Thursday, June 30, 2016

BoJo The Clown flees the scene of the mess he helped make...

What is now painfully obvious is... BoJo the Clown's master plan was to back a Leave campaign that would narrowly lose, then stand for Tory Leader, either against a weakened David Cameron or with Cameron's blessing as to "Heal the rift" in the party, and become Prime Minister. While being able to whine and moan about "the overreach of the EU" but not have to actually leave it. Thus having his Euro-cake while being able to still complain about it while he eats it.

It was a cunning plan Black Adder!, He would get to be PM while keeping his Faux Anti- EU bona fides intact..... Yeah, but then anti-migrant hordes he had spent weeks stirring up into a rabid racist frenzy, went and voted.

Well the vote result (leave) torpedoed Boris' master plan real quick and then David Cameron's resignation meant, whoever comes next, owns this particular sh*tstorm the UK now finds itself in. It didn't take long for BoJo to figure out that as PM he would either have to admit his grand pandering lie, and stop the Brexit , or preside over the economic suicide of the UK,

Being the mop haired profile in cowardice that he is.. he has fled from the mess he played a central role in making.

The Canadian Parliament are better Americans than Republicans

There are so may reasons why Barack Obama is an amazing leader and one history will judge as one of America's  greatest Presidents.   The unbelievable, blatant and often borderline  treasonous disrespect  President Obama has suffered at the hands of an infantile, moronic Republican Party in the United States over the last eight years,  stands is clear and sharp contract to how the President of the United States is viewed and received  elsewhere around the world.

Case in Point... Yesterday in Canada.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Omar Mateen - The Lethal Impact of Living a Lie?

As more details about the deadly homophobic terror attack in Orlando come to light, one of the more troublesome details is that the shooter, Omar Mateen may have been himself, a Gay man. Witness at the club have told investigators that Mateen was in fact a regular patron of Pulse apparently visiting the club on average once or twice a month over a period of three years.

An article in the Telegraph newspaper in the UK cites friends and family who also claim that Mateen was deeply conflicted about his own sexuality.  

Mateen’s ex-wife, Sifora Yusufiy, has said he alluded to a secret private life before they were married – a marriage arranged online in 2008, which lasted two years.

"When we had got married, he confessed to me about his past - that was recent at that time - and that he very much enjoyed going to clubs and the nightlife," said Ms Yusufiy, who divorced Mateen in 2011 and said he was abusive and unstable.

Others who knew the 29-year-old have described him in less reticent terms.  In 2006 Mateen attempted to join the police. And a colleague in his academy class said he believed Mateen was gay. 

Mateen had asked him out, the classmate, who did not want to be named, told local television in Orlando.    “We went to a few gay bars with him,” he said. “I was not out at the time, so I declined his offer.”

Kevin West said that Mateen had contacted him on gay dating apps, and the pair exchanged messages for around a year. They had never met in person, though, until they crossed paths by chance an hour before the shooting.

These latest revelations raise the question , does any of this matter?  Is, or should, Omar Mateen’s sexual orientation be relevant to how we respond the horrific act of domestic terror he committed?
 It’s a difficult issue. 

It has become something of a modern cliché that public figures who are most vocally anti gay , at some point invariably get exposed as self hating closet cases who have been attacking what they most fear about themselves. Matten’s ex wife went on to tell CNN that his own Father had on more than one occasion publically accused his son of being homosexual.

Public response to these revelations have taken a number of interesting tracks. On the American Taliban wing nut right, there has been honest confusion about how to approach this. They want to give in to their natural instinct to gleefully point out that a mass murder was gay. (Some right wing websites are still flogging the lie that Mateen was Clinton campaign volunteer.)

Yet to do so would get in the way with the right wing talking points that Mateen was a radical islamist hell bent on killing Americans and non-Muslims, and by not focusing on that, President Obama must be sympathetic to the Islamic State.   That desired narrative doesn’t hold up if Mateen, is was in fact, a deeply conflicted, closeted gay man lashing out in a lethal mix of anger and self-loathing. The origins of that self-hatred are frankly, not hard to track.

In recent interviews Mateen’s father has adamantly asserted that his son was not Gay. Coming across in some interviews as being far more concerned that his son might be thought of as Gay, as opposed to being seen as a radical Islamic terrorist. 

Part of the toll, life in the closet takes on people is the constant fear that your "secret" will be discovered. Threats to that secret are always in the front of the mind. People who question your sexuality must be rebuked and marginalized . Psychologists tell of how this can lead to feelings of alienation against "out" LBGT people. A toxic mix of jealousy, envy, fear and anger. 

