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Transgender Navy SEAL – It’s time to forgive the Human Rights Campaign .@HRC

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014
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Kristin Beck – National Transgender Liaison Military Freedom Coalition (Far left) and Human Rights Campaign President – Chad Griffin (Far right)

 

 

 

Recently HRC president Chad Griffin apologized to the entire transgender community for HRC’s past exclusion of transgender people in it’s advocacy work. Many in the transgender community are still upset with their track record. To add to the dilemma there are still people in the gay and lesbian community who don’t even understand the transgender community, and wonder why we are here and part of HRC. I’m not even going to mention the armies of haters and prejudice toward the entire LGBTQ community, but maybe just point out that the prejudice and hate is through the same lens.

 

Why the exclusion and now why the apology? The gay and Lesbian focus for quite some time has been on marriage while the transgender community is just trying to stay alive and not be beaten up in the streets. The gay and lesbian community is about three decades beyond the rights most of us in the transgender community are fighting for today. This time delay between the “LGB” and the “T” Needs to be addressed and remedied.

 

We, the transgender community don’t want to be left behind anymore. This recent HRC apology is building a bridge, but many on both sides are not willing to traverse from either direction. A bridge never used is useless.

 

I was a leader in the SEAL teams and know a few things about team work. I see the LGBTQ  team made up of some very remarkable people. People with different views, different goals and from all walks of life. This is a team or even better a family and like every family we don’t always see eye to eye. Also like a family we need each other and need to work together if we want to get anything done. It is going to take all of us, and sadly from my point of view there is still a rift in our family. I want to get past this and move on.

 

Many in the gay and lesbian community will remain focused on marriage equality and that is OK, but don’t forget your brothers and sisters. There are a hundred differences between us, but there are thousands of things that are the same. A dream of true equality can come true. The bridge is there, we need to use it and join the team… all of us.

 

I accept the apology from Chad. I hope the entire staff of advocates really live up to HRC’s new agenda to include the transgender community in all of its efforts. I also implore the rest of the LGB community to get to know your transgender brothers and sisters and understand that we are part of your family and your culture. We don’t want the back of the bus anymore.

 

I am asking the rest of the transgender community to take a step back, put away the past and work with HRC and the other advocacy groups. For us just being out is activism, but the time to join forces is now. The time for all of us is now. Together the entire LGBTQ community is strong. I for one want my dream of equality to come true; we can achieve this. I believe in all of us. That is why this year, myself and other Military Freedom Coalition leaders are honored to have been invited to the HRC gala – an olive branch.

 

There are going to be many things here and there that we hope to change – building dialogue.

 

We have to stop pretending our leaders are perfect. We must let leaders be human. It’s time for a radical shift. It’s time for that radical love and forgiveness we always talk about. Today is that day. The day that LGBT walks together arm in arm towards our dream of equality and inclusion.

New Poll Refutes Purported “Drop” In Marriage Equality Support

Friday, October 17th, 2014

titleA new poll shows strong support for the US Supreme Court action on marriage equality, mirroring an earlier poll by the same organization on marriage equality in general.

ABC News reports:

Most Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll support the recent U.S. Supreme Court action allowing gay marriages to go forward in several states – including a bare majority in the 11 states in which such marriages have begun in the past week and a half. Overall, 56 percent of Americans support the court’s action, while 38 percent oppose it – exactly matching opinions on whether or not gay marriage should be legal, asked in an ABC/Post poll in June. These results reflect the public’s dramatic shift in support of gay marriage the past decade.

Even the 11 states affected by the non-decision decision show majority support, at 51%. But more importantly, this poll refutes the results of an earlier Pew Poll, which seemed to show a drop in national marriage equality support. That poll is looking more and more like an outlier.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

Historic – Active duty sailor routes equal opportunity charter for LGBT Military

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014
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Petty Officer Second Class Ann Foster (Middle) with fellow sailors. (Photo credit: Facebook)

 

Originally seen on MilitaryFreedomCoalition.org 

In a bold and historic move, active duty Sailor Fire Controlman Second Class Ann Foster has created and officially routed a request to the United States Navy seeking equal opportunity for active duty LGBT military members. Currently there is no protection clause in place to protect LGBT active duty members from discrimination.

Recently after the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell there has been a rampant amount of complaints about discrimination within the US Military, targeting gays and lesbians. As well Pride months have been denied at certain commands, while approved at others. The abuse against the LGBT Military community sadly in some cases has gotten worse. A Commander may not be able to kick you out because you are gay, but they can make your life a living hell.

This charter seeks the embodiment of the US Constitution and upholds the highest standards of Military service, paralleling the historic times of when African Americans and Women we’re protected in US Military charters.

Ann currently serves as the President of G.L.A.S.S. (Gay Lesbian and supporting servicemembers) which is the only official chartered LGBT group in the United States Navy. She also serves as the “National Active Duty Advisor” for the Military Freedom Coalition – a non political role.

