Thursday, April 9, 2009

Stories of Gay Struggles Come to Charleston

Posted by Greg Hambrick on Thu, Apr 9, 2009 at 1:06 PM

A Repost from the CP News Blog:

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Mitchell Gold, a furniture maker and philanthropist, will be reading from his book, Crisis: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay In America in Charleston this weekend, followed by a forum to discuss the issue.

Released last September, Gold's book collects the stories of a broad swath of gays and lesbians who discuss the challenges that they've faced, including Nate Berkus, Bishop Gene Robinson, Barney Frank, Alec Mapa (of Ugly Betty), and just a slew of other big gay and gay-friendly names.

The Rev. Mel White, who was recently a participant on The Amazing Race with his son, provides a story. We did a 2007 story on White's organization, Soulforce, which combats religious intolerance at Christian colleges. There's also a piece from Elke Kennedy, a Greenville woman who lost her son, Sean, after he was assaulted in a parking lot in what was believed to have been a hate crime.

While it's important for gays and lesbians to hear these stories, it's equally or more important for young people questioning their sexuality to see the struggles of others, says Brent Childers, executive director of Faith in America, a nonprofit that Gold created to combat religious-based bigotry.

Here's the release for the event:

Growing Up Gay in America

Understanding the pain of bigotry and discrimination

April 11, 2009 – 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  (Discussion begins at 10 a.m.)

Waldenbooks 1829 • Charleston Place • 120 Market Street • Charleston

Sean’s Last Wish and Borders are pleased to present Mitchell Gold, a successful businessman and editor of the book, CRISIS: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social and Religious Trauma of Growing Up Gay In America.

This discussion is one that educators, social workers, church leaders and elected officials in the Charleston area will not want to miss.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

AFFA Billboard: Gay Rights Are Civil Rights

Posted by Greg Hambrick on Mon, Apr 6, 2009 at 11:32 AM

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Local gay rights advocates at the Alliance for Full Acceptance have two new billboards up on I-26 with a message that should spur conversations about how today’s movement for gays relates to the long fight for racial equality.

One of the billboards has two water fountains with one labeled “straight” and one labeled “gay” — a reference to the days of segregation of whites and blacks in every facet of daily life — with the tagline “Gay Rights Are Civil Rights.”

“If there are images that will stop people and make them think about it, then I think we should use it,” says Warren Redman-Gress, executive director of AFFA. “We can’t keep dancing around issues of language. We’re going to have to use imagery to show the connection.”

The idea for the billboard had been gestating until the Obama administration’s “Civil Rights” agenda was released with a host of reforms for gays and the transgendered, including repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, expanding hate crime laws, and providing civil union and federal benefits to gay and lesbian couples.

“That energized us,” Redman-Gress says. “It was almost like the president was sanctioning this kind of language.”

AFFA is using the term civil rights out of admiration for the predecessor to the gay rights movement.

“We’re not saying the experiences are the same,” he says. “But we can learn from the civil rights movement that came before us.”

One black leader who is welcoming the flattery is NAACP President Julian Bond. At a gay rights dinner last month, Bond told the crowd that his group is proud to support anti-discrimination efforts regarding sexual orientation.

“Black people of all people should not oppose equality,” he said. “And that’s what gay marriage is.”

The AFFA billboard campaign is expected to run for three months, along with a combination of print, TV, and radio ads.

And the local gay rights group isn’t the only one trying to bridge the divide between gays and blacks.

South Carolina Equality, a statewide group the presses for gay rights reforms, is developing an Opening Doors program that will work to find common ground in the two communities. A first effort will be Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner — pot luck events around the state that will facilitate the discussion on civil rights and what can be accomplished together.

“Discrimination is discrimination,” Redman-Gress says.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

...The More They Stay The Same.

Posted by D. A. Smith on Tue, Aug 26, 2008 at 12:49 PM

You would think, IN THIS DAY AND AGE, that bullshit of this sort was confined to the dustbin of history:

Woman forced from federal building for wearing lesbian t-shirt

(ASSOCIATED PRESS: LOS ANGELES) A woman wearing a T-shirt promoting lesbianism said she was forced the leave a federal building Monday by a security guard who didn't approve of her attire.

Lapriss Gilbert said she was picking up a Social Security card for her son when the guard was offended by her "lesbian.com" shirt and threatened her with arrest.

She was eventually allowed inside after her mother called police, according to a Los Angeles Daily News story.

The guard, whose name was not immediately available, works for Paragon Security, which contracts with the Department of Homeland Security.

Lori Haley, a spokeswoman within the Homeland Security Department, said the guard's actions were inappropriate and unacceptable.

"We have notified his company, Paragon, of our position in the matter," Haley said.

A message left with Paragon Security was not immediately returned Monday night.

Gilbert said the guard cited a document, the Rules and Regulations Governing Conduct on Federal Property, as proof he had jurisdiction over her clothing. The document does not address what type of clothing is allowed in federal buildings.

Gilbert called the guard's actions "shocking."

"As an African-American and a lesbian, I haven't been through one day without facing some sort of discrimination," Gilbert said.

