Archive for the ‘USA’ Tag

Solidarity in Purple: Supporting Gay Teens After Spirit Day   2 comments

Heather Kennedy, or moria on Flickr, used under Creative Commons LicenseAs millions are wearing purple today, Wednesday, I found myself trying to imagine what this might mean to a closeted man or woman.  Walking down the street are all the people who would support you coming out. 

When I was struggling with coming out–I didn’t know who might be supportive and who wouldn’t.  I grew up in a culture that would designate a day, “If you wear Purple on Fridays, you’re gay.”  So it was a color to avoid–for fear of being outcast.  Today, it is THE color–not to show you are weird or different, or even “in” or “cool”–but to help others come out, and know that it’s safe.by ciccioetneo on Flickr, creative commons license  That you support and love them and are waiting for the day when they feel comfortable, and pushing for the day when there is no more bullying about anything. 

So in the Spirit of Spirit Day, let’s keep the purple flowing–as long as we can, in concerted efforts.  Let’s celebrate the color purple.  (All of these photos were found on Flickr and are part of the Creative Commons distribution license.) 

Purple has a long history of being associated with royalty, kings, priests, and even with Christ.  Lydia, famous for her purple cloths, was one of the first leaders of bible studies in the early Christian era.  Purple is a rare color in nature–but when it happens, you notice. 

kevindooley on Flickr, used under Creative Commons LicenseRight now, the climate for gay people is getting better.  However, there are still large pockets where gay and lesbian people are not affirmed for who they are, and what they bring to their communities, and society in general.  We’ve built up a long tradition of pushing men and women back for their sexual orientation, and it’s entrenched in our churches, our military, our governments, our city councils, and it finds its way into schools where kids–who can’t hide a prejudice–act on it.  We punish the kids, but they learn it from the adults. 

So, go out there and get your purple on.   Show your kids that you stand in solidarity with those who are in the LGBT community, and that you want to assure them that not only smittenkittenorig on Flickr, used under Creative Commons Licensedoes it get better, but we–every day–are making it better for them.  Slipping on a hat or a shirt or some purple shoes is the simplest start. 

Binary Ape, from Flickr, Creative Commons License What are the next steps–the day after Spirit Day, the week after Spirit Day?  The next steps may be harder, but we can do those too. 

Get a group of you to wear purple in your churches.  Ask to speak from the podium announcing something, address everyone, but specifically those gay people who may be present in your congregations–out or not–and tell them that they have someone in your church (or a group of you wearing purple) that they can count on to be supportive no matter what your church’s theology might say.  Your purple shows them that you support them right now.  

Get a group of people to wear purple and show up during a city council meeting and ask to speak in honor of gay teens. 

As a gay man, I would look for any, any sign that someone might be friendly, supportive, and understanding– the weight of our secret–our fear that being different makes us less than–is

Purple Heart by the US Army, on Flickr, used under Creative Commons License

 sometimes a lot, especially when we come from communities where there is active discrimination towards gay people.  This can take many forms:  a theology which doesn’t treat gay and lesbian people as equals in the church, a simple understanding that something “gay” is wrong or weird, or a belief that being a gay man is somehow not masculine enough. 

Our military values each soldier, but currently doesn’t value the gay ones if they say they are gay.  The soldier at the right here is receiving a purple heart–and that’s why I have him in the post.  We value what we give Purple to: kings, deities, soldiers, priests–purple is considered one of the rarest colors, hard to create, and therefore highly prized. 

by aussiegall on Flickr, used with Creative Commons licenseWhen we wear purple today–we say, “We highly prize gay teens.  We value you.  We know you have something worth giving and sharing with us.  We value what you have to say and the point of view you have.  You are loved and appreciated.  We want to see what you’ll become.  Our country is changing.  Our governments are changing.  Our churches are changing.   And it starts today.  It starts with me.”

The State of the States:the Political Landscape (No. 2 in a series)   4 comments

Some surprises for me in Texas concerning the political landscape.

You’d think that in Texas, things are pretty bleak for Obama.  Or you might think a lot of things about the States when it comes to this presidential race.  Two things surprised me.

The NAS Ft. Worth military base sells books in the main exchange, the main shopping center on a base.  It caters to mostly military personnel.  You can only get on the base with a military ID, which my dad carries.  (He’s a retired Senior Chief Petty Officer. )   So, the book section is roughly the size of a Walmart’s book section.  In this base, on the shelves were three books by Obama, one from Nancy Pelosi, one each from Hillary Clinton, Tom Brokaw, Joe Biden, a bio on Michelle Obama.  There was one small paperback for McCain, Faith of my Fathers.  No Bush books, no conservative books, nothing I expected.  I assumed Military bases would be bastions of right wing conservatives, and that their bookstore would look like a Rush Limbaugh’s list of quotes.  Where was the Coulter?  Where was Cheney?  Rove?  Any books condemning the Democrats?  Nope.  Here, in addition to the ones listed above, three books condemned the war in Iraq; one condemned a too powerful presidency.  I was amazed.  What does this mean?

“It means nothing,” my dad said.  “Liberals work on the staff, and they are usually civilian.  The military is all conservative.”

I argued that the staff would have to buy books that would sell, not books that stay on shelves.  They obviously know their market.

“Those are the books that didn’t sell.  All the conservative ones got picked up.”

I told him the bookshelf was full–these weren’t remainders.  They were the books for sale.

“Most of the clientele there are civilians.”

You can’t get on base without an ID!!   He refused to believe that military personnel might be turning away from Bush and towards Obama.  In Walmarts across America you will at least see The Faith of George Bush or several books condemning Democrats or Obama…but not one positive book about Bush.

I think conservatives are losing ground in the military.  People want change.  And a failed war, broken promises to veterans, and no exit strategy is straining an otherwise conservative base….well, it’s straining this one at least in Ft. Worth.  Who knows what other bases are like?

The second striking thing:  Wish I’d had a camera on the highway as we passed out of Ft. Worth Texas.  Some one had bought a billboard and put the American Flag and the head of an eagle on it with the words, “There’s only one God-loving American patriot running for President.”  It left you to assume who it was.  And forced you to think that only one man could qualify under that description.  I know two men who qualify.

People will buy a billboard, or rent one, and put up one lie after another.  You can’t say your opinion loudly enough down here.  The landscape is littered with homemade propaganda:  “If you have morals, vote McCain.”

It’s crazy.  But then conservatives still hold more power than they should.  Witness the latest muscle-flexing of the religious right.  The boycott on McDonald’s for supporting “the gay agenda.” The only time they seem to care about their health is when they’re trying to take away the rights of other people.  Now that McDonald’s caved in to their demands, they will go back to eating the fries….

Democrats could never do the same damage to McDonald’s.  Mickey D’s would never feel the pain of our ban.

We’re smart enough not to eat there.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 72 other followers