Oct 29, 2014

(In 2014) Church Summons Gay Man for Membership Hearing Regarding his "Homosexual Lifestyle"

Not all Christians are haters of the LGBTQ+ community. As a matter of fact, if some denominations of various protestant Christianity have come to embrace the LGBTQ+ community through outreach, church liturgy, proclamations, and amendments in church policies. And I'm talking about entire denominations, not just individual church congregations in larger urban areas. For instance, the Lutheran and the Episcopalian churches as a whole accept members and allows them to be ordained in the ministry. Other denominations such as the United Methodists and Presbyterian Church are divided on issues surrounding homosexuals.

Some denominations are so divided on various matters, that they require another level of denomination. Enter the Presbyterian Church United States of America (PCUSA) vs. the Presbyterian Churches of America (PCA). One of these denominations has recently changed its stance on the opposition of same sex marriage. On June 19, 2014, the PCUSA, the largest U.S. Presbyterian body, voted to change its definition of marriage and allow its pastors to officiate same-sex ceremonies in states where gay marriage is legal.

However, on October 24, 2014, a PCA church based in the Seattle area sent one of its, now, former members a summons to church court for openly proclaiming his homosexuality on social media (Facebook) and not denying the charges when confronted in person. It sounds unbelievable, but Reddit user /Byeuji posted a letter that his friend "Justin" received last week:

source imgur.com

source imgur.com

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There really are no more words...
Justin wrote his own response, which you can see by clicking here.
You can read more about the discussion surrounding Justin and what he did by clicking here.

Oct 28, 2014

Dear White People, the Morehouse Football Team, and the Black Community as it relates to LGBTQ+ People

Recently, I posted this video to Youtube:

During the video, I asked my viewers to go see Dear White People and respond on how their particular audience replied to the male-male kiss scenes. While messages are mixed, there is a majority reaction. One viewer writes:

Had the same experience in my theatre. It left me so uncomfortable because I didn't know if I was surrounded by homophobes or if they were disgusted by the situation (I'm gay and also thought it was a gross kiss). I was put at ease after the second kiss and someone said "why we have to see all of that"

Another viewer responded with a story that I hadn't seen:

You probably already heard about this, but you asked, and here we are: http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/2014/10/24/how-the-morehouse-football-team-ruined-dear-white-people-and-proved-its-point/

That link took me to this story which, at first, figuratively caused my blood to boil. Having attended and been graduated from an HBCU, I know all too well the type of reaction that Miller described. And while comments from various other articles on the same story make concession for the behavior of these young men,

i mean college kids are immature, what do you want? teach them better and they'll deliver something better, but as for now, they only act according to what their surroundings show them. granted, SOME people can rise above that, but not everyone. lets be serious.

I see this collective reaction to be indicative of a greater problem within the black community. It's no secret that We, on the whole, have a problem with homosexuality or any other aspect of the LGBTQ+ community (unless, of course, we count tranvestism as "queer", because, you know, Tyler Perry and every other black man that has ever dressed in drag for the sake of comedy). To argue against that point would be missing the forest for the trees. 

The first article that I saw regarding homophobia in Dear White People was one posted by Alex van der Hoek. In it, Alex speaks about the reactions of those people, a majority of whom were black, during the male-male kiss scenes. After posting that article to my Facebook page, one of the loudest arguments was the idea of sensationalism in the title of the post. One person comments:

"Black Homophobia"....because it's different from "white homophobia"....please continue telling me how exceptionally wrong Black people are in comparison to other races despite their actions being similar. It's fascinating... Speaking to the article... Especially, the title. There's no such thing as "Black homophobia." The article would mean the very same thing if it simply said "Homophobia Emerges..." Homophobia is homophobia no matter the race of the person.

And while I agree that homophobia is homophobia, we can't begin to pretend that homophobia in the black community isn't stunting the growth of many LGBTQ+ in our own community, a community that wants nothing to do with and actively works against, suppresses and denies anything LGBTQ+ related. Morehouse's football team is only a byproduct of this culture that has been brooding against anything gay, queer, or different. 

