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Goshen pastor under review after gay wedding

Two Mennonite conferences plan to review the credentials of a Goshen pastor who presided over the marriage of a same-sex couple in violation of the religion's rules.


<em>Top, Bottom & Versatile 101</em>: Nicholas Snow Explains it All for Your Straight Friends (AUDIO/VIDEO)


So, like a good total bottom, I took a poll for the team leading up to a recent episode of Nicholas Snow Live, during which I teach the course, Top, Bottom & Versatile 101.

Men who have sex with men often ask (well actually they send a chat message on Scruff, Grindr or any number of smart phone hook-up apps) each other the question:

Are you top, bottom or versatile?

And our straight guy and female friends often ask:

What does it mean to top or bottom?

Well, have no fear, I explain it all for you! So if you don't want to answer you mom's questions, or have those awkward conversations in the produce aisle, just send them a link to this episode. Plus, as you know, I took a poll and reveal the results!

Pay close attending because someone may ask you to take a pole, or a poll, or both!


Popular Current Events Internet Radio with SnowbizNow on BlogTalkRadio

(Listen to this episode on the BlogTalkRadio Network.)

To enhance your education, I also found this video on YouTube, uploaded by GayGod.

Download SnowbizNow podcasts for free from iTunes.

Join the new Nicholas Snow Live Facebook group here.

Recasting History: Reflections on HBO’s <em>The Normal Heart</em>

Mark Ruffalo as Ned Weeks (right) and Joe Mantello as Mickey Marcus in HBO's The Normal Heart

My reactions to the HBO film of The Normal Heart (TNH) are not much different from my reactions to the play. When it was revived on Broadway in 2012, I wrote a commentary, "The Normal Heart, A Generation Later," that is posted on the Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) blog site. It takes a long, discursive look at the play, my relationships to it, and grapples with the most persistent of the concerns to emerge about it: that TNH is a dramatization rather than an authoritative history. At what point do we begin to question the great and powerful Larry Kramer on his saying of TNH: "this is our history"?

In anticipation of the film and at Larry's behest, I spent an afternoon with Joe Mantello, who in his various and frequent roles as writer, director and actor is perhaps the most prolific and protean figure in New York theater. Mantello played Ned in the Tony award-winning Broadway revival of TNH and plays Mickey, the character that is based partly on me, in the film. Up close and personal, Mantello is without pretense, sexy and engaging. In the course of our three-hour lunch at a Chelsea diner we covered every base. Joe had the same questions about the veracity of Felix (Ned's lover in the play) that everybody else has had. As most now know, Larry based this relationship that eventuated in a hospital bedside marriage in the play on an "affairette," as Larry has called the fleeting romances of gay men, with NYT fashionista John Duka.

Months later, in the lobby following the world premiere of the film at the Ziegfeld theater, Mantello sought me out and we embraced. Although Mickey is a composite figure and not me in important details (e.g., he's not a physician), there is truth and soul in the character that Mantello captured in his portrayal. I told him I thought he was great, that I loved him; and I recognized in that moment of disinhibition that I was also saying that I loved myself. It was a moment to look past all the qualifiers and just feel the love and pride of having been in the struggle, in celebration of all of us, but especially Larry, who did make it to the premiere but who had been in fragile health.

There were things I liked in the film that weren't in the play, beginning with the closeup of Ned's face as he comes upon an orgy in the meat rack on Fire Island. I also thought the hint of a dysfunctional romantic energy between Ned and Dr. Brookner was plausible and effective. Likewise Tommy's heartbreakingly modest and private gesture of pulling the file cards from his roladex of those who died and keeping them together with a rubber band in a separate drawer. And I was warmed by the gay bondedness captured in the disco fundraiser scene.

