#IndieGoGo Love: All Of Us Project Making Schools Safer for LGBT Students

#IndieGoGo Love: All Of Us Project Making Schools Safer for LGBT Students

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“Sadly today in Australia, school is the place where young people report the most homophobic abuse. Since 1998 levels of homophobic abuse reported by students, experienced in schools has risen from 69% in 1998 to 80% in 2010.”

- All of Us Read more

#SOFFAs in Transition: Resources for Partners and Family of Trans* Persons

Finding a kind and loving support network for all but the world’s luckiest folks is a lifelong project. Multiply that times…what…infinity?…and it’s that much more challenging for trans* persons of experience to cultivate and to find.

Times are changing…we have trans* prom kings and queens, and public shaming or dismissal of trans* folks is becoming the real taboo, as it should be. Unfortunately for every advancement, inexcusable ignorance becomes much more identifiable and still continues to proliferate.

So of course, we still have a long way to go—and the more resources, gatherings and health-related modalities and methodologies that come to light in order to support, help, uplift and empower trans* persons of experience and their loved ones, the better.

If you’re reading this, you aim to support or share supportive resources with trans* persons, friends, families members, peers or others in solidarity. Here’s hoping you find useful resources, places and spaces to share below.

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#LGBTHM Q and A with Angela Gardner – Editor, TGForum.com

Sometimes you are pleasantly surprised by the acceptance you weren’t expecting.”

                                     – Angela Gardner, Transgender Forum (TGForum.com)

TGForum.com is a weekly online magazine with news and features for the trans* community featuring a resource library, regularly published articles, and a safe space for connection, creativity and raising trans* consciousness.

Editor Angela Gardner took some time to connect with us via email to answer some questions about the one-of-a-kind online forum.

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Jaye: Hi, Angela: your business is so robust. TGForum.com is extremely comprehensive–equal parts community website, news website, secure/private shopping stop, and much more. There’s a lot of introductory/Trans* 101 available too. That’s alongside resources for trans* persons of experience and the community.

So from 1996 to now, can you share with us how the site’s evolved over time?

Angela: The site was founded by JoAnn Roberts, Cindy Martin and Jamie Fenton. In 1996, there was no pre-built social networking site software like there is today, so Jamie Fenton built it from scratch. The first iteration of TGF was all HTML code done by the writers who contributed. Cindy Martin was the editor and she would get everyone’s HTML file by email and put the new content together for publication every Monday.

Content wise, the site was always meant as a forum where people could discuss and learn about all transgender issues. There was input from the significant others of TGs, humor in the form of cartoons, TG history in the form of articles and photos of drag through history and medical info; the list goes on.

At the time it was started,TGF was a subscription based site. You had to pay a yearly fee and when you became a subscriber, you could see all the content and use all the features such as the bulletin board, the chat room and create your own profile and post your photos. Non-subscribers could read the articles but couldn’t see the photos or graphics. That was the Free TGForum version.

As the Web got more and more free spots where TGs could interact, TGF subscription began to go down. The two other partners left and JoAnn Roberts hired me to be the editor. At my urging, she went to a free publication plan and solicited more ads to support the site, as well as asking for donations from users. The loyal users did step up with contributions and the site made it through the first decade of this century. Software for Web publication had caught up and surpassed TGF, so JoAnn changed over to a WordPress based site.

That was tweaked and modified into the TGF you see today. Two things occurred when we moved to the WP format: we started accumulating more registered users (registering unlocks certain features) and our page views began to increase. The old TGF archives going back to 1996 were taken down. So there is a wealth of information that is now not available, but I try to add back the more important and still relevant things every year. 

Jaye: Ever-expansive. That’s so great. I know your your publication and forum addresses drag entertainers as well–do you think we’re coming to a place where trans* persons and drag performers are more mutually welcoming and inclusive?

Angela: I’ve always felt, and TGF’s stance has been, that drag artists are attracted to the whole idea in the first place because there’s some bit of “transness” in the personality. Most gay queens just think it’s because they’re gay but how many gay men take the time, effort and expense to dress flawlessly in drag? Some may do it for Halloween now and then but most have no more interest in wearing women’s clothing and makeup than the majority of straight men. So we feel that drag queens and female impersonators are our sisters on the transgender spectrum. There is still a lot of education to be done, but you’re going to see content about RuPaul’s Drag Race and other prominent queens on TGF.

