Friday, February 15, 2008

Gay Middle Schooler Fatally Shot

Many of you have already heard about this tragic incident. An incident of a young gay eighth grader that was shot in Oxnard, California. I have been processing this event since the occurrence and I have felt really emotional about it. To steal from Peterson, which worked out well for me to share the story with you all, here is what Jim Burroway from Box Turtle Bulletin wrote:
Lawrence King, a 15-year-old student at at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard, California was shot at least twice in the head by another classmate last Tuesday. Fellow students say that King was gay and was often taunted by fellow students.

King was rushed to St. John’s Regional Medical Center, where he was initially listed in critical condition. By the end of the day, his condition was reportedly improving. But today we learn that he has been declared brain dead by two neurosurgeons at the hospital on Wednesday at 2 pm. He is being kept on life support so his organs can be harvested for transplant.

Police said the 14-year-old Brandon McInerney shot King at the start of the school day and fled the campus. He was arrested by police a few blocks away. Today, prosecutors charged him with premeditated murder, with a special allegation of using a firearm in the commission of a hate crime. Once King is removed from life support, prosecutors have indicated they will try McInerney as an adult.

This incident is undoubtedly a tragedy. A tragedy that has me shaken up as an out Californian queer in a conservative fundamentalist community that actively reminds me that they don't agree with homosexuality. We certainly do have a long way to go, especially when incidents like this occur. They remind us that younger generations are still being taught a mixed message, a mixed message that is leading to violence.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Straight Allies Working Hard

One of my best friends I met during the Equality Ride was a straight student from Samford University, Emily Holladay. She has become a huge ally and is the founder of their school's Gay-Straight Alliance. Her position tends to get her some of the same oppressive responses that LGBTQ students experience. In light of February being Black History Month, she wrote an article that celebrated the civil rights movement, but also called us to realize that we have only begun our movement towards civil rights.
Can we honestly look around, see such discrimination, and still claim that America does not have a civil rights problem?
Coretta Scott King once said, “I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people and I should stick to the issue of racial justice. But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King, Jr. said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’” Read More.
Emily unfortunately was met with resistance of students that are victims of misinformation and often don't understand the concept of equality or inclusive love. Here are some quotes from an email she got from a fellow student:
The government keeps homosexuals out of the military for other reasons than your illogical assumption. The government is not scared of them, or "uncomfortable" (as you put it) with homosexuals in the military, the soldiers are! The soldiers have the right to be uncomfortable around anybody (including bathing and sleeping near homosexuals). And, in order for our military to be the most effective, our soldiers need not be distracted or uncomfortable around the people they are fighting alongside.

It seems that you have made a follied attempt to uncover a fake contusion left over from previous influential decades of American history. Your points in your article are dangerous, insulting, and disgusting. It makes me sad that there are people like you in this world, continuing the trouble between people that are different from each other. If people avoided the mindset you proposed in your article (and the other extreme: discrimination), the world would be a much better place. You hold the opposite and equally errant position that racists, sexists, and the like hold. Step back, take off your blinders, and see for yourself what you have said in your article.
I am amazed at how a heterosexual student is willing to take risks in her education and in her reputation to stand alongside us queer folk to say that we deserve the same rights she has. Thank you to all allies who endure the same oppression we do too!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

"Ex-Gay" Therapy Stunted My Creative Growth

For those that know me well, know that the performing arts have been a major part of life growing up. I definitely identify with the cliché phrase: “I started singing when I learned to talk. I started dancing when I learned to walk.” I definitely drove my family insane with the amount of music that came out of my room. I invested countless hours and perhaps hundreds to thousands of dollars in lessons, traveling expenses, and performances. One of my biggest dreams was to be on Broadway (no surprise there) or to travel the world as a notable opera singer. I personally don’t think that I was “great,” but I was definitely on my way to being well recognized and getting closer to my goals (I am really trying not to sound arrogant here, but I was in a place where I was aware of the talent I possessed). I was involved with a couple different theatre companies and got to be on stage regionally. I performed at festivals with vocal groups and we did quite well. Dancing was something I enjoyed, but never something I really did in a big spotlight—hip-hop and jazz were my fortes. Towards the end of high school I began to pursue bigger dreams, including auditioning for company roles on Broadway, applying to Juilliard School of the Performing Arts (I applied junior year), and declaring my major at some schools as either a Vocal Performance major or a Theatre major. My plan was simple at one point, I was going to make it as a performer or go into the Navy (which another dream of mine).

