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Twitter War Using NOH8 Message as a Weapon Is Not Acceptable

Monday, December 9th, 2013

I’m straight, and I want to talk about NOH8.  And how it affects me.

When I first moved to Vieques Island, Puerto Rico, and opened Weddings in Vieques, people cautioned me that I should not plan gay weddings.  Let me be clear – this is a gay-friendly island (lots of gay-owned businesses, gay residents, etc.) – so I was baffled.  At the time, gay marriage wasn’t legal anywhere in the United States yet (legislation was flying but nothing was settled), so I felt no reason to not offer gay wedding planning services in addition to everything else we do.  Fine, call them commitment ceremonies if you prefer.  Whatever.

There was a minister-in-a-can working the island at the time who cautioned me that IF anyone on this predominantly Catholic island found out we were performing commitment ceremonies, we would be harassed, threatened, and even – swear to God she said this – somebody would poison our dog. What???  Fortunately, she’s no longer a part of the wedding industry here because she obviously was clueless and biased about performing gay weddings.  We don’t need anybody like that on Vieques.

Now Weddings in Vieques has been executing flawless gay and straight weddings for almost seven years.  Our staff is mostly straight and we love our gay clients because, usually, they’re a lot of fun.  The Catholics on the island aren’t protesting and if anybody has a problem with it, I supposed they should have spoken up by now.  We featured a gay wedding on TLC’s “Wedding Island” performed here on Vieques and all I got from that was great feedback about the open attitudes on the island.  I did a wedding for gay active duty military police in uniform on one of our beaches.  The municipality of the island supports our business and television show, we pay our taxes, and I have never had an unkind word said to me by any Puerto Rican about whether or not we do gay weddings.

Dwayne and Rodney Byrum were married on 12-12-12 on TLC's  "Wedding Island" by Sandy Malone, owner of Weddings in Vieques

Dwayne and Rodney Byrum were married on 12-12-12 on TLC’s
“Wedding Island” by Sandy Malone, owner of Weddings in Vieques

I’ve had a blog here on Purple Unions for several years, and while I try to blog about mostly “gay” topics, I share anything that will be useful to brides and grooms regardless of sexual preference.  We’ve maintained excellent relationships with the vast majority of our gay clients and they give me half of my blog ideas.  I claimed the self-appointed title of “Queen of Gay Wediquette” a long time ago because no other reputable wedding planner was willing to step up to the plate and advise these lesbian brides and gay grooms about how to navigate the sometimes tricky waters of a gay wedding festivities.  So I volunteered because I have to do it on a regular basis.  That makes me an authority if there’s nobody else who has done it more and wants to weigh in.  I’m all up for learning something new.

End of day – gay couples often need more advice about how to handle the finer points of getting the ceremony to flow smoothly, etc. so that it doesn’t look like the hokey pokey up on the altar.  I’m happy to provide it – especially to my clients.  They have other questions about how to handle “traditions” in a way where they won’t offend anyone but don’t feel cheated.  I help navigate those waters too.  My job is to plan the perfect wedding for every client, and if that means helping you figure out what to do about being gay and still having all the bells and whistles the way you want them, I’m up for it.

So I’ve gotta admit I was blown away this week by a Twitter attack from a website the purports to be a LGBT wedding directory.  I’ll spare you the gory details but suffice to say we randomly tweeted my Pridezillas blog to them thinking their followers might be interested, and the owner responded with a long-winded, many message discourse that would have been far more appropriate sent by direct message, or hey, wait – maybe via email if you’re interested in doing business with us.  Somebody tweeting you a gay-relevant blog doesn’t mean we WANT anything from you.  We just thought you might be interested.  If you’re not, skip it.  That’s what I do with junk I don’t want.  But this person took the receipt of blog tweets as an indicator that I wanted to build a relationship.  Okay, no problemo.  But wouldn’t you send me a private message or an email? It’s not like my contact info is hard to find – I’m everywhere.

I had the misfortune of downloading the new iPhone update (against my will) the same day and instead of “replying” to this person’s tweets, I hit retweet instead on the first two messages.  I felt stupid, but I realized the conversation wouldn’t make sense to anybody unless I RTd the other three messages she sent – so I did.  Wow.  Huge mistake.  I received a public nasty-gram from her asking me why I was retweeting.  Rather than explain the error had been hers initially (who talks biz via Tweet – we’re not Real Housewives), I simply apologized – via tweet – and that started a huge nasty Twitter war where this woman who claims to be a NOH8 advocate spent literally hours attacking me, totally unprovoked.  She accused me of not doing my own tweeting. She attacked my weight, my professionalism, and my commitment to gay marriage equality.  Apparently my company isn’t gay enough and my views aren’t gay enough to satisfy her. Really?  REALLY?