From the Journal Psychology Today:

There is some evidence to suggest as much. In a study, levels of homophobia were assessed among 64 men along with their sexual arousal (measured by increases in penile circumference) in response to erotic videos of heterosexual, same-sex female, and same-sex male encounters. Those who scored high on homophobia were more likely to also manifest sexual arousal in response to the videos of male homosexual encounters.* In a more recent study it was found that men raised in authoritative households were more likely to repress same-sex attractions and to exhibit more hostility to gay people

Emile Griffith, a recently deceased welterweight and middleweight champion, pummeled an opponent to death after he had called him an anti-gay slur, Griffith continuing to punch him in the head well after he had clearly won the fight. Though he denied he was gay or bisexual at that time, later in his life Griffith admitted to having had affairs with several men including a male partner who cared for him up until his death.

Add this anecdote to several others including that of right wing politician Larry Craig, who pled guilty to lewd behavior toward other men in an airport bathroom but who also championed anti-gay legislation during his political career, and Ted Haggard, leader of the famously anti-gay National Association of the Evangelicals, who resigned after it was discovered he was engaging male prostitutes.

Richard Ryan, a co-author of the study and psych professor at the University of Rochester, told USA Today; “If you come from a controlling home where your parents do have negative attitudes toward gays and lesbians, you're even more likely to suppress same-sex attraction and more likely to have this discrepancy that leads to having homophobia and feeling threatened.”

Is that what drove Omar Mateen to commit mass murder? Frankly we will never know for certain. Yet the impact that deep seeded messages of hatred and bigotry towards LGBT people may have on those struggling with issues of self identity and acceptance is very real. The research backs up the theory that bullies are often acting out of their own insecurities.

“Some people who are threatened by gays and lesbians and are most vociferous in their opposition to them are suffering internally themselves,” Ryan told USA Today.

When a Baptist Preacher in Northern California posts a video online, enthusiastically  praising the murder of 50  Americans at the Pulse nightclub,  part of me wonders  after  I watched this disgusting video; What is it inside of this person that could drive that that level of vitriol?

To be that hate filled towards people to whom you have no connection with, and whose lives do not impact yours in any way,  is not normal or natural. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Orlando Thoughts... Remembering my own "Pulse"

I hate doing this….

Every time there is a mass shooting in America I sit down at the keyboard and just want to bang my head against it until the world stops NOT making sense.   But instead I write somber, reflective musings on America’s gun fetish and toll it has taken on the lives of countless numbers of our citizens.  I wax philosophically about the historical context of the 2nd Amendment and the “intent of the founding fathers”.  Then I usually wrap things up with a call for us to pray for each other and our nation in hopes that things will get better.
Well they haven’t.   In fact they have gotten far worse than any of us could ever have imagined.
I would lying if I said that Sunday’s horrific  mass murder of patrons at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando didn’t strike  me very close to home.     Pulse was  for many of those there that night,  not just a club.  It was a safe space.  By safe I mean it was a place where you could be yourself.   Without fear of being ostracized, fear of  losing your friends and family over the simple fact of who you were.
Many of the commentators covering this story have remarked how perhaps some, of the people in that club were not “out” to their families  and this was the one place where  the fear of being rejected by those who are supposed to be your strongest advocates, was for brief time, lifted off their  shoulders;  and for a few hours you could just be  guy, or a girl dancing with , flirting with just being with another guy or another girl.  A simple social interaction that most straight people never even think twice about.

I remember my own “Pulse”.  A place where as young gay man working through my own coming out process I found friends, a sense of community and camaraderie.     It is a club on Halsted Street in Chicago’s “boystown” neighbourhood called  “Sidetrack”  It is  a large brightly lit bar that shows music videos on a giant screen.     Each night of the week has a theme.  Comedy night, 80’s night, Diva night, etc,   
But  Sunday and Monday nights  were Showtune nights.   When videos from Broadway musicals  played to packed crowd of mostly gay men,  singing along (in harmony) at the top of our lungs.   A tradition I am happy to see carries on there to this day...