And while homophobia is homophobia, we need to clean up around our own house, because there are plenty of (how do I put this politically correct?) "mainstream" anti bullying and anti homophobia ad campaigns, but We look at Them and say "It's none of my business" when fact of the matter is the exact opposite, considering the number of gay people in, say, the black church, which is one of the main institutions driving homophobia in the black community. However, all of this will fall on (not really) deaf ears, as all the mainstream heterosexual blacks have to do is not respond and carry on with the cover ups, the denial, and the acceptance of DL culture, and people who speak up for the LGBTQ+ blacks will be labeled nothing more than folks who talk too much about "that gay shit." 

At the end of the day, Morehouse is a black institution lead by some sort of governing body possessing a morality compass founded on some very core principles. It's their school, so they make the rules, but we need to take a look at why certain items like the "Appropriate Attire Policy" exist*. We need to look at why stripping an individual of his identity is a principle that this body approves of. College is a time of self discovery, not just for non-white kids, but for black kids as well. The sooner Morehouse and the black community at large realize this, the sooner We will be on track to doing better as a whole. It's a Catch 22 though, because this is about a black institution, and is therefore a "black" problem. White people don't care about this, and a majority of blacks damn sure don't care about it, so LGBTQ+ ppl of color (specifically, and especially, in the black community) will continue to be oppressed.

*before any of you say "well it doesn't only stop men from wearing feminine clothing but stops other men from sagging pants and wearing grills": 1) Personal Opinion: Feeling comfortable with who you are (dressing in clothes that you feel suit you), or, by a reach, tranvestism, should not be compared to incorrectly wearing clothes to the point that your ass is hanging out in public, and I don't think that anybody is arguing that people should or should not be clothed, so don't try to use nudists as a counterpoint here. 2) Instead of banning grills and extremely baggy clothing, as a way to keep non students from campus, why not increase security? It is, after all, a private institution. 

Oct 24, 2014

Scandal's Gun Control vs. LGBT Rights

Yesterday was a very exciting day for me. Not only was I slayed once again by Olivia Pope and Associates, but I executed one of my duties as an American by (early) voting for the senators and representatives who I believe have my best interest in mind, as well as weighing in on a couple state amendments. It seems that everyone goes out to the polls when it’s time for us to choose a president, but these not-so-big elections can actually mean a lot, and that idea has really resonated with me for the past few weeks, thanks to Ms. Shonda Rhimes.
          The “yasss” factor of Scandal is at an all time high, but there are issues that mimic real life that are easy to overlook if you’re too focused on Kerry Washington’s sport coats. Since the beginning of the season, there has been a story arch that centers around the passing of stricter gun legislature, which would be uncharacteristic of President Grant’s Republican White House. It’s probably safe to say that the life (or death) of this fictional bill is still up in the air, but it’s very interesting to see how different lies, secrets, and ultimatums guide how something as simple as gun regulation can turn into a real scandal. It also must be mentioned that the passing of this left-leaning legislation would surely affect how Fitz’s supporters might vote in the future. So what does this have to do with anything? In my opinion, this story line couldn’t have better timing, considering some members of the GOP’s latest stretch to support gay rights.
          It goes without saying

Oct 23, 2014

Jennifer Hudson Speaks Out for Marriage Equality

Here's something that surprised me. The Advocate reports in an exclusive story; Jennifer Hudson, good ole Baptist-raised, American Idol contestant, Dream Girls star, Weight Watchers spokes person, JHUD, has joined forces with the Human Rights Campaign for their Turn Down Fuh What Turn it Up for Change movement.

When asked what she would say to anyone who tried to tell her marriage equality isn’t a family value, JHUD responded: 

“Do you hear yourself? Because that doesn’t make any sense... Family is not based on sex or your partner. Family is defined by love.”

Hudson is also quoted as saying:

“The gay community has meant so much to me throughout my life, and there have been many gay people who have been positive influences for me... From my best friend to many of my teachers, my first producer, and more — there have been so many. That’s why I feel like this campaign is a perfect fit, because it’s something I’m fully supportive and passionate about. I’m glad to be a part of it.”