Jaye: Fighting for the right to exist/fit in/have a “normal life…” it feels like such an irony. Societally, it feels like trans* living is still very much a battlefield. Achieving normalcy seems to be a right so many aggressively seek to deny. Have you seen a shift in-culture in terms of trans* persons around the idea of being stealth?

Angela: Stealth still goes on. It takes courage to declare openly that you were born a different sex than the one you’re presenting to the world. In some places that can still get you killed or beaten up. Not just in rural areas, but areas of some of our big cities TGs are often in danger. Stealth may actually increase that danger as a transwoman interacts with people in her sphere as a woman. Men are a threat since she doesn’t know how they will react if they learn that her genitals are not matched to her presentation or have been reshaped by surgery. Transphobia is homophobia and again, the world needs more education.

Jaye: What about feeling pressured to declare a gender (and opting out of doing so)?

Angela: Pick a gender! Start playing! Seriously, people should just be who they are. If a person doesn’t feel particularly one gender or another they should be free to experiment with any spot on the gender spectrum. Gender identity should be left up to the individual and once chosen should be honored by everyone. But being different will always be a challenge to some people. Again — education!

Jaye: On that note, do you hold any official TGForum events, or is your website more of a conduit and connection space?

Angela: No events other than our new content addition on Monday. It had been discussed from time to time, but we decided that our place was to bring information and a safe space to transgendered people on the Web. So no conventions or rave parties.

Jaye: Curious to hear your thoughts on this. Mister Cee’s public revelation about his connections with trans* persons has opened up some great discussions about love–why cis men and others are shamed for loving trans* women and what this says about our culture.

Janet Mock, Laverne Cox and others continue to address the idea and open the floor to a more inclusive and affirming discussion. Do you have any thoughts to share with our readers in light of these latest events?

Angela: I think this is part of the education that needs to be done. Mister Cee by coming out and being supported, even though he was outed against his wishes, lets other men who enjoy sex with transwomen know that their life might not be totally ruined if they stopped living on the down low and let their circle of friends and family know that TG ladies turned them on. Every TG admirer isn’t going to suddenly declare himself right away but it will get them thinking and maybe the hiding and skulking around TG nightspots to have brief encounters will diminish and they can start having honest relationships. That would be better for everyone.

From a personal perspective, I have a boyfriend and we go out to dinner a couple times a week. Often we are in the suburbs and now and then we do fine dining in Philadelphia. The number of times we have been treated with disrespect (presumably because I am TG) can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Or less. Most of the places we go, from diners to fine restaurants, people all treat us with the same degree of respect that they give the other patrons. So I think, at least around Philadelphia, the idea that TGs and their partners are as normal as any other couple is beginning to sink in. Again, with the caveat that there are some places it’s best not to go just because they may not be that enlightened. But sometimes you are pleasantly surprised by the acceptance you weren’t expecting.

Jaye: What is your opinion on the CIS cookies/CIS tears meme, and similar? [e.g. http://chaseross.tumblr.com/post/30953527685/recipe-for-cis-cookies]

Angela: I was unaware of the page. It seems an attempt at ironic humor but seems a bit bitter. TGs need to be aware that “CIS” people have never stopped to think about what gender they are. They may have experienced attractions to same sex people and had to wrestle with “am I gay” but the majority of them wake up in the morning and don’t even think “it’s great to be a man” or “I love being a woman.” That’s just the way they have felt all their lives. It’s only TGs who feel like a gender that doesn’t match their genitals, whether they feel that way all the time or part of the time.

So TGs might just want to give the other people a break. Go ahead and answer their stupid questions. Point them at websites where they  can learn more. Yes, it’s annoying but if you bite their nose off they’re going to just spread the word that “boy those TGs are cranky.”

Jaye: TGForum proactively shares triumphs and successes that trans* people experience along with breaking news and calls to action. Is the LGBTQ community trending more towards this focus? Can you recommend similar sites, art or media that articulates the entire spectrum?

Angela: It’s hard to say. I am so focused on making TGForum the best source for information that I haven’t spent much time looking around. I suppose I should but….

Jaye: I understand you’re an artist as well, and expert at graphic design along with your editorial work. Do you have your own consultancy as well, and is that affiliated with TGForum?

