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Quest = FAIL

So. . . I got a call back from the PR people at Paul Weiss.  They’re insisting that an interview with Edie Windsor is impossible.  Unfortunately, it looks like my quest is a no-go for now (but they can bet I’ll be the first in line when the case is over).  At least I tried.  =P

I’ll have a new post coming soon.

Edith Windsor and her wife, Thea Spyer, were together for more than 40 years, and married for their final two years together–until Thea died from multiple-sclerosis in 2009.

Now, Edith is heading the fight to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which unfairly defines marriage as being between a man and a woman under federal law.

Because of DOMA, Edith was forced to pay more than $360,000 in federal estate taxes on her inheritance from her late wife.  As of November 2010, she is filing a lawsuit against the United States of America for a refund of the tax.

This week, the Republicans in the House of Representatives decided to fund the defense of DOMA using taxpayers’ dollars, despite the fact that President Obama and his administration have already stated that they will no longer defend the constitutionality of DOMA.

MY GOAL, in the next few weeks is to somehow manage to interview Edith Windsor on her case.  I was able to speak to her on the phone, but was told that she couldn’t do an interview without her lawyers or PR people present. . . so now I’m trying to sift through all the legal mumbo-jumbo and secretaries at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP to see if I can get my interview!

Wish me luck!  =P

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Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers NBA team was fined $100,000 yesterday and earned himself condemnation from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), according to an article in the New York Times.

His crime:  calling a referee a “fucking faggot” after being called on a foul.

In recent years, there have been a growing number of celebrities being called out on these sorts of outbursts, using gay slurs.  Even Perez Hilton, an openly gay blogger, was criticized by the HRC for an anti-gay slur he used in a confrontation with will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas in 2009.

The excuse used by both Bryant and Hilton was that it was in the heat of the moment–it was just an angry outburst.

But does that excuse this kind of behavior?  Would we excuse Tom Brady if he called someone a “nigger”?  Would Bryant get away with it?  Would another basketball player be allowed to call Yao Ming a “chink”?

In addition to paying the $100,000 fine, Bryant called the HRC to apologize for his actions.  In 2009, Hilton also issued an apology, as did many other celebrities caught using racial or anti-gay slurs in recent years.

People (not only celebrities) need to learn and understand that anti-gay slurs are no more acceptable in a free society than racial slurs or any other kind of slur.  We need to send a message that there is no excuse for using anti-gay slurs–saying “I was just mad” is not a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card, anymore.

Comment and let me know what you think or vote in the poll below.  Like this post?  Be sure to click “like” or share with your friends on facebook and twitter!

Dawn Henderson, a student at De Soto Middle School in Louisiana, was issued an ultimatum when she wore this shirt to school.  She was sent to the principal’s office and her grandfather was called to bring her different clothes.  She could either change or go home.

What kind of a message is that sending to other students?

Personally, I think the principal and any other teacher or administrator who was involved in this story should be ashamed for trying to take away a student’s right to freedom of speech.  Dawn Henderson should be commended for wearing that shirt and showing support for her peers, regardless of their sexual orientation.  Statistics say 9 out of 10 gay students are bullied at school–shouldn’t we be punishing the bullies instead of Dawn?

I’m only 21 years old.  I remember what it was like in middle school and high school.  If you wore a shirt with a “bad word” or a picture of a beer bottle on it, they made you turn the shirt inside-out.  But is this really the same situation?

In recent years, public schools have been going through campaigns to end bullying, both in and out of classroom.  Many schools across the country renewed their anti-bullying efforts in the last year, following a number of teen suicides–particularly the suicides of gay youngsters.

The shirt, produced by FCKH8.com, is one of a number of designs being sold to raise money for queer youth counseling services and suicide prevention.

The school principal claimed that the shirt was “distracting,” but none of the other students seemed to notice or have a problem with it.  And even if other students did have a problem with it, since when do we allow other students to decide what their classmates are or are not allowed to wear?  Unless bad grammar is a capital offense, I don’t see any reason why this shirt should not be allowed in schools.

Just because someone is in the majority does not mean that they are in the right.

Want to buy your own shirt like Dawn’s?  Or a wristband?  Or a hoodie?  Click here to check out all of the great products for sale from FCKH8!

Want to know more about Dawn’s story?  You can read the whole article here, or you can watch the television news coverage here.

Comment and let me know what you think or vote in the poll below.  Like this post?  Be sure to click “like” or share with your friends on facebook and twitter!

It’s official.  My younger sister is a lesbian, too–and I’m just not sure how to feel about it.

Ever since I came out at age 16, my family has always been supportive of me–and I knew they would be, so I never felt any pressure to hide anything.  I know I’ve been lucky to have so much love and support, and I know that my sister can expect the same love and support from me and the rest of our family.

So why did she wait so long to come out of the closet?

You’d think that after seeing me come out and how accepting everyone was, my sister would have felt safe coming out to us–or at least to me.

Apparently, we thought wrong.  She says that even after she knew she was gay (at least a couple years ago), she didn’t want to come out because she didn’t want to upset anyone or cause stress to the family.  She’s 19 years old, and just now coming out to the rest of us. 

This got me thinking:  Why do so many people choose to stay in the closet?  Even in a time where it’s become widely accepted? 

Of course there are the standard reasons: unaccepting families, conservative belief systems, religious persecution, etc., but what are some of the reasons that may be overlooked? 

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There are big changes for the LGBTQ community taking place in the United States.  President Barack Obama just announced that the government will no longer be spending taxpayer dollars to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman and allows state governments the option of not recognizing marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships from other states.

However, even before that, in December of last year, the Senate also voted to repeal the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) policy created 17 years ago by the administration of former President Bill Clinton.  For almost two decades, this policy prevented gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military.  It has caused many good soldiers to be dishonorably discharged from the service, and many more to have to hide their sexuality from their superiors and fellow soldiers.

