“Kidnapped for Christ” is a new documentary that tells the story of teenagers sent to an evangelical Christian boarding school outside the U.S. where school personnel attempt to rid them of feelings of same sex attraction or other “ungodly” influences.
With ALL Senate Democrats supporting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, including conservative Arkansas Democratic Senator Pryor, the Senate appears to be ready to pass ENDA this week. Five GOP Senators also voted in favor of ENDA today, but not Tennessee's Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, they voted against protecting LGBT people from employment discrimination!
An audience consisting of mostly University of Mississippi students, including an estimated 20 Ole Miss football players, disrupted the University’s theater department production of “The Laramie Project” Tuesday night, heckling cast members and shouting anti-gay slurs
LGBT people from throughout the country are expected to join civil rights movement leaders in a series of events this week that include a mass rally at the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic 1963 March on Washington for civil rights.
The rally and several of the other events, among other things, will honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, who delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963, and the lead organizer of that event, black civil rights organizer Bayard Rustin, who was gay.
Three national LGBT organizations – the National Black Justice Coalition, the Human Rights Campaign, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force are among a broad coalition of U.S. civil rights groups participating in the events.
“The LGBT community is a key part of this broad coalition of Americans that will participate in the march,” HRC said in a statement on Monday.
1963 March on Washington (Photo public domain)
The HRC statement says the march on Saturday will call on Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, an LGBT civil rights bill that has been stalled in Congress for decades. LGBT participants will also join mainline civil rights groups in calling on Congress to pass a restoration of the Voting Rights Act, comprehensive immigration reform legislation, and other key priorities of the civil and human rights movement.
The Memphis LGBT community lost a hero and pioneer of the Memphis gay rights movement Saturday Aug. 3. Allen Cook was one of a handful of gay activists in Memphis back in the 1980s who formed the Memphis Gay Coalition, and later the Aid to End Aids Committee (ATEAC) which became Friends for Life. He published the Memphis Gay Community's newspaper, GAZE, which became Triangle Journal News for over 20 years.
Many people have shared the ways Allen touched their lives, including those who called the Memphis Gay Switchboard, which Allen often manned from his home. Allen was the first person many talked to when they came out and called the switchboard. He helped organize to fight AIDS and care for the victims of the 80s plague that was ignored by Ronald Reagan. He helped create and establish Friends for Life to feed and care for people with AIDS in the midsouth. He touched hundreds, perhaps thousands, of peoples lives.
His later years were spent mainly in the quiet of his home which he shared with his partner of 30 years, John Stillwell. John had a stroke about 10 years ago and lost the ability to speak, and was partially disabled. Allen cared for John on limited economic means. After being laid off he and John survived only on Allen's meager Social Security benefits. A journal he left behind tells of the economic and emotional strain he endured, and left detailed instructions on how to care for John.
I met Allen when I moved to Memphis to go to graduate school what was then Memphis State University in 1984. I came to Memphis right out of Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas after coming out to myself and my family, to work on my master's degree in sociology at MSU. When I arrived at MSU the gay student group, GALA (Students for Gay and Lesbian Awareness) was defunct. I and a few gay students restarted the group, and Allen was very supportive of us.
In the 1990s, I organized the Memphis Lesbian and Gay Coalition for Justice (LGCJ) and once again Allen supported our efforts by allowing me to write articles in the Triangle Journal News. In the 2000s Allen allowed me to write a regular column, Queer Notes, and I helped deliver the TJN for $50 a month, which was probably most of his profit from the paper. When the Bush recession hit in 2006 he decided to turn the TJN over to the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center. It was around that time that John had a stroke and Allen was laid off from his job.
Sadly, I lost touch with Allen for many years, and like many did not know about the economic hardships they faced. We were reunited on Facebook a few weeks before his death. Allen began posting about his health and after going to the doctor was hit with the bad news, he had last stage inoperable lung cancer. No cure, no treatment to stop it. He posted about difficulties getting around, driving, etc. and I began to realize that he needed my help even though he did not want to ask for it.
After Allen posted a message on Facebook saying that John had a seizure and was taken to the hospital, I went to check on him fearing he was home all alone. Allen was very ill and almost bed ridden. He knew he was running out of time for get John's SSI set up so he could be taken care of. He was worried about John more than himself. I found out that Allen had been cooking for John even while his health was making it very difficult for him to do so.
I began posting messages to friends on his condition and many of his friends came together to form a support group. We set up a meal program and got legal help to get John's disability insurance.
Realizing the difficulties we faced providing him care at home, Allen moved into Methodist Residential Hospice care the last week of July. Many of Allen's friends got to visit with him and we did all we could to comfort him in his last hours. Allen kept a sense of humor even to the end of his life. He got irritated when people asked him how he was doing, "I'm dying!" he would tell them.
When I went to visit him on Saturday Aug. 3 I knew it would probably be his last day. I wanted to be by his side, and I watched him slowly drift into a deep sleep and held his hand as he stopped breathing. It was my first experience sitting with someone as they passed away, and one of the greatest moments of my life.
I regret losing touch with Allen and John for so many years, but will work with others to take care of John for Allen, and to remind the next generation of LGBT youth of what Allen Cook did to make their lives better in Memphis.
Actually only Sec. 3 of DOMA was overturned, the section prohibiting Federal recognition and benefits for same-sex married couples. Sec. 2, allowing states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages in other states still stands. Overturning the remaining anti-marriage equality state laws and constitutional amendments will require another case challenging one of them, but this ruling clearly lays the legal foundation for a broader ruling upholding marriage as a federal right and overturning laws and amendments that infringe on that right. So there is much work to do... And just as important, maybe more so, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is still sitting in Congress waiting for action. Employment discrimination against LGBT people is still legal in most of the United States, and we can't make same-sex marriage the main focus on LGBT activism.
The struggle for LGBT equality continues and will be fought in state legislatures, Congress and the Supreme Court for many years, so the outcomes of the 2014 and 2016 elections will determine how long we have to wait for equal rights in marriage and work. We must organize to take the House back from the TeaRepublicans in 2014 and not allow a Republican in the White House in 2016.
Unbelievably, Jason Collins is the first gay male professional team athlete to come out. Hopefully his courageous statement will help break down the homophobia in professional male sports...
Homophobia has been a long-term problem in male professional sports, which I and UK gay activist Peter Tatchell tried to call attention to back in 2002, when we protested Mike Tyson's homophobic rants when he came to Memphis to fight Lenox Lewis...
Mike Tyson Hugs Gay Activist
An important look at poverty in the LGBT community, especially among LGBT racial minorities, and why we cannot let the fight for marriage equality divert attention from the main issue--economic justice.
He is correct that the right to marry is not the end of the fight for LGBT equality, but I think he is wrong to dismiss the fight, and near victory, for gay and lesbian couples to legally marry as a conservative strategy that falls short of true liberation. The freedom to marry is not the only, or the most important, goal for LGBT liberation, but for many gay and lesbian couples it would be a major step forward in achieving civil rights and equality. There are other issues, like economic inequality and job discrimination, that most also be addressed, but it is not accurate to dismiss marriage equality as a conservative strategy and goal that falls short.
By most accounts, the SCOTUS may not issue a sweeping national endorsement of marriage equality, but they are likely to dismiss the Prop. 8 case (thus allowing gay/lesbian marriages to continue to CA), and may strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which the Obama administration refused to defend. So we expect, at the least, for Prop 8 and DOMA to be put to rest in June....