Her mother called police after Gilbert was kicked out, but another security guard escorted her to the front of the Social Security line before officers arrived, the Daily News reported.

According to a police report, a witness described Gilbert as "peaceful and quiet" before the guard told her to leave.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Some More "So Gay"

Posted by D. A. Smith on Mon, Jul 28, 2008 at 1:38 PM

I heard from Ian Johnson of OutNow again last week and he clued me in on the identity of the "low level" SCPRT who had supposedly resigned. When I hear it from the mouth of the employee in question, Rand Romaine, that he has indeed left his job (and not been reassigned somewhere else, promoted or demoted in the SCPRT), then I'll believe it.

And by the by, everybody in England got paid...in full...except SC's middleman for this kind of thing TTM World. And the posters are still hanging in their display cases in the London Tube.

From the friendly folks at UK Gay News and Q-Notes, you'll find more details about this nonsense:

South Carolina ‘So Gay’ Campaign: Who Really Did What?

Employee forced to resign was not ‘low level’

By UK Gay News | Article Date: 7/26/2008 6:00 AM

There was further intrigue in the ongoing saga over the ‘So Gay’ poster campaign on two London Underground stations that the South Carolina Parks Recreation and Tourism (SCPRT) Department has been involved in during the past two weeks, it has emerged.

And there is considerable doubt over some statements that were made in South Carolina regarding the controversy.

According to Out Now, the agency that created the ‘So Gay’ advertising campaign for gay travel specialist, Amro Worldwide, there have been incorrect statements made by the office headed by Chad Prosser of the SCPRT.

“The employee forced to resign is by no means a ‘low level’ employee, as was very widely reported last week by official SCPRT spokespeople,” said Ian Johnson, chief executive officer of Out Now.

“That person who approved the ‘So Gay’ advertising campaign, and was later forced to resign by SCPRT, is the International Sales Manager, responsible for the UK, a person with more than a decade of management experience and an immense amount of respect within the global tourism marketing community,” Johnson revealed.

[While Johnson declined to name the employee, Q-Notes names him as Randolph Romaine, an international sales manager responsible for the U.K. market and others, “a class three economic development manager according to other state documents”, according to Q-Notes.]

“To hear reports that a ‘low level’ employee resigned gives the public the wrong impression that this campaign did not get approved by proper decision making channels,” he added.

“That is not the case. The correct decision maker made a business decision to proceed with the campaign. There is no way this person can be described as ‘low level’.

“At all times everyone involved in the process—Out Now, Amro Worldwide, the SCPRT London reps and the International Sales Manager at SCPRT made decisions based on what is best for increasing revenues for the South Carolina tourism industry.

“What changed two weeks ago is that politicians decided to involve themselves, and it was then that a resignation was forced with the ‘official’ reports emanating from the office headed by Chad Prosser being that this employee was a ‘low level’ one,” he said.

According to the chief executive of Amro Worldwide, Andrew Roberts, his company have been paid in full for the campaign. Last week, both politicians and official in the State capital Columbia publicly said that the bill of just under $5,000 would not be paid.

“Amro Worldwide has received full payment from the London representatives of SCPRT, a company called Travel and Tourism Marketing—TTM World—who have acted in the utmost good faith at every stage in the advertising approval process,” said Roberts.

“Amro Worldwide is currently considering reimbursing TTM World for their loss, but we think it quite disgraceful that an official State government body would behave in this manner.

“Not paying representatives and forcing a senior manager to resign seems out of all proportion with our simple but effective gay travel marketing campaign.

“On top of all that, it saddens me that the hard working folk in the SC tourism industry, who this campaign was designed to help, look set to suffer loss for years to come due to the homophobic reaction of their elected representatives,” Roberts added.

Johnson said the saga looked like “a clear case of political interference, pure and simple.

“In an election year, in a ‘red’ [Republican] State, you have politicians thinking there might be a few votes in a bit of gay bashing.

“Not a good look for the majority of South Carolinians who, judging from the many supportive messages received by both Out Now and Amro Worldwide, are appalled by the conduct of their elected representatives.”

Last week, the organisers of South Carolina Gay Pride launched a fundraising campaign to raise the $5,000 that the State is refusing to pay as, according to Ray Wilson “the ‘word’ of South Carolina can’t be trusted—we believe it is the right thing to do, to repay this debt.”

In five days, the appeal has raised just over $1,000.

The fundraising will continue, said Pride spokesperson Ryan Wilson. “The London representative of SCPRT has paid Amro, but the State Treasurer’s Office has not paid Travel and Tourism Marketing—TTM World,” he pointed out.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Andreson Man Beats Gay Son with Ball Bat

Posted by Greg Hambrick on Fri, Jul 18, 2008 at 12:56 PM

A 18-year-old heading home from a gay pride festival was battered by his father with a baseball bat.

During the assault, the teen’s 49-year-old father yelled, cursed, swung a bat, prayed and tried to “cast the demon of homosexuality out of him,” according to the teen’s version of events to Deputy S.C. Weymouth, the incident report states.

About 2 p.m. Wednesday, the teen said his father punched him when he returned to the house for clothes that he left on Sunday, the report states.

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