Tag Archives: Sexuality

Most people know that sexual orientation can be heterosexual (attracted to the opposite sex), homosexual (attracted to the same sex) or bisexual (attracted to both sexes). However, sexual orientation is actually a scale with most people leaning one way or the other in varying degrees. Additionally, some people are not attracted to either gender and consider themselves to be asexual. Posts in this category explore the spectrum of sexuality.

Gay doctor? – Why I’m out, loud and proud

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To this day I do not know a single LGBT person from my youth. I was not privileged to have understanding parents nor to have role models with whom I could connect.

Many youth today find themselves in a similar position. Growing up gay, bi or trans* is never easy and each generation has their own struggles. However no generation has felt the wrath of homophobes quite like the youth of today. There are finally words to describe who we are and worldwide communities to which we can belong but these beacons of light also gaze upon and identify kids to themselves and their peers. All too often LGBT kids experience rejection, isolation, discrimination, harassment and physical violence. And this results in low self-esteem, risky or self-destructive behaviors, homelessness and suicide.

While I cannot reach out to those of my community who are suffering and alone, I am yet another adult who is proud to say that I’m here and queer and it does get better.

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  • The Trevor Project (http://www.thetrevorproject.orgis a 24 hour help line that is available to anyone who needs a listening ear.
    • 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386)
  • It Gets Better Project (http://www.itgetsbetter.orgis an inspiring collection of 1,000s of user-created videos from around the world that was created to show young LGBT people the levels of happiness, potential, and positivity their lives will reach – if they can just get through their teen years.
  • Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (http://www.pflag.org) provides support and resources for families and friends of LGBT people.

Bankrollers of hatred

“Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.” — Luke 12:3

It’s been quite some time since I’ve chosen to quote the bible however I just couldn’t resist the irony. In 2008 the Mormon church (Mitt Romney’s church) bankrolled / steamrolled the California Proposition 8 election in order to eliminate the rights of same-sex couples to marry. This blatant act of discrimination by a politically-motivated religious entity is without precedent in modern history. Mormon temples across the nation were picketed and even a documentary, 8 : The Mormon Proposition, was released in 2010.

Though the Mormon church continues to try to clean up its post-8 image, the church continues to be associated with anti-gay extremism in addition to its history of polygamy. For more information about Prop 8, check out the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Prop 8 decision analysis or Wikipedia.

Though I cannot remember the source, I recently downloaded a pdf of the 2008 IRS schedule B of the National Organization for Marriage, Inc (NOM), another anti-gay group. Here is some interesting data from that form:

  • $2 million was collected from a list of 50 contributors.
  • 41 individuals with 29 unique last names contributed $1.5M (74% of the pot).
    • 36 individuals (88%) were from CA and contributed $806,000 (54% of individuals’ contribution and 40% of the total pot).
    • 4 others were from AZ, 3 from PA, 2 from CT, 2 from NY and 1 each from MA, RI and VA.
    • One extended family of 9 gave $265,000.
    • A man in his 70s living in PA gave a whopping $450,000, the largest individual donation. His wife contributed another $100,000 making their combined contribution 37% of the individuals’ contribution and 27% of the total pot.
    • Only 10 women contributed, and of these only 2 were living independently and not obviously related to other male contributors. This pair of women had an average age in their 70s and their contribution was $14,500 (less than 1% of the pot).
    • The average age of contributors was early 50s and no one under age 50 lived independently of an older contributor.
    • The most expensive home owned by a contributor appraises at $3.8 million. The average appraisal of contributor homes is $1.2 million.
  • 9 companies donated $525,000 (26% of the pot), 5 of which are based in CA.

Enough data crunching. Clearly the bulk of anti-gay legislation funding provided to NOM is from so-called “christian” organizations and their largely older, male, affluent members in CA. Oh, and one elderly, very affluent couple in PA.

Dr Cary Gabriel Costello: Intersex Fertility

Dr Cary Gabriel Costello

Dr Costello writes in his blog entry, Intersex Fertility, that “My daughter was not of woman born. That is a concept that has fascinated people through the ages. My daughter’s gestation was perfectly ‘natural,’ I should point out–but I carried her, and I was never of the female sex; I am a so-called ‘true hermaphrodite.’ I was assigned female at birth, and was living as such when I gave birth to her, but I never identified as a woman, and am now legally male.”

He continues, “I’m glad that I was able to become a parent, but believing that this should have ‘cured’ me of my distress with my assignment is magical thinking along the lines of believing that procreating will ‘cure’ a lesbian or gay man and make them heterosexual. Gender identity, sexual orientation, and procreative status are independent characteristics. Lesbians and trans men and intersex individuals aren’t mystically “converted” by pregnancies. Gay men and trans women and intersex individuals who inseminate someone aren’t thereby made straight or cis or dyadically-male-sexed.”

He concludes: “Most of us who do reap the rewards of fertility do this in private, with no medical journal articles trumpeting a star in the east. In fact, some medical ‘corrections’ of our physical differences render us infertile, and I don’t see why that’s treated as unimportant when doctors are so very willing to write articles about their ‘cases’ who do prove fertile. And the magical thinking behind the idea that doctors can validate a sex assignment through the intersex person contributing the ‘correct’ component, egg or sperm, to a conception just boggles my mind. It’s time for some more sophisticated thinking about intersex fertility.”

I couldn’t agree more. Ready more about Dr Costello, his experiences and his scholarly opinions regarding intersex and trans issues on his blogs:

Talk To Me – Kevin McHale for The Trevor Project

Posted on YouTube 8/26/11 but still relevant:

During National Suicide Prevention Week (9/4/11 – 9/10/11), join Kevin McHale and The Trevor Project for “Talk To Me,” a campaign for conversation. Visit our website to learn how you can participate.