Like many others, I wasn't sure what to make of Ned's recounting of his single heterosexual foray and rendering Felix as having children from a former marriage. Were these additions there to make Larry, Ned and Felix more acceptable to straights and more appealing to the many gay men who prize bi-ness and straightness in their men? Doubtless an ick factor of gayness for gay men, and of gay sex for straights, is still out there. On reflection, though, these sexual details didn't strain credibility and did work dramatically. In bed after sex is a time when we're prone to drop pretense, to let our guard down and talk intimately and honestly about our lives. Who we are, who we were, and previous efforts at being straight are still deeply felt rites of passage in gay life. These are the kinds of subtle insights we wouldn't reflexively associate with the otherwise blastingly unsubtle Larry Kramer, but they are in fact foremost among his skills as a writer.

A kind of cognitive dissonance is the challenge with Mark Ruffalo, who on first impression seems so different from the real-life Larry Kramer that the reconciliation you want to make and are trying to make and finally do make seems more effortful than it should. I often felt that a strong interpreter of Ned on stage would have been Harvey Fierstein. So powerful was Fierstein's gay voice that it totally conquered New York's most vicious and often homophobic critic, John Simon. The original Ned Weeks, Brad Davis, was successful in conveying the intensity and character of Larry's anger, but Fierstein would have brought a gay verisimilitude as well as that sheer vocal authority that virtually none of the other Neds have had, though a number of them have been gay or bisexual. Of course, when TNH had its world premiere in 1985, no leading actor, including Davis (who was married) was out. When Larry and I passed him on the street a few years later, Tom Hulce, who next played Ned, berated Larry for outing him on a panel.

For the sake of AIDS and for the sake of Larry Kramer and all he has done, you want to go the distance of affirming the film and all that it stands for, and you want to do so as strongly as possible. Anything else at this point, let's face it, would also be politically incorrect. In any case, you do go that distance and you do mean it. Meanwhile, dreamboat Ruffalo managed to create genuine chemistry with Matt Bomer as Felix. I agree with As Is playwright William M. Hoffman that the love affair between Ned and Felix was sexier and more heartrending in the film than in the play. No wonder Larry was so pleased to hear about the explicit sex scenes in HBO's Behind the Candelabra (the Liberace story with Michael Douglas and Matt Damon). It meant they would be able to get away with doing that in TNH.

If the casting of Mark Ruffalo did manage to surmount old questions about straight actors playing gay roles, Julia Roberts also conquered misgivings. Although the role of Dr. Brookner seemed tailor-made for Roberts' penchant for conveying smoldering and explosive anger, Roberts' decision to underplay her big scene was as unexpected as it was inspired. It's as if she were trying to be true to Dr. Linda Laubenstein, the real-life figure Dr. Brookner was based on, who was a far less fiery activist in reality than Brookner is in the play. The real Linda Laubenstein would not have squandered her precious energies with a lot of screaming. It gave me new respect for Roberts' seriousness and integrity as an actor.

At a benefit that honored Elizabeth Taylor and Larry, I sat with Larry's brother, Arthur Kramer, and asked him if he would consider being a contributor to my Larry Kramer anthology. Flashing a Mona Lisa smile, he declined. Too bad because it's the confrontation between Ned and his brother Ben--played by the gifted actor Alfred Molina in the film--about what's "normal" that's at the heart of TNH. Alas, this most powerful of moments in the play gets diluted in the greater expansiveness of the film.

A dilution of tensions is likewise a consequence of the film's rendering of Bruce, played by Taylor Kitsch, the character based on GMHC's first president, Paul Popham. Paul's greater popularity and appeal relative to Larry's, which is hinted at in the play, gets lost in the film. In reality, Paul was the gentle daddy everyone gravitated to, in contrast to Larry's angry scold.

Tommy also suffers from sketchiness. As Larry would be the first to attest, Rodger Mcfarlane, another of Larry's affairettes--who became one of GMHC's first executive directors, Larry's closest friend and the character Tommy is based on--was as fabulous and likeable as he was enterprising, effective and heroic. Jim Parsons is wonderful but he doesn't get to do much. We will have to wait for the sequel to TNH that Larry is currently writing to better appreciate how truly gifted and irreplaceable Rodger was.