“It is my hope that we can work together with Equal Opportunity to create protection for ALL service members regardless of sexual orientation” – Ann Foster 

 

See the historic charter below:

ORIG: USS MILIUS/ DDG 69 DRAFTER: FC2(SW) Ann Foster DATE: 15JUN2014

INCLUSION OF SEXUAL ORIENTATION INTO NAVY EQUAL OPPORTUNITY POLICY PROBLEM

As it stands, the current Navy Equal Opportunity Policy, (NAVREGS Article 1164), does not include sexual orientation as a basis of non-discrimination. According to the reference, “Equal opportunity shall be afforded to all on the basis of effort, performance, conduct, diligence, potential, capabilities and talents without discrimination as to race, color, religion, creed, sex or national origin.” By excluding sexual orientation from this policy instances of harassment and discrimination are not protected and are, therefore, easily dismissible and overlooked by commands who do not wish to “deal with” LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) issues at their commands.

DISCUSSION:

1. Current regulations excluding LGBT service members from Equal Opportunity creates an uneven playing field which varies by command. Whereas one command may provide full support and resources for one LGBT service member, another command may look the other way when discrimination takes place against another LGBT service member. This creates an issue of continuity under equal treatment across the Navy.

2. The recent existence of policies, both nationally and within the military, that outright restricted and condemned the LGBT community created a culture that can not be removed overnight. There will be lingering prejudice for years to come and may never disappear. The only way to give all people Equal Opportunity is through a command managed program that allows service members the right to grievance or resolution free of personal bias.

RECOMMENDATION:

1. Make a movement to include “sexual orientation” into the Navy’s current Equal Opportunity policy thus creating continuity between commands to protect against discrimination to all service members.

2. Provide easily accessible guidance and training for commands to implement the newly revised Equal Opportunity policy.

Dallas Pride and the “Dangers” Thereof – gay men in speedos:

Monday, October 13th, 2014

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Dallas Pride and the “Dangers” Thereof – gay men in speedos:

Originally seen on TALKHILLCREST | SeanSala.com

 

I was born in Oklahoma, in a little town called Edmond near Oklahoma City and Moore. My family eventually moved around the country here and there, including a stint in Colorado. Being the staunch Evangelical family we were, we attended Pastor Ted Haggard’s “New Life” Church. I still remember being a little guy looking up at the ceiling with flags hanging from all over the world as the Evangelical pastors prayed fervently that other nations would convert to Evangelicalism.

We eventually settled in Dallas, Texas. There, I attended a private Christian school called “Carrollton Christian Academy” which is still in existence today (just in a different location).

I was taught my whole life this one view on sexuality: Marriage is the only blessed from where sex can happen, marriage is between a man and a woman – period.

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Now remember, the nation was very different back then. We as a country were still under the legalistic maul of many of the early patriarchs of Evangelical leaders like Dr. James Dobson, Robert Tilton, The Bakers, and so on. So while “marriage was the only blessed form of sex” there certainly was no talk of “blow jobs,” anal sex, “nipple-rides” or anything of a campy sexual nature that addressed this thing called “foreplay.” While the Evangelical movement blessed “sex” as long as it was under their parameters, even speaking about sex in any way – including for education was deeply shunned.

So there I sat. I had no idea I was gay then and I didn’t even know what it meant to be gay. The first time I remember being called gay was when I was in the 5th grade. I was called gay by a very popular kid, so what did I do? I ruined that kids social life.

Like I said, I didn’t know what it meant to be gay, but I just knew that it was “deeply evil” and something to be “reviled.” This is what I was taught.

Today I am an open, out, proud gay man and I am also very open, accepting and educating when it comes to human sexuality. But this wasn’t always the case. I was raised to shame the pregnant girl, shun anyone who thought sex was for pleasure and that strippers or adult film stars were the most evil thing to walk the planet.

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Frequently in churches, I was shown dramatic and “jaw dropping” videos of “evil gay pride parades” – images of men in leather, images of men in speedos, etc. (Oh the horror I know!).

Years later, while I was on the tail end of my military service I organized the first ever Military contingent in a Pride parade in the History of the United States.  The thing that caused me to really confront this needed change was because when I went to San Diego Pride for the first time, I had never been to a Pride celebration before. I was fed images of “terror,” remember?

Well coming to this Pride celebration, I saw the men in leather, I saw the men in speedos half naked. But I also saw families, churches, policemen, fire fighters, public officials, congress members, seniors, women, blacks, whites, Asians, Christians, Jews, Unitarians, and so much more. I saw what the Rainbow flag meant: Equality for EVERYONE – a magical thing called “diversity” that I never learned in Dallas and I never learned in the military.

