Saturday, October 9, 2010

For all you writers out there...

For all you writers out there: I've started a blog on my website about ideas on writing. If you're interested, click below at, then click on the blog on the menu. I'm hoping these ideas will be of interest to other writers, and that folks will vehemently disagree or agree or question or whatever.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Mormon leader's response to the recent string of LGBTQ teen suicides

Yesterday, LGBTQ Nation ran a story about the protests the Mormon Church has been facing as a result of remarks by Boyd K. Packer, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, shortly after the suicide of the freshman at Rutgers University.  Quoting from LGBTQ Nation:
Packer said that the LDS Church would always oppose same-sex marriage, that gays and lesbians could change their sexual orientation to straight, and compared homosexuality to “a habit or addiction that is unworthy,” calling same-sex attraction “impure and unnatural.” The ill-timed remarks come on the heels of the suicides of at least six teenagers over the past month, all victims of anti-gay bullying or harassment. 
4,500 gay rights advocates, mostly dressed in black, laid down on the ground.  There were enough protesters to circle Temple Square twice.

Eric Ethington, an LGBT organizer, spoke at the protest:
We represent all colors of the rainbow tonight. We are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, straight, black, white, latino, Mormon, Catholic, Muslim, Jewish and atheist – but we all stand firm in one thing, stop destroying our children. And to the youth of the church: Never let anyone tell you that you need to be any different than who you are. There are thousands in this state alone who will love you and accept you. You are beautiful and perfect just the way you are!
In a related story, Bay Windows is reporting that Christian group Exodus International has withdrawn its support for the "Annual Day of Truth,"designed to convince young people that homosexuality can be "cured" and that one can live life as an "ex-gay."  Said Alan Chambers, President of Exodus:
"All the recent attention to bullying helped us realize that we need to equip kids to live out biblical tolerance and grace while treating their neighbors as they’d like to be treated, whether they agree with them or not."
Not sure I'm ready to trust this change of heart, but I'm glad the day is canceled.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Book Review

Here's a link to my latest book review for Edge Publications.  The book is a young adult biography of Janis Joplin.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Some thoughts on the suicide at Rutgers

The suicide of Tyler Clementi (left) has become a national discussion.  It's turned into a moment, much like Matthew Shepard's death in the 1990's at the hands of homophobic thugs in a bar.  There's a great deal of anger out there against the two students who allegedly taped the young man in an intimate moment with another man.  Still, thousands and thousands of LGBT youth have taken their own lives in the face of societal cruelty.  What made this suicide different?

First, I think there's the fear --  a fear that is felt across sexual orientations -- about invasion of privacy on the Internet. That hits home to most of us who use the Internet.  I also think that this time there seems to be (at least according to reports) a clear link between an incident of Internet cruelty to the death of a young person.  Most of the stories about teen suicide as a result of cyber-bullying and viciousness have focused on the cumulative effect of harassment that makes life unbearable.  Finally, Tyler Clementi's suicide has been linked to two people whose faces have been splashed  on newspapers and throughout the Internet.

I hope I'm not misinterpreted here: I think that these two people should be punished to the full extent of the law if, after a fair trial, they are found guilty.  But what's making me uneasy is the "off with their heads!" attitude that has picked up steam in recent days.  Facebook now has a group of more than 15,000 people who support manslaughter or murder charges for the two students. (One member attacked the two accused because of the their racial identity.  Did he even consider the irony in doing that?) The anger is justified, and I share it.  Anger is good; it is often a catalyst for change.  None of us know all the details of the case, but if manslaughter charges are warranted, they should be pursued.

Still, I wonder if every one of the 15,000 people who have joined the group can claim complete lack of responsibility when it comes to the mistreatment of many LGBT people in this country.  I know I can't, and I'm gay.  I can remember times when I didn't speak up against an anti-gay comment I heard.  And the reason doesn't matter: I might have been too tired or perhaps afraid of where my anger would lead me.  Despite everything I have tried to do to create a more accepting environment for LGBT people -- including spending years writing a book -- I have not always been helpful.

I fear that expressing anger at the accused will get in the way of us all asking ourselves some very important questions: Have I always been a model for encouraging acceptance of LGBT people?  And what can I do to make the world more welcoming for LGBT people?  It's easy to point to two people and express our rage at deadly homophobia.  What isn't so easy is to look at ourselves.

This horrible death just happened to occur at Rutgers.  But make no mistake: it could have happened anywhere, including our own beloved communities.  Along with anger we must all do some soul searching.