Angela: I wouldn’t call myself an expert and I haven’t marketed myself as such. I look at TGF and see something that needs done (like the new content slider graphics each week) and I just do them. I learn the technique I need and apply it. Shortly thereafter, I may forget how I did it. So I don’t feel I’m an expert, just a person with some of the tools needed and a search engine to find out how I make this or that appear on the screen. If people want some graphics I’d give it a shot, but other than my weekly TGF deadline I don’t work well with deadlines.

Jaye: How can folks get involved with TGForum.com (article submissions, joining the site, advertising, volunteering—are subscriptions required for membership)?

Angela: There’s a link right on the home page under my picture that lets people submit an article or article idea. I’m happy to hear from anyone who wants to contribute and recently, we have added some folks who used the link. As I said, you don’t have to subscribe anymore, but if you become a registered user I can give you contributor or author status and your posts will be credited to you and your profile info will appear at the bottom of the post.

Jaye: Do you accept financial donations?

Angela: We stopped soliciting donations when JoAnn Roberts sold the site to a new publisher. What people in the community can do to add their support is to tell vendors who have products the community wants/needs to contact us about advertising.  

Jaye: Excellent—thanks again for connecting with us and our readers, Angela.

Angela: Thanks Jaye! Let me know if you need clarification or have more questions.

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As you can see, Angela is very accessible—if you want more information, you’re seeking resources or would like to contribute to TGForum in any way, she welcomes you to connect with her at www.TGForum.com.

 

 

#NCOD and Coming Out Still Matters: National #ComingOut Day Is October 11

National Coming Out Day Is October 11

#NCOD and Coming Out Still Matters: National #ComingOut Day Is October 11

If Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he would want me to say to all the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told they are less than by the churches, by the government, by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value, and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights, federally, across this great nation of ours.”― Dustin Lance Black

Every year in October during LGBT History Month National Coming Out Day is celebrated in tandem. Though The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is currently the largest or most well-known promoter of the event, it was founded in 1988 by activists Dr. Robert Eichberg, his partner William Gamble, and Jean O’Leary.

Though not an expected action, coming out is essentially necessitated by the human spirit for optimal health in all aspects of life—not just those related to the LGBTQ community.

Visibility, mental health, educational opportunities and encouragement for collective self-esteem are just a few reasons for the existence of the holiday, meant to raise consciousness and create dialogue regarding bisexual, gay, trans*, and lesbian issues, needs and achievements. Transparency in safe spaces regarding sexual and gender identity is a key component—however, there’s a special youth outreach contingent that has evolved in order to raise awareness about bullying and suicide prevention.

The co-founders of National Coming Out Day created the commemorative day in order to celebrate the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, which took place in Washington, DC (with over 500,000 participants in attendance). As the campaign for civil rights and equality awareness continued to build momentum, more and more municipalities and institutions began to celebrate the event locally.

Organizations have embodied the spirit of National Coming Out Day in myriad ways—for example: via teach-ins, parades, rallies, parties and celebrations, multimedia presentations, movies, art projects and various offline events.

The Human Rights Campaign in particular has been instrumental in making sure National Coming Out Day is honored in every state in the United States. In spite of its name, this holiday has also been embraced by other countries including New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany.

Each year, the HRC creates a new theme for this occasion. In 2013, which is the 25th anniversary of National Coming Out Day, the theme is “Coming Out Still Matters.”

Why does coming out still matter to our community? The HRC explains:

“25 years ago, on the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, we first observed National Coming Out Day as a reminder that one of our most basic tools is the power of coming out. One out of every two Americans has someone close to them who is gay or lesbian. For transgender people, that number is only one in 10. Coming out STILL MATTERS. When people know someone who is LGBT, they are far more likely to support equality under the law. Beyond that, our stories can be powerful to each other. Every person who speaks up changes more hearts and minds, and creates new advocates for equality.”

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Coming out is a rite of passage–acknowledging Queer and Trans* identity in a meaningful way is essential to mental health, at the very least. Why does coming out still matter to you–or does it still matter to you?

Let us know.

Namaste!

Gay Agenda

For more information about NCOD, visit the HRC here.

Protecting Our Own: About The Wanda Alston House for Queer Youth of Color

 

 “I know there’s a place that you call your own/And you’re safe and warm and you feel like you’re home/

And the peace of it and the faith involved and you go to say…but/There’s no need to explain it / Still you try then you see that it’s okay.

You’re on your own / I see you lookin’ around at the people on the street/Well, things aren’t what they seem. / If you push them hard enough

You’ll find that most of them do not feel worthy of love./Now how did this come to be?”

