Posts tagged ‘October 20th’

October 19, 2011

Spirit Day tomorrow.

This says it all.

October 11, 2010

A double rainbow for October 11th.

Yes I know the second rainbow is fading – but to have the thought.

There hasn’t been a lot to celebrate these past few weeks with all the suicides and new ones emerging every day but it is Coming out Day today so I felt it merited something. As a Canadian I guess it is easy for me to say as I belong to a nation that embraces human nature. In much of the rest of the world it isn’t the case.  I live in one of those places now where it is a daily reality. Where kids spend much of their lives fearing judgment and where the statute books say if they engage in a physical act as part of their love they face jail time. It isn’t enforced in T & T but the fact that it could be is is disturbing. If you are a guy who kills another guy  here’s  the surest way to get off of a murder charge – say “he made a pass at me.”  I have seen that work multiple times.

As a self-identified North American I also look at the kids who killed themselves because they were bullied these past weeks and I get angry. Really angry. Some of the cases like Seth Walsh were open at an early age. In Seth’s case it was 13.  That may surprise a lot of people who think it is a ‘choice’ but if you are heterosexual I am pretty sure you knew it at a much earlier age even if you couldn’t define it. Seth lived in a small community and probably just spent his entire life feeling different. Somewhere along the line he decided that he found a word for what he was and wanted to express it. He wanted to celebrate the wonderful thing that was his life. Instead, he was bullied and made to feel so awful that he decided to hang himself. He heard what the mainstream religious world said about him, saw the rejection from his friends and decided that he could not go on.  A lot of people have blood on their hands. At work today we started talking about bullying and suicide and I brought up the subject of sexual orientation. I heard that there must have been more to it than that – killing yourself because you are gay?  I heard that lots of kids are taunted but they don’t kill themselves …nerds get bullied too. Sometimes empathy is a rare commodity. There is a fundamental difference between being bullied because you are small , or because you are nerdy and being bullied because you are gay or perceived to be gay or lesbian or transgendered.  Being small or nerdy you go home and your family loves you and so does your church ( if you are so inclined) and the greater society. You don’t live in a world that says you are evil and going to hell. Or that you somehow chose a path that was wrong.  I think we always choose the only path that we see. To put that sort of pressure on a little kid  is where fundamental evil comes in.

So on Coming Out Day ( except in the UK …because they just had to be different)  I think it is important that people tell someone they care about a little more about themselves. The nature of the world dictates that you look around and decide that is is safe to do so. So, if you are a Taliban member in a group meeting, I would urge you to think carefully ( but I am sure you are not alone) . If you are a mormon elder and you want to wave your arms in the air today I suggest you think carefully about it and then do it. You don’t have to tell the world just someone you care about. Baby steps.

And I am very proud that the amazing daughter of my cousin ( yes I know that makes her my second cousin…but she calls me her cousin) came out this evening about her relationship with her boyfriend.  Twelve years of loving each other and she chose Coming Out Day. Well done Shivani.

To me the most important day will be Spirit Day. October 20th, 2010 in memory of the kids who died as a result of bullying because they were gay or perceived to be gay. Wear purple.

October 9, 2010

Seth Walsh video from the L.A. Times

Seth Walsh, a sweet kid who was bullied to death like so many others. In many ways he reminds me a bit of myself at that age – a lovable misfit who didn’t and couldn’t fit in. I think this video which has images of his life and the voices of his grandparents who decided to speak out because they feel that people should remember him as am amazing child who was not simply “the gay kid who hung himself” is important.

I think it is well worth watching.

Hope that works. If it doesn’t let me know via comments.

October 8, 2010

8. the mormon proposition

I have watched the documentary 8. the mormon proposition twice in the last few days. The first time I saw it I was alone and sat on my couch getting angrier and angrier that any group would oppose the right of two people to marry. The fact it was largely funded by a Utah based church with a history that would qualify it for an Oscar in hypocrisy made it all the more obscene. Here is a trailer for the film that I would urge everyone to see – it isn’t just about California – it is about how religions, protected by tax free status, can use their power to justify the continued inequity being meted out to one group of people.

The second time I saw it was the very next day when one of my best friends Alvin joined me for my evening walk and then came home with me to have dinner. I told him he had to see it and I watched it again with him.  I saw him getting more and more irate and asking questions about the mormons ( I refuse to dignify them with a capital letter) to the point that I worried about any mormon who happened to be in his path as he headed home afterwards.  Alvin is a strong and rare activist for the gay community in Trinidad and doesn’t seem to give a damn what people tell him. The film hurt him deeply and he is now getting even more active in raising his lone but loud voice to deal with the issues.  I think it is important that we see films like this and read as many blogs and news sources as we can. The problem is not a California problem  – it is a worldwide problem. As a Canadian I could say that equality is part of my constitution and forget the rest of the world – that would be plainly wrong. As long as there is a single person in the worldwide family who feels he or she is a second class citizen none of us should sleep easy.