Now we all know I won that argument the minute she attacked my weight – if you have to talk about appearance, you don’t have anything else bad to say about me.  But it didn’t save me trauma of reading through tons of horrifically mean tweets that I can only assume some of her followers were reading too.  Then to add icing to the cake, she proceeded to email websites on our island about me, mistakenly assuming that I own all the websites on Vieques Island.  I don’t – I own mine.  The webmasters kindly forwarded her messages to me. Thanks guys!

This person accused me of not supporting gay rights and marriage equality, she said I’m not a real writer (cited Huffington Post as example of something that isn’t considered “published” – I refrained from replying I’m a former Wall Street Journal columnist too because I was done with the war by then) and repeatedly bragged she has five degrees.  Felicidades.

The nastygrams really angered some of my dedicated former clients (the Weddings in Vieques gay mafia… not limited to alumni, just fyi if you want to join) and some very REAL wedding clients of mine started tweeting her back correcting her false statements and citing #NOH8. Her response was to literally start threatening me, repeatedly. I wasn’t participating, just sitting back and watching the war unfold… but she continued to threaten me in response to other people defending me as a NOH8 advocate… and I quote here:

@SandyMalone_ and if you FUCK with me I will CRUSH you. Maybe not tonight. Maybe not this year. But I don’t forget. So? Best to you. BYE!

When a long-time gay friend and client who I actually performed the marriage of on “Wedding Island” (see pic above – Twitter @Dwayne420) fought back and pointed out that I have a long history (well before wedding planning) of supporting gay rights, she got gross and accused him of having a “creepy” relationship with me.  Wow.  Somebody is off her rocker.  But the really sad thing is that she has a NOH8 picture up as her profile photo on Twitter.  She’s gotta be one of the biggest, nastiest, haters I’ve ever met.  I woke up to more crazy-ass tweets from her than you can even imagine… oh, and the emails she’d sent to all our local websites.  Sigh.

So who is this person?  I’ve never heard of her, and she doesn’t know me or she wouldn’t have said the untrue things she said (she made herself look stupid – my bios are available in a number of places).  The gay mafia started digging since I was in the middle of a bride’s arrival on the island.  Turns out, little Miss Nasty is a straight married woman who runs a mostly paid-advertising, gay wedding directory and her husband appears to be a wedding DJ.  No, seriously.  But because she’s got this website up that says she’s gay friendly, she’s got about 20,000 followers who read the stuff she writes.  And she doesn’t write much – she mostly reposts news. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But she decided to trash me because we tweeted a blog to her that we thought her followers (assuming they’re real) might have an interest in.  She took that to be an invitation to do business and build a relationship and because I didn’t respond quickly, she freaked. Big time.  Reality check, I’m in the middle of a stretch of three weddings… even if she’d emailed me, I’d have had to get back to her next week unless her hair is on fire and she’s standing on my front porch.  Priorities.  Clients first.  But I digress.

I love the NOH8 message.  I love the whole NOH8 campaign.  But I’m pretty sure that the architects of NOH8 meant for it to go both ways.  And they certainly didn’t mean for vendors who serve the gay community to start bashing each other and using NOH8 as a weapon.  I’m disgusted.  If you are somebody who plans gay and straight weddings, or purports to be a directory of those vendors, you should practice what you preach with the NOH8 message.  That means don’t be a mean, hateful person towards any sexual preference – gay, lesbian, straight, bi, trans or whatever.  It would be hateful to tell a gay man who watches football he wasn’t “gay enough” or to call a straight man who wears pink he dresses like a “fag,” right?  So how can anybody who says she is a LGBT supporter and vendor directory decide to start publicly attacking somebody else for being… I don’t even know how to characterize what she called me – not gay friendly enough? Poorly gay educated? Fat and on TV – comments about my weight are true and yes, I have a television show.  But it was rude and completely irrelevant to her insane attack anyway.  There’s that NOH8 logo staring at me from these totally malicious, hateful tweets.  So nice to wake up to.

