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2013: The year in quotes

Edith Windsor, Edie Windsor, gay news, marriage equality, same sex marriage, gay marriage, Washington Blade, quotes

Edith Windsor (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

“The gay community is my ‘person of the year’ and I look forward to continuing to fight for equal rights and educate the public about our lives alongside my gay brothers and sisters and our allies … Thea would be thrilled, proud and so happy to see what we have all accomplished together.” Edith Windsor, the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, reacting to be named one of the Top 3 individuals for “Person of the Year.” (Joe.My.God, Dec. 11)

 

“There is no way I could ever stand here without acknowledging one of the deepest loves of my life, my heroic co-parent, my ex-partner in love but righteous soul sister in life. My confessor, ski buddy, consigliere, most-beloved BFF of 20 years, Cydney Bernard. “

Jodie Foster during her Jan. 13 acceptance speech for the Cecil B. Demille Award during the 70th annual Golden Globe Awards (ABC News, Jan. 14)

 

Cory Booker, United States Senate, New Jersey, Democratic Party, gay news, Washington Blade

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

“Well, it didn’t take me long to realize that the root of my hatred did not lie with gays but with myself. It was my problem. A problem I dealt with by ceasing to tolerate gays and instead seeking to embrace them.”

Newark, N.J., Mayor Corey Booker in a 1992 op-ed where he wrote about coming to terms with his negative feelings toward homosexuals. (Stanford Daily, Jan. 9)

 

“Just letting you know… that using ‘your gay’ as a way to put someone down ain’t ok! #notcool delete that out ur vocab”

NBA star Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, responding via Twitter to someone using “you’re gay” as an insult. In 2011, Bryant was fined $100,000 for calling an NBA official a fag. (CBS Sports, Feb. 11)

 

“I don’t think it’s very controversial to suggest that a candidate who favors gay marriage and free contraception might have more appeal to a younger demographic. Does anyone want to argue … that there are more gay rights organizations on college campuses than in VFW halls?

— Stuart Stevens, Mitt Romney’s lead presidential campaign strategist, in an op-ed about what caused Romney to lose to President Obama. (Washington Post, Feb. 24)

 

President Bill Clinton (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

President Bill Clinton (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

“As the president who signed the act into law, I have come to believe that DOMA is … incompatible with our Constitution.”

Former President Bill Clinton, in a column against the Defense of Marriage Act, which he signed in 1996. The law, which the Supreme Court will take up on March 27, denies federal recognition to same-sex marriages and allows states to ignore same-sex marriages from other states. (Washington Post, March 7)

 

“Bob is 15 years old, and the only openly gay Scout in a Boy Scout troop. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for the troop leader to allow Bob to tent with a heterosexual boy on an overnight camping trip?”

One of several scenarios included in a Boy Scouts of America survey sent to members and their parents as the BSA considers whether to relax its ban on gay Scouts, volunteers and leaders. The BSA board may consider the policy in May. (Dallas Voice, March 11)

 

“If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much.”

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, responding at the company’s annual shareholder meeting to a stock owner who questioned whether the coffee chain was being hurt by its support for same-sex marriage. (NPR.org, March 20)

 

“Life is life and love is love, and I’m just trying to be a better me, you know what I’m saying?”

Rapper Snoop Lion, asked by paparazzi his stand on gay marriage. “I don’t have a problem with gay people. I got some gay homies,” he also said. (TMZ.com, April 7)

 

“I think this is going to be good for a lot of black young people who want to come out. E.J. is going to be that symbol — a symbol of hope that they can now come and tell their parents, tell their friends.”

Basketball legend Magic Johnson, who came out as HIV-positive in 1992, on his support for his son, Ervin “E.J.” Johnson III, coming out as gay after being photographed by TMZ holding hands with his boyfriend. (Denver Post, April 7)

 

Jason Collins, Washington Wizards, NBA, gay news, Washington Blade, Sports Illustrated

Jason Collins (Image courtesy of Sports Illustrated)

“I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay. … If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.”

NBA veteran Jason Collins of the Washington Wizards, coming out in the May 6 issue of Sports Illustrated. Collins becomes the first gay athlete in major U.S. men’s professional sports to come out during his career. (Sports Illustrated, released online April 29)

 

“In making the film, the socio-political aspect of it was not really in my mind but I was focused on … trying to make this relationship as believable and realistic as we could. When this issue comes up, of equal rights for gays, I am hoping 50 years from now we will look back on this and wonder why this was even a debate and why it took so long.”

