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Desecrating Maya Angelou’s funeral

When news circulated that the notorious Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, was planning to protest the “home-going” service of our nation’s most beloved citizen, poet, author, civil rights activist, and sister-sage to us all, Dr. Maya Angelou, there was a collective gasp of disbelief. Rev. Fred Phelps’ legacy, to no one’s surprise, is hate. And his signature stamp is turning funerals into circuses by exploiting the First Amendment. He elevated his hateful platform onto a national stage in 1998 by picketing Matthew Shepard’s funeral with homophobic epithets and his signature “shock and awe” placards of lewd and sexually graphic distortions of gay men. When the notorious demagogue died this March, many thought the seeds of hatred he sowed died with him. Continue Reading →

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Monogamous: To Be or Not to Be?

The one thing you don’t expect to see in any of the Bible Belt states (where most have amended their constitutions to define marriage between one man and one woman) is an organization promoting polyamory. Last month at Atlanta’s Pride Parade the group Atlanta Polyamory Inc. did just that — and in the wide-open light of day. The result was the shock, awe, and disgust of a mixed group. Atlanta Polyamory Inc.’s purple-lettered banner read, “Polyamory: having simultaneous close emotional relationships with two or more other individuals.” While many religious conservatives might argue that the legalization of same-gender marriage and shows like HBO’s Big Love — about a fictional polygamist Mormon family — plant seeds to destroy the conventional family unit, we have to ask ourselves is monogamy a natural instinct in us or is it a social construct, which was obviously devised to protect and to regulate the institution of heterosexual marriage? To be non-monogamous in this culture carries pejorative and judgmental connotations for both heterosexuals and LGBTQs. Continue Reading →

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The Matthew Shepard we don’t know

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are numerous hagiographies on the Matthew Shepard murder. Twenty years after Shepard’s murder, they’re being challenged. Are we ready for the tale investigative journalist Stephen Jimenez, himself gay, spins? I had the pleasure of meeting him at his book reading in the Harvard Coop this month. I told Stephen, referring to his book, that perhaps it’s easier to kill the messenger (him) than hear his message. Continue Reading →

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It’s time to pay attention to LGBT domestic violence in communities of color

Every Monday morning Alex (not his real name) and I met for breakfast at our favorite dive in Harvard Square. I would notice visible bruises and cuts on his face, arms, and legs, but assumed the black and blue marks were simply par for the course for a guy who enjoyed the rough-and-tumble adrenaline high that come with playing weekend scrimmage football. I don’t recall a time when Alex didn’t have a knot on his head, a cut on his lip, a bite into his skin, welts on his arms or stitches. I did notice, however, over time that the teddy bear sweet guy who sat across the table from me with a smile as wide as the Charles River on Monday mornings looked beaten up rather than injured. When I began asking Alex about his bruises he shrugged off my queries and talked about something else. Continue Reading →

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Tom Joyner’s homophobic message to Black community is sad but no surprise

 

 

On May 1, Jason Collins, the 7’-0” center for the Washington Wizards and a former Boston Celtic, came out. His statement — “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m Black. And I’m gay” — made the cover story for the May 6 issue of Sports Illustrated. On May 2, three Morehouse College basketball athletes were accused of raping an 18-year-old Spelman College student. Continue Reading →

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Celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation

 

This January 1 marked the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. The original purpose for the document core to President Abraham Lincoln’s presidency may have been to free slaves, or it may have been solely a strategic move to decimate the Confederate troops’ stronghold in the South and win the Civil War. Its purpose was probably a little bit of both. Regardless of Lincoln’s intent, my ancestors named the day of Lincoln’s signing of this historic document Jubilee Day. Many African Americans continue to celebrate Jubilee Day with a New Year’s Eve church service called “Watch Night Service.”

I grew up in the tradition. Continue Reading →

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Obama harkens back to slavery with ‘states’ rights’ for same-sex marriage

 
 
Last July, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) Americans and our allies celebrated New York State becoming the sixth and largest state to allow same-sex marriage. And, of course, it sent an urgent message to President Obama. But what does it signal to us LGBTQ citizens when the first African American president wants to employ states’ rights, which once upon a time in this country federally mandated racial segregation and sanctioned American slavery, to address the issue of same-sex marriage? As a civil rights attorney, Obama knows that employing states’ rights violates our full constitutional rights as well as re-institutionalizes the 1896 U.S. Supreme Court case of Plessy v. Ferguson. As a result of that case, the ”separate but equal” doctrine became the rule of law until it was struck down in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. Continue Reading →

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