In the summer of 2011, there was a fire in Hillcrest. A popular and iconic bookstore in the local gay community named “Obelisk” had burned down. It had just recently seen a change of ownership as well. The store was known to be full of novelty items, sexual art, and adult films tucked away in the back. I remember when the new owner announced that upon rebuilding he was going to change a lot of things, including removing the pornography from the back of the store. Upon seeing this I posted on Facebook something to the effect of: “Glad to see Obelisk is removing porn from their bookstores. Especially since San Diego Pride is becoming more “family friendly.” I truly thought nothing of the post. Hours later, I learned that boy was I wrong.

At that same time, I had experienced a pretty big influx of social media followings, news media, and the like talking to me because of my activism with the military contingent at San Diego Pride. This led to a lot of people looking at what I was saying. I was early in this game, so I really had no idea that I was “being watched.”

There was a slew of comments, many from much older gay men, who were very angry at what I had said. Many of them called me uneducated, and a “young idiot” and so forth since I thought that porn had no place in San Diego Pride. One comment really stood out to me though:

“Porn is our heritage.”

Starting a Sexual Revolution Begins With Education

The first thing I honestly thought was “what the hell is this guy talking about? How can an adult film be your heritage?” I thought the guy was a complete idiot. We exchanged some Facebook conversation back and forth and he told me to “read up.”

And I did.

Years later I have returned to Dallas periodically. I had reconnected with a lot of friends growing up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and I have made a lot of new ones. Every time I went to Dallas, I still had so much pain, fear and honestly I was a little terrified. I would have been reluctant to admit it then, but the years of religious abuse really did leave me scared. It does to this day. Dallas gave me some posttraumatic stress.

While I have had a big amount of support from people when I came out, there are those who won’t speak to me anymore. They don’t say why, but I know why.

Recently the Dallas gay Pride parade has come under some heavy fire about their handling of “family friendly” pride celebrations. The controversy surrounding is was rumored to be “should we ban men in speedos” and “we need to make Pride less sexual.” Something that upset MANY gays and lesbians in the Oaklawn area – yet I noticed a steady group of leadership in the area was reinforcing that Pride celebrations cannot be sexual because we “want families there” and “what about the children?” I saw some liberal activists go NUTS on Dallas Pride.

So what is the answer to all of this? It’s two-fold.

Separating sexuality from Pride events is not the full story:

 

Umm…. Last time I checked an LGBT Pride parade was not about celebrating your anniversary, your sales pitch, nor a baby shower, it is about celebrating being LGBT and SEXUALITY. It kind of is a comical position when people say that sexual undertones Is “trashy” for Dallas Pride.

Pride parades have been an essential part of the gay rights movement. Trust someone who had dealt first hand with seeing a small idea such as a military contingent change America – Pride parades have impact. The more liberal areas of the United States sparked Pride. Was it easy? Absolutely not. Even the MOST CONSERVATIVE Pride celebrations were considered to be a band of “pedophiles and sexual deviants.”

Think about how people simply walking down the street were considered to be “hated by God” and “child molesters.” Yet in other Pride events, the skimpy clothes and open sexuality actually did spark a conversation nationwide in the American community. When people started to say, “I like to do X,Y,Z with men” and “I like to do X,Y,Z with women.” That actually was birthed before from the sexual revolution. Which paved the way and CREATED the modern gay rights movement. There would be NO PRIDE EVENTS nor modern gay rights movement if it was not for the boldness of activists who stood up in a sexual revolution saying “I like to have sex with men (or women).” Such a phrase may seem kind of typical to us these days, but to declare that then made those activists equivalent to someone who wanted to rape a child in the eyes of many. The boldness of sexuality has lead to marriage equality. Not conservative values, but bold, open, sexuality.

 

People that believed in Harvey Milk were not “family friendly”:

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Harvey Milk is all over the modern media now. He has gained civil rights equivalency to Martin Luther King Jr. in being awarded the posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom. During his life, though, he was considered a deviant. Even modern conservatives still today say he was a child predator (they still try to use that tired argument against us).

Yet Harvey Milk stood up and fought in one of the most liberal areas of the country at the time (still not open to the LGBT community). In the film “Milk,” viewers see images of gay men being hauled into police vans, sparking the Stonewall Movement – our gay civil rights movement. When Harvey began to stand up and demand equal justice, it was not the churches, the families and so forth who stood with him. It was the porn stars, the pot heads, the poor, LGBT teens that had been rejected, transgender men and women and drag queens who stood with him.

To sum it up, the REJECTS of society stood with Harvey for the message of the Constitution, when the majority of the country delighted in demoralizing, demonizing and instituting structural and direct violence against the LGBT community. The only people that stood with the modern day civil rights icon were those who were the FARTHEST from being “family friendly.”