This policy has had such a long history, that I wanted to get a feel for how the typical straight soldier feels about the repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” so I interviewed 21-year-old Nancy Feliz.  Nancy is an ammunition specialist in the United States Army, and has been serving for almost four years.  She may be straight, but she had a lot to say about DADT.

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What made you want to join the military?

Feliz:  I grew up in a household where my father made it clear a woman is to stay at home, cook and clean, and the man is to work and all that other stuff—so a very sexist home. And it was me and my three other sisters and my one brother, and he was catered to, so I’ve always been more aggressive. I tell my mom sometimes I should have been born a boy, because I’m just more of a tomboy. And I just told my dad that I’m going to join the army, and he actually didn’t speak to me for a year and a half after I left because of it, and he doesn’t like seeing me in my uniform. But I joined because it was something that I wanted to do and I wanted to prove to him anything that you can do, I can do better.

How do you feel about the repeal of DADT?

Feliz:  I think that’s the best thing that’s happened in the army just because it takes away the way that we think that just because you’re gay you can’t serve your country. Sexuality doesn’t have anything to do with how you serve your country, because I’ve known girls that are gay and those are the ones you trust the most. Sexuality does not tell someone you can’t shoot someone, you can’t defend, you can’t have your battle buddy’s back, so I’m glad it happened. I feel like they should have the right to be whoever they want, if they choose to serve their country. It’s not something that many people wanna do, so why should we try to take that away from people who wanna do it because of their sexuality?

Why do you feel like it’s really important?

Feliz:  Because I feel like it’s not fair. We’re telling Americans you have this freedom to be what you wanna be, to do what you wanna do. And here we are fighting for that freedom, and yet if someone is gay, they can’t serve our country. So you’re restricting us from being who we wanna be. I feel like, if I have the right to be with a man, then any other gay person should have the right to be with whoever they wanna be, and it not dictate if you’re allowed to serve your country or not.

Why do you think that DADT lasted as long as it did?

Feliz:  I think it lasted as long as it did because of the way that it was instilled in our minds to think of—like in my English class, “masculinity”—it was perceived that if you’re gay or a woman, you couldn’t serve your country. The women thing passed before, because it was more of an acceptable issue, whereas gay, it was hard to accept. Now, in the 21st century, we’re more open-minded to things, and we’re able to accept who you are, no matter what—no matter what you like or any of your preferences.

How do you feel that people within the armed services will handle the repeal of DADT?

Feliz:  I feel like in the woman’s aspect of it, it’ll be accepted—doesn’t matter if you’re a lesbian or not. When it comes to the men, you still have men that are more closed-minded and are still, “Oh my god. You’re gay? I don’t want you looking at me in the shower.” But I think it’ll be accepted. Like I said, we’re more open-minded, so if we can deal with it outside of the military, it shouldn’t be a problem inside the military.

Is there anything else you want to comment on about DADT?

Feliz:  This had to happen, because I know a lot of gay women that are good soldiers.

Can you tell me about some of the women who you know that are gay in the army?

Feliz:  During my training, I befriended two women, and they ended up falling in love with each other. And one of the girls was the best female in the whole unit. She was a sharpshooter. I ran faster than her, but she was the second best runner. She did all of the pushups like the guys did. She did all the situps. She was very smart—so she had all the qualities that you would want in a soldier. She’s someone you could trust, she was someone that I know that if I need her to have my back, she would have had my back. Whereas we had these straight females that—how we say in the army a “typical female”—that doesn’t want to do nothing, that feels like, “Oh, I’m a girl and I can’t break a nail.” So I feel like, having her there and a lot of other gay girls that can be a woman and can also know how to—I’m not saying be a man—but also know how to not care if she breaks a nail if she’s going to have my back. I’m honestly very pro gay in the army.

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Described as “a tale of one ballerina’s psychosexual freakout” by Newsday‘s Rafer Guzman, Black Swan has earned a lot of media and moviegoer attention for it’s dark sexual themes–especially for the lesbian sex scene between Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis.

Needless to say, the allure of that scene was a major selling point when my friend was talking me into a late night movie.  Unfortunately, despite my eternal crush on Natalie Portman, that allegedly sexy scene was just. . . NOT.

We don’t see lesbian sex in Hollywood films too frequently, but when we do, there’s almost always a dark undertone of something just inherently wrong.  Is it any coincidence that Portman’s lesbian fantasy takes place while she’s on the path to becoming the evil, lusty black swan of Swan Lake?  Not to mention she’s on drugs and undergoing a psychological breakdown, ending in suicide.

It’s Brokeback Mountain all over again–except this time we’re talking ballerinas instead of cowboys.  To be honest, I much preferred watching Portman engaging in straight sex (ew!) and falling in love with Ashton Kutcher (ew, again!) in No Strings Attached.

Now, Black Swan is up for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and a nomination for Best Actress for Natalie Portman.  While the film was overall amazing and Portman’s performance stunning (as usual), from an LGBT standpoint, there’s another film I’d have to support.

The Kids Are All Right is also up for Best Picture, and actress Annette Bening is competing against Portman for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

The Kids Are All Right is a beautiful film because it shows the fundamental point that gays and lesbians the world over would like people to realize:  Gay couples are no different from straight ones!  We live, love, fight, and struggle with relationships, just like anyone else you’ve ever known.  Critics have applauded the movie for its truly realistic and down-to-earth characters–something not often seen in gay or lesbian film characters who are often over the top.

As Colin Covert of the Minneapolis Star Tribune said, “The Kids Are All Right is a smart, cheerful, character-driven relationship comedy. In other words, it’s a miracle”–a miracle for the LGBT community.

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