And remember: If you or someone you know ever needs help, please call The Trevor Lifeline at 866-488-7386. It’s free, confidential and available 24/7. Or visit http://www.TheTrevorProject.org.

.Related posts

 

100 top moments in LGBT sports history

For all of you sports fans out there, here are some wonderful role models to emulate. While queer athletes have played along side their straight counterparts for as long as sports have been around, their visibility is more of a modern phenomenon. From the 1970s to the present, Out Sports catalogues the 100 top moments in LGBT sports history, beginning with David Copay, former NFL running back of the SF 49ers, at position #1.

We were here (trailer)

Melvin Dwork: WWII vet goes from “undesirable” to “honorable”

Via the Washington Post, the Associated Press reports that World War II Navy veteran, Melvin Dwork, has finally won his decades long fight: changing his “undesirable” discharge for being gay to “honorable”. The change is more than saving face, “he will now be eligible for the benefits he had long been denied, including medical care and a military burial.” This decision is hopefully only the first of many given that over 100,000 soldiers have been discharged since WWII and robbed of their honor and military benefits simply for being gay. “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” officially dies tomorrow, 9/20/11.

The Closet

What legal docs can do for gay couples – and what they can’t

On 8/12/11, John Culhane, Professor of Law, Widener University, posted the following on 365gay.com:

Let’s talk about what legal documents can do for you – and what they can’t.

A few days ago, 365gay editor in chief Jennifer Vanasco sent me a question from a reader asking me to “list all the legal documents same-sex couples should complete to ensure rights of beneficiary to property, benefits, etc., including provisions for children, pets, etc.” The writer also wanted to know whether designated beneficiaries are “ever challenged by insurance companies to avoid paying death benefit?”

And this got me thinking about how hard we have to work, compared to our straight counterparts, to secure the basic peace of mind that comes with knowing that those we leave behind will be provided for. And how, even when we do all we can, the law operates to fence us out of certain financial benefits.

First, an important lawyer’s disclaimer: Nothing that I’m about to write can or should be construed as binding legal advice. I’m a law professor, not a practicing lawyer, and in any case the law varies from state to state. That said…

Let’s start with the most basic legal document designed to protect your loved ones (not just your spouses) after you’re gone: the will. If you are legally married or civilly united in your state, then your spouse will be to an extent protected in the event of your death. While state laws vary, all assign a substantial share of the decedent’s estate to the surviving spouse in the absence of a will. But unless you’re sure that the law of the state in which you’re married will apply (did you move? where was the will drafted?), you might not even be protected in that case.

If your state doesn’t recognize your union then run – do not walk – to an attorney’s office and start working on a will now. Otherwise, your relationship will literally not exist as a legal matter, and the one left behind will get nada, rien, zippo, from your estate.

Of course, you should create a will in any case. The state default options are clumsy approximations of what most people would want to do. But only you know that. If you want to make provisions for everything from your pets (considered personal property) to your home to your collection of Mercury dimes, do it. Your lawyer will insist that everything be specific, and clear. (You should probably also enter into agreements about what will happen if your perfect union dissolves, too.)

While you’re there, get busy on living wills and powers of attorney documents. There’s nothing like a battle with your spouse’s parents over end-of-life decision-making to add stress to an already impossible situation. These documents, properly executed, can greatly reduce the chance that someone else will get to interpret your spouse’s wishes in this most difficult time.

A quick word on private, employer/employee plans: Typically, you get to name the beneficiary(ies). A smart employer (or the administrator of the plan) will make you do this. If you’re sufficiently clear, you shouldn’t have a problem. Remember to change the beneficiaries if your life circumstances change. For example, when we adopted kids, I eliminated my nieces as contingent beneficiaries (in case both David and I are simultaneously killed in a tragic boating accident) in favor of our kids.

So, what can’t you do? Unfortunately, lots.

At the state level, most laws still fence surviving members of same-sex couples out of wrongful death laws. There’s no getting around them, either. So if one of you is killed by the negligence (or worse) of, say, a drunk driver or the manufacturer of a toxic substance, your spouse can’t sue for that. Your parents or kids might be able to, if they can show that they lost a source of support by your death. But unless you’re in a state that recognizes your marriage, then you’re stuck. The same might also apply to any state-or local benefits, such as payments for the victims of crimes or terrorism.

At the federal level, we’ve got a bunch of nothin’. Because of DOMA, which the Obama Administration continues to enforce – though not defend – it’s still possible for the legally married spouse of a U.S. citizen to be deported. Indeed, it’s likely to happen to Bradford Wells and Anthony Makk soon. Makk, the Australian husband (married in Massachusetts) of Wells, a U.S. citizen with AIDS, has been denied a green card, and is soon to be shipped home. For medical reasons, his spouse can’t go with him.

And this is one of many, many federal benefits that DOMA denies the spouses of legally married same-sex couples. Social security death benefits and the right to file joint income taxes and petitions in bankruptcy are a few of the hundreds of others.

In case you’re wondering whether to support Obama in the next election, keep in mind that all the serious Republican challengers not only support DOMA, but favor a federal constitutional amendment against marriage equality. Have a nice weekend!

John Culhane is working on a book about civil unions and their place in the on-going national conversation about marriage.

Photobook of gay marriages in NY

Matt Stopera recently posted 60 photos of gay and lesbian couples getting married in NY. Congrats to all the newlyweds!