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Archive for November, 2011

Ohio Queers: How the state plans to recognize Transgender Day of Remembrance

Transgender Day of Remembrance is this Thursday, Nov. 17, and there are a few events happening around Ohio.

For those unfamiliar, TDOR is nationally recognized every year in November and is a day set aside to commemorate those who have been killed for being transgender.

The transgender hate crimes rate is much higher than that of the LGB community and way higher than that of the national average. Please take the time to recognize TDOR and attend one of the events listed below. (Check out TransOhio.org for more information.)

Cincinnati – Wednesday, November 16, 2011
7 p.m.
St. John UCC third
520 Fairfield Ave.
Bellevue, KY 4107

Columbus – Thursday, November 17, 2011
7 p.m.
King Avenue United Methodist Church
299 King Avenue
Columbus, OH 43201

Cleveland – Friday, November 18, 2011
5:45 p.m.
Free Stamp – East 9th Street and Lakeside Avenue
Candlelight vigil at 5:45pm at the Free Stamp, then walking over to Cleveland City Hall where the rest of the program will be held.

Dayton – Friday, November 18, 2011
5 p.m. – 6 p.m: Discussions/Q&A with Transgender Panel
6 p.m. – 8 p.m.: Movie: “Soldiers’s Girl”
8 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.: Candlelight Vigil (Outdoors on Main Campus Quad)
Sinclair Community College, Main Campus, Building 14, Room 130 (The Forum)
444 West Third Street, Dayton, Ohio 45402

Ohio is at the bottom when it comes to LGBT equality in schools. Surprised?

Me on NBC4

Yesterday I appeared in a segment by NBC4 Columbus about a recent study showing 1 in 4 students in Ohio schools say they’ve been physically abused for being lesbian, gay bisexual or transgender, which is much higher than national statistics.

The study the segment refers to is the National School Climate Survey researched by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (known to most as GLSEN). It was  released a couple months ago, but after video of a beating of a gay student in Chillicothe surfaced online, the survey started getting more attention locally.

As I mentioned on NBC4, I’m not surprised at all by the results of the survey in Ohio.  Because of my work with the It Gets Better Project, I talk to students and parents all the time who relay stories of torture faced by gay high school and middle schools students in small towns in Ohio. Just last month, after I spoke at a Coming Out Day event, a mother approached me in tears telling me about her son and the struggles she faced with trying to get the school to even recognize that her 13-year-old son was being bullied because of his sexuality.

When a local principal publicly and proudly removes an alumni from the school’s Web site because their gay or a school’s first response to a viscous beating of a gay student is to punish the bully with just a simple 3-day suspension, it shows the bleak reality behind the statistics.

We can no longer stand idly by and continue to watch or simply talk about the anti-gay bullying epidemic in this country. We have to start making it better now for our gay youth. It’s no longer just an issue of conservative versus liberal belief, it’s become an issue of safety. And all youth have the right to be safe at school. (Check out my new organization, the Make It Better Foundation, to see how you can help!)

Be sure to check out the full results from the School Climate in Ohio portion of GLSEN’s 2009 National School Climate Survey. Also here’s a story in Gay People’s Chronicle that takes a deeper look at the statistics in Ohio.

Big thanks to NBC4 reporter Nadia Bashir for making sure this story was aired!

Ohio Queers: Funny Bone Columbus hosts gay comedians revue Monday

 

Outlook Columbus and the Funny Bone Comedy Club have teamed up to present a gay ‘ol night of hilarity Monday, Nov. 14.

The Big Gay Funny Ha-Ha” will feature nationally acclaimed out gay comedian Scott Kennedy, along with local openly gay comedians Joseph Ivan and Zack Baird.

Kennedy is an Los Angeles comedian originally from Texas who’s one of the founders of the popular Gay Comedy Jam Tour and has become known mostly for his raved USO military comedy tours. His latest comedy CD, titled “Really?!?!,” was released back in 2006, which you can purchase here.

Here’s Kennedy’s bio from his Web site:

Scott Kennedy began comedy in Lubbock, Texas after a friend entered him in an amateur comedy competition. Once bitten by the comedy bug, he quit his long list of “real jobs” and started touring the country. When asked if he was surprised about his new career, Scott replies, “Not surprised that I do stand-up comedy, I was always kind of the class clown. Surprised that I’m gay? I’m sure some will be surprised.”

