Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Very Gay Christmas Story ... And A Nice Way To Say Goodbye To 2015

Let’s end the year with a favorite story of mine … a brand new story, at that.

Last spring, out there in Irvine, California, not the most progressive area in that state, Dr. Mary Pham decided to show her support for the LGBT community, and marriage equality, by raising a rainbow flag featuring intertwining wedding rings.

Not a big deal, you know, just a little something called Freedom of Speech, but it turned out to be a huge deal among her many anti-LGBT, anti-equality neighbors.

Pham first flew the flag following a ceremony with friends in June, and it became a prominent feature, drawing almost immediate attention, though not the kind Pham had hoped.

Many neighbors began complaining about the flag to the neighborhood's property-management company, PowerStone Property Management, and one of Pham’s friends also offered a warning:
“Not in Irvine, Mary.”
By July, Pham was told that many e-mail complaints had been sent to her Home Owners Association, with one such complainant referring to the flag as the "Fag Flag" before adding:
Is the GAY PRIDE [in large font and rainbow colors] display protected by free speech rights? The Orange Tree Patio Homes neighbors are shaking their heads in disgust. Sexuality is private, and [this] display is very, very public. It's even visible from the tennis courts.”
Egads! The snobs at the club can see a rainbow flag!!!!

Another e-mail:
“[The residents]...have had their 'gay pride' flag up for six to eight weeks. The flag has two wedding rings interlocked and many rainbow-colored stripes. It is an eyesore. In my opinion, it is okay to feel strongely [sic] about a cause. But to leave their 'political statement' up for this long is ridiculous, and I am offended. Most people do not choose the gay lifestyle, and personally, it irritates me to have to be reminded every day of two men having sex with each other. It's not a fun thing to look at as I come and go every day. If someone left their sign up regarding an election for more than a week or two, it would get very old and be an eyesore.”
Wait, so when this one sees a rainbow she, or maybe it’s a he, pictures The Gay Sex? Maybe the flag is the least of his or her problems.

After a few more complaints, community manager Amanda McGinley replied to one of the e-mails:
“We have not had any calls yet about the flag on the home ... But I did see it on the property inspection and contacted legal counsel to see if the HOA can do anything about it. Civil Code does provide protection for homeowners to put up flags, banners and noncommercial signs, and the Association can do nothing to prohibit it. I have a feeling that this will not last long, but I could be wrong.”

She was wrong. Mary Pham continued to fly the flag though she became concerned about what might happen because of it. Upon the advice of the executive director of her local LGBT center, Pham filed a police report, just in case.

Then, the neighbor reactions became more hostile. A Westboro Baptist Church flyer was printed out and left at her door, and a flyer was left on her windshield that said:
Pham's resolve became all the more hardened:
“Before, it was just a flag. Now, I’m going to fight back.”
And so she did, at Christmas, like this:

It was a very gay Christmas in Pham's neighborhood, you know, and there was a damned thing her homophobic hater neighbors could do about it.

Well, except for that one who spent the entire holiday thinking about men doing it.

And, on that note: Happy New Year everybody!

Ten More Weird And Cool Facts From LGBT History

There are some folks who think Gay is something new; something that just sprang up in the last half century or so. But I’m here to say that we’re here, we’re queer, and we’ve been here, and queer, all along.

So, here are ten more weird and cool facts about The LGBT folks:
1. In the Klementi tribe of Albania, first observed in the 1400s, if a virgin swore before 12 witnesses that she would not marry, she was then recognized as male, carried weapons and herded flocks.
2. The French called homosexuality the ‘Italian vice’ in the 16th and 17th centuries, the ‘English vice’ in the 18th century, the ‘Oriental vice’ in the 19th century, and the ‘German vice’ starting from 1870 and into the 20th century; maybe it’s not a vice at all in France?.
3. Most people know the origins of the word ‘gay’, but the word ‘lesbian’ was first used from around 1590 to mean a tool – a stick made of lead … from the isle of Lesbos … used by stonemasons. It was flexible so it could be used to measure or mold objects to irregular shapes. A ‘lesbian rule’ was also used to mean being flexible with the law.
4. Julie D’Aubigny was a 17th century bisexual French opera singer and fencing master who fought and won at least 10 life-or-death duels, performed nightly shows on the biggest opera stage in the world and once took the Holy Orders just so she could sneak into a convent and have sex with a nun.
5. An 18th century English term for sex between women was the ‘Game of Flats’. So what’s this ‘Game of Thrones’?
6. A molly house was an 18th century English term for a room or bar where gay men would meet. Patrons of the molly house would enact mock weddings and children being born.
7. Trans man Albert Cashier fought for the Union in the American Civil War. At one point, he was captured by the Confederates but managed to escape by overpowering a prison guard.
8. A Boston marriage, in the 19th century, referred to two women living together financially independent of a man.
9. The word ‘homosexual’ … coined in 1869 … is older than the word ‘heterosexual’ … coined in 1892. Take that breeders! I kid!
10. Edward White Benson, [photo at the top], the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1883 to 1896, was thought to have been repressing his homosexuality. His wife, brother-in-law and five of his six children were also gay.
Stay tuned … there’s more.