- From “The Gospel According to Darkness” by Jane Siberry 

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Based in Northeast Washington, D.C., The Wanda Alston House in is the only housing facility and mentorship program of its kind in the area. Fully functioning as a nonprofit, the program cares for and works with LGBT and questioning youth–most of whom are homeless, HIV-positive, have mental or learning challenges–and assists them with job placement, career training and planning, serving as a place transitional housing and finding them permanent housing.

Founded in honor of Wanda Alston (who was a trans* woman, feminist activist, woman of color and LGBTQ ally), The Wanda Alston House is Wanda’s dream realized. According to the team at the House, it was Wanda’s last wish that LGBTQ persons of experience and people of color in the Washington D.C. area be granted temporary housing as a safe space to live as well as opportunities to create a better life.

The organization is always in need of volunteers and donations as well as select items on their wish list.

More About Wanda Alston:

“In the 1990s, Alston served in the National Organization for Women (NOW) as an executive assistant. She was also a co-leader in 1995 to the UN World Conference on Women in Beijing. She was a political organizer for five marches in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. She was an elected member of NOW’s National Board of Directors. Alston also worked as a political consultant and was active in the Democratic Party. She also worked as an events organizer with the Human Rights Campaign. She was active in the recovery movement in Washington, D.C. Alston was an active member of her local church, Unity of Washington.  She was also a leader in the LGBT community and was the acting director of the Washington, D.C. Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs from 2004 until her untimely passing.”

More About The Wanda Alston House:

The Wanda Alston House is the first and only housing program in Washington D.C. that is solely dedicated to offering pre-independent living services to homeless GLBTQ youth ages 16-24. Each young person is assigned a life skills counselor who works each day on issues related to employment/vocational training, housing, and other issues as needed. Each young person is housed in their own room and reside in a house with an advocate with extensive experience with housing and GLBTQ youth issues.

Services Include:

• Individual Counseling
• Support Groups
• Individual Treatment Plans
• Drop In Center
• HIV Prevention Counseling
• Referrals
• Showers
• Laundry
• Life Skills Workshops/Job Training and Educational Assistance
• Computer Lab
• HIV Testing
• Snacks

Wish List:

  • Non-perishable foods
  • Male and Female Hygiene Products
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Office supplies
  • Full sheet and comforter sets
  • Towels and wash cloths
  • New socks, underwear and T-shirts
  • School supplies and book bags.
  • Metro Cards and Fare Cards
  • Gift Cards (CVS, GIANT, Target, Old Navy, H&M)
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Video game systems

 

All donations are 100% tax deductible.

Monetary donations can also be mailed to the center, and The Wanda Alston House welcomes you to get in touch. Please visit http://www.wandaalstonhouse.org/Donate-Contact-Us.html for donation and contact information.

 

Spark Queer Outreach: #SPARKRJ To Host Trans*/Queer Inclusive Healthcare Chat on 9/25

 

“SPARK’s work will be complete when Georgia and the South continuously cultivate communities where we can all make sustainable and liberatory decisions about our bodies, genders, sexualities, families, and lives.”

- From “Our Vision” / SPARKRJ.org

Spark Queer Outreach: #SPARKRJ To Host Trans*/Queer Inclusive Healthcare Chat on 9/25/13

The Atlanta, Georgia-based reproductive justice organization Spark Reproductive Justice Now works tirelessly to build community and facilitate ever-progressive opportunities for access to affordable healthcare. Executive Director Malika Redmond, and the #SPARKRJ team are seeing to it that services and care connected to the Affordable Health Care Act are proactively made available to all who need it.

Because universal healthcare is more theoretical than in practice in America at this time, seeing #SPARKRJ’s upcoming trans*/queer-inclusive healthcare chat make its way to the top of the Twitter timeline sets in motion an immediate call to arms on traditional healthcare status quo: “Let a sister and a brother know–you deserve access now!”

So check out the det’s:

#SPARKRJ is hosting a Tweet Chat on 9/25 at 3:00 PM Eastern Time: “How Trans*/Queer Hate Impacts Healthcare Access.”

Attendance is especially recommended for medical or mental healthcare workers, practice administrators, physicians, educators/academicians in medical fields, LGBTQ volunteers, allies, gay-friendly professionals and diversity advocates. Still of course, all interested parties are invited to participate.