I’ve mentioned before how throughout high school I was often already presumed to be gay because of my interest in the performing arts. Go figure they were right, but as we know stereotypes don’t always prove everything. As I was watching YouTube videos last night, I was watching some amazing vocalists and dancers. I began having one of those movie flashback nostalgia moments. It got me to thinking about the performing arts in my life and how they have gone through the same effects I have through my experiences.

Specifically would be the way my passion and dedication were addressed during my ex-gay experience. To put it bluntly, ex-gay therapy really destroyed my creativity (or at least attempted to). As with many ex-gay programs, participants are often taught how to “butch themselves up” so that they will be more inclined to be straight, usually this involves participating in male-contact sports or other “masculine assumed” activities. Apparently, dancing and singing aren’t masculine. It was recommended that I give it all up to God so that I could become the straight man of God I am called to be. Through compromise I agreed to stop dancing, since it was never anything really too big in my life (well at least not by itself). I just finished up with a variety show project with a theatre, so I fasted from theatrical performance as well. I was unwilling to give up vocal performance though. I was on a music scholarship at Azusa Pacific University and needed the funds. So my counselor recommended that I sing either bass or baritone, as opposed to tenor, because apparently tenors are more inclined to be homosexual. I agreed and began training to deepen my voice (since I had issues being a bass), I also informed my choir director that I would be singing baritone instead of tenor.

Since starting my recovery process, I realized how much my creative growth was stunted as a result of ex-gay therapy. Although I’m re-entering the performance scene as a theatrical performance activist in-training, I am still unable to fully reclaim being a vocalist or a dancer. Part of me was (and still partially) afraid to sing again because 1. I am reminded of my counseling experience. 2. I am still learning to affirm my own masculinity. 3. I need train again. I’ve sung in the past year, but I still maintain a lower vocal range. When I’m home alone though, I do let it all out. Same thing with dancing. When Vince is at work, I sometimes clear all the furniture in the leaving room and go for it. It’s almost like ex-therapy has instilled this hard to understand stage fright that I can’t explain. I continue to let myself come to a place where I am comfortable reclaiming all parts of my performance life. I have no problem acting. I can act just fine. But I am still hesitant to sing and dance. What does that mean for me?

No Fems!

"20 year old gay Latino seeks straight-acting (no fems!) white or latino gay/bi guy..."

I know that I am not the only person that has seen this over and over again. But am I the only person that doesn't know what a "straight-acting" gay guy is? Sounds sort of like an oxymoron to me. How does a homosexual act straight? Does he have sex with women? In theory, there is no such thing.

Unfortunately though, many of friends often seek out these so-called "straight-acting" gays. So what are they are doing here? I know what they mean when they say it: they are seeking a masculine guy. But by calling masculine guys "straight-acting" they are asserting that masculinity is only a heterosexual trait. Sadly, they are also feeding into the stereotypical belief that gay men are feminine. Thus lumping together gender expression and sexual orientation. A common mistake that is happening more and more with many recent homosexuals. But why is that? Why are they after the "straight-acting" gays/bisexuals?

Talking with many of my friends who seek these type of guys, they often want a man that is an unnoticeable-gay or a deceiving guy, you know the ones where you have to question it and not be sure (coming back to the gender thing again). Many of my friends aren't "out;" therefore, if they aren't with a stereotypical guy and they are seen in public, they are less likely to be outed. Because if they were with a feminine guy, then preconceived notions about feminine guys will enter the minds of others and draw them to the conclusion that they are a gay couple.

This seems to be my latest frustration. I am doing my best to address this issue as it arises, but it either seems like they don't get it, or they don't want to understand. How do I break these misunderstandings?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Prophecy

Today I was going down memory lane and decided to go through my old high school yearbooks. One thing that is amazing is the evolution of my appearance--which continued in college too. But I was enjoying reading everything that my friends and classmates wrote in my yearbook. When I got to Senior year (when I was with the young woman I was to marry and I had NO IDEA I was gay), I came across one message in particular that I literally said, "Wow!"