Related to Tommy is the issue of what might appear to be the film's one token lesbian and woman (apart from Dr. Brookner), the first such to volunteer for the fledgling group that became GMHC. I believe that character is based on the real-life figure of Dixie Beckham, a GLBT community psychotherapist and mutual friend of Rodger's and mine who also hails from the South (Rodger was from Alabama), in fact from my own home town of Macon, Georgia.

As for Mickey, a couple of comments beyond what's already been said. Larry has added a phrase indicating that Mickey is taking it personally that Larry was accusing everybody of being murderers. But beyond Larry's constant haranguing of virtually all of us in the gay community (and for that matter everybody else), individually and collectively, for not doing more and better, I didn't take such accusations any more personally than Larry took my indictment of our silence about the holocaust in South Africa from AIDS denialism. "We killed Vito." (This was Larry's opening statement at Vito Russo's memorial service.) "We" killed the South Africans.

The other aspect of Mickey that's worth noting in the film is his standing in the end with GMHC in its decision to separate itself from Larry's leadership. As is clear from my GMHC blog piece, although I had already resigned from the GMHC board, that rendering of me in sync with the GMHC board is fair. It was never the right thing for GMHC to be transformed into ACT UP, which is the direction Larry wanted to take us. Larry is not the only one to wish that GMHC, which he had variously denounced as "candy stripers" and "worse than Auschwitz," had been more committed to a stronger moral vision and much greater activism. That GMHC was and has remained far more modestly committed to giving people information, resources and services to help themselves continues to rankle those who had hoped and expected and fought for much bigger and more glorious levels of achievement and transformation.

What's missing from Ned's confrontation with GMHC is greater verisimilitude and detail. There's really only one moment in the play when you get an honest sense of the ferocity of Ned's anger. That's when Ned throws down the groceries he's bought for Felix, splattering the milk everywhere. "If you want to die, then die!!!," he screams at Felix. In the film, however, this dramatic high-point seems more in the nature of a lovers' quarrel and a natural consequence of the stress they're under than a window on Ned and his rage. This is also the way Ned's anger with Mayor Ed Koch, however justified, is depicted. You get virtually no sense in the film, and not that much more in the play, of how often and how far Ned's anger veered into bullying, blaming, vilification, character assassination and scapegoating. In real life, GMHC's pioneering service organizer and donor, prominent socialite Judy Peabody, was dismissed as "a hoity-toity rich bitch." Koch and Reagan were Hitler. Everybody, including Rodger Mcfarlane and Anthony Fauci, was a murderer. Everybody, including leading AIDS organizer and researcher Dr. Mathilde Krim, was a Nazi and committing genocide. "Doctors are cowards," Kramer more recently told a young doctor during the Q and A following his on-stage interview with Tony Kushner at the New York State Historical Society's panel on its 2013 exhibition, "AIDS in New York: The First Five Years." She was working with the poor and earnestly seeking his advice. As Rodger Mcfarlane put it when interviewed by Michael Specter for the New Yorker profile on Kramer, "When it comes to being an asshole, Larry Kramer is without peer." Notwithstanding the unquestionable veracity of that assessment, in the end it's unquestionably Larry's angry leadership that more than any other factor galvanized everybody. And it's unquestionably Larry Kramer who deserves a lion's share of credit for watershed breakthroughs in research, treatment and health care reforms.

If there is anything else missing from HBO's TNH, apart from the epidemic's impact on the other major risk groups--injection drug users, Haitians and hemophiliacs, AIDS in heterosexuals and women, especially in Africa and across the globe--it's any hint of the sequel to come, the truly epochal second half of the story of Larry Kramer and his founding and leadership of ACT UP, which went on to include many lesbians, heterosexuals, persons of color, and women. ACT UP addressed with breathtaking and unprecedented effectiveness key issues pertinent to all of these risk groups and cohorts and by extension to everybody else. Tempting as it must have been to extend the boundaries of TNH to suggest the later achievements and claim greater inclusiveness, you have to admire the commitment to the integrity of the play that prevailed.