We assume that people who are open and educated on sex and gender are not family friendly. Yet, they themselves play a role in their own lives in their own families. Many of us were rejected by our families. In the words of RuPaul, “LGBT people get to choose our families.” Our families are not less because they don’t have the picket fence. Our families are just as important, refugees of oppression.

 

What about the children though?

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Every parent has a right to raise their child as they see fit. On that note, I hope parents will consider this and I mean it with the utmost respect for their role in their child’s lives.

You go to a Pride parade and you see a man in a speedo and you SHIELD your child’s eyes before the “neon green speedo gets into their soul!”

Then…

  • You take a family trip to a beach full of speedos, but you only shield the child’s eyes if it’s at an LGBT Pride parade. (Ironic, isn’t it?)
  • When you walk by a mentally ill homeless person you tell your child “look at that lazy bum.”
  • When you hear rap music you tell your child “they are a bunch of worthless N*****s.” You see no problem with that? What kind of “Southern values” are you teaching?
  • When you attend Church a message that “Jesus was a capitalist” reinforces that poor people are disgusting, evil creatures. When Jesus Himself defended the validity and significance of the poor. They are a part of our society. Period. Jesus demanded that we care for them. By the way, Jesus was neither Capitalist or Liberal. He was above all of that.
  • You tell your child that the teenage girl who got pregnant in high school “is a whore.” Yet you were the father that had sex with many girls in high school and just won no pregnancy by the luck of the draw.

There are SO MANY THINGS in society that are wrong. I have met more evil Pastors using the message of Jesus to embezzle money, cheat on their wives, use Christianity to make millions off the backs of naive seniors citizens and others than I have met “evil porn stars.” Some of whom give more money to charity then some life-long Christians I know. We are so obsessed with demonizing people who are open and educated on sexuality, when instead we have children in America going to bed hungry every night.

We have much bigger priorities than to:

#1 Pretend that sexuality is evil,

#2 Act like humans don’t have sex, and

#3 Trash the liberators that lead to your gay son, daughter, cousin, Father, Mother – who now live in a world that is more open and accepting to LGBT people.

Think, did you lift a finger to make it a better world for LGBT people? The early sexual liberators laid down their lives and their names. You didn’t. Until you can sacrifice your life to stand up for expression, you really don’t have room to judge.

Finally, there is nothing wrong with being a Conservative family:

Conservative families are beautiful. I love them. I came from one. During our good years, we were really blessed people. Marriage is an amazing thing that the gay and lesbian community has fought for because we see that. We want that and we want to be recognized for our love too. Yet that does not mean that the establishment of what has been only straight society gets to demean and demand that gays act a certain way and do everything by the code to which they demand. Straight society does not get that they may be pro LGBT mostly now, but it was the rules and behavior modifications that they produced that lead to the suicides, the gender discrimination against women and so forth.

Moral of the story: There are people dying in our streets. We have a lot of work to do. The churches have a lot of work to do, rather than focus on men in neon green speedos.

Oh, and there also was that part of the Bible where Jesus said “judge not, lest ye be judged.” You’ll take so many passages literally, but when it comes to love, acceptance and understanding, you’d rather ignore that one. There also is this thing called “slut shaming” that Jesus never did. In fact, he spoke against it. (He who is without sin cast the first stone.)

Oh and by the way. It’s just a body.

Go feed the poor.

I didn’t think I deserved to be happy and HIV positive: By C.L. Frederick

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

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Originally seen on TALKHILLCREST | SeanSala.com – contributing author Internationally known male model and HIV awareness activist C.L. Frederick

I used to think that gay men who acquired HIV got exactly what they deserved; that was until I myself tested positive.  I knew very few openly positive gay men.  Those that I was aware of were the social outcasts, the topic of gay gossip and innuendo, and the guys you were encouraged to stay away from in order to keep your social standing.  To me, the few positive men I knew of didn’t seem like happy people.  They seemed defeated, used up, and simply put – miserable.  How could anyone possibly be happy and living with HIV?  I was acutely aware that HIV positive men faced many stigmas socially, dating wise, in being sexually viable, and amongst their own families acceptance.  Complete misery in my book of books.  I did not want that life and I believed it would never be something I would ever have to deal with.  In all honesty, I pitied positive men.  My preconceived notions of the type of man living with HIV/Aids was rooted in social ignorance and was completely off base.  After my diagnosis, I didn’t think I would ever be happy again or that I deserved happiness.  I found myself at a great precipice and I did not know if I’d catch myself from falling.

Initially I felt a tremendous amount of shame.  I had always told myself if I ever ended up positive that was it, I’d end this life.  No way was I going to live with THAT stigma let alone a lifetime dealing with Human Immunodeficiency Virus.  I assumed that the rest of my life would be marred with rejection, fear, and that I would never again have another man take an interest in me.  Before I had never equated living well with being HIV positive, whether due to societal stereotypes or having a sparse group of positive men in my life.  I had very few guys to relate to.  I had found my rock bottom and it was the darkest reality I had ever faced.

The dark places my mind took me to during that time were frightening.  There is something to be said about that kind of fear.  The numbness in your brain and soul makes you feel like a zombie; alive, but not living in the present.  It’s a feeling that takes root into your very being and is a bitch to shake.  I had had a time similar to this after having gone through a rough patch a few years prior.  I had the perfect storm of being someone in a small gay community that was discussed often, had been in and ended a hurricane of a relationship with a man who I cared about, but couldn’t let my guard down for, and the growing disdain in my being for the course my life was on.  Realizing that I was not the marrying kind, but was the ‘fuckable’ kind was ever present in my mind.  Monotony, harsh reality, and boredom had invaded my psyche.  I had lost myself.  I thought making it through that point in my life was to be the hardest encounter I would have in my life.  It took every ounce of will within me to make it through and I never wanted to return to that feeling which owned me.  But, here that feeling was again after diagnosis.  This time an infinitely stronger feeling.  I understood there was no cure, no pill or shot that would rid my body of this stigma riddled virus.  This was a forever and ever reality; straight up no chaser.  I didn’t have a soul to talk to about it or someone I could identify with to show me that I could live a blessed and relatively normal life being positive.  I had no scaffold in place to show me that happiness in my life could still exist.  I started to focus my thoughts on bringing myself out of the depression.  I had no other choice, I didn’t want to give this life up.  A saving grace was my mother.  Without her I would be six feet under, having taken a cowards way out.  My mom had a rough childhood.  She came from a rough upbringing and turned into an incredible woman and mother as an adult.  She still had struggles, residual emotional conflict as an adult stemming from her childhood.  The reason I am still alive is because I could not be the one to destroy her.  My love for her, my understanding of her kept me from wanting to find out if there was indeed an afterlife.  I wanted to live and get stronger in order to save her from more hurt and pain.  Even though I knew things would be rough I was not willing to return to the dark.  I was going to fight, give a big fuck you to stigma, and use my experience to show others especially LGBTQ youth what a life living with HIV could be.

It’s been a year since finding out my positive status and I still struggle.  I am beginning to see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.  I changed my priorities and surrounded myself with family and good friends, not the mean girl gay acquaintances, but true and genuine friends who see past the peripheral and look directly into the core of the friends they love.  The friends who support you no matter what a mess you might be on the inside.  Soul-mate type friends.   I try to focus on what is important in life and have gotten pretty good at weeding out the unnecessary or meaningless.  I have hit several bumps along the road, but I continue to look forward.  My endgame now involves my health, loving my family, having friends that only add to the quality of my life, my work, and centering my life around the things that make me happy.  I learned that setbacks and rough patches are inevitable and normal.  Happiness in any situation; whether it be because of a positive diagnosis, depression in general, or whatever setback you come across is possible.  If I could give any advice that I hope would be heard is that help is available.  Counseling, support groups and services are all available.  The best place to look is with your local LGBTQ centers or free health clinics that cater to the LGBTQ communities.  I feel counseling and support groups would have been a great help to me and this journey I have been on with regards to my status.  Being emotionally and mentally healthy is the key to successfully dealing with HIV and the resources are out there.  You don’t have to feel alone because you are not alone.  Hundreds of thousands of gay American men are living with HIV and we all deserve to be happy.  

US Supreme Court Turns Away All Marriage Equality Cases

Monday, October 6th, 2014

US Supreme Court ColorThis is huge – it means marriage equality will start almost immediately in five states, and soon in six others.

The New York Times reports:

The Supreme Court on Monday denied review in all five pending same-sex marriage cases, clearing the way for such marriages to proceed in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. The move was a major surprise and suggests that the justices are not going to intercede in the wave of decisions in favor of same-sex marriage at least until a federal appeals court upholds a state ban.

It also means that we likely won’t get a final country-wide decision from the Court soon.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

Conversion Therapy Survivor calls out “Ex-Gay’s” new weapon – Kegan Wesley:

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
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Sean Sala “God and Gays” with Lisa Ling (Left) “Ex-Gay” Kegan Wesley (Right)

 

 

Originally seen on: TALKHILLCREST

Sean Sala a national LGBT policy activist and a survivor of gay reparative therapy who was featured on “God and Gays” with Lisa Ling is speaking out on the pastoral work of Kegan Wesley.

 

Sala’s open letter to Kegan Wesley is below:

I remember sitting in a church energized, on fire and ready to make a stand for God in my generation. Nothing seemed to be able to stand in my way and I would let nothing alter me from that path.

I also remember sitting in the small chapel at (the former) Christian Life Assembly and weeping – crying out to God from the deepest part of my person, “why am I like this when I don’t want it at all?”

