Archive for July, 2008

OutProud: National Coalition for GLBT Youth
July 28, 2008

Here’s another resource for gay and questioning youth. It’s the National Coalition for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth, also known as OutProud.

PLEASE NOTE:  OutProud closed down in 2009. The url transfers to a sister site: Oasis Magazine.  From that site: “OutProud was the first organization in 1993 to provide outreach to queer youth on a national basis — first on AOL and then over the Internet.”

http://www.oasisjournals.com/2009/09/welcome-outproud-visitors

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Remembering Lawrence King
July 28, 2008

15-year-old Lawrence King was murdered at school on February 12, 2008.

 

Friends say the reason was his sexual orientation and gender expression. 

 

Since February 15th, at http://www.rememberinglawrence.org,

176 vigils have been posted. And more conitnue….

 

To view tributes by Ellen Degeneres and a young film-maker, Jeremy E. Love, see videos below. To read more about this gentle person who was taken from us, and learn what can be done in your community to prevent another such tragedy, go to

 

http://www.rememberinglawrence.org

 

Help to bring awareness to your community so that all children and youth can live in safe environments, free from hate and prejudice, regardless of their race, color, religion, creed, or sexual orientation. Help us create a safe planet for our children and all people.

 

-MsQueer

 

 

a tribute and appeal from young filmmaker Jeremy E. Love

 

commentary and tribute by Ellen Degeneres


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About.com for Gay Teens
July 28, 2008

http://gayteens.about.com/ offers information under the following topics:

  • GLBT Teens
  • Coming Out
  • Gay Teen Support
  • Relationships

“Must Reads” as posted on this site include:

  • “How Do I Know I’m Gay, Lesbian, or Bi?”
  • “Gay Teen Sexuality”
  • “Coming Out”
  • “Getting Tested for HIV”
  • “How to Start a Gay-Straight Alliance”

About.com writers are known to be experts in their field. Consider this a reliable resource for information and further research. No judgements here, just good solid info and resources. -MsQueer

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MARCHING IN THE COLUMBUS OHIO 2008 GAY PRIDE PARADE WITH METHODISTS I’VE NEVER MET BEFORE
July 8, 2008

It is such a rare occasion, due to schedule conflicts every year that can not be re-arranged, that I have been able to “get away” to participate in the Gay Pride Parades in Columbus, Ohio, a mere 2-hour drive from where I reside in the southeastern part of the state. 

Of course, I’ve been making that drive 5- to 6- days a week with friends for about 12 years now, so it isn’t about the “distance” – at least not in the sense of miles.  Sometimes the “distance” we have to go to get to an event or goal is whatever particular obstacle we have to overcome in order to get to the end point. 

The goal for me this year was to march in the parade. As it got closer to the actual date of the event, it became clear that I would actually have that day cleared. Suddenly I found my excitement mounting. I announced my plans to my extended family that shares the resident staff duties of the retreat and training center where I live. I bought rainbow cloth and fashioned a hand-sewn shirt to wear. I kept checking with the person I was going to drive in with to make sure that for some reason at the last minute she didn’t decide not to go. (I had contingency plans to stay in town the night before if need be.) 

I called friends that I knew who would likely be going to the Parade to ask if they would be marching. With each one I talked to who said they would be there, but watching from the sidelines, I felt my excitement take a definite dive. 

Sidelines? Watching? 

I really wanted to march with somebody. I took a vacation by myself in 1980 – to my beloved Mackinac Island in my birth state of Michigan – and found that I really had to work to keep myself on my itinerary. I biked around the island, talking to the birds, the squirrels, greeting the other bikers who passed me from the opposite direction. I had to overcome my fears of staying alone in a hotel room that had no phone. And I almost left early, abandoning my dream of this ideal vacation I had concocted, because I found myself a tad on the lonely side. I stayed. And I did love being there. But it taught me that vacations are more enjoyable when shared. 