We should be truly indebted to Larry Kramer, Ryan Murphy and HBO for bringing back the original AIDS, the horror plague, for all the world to see. It's a disease that even those who have HIV/AIDS today have little idea ever existed; a scourge that crucified most of its victims. It decimated our communities. The AIDS that TNH chronicles and memorializes was truly a holocaust. The horrors we lived through can scarcely be imagined, but the images brought back in this film do a remarkable job of doing just that. So even though the film is a dramatization, it conveys our history more effectively than any documentary I can think of, giving real credibility to Larry's claim that "this is our history."

Clearly, however, "history" is in a continuous process of being recast. As Ethel Rosenberg puts the certainty of millennial change to Roy Cohn in Tony Kushner's Angels in America, "History is about to crack wide open." Leading AIDS journalist David France, director of the acclaimed documentary How To Survive a Plague, is working on a new history of AIDS that should correct a lot of misinformation that's out there now. "Perhaps it will be the new version of And The Band Played On," I proposed. That would be exciting and enriching for everybody, but neither David nor I seemed to pick up on the unintended irony of this off-the-cuff suggestion when I made it in conversation with him. How often do we now return to Shilts' book with its Patient Zero or the HBO film of it with all its stars? My point is that so vast is the scale of AIDS that this landmark chronicle of the epidemic has already receded in history and time. One of the amazing things about the PBS Frontline feature from 2006, The Age of AIDS, which focuses on AIDS in Africa, is the way it sweeps past the entire early period of AIDS. A film that was co-produced by gay people, it's not homophobic--the website for The Age of AIDS features a substantial interview with Larry Kramer--but such is the expansiveness of its perspective that the documentary itself scarcely mentions the gay community, Larry Kramer, GMHC or ACT UP.

As Larry and I agree in the big interview with him that closes We Must Love One Another or Die, knowing what we now know and keep learning about the past, especially about our sexual lives, it's hard to look at any history as authoritative, or imagine that any history ever could be.

"That's what [The American People, Kramer's forthcoming novel] is all about. So why do we think that anything we learn in science or disease or anything else is true?...Perhaps each of us," Kramer concludes, "has to create our own history of the world. One that we can live with. And learn how to accept that my history of the world is different from your history of the world. It might put a lot of colleges and professors out of business!"

HBO's TNH succeeds big time in giving us Larry Kramer's history of AIDS, which is a credible and moving recreation of AIDS as we've known it in the gay community. And it's right to lionize the experience of Larry Kramer, the epidemic's great hero, even if it's doing so at the behest and under the auspices of Kramer himself, and notwithstanding the film's softening of his persona and finessing of historical details. In this ever-enlarging and reconfiguring picture, however, and as I'm sure Larry would agree, the only thing certain about the history of AIDS is that it will continue to recast us all.


Lawrence D. Mass, M.D., wrote the first press reports on AIDS, is a co-founder of Gay Men's Health Crisis and the author/editor of the anthology, We Must Love One Another or Die: The Life and Legacies of Larry Kramer.

Michelle Ehlen talks About Her New Film, ‘S&M Sally’

Writer, director and producer Michelle Ehlen who made the critically acclaimed films Butch Jamie and Hetrosexual Jill, is at it again. Ehlen, a Best Feature winner at the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, is in the process of making a new film, S&M Sally. The satire about gender, identity, sex, love and relationships focuses on those who who fear going outside their comfort zone and the ramifications of losing a partner. Yet they learn that doing so leads to a richer experience for themselves. "I like to think there's an underlying theme in my films of living a more authentic life," says Ehlen. "Once you get over the idea of who you think you are or should be, you can begin to move toward a more genuine and three-dimensional experience."

In fact, S&M Sally explores new territory in dealing with gender, identity, sex, love, and relationships. And, says Ehlen, "this is the first film of its kind to explore erotic practices in a comedic yet realistic way. It's the first film to explore the pinker shades of the butch spectrum."

Ehlen talked to me about her new film.

Q: What is S&M Sally about?

Michelle Ehlen: The film is a character-driven comedy about people pushing themselves outside of their comfort zones, while poking fun of the insecurities within all of us. The plot revolves around lesbian couple Jamie and Jill, who start going to S&M clubs after Jamie's insecurities surface about lagging behind in the bedroom. The story unfolds as they play around with roles of dominance and submission in the club, and it starts changing their relationship dynamic at home. All in all, I think the film tackles topics that many consider taboo but in a very charming and accessible way. I call the film a satire on relationships, as the underlying themes are quite universal - insecurities, power dynamics, intimacy issues, and authenticity.

Q: What inspired you to become a filmmaker?

Michelle Ehlen: I've always loved creating and telling stories. I started acting when I was a kid as a way to express myself because I was shy. Then as I gained more life experience, I had a greater desire and passion for writing and directing my own ideas.

Q: What inspired you to make S&M Sally?

Michelle Ehlen: I love exploring issues of identity and authenticity, and how those two things relate to one another. Mostly I'm inspired to show a diversity of choices on-screen - choices in your relationships and choices in how to life your life. Since most on-screen portrayals simply reiterate the status quo, I love being able to present a different point of view. And it's exciting to follow these characters through their journey of self-discovery after they start exploring unchartered territory.

Q: You appear in your films. How challenging is it to direct yourself?

Michelle Ehlen: I really enjoy it. I give myself a sort of carte blanche so I can dive in and do what feels organic in the moment. I actually prefer it to acting for another director since I'm less self-conscious about trying to please someone and it's easier for me to get out of my own way. As an editor, I can review the footage later with a more critical eye. I think the greater challenge for me is directing the other actors and assessing what they need, since every actor works differently, although I think that would be a challenge even if I was only behind the camera.

Q: What's the great joy making this film?

Michelle Ehlen: I've loved sharing the script with others who are surprised by how much they connect with it. I think the comedy really helps people resonate with the material, as it's one of those stories where you can laugh at the characters and identify with them at the same time. I'm most looking forward to shooting the dungeon scenes, including a fireplay scene which I think will be beautiful on-screen. We plan to shoot this Fall and are currently raising funds on Kickstarter. My first two films were self-funded, but the market has changed so much that it's getting harder to do that. We're offering perks like advance copies of the film and on-screen credits in exchange for contributions. You can find us by searching for "Sally" on Kickstarter's website or click here.

Jen McPherson and Michelle Ehlen in Ehlen's upcoming feature S&M Sally

Jen McPherson and Michelle Ehlen in Heterosexual Jill

All photos used with permission.

US Supreme Court puts Va. gay marriage on hold

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday granted a request to delay enforcement of an appeals court ruling that overturned Virginia's same-sex marriage ban.


Athletes and Allies in action

Athlete Ally, gay news, Washington Blade

Laura Clise, on left, with Megan Rapinoe (Photo courtesy of Clise)


My LGBT activism and advocacy date back to high school, when as a Latin-studying nerd, I started a gay-straight alliance with a lengthy acronym – CHIASMUS (Creating Heightened Interest in Advocating for Sexual Minority Understanding and Support). However, beyond playing soccer and tennis in college, it’s only over the course of the past couple of years that I have had the opportunity to become increasingly involved in support of the LGBT sports movement.