A word to the wise: Don’t believe that every vendor out there claiming to be LGBT is really a staunch supporter of gay rights, or even a real business directory or vendor.  Do your homework.  It didn’t take us long to figure out that “Sybil”, as one of my alum clients following the tweets nicknamed her when she was psycho-tweeting all night long, is nobody but a hater with a fake profile pic of NOH8. She’s not the only one out there.  I always warn clients to avoid anybody to claims to be all things to all people – do your homework, check with references and don’t believe everything (or most of) what you read on social media or even company websites til you verify the source.  I let my feelings get hurt, or my “knickers in a bunch,” for my British fans, for literally no reason at all.  Lesson learned.

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!

Sandy

Sandy Malone, wedding planner (gay and straight) and serious marriage equality supporter.

Sandy Malone, wedding planner (gay and straight) and serious marriage equality supporter.

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a full-service destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island, seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico. She is also the star of TLC’s reality wedding show “Wedding Island,” . Sandy and her team (including her husband Bill, a retired SWAT team commander) have planned and executed almost 400 weddings in the Spanish Virgin Islands. Sandy is a veteran event planner from Washington, DC, with years of experience planning large and small weddings, press conference, and corporate and political events. She has planned countless events on Vieques Island, beginning with her own wedding back in 2004. Since that time, her professional staff has executed large and small weddings of all styles, including elopements, vow renewals and fabulously posh events at multi-million dollar waterfront villas. She has also planned family reunions, destination baby showers, corporate retreats and a variety of other events for clients from all over the United States and Canada. Sandy is also the owner of Weddings in Culebra (wedding planning on Vieques’ little sister island), Flowers in Vieques (a full service floral and décor firm), and Boutique in Vieques (a clothing and home décor shop). Sandy has a regular column on the Huffington Post and has been rated “Five Rainbows” by her happy gay clients!  Follow Sandy on Twitter @SandyMalone_ and @WeddingsinVQS and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SandyMaloneWIV.

USA, California: Transgender Homecoming Queen Poses for NoH8

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Cassidy Lynn CampbellTransgender teen who was crowned homecoming queen in Huntington Beach, California has just joined the NoH8 movement.

The Advocate reports:

Cassidy Lynn Campbell was crowned Homecoming queen at Marina High School on September 20. At the time, she said she was “so proud to win this, not just for me but for everyone out there, and for every kid.” But the next day, Campbell posted a tearful video to her prolific YouTube channel where she said “mean,” “ignorant” people online who criticized her victory and hurled transphobic comments at her… Now, Campbell has taken a public stand against the bigotry that sullied her victory by posing for photographer Adam Bouska’s pro-LGBT NOH8 campaign.

Hooray for Cassidy for standing up to bullies and bigots.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in California.

USA, Texas: Texas Rangers Pitcher and Wife Pose for NoH8

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Brittany and Robbie Ross for NoH8Texas Rangers pitcher Robbie Ross and his wife are showing their support for LGBT rights.

Towleroad reports:

In addition to showcasing their LGBT solidarity, Texas Rangers pitcher Robbie Ross and his wife Brittany are also prominently displaying their Christian faith in a new photo for the long-running NoH8 campaign. During the shoot, the couple spoke with Outsports’ Cyd Ziegler about their vocal support for LGBT rights coming not in spite of their Christian faith, but because of it: “Being in sports, and being around all kinds of different people, you just want to accept everyone for who they are,” Robbie told Outsports at the NoH8 campaign’s Burbank, Calif., studio. “My wife Brittany and I are Christians, and we believe we as Christians should love everyone and show everyone love, and if this is the best way to do it, then we want to support them.”

LGBT rights is slowly making inroads into the sporting world. Now if we can just get a few more players to come out…

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Texas.

USA: Gay Ally and NFL Star Brendon Ayanbadejo Poses Nude for NoH8

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

Brandon Ayanbadejo NoH8A football player and gay ally pose nude for the NoH8 campaign.

Chicago Pride reports:

This is not the first time Ayanbadejo participated in the NOH8 campaign. The 36-year-old Ayanbadejo posed with his wife, daughter and son, Amadeus, in July. Ayanbadejo has been a strong advocate for same-sex marriage.