The Turn it Up for Change initiative by the HRC aims to continue the fight for marriage equality and equal employment opportunity for all citizens in the United States of America, which is perhaps why they've given Hudson this opportunity. 

Make sure to check out the entire article by clicking here, and gain some insight as to how Jennifer grew up and made the decision for herself to be an ally of the LGBTQ community.

Oct 22, 2014

Is Homosexuality Accepted in Japan?

It's a question that a lot of people have asked, including myself. The answer varies from person to person, but Rachel & Jun, my latest Youtube obsession break it down for us in the video below.

From what their Japanese fans said, it would seem that historically, Japan has been rather accepting of homosexuality and that it wasn't until western cultures came in that homosexuality was viewed any differently. One commenter writes:

I'm gay, the first thing I want to say is that in Japan I have received almost no violence or verbal abuse. Most people tolerate, or at the very least, are polite to gay people. So, I think anyone can live happily in Japan. But, understanding of gay and transgender is still pretty low, and there's a fair amount of prejudice. For example, TV producers lump the various sexual minorities together into a category called 'One' (オネエ) to drive up views. So you don't see One people who wear clothes, talk, or express themselves emotionally in a way that's considered to be heterosexually male. So, if I come out as gay, people will assume that I'm female inside and they'll assume I'm interested in cross dressing or a sex change like those entertainers who speak like One. So, gay people don't come out because if they do, that storm of prejudice pours down on them. But, if you're just visiting, I believe there's absolutely no problem and Japan is a safe country. 

This is a very interesting explanation and shows that even in a polite country like Japan, it is necessary for people to edugayted on the different parts that comprise the LGBTQ community.

Make sure to subscribe to Rachel & Jun by clicking here.

Oct 17, 2014

LGBTQ Rights Throughout the African Continent

In recent years we've heard of various countries on the African continent as they relate to LGBTQ rights (or the lack thereof). Below is a map that shows us just how much more work there is to be done. Equality will have to start with a small ripple, but if we take an interest and are persistent, are armed with knowledge, and make our voices known, we can make waves!

Oct 16, 2014

High School Cancels Student Production of "Almost, Maine" Because of Gay Characters

A North Carolina school's decision to not allow students to perform a popular school play has stirred controversy in local affairs and on the internet. The theater department at Maiden High School had already begun rehearsing for the play “Almost, Maine” when the principal decided to cancel the performance.

From Reddit.com

...the high school I attended has recently just cancelled a production of "Almost, Maine" because there's two gay characters in a scene. I was a proud member of the theater department, which is basically one of the only safe places for gay people in my school, which I no longer feel very comfortable calling my school...they already paid for the scripts and everything and now only have like 2 dollars left in their budget. They use the profits from this play to pay for the next production and now that won't be able to happen.

“Almost, Maine”, a romantic comedy by John Cariani, has become a popular production in schools and professional theatres across the U.S. It depicts multiple love stories, including one shared between two men. According to sources, parents and area churches complained to the school about a play involving a same-sex couple.

the school’s principal, Rob Bliss, released a

Oct 15, 2014

The Bushwick Trans Beating and The Black Community's Relationship with LGBTQ People

On Sunday night at 11:30 pm, a victim only being described as a transgender woman was attacked and brutally beaten by 4 men, two of whom are black (as seen in police surveillance footage). See the story below for details:

via 7Online (see full story here)
They punched and kicked the victim, 28, then one suspect threw a Plexiglas board at her, striking the victim in the head. The suspects also made anti-gay statements, police said. The victim was taken to Elmhurst hospital, where she remains in critical condition. There have been no arrests.

The first suspect is described as a male black, last seen wearing a gray sleeveless sweatshirt with the word "Freedom" on it, along with a dark long sleeve shirt, gray sweatpants, white sneakers and ski cap. The second suspect is described as a male black with close-cut hair, last seen wearing a blue Nike hooded sweatshirt with blue sweatpants.

Gay, lesbian and transgender rights activists say there is no doubt about what motivated the attack.

