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Archive for October, 2011

Ohio Queers: ‘Gay in America’ book signing in Columbus Nov. 9

Scott Pasfield will be bringing his popular book tour for “Gay In America” to Columbus Wednesday, Nov. 9!

Released Sept. 27, the book of portraits highlights gay men from around the country, from the ordinary to the extraordinary. One of the portraits features a couple from Columbus, named only as Jonathan and Paul. Pasfield has been making his rounds in the press and traveling around the country for the past couple of months publicizing the book, which has been getting quite a bit of attention nationally.

The book signing is a Network Columbus event presented by Outlook Media from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at The Thurber House (91 Jefferson Ave., Columbus). This is a FREE event!

Check out this prior post about the book’s release for Jonathan and Paul’s photo, an interview with Pasfield from GLAAD and the book’s promo video.

Ohio Queers: Attack on gay 15-yo in Chillicothe sparks national call-to-action

Mother of attacked 15-year-old in Chillicothe tells the local media her son was the victim of a hate crime while at school.

UPDATE (10/30): The Chillicothe Gazette is now reporting that the student who attacked the 15-year-old at Union-Scioto High School for being gay may face a harsher punishment. Principal Jim Osborne told the paper, “the discipline has been revisited based on the ongoing investigation and in light of the new evidence.” The evidence, no doubt, is the video of the attack that has gone viral. The paper also reports that the female student who took the video may also face disciplinary action. I hope there will actually be some real consequences for the attacker, and this isn’t just some way to pacify the media and the general public.

As for the criminal chargers pressed by the victims mother, the case is currently under investigation. According to the Gazette, “the extent of the injury and the medical records are needed for [Ross County Prosecutor Matt Schmidt] to help determine if the assault meets the criteria to be considered a felony. His office is waiting on charging the juvenile until the additional investigation is completed.” I don’t quite understand why this is necessary. A full classroom of witnesses and video of someone beating you up isn’t enough proof to charge someone a felony???

And this tidbit in the last part of the story was interesting: “Since the story went viral, Schmidt, [Sheriff George Lavender] and Osborne reported they have been inundated with phone calls and emails….Osborne said Friday he came into the office to 40 voice mail messages and 500 emails.” Looks like the call-to-action is working.

Thursday morning the Columbus ABC News affiliate posted video of their story about of a 15-year-old at Union-Scioto High School in Chillicothe, Ohio, who was brutally beaten in the classroom because he was gay. The horrific incident was captured on a bystander’s cell phone and posted on Facebook. (You can watch the video below.)

The unidentified gay student suffered a possible concussion and a chipped tooth, but the shocking, and very unfortunate twist, came at the end of the report when it was revealed that the bully was only suspended for three days. The teenager’s mother called what happened to her son and hate crime and has vowed to press charges.

Less than 24 hours after ABC6 On Your Side ran their feature, nearly every gay or gay-friendly journalist/blogger in the country, and beyond, had picked up the story, including Perez HiltonQueerty, Towleroad, The Huffington Post, The New Civil Rights Movement, Dan Savage’s SLOG and even The Daily Mail in the U.K. Many of them have featured contact information from the school, referencing a call to action, started by Equality Ohio and GetEQUAL Ohio, for people for contact the school and call for the student to be expelled.

Equality Ohio Executive Director Ed Mullen (a man I’ve met and consider one of my local heroes) posted this on his Facebook page: “Disheartening that it takes a video of a 15-year old gay youth being beaten at school for people to stand up and take notice of bullying and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. 9% of youth reported to GLSEN being physically assaulted in school. Unconscionable.”

Equality Ohio is also calling for supporters to contact members of Ohio’s House Education Committee to lobby for the passage of Ohio House Bill 208, a bill that would add “sexual orientation” to the state’s anti-bullying law, which is currently going through Ohio’s Congress. Here’s more from Equality Ohio:

Union-Scioto has no policy in place that specifically protects students from being bullied or attacked based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The Union-Scioto Local School District does have a policy that prohibits harassment based on sex, race, color, national origin, religion, disability, among others, but it does not specifically protect against harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Ohio House Bill 208 would add sexual orientation, gender identity, and other enumerated protections to Ohio’s anti-bullying law without changing the general prohibition against any bullying or harassment.  Research demonstrates that students feel safer and actually are safer in schools that have enumerated anti-bullying policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity. Proponents of the bill are seeking testimony in the House Education Committee, but the bill has not been a priority of the committee.