I recently joined the board of Athlete Ally, an organization focused on ending homophobia and transphobia in sport. I was initially drawn to the organization’s recognition that as members of the LGBT community are the forefront of a broader societal shift toward greater acceptance and inclusion, straight allies also play a critical role in effecting change. Leading up to, and during the 2014 Sochi Olympics, I had the opportunity to collaborate with Athlete Ally, All Out, American Apparel, ESPN and a variety of athletes in support of the Principle 6 campaign that mobilized Olympic and professional athletes to stand in support of LGBT equality.

In the spirit of celebrating all of those working to advance equality and the forthcoming Athlete Ally Action Awards, I would like to acknowledge a sampling of the athletes and allies, whose courage and advocacy serve as an inspirational example and represent an important contribution to furthering LGBT equality.

My work with Megan Rapinoe dates back to her support of the 2012 Maryland Marriage Equality campaign that culminated in a successful voter referendum that legalized same-sex marriage in the state of Maryland. Throughout the Principle 6 campaign, Megan, Lori Lindsey, and Australian Olympian, Sally Shipard stood up for equality, engaging their fans around the world. A longtime advocate, Lori led her teammates from Australia’s Canberra United in support of the campaign, modeling the Principle 6 apparel.

In an interview earlier this year, Sally spoke of her evolution regarding LGBT activism as a shift from being an LGBT athlete to an out, LGBT athlete and an active ally to the LGBT sports movement. Most recently, Megan, Lori and Sally participated in YouTube’s Pride Month Proud to Play campaign, which used sport as the platform to deliver messages in support of LGBT equality.

I am a beginning snowboarder, with one lesson under my belt. The only explanation for this newfound hobby is the time I was able to spend getting to know and work with Olympic snowboarders, Belle Brockoff, Callan Chythlook-Sifsof, Simona Meiler and Seth Wescott. From Belle’s coming out ahead of the Sochi Games, to her and Simona’s participation in the upcoming documentary, “To Russia With Love,” to Callan and Seth’s ESPN Outside the Lines feature, these snowboarders were and are incredible and authentic athletes and advocates.

Caryn Davies and Esther Lofgren are members of the U.S. Olympic women’s rowing team that won gold at the 2012 Olympics. In addition to lending their support to the Principle 6 Campaign, Esther authored an article articulating passion for sport as a platform for inclusion and the importance of allies.

Finally, there are the non-athlete, allies – Susan McPherson, Alice Korngold, Neil Hawkins and Tim Mohin. As leaders in the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) field, Susan, Alice, Neil and Tim have supported the evolving dialogue regarding LGBT equality from the domain of human resources to a broader conversation about the business case for greater inclusion.

It’s important to recognize that progress takes all of us. It means that we each must not only consider what we can do as individuals, but also engage those around us, increasing the number of athletes and allies in action, and scaling support for LGBT equality in and beyond our immediate communities.

Laura Clise is a board member of Athlete Ally. Reach her @lauraclise.


Gay Bridegrooms Urged To ‘Think Outside The Closet’ In Catchy Menswear Ad

A British department store wants to make sure that when gay men say "I do," they avoid a few fashion don'ts. And it's getting the message across in a most charming way.

"Think outside the closet," the House of Fraser tells a bridegroom in its new ad to celebrate same-sex marriage in the United Kingdom.

As the man tries on a number of outfits, the narrator mixes snark and encouragement to steer him in the right sartorial direction. "Be a diva about detail," she says. Then the man and his beloved join for a kiss.

While not a tear-jerker like Expedia's noteworthy "Find Your Understanding" spot featuring a lesbian wedding, it might inspire you to dress right for the occasion with a smile on your face.

h/t Creativity Online

Daphne ‘Cursed’ From Size 2 To Size 8 In New ‘Scooby-Doo’ Movie

The worst thing that can happen to an attractive woman is not a car accident or getting fired or even losing a loved one -- it's getting fat. At least that's what the team behind the beloved cartoon Scooby-Doo seems to think.