I had only recently moved to Chicago  but I soon made a group of friends and Showtune Mondays became our ritual ,  it was the first time in my life I felt part of any sort of LGBT Community.  It was incredibly empowering.  
Down the street from Sidetrack was a wonderfully dingy Piano bar called Gentry.  There  I would make friends with some of the most amazing  people I have ever known..  The glorious Honey West,   the amazing Khris Francis, the  late, great and fabulous Rudy De la Mor  and the late and dearly missed Michael James.   All of them,  powerful LGBT role models.  Who each in their own way,  showed a terrified young gay man that living authentically and honestly was not only the better choice,  it was in fact, the only choice  
Yet never once during all that time in those “safe spaces” did I think that my life might be at risk. That some conflicted, hate filled madman would seek out that space in order to rain chaos and death down on me and my friends.

I am sure none of the people at Pulse last Sunday night thought that either Yet that is exactly what happened to them. Their lives cut brutally short in place that had been a refuge and place they felt was truly theirs.
As the Donald Trumps  of the world shriek hysterically and nonsensically about  “radical islam”,  it is crucial we not lose sight of what really happened in Orlando last Sunday.    It was an act of homophobic terror.    The gunman didn’t target Pulse and the people there because they were American, (so was he)  or because they were Non-muslims  or even because they were in a nightclub    He targeted them because they were Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender.   
This was about killing Gay people   The right wing in America desperately is trying  to spin the reasons   away from that basic truth, because it is their rhetoric  and actions that send clear messages to people like this disturbed gunman that LGBT people are “less than” and therefore killing them isn’t wrong.
The voices of the American Taliban;  The Tony Perkins’, the Bryan Fischers, the  Brian Browns, did not pull the trigger last Sunday night.  Yet their fingerprints are clearly  all over the gun.
So yes,  again,  I hope that we all can pray for the victims,  pray for the survivors, pray for our nation and hope that someday it will get better.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

My Annual Response to "Why is LGBT Pride Ok, but Straight Pride isn't?"

It's June... so we all know what that means...

As the rainbow flags go up on Market Street in San Francisco , the annual debate over the merits of LGBT Pride celebrations re-surfaces like a perennial weed that just won't stay down. It's a debate that rages both inside and outside the broader LGBTQ-XYZ123-whatever-else-you-want-to-add-on... community.

Inside the community the question always gets asked ; does some of the imagery of Pride celebrations hurt the cause of equal rights? In addition, this year in the wake of significant legal victories for LGBT rights, especially around Marriage Equality; Some are asking do we even need pride celebrations anymore?   

While outside, critics and opponents love to point to that same imagery as evidence of Gay folks wanting "special rights", and then pull out their favorite chestnut, of asking why are Gay Pride Celebrations acceptable but Straight Pride celebrations are not?

Sigh.... Really? It's like asking why isn't there a "White History Month". I get tired of trying to explain to people who really do know better, but get enamored of Fox News talking points, just how stupid they sound whey they try to make these types of arguments. But fine, since clearly there is some "genuine" confusion out there as to the reason for LGBT Pride celebrations , allow me to clarify.

The number of states in the USA where you can be fired  for  being  Straight = 0
The number of states in the USA where you can be fired for being Gay = 29
Number of countries that will execute you for being Straight = 0
Number of countries that will execute you for being Gay = 10

Growing up, how many books, songs, television programs, and movies did you see that featured straight couples meeting, falling in love and living happily ever after?  Pretty much all of them. Ask someone who is Gay how many positive images in popular culture they had growing up that affirmed who they are? The answer is, none, or at best few, if any at all.

Gay characters in movies and television were either creepy villains or camp comic relief. If you doubt that, you really should check out the groundbreaking HBO documentary, "The Celluloid Closet". It shows clearly the disparity in popular culture where messages about sexual orientation were concerned.

Then there is the area of religion. The number of straight kids who have been told they are going to hell simply for being heterosexual = 0. The number of LGBT kids who have been told that they are going hell simply for being homosexual = too many to even try to count.

In the light of LGBT rights victories in the U.S. over the past few years, it is easy to laugh at the various American Talabangelicals who shrieked hysterically how the US Supreme Court ruling on Same Sex marriage back in 2015, would result in nothing less than some sort of Gay, Nazi... apocalypse. But for a young person struggling with issues of identity and self acceptance,  these toxic messages of hatred and bigotry could cut right through you .

To my Straight friends, I have to ask, how many times have "respected" public figures, politicians, pundits and clergy gone on national television demanding that everyone be given the chance to VOTE on your civil rights?  How often has someone told you that not being able to discriminate against you was somehow an attack on them?  When was the last time you heard a member of the Supreme Court saying that simply by being allowed to exist, you were "an attack" on the moral fiber of America?