As those memories came flooding back to me in the midst of my search for marching buddies, I also felt a bit of a rage emerging.

“Staying on the sidelines? I don’t want to be on the sidelines.” 

I could almost sense a desperation coming from – where? I seemed to be looking into my life, like a mirror. Having lived 58 extremely active years, something was crying out from a very real and deep place within me. 

So I bolstered myself up with the assurance that I would run into somebody I knew, determined that I would march and have a great time of it. 

I started out Saturday morning with two friends who were headed into town to take care of some business. The car was having problems. Actually, the front end was shaking so bad and making a noise that sounded like the tire belts were going to rip open any minute. 

The driver said we would need to stop in Cambridge – about 30 minutes away – to get the tires checked. I silently prayed to myself that we could make it that far without breaking down! (In the meantime, I was also chastising myself for not choosing to go with another friend I usually rode with that I knew was also heading in that morning.) 

We got to the tire shop and after a slight wait, the prognosis came back. It wasn’t good news. It was a lot more serious than just bad tires. The car was getting ready to throw tie rods and some other problems that they couldn’t handle at that shop. 

“So,” I thought to myself. “You could have gone in with (my other friend) but you chose this car. Is this how you sabotage yourself from getting to march?” 

Fortunately the car’s owner had a cell phone and she offered to call my other friend to see if I could get a ride into Columbus with her. It just so happened that she was just passing the Cambridge exit near us because she had to drop off someone else at the library. Otherwise, she would have been too far past us to turn back. 

We connected at a nearby gas station, me going on to Columbus, and my friend with the ailing car heading off to a car lot near home to see about getting another car. 

I was dropped off at Goodale Park in Columbus’ famous Victorian Village district (Gay Haven) in plenty of time to see the float preparations and organization and catch some of the entertainment and speakers that were part of the pre-parade festivities. 

I donned my home-made rainbow shirt, feeling rather pleased with myself, and then went searching for a vendor with rainbow flags. I found a guy selling rainbow boas with gold tinsel and decided to buy one. 

“It’s not a flag,’ I thought, as I paid slightly more than I had planned to spend, “but it is festive – and I can wave it at people!” 

Naturally, after that I saw the flag vendors, but I refrained. And I got some very nice compliments from the gay boys who passed by! 

I walked up and down the length of the street where people were gathering, preparing and decorating – several times – carefully analyzing each group by float, banners and costumed participants, to figure out if I wanted to walk up and ask if I could join them for the march. Finally, close to line-up time, I heard someone yelling my name. I turned to see who it was and saw a familiar face (whose name, of course, I couldn’t remember right away) from my recovery meetings. We greeted each other and hugged. She asked me if I was marching and I said yes. Then she asked if I was with a particular group and I told her no, so she asked me if I wanted to march with her group. 

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. I had found someone to march with.  My friend introduced me to her friends – from her Methodist Church. There were gays, lesbians and supportive straight folks in the group. They had a large banner. Right behind them was a Methodist Seminary with its own banner and same diverse group of marchers. We were a small band, but everyone was very nice and happy to meet me – and happy for another marching body. 

The “Step-off” announcement came over the loud speaker and the carefully orchestrated 3 lines wove together to become one long line heading out to High Street and the final destination along the riverfront, Bicentennial Park. 

While still on the side street, another friend saw me and called out my name. She also knew my friend, so she and her partner joined us as well.  At one point there was a man in his late 40’or early 50’s, who walked as though he had cerebral palsy, who joined the group to march. He was a member of their church and he had a baby in a stroller that he pushed all the way to the end of the parade route with us. He wanted to march with us. He was an inspiration. 

Although I went through school with considerable contempt for the girly-girl cheerleaders, I have experienced points in my life when I have been quite the “rabble-rouser” in a crowd. I did at least warn my new-found friends that I have a good set of lungs and vocal chords as a singer, and that I tend to get rather loud at events like this. 