If you can’t make it, please spread the word, and you can still check back in with #SPARKRJ for a transcript, or follow and visit @SPARKRJNOW to check out their timeline archive of this very important conversation.

What is Reproductive Justice?

Also from the organization’s website:

“SPARK defines Reproductive Justice as a social justice movement rooted in the belief that individuals and communities should have the resources and power to make sustainable and liberatory decisions about their bodies, genders, sexualities, and lives. Reproductive Justice is pro-sex, sexuality, gender, queer bodies, access to abortion and contraception, birth rights and chosen families, and so much more! Reproductive justice is struggling towards liberation within and with community. “

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Recently, Malika Redmond spoke at the National Domestic Workers Alliance Healthcare for All Rally and Press Conference (follow #Healthcare4All on Twitter for tweeted updates on this topic). To give you a feel for the heart-centered passion of this organization as well as select topics to be addressed in the upcoming Twitter chat, check out what Malika has to say below.

“We will be public. We are not ashamed. We know that the people in Georgia deserve to have healthcare. It is undeniable. For our communities that are disproportionately impacted, it is not okay for people to have to chose between rent and necessary X-Rays…to have to choose between their prescriptions and being able to get back and forth to work.”

“In this country—one of the wealthiest countries on this planet…that anyone will have to decide between their livelihood, their ability to take care of their children, and being able to get the necessary healthcare for themselves and their families. We have an opportunity today…to make it right….”

Source

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Healthcare professionals, practices and organizations who fumble the ball when it comes to LGBTQ-specific needs and disparities often do so because the required continued education they seek doesn’t include cognizance of the ever-changing landscape of LGBTQIA culture, so they lack the information—or at least the current information—required to properly treat patients in community.

It will be great to experience ideas and suggestions from folks working on the front lines in Georgia as well as the questions and comments coming from those who are most affected by lack of access to healthcare and those who want to close the disparity gaps.

Everybody say love,”

Jaye

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Click the link below for more information about the #SPARKRJ Tweet Chat and to share it with your friends, family and peers:

http://ow.ly/i/3apS5

 

 

New #ComingOut Models: LGBT Sibling Study Seeks Participants, Aims to Educate.

New #ComingOut Models: LGBT Sibling Study Seeks Participants, Aims to Educate.

As “tolerance” for out, queer persons of experience shapeshifts its way through to LGBTQ-friendliness and inclusion, “coming out” isn’t necessarily the simultaneous beginning and ending of a life story anymore. It doesn’t always have to end in tears. While it’s not necessarily an expectation or assumption that queer or questioning folks come out formally (rather than just “being out”), academicians, researchers and activists continue to inform us that closeted existence is unhealthy, to say the least….

A new LGBT-focused study seeks to make a substantive difference in achieving and enjoying an optimal life experience: doctoral researcher Katie Barrow is co-leading a research study and actively recruiting participants who are LGBT siblings. How might two siblings who are LGBTQ thrive within families and in our culture?

If you can help them out, you can also earn a bit of cash in the process. Please read and forward the call for participants below:

When A Second Sibling Comes Out – Call for Participants

Are you interested in talking about your experiences as being the second sibling in your family to come out as a sexual minority/LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender)?

If so, please consider participating in a 30-45 minute interview via telephone or face-to-face.

To be eligible:

*You must identify as a sexual minority/LGBT and be 18-35 years of age

* Have a sibling who also identifies as a sexual minority/LGBT

*You and your sibling must be out to at least one parent/caregiver in your family

*If possible, you must identify as the second sibling to come out as a sexual minority/LGBT

If this sounds like you, please consider participating! Eligible parties will receive a $20 Visa gift card for completing the 30-45 minute interview!

For more information, please contact K. Barrow at [email protected]

To see more, please check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EheXko63azs

Feel free to tweet your questions, concerns or interest at  Twitter to : @gaysiblingstudy

This study has been approved by the Virginia Tech IRB #13473.

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How The Study’s Results Will Help

Katie Barrow generously shared with us how she plans to use the study results. In an email sent earlier this month, Katie wrote:

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I’ll be happy to clarify how the results will be used.

This study serves a multitude of purposes, and they go hand-in-hand. Two purposes are listed below:

1.) Advancement of knowledge. This is the most basic, yet vital reason we are conducting this study. Beyond biological studies looking at when a family has more than one son…there have been no developmental, contextual, or familial investigations asking the question of, “What happens in a family when two children both identify as a sexual minority?” It’s a broad stroke, yes, but we are casting a wide net to see what kind of information we can get!

2.) And because there is no research that looks at how a family responds to two same-sex siblings, our second goal is to apply our knowledge. We would like to begin creating coming out models so that community professionals (e.g., therapists, PFLAG groups) who come in contact with someone who is LGBT and also has an LGBT sibling, or a parent/caregiver who has two same-sex children, can be more informed of this phenomena and therefore offer more comprehensive treatment and/or guidance.

Thank you so much!

Best,

Katie

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Again, please spread the word about this study—we trust it will help many LGBTQ persons of experience, families, allies and organizations out there, which is turn, helps our community and those who seek to understand us. If you qualify for the study as indicated above, please click here to begin the survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/7WLM5ZZ.

 

Today In #LGBTHealth – New LGBT Health Journal Launches

“President Obama’s commitment to the gay and lesbian communities underscores the importance of providing them with the best healthcare options – both physical health and mental health.”

-Mary Ann Liebert: President and CEO, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Publishers

Today In #LGBTHealth – New LGBT Health Journal Launches

LGBT Health, a new peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Publishers, has now officially launched this month.

According to their website, the academic healthcare journal concerning LGBTQIA issues “will identify crucial LGBT healthcare needs and the means to address them, providing a much-needed authoritative source and international forum in all areas pertinent to LGBT health and healthcare services.”

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. is a renowned publisher specializing in scientific, technical, and medical fields, supplying peer-reviewed publications to the knowledge and information industries. This is their first LGBT-focused publication.

Its first editorial piece entitled “A New Era for LGBT Health” was written and published during LGBT Health’s soft launch in July. Written by Editor-in-Chief William Byne MD, PhD, it begins: “This is a historical moment for launching a journal devoted to LGBT health, and it is with great enthusiasm that we do so.”

He then goes on to establish the reasons for the creation of LGBT Health as well as reminding the reader of the fact that in the United States, the potential for universal healthcare is becoming more and more of a reality now that barriers to affordable healthcare have been lowered. He then goes on to detail how much more important it is that the LGBT community’s needs be addressed in light of these opportunities–both in the States and worldwide, where healthcare disparities are even more pronounced for queer populations, and in general.

His ending statement in the article ushers in a forward-looking and forward-thinking approach to LGBTQ-inclusive healthcare. He combines realism and optimism as he writes, “While much remains to be done, there are now many reasons for optimism concerning the health and human rights of sexual and gender minority persons worldwide. Support for LGBT healthcare equality from the principal health institutions and the highest levels of government in the United States and numerous peer countries has never been higher. Yet we should not be lulled into complacency by this recent progress. On the contrary, we must continue to organize locally, nationally, and internationally, to educate ourselves, and to redouble our efforts to ensure that we continue to move forward until LGBT health equality becomes a global reality.”

Other articles in the first edition of the publication reinforce their globally-inclusive mission: while the research focus begins in the United States, LGBT Health’s editorial team and contributors will share clinical studies and reports that help to inform and empower LGBTQ healthcare practitioners and communities worldwide.

Visitors can read this publication online in PDF or HTML/regular website formats.

Please click here to contribute to upcoming issues,  and click here to read the current issue of LGBT Health.

 

Crowdsourcing #Sochi2014: Out, Gay Kiwi Speed Skater Blake Skjellerup Remains Undeterred.

Despite Russia’s new anti-gay laws, the calls to move the Winter Olympics from Sochi have fallen on deaf ears. The IOC has said waving of rainbow flags — or any pro-LGBT commentary — by Olympians could violate its rules. Seemingly every avenue to make a statement of LGBT-rights support at the Olympic Games is being cut off. But there’s one message they cannot stop: Openly gay speed skater Blake Skjellerup! The LGBT community and its allies have an opportunity to support this openly gay athlete and send him to the Olympic Games as our out, proud representative.”

- From Blake Skjellerup’s Indiegogo Campaign Page

 

#Sochi2014 |  Anticipation Station

When it comes to the upcoming Olympic games, all thoughts, social shares, pundit’s articles and interviews continue to lead us on and move us all toward more question marks, dollar signs, boycott threats and theories, overall frustration and a heaping dose of anticipation.

We won’t really know how enforcement of Russia’s anti-gay laws will or will not apply until all travelers arrive in Russia, folks choose to make statements or symbolic gestures, and all Olympics-related events get underway.

Though we know where Johnny Weir stands politically, he won’t be attending the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia as an athletic contender, at least—and we love you still Johnny, regardless of your politics.

Many queer athletes continue to move forward in pursuit of that Olympic Gold: like out, gay New Zealander, competitive speed skater and GT coverboy Blake Skjellerup.

Skjellerup is resolute and undetered. He wants to head to Sochi to win a speed skating medal for the Kiwis, and he wants your help to do it.

As of this writing already, Skjellerup has raised his initial goal of US $24,000 and counting in order to work on qualifying to compete in both the Winter Olympics and the Speed Skating World Cup, and he needs to raise at least US $33,000 total in order to realize the dream with complete, headache-free financial backing.

If Blake is able to fully qualify, he will be the first publicly out male athlete to compete in a Winter Olympics.

Information from his Indiegogo page, a video greeting from Blake himself and more information can be found below.

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From Indiegogo.com | Why Blake needs our support now

Despite what many may think, Olympic speed skaters do not live in posh apartments sipping champagne. When asked what it means financially to be an Olympic speed skater, Blake said, “bankruptcy.” He struggles just to cover living costs. What he needs help with now is the funds to access key coaching assistance for the World Cups and the Olympics.

For Blake to qualify for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, he will need to finish in the top 32 at the World Cups this autumn. These four key events are:

Sept. 26-29, Shanghai, China
Oct. 3-6, Seoul, South Korea
Nov. 7-10, Torino, Italy
Nov. 14-17, Kolomna, Russia

Blake needs at least $15k to compete at a high level in these four World Cup events and qualify for the Sochi Olympics. To get everything he needs to compete at his HIGHEST level possible, he will need at $33k. We’ve set the campaign goal at the MINIMUM he needs with the hope and expectation that we can get him EVERYTHING he needs. All donated funds go directly to Blake.

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Because of the beauty of his story and the precedent he’ll be setting—according to Blake’s Indiegogo page—many advocacy groups have already shown their support including: the You Can Play project, Outsports, GLAAD, the StandUp Foundation, Out magazine & The Advocate, Athlete Ally, and many members of the LGBT sports movement and larger community.

Click here to support Blake Skjellerup’s campaign, check out Blake’s #Sochi2014 YouTube video here, and send your Tweets of support and inquiry with Blake @BlakeSkjellerup.

 

 

 

 

Contradictions

Life is full of contradictions and many times it lays within ourselves due to societal pressure to conform, or an unwillingness to admit a truth to oneself.  In the process we bury the truth and create a an alternative truth; one that is not representative of what we believe or who we truly are.  Such personal contradictions can cause immense, and often times irreparable harm to our psyche and when manifested outward, can hurt those around us and also create an impression within others that is not who we truly are.

According to Wikipedia, a contradiction “consists of a logical incompatibility between two or more propositions. It occurs when the propositions, taken together, yield two conclusions which form the logical, usually opposite inversions of each other. Illustrating a general tendency in applied logic, Aristotle’s law of noncontradiction states that “One cannot say of something that it is and that it is not in the same respect and at the same time.”  Often times we ourselves become “something that is and that it is not in the same respect at the same time.”

When I look back upon my life as a closeted individual, it was full of so many contradictions because I was creating a façade to cover up my true essence; who I really was, due to my fears and insecurities related to my homosexuality.  This “covering up” process began way back in grade school.  I had always sensed something was different about me compared to my friends and classmates.  I could never really put my finger on it, as I was very young and didn’t know such things about gay and straight and all the other concepts that go along with it.  But inside I knew there was something inherently and profoundly different about me and it, even then, created some level of tension with myself.

As I got into Junior High School (now called Middle School), the “cover-up” really began in earnest since it was when puberty hits and feelings begin to stir inside and hormones start to flow.  I clearly knew then I was different as my hormonal urges were not being directed to the girls in my class, but to the boys.  This really frightened me and in the ‘70’s you just did not express such feelings outwardly, but then again, I was nowhere near the point of coming out so I just trudged along the way I was and buried feelings and created more contradictions within myself.