Back to the film.  It details the fight of the LGBT community in California ,who had only recently been allowed to marry,having to face a ballot proposition that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. It was a measure that the mormon church took very seriously as it was personally threatened by the notion of two people who love each other getting married. The film notes the irony of  a church ,which is based in Utah solely because other Americans chased them there as they believed in polygamy ,  challenging another group over marriage. It is well constructed and shows the reality of lives being crushed without wandering into manipulation. The financial actions of the mormons were appalling and shamelessly secretive as illustrated by documents obtained by the filmmakers.

Prop 8 is still awaiting a court decision but I would urge anyone to join the NOH8 Campaign even if you don’t live in California. Sometimes worldwide support can help change things. Also, I don’t believe that religion has any special protection from criticism when it makes no sense . With that in mind I would like to point out that mormons have some seriously warped beliefs. God talks to your church elders personally? Really? The book just disappeared? Sure it did. Polygamy in the afterlife? Ummmm.

Hatred is an awful thing. I have no idea why people don’t see discrimination against the LGBT community as exactly the same as discrimination against any other group.  Perhaps if they had an LGBT child they might understand.  Whenever I see arguments using words like “choice” or “lifestyle” my blood boils. Seriously, why would anyone choose to be part of a group that suffers such prejudice?  I would encourage anyone who thinks about using the choice argument to read some  actual medical studies. Also, if you want to pick your fave Old Testament passages and use them as ammunition please ensure you read all the other weird things in there and follow them yourself.

As I was driving to my walking area this evening I actually saw two mormon missionaries in their short sleeved polyester shirts walking along the road – I am not one to hate but it was all I could do not to yank my Ford’s steering wheel in their direction. That is the sign of a good documentary. Or it could just be a sign of my hatred of white polyester shirts.

For the rest of us we can do small things. Let’s show NOH8 that the world cares, let’s write about teenage suicide and show how it reflects on a lack of acceptance and let’s just reach out and show that we care. This month has two big days coming up.  October 11th is Coming Out Day – I think people should do that only if it is safe to do so and if they have a strong support network of friends.

More importantly to me, by far,  is Spirit Day on October 20, 2010. To celebrate all the lives lost to suicide because of bullying and we have the sad deaths of six kids lately to make that a reality for all of us. Wear purple on October 20, 2010 – let’s show that the concern is worldwide.

Support NOH8

Spirit Day on Facebook

or here.

And as always support GLAAD – as a media person I take them very seriously.

And the brave souls in Utah who work in the belly of the beast.

October 6, 2010

An unexpected moment of joy.

As is was walking this evening I had an unexpected moment. It was only 5 minutes in so endorphins have nothing to do with it – I was overwhelmed with joy. I don’t know why it happened but it did.  I felt joy flowing all over me  for the first time in a long time and I was happy for it. My wrists might have moved. I don’t know.

I thought about it and I have come up with a few conclusions. I think it was because I have survived. I have lived life this long and proved I have worth. In my other life I am someone on their TV who exists to interview people. In my real life I have survived  being ridiculed and physically attacked so many times I lost count. The spate of teenage suicides  has made me talk about things to my friends. I didn’t realise that I never spoke about these matters even with my closest friends. And as I related my slowly returning memories to them they each said it went a long way to explaining why I am the person I am today. Catharsis feels good.

The suicide of  those many gay  or  perceived gay kids in the last week in the US forced me to think about my past. So  Asher and Seth you made an older person confront things. My friends – and I adore them – said that , like me – if  they  had 5 cents for every time they were called names – they would all be rich by now.    So when people ask me why I care – Duh.  It only ended at the University of  Toronto. It was the first time in my life I didn’t fear going to school. And it led to my passion for media.

I survived my childhood and now have a job I love.   I look at my adopted country Canada and how far it has come in accepting   human nature  in all its wonderful diversity and I know there must be hope for this part of the world too. I can only imagine the number of kids here who have no place to go and need help.  Life is often cruel but how we try to stop that cruelty is a measure of our humanity . I plan to be more human.

And having watched 8 : the mormon proposition  I am so angry I can’t describe. – it prompted this late night gut spilling.

Remember  to wear  Purple on the 20th. We can make a difference.

October 5, 2010

Spirit Day – Oct 20th, 2010

I suspect these poor kids are  just the ones we know about. On October 20th, 2010 wear purple in memory of those who are no longer with us because of bullying and hatred.

Just get involved.

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

John Donne