This ex-offensive lineman is one of the founders of The Gay Comedy Jam which has sold-out shows in 150 cities across the US and Canada. Along with the tour, Scott has headlined comedy clubs and theatres coast to coast and has sold out the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas TWICE! Scott is the only comedian that can do a 45-minute set without ever mentioning his sexuality and get a standing ovation and can turn around and do another 45-minute set centered around his sexuality. He has risen through the ranks and become one of the most unique comics in the world.

As of May 2011, Scott has made 43 tours to Iraq and 11 to Afghanistan; doing up to 5 shows each day. Scott has done more shows in combat zones than any other entertainer in the world.. even Bob Hope!!!

And here’s video of Kennedy’s appearance on “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson”:

To my knowledge, this is the Funny Bone’s first comedy show specifically featuring and advertising openly gay comedians. I’m definitively planning to attend and can’t wait, it looks like it’s going to be a good time. I also hear through the grape vine that Outlook is planning to make this an annual event, which I support 110 percent!

“The Big Gay Funny Ha-Ha” is 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 14 at Funny Bone Comedy Club (145 Easton Town Center, Columbus). Tickets are $15 and can be purchased by calling 614-471-5653 or online at www.columbusfunnybone.com. For more info visit the event’s Facebook page.

Reflections on Brotherhood: Black Gay Men’s Coalition forms in Columbus

School Daze

Following the success of such groups in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago, a small but mighty few have started the Capitol City’s first ever coalition for the betterment of African American same-gender loving men.

The inaugural meeting of the Columbus Black Gay Men’s Coalition took place on Oct. 29 at Level Dining Lounge in the Short North. From the perspective of a passerby it looked like a simple gathering of 13 friends, maybe congregating for a birthday or other celebration. But it soon became clear to those at the table that a movement was stirring.

The meeting brimmed with inspiration. Everyone gushed over how much this group was needed and how much they were excited about its prospects. I felt the same, but it wasn’t until that very meeting that I realized how much I’d missed this type of support.

When such groups form and thrive in the modern age the first question that often comes to mind is, “Why are you separating yourselves, this is 2011, there’s no need for such a group.” We’re unfortunately in an age when gay hate crime rates continue to rise and making fun of our President’s race becomes commonplace on Fox News. It’s clear a group like this is more then needed. But it’s much more than that.

When you share the American black gay male experience, you share an entire realm of insights and understandings that can’t quite be fathomed by others. You share a duality of frustrations that can’t quite be explained. You share an enlightenment on matters that may never be reached by the mainstream minded. There’s an instant connection that can only be explained as brotherhood.

Being at that first meeting took me back to my college days at Ohio University and the friends I made while being a part of a group we started called SHADES. At first a simple meeting of solidarity to say that there were actually black and gay students on the predominately white and straight campus, it grew into a small force to be reckoned with, and now hosts chapters on the campuses of Ohio State University and others.

It was during my time in SHADES that I came out to my parents, had my first sexual encounter with a man, found the courage to actually hold hands with another man while walking down the street, attended my first gay dance party and later my first gay club. It was the first time in my life that I actually thought it was O.K. to be completely and totally all of Dwayne Alexander Steward.

The photo above is one of my favorites from college. It captures the thousand words of brotherhood. Evan, Micah and Adrian were three of my closest friends back then and if it weren’t for them and the support I got from SHADES, I may still be milling about trying to create the wife-and-three-kids “fantasy” I was planning to fulfill so that I could remain pleasing in the eyes of God and my parents. If it weren’t for SHADES, I may never have gained the strength to come out to my parents. I wouldn’t have been a part of the It Gets Better Project’s book. I wouldn’t have started the Make It Better Foundation. And I most definitely wouldn’t be producing this blog.

When you have a unconditional support system that works to build you up and never dreams of tearing you down, you feel like you can do anything. It gives you the strength to move mountains, to change the world. This is why I’m proud and more than elated to be apart of CBGMC at the start of it’s journey. And I can’t help but wonder, how will it change me this time? How will it change Columbus?

The next Columbus Black Gay Men’s Coalition meeting is set for this Saturday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. at Zanzibar Brews Coffee House & Lounge (740 E. Long Street, Columbus). For more information join the group on Facebook

Ohio Queers: Police investigating anti-gay slurs spray-painted on couple’s home in Columbus

Despite a pretty successful election where us gays are concerned, the hate continues.

Police in Grove City, a suburb of Columbus, are investigating a gay hate crime. David Robins and his partner, Michael, awoke Wednesday morning to find the word “fags” scraweled in red across their garage door along with other slurs spray-painted on other parts of their property.