Can I Get An Amen: A 95-Year-Old Holocaust Survivor Funds Rescue Of 2,000 ISIS Victims

George Weidenfeld is a Holocaust survivor, able to escape death in 1938 due to the kindness of the Plymouth Brethren and Quakers, Christian strangers who clothed him and fed him and helped his escape to Great Britain.  And when he arrived in Britain, Weidenfeld had just a few shillings to his name, but within a decade he had established the Weidenfeld and Nicholson publishing business.

And he never forgot that kindness of those strangers, so now, some seventy-seven years later, he is, as he calls it, ‘repaying a debt’ by aiding in the escape of 2,000 Middle-Eastern Christians from ISIS.

Weidenfeld, a member of Britain’s House of Lords since 1976, oversees the Weidenfeld Safe Havens Fund, which was able to support 150 Syrian Christians escape to Poland a few weeks ago.  
I had a debt to repay. It applies to so many young people who were on the Kinderstransport. It was very high-minded operation and we Jews should also be thankful and do something for the endangered Christians.”
The kinderstransport is what the Germans named the organized shipment of Jewish children, often times by their own parents, to help them escape the Holocaust.

And so he is; the Weidenfeld Safe Havens Fund aims to help 2,000 Syrian refugees and is set to offer them 12-18 months of paid support for all the rescues.

And all because George Weidenfeld never forgot.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Architecture Wednesday: Residence BO

This home is in the Ukraine, not necessarily my go-to vacation spot right now, but it looks like a castle in Italy and that, for me, is always a plus.

The home was designed to resemble a Tuscan Villa, with finishing materials, interior and exterior decorations brought in from Italy, Greece and France. The old beams, the stone walls, the rustic iron-works all scream ancient home, but it’s all new, and yet so Old World … I feel like wearing my slippers and having a ball in there tomorrow night …

Meet 11 People Who Stood Up To Bigots In 2015

While we’ve had a great year as a community, yes, we still have miles to go before we’re all equal, especially when faced with bigotry, intolerance, homophobia, and just plain hatred.

But, over the last year many people have stepped up for the LGBT community and, courtesy of the Huffington Post, I’m here to say ‘Thanks’:

#1 Zea, The Ohio Girl Who Stood Up To A Homophobic Preacher

Following the Supreme Court's ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, supporters gathered in celebration all over the country — but, of course, so did some haters. Seven-year-old in Zea, however, stood firm in the face of hate by waving her rainbow flag at a homophobic street preacher ranting at her through a microphone.

Three cheers for Zea for never backing down.

#2 The Equality House
2015 proved to be another remarkable year for The Equality House — the rainbow structure that sits right across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church compound. 

Throughout the past year, The Equality House held a virtual pizza fundraiser for homeless youth in response to an anti-gay pizza shop, staged a gay "Wizard Wedding" between Gandalf and Dumbledore and erected a billboard calling out the ignorance of Kim Davis in her own hometown — just to name a few. 

#3 Omar Currie
Currie, a third grade teacher made a bold move last spring after he heard a number of his students calling another classmate "gay." He sat his kids down and read a book called King & King, a children's book that features a same-sex romance. 
"One student said that it made them uncomfortable, saying, ‘Well, I’ve never seen two men marry each other.’ I said, 'Well, it’s normal to feel uncomfortable when you feel something new, but what is the moral? The moral is to treat people well, no matter who they are.'"
#4 Kelly Lauren
A transgender woman in Chicago made a bold and powerful statement in November in response to Houston, Texas, voters striking down HERO, that proposed legislation to extend nondiscrimination protections to the LGBT community, including enabling trans people to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity. 