Anyone?? Yeah...I didn't think so... I have a flash of the obvious for you, every month is "Straight Pride Month."  There is a word for someone who truly feels that equal rights for people they don't like is somehow an attack on them. That word is "Bigot".

Saying LGBT people are human too, isn't an attack on straight people. Those people who really think it is, I want to ask them if they are really that stupid, or just that bigoted? People who say LGBT Pride celebrations need to be stopped, are in fact, the exact reason they all started in the first place.

Are pride celebrations good or bad for the cause of equality? The answer is both. With visibility comes closer examination. Anti-gay bigots love to show images of drag queens, leather daddies and nearly naked porn stars dancing on parade floats, and scream "See! it's not about equal rights! They just want to recruit your kids into THIS!!"

They never show the families, advocacy groups, welcoming and inclusive religious denominations, and workplace affinity groups who participate in Pride parades. After all, that wouldn't fit their desired narrative.

Media outlets are complicit in this, by the way.  CNN loves to show the drag queens  and semi-naked boys in their coverage, but when straight allies like the CEO of  the largest health care company in the United States rides in the San Francisco Pride  parade every year, along with his LGBT employees,  you'd think the guy was invisible.

Likewise, critics of  the concept of LGBT Pride , never talk about the rates of divorce, unplanned pregnancy, child abuse and neglect and domestic violence in Straight relationships.  You never see  folks like Tony Perkins, head of the certified Hate-Group, the "Family Research Council" on Fox News talking about Mardi Gras, or "Girls Gone Wild" on Spring Break.

That would be admitting something of an inconvenient truth.  It's much easier to just point at a group of shirtless men on a flatbed truck or women on motorcycles and say that they are the real threat to families.

I have always said that Pride celebrations are not really for the people who attend them. Instead they are for the people who cannot attend them. Growing up as a Gay kid in a small town in South Central Wisconsin, there were times when I was convinced I was the only gay person on Earth. The constant message from popular culture, religion, family and peer groups was "boy meets girl, they fall in love, get married (or not) and have kids and live happily ever after". There was no happily ever after for someone who felt what I was feeling.

Then, for one weekend in June, I would turn on the TV News and see thousands of people just like me, in places like New York, San Francisco and Chicago saying "No, that's not true, you are not alone, and there is a big wide world out here beyond Sun Prairie Wisconsin. So hang in there .... we're here and we're waiting for you!"

Now 30 years later, I watch coverage like this and it seems so endearingly cheesy. Yet at the time, it was a lifeline to people like me, living with the fear and isolation of being "in the closet".

Pride Celebrations are the original  "It Gets Better Project". 

My straight friends never needed to be told that being straight was okay, and that they were okay because nobody ever told them they weren't. Pride isn't about celebrating being Gay, it's about publicly showing that being LGBT is just as much a part of the the human experience as being straight is. I for one would love to see the day when Pride is obsolete. When that scared closeted gay kid, in some small town doesn't need to be told that he or she is fine just the way they are.

But until that day comes, I will be adding my voice that joyous mob in places like Market Street in San Francisco, Oxford Street here in London, Halsted Street in Chicago and Fifth Avenue in New York City. If for no other reason to let that kid know, it really does get better. There is a world where "boy meets boy" and "girl meets girl", where they fall in love and (f they want to) get married, and yes, even live happily ever after...

Happy Pride Everyone.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

To my remaining (Sane) Republican Friends

Dear Republicans,

I get it, I really do...These past years have been tough for you

For the last eight years you have been stoking your Base with cries of how you want to “take our country back”. Your base heard that as; Back to the days when people who don't look, think, or believe like they do, knew their place. Yet clearly that hasn't worked out, and your now VERY scared, very angry and numerically smaller base went looking for someone who would rescue them from the horror of  being forced to share America with  people they really don’t like.

Well I'll give you this, they certainly took you in a new direction.

2016 rolls around and clearly you all thought you really needed to “think outside the establishment box”. So you have gone and picked a guy who actually says out loud in PUBLIC the stuff you usually only say to your base in private. You found a guy who isn’t afraid to blame all those dirty brown people for making your base feel angry that America doesn’t belong just to then anymore. You found a candidate who, like your base, is someone for whom "facts" just don't matter


Now you have finally found a guy who isn’t bothered with all those pesky liberally-biased “facts”. A guy who knows that details are for losers! It’s the promised RESULTS that count, right? Your Presidential nominee, is a guy who thinks “Trust Me, it will be Greeaaaaat!!!” , is a perfectly valid answer to any policy question.

So here we now are. Your 2016 Presidential nominee is Donald J. Trump.