CLICK HERE for contact information to each of the legislatures on the House Education Committee. And below is contact information for the school and local authorities:

Union-Scioto Local Schools District Administration:
Superintendent: Dwight Garrett dgarrett@mail.gsn.k12.oh.us
High School Principal: James Osborne josborne@mail.gsn.k12.oh.us
Unioto High School Asst. Principal: Wilma Gillott wgillott@mail.gsn.k12.oh.us

Union-Scioto
Administration Office
1565 Egypt Pike
Chillicothe, Ohio 45601
740-773-4102

Unioto High School
14193 Pleasant Valley Road
Chillicothe, Ohio 45601
740-773-4105

Sheriffs Department: 740-773-1185
Prosecutors Office: 740-702-3115

Let’s hope that the outcry and the flooding of the school’s phones will lead to some positive change in Chillicothe. As someone who’s from Ohio and has been to Chillicothe on several occasions, I can say that, unfortunately, this kind of behavior is not unexpected from the that town. It’s a very conservative area that’s known for its institutionalized bigotry.

It’s hostile environments in school’s like this that lead to the suicides of students like Jamey Rodemyer and Jamie Hubley. This is exactly the reason why I’ve started the Make It Better Foundation. This happened in a classroom. The school can’t even give the typically used excuse of “it’s not our responsibility because it happened off school grounds.” If this bully had beat up a kid because he was black or Latino or disabled he would have been expelled. No question.

Ohio Queers: First LGBT ‘Who’s Who’ starting in Columbus ~ Submission deadline is THIS Friday!

Columbus will be the first city in America to publish a LGBT version of the popular Who’s Who books franchise. Outlook Media owners Chris Hayes and Michael Daniels have teamed with Who’s Who Publishing for the historical endeavor.

Here’s more from the Who’s Who in GLBT Columbus Web site:

The GLBT community in Columbus is out, proud and powerful. Did you know our community makes up approximately 15 percent of the population, spending 25 cents of every dollar in the metropolitan area, accounting for $7.5 billion in the local $30 billion economy? Impressive right? So are the people that contribute to those statistics. People like you.

The foreword to Who’s Who in GLBT Columbus™ will be penned by Tom Grote, founding board chair of the Equality Ohio Education Fund and local businessman, investor and entrepreneur. In addition, the book will feature the history of the central Ohio GLBT community and will highlight some of the very best, brightest and most influential members of the city’s diverse GLBT community.

If you self-identify as a member of the GLBT community and would like to be included in this groundbreaking book, we invite you to submit a quality digital headshot and a current biographical sketch no longer than 180 words for inclusion in this upcoming edition. We are also adding a never before seen feature in any Who’s Who Publishing book—the ability to submit photos and bio information as a couple! (Couples’ submissions can be 350 words.)

It was also recently announced that the introduction will be written by Mary Jo Hudson, the first openly gay Cabinet member in Ohio, serving as director of the Ohio Department of Insurance for Gov. Ted Strickland.

Outlook and Who’s Who held a kickoff party for the book at the Ohio Historical Society Oct. 12 that featured Grote, Hudson and Mayor Micheal Coleman. They plan to host an unveiling celebration Dec. 14 at Shadowbox Live, (503 S. Front Street, Columbus).

You can submit your bio and head shot by mail (Who’s Who Publishing Co. Editorial Office, 3700 Corporate Dr., Suite 110 Columbus, OH 43231), email (GLBTColumbus@whoswhopublishing.com) or online (click here). The deadline for submissions is THIS Friday, Oct. 28, 2011.

Ohio Queers: Delaware Christian School shuns gay alum; response from another gay former student

David Emerson (left) with a fellow protester outside Delaware Christian School

Last week it hit the news-waves that an out and proud Columbus DJ at Rewind 103.5/104.3 was removed from the Delaware Christian School’s alumni page on their Web site because it was “discovered” that his Facebook page listed him as gay.

David Emerson is a 2002 graduate of DCS and had been profiled on their alumni page for years, applauding him for is accomplishments in radio. It wasn’t until this past April that they pulled Emerson’s profile. And when Emerson found out last week he thankfully didn’t take the news lightly and took action.

He was interview by local Columbus affiliates Fox28/ABC6 and NBC4 about the travesty. The gay blogosphere has also picked up the story at Towleroad and Lez Get Real among others.

Emerson told ABC that when he called the school and spoke to DCS Principal Gordon McDonald, he simply responded with, “you are a gross and immoral representation of my school.” And when NBC spoke with McDonald directly he had this to say:

“David Emerson is a fine young man of whom I think very highly. I am very proud of his professional accomplishments. I regret the deep differences that have occurred. However, speaking for Delaware Christian School I cannot approve of the lifestyle that he has chosen to endorse as posted for public viewing on his Facebook site. Based on David’s posting last April I removed David’s photo and comments from our alumni website. He has publicly chosen to identify himself with a lifestyle that is not in keeping with the biblical belief taught at Delaware Christian. I respect his right to choose and live out his belief but do not want to convey the message that I approve that lifestyle.”

It’s become obvious to me that Mr. McDonald is more of a “gross and immoral reprsenation” of the school than Emerson could ever be. When did it become O.K. for school principals (be it at public or private schools) to condone hate?

Emerson held a protest at the school on Friday, calling for the principal to reinstate his profile on the site. (The photo above in from said protest.) Oh, how, I wish I could have been there.