Here’s more from NBC4i.com:

David Robins and his partner, Michael, have lived at their home on Castleton Street in Grove City for nine years.

Wednesday morning, Robins said, they awoke to find someone had spray-painted homophobic slurs on their garage door, home and fence.

“It’s extremely disappointing. Nine years we’ve lived here and not a problem. Now, all of a sudden this happens. It makes me kind of wonder,” he said.

He said they’ve never had any problems before.

“I kind of feel like it needs to stay up to make a statement, but at the same time, I don’t want to disrupt the neighbors, the perception of the neighborhood, but I also feel like I don’t want to cover it up either,” he said.

Robins is calling it a hate crime and Grove City police are investigating.

“My partner Michael is a little bit more fearful. I’m a little bit more aggressive than Michael is, but he’s fearful of it. He’s a little nervous about why it happened,” he said.

Anyone with information about the incident is being asked to call the Grove City Police Department directly at 614-277-1710.

Glee-cap: ‘The First Time’

Quick-cap: McKinley High is all in a tizzy as the opening of “West Side Story” story approaches. Director Artie spends the episode playing matchmaker, telling WWS leads Rachel and Blaine they need to loose their virginity to help their acting, and fixing Coach Beiste up with an Ohio State University recruiter. Meanwhile Mike’s father returns and disowns him for being in the school musical (what???). Rachel and Finn go through a botched first time attempt, but then find their mojo oddly right after Finn discovers he wasn’t recruited to OSU. Blaine visits Dalton and is hit on by newly transferred Sebastian, who invites him and Kurt to a gay bar. Cue cute exchange with an mostly absent Karofsky and Kurt/Blaine’s own first time debacle. Like Rachel and Finn, Kurt and Blaine find their mojo after opening night and decide to skip the cast party.

And that’s what you missed on…”Glee.”

Fave moment: This may have been the best written episode of “Glee” to date. I loved how they inter-cut much of the show with scene from WWS. I have to admit I was concerned when they started off with Artie being the reason Blaine and Rachel wanted to loose their virginity, but the writers turned it around. And I’m pretty sure this is the first high school gay love-triangle and definitely the first high school gay love scene in prime time. I loved the moment when Kurt runs into Karofsky, the writers captured it perfectly and it was a great way to wrap up Karofsky’s story line.

Annoying moment: This episode was pretty flawless to me, though I do wish there was more of the Karofsky/Kurt interchange. If you beg to differ please sound off in the comments. 😉

Fave quote: Karofsky: “I’m what they call a Bear Cub.” Kurt: “Because you look like Yogi?”

Fave song: Blaine and Rachel did a pretty stunning version of “Tonight” and Santana was AMAZING as Anita during “A Boy Like That” and “America,” the girl took my breath away.

You can watch full episodes of “Glee” here.

Ohio Queers: Ugandan minister and LGBT activist Mark Kiyimba to speak in Columbus Friday

Uganda gay rights activist and mister Mark Kiyimbaw will be speaking on Friday at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Columbus about his work to protest gays in Uganda and end the hatred in his country.

I’ve covered the terrorism happening against gays in Uganda extensively here on Queer Corner. You’ve probably heard about the Kill the Gays Bill that was buried by the Ugandan Parliament after an outcry from gay rights groups around the country. Homosexuality is still illegal there and is still very hostile for anyone who is openly gay. Kiyimbaw himself had to flee for fear of arrest or worse. During the height of the Kill the Gays Bill frenzy earlier this year, fellow Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato was brutally murdered and the government made a mockery of his death.

Here’s more on Kiyimbaw from Examiner.com:

The Reverend Mark Kiyimba, minister of the Unitarian Universalist congregation in Kampala, Uganda, has been touring the United States to raise awareness of the persecution of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in Uganda.

Rev. Kiyimba fled Uganda in March after threats on his life for being an outspoken opponent of the proposed anti-homosexuality legislation in his country. The persecution of sexual minorities in Uganda has been linked toanti-gay conferences and workshops promoted by U.S. evangelicals for the past several years.

Mark Kiyimba founded the New Life Children’s Home to provide a place for children who have lost parents to AIDS, who are themselves HIV positive, or whose families no longer have the means to care for their children. He also started theNew Life Primary School, located in the Kkindu village west of Masaka, Uganda.

Kiyimba will speak at First Unitarian Universalist (93 West Weisheimer, Columbus) at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11. This event is open to the public.