Kelly Lauren, a transgender woman and drag entertainer, posted the photo to her Facebook account as a tongue-in-cheek response asking:

"Houston, do you REALLY want me in the same restroom as your husband or boyfriend?"
#5 Paul Henson & Ashley Ramage
The parents of a three-year-old boy in Virginia gained viral fame this year when they posted a photo of their son, Caiden, wearing a princess Halloween costume from the popular movie "Frozen."  The pair told Caiden that he could be whatever he wanted for Halloween—it didn't matter if the outfit was marketed for a boy or girl. 
"As children get older, they distance themselves from their parents. Why start that split sooner than they need to? It's important for children to know that their parents will stand by them no matter what. Ashley and I will do whatever it takes to keep our son happy and not take his innocence and imagination from him." — Paul Henson
#6 Digital Activist Mike Melgaard
One of the breakout heroes of 2015 proved to be Mike Melgaard — an activist who brilliantly trolled anti-LGBT bigots on various businesses’ Facebook pages throughout the year. 

Melgaard created fake support accounts for different businesses after they made pro-queer moves and experienced anti-LGBT backlash from the public. 

#7 Carla Lewis 
Carla Lewis, a transgender veteran, made waves across the Internet this year when she posted a photo of herself wearing a polarizing t-shirt:
"Transgender Veteran: I fought for your right to hate me." 
The shirt commented on an often-overlooked reality: a number of the men and women who have or are currently serving in the United States military identify as transgender. 

#8 Russell Hughes
A hair salon owner made a public declaration against discrimination in June after a customer refused to let an employee cut his son's hair because he perceived the man to be gay.

Russell Hughes installed this sign on the front of his hair salon after the incident, proudly letting customers know that they can expect a haircut free of any form of discrimination when they enter his establishment.

#9 The Red Raven Espresso Parlor
The Red Raven Espresso Parlor in Fargo, North Dakota, took a stand against legislators in April who struck down a bill that would have provided discrimination protections for the queer community. 

The owners posted a sign in the window banning the legislators who struck down the bill from the establishment, and claimed they could only enter the shop if accompanied by a member of the LGBT community. The owner later clarified in a Facebook post that the ban was meant to "satirize the environment that the legislators created for the LGBTQ+ community by voting against" the bill.

#10 'Willy Wonka' Subway Rider

An unidentified subway rider in New York City shut down a homophobic preacher in January by drowning out his hate with a beautiful rendition of "I've Got A Golden Ticket" from "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." 

The subway hero's actions were applauded by his fellow mass transit passengers.

#11 Jesse Mount
In June, Australian Nick Jensen wrote an op-ed for the Canberra City News in which he claimed that he and his wife Sarah would “as a matter of conscience, refuse to recognize the government’s regulation of marriage if its definition includes the solemnization of same-sex couples" — effectively saying they would divorce if Australia legalized same-sex marriage. 

In response, Jesse Mount organized a Facebook group for people who agreed they would celebrate the couple's divorce if and when same-sex marriage came Down Under. The massive Facebook group became a place where same-sex couples shared photos and stories about their own lives and relationships in an effort to show the faces of healthy queer love.

So, we have our heroes and our allies, and they’re little girls, and stylists and veterans and baristas and Moms and Dads. With their help, the march goes on ….

ISBL Asshat of the Year

She hasn’t appeared on this bloggy thing as an Asshat of the Week, but she has appeared here more than once for saying, and doing, the bidding of asshats.

Last week, she went to Houston and prayed with Pastor Ed Young of Houston’s Second Baptist Church. Young is an antigay pastor who led the successful fight against Houston‘s Equal Rights Ordinance [HERO] which would have offered basic protections to LGBTQ workers from discrimination on the grounds of sexuality or gender identity.

Young called the law “godless” and “a very serious moral issue”:
“Those of us who believe men should use men’s facilities and women should use women’s facilities, we will be discriminated against. It is totally deceptive and it is deadly–and I trust that you will vote no! No! NO!”
He said the law would “carry our city further down the road of being totally secular and godless” and also helped produce a commercial against the law which depicted a little girl getting raped in a public bathroom. And she prayed with him. But that’s not all …

Earlier this year, she came out against same-sex marriage only to backtrack a few days later. She has also said she’ll most likely vote Republican in 2016, despite the fact that every single Republican candidate is against LGBTQ rights and women’s issues.