Director Steven Soderbergh discussing his latest film, Liberace biopic “Behind the Candlebra,” which made its Cannes debut May 21 (Reuters, May 21)

 

Robbie Rogers, soccer, sports, gay news, Washington Blade

Robbie Rogers (Photo by Noah Salzman via Wikimedia Commons)

“I’ve been on this huge journey to figure out my life, and now I am back here I think where I am supposed to be.”

Professional soccer player Robbie Rogers in a May 26 post-game press conference after his debut with the LA Galaxy made him the first openly gay athlete to compete in U.S. men’s professional team sports. Rogers, a former national team player, came out in April and announced his retirement. (YouTube, May 27)

 

“Our community has been targets of bigotry, bias, profiling and violence. We have experienced the heart-breaking despair of young people targeted for who they are, who they are presumed to be, or who they love … Every person, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, must be able to walk the streets without fear for their safety.”

Open letter from national LGBT organizations supporting a federal investigation into Trayvon Martin’s death after his accused killer was found not guilty. (Press release, July 15)

 

“We welcome all individuals regardless of sexual orientation into our ballparks, along with those of different races, religions, genders and national origins. Both on the field and away from it, Major League Baseball has a zero-tolerance policy for harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation.”

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, announcing new code of conduct that will be distributed individually to professional baseball players at every level of the game. (New York Attorney General’s Office press release, July 16)

 

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

Pope Francis, head of the Roman Catholic Church, telling reporters that he would not judge priests for their sexual orientation. The former pope, Benedict XVI, had said gay men should not be priests. (New York Times, July 29)

 

“If you take men and lock them in a house for five years and tell them to come up with two children and they fail to do that, then we will chop off their heads.”

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, stating at a rally that homosexuality “seeks to destroy our lineage” and Zimbabwe will not “accept the homosexuality practice” even if it costs the country U.S. aid. (News Day, July 25)

 

“As an openly gay African American, Mr. Rustin stood at the intersection of several of the fights for equal rights.”

White House press release announcing that Bayard Rustin, who helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, will be posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Sally Ride, the first female American astronaut in space, will also receive the Medal of Freedom; she became known publicly as gay when her obituary listed her longtime partner. (Aug. 8)

 

“I was excited to hear today that more states legalized gay marriage. I, however, am not currently getting married, but it is great to know I can now, should I wish to.”

Actress Raven-Symone, who gained fame as a child on “The Cosby Show,” coming out in a statement after tweeting, “I can finally get married! Yay government! So proud of you.” (Washington Times, Aug. 4)

 

“Dude, lesbians love me. I’m tall, I have a deep voice, I’m like, ‘Hello, catnip!’ Now that this show’s out I’m curious what happens from here because whenever I go out lesbians try to, y’know, turn me.”

Actress Laura Prepon, discussing playing lesbian drug dealer Alex Vaus on “Orange is the New Black.” (Canada.com, Aug. 1)

Vladimir Putin, Russia, gay news, Washington Blade

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Photo public domain)

“Putin, end your war on Russian gays!” a shout by an unidentified man at the Metropolitan Opera’s opening night of Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin.” Gay activists protested the opera to bring awareness to Russia’s law banning “propaganda on nontraditional sexual relationships” that President Vladimir Putin signed into law in June. (Sept. 23, The New York Times)

 

“I am usually a very strong and confident person, but I have my moments too. Although there was positive feedback, there was a lot of negative too, and the negative affected me more than it ever has before. I recorded this because I didn’t know how else to vent, I didn’t want to talk to anybody.” – Cassidy Lynn Campbell, a transgender teen who was named Huntington Beach high school homecoming queen, in a YouTube post where she was visibly upset by negative reactions. (Sept. 23, Los Angeles Times)

 

“Liz — this isn’t just an issue on which we disagree you’re just wrong — and on the wrong side of history.” Mary Cheney responding on Facebook on Nov. 17 to her sister’s response on “Fox New Sunday” saying she opposed same-sex marriage and that was an area where she and her sister disagreed. Liz Cheney is running for U.S. Senate in Wyoming.