In the new Scooby-Doo movie "Scooby-Doo! Frankencreepy," Daphne, a main character in the long-running animated franchise, is subjected to a terrifying "curse" -- growing from a “size two to a size eight." Oh, the horror!

scared daphne

Writers and producers seem to believe that the most sinister curse to place upon the resident pretty girl is to make her "overweight" -- a size eight, specifically, which is measurably smaller than the average American woman. An average woman in the U.S. weighs around 145 pounds and wears a dress size between 12 and 14. But yea, Warner Bros, a size eight must be straight out of every woman's worst nightmare.

We reached out to Warner Brothers for comment, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

The animators apparently don't understand what a size eight woman looks like (even though they can be seen everywhere, i.e. mothers, friends, random ladies on the street) since the "overweight" Daphne looks more like the blueberry ballooon version of "Violet Beauregarde from Willy Wonka" than an actual woman.

"It’s sad to think that my daughter can’t even watch a cartoon about a dog solving mysteries without negative body stereotypes being thrown in her face," writer Tom Burns poignantly noted for The Good Men Project.

daphne before and after 2

According to some Amazon reviewers, the "curse" may have been intended to promote self-acceptance rather than a negative body image. As user D.Davidson wrote (spoiler alert):
I was worried about [the movie] promoting a negative body image for women based on another review about Daphne being turned in to a "size eight" and her freaking out about it. I actually have to defend the writers here because Daphne realized she was being superficial throughout that story arc, it added to the story in a meaningful way (it allows her to evade iron face) and the most importantly: Fred didn't notice/care and said that she "always looked good to him." I would say it was more about acceptance and not being superficial than anything.

While we haven't seen the movie, we're certain there are better ways to use Daphne's fixation on her looks to teach a lesson about self-acceptance. "Why not have her cursed to look like one of the classic Scooby monsters (The Creeper or the Space Kook)?" Burns pointed out. "Why not cover her in hair and fangs and turn her into a wolf-girl? Why not give her a third eye, green skin, a tail?" Really anything other than stigmatize a clothing size, something known to be explicitly triggering for many women with body image issues.

Fat-shaming has permeated our culture so deeply that young girls are even getting barraged with negative body stereotypes while watching their Saturday morning cartoons. Leapin' lizards! We can do better.

Watch the scene where Daphne gets cursed below:

[h/t The Good Men Project]

The Ties That Bind Us

As a transgender woman I get asked by gays and lesbians quite frequently how the T fits in the LGBT, and why transgender rights should be part of the larger gay agenda. Rather than shrug off the question, I take the time to actually answer. Quite simply, the T is included and should be included because being transgender is a core part of our identity, just as being gay, lesbian or bisexual is a part for others. We face many of the same challenges posed by heteronormativity in society. As a group we may not share all the challenges of being gay or lesbian, but there is a wealth of shared experience that gets talked about very little, and I hope to touch on some of this here.

While transgender people have always been a part of the larger gay experience, there has been a schism of late. The gay majority in the LGBT have in the past dropped transgender rights from their platforms because of a political fear that their own rights would be denied by the inclusion of a seemingly relative few, and the knee-jerk reaction has always been to throw out transgender protections if it would make larger gay and lesbian protections more palatable to legislators and the voting public. While in current estimates transgender people make up around 1 percent of the U.S. population, and 4-5 percent for gays and lesbians, based on other countries the number of transgender people may be significantly under-reported and some studies, such as this one by the Transgender Law Center put the figure far higher, in the same ballpark as the percentage of gays and lesbians.

In the past, transgender groups have been vociferous in our demands for inclusion, as we have seen the gap between ourselves and the rest of the LGBT widen even further due to the differences in narratives. However, while the narrative is different, the experience oftentimes is not. This is especially true with trans women who prefer women, and trans men who prefer men. Yes, the majority that you hear about are straight -- women with men and men with women -- but the statistics paint a completely different picture. Most transgender people are in actuality, either gay or lesbian. A University of Minnesota study suggests that 35 percent of trans women are attracted to women, vs 27 percent who are attracted to men. The same study also found that contrary to popular belief, most trans men are in fact gay.