When I got to college, I felt a bit more liberated, as I was surrounded by new people, places and opportunities to explore my hidden orientation.  I began to “explore” my sexuality in clandestine settings, and obscure venues, with others of like mind.  At the same time I began to weave a conservative façade to cover up such “encounters” and present an image of myself that was not who I really was.  I began to espouse positions against abortion, homosexuality and generally embracing a somewhat hard line conservative political paradigm overall.  But inside I hated it.

I despised what I was outwardly expressing.  However, subconsciously, at times, I would espouse a much more liberal perspective on issues, my true perspective.  These contradictions did not go unnoticed, so much so that my roommate in college once told me, a number of times in fact, that he was my best friend, and that he knew me well but at the same time, he didn’t.  He would often tell me that I was a person of contradictions.

What really drove it home though was one night while we were partying, and we were quite drunk and high, he looked me and said, “you know, you are living in your own private Idaho.”  I looked at him and said, “what are you fucking talking about?”  Inside I KNEW what he meant.  He clearly had me pegged and was beginning to decipher and sift through the façade.

“Don’t let the chlorine in your eyes
Blind you to the awful surprise
That’s waitin’ for you at
The bottom of the blue blue blue pool.
You’re livin’ in your own Private Idaho.  Idaho.

Get out of that state
Get out of that state
You’re living in your own Private Idaho,
Livin’ in your own Private Idaho.”

I was in my own Private Idaho and I was beginning to jump into the pool.  I was awakening to the awful surprise of who I really was and became very aware of the contradictions I was living amongst, that I had created myself.  I lived in my own private Idaho for many years, but along the way I began to shed some of the contradictions, and began to align myself with who I was beginning in my late 20’s when I finally admitted to myself that I was gay.

I was not ready to take the complete jump off the cliff though and fully come out.  I continued living my life as a little conservative Nazi, espousing hateful positions and creating more inconsistencies within myself that drove me crazy.  My then sister-n-law, even told me once that she really didn’t like me at all.  That really hurt me and served to remove another tether of the life of contradiction that was tying me down.

Another example of my life of contradiction lays in the 80’s and early 90’s when the Amway business was the rage and I was duped into doing “the business.”  I was surrounded by ultra-conservative types and I felt it would be a good place to “cover up.”  However, with each function I went to and the more I hung around many of the people in “the business” I got more distressed and angry with myself that I was espousing such nonsense and cheering the admonitions of the evils of homosexuality by people on stage.  I continued this charade for many years, until a certain point when I said “enough” and just removed myself from such a blatant contradiction.

After this point, my life of contradictions and falsehoods continued for many more years until my late 30’s, when at 37, I took the plunge, jumped off the cliff and came out to friends, family, and work and professional associates.  It was the time when I cast off the life of contradictions I was living and began to realign myself with my true self, began espousing much more liberal perspectives politically, and socially, and rid myself of the repressive and oppressive Catholicism that was part of my contradictory existence.  Such a drastic realignment caused severe panic attacks and internal anguish, but I overcame it all, and have arrived at the person I am today.

When your life is a contradiction, the truth ultimately will prevail. Thank heavens I took control of my life and came out. Today, I have nothing to hide and will freely express and divulge anything about myself. One’s past is just that… the past… but you cannot deny it…. if you do, it will come back to bite you, such as the case with Federal Circuit Court Judge Bill Pryor, whose gay porn past has been uncovered and is a clear contradiction with his life today as a hateful, homophobic judge who is not cool with gays and lesbians walking the streets as free people. According to People for the American Way, Judge Pryor “would deny gay men and lesbians the equal protection of the laws. He believes that it is constitutional to imprison gay men and lesbians for expressing their sexuality in the privacy of their own homes and has voluntarily filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court urging the Court to uphold a Texas law that criminalizes such private consensual activity.”

Clearly his contradiction has caught up to him, as mine would have as well, if I had not come out and evolved into the person I am today.  I look forward to my continuing evolution forward to becoming the person I am supposed to be, aligned with the power of the universe, channeling its energy to my creativity and true essence.

Are  you living in your own private Idaho?  Are you interwoven amongst so many contradictions and falsehoods to the point that you do not differentiate what is truth and what is not?  Do your friends and family dislike you for who you are and what you espouse because of your façade?  Then take the step out into the light!  Muster the courage to cast off your contradictions, and be who you were meant to be.  Life is way too short to waste it on useless cover-up and falsehood.  Be true to yourselves and just be yourselves and not worry about what people think.  You will overcome it all and be a much better person for it