Many of you may not know this, but I also attended Delaware Christian School. It was during my 7th and 8th grade years. And it was by far the worst two years of my K-12 experience. As a student there I was relentlessly bullied for being “feminine,” and when I told the administration it was suggested that I change my “gay actions” if I wanted the bullying to stop. The bullies were never punished. If it weren’t for my transferring to another school I’m not sure I would have survived the hate.

My experiences at DCS are actually the memories I reference most, as examples of the hate I experienced growing up, when I’m writing or speaking out against anti-gay bullying on behalf of the It Gets Better Project.

It is principals like Mr. McDonald who run schools under this type of bigotry who are causing gay youth to kill themselves. His ludicrous actions are basically teaching his students that disregarding those who are different is a principle to live by. Ultimately, the school is producing bigots and standardizing hate. Is this really the type of administrator we want running a school?

Ohio Queers: OSU rugby player comes out to team on MTV’s ‘Coming Out’ special last night

For National Coming Out Day yesterday MTV aired “Coming Out” an hour-long documentary featuring the coming out process of two very different lgbt individuals, one of them was Nevin Heard, a 20-year-old All-Star athlete from Cincinnati, Ohio.

The documentary follows Nevin as he builds the courage to come out to his teammates on the Ohio State Rugby team. After doing so the team completely accepts him and one of the players who speaks up up for him initially is an ex-military service member. Though not the first time such moments have been caught on film, it’s definitely a powerful moment that reminds us there are many out there who still struggle with the courage to be themselves.

Here’s a synopsis of the documentary from MTV.com:

“Coming Out” is a one hour documentary special that weaves together the personal journeys of Rachael, a 21 year-old lesbian living in Sacramento, CA, coming out to her estranged father; and Nevin, a 20 year-old African American collegiate all star athlete in Ohio, coming out to his college rugby team.

The special reveals the anxiety, pain, and exhilaration of the coming out process as Rachael and Nevin proudly stand up for who they are, even if it ultimately puts those relationships in jeopardy.

Click here to see a clip from the special featuring the moment when Nevin comes out to his rugby team.

I found Nevin’s audition for the special on YouTube. It definitely shows a funnier/truer side of him that we don’t get to see on the special, and it features other members of his family as well as his ex-girlfriend. Check it out below:

Happy National Coming Out Day! Celebrate those who can be themselves and remember those who can’t

Wouldn't this be perfect for a Coming Out Party! I must find a cupcake shop that makes these.

Today is National Coming Out Day, a day that recognizes the courage it takes to live openly as a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender individual, and reminds us that there are many out there who still can’t be open because of the intolerant communities in which they live. It is more important now more than ever for the lgbt community to stand up and be counted. I’ve always had the same philosophy as the great Harvey Milk: If they know us they are more likely to vote for us.

I do recognize that each individual should come out in their own time and there are many communities where coming out can be down right deadly, such as in Uganda, where they are still considering the Kill the Gays Bill or Jamaica, where it is socially acceptable for citizens to abuse gays openly in the streets. But now more than ever, those who can need to stand up for those who can’t.

Today I’m going to be speaking at a Coming Out Day event at West Virginia University in Parkersburg, a city that I’ve heard is less than accepting. I’ve had many people ask me, “Why are you going down there? You aren’t going to change their minds, and it seems dangerous.” My mother has been trying to talk me out of it all week. She did finally convince me to a least take someone with me. (Being her baby boy has these occasional consequences.)

I’m going because small town communities in states like West Virginia, Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Utah, Colorado, Texas, Minnesota, are where the most closeted of us live. If we don’t start creating communities of inclusion in the most conservative of areas we’ll never win at the ballots, we’ll never see true equality.

That’s why I’ll continue to go to areas that aren’t the most accepting, to encourage their gay citizens to stand up together and be counted, to show the bigoted that we’re not the monsters they think we are. We have families we love, we have jobs, we’re dealing with this shitty economy just like you. Because if I can convince one person to help make their community safer for lgbt people, if I can make one parent see that there’s nothing wrong with their kid, if I can make one preacher come to the realization that we’re not an abomination, then any of the ugliness that I ever endured because of coming out will all be worth it.

 

CNN’s Anderson Cooper hosts national town hall meeting on bullying [VIDEO]

Last night Anderson Cooper hosted a groundbreaking national town hall meeting broadcast on CNN call “Bullying: It Stops Here.” It was held at Rutgers University in New Jersey, where Tyler Clementi attended school before committing suicide last year after his roommate broadcast his sexual encounter with a man on the internet.

The special featured experts, celebrities and kids from school districts around the nation that spoke about bullying and how it can be stopped. Cooper also premiered eye-opening statistics from a report he conducted with The Bullying Project.

Dr. Phil, Kelly Ripa and Jane Lynch were just a few of big names that attended, but the heroes of the night were the youth who came forward and shared their emotional stories.

You can watch the full special below.