The week prior I had shared my “struggle” with being gay to my youth group. I even told them God had “delivered me.” That following Sunday I was removed from every position of leadership, called a “fag” in front of adults in my church and was systematically forced out of that church for simply sharing the most common thing that I had with other people, that I am a human.

I left Christian Life Assembly and began working under a new youth pastor at an Assemblies of God Church down the road under a pastor who became one of my most dear friends. During those years, I had a very troubled home life.

 

Many of the affiliates of the now debunked Exodus International and Living Hope Ministries said that my attractions to men were due to my parent’s divorce. The reality was, I grew up with two brothers and a father who was very present in my life. A Christian counselor told me years before I even went to Exodus that “you’re spending too much time with you mother” when she ended up being the bedrock of my family a just, good, righteous woman who put her needs before my own for years.

This was another of many attempts to justify, rationalize or pin-point “some reason” for me being gay. Hell, being young at that age growing up in Dallas, Texas in the midst of the Bible belt,  I too wanted a “way out”!  I would do anything.

Years later, I became a pillar of not only my church but also regionally as the poster-child for youth to “come to Christ.” In high school I dedicated almost 60-hours a week to ministry and by the time I left, I had been a major participant in church and the ministry for almost a decade. I gave my life, and sold out to the Lord.

I began training on “Mega Church/Mega Youth” ministry. I was ready and by the time that I was about to open the door to my “great life” in ministry, I had a realization. One night, I was setting up chairs for a youth service and a voice hit me like a ton of bricks: “Get out of the Church!”

 

I was stunned. I will never forget that moment.

 

Before I joined the military, Exodus International’s books had been a pivotal part of my life. I had read the books, participated in the online discussions and finally in a leap of faith, I started to attend counseling sessions with other people who shared a similar struggle. The promotions were flashy, much like your promotions of “Such Were Some Of You.” They branded “Change is possible, I have changed and Christ can set you free.” The shiny glamorous promise was on the outside, but within were men and women who had been in these programs for decades, pouring their money, blood sweat and tears into reparative therapy – to no avail.

I have heard your heartbreaking story of your 10th birthday party. It was similar to the heartbreaking story of Ricky, the “reparative therapy expert,” I was working under in Living Hope. Ricky had shared that his grandfather had molested him for decades which lead to his “confusion,” just like you have stated.

He said he gave his life to Jesus and one day “in the shower” he just realized that he “liked boobs.” On top of that, he wanted to know (especially within the younger group sessions) how many times we masturbated during the week, what we thought about and more prying details that have zero Biblical foundations in the life of Christ.

When I came to a Exodus International I initially met a different affiliate minister to find this group, it was a weird and awkward phone call. I called the number listed on Exodus’ website and explained that I wanted to change, and I was given an address to go to a local Church of Christ in the area and in walked a “delivered” minister (who was, as they say, “gayer than a two-dollar bill”). At this moment I had not yet met Ricky, who was “gay”as well. Much like you try to say that you “used to swish” as if Jesus Christ, who loves humanity, would give a damn if someone “swished their hips” like you “used to.”

How petty we make the message of God’s unconditional love about the outward appearance, huh? How the message of grace has been mired in the works of the flesh. Or is righteousness in God weighed in how good you decorate an apartment? You better hide your feminine traits or the church won’t accept you! That should have been your first red flag.

He explained to me that change was possible; that he and many were “living proof.” When he began to pry into my life he seemed disappointed.

“Do you have a father?”

“Yes.”

“Are your family believers?”

“Yes.”

Finally after trying and trying again to find “some reason” that I was “struggling” with being gay he said to me, “were you molested as a child?”

 

My answer was no.

 

“I think you were… you’re probably suppressing it,” he declared.

 

Those words were a blatant, desperate and sincere lie. It was told to me over and over again. (See 3:26)

Later on, people like Ricky and others cited my arrogance and my further denial was the full reason why “God would never deliver me.” I knew this was not true. Yet as a young man, all I wanted to do was serve the Lord. I had an incredible relationship with God.

 

Kegan, I was you.

 

As I watched you say, “I was not born this way,” I remember saying the same thing. When I watched you saying, “shut up Lady Gaga,” I remember the anger at the world “trying to define me.”

 

I remember the secret reality of my situation when I stood on stage and spoke to crowds. It was all a lie. (See 2:00)

Kegan, I believe am loved and saved by the same unwavering (emphasis on unwavering) grace and love that you have been saved by. I truly believe from deep within me that you are sincere. I believe that you truly think that you are doing good.

 

And so did I. But the damage I did was vast.

 

When you demean the way people “walk and talk” and affiliate that with “being gay” and the need for people to “act one way” and not the other, you are doing irrevocable harm to thousands of youth. Where I once thought I was helping them, I realized that I was damaging every single lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender person coming through the doors of my church – which were supposed to be the doors of grace. Instead, I traded the Gospel of Jesus for cheap behavior modification and rules. You are doing the same.