"I think it's very clear that this was an attack because she was a transgender woman. The nature of the slurs against her and

Oct 13, 2014

Edugaytion Podcast Searching for Additional Panelists

It's no secret that new episodes of the podcast have not been in production. A lot of fans have emailed, facebook messaged, and tweeted asking "When is the podcast coming back!?" The truth is, due to varying schedule conflicts, it is very difficult for our current panel to come together every single week and bring you the very latest opinions on LGBTQ hot topics, but that shouldn't mean there can't be a podcast!

That's why we are opening auditions for additional panelists and giving the Edugaytion Podcast a face lift:

LGBTQ Podcast Needs COMMITTED Panelists
Auditioning for a group of panelists who can speak confidently about their views and opinions on hot topics and issues relating to the LGBTQ community. This is for a 2 year running video/audio podcast available on Youtube, iTunes, and Soundcloud. Applicants must be able to meet once a week to discuss topics for one hour. This is an UNPAID position and should only be considered if one has a strong desire to help further the LGBTQ community.

It doesn't matter if you're a fan of the show, or just now finding out about this because someone referred you. We want to further the cause and keep the discussion going, so if you think you have what it takes and are willing to commit your time, send an email to Johnathan!

Send an email to johnathangibbs@gmail.com with your biography.

Oct 11, 2014

Happy National Coming Out Day

Coming out is a delicate process for some, but an important one for the advancement of the LGBTQ community. For some, they may have been forced out by family members, for others, they may have planned things to the T, or written letters and left them for their parents to see. Here, I share with you all my own "coming out story."

Oct 9, 2014

The Cost of HIV

A few weeks ago one of my best friends told me that he tested positive for HIV, and would begin treatment soon. As unfortunate as this news was, it’s such a blessing to live in a time where you can confidently say, “with proper treatment, I’ll be just fine”. If our foremothers had access to the medications we have access to today, it would have been a different world, and so many people would have been saved. As soon as he showed me how much his medications were each month, though, I couldn’t help but realize that many people still don’t have access to the proper medications, not because the medical industry hasn’t given us options, but because the medical industry needs to keep their workers rich.

I’m a little strange. I tend to make things make sense in my mind based on fictional settings and characters, and vampires are one of those things. Religion is the topic I enjoy drawing the comparisons to vampirism most, but the cost of beating a disease like HIV was presented to us this summer in the final season of the HBO show, “True Blood”. A very clear commentary on HIV (sheathed by a fictitious vampire-eliminating epidemic) showed us that in this country, more money can be made by quelling symptoms of death rather than curing them. With thousands of gay men paying nearly $3,000 a month, why give them the cure and shoot your own profits in the foot? I hate to have thoughts that make me sound like a conspiracy theorist, but does the concept not make complete sense? We could quite possibly be involved in one of the most atrocious schemes in history and not even realize it.

The other side of this issue is that there are people out there that simply can’t pay to stay alive. Thankfully many people (my friend included) have the proper health insurance to cover this, but what about those who don’t? I’m not even sure that my “Obama Care” would cover that much in medications every month for the rest of my life. There are programs available to help people who can’t pay, I’m sure, but just imagine all of those forgotten souls who drop dead every day around the world not because they can’t be saved, but because they won’t be saved. We’ve come such a long way in making HIV something that people can live with, but what good is it if it’s being dangled over the heads of those who could never afford it? Do they not also deserve to reap the benefits of years of research and discovery?

So what are we supposed to do? It probably wouldn’t be smart to try and infiltrate the privately ran or government funded laboratories and make them give us the cure that some of us think exists, but we’re still not without power. Make sure you’re voting – with the right people in office we can at least guarantee the continuation of things like the Affordable Care Act, which helps people pay for their medications in some cases. Stay well read and educated on HIV, so that the stigmas behind the disease will disappear, even if the disease itself cannot. Most importantly, know your status. Discussions like these pave the way just as much as white lab coats and test tubes, and remaining silent is something we can’t afford – even more so than that $3,000 a month.