Compiled by Georgia Voice

 

01
Jan
2014

2013 in photography

2013 was a banner year for the LGBT community. Here are the top Washington Blade photos of the year. (Washington Blade photos by Blake Bergen, Tyler Grigsby, Michael Key, Kevin Majoros, Damien Salas, Lee Whitman and Jon Wooten) buyphoto 

03
Jan
2014

Boy Scouts remove gay scoutmaster from post

boy scouts, gay news, Washington Blade

The Boy Scouts of America on Monday removed an openly gay Seattle scoutmaster from his position. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Boy Scouts of America on Monday announced the removal of an openly gay Seattle scoutmaster over his sexual orientation.

NBC News reported Geoff McGrath, 49, founded a gay-friendly troop in the Emerald City’s Rainier Beach neighborhood. Seattle’s top Boy Scouts of America official told the network she did not know McGrath was gay in spite of his claims that he never hid his sexual orientation.

“It’s extremely disappointing to not be fully supported and defended in my membership,” McGrath, who is married to his husband of 20 years, told NBC News. “They are complaining that the problem [his status as an openly gay man] is a distraction to Scouting and they don’t seem to understand that the distraction is self-inflicted.”

Deron Smith, a spokesperson for the Boy Scouts of America, defended the decision to ban McGrath from the organization.

“Our policy is that we do not ask people about their sexual orientation, and it’s not an issue until they deliberately inject it into Scouting in an inappropriate fashion,” Smith told NBC News in an e-mail. “We spoke with Mr. McGrath today and based on the information he provided, the National Council has revoked his registration.”

The Boy Scouts of America National Council last May voted to partially end its long-standing policy banning openly gay boy scouts. The prohibition of openly gay adult volunteers and scoutmasters remains in place.

01
Apr
2014

Alaska church evicts scout troops

boy scouts, gay news, Washington Blade

An Anchorage church dropped its sponsorship of Boy Scouts of America troops. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A local church’s decision to no longer sponsor local Boy Scouts of America troops over its opposition to the inclusion of gay scouts has sparked controversy.

The Anchorage Daily News reported on August 8 the Anchorage Baptist Temple’s decision has left Boy Scout Troop 1316 and Cub Scout Pack 316 without a place to meet. Rev. Jerry Prevo, who is the congregation’s chief pastor, referenced the Bible as he defended his decision to the newspaper.

“No homosexual will enter the Kingdom of God,” he said.

Phyllis Rhodes, executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Anchorage and the LGBT advocacy group Identity Inc., criticized the church’s decision.

“It’s unfortunate that he lets his bigotry displace children,” she told the Anchorage Daily News. “It’s hard enough to be a kid and then to have an organization that you are a part of kicked out of their space.”

The Boy Scouts of America in May approved a resolution that lifted the ban on gay scouts. LGBT rights advocates criticized the motion because it did not call for an end of the prohibition of openly gay troop leaders.

14
Aug
2013

Boy Scouts to vote on ending gay ban

boy scouts, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

IRVING, Texas — The Boy Scouts of America met this week to consider lifting the ban on gay Scouts. A final vote was expected Thursday, after the Blade’s print deadline. Watch here for more updates as we wait for results of the vote.

The proposal to lift the ban did not include ending the ban on openly gay Scout leaders, a move that was widely criticized by LGBT advocates.

As reported earlier this month in the Blade, Governor Rick Perry of Texas — a former Republican White House contender — has become one of the most outspoken voices in favor of keeping the ban on gay scouts in place.

“The fact is, this is a private organization,” Perry said during a Family Research Council webcast. “Their values and principles have worked for a century now, and for pop culture to come in and try to tear that up because it just happens to be the flavor of the month, so to speak, and to tear apart one of the great organizations that have served millions of young men — to help them become men and become great fathers — that is just not appropriate.”

22
May
2013

Advocate ‘confident’ Boy Scouts will end ban on gay youth

boy scouts, gay news, Washington Blade

The Boy Scouts to set to vote on a resolution today to end its ban on gay youth (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

An LGBT group working to end the gay ban for the Boy Scouts of America is striking an optimistic tone on the day leaders are set to vote on a resolution to partially lift it.

Rich Ferraro, vice president of communications for Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, said he expects the 1,400 members of the Boy Scouts National Council to approve a measure allowing gay youths to participate.

“I’m confident, especially now that the BSA leadership is behind the resolution,” Ferraro said. “I think it’s because of the stories that BSA voting members and Americans have heard over the past years from moms from Ohio and teenagers from California who shouldn’t be discriminated against.”

The vote is taking place in Grapevine, Texas, during the organization’s 2013 National Annual Meeting. An announcement on the vote is expected around 6 pm. The Washington Blade will provide updates as warranted.