But let’s be honest. You panicked. Like in the dim light of a singles bar at closing time, you made a really bad decision, and went home with a mistake. A guy who spent half the night telling you  how rich he is, but had you pay for most of his drinks and the cab ride back to your place.

Now it’s the next morning,  and this tangerine nightmare is walking around your house in his monogrammed, made-in-China  boxer shorts,  saying how you should be grateful you ended up with him instead of any of the other “losers”.  Also, how you need to tell all your friends who questioned your judgement,  that they are stupid, biased “haters” for not seeing how totally awesome he is.

Now this primary night stand wants to move into your place. A guy who has been bankrupt multiple times, is demanding control of your credit cards and bank account because he is "way smarter at managing money than you" so… you just need to trust him. If any of your friends and family even mildly, question the wisdom of this, they all are stupid haters and sleazy, and not “treating him fairly”.

Dear Republicans, congratulations this is your life now.

But it doesn’t have to be. There is something you can do. You can take your Party back.

It’s time to kick the god awful Primary night-stand out of your house, clean yourself up, and remember who you used to be. Yes,  that means you are going to lose this election.  I know that you have been conditioned to think that is the worst thing that could possibly ever happen to you . So much so that you went home the guy who bellowed the loudest that he could win.  (He also said his hands were big… but we won’t go into how that worked out for you..)

But trust me,  it’s  really not the end of the world.  It’s the beginning of getting back to who you used to be. Remember?

Abraham Lincoln believed in freeing the oppressed, uniting the nation, and punishing War Profiteers. Dwight Eisenhower viewed war is always a last desperate resort, and an unchecked military industrial complex is a threat to democracy

Richard Nixon understood that we live in a world of interconnected global relationships. Constructive engagement and detente' are always more successful than direct conflict.  Gerald Ford truly believed in duty, and that the interests of the nation are more important than polls or elections. He was a living example on how accepting responsibility for the actions you take in office, is a president's first obligation.

Ronald Reagan sought PEACE through strength, knowing America's allies were the key to America's security. He knew that Big Government is never a substitute for American Ingenuity, and he understood that Faith is a private matter not a prop, or a tool for political posturing. Moreover, he understood that immigrants are the basecloth of the fabric of our nation, opening doors for thousands to come out of the shadows and seek the American Dream

Now you are about to move in with a guy who wants to build a wall around our country, and ridicules those who fought and sacrificed for our nation. A guy who is likely to start a war to avenge his bruised ego, which for him would be more important than either America’s national security or global stability. . A guy with a bizarre fetish for strongman dictators, and insults our closest allies if they don’t join the chorus of “how great” he is.

Your choice is a guy who talks a big game, huge even. Yet when asked to provide proof of what he says, throws a tantrum and asks why are you being so mean to him? Someone who thinks God is is a marketing tool,  and treats. America's allies as disposable.  Who says big Government is the greatest evil there is, EXCEPT when it bails him out of failed business ventures.

George HW Bush said it best in his inaugural address; " In crucial things, unity, in important things diversity, and in all things generosity... When America says something, America means it. Whether a treaty an agreement or a vow made on marble steps." He used Personal diplomacy to build a grand coalition of nations the likes of which had not been seen since World War II.

But now, you have nominated a guy who thinks that the Geneva Convention is a Swiss beauty pageant , and ", "public" meetings should only be open to hand picked supporters If anyone dares voice dissent, they should get beaten up.

Here is the truth you don’t want to hear;  Your guy doesn't care about you . For Trump, ,the Grand Old Party, the party that has shaped so much of American history is at best a vehicle for his own ego, and at worst something he will toss aside as soon as he feels your focus isn't all about him.

It's not too late, tell him it isn’t you , it’s him. Kick this scrub to the curb and take back your Party. I know it’s too late to go back the bar and find someone else, but it is not too late to take back your own dignity, so four years from now, its not about who’s left standing at the closing , but who is worthy of you at the opening.

But to do that you are going to have to do something you have convinced your base was worse than death, You need to vote for Hillary Clinton.   I know you dont think you can, you would rather not vote at all.  Yet the fact is, you have to.

This is no longer an election, it needs to be an intervention.

You have spent decades teaching your base not to do what you now must. You have to think for yourself, and put the good of your Party and the Nation, ahead of short term poltitics.

This isn't just about defeating Trump, it's about saving the Republian Party,  but the first step has to be all yours.    The true test of anyone stuck in the bottom of a hole, is when they realize the first step towards getting out, is to stop digging.