All along the way, I looked at the people lining the streets along the parade route and smiled and yelled “Happy Pride Day” and then whooped and hollered and got them to do the same. It was cool.  When we got to the 4 or 5 points along North High where some protesters had planted themselves, you could see the impact of their slurs and insults on those around them – especially on some of the young people, it seemed. I refused to hear them. I just flashed the protesters a peace sign, looked to the opposite side of the street and started whooping it up. “Happy Pride,” I yelled, smiling at the many faces as we continued on, and they joined in clapping and hollering back with similar cheers and greetings. 

At one point there was a religious group that had some very pointed things to say about a church marching in Gay Pride. One of the men in the group, a minister, yelled something back at them and then tried to get the group to sing “Yes, Jesus Loves Me.”  I knew the point he was trying to make, but it still felt a little weird. It was a valiant but short-lived effort, and I just kept yelling “Happy Pride” and clapping to get the people around us to do the same. 

We turned the corner to get to Bicentennial Park all too soon it seemed. Although there was a full day of entertainment and festivities planned, I had to head back uptown by bus to make sure that I could connect with my ride going home. My friend and fellow marchers and I hugged and expressed our appreciation of one another and then parted company. 

I headed back up North High Street, able to see the rest of the floats and paraders who had been behind us. Somebody complemented my outfit as I walked by. As I passed one of the many Columbus City Police who had lined the parade route and placed an effective wall of protection between us and anybody who tried to get out into the street at us, I looked at him and thanked him for his help today. He looked at me kind of funny at first, but then he got it, and smiled and nodded an acknowledgement in return. 

As I turned up from High Street along Broad (at the Ohio State Capitol Building), I saw a mass of people marching behind the floats. It was then that I realized that that was where people usually “fell in” to march with the parade. I just laughed. They numbered in the hundreds I’m sure, filling the street from one side to the other. It was inspiring to see them.  But I felt a special satisfaction at that moment. Not only had I not stayed on the side-lines, I found a way to actively motivate others to recognize their “Pride.” 

I emailed a friend later and told her that I must have looked pretty outrageous – a nearly 58 year old salt-and-pepper haired woman in a handmade rainbow shirt and lavish boa. But I had fun, and I helped others have fun while making a declaration of dignity. 

In 1983 I marched and was a featured performer in Hartford, Connecticut’s very first Lesbian-Gay Pride Day Celebration. We were few in numbers, but our message was no less profound to the public. To march is to stand up and speak out. It is to “demonstrate” our convictions. It is to give reassurance, hope and courage to those who feel they can’t yet be “visible.” 

This year I chose to not stay on the sidelines, but to be an active participant in the second largest Gay Pride Parade in the Midwest (Only Chicago’s is bigger). As I walked away from the parade route, heading toward the bus stop a few blocks up, I felt myself leaving the “safety in numbers” comfort zone I had been basking in thus far. As I saw others looking at me -some kindly, some not – I smiled back and waited for the bus with my rainbow boa flowing. 

When I got off at my final destination, there were two women waiting to board, one of whom really admired my boa and wondered where I had gotten it. I found myself hesitating – even though I was pretty sure they were together.   “I got it for the Pride Parade downtown.”  I don’t know if they caught the reference, but they smiled and said they were heading downtown for Comfest (another huge festival that runs concurrent with Pride), and wished me a good day, as I did them. 

I continued on foot to the office where I would be meeting my friend, stopping in the Speedway gas station to get something to drink because I was extremely parched. My rainbow boa won glances and compliments from people who had no clue. I just smiled. 

When the cashier asked me about it, I told her I had gotten it for the Gay Pride March downtown. She smiled blankly while a few customers behind me looked up. Nothing else was said. 

I continued on to my friend’s office building with my rainbow boa streaming in the wind. I was walking on air. Still high from the parade, my step had a definite “spring” to it. My goal had been accomplished. The exhilaration from that alone carried me through the rest of the day.  -MsQueer   

©2008 Msqueer.com. All rights reserved.

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