By insisting that being gay is the same as your addiction to drugs, as much as I sympathize with addiction and those who suffer from it, it has nothing to do with being gay or being molested. In fact, you actually are furthering the social damage of those who are molested. I have met many, including those in my own family, who were subject to molestation and they are straight. The lie that being molested will make you gay is as logical as the debunked groups you affiliate with. I must have missed the piece of Christianity that says “leave your brain at the door.” Your personal addiction is one in billions and the institutions that have told you that you personally define the standard for billions is allowing you a Christianity focused on selfish gain due to your pain. Your story is not special, grace is.

You are preaching this all as if it is new. After decades of abuse from Exodus, after decades of false testimony, after leader, after leader, after leader, has confessed that it was all a lie – I regret to inform you that you are no different. The God that loves us all has not done you a special favor that only you have a key to. He, as confirmed by many, is no respecter of persons.

In its “best intentions,” Exodus International has been responsible for global damage and the furthering of hate of LGBT people. It categorized millions of people like you are doing now. Your story is not a blanket for all. Your story is just one. You say church lead you to Jesus, but I will rejoice in the day that you realize that Jesus lead you to Him. Not a system of religion. Not a Church that says “don’t swish your hips.” The Jesus that broke every gender, social and religious stereotype of His day loves you. He loves the gayest rainbow squeal you make when you hear your favorite pop song – whether you like it or not. There is no shame in who you are friend.

In Christ, I love you brother. I have been in your shoes. Thanks to the grace of God, not the church, He reached into my life and heart and pulled me into a place of hope, restoration and love. Pull back the veil of “Pop Culture Evangelical Machine” and it’s lies and you will find that God loves you the same.

Even after Exodus is gone, in true fashion, the obsessed groups of the same people have reformatted the lie and put you at the forefront. You are nothing but a weapon for behavior modification.

You must say, “but the Bible says…”

 

I said that once too.

 

You had no choice in your sexual attractions. We all know that. I am here to say God loves you – your sexuality is a beautiful, wonderful piece of His vast Creation. The road you are on, is a road debunked – from this point on you for one “soul you save” you will turn thousands against innocent LGBT people who love the Lord too.

 

You had no choice in who you were. Remember though, you have full choice of what you believe. End the damage.

 

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@keganwesley

 

 

Full videos of “God and Gays” with Lisa Ling: The story of the International lies and take down of the World’s largest Ex-Gay Ministry can be seen here.

 

Louisiana Marriage Equality Ban Upheld by Federal Judge

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Louisiana Marriage EqualityFor the first time since the US Supreme Court ruled on marriage quality last year, a federal judge has upheld a state ban on gay marriage. U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman upheld the Louisiana marriage equality ban.

NOLA.com reports.

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman on Wednesday became the first federal judge at the trial court level to endorse state bans on gay marriage since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last summer in the U.S. v. Windsor, a case that has become the foundation of some 22 successful lawsuits filed by marriage rights activists in federal courts across the country. But where those cases successfully won over judges who largely saw the Windsor ruling as a powerful defense of same-sex couples rights to the same legal protections as heterosexual ones, Feldman’s ruling reads Windsor as an endorsement of states’ rights to regulate marriage. And Feldman put little stock in the cases decided in other courts, it would seem.

Feldman, an 80-year-old Reagan appointee, included a fair share of homophobia in his ruling.

Queerty flags some of the worst parts:

Marriage equality paves the way for incest. “And so, inconvenient questions persist. For example, must states permit or recognize a marriage between an aunt and niece? Aunt and nephew? Brother/brother? Father and child? May minors marry? Must marriage be limited to only two people? What about a transgender spouse? Is such a union same-gender or male-female?”

It’s all about the babies. “This Court is persuaded that Louisiana has a legitimate interest…whether obsolete in the opinion of some, or not, in the opinion of others…in linking children to an intact family formed by their two biological parents.”

The Huffington Post flags a few more:

1. Feldman incorrectly claims being gay is a choice. “This national same-sex marriage struggle animates a clash between convictions regarding the value of state decisions reached by way of the democratic process as contrasted with personal, genuine, and sincere lifestyle choices recognition.”

2. Feldman argues same-sex marriage was “inconceivable until very recently,” and claims there’s no fundamental right for same-sex couples to be legally wed. “No authority dictates, and plaintiffs do not contend, that same-sex marriage is anchored to history or tradition. The concept of same-sex marriage is “a new perspective, a new insight,” nonexistent and even inconceivable until very recently… Many states have democratically chosen to recognize same-sex marriage. But until recent years, it had no place at all in this nation’s history and tradition. Public attitude might be becoming more diverse, but any right to same-sex marriage is not yet so entrenched as to be fundamental… There is simply no fundamental right, historically or traditionally, to same-sex marriage.”