Oct 8, 2014

Raven Symone, Semantics, and the Default American

In a statement released to the Grio, Raven Symone has responded to what social media has had to say about her recent statements on the Oprah interview:

“I never said I wasn’t black … I want to make that very clear. I said, I am not African-American. I never expected my personal beliefs and comments to spark such emotion in people. I think it is only positive when we can openly discuss race and being labeled in America.”

Now, here we are at a battle of semantics. Many media outlets have posted about this story and the one that preceded it, and many commenters from around the blogsphere have had critical backlash to offer to Symone regarding her African ancestry. Raven has responded by defining herself by (get this) a label! 

I hate to harp on about it, since I blogged about it just yesterday, but it really seems like Raven Symone hasn't thought this all the way through. Right now, however, the hypocrisy is beside the point. Let's, instead, focus on what it is Raven is saying with this latest statement: she is an American. Specifically, she is a black American. 

I wholeheartedly understand from where she's coming with this, as well. I have often said on the Edugaytion Podcast that the term "African-American" is, if not offensive, inconsiderate at the very least. One of my friends, an American from Haiti, was filling out the bubbles on a standardized test in college, once. I'm sure you can imagine where this story is going. The same goes for us black Americans. Why are we being labelled and qualified by a country that has nothing to do with our culture, save the fact that it's the place from where our very distant ancestors came? 

Furthermore, what is a plain ole' regular "American"? I imagine that images of a upper middle class to upper class white family, including two children, one dog, and a house with a white picket fence come to mind. After all, for decades we've used that picture as the "American dream." Truth is, however, there are plenty of plain ole' regular "Americans" of color in the United States of America. Being a minority does not take away from one's citizenship. In the video above, "What Kind of Asian are You?" we see the very privileged ideal system by which a lot of people in this country operate:

Unless you are white, you're not the default American image.
If you are a person of color other than black, you MUST have come from somewhere else.
If you ARE black, you're "African-American." 

This exclusiveness, this divide that people have created when they think of traditionally "American" things is at the core of my frustrations with regard to the hyphenated label "African-American", and I believe that Raven Symone and I are alike in that respect. Until we can get past this hurdle, the country will continue to struggle with issues of race and nationality. 

Oct 7, 2014

Raven-Symoné: Don't Label Me 'Gay' Or 'African-American'

By now, you have probably heard about the things Raven Symone has said about being labelled "African-American" and "Gay." And while I understand where she is coming from, I have to ask: Doesn't Raven care about others who struggle every day to find acceptance in this melting pot of a country that is the United States of America? Does she possess even the smallest shred of sympathy for other black people and/or gay people who live here daily and are under the inescapable scrutiny of the "norm"? Does she not realize the power she has as a celebrity and public figure? Is she voluntarily owning up to a responsibility that could help further both the black and gay cause?

Raven Symone's public and private life are hers. There is no question there. I am just wondering if she realizes that with the public spotlight, comes a responsibility to help others. Right now, with the gay issue, it seems like she's playing both sides of the fence. In her interview with Oprah, she says that her family taught her to keep her private life private. Then why the tweet, a year ago, that she finally has the option to marry the person she loves? In one breath she's declaring her affiliation with the LGBTQ community, and in the very same action she is saying "don't label me." Nobody can be certain, but it seems almost as if Symone would rather not be affiliated with the label for superficial reasons.

On the issue of being called American instead of African American, "American" is a label, and one that signifies that you and your roots have a foundation here, in the United States of America. You are making a declaration, and you want others to touch and agree with it. I understand and have said the exact same thing in a number of podcasts. I detest the "African-American" label. Yes, my ancestors came from Africa, and yes, I have a deep appreciation for that aspect of my culture. I am not, however, African. I am American, and my family has been American for a number of generations. Still, Symone is disassociating herself with one label in order to be labeled something else.

Right now, it's not looking too consistent, Raven. I understand that you may need time to think things through, to find yourself even more, but do that in private, the way your family told you to live your life. Don't go making declarations, and disowning communities, when, ultimately, whether you like it or not, you are a part.