Then she complains that the hardest part about being a woman was “figuring out what to wear,” and now she’s saying this:
“I am guessing this is probably not the last time I will say the wrong thing, or say something the wrong way. I promise to keep learning, and to try to be more articulate in the future. We have a lot of hard work to do. I am looking forward to doing it together.”
You oughta start by not praying with anti-gay pastors just for your “reality” show; you could start by supporting the community that stepped up to support you the moment you came out; you could start by caring less about how you look and more about what you say.

And so, for that, even though this is your first year 'out,' Caitlyn Jenner, you are the ISBL Asshat of the Year.

Here's hoping next year you'll do better.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Fifteen Of The Dumbest Things Said About The LGBT Community In 2015

It’s no exaggeration to say that 2015 was a great year for the LGBT community, just like it’s no exaggeration to say that the march still goes on and we still have a lot of work to do.

But … let’s take a moment as the year winds down to look at a list of Fifteen Of The Dumbest Things Said About The LGBT Community In 2015 … courtesy of the Huffington Post:

Because of gay marriage, people will soon want to marry their lawnmowers
Yup, that’s what Iowa Republican Congressman and Asshat, Steve King said, citing an unnamed Christian lawyer who reportedly told him that only "one human" is needed for a marriage now.

I haven’t seen one marriage between a man and his tractor yet, though.
Same-sex marriage will lead to "love affairs between men and animals."
Pat Robertson, a certifiable loon and homophobe, argued that the Supreme Court's June 26 ruling used "faulty sociological grounds" and warned that:

"Watch what happens, love affairs between men and animals are going to be absolutely permitted. Polygamy, without question, is going to be permitted, and it will be called a right."

I still love Tuxedo, but, yeah, just as a friend, not a feline husband.

Same-sex attraction is like eating doughnuts
TLC aired a controversial special, "My Husband's Not Gay," and profiled Jeff, a Mormon man who said he'd chosen to marry a woman, Tanya, despite being attracted to other men. Jeff defended his decision to marry a woman using this analogy:

"I love doughnuts. So you could say I am oriented toward doughnuts, and if I was being true to myself, I would eat donuts a lot more than I eat doughnuts ... [but] am I denying myself because I don't eat doughnuts as much as I might like to eat doughnuts? I'm not."

Crazy, too, isn’t he?

Pastor warns of a "sodomite demon," contracted through kissing, sex
In July, James David Manning of ATLAH World Missionary Church warned heterosexual women about a "sodomite demon," which can be contracted through sexual intercourse with men who have had sex with other men.

"If a man injects himself in another man and injects his semen into him, and he's crazy, then that's gonna get in his blood as well. If demons are in him... you're gonna get penetrated by demons."

Demon semen. Who knew?

California's drought is the result of marriage equality, LGBT rights
In May, Bill Koenig of World Watch Daily, a "biblically relevant" news site that focuses on Israel, the Middle East and the White House, suggested that California’s four-year drought was caused by same-sex marriage:

"We've got a state that, over and over again, will go against the word of God, that will continually take positions on marriage and abortion and on a lot of things that are just completely opposed to the Scriptures. So there very likely could be a drought component to this judgment."

Again, I wonder, if The Gays are so All Powerful, why did we wait for the Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage? Why not just send locusts and drought everywhere until we got our way?

Gay "X-Men" character will "indoctrinate" youth
Evangelist Franklin Graham blasted Marvel Comics after iconic "X-Men" character Iceman was revealed to be gay, arguing that it was "another attempt to indoctrinate our young people to accept this destructive lifestyle."

"God’s Word says homosexuality is a sin, and we are to be on guard against all sin," he wrote. "God calls us to repent, turn from our sins, and put our trust in His Son Jesus Christ who died and rose again to pay the penalty for sin."

If all it took to make people gay was seeing a gay character on TV or in movies, would everyone be gay? And wouldn’t that be great?

Baltimore protests are the result of same-sex marriage
In April, Texas Representative Bill Flores made a bizarre link between same-sex marriage rights and the unrest in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray:

"Look at what is going on in Baltimore today. You see the issues that are raised there. Healthy marriages are the ones between a man and a woman because they can have a healthy family and they can raise children in a way that’s best for their future, not only socially but psychologically, economically, from a health perspective."

So, a man in police custody died because marriage equality? That’s an idiotic stretch even for a Texas politician.

Parents should drown themselves instead of letting kids read "Harry Potter"
In November, Pastor Kevin Swanson blasted Harry Potter, and his opposition to J.K Rowling's iconic series stemmed from the author's revelation that she always thought of Dumbledore the wizard as a gay man. 

"America, repent that Dumbledore emerged as a homosexual mentor for Harry Potter, that Hiccup’s mentor in ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ emerged as a homosexual himself in order that history might repeat itself one more time."

Fictional gay people are scary, I guess?

Anti-gay bigotry should be blamed on Muslims
In May, Rush Limbaugh had some eyebrow-raising advice for businesses who want to deny services to same-sex couples: blame Muslims:

"I pointed out the other day, well, then should we maybe stop flouting and flaunting gay marriage, because gay marriage is really disapproved in Islam. Gay marriage, homosexual behavior is not tolerated, it is not permitted and it is punished severely when it is caught, when it's spied. And yet in American media all over the place we are celebrating gay marriage, we are flaunting gay marriage, and I ask, does this not also offend Muslims?"

So in one fell swoop he blames The Gays and The Muslims for all our ills.

Gay people should be put on an island to see if they die out
Texas Loon, and Congressman, Louie Gohmert, took his opposition to same-sex marriage to an entirely new level during a speech at Virginia's Liberty University in November. 

"How about if we take four heterosexual couples, and put them on an island where they have everything they need to live and exist, and we take four couples of just men and put them on an island where they have all they need to survive. And then let's take four couples of just women and put them on an island, and then let's come back in 100 years and see which one nature favors." 

Obviously, the best idea would be to put Gohmert on an island and never go back.

The word "garriage" should be used for "gay marriage"
Pat Fagan, who is the director of the Family Research Council's Marriage and Religion Research Institute, would like marriages between two men referred to as "garriage," and those between two women "larriage." 

This from a man whose last name is Fagan? Seriously?

There aren't enough places for anti-gay people to shop anymore
Mission: America's Linda Harvey, whose opposition to the LGBT community is well-established, argued that the number of "family-friendly, Christian-affirming" shops and restaurants she'll allow herself to frequent during the holiday shopping season is "growing shorter all the time." 

“Think about the grave harm homosexuality is doing to American culture, to our schools, to our freedoms, to our churches. Let’s do what we can to honor the standards of Christ during the celebration of His birthday."

Let’s honor Christ by showing our hatred. How, um, Christ-like?

Pat Robertson blames the gays for the U.S. stock market plunge
In September, Certifiable Loon™ Pat Robertson suggested that recent turmoil in the stock market was somehow tied to same-sex marriage:

"Our finances right now are hanging by a thread. The rupture of the entire financial framework of our world is so tenuous right now. If there was ever a time that we need the grace of God, it is now, and unless something is done to change the courts and to change the way this country is going, it is just a question of time before the fabric ruptures and we’ll all suffer because of it." 

Again, if The Gays can shut down the stock market to get our way, why didn’t we do it sooner?

People are "born" homophobic
Bryan Fischer twisted Gaga’s pro-equality mantra for his own hate message:

"Who would choose, at this time in our nation's history, to be a Christian? You're ridiculed. You're mocked. You're made fun of. So our defense is, hey, I was born that way." 

Nope, you were indoctrinated by your parents or your own mind, and as for the hate, look at a child and learn that hate is taught … by folks like Bryan Fischer.

Woman sues all gay people on God's behalf
Identifying herself as an ambassador for God and Jesus Christ, Sylvia Ann Driskell, a Nebraska woman filed a federal lawsuit against all homosexual people on the planet for breaking “religious and moral laws” in May. 

Driskell argued that “homosexuality is a sin and that the homosexuals know it is a sin to live a life of homosexuality. Why else would they have been hiding in the closet(?)”

Um, to spare ourselves from people like you, Sylvia.

Dumb is funny, right, but it’s also scary what some folks believe and say aloud. Let’s hope the ignorance starts slipping away in 2016.