Ari Ezra Waldmann at Towleroad.com takes down the ruling:

Judge Feldman gets it wrong. The fight for marriage equality is a fight for marriage, not anything special or different than what opposite-sex couples enjoy. Being gay is not a choice and loving someone of the same sex is not a “lifestyle choice”: it is love, it is human nature. And permitting gays to marry does not open the door to incestuous marriages, bestial marriages, or polyamorous unions. That kind of slippery slope argument doesn’t pass the laugh test. Countless jurisdictions have made the decision to allow gays to marry, a legal policy decision that has no negative health or cohesion effects on society, without improperly permitting marriages that could be damaging to those involved and to children…

(1) it [the ruling] makes a circuit split, a key reason the Supreme Court takes cases, more likely;

(2) it provides some measure of legitimacy to anti-equality forces by giving them a victory and resurrecting their outdated and hateful language; and

(3) it denies very real rights to very real families struggling in Louisiana.

LGBT activists held a rally in New Orleans to protest the decision, and the Forum for Equality has already promised a repeal.

Towleroad.com reports:

ABC News now reports that Forum for Equality, the ALCU, the Human Rights Campaign, the LGBT Community Center and PFLAG New Orleans are encouraging people in New Orleans to protest Judge Feldman’s decision tonight in Jackson Square, located in New Orleans’ historic French Quarter.

From Forum For Equality: The ruling today upheld the unconstitutional ban on recognizing loving and committed same-sex couples. Forum for Equality and the courageous couples who have lead this battle will not stop! We will take this fight all the way to the Supreme Court! We will not let one decision turn back the tide of victories because we stand on the right side of history. Rally with Forum for Equality, ALCU, HRC, LGBTCC and PFLAG today to show Louisiana that we are committed to standing for love and fairness for all.

Marriage equality foes are, predictably, overjoyed.

Tony Perkins:

This ruling is a victory for children, each of whom need and desire a mom and dad, something our public policy should encourage. This decision is a victory for the rule law, and for religious liberty and free speech which are undermined anywhere marriage is redefined. We commend Judge Feldman for refraining from judicial activism and recognizing that Louisiana voters are free to uphold natural marriage in their state’s public policy.

Brian Brown:

Here we see the house of cards collapsing that supported the myth that redefining marriage in inevitable. This decision by Judge Feldman in Louisiana is a great win for the cause of marriage, coming as it does on the heels of other pro-marriage court victories, that puts the lie to the claim that it is inevitable the US Supreme Court will redefine marriage.

I suppose it was inevitable that we would run across homophobic judge or two on the march to marriage equality. And it’s no surprise that the two judges so far have been in two of the most homophobic states in the country, Tennessee and Louisiana. Still, it’s a bit of a slap in the face that we can still be denied our rights in 2014 by a Federal Judge because he thinks we choose to be gay.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Louisiana.

Marriage Equality Round-Up 8/24/14

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

Gay WeddingHere’s our daily quick round-up of the marriage equality and LGBT rights stories that don’t warrant a full posting on the blog, or that we just didn’t have time to add. We’re able to get more news and analysis to you this way every day – enjoy!

Australia: The Queensland state branch of the Australian Labor Party voted today to join Tasmania in binding its MPs to vote for same-sex marriage regardless of their personal views. full story

Ecuador: Gays and lesbians and straight cuples) will be able to register their relationships with the government as a “union of fact.” full story

USA, Indiana: IndyStar.com has a great FAQ on the marriage equality appeals case due in court next week. full story

Defiled Luggage Tags at US Airways

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014

According to Victoria Rosencrans, “This is a luggage tag that my wife made prior to her trip to Texas recently. She flew US Airways. Notice our mustache and beards. I’m appalled at the actions of US Airways staff. We will be contacting US Airways to file a formal complaint. I just thought you would like to know about this incident. … We need continued awareness of the treatment the LGBT community faces each day!” The photo that Victoria used for her luggage for their flight aboard a US Airways aircraft was that of her wedding day to her wife. US Airways has not responded with comment yet, but I would argue that this childish and inappropriate behavior is unacceptable. This type of defilement would be unacceptable if it were an opposite sex couple in the photograph.

I originally posted this photo on Marriage Equality for Pennsylvania’s Facebook page. The reaction we received was mixed. Some people said to just wipe off the ink. No harm done. Others said that it is disgraceful, and that they would never fly with US Airways again. Toni Wade posted, “At the very least, the airline’s PR dept. should be put on notice that employees are committing/tolerating activities like this and that it’ll be widely publicized if an acceptable response isn’t received.” So my question to all who read this is, did Victoria make a big deal out of this, or is the fact that a US Airways employee defaced her personal property a sign of a larger problem related to discrimination? Please take a moment to comment.

Victoria Rosencrans

Luggage Tag defiled by US Airways Employees