Currently, openly gay people are unable to participate in the Boy Scouts in any capacity. The proposal would alter the policy so gay youths can take part in the organization. Even if the resolution is approved, gay adults would still be unable to serve as scoutmasters.

Ferraro based his optimism on work activists have done to draw attention to the gay ban as well as statements from Boy Scouts’ leadership in opposition to current policy.

Wayne Perry, president of the Boy Scouts of America, called on the organization to approve the resolution in an op-ed in USA Today published on Thursday.

“The BSA’s executive committee unanimously presented this resolution because it stays true to Scouting’s mission and remains focused on kids,” Perry writes. “No matter what your opinion is on this issue, America needs Scouting, and our policies must be based on what is in the best interest of our nation’s children.”

According to GLAAD, thousands of people on both sides of the issue are at the hotel to make their views heard — many of them clad in their Boy Scouts’ uniform.

“I think it shows just what I’ve seen over the past year running this campaign how dedicated people are to the institution of scouting,” Ferraro said. “The message that we’re trying to send is that including gay adults and gay teenagers will only strengthen the institution of scouting.”

Members of Congress have also weighed in. Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), along with 20 other House members, delivered to the Boy Scouts earlier this week a letter asking the group to change its policy.

“Today, BSA has a policy that excludes gay Scouts and Scout leaders from participating,” the letter states. “This is counter to BSA’s mission to teach our youth to combat discrimination. … We strongly urge the BSA to pass the proposed resolution to end discrimination against gay youth. Furthermore, we believe that BSA should implement a full non-discrimination policy.”

Zach Wahls, a 21-year-old activist and Eagle Scout, said the time is right for the Boy Scouts to change during an event in Grapevine called the Equal Scouting Summit.

“It is clear that if Scouting is not willing to move forward on this issue, it will be left behind by an America that supports our LGBT friends, neighbors, family members and even our fellow Scouts who made it through the program,” Wahls said. “America needs the values that Scouting has to offer now more than ever, and we cannot afford to lose this great cultural icon.”

In February, President Obama voiced support during an interview that aired before the Super Bowl for lifting the gay ban in the Boy Scouts.

But anti-gay groups are also at work to urge the Boy Scouts to keep the ban on gay youth in place. On Thursday, the Family Research Council ran a half-page advertisement in the Dallas Morning News. The ad identifies five reasons to support the current policy, including saying the change “forces all scouting units to accept openly gay youth.”

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), a freshman U.S. House member, took to the House floor this week to criticize what he called the “intolerant left” for efforts such as repealing the gay ban in the Boy Scouts.

“The left’s agenda is not about tolerance, and it’s not about diversity of thought,” Bridenstine said. “It’s about presenting a worldview of relativism, where there is no right and wrong, then using the full force of the government to silence opposition and reshape organizations like the Boy Scouts into instruments for social change.”

Bridenstine concluded,”To my friends on the left, this is not tolerance. But here’s the good news about true tolerance: the most tolerant one of all has the ability to redeem us all.”

But Ferraro dismissed efforts from anti-gay groups, saying they won’t have significant impact and are only an effort to spread hate against LGBT people.

“People like Tony Perkins and the FRC are continuing to paint themselves not as scouting supporters, but as anti-gay activists, and that’s going to make the difference,” Ferraro said. “Their messages are clouded by anti-gay hate, especially when you consider faith leaders and so many officials in the BSA pushing for change.”

23
May
2013

Boy Scouts of America vote to partially end gay ban

Boy Scouts of America, gay news, Washington Blade

Approximately 61 percent of delegates to the Boy Scouts of America National Annual Meeting voted Thursday to partially end a policy barring openly gay boy scouts. (Photo by Steven Depolo; courtesy Creative Commons)

According to ThinkProgress, approximately 61 percent of delegates to the Boy Scouts of America’s National Annual Meeting voted Thursday to partially end a policy barring openly gay boy scouts.

The 1,400 delegates were not given the option, however, to lift the prohibition of openly gay adult volunteers and leaders.

“Today’s vote is a significant victory for gay youth across the nation and a clear indication that the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay adult leaders will also inevitably end,” Rich Ferraro, a spokesperson for LGBT media watchdog group GLAAD said in a statement after the vote. “The Boy Scouts of America heard from religious leaders, corporate sponsors and so many Scouting families who want an end to discrimination against gay people, and GLAAD will continue this work with those committed to equality in Scouting until gay parents and adults are able to participate.”

The vