port-Au-Prince, demonstrating against any legal rights that could be extended to lgbtq people. The protests were started by the Haitian Coalition of Religious and Moral Organizations and were reported to be hostile and threatening toward queer people and the government if it allowed legislation to be brought forward that would legalize same-sex marriage. The president of the organization stated at the rally that, “God does not agree and nor do we because we rely on God, and because we saw the misfortunes it brought to Sodom and Gomorrah.”

The protests came after watchdog groups cited a growing amount of violence toward lgbtq people in the country. On July 31 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a UN body, condemned “the recent wave of violence” that it linked “to the protest against homosexuality led by the Haitian Coalition of Religious and Moral Groups.” The body also urged the government to investigate 47 cases of “violence and discrimination” against members of perceived members of the queer community in Haiti, including two who were viciously attacked during the protests.

Many are surprised at the violence, with an official from SEROvie, an foundation that promotes human rights of marginalized people, stated that, “I am quite surprised at the violence coming from [Haitian] people who we thought were tolerant. We don’t know where all this hatred is coming from.” Especially to reach tourists and promote a welcoming country this news won’t reach many on a happy note.

The lgbtq community in Haiti has always been small and inconspicuous. That was until the 2010 disastrous earthquake which increased discrimination against queer people. A report by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission reported that Haitians blamed their fellow queer citizens for their “sinfulness” and bringing about the wrath of God. The report continued that “loneliness, invisibility, and social isolation are persistent problems” with no relief in sight.

Hopefully that can all soon change, or that at least the Haitian government will make a statement against those responsible for the attacks and show their citizens and those they want to recruit for tourist dollars that they are willing to stand up for equality and human rights.

U.S. Ambassador to Australia Marries Partner

John Berry Weds Long-time Partner in Washington, D.C.

Shortly after being appointed U.S. Ambassador to Australia on August 1, John Berry, married Curtis Yee, a retired attorney and native Hawaiian on August 10.  The couple, together seventeen years, wed at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C.  Yee will move to Australia with Berry.

Other Gay Ambassadors

Berry is not the only openly gay ambassador appointed by President Obama.  James Costos, an Executive with HBO, will be Ambassador to Spain.  Rufus Gifford, Chairman of the President’s 2013 Inaugural Committee, has been appointed Ambassador to Denmark.

The highest ranking openly gay male politician during the Obama administration, Berry, despite conservative activists’ objections, is the first openly gay U.S. ambassador to serve in a Group of 20 nation. Berry and Yee will be in a country that does not have legalized same-sex marriage.

Ambassador to a Country without Same-Sex Marriage

Said Rodney Croome, who congratulated the couple on their nuptials, a national convener for Australian Marriage Equality, “It will be a source of deep embarrassment for many Australians that our law fails to respect the marriage of the chief representative of our closest friend and ally, the United States.” Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd pledged to introduce a marriage equality bill within the first 100 days of the re-elected government on Sept. 7. The opposition leader Tony Abbott won’t commit to a conscience vote and said his party would only consider the issue after the election.  Australian Finance Minister Penny Wong, a lesbian, made it public on television that she wants to marry her partner, the mother of her child.

Berry Has Always Been a Champion of Gay Rights

While at the Interior Department as Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget or during the Clinton administration from 1997 to 2001, Berry worked to create a complaint procedure for employees who experienced discrimination owing to sexual orientation, to expand relocation benefits and counseling services to domestic partners of employees, establishing a liaison to gay and lesbian workers, and to eliminate discriminatory provisions of the National Park Service’s law enforcement standards.

He also supported a repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, signed by ex-President Clinton. Berry previously stated support for benefits for same-sex partners of federal employees.