I came across an article recently about anti-bullying programs in Fort Worth ISD. Many of these initiatives are taking place all around the country, but it seems that many of them are not doing enough to help and protect LGBT youth.

People have become so comfortable with using the words “faggot”, “fag”, “gay” and so many other names that they, and the people around them, become desensitized to what it means and how much it hurts. Saying “that’s so gay” has gone so far as to be synonymous with “that’s so stupid/lame.”

In high school, that was how it was, even to me. I brushed it aside and never really thought of how hurtful it was because it was never directed specifically at me. Now that I am involved in the community and actually understand the pain, I correct people all of the time. It is important for people to understand that it is not, and will never be, okay to throw around derogatory names and slurs. It is rude, distasteful, and all around classless.

Even further, many people do not understand the difference between “transvestite” and “transgender.” The latter is politically correct and polite while the former has a more negative angle to it.

People are not educated about these simple, yet important things. It’s not their fault all of the time, but our programs and society. However, there are people who just do not care that they are being hurtful. To them, I have no words, but hope that they see the pain they are inflicting one day.

They say that sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me. These people must have never been verbally attacked because they are wrong. Words, too, have meaning and power behind them and people need to be wary of how they are used.

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No LGBT Cabinet Members

This past week, President Obama finalized his cabinet members for his second term. While he and the members support LGBT rights and activism, he has come under fire from the Human Right Campaign (HRC) for not placing LGBT members in. He had opportunities to appoint a few, but ultimately decided not to. However, he is known for taking in more LGBT members and placing them in his administration – more than 260.

While it would have been incredible if the president had done so, he has still taken strides toward equality. This accounts for so much and critics should keep that in mind when they attack him. Yes, it is true that we have been waiting and should not even have to wait, but that is the way it goes in life and society. There will always be an out-group that is fighting for its rights, even when laws are set in place. Look at African-Americans and women, for example. They are still fighting for their rights, even with protection.

You, the people who are complaining, should calm down. No, it will never be enough. With the opposition and hate that we face, we are taking huge steps – steps that I couldn’t even imagine before President Obama graced us with his presence. But we will continue to fight. Not the president, but the opposition.

Take a step back and look at where we are. Look at the support we have. We are gaining tremendous traction within the Republican party. That, in my humble opinion, is something to celebrate.

And so we continue to fight and we continue to wait.

Victory will be so sweet.

Is Meningitis the New AIDS?

There have been several recent cases of meningitis in Los Angeles and New York, with some deaths. So far, these have been linked to gay men, giving the facade of only affecting a certain group of people. That is not the case.

According to the CDC, “Meningitis is a disease caused by the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.” It can infect anyone through sharing food, kissing and sexual contact. It is not sexually transmitted, though. 

While there aren’t any signs in Dallas yet, officials are keeping a close eye on it. They are also making sure that the area has a good supply of vaccinations in case of an outbreak, especially for those that can not afford it. 

Bush Library, No LGBT Talk

This week, the George W. Bush Presidential Libaray and Museum opened at the Southern Methodist University campus.

When interviewed by “CBS This Morning” host, Charlie Rose, Bush spoke about immigration reform and national security. However, when prompted with marriage equality, he stated, “Yeah, well, I’m not, I’m not weighing in on these issues, as you know, because I’ve made the decision to get off the stage.”

In 2004, he clearly stated his opinion. Strangely, some of his closest allies have come out in support of it including his wife, Laura Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney, just to name a few.

Opening a Kid’s Mind

It’s no news that kids are a major factor in the fight for marriage equality. Ever since Justice Anthony Kennedy pointed out “the voices of these children” in the Prop. 8 hearing, there has been much more debate and discussion going on about the effects gay marriage on kids. In my obvious opinion, I think it’s a great idea to talk to kids about these issues. No, not everyone is going to agree with me (mostly those on the “right” end of the political spectrum), but there are many pro-gay people who are worried about how to bring it up to their children.

I want to preface this by saying that I do not have any experience in talking to my own children about gay marriage…but only because I don’t have children. However, older friends of mine have asked me about it and even sit down with their whole family to explain it. I’ve also talked to friends and family about being gay as a whole. It’s sometimes uncomfortable at the start, but almost always rewarding in the end.

What sparked the idea to even start writing this was lawyer and mother Devon Corneal’s piece about talking to her preschooler about gay marriage. It isn’t always a conversation that is planned – much like the sex talk or the talk about puberty (although those specifically should be planned before it’s too late). Sometimes, a line or action will open up the full conversation, just as it did for Corneal when her son said, “‘Victoria can’t marry Kyle mommy! Kyle is a girl. Girls have to marry boys and boys have to marry girls.'”

Like Corneal, it’s great to plan ahead and lay out what you want to say. When the time comes, and you’ll know, base your conversation on the planned and the unplanned – you can even surprise yourself with some of the more genuine points you come up with on a whim. For Corneal, she simply stated that it was okay for same-sex couples to love and marry each other (in kid talk) and then the day went on without a hitch.

Earlier this month, MSNBC’s Krystal Ball discussed gay marriage with her daughter, Ella, on a segment called Political Playground. She finds it crazy that, in some places, same-sex marriage isn’t allowed! She’s adorable and she’s right! (I really suggest watching the clip.) Ball was criticized by many right-wingers that she was exploiting her child to promote gay marriage. Albeit, it may have been scripted and coached and it may have been to promote gay marriage, but so what. It opens up the idea of starting a dialogue with your children.

To make things even easier, there’s a coloring book! Yes, a coloring book titled “Being Gay is Okay”! And look! It even comes with trading cards!

So whether you start with words or start with the book, a conversation about gay marriage with children is important. Opening them up to the concept and idea and teaching them to accept it will help them in the future when encountering those situations. After all, everybody needs a GBF (gay best friend) eventually!

Hubs and Bridges

For class this week, we were assigned a special post about the hubs and bridges of our online communities. Off the top of my head, I could not really think of any. Once I delved into what could and could not be a hub or bridge, though, I think I’ve figured it out. Here I go!

A couple of hubs, I think, would be the Advocate, OUT and The Huffington Post’s Gay Voices. The Advocate focuses more on news in the LGBT community, while OUT looks into the culture and entertainment of it. All three of these have a strong op-ed/”blogging” section. I always look to these for a good idea and inspiration to write about.

I had a harder time identifying bridges. The problem for me is what does and doesn’t qualify as being just LGBT; it encompasses so much! I did find that BoingBoing.net (much to my surprise) held content on the LGBT community. BoingBoing is known to be a “techie” website, so I definitely was not expecting it. The hubs that I listed above could also be considered bridges (perhaps a stretch) because they publish so many things that relate to this community such as family matters, technology/science, etc.

Blood Restrictions

This week, a male in Canada was taken off of life support and could not donate his organs…because he was gay. This got me to think about us gays in the U.S. I’ve always wanted to donate blood, but knew I couldn’t. I knew why and, in some way, I kind of understood. I don’t understand why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) groups all of us as “high risk.” I believe that reform will be a step towards equality and a higher blood and organ supply.

Since 1977, any male who has had sex with another male (MSM) is permanently barred from donating. The HIV/AIDS pandemic in the gay community caused this discrimination. While it is still true that MSM are still more heavily affected by the virus, “it is a person’s behavior, not their sexual orientation, that puts them at risk.” A woman who has had sex with a male doesn’t know if her partner has had sex with a male, yet she still is allowed to donate. Not all gays are haphazardly having unsafe sex, a behavior that is seen in all sexual orientation. African-American woman are also at high risk of HIV, but not stopped when donating.

Science has come so far that we have the ability to screen for the virus. No, it is not 100% accurate because of the “‘window period’ of infection, the time before detectable antibodies or antigens are produced.” However, studies are underway to reduce the already small risk.

Recently, activists have been “stepping up their calls for the federal government to change its blood-donation policy” and create certain procedures to allow it. Many groups, including the American Red Cross and American Association of Blood Banks, back a reform. The Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability (ACBSA) reported last May that “several studies were under consideration, and a request for information had been issued for a pilot study on alternative donor deferral criteria for MSM.” However, a decision has still not been made to cart this pilot.

There are two paths that activists see. The first includes a one-year window of abstinence for gay males that wish to donate. The other is a five-year window. Both of these policies are currently in play in other countries around the world.

The permanent ban is completely discriminatory, perhaps lazy, because officials are not looking past that window of infection. To argue that gays have unsafe sex is invalid, people across the board have unsafe sex. A wait is certainly understandable, to be sure that there is no virus. A ban is not.