A few weeks ago, a gay transgender man Lou Cutler was crowned Mr Gay Philadelphia, and a few weeks before that, trans woman Tobi Hill-Meyer was awarded a lesbian-oriented award for her work in the adult industry. Just like gays, lesbians and bisexuals -- we're here, we're queer, and we're as proud as the rest of you.

While our being born with an incongruous gender identity to our physical appearance may be difficult to understand for someone who has not experienced the pain, anguish, and hardship of dealing with the unique physical and mental ramifications of a brain/body mismatch, our sociological struggles related to sexual preference and non-conformity should ring home with the rest of the LGBT. Bears, twinks, butch, drag queens, to name just a few, are all non-conforming to heteronormative eyes -- as are we.

When people are used to seeing us appear as male or female, our neighbors, family, friends and co-workers, as well as strangers we pass every day on the street, it is visually and psychologically shocking for them to see us wearing clothes and bearing the appearance of the opposite. Oftentimes it causes such a visceral reaction that we're attacked based solely on appearance, or rejected by our family and friends, or fired from our places of employment. The visual issues of "passing" -- how well one appears when presenting authentically for our gender, often mean the difference between life and death. While the sheer numbers of transgender women, in particular women of color, appears be more of a stark contrast to similar crimes against the rest of the LGBT, it's important to remember that there are many gay and lesbian people who do not gender-conform, or appear to gender-conform, and therefore suffer the same targeting by those in heteronormative society who exhibit homophobia and transphobia. The biggest challenge as a trans person is that our struggles in heteronormative society aren't solely based on our gender orientation, but also our presentation.

Sometimes, it's easier to see the differences than it is to see our commonality in the greater LGBT. For example, I don't know a lot of gay men who can truly relate to a lot of lesbian struggles, or lesbians who can relate to some gay issues. The same is just as true for transgender people. We face many of the same struggles for acceptance, struggles related to our sexual preference, and to our often non-gender-conforming appearance, as traditionally labelled gays and lesbians do. We in the T have done a poor job in the past of educating our gay and lesbian siblings to our needs, and have not taken the time to explain, but have instead widened the division on occasion. Yes, we in the T need to do a better job at educating our allies instead of attacking them when they're misinformed on our issues, but conversely, we also need our allies to not shut down but actually listen to our voices. We are ALL far stronger together, than we would be apart.

Jennifer Roback Morse, Formerly Of NOM, Believes Gay Marriage Will Be ‘In Every State’ By 2015

A former National Organization for Marriage (NOM) official has predicted that same-sex marriage legislation will be in place in all 50 U.S. states by 2015.

As Good As You's Jeremy Hooper originally reported, Jennifer Roback Morse minced few words on the matter in a recent speech.

"We're here in 2014 talking about the re-definition of marriage," she says in audio of the speech. "I'm just gonna go on the record here and forecast: by this time next year, it will be over. As a legal matter, it will be over."

Listen to audio of Morse's remarks, courtesy of Good As You, then scroll down to keep reading:

To emphasize her point, she added, "There will be same-sex, genderless marriage in every state of the union. If anyone's here from Texas, I'm sorry."

Morse, who is the author of Love and Economics: Why the Laissez-Faire Family Doesn’t Work among other books, is the founder of the Ruth Institute, formerly a project of NOM which deems marriage "a lifelong commitment between one man and one woman" on its official website.

In April of last year, she argued that same-sex marriage amounted to nothing more than a "government registry of friendships." Previously, Morse claimed that all gay men had an innate "sense of shame" because they understood they are "deeply wrong."

Hooper reports that Morse left NOM in 2013.

NOM spokeswoman Matille Thebolt declined The Huffington Post's request for comment.

H/T Good As You