“A real man supports equality.” Love this guy.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

Straight Ally Brendon Ayanbadejo Poses for NoH8

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo - NoH8Linebacker and strong straight ally Brendon Ayanbadejo posed for the NoH8 campaign with his adorable son. On Top Magazine reports:

Former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has included his son Amadeus in his gay rights advocacy. Last year, the 36-year-old Ayanbadejo, who is currently an NFL free agent, vocally supported passage of a gay marriage bill in Maryland and opposed an unsuccessful referendum to repeal the law. He is currently lending his celebrity to an effort to increase LGBT rights in Florida.

It’s allies like this, who live in the hyper-masculine professional sports world, who can really make a difference with straight guys on marriage equality.

USA: 67 Politicians Join NoH8, Including First Senator

Monday, June 24th, 2013

US Senator Martin HeinrichNoH8 held a photoshoot on Capitol Hill, and snared a US Senator from New Mexico. Queerty reports:

New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich, who was an opponent of marriage equality when he ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008, has become the first senator to pose for the inescapable NOH8 campaign, the photographic silent protest created by photographer Adam Bouska and partner Jeff Parshley as a response to California’s discriminatory Proposition 8. Sen. Heinrich posted a note on his Facebook page about his decision to tape his mouth shut for photographer Adam Bouska’s camera.

Pink News also reports on the shoot:

Equally as groundbreaking was the participation of Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, of Florida’s 27th District, who became the first Republican Member of Congress to lend support to the NOH8 Campaign. The event, organised by the NOH8 Campaign and the office of California Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), featured a record-setting number of participants. The very first NOH8 on The Hill event took place on February 15 2012, with 10 Members of Congress taking part. That was followed by NOH8 on The Hill II some seven months later, on September 13 2012, when a further 26 Congressmen and Congresswomen posed for photographer Adam Bouska.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut also participated.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Washington, DC.

Florida, USA: Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Joins NoH8

Friday, June 14th, 2013

Florida Representative Ileana Ros-LehtinenBecoming the first republican member of Congress to do so, Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen joined the NoH8 campaign Thursday. On Top Magazine reports:

Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen on Thursday became the first Republican Congress member to pose for the NOH8 Campaign, which raises awareness and funds for gay rights causes, including ending California’s 2008 voter-approved gay marriage ban, Proposition 8. The campaign was on Capitol Hill for its NOH8 on The Hill photo shoot.

Ros-Lehtinen has been a long-time supporter of LGBT rights and marriage equality.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Florida.

USA: Soccer Player Robbie Rogers Joins N0H8

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Robbie RogersAn openly gay soccer player just joined the NoH8 campaign. On Top Magazine reports:

Rogers is the former U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team member who last played for the UK’s Leeds United team. He came out gay and announced his retirement from professional soccer in an online post in February. “‘Don’t waste your life hating others for something you cannot change. Preach Love!’ – Out soccer player @RobbieRogers,” the NOH8 Campaign tweeted over the weekend.

Cute, gay, athletic and politically aware – what’s not to like?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

Actress Liza Minnelli Joins NoH8

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

Liza Minelli for NoH8Actress Liza Minnelli, daughter of Judy Garland and beloved too many gay and lesbian fans for her roles in Cabaret and Arrested Development, among many others, joined NoH8. Queerty reports:

The showbiz vet taped up her talented mouth for the photo but offered the following comment to her fans: “Here’s what I believe … no shame, no blame, no guilt. Try and be happy. And be who you are. I love you.”

we hear Minelli will be returning to Arrested Development to reprise her role as the Widow Ostero… watch for it June 26.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

Hunger Games’ Actor Josh Hutcherson Joins NOH8

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Josh Hutcherson for NOH8The adorable Josh Huctherson made a statement for marriage equality this week, joining the anti Prop 8 movement NOH8. Queerty reports:

The 20-year-old actor has already been an avid supporter for LGBT equality for years. While promoting the lesbian family drama The Kids Are All Right in 2010, Hutcherson frequently spoke about the inspiration that comes from his two gay uncles who died of AIDS-related complications while he was an infant. Hutcherson has also filmed a PSA and made personal appearances for Straight But Not Narrow, a campaign that offers support to LGBT teens co-founded (along with Heather Wilk and Andre Pachon) by his close pal (and equally hot) Avan Jogia, worshipped by teens for playing Beck on the Nickelodeon sitcom Victorious.

I still remember when these straight good looking actors were often virulently anti-gay. It’s so refreshing to see this new generation come of age, mostly free of the prejudices against gays that my generation embraced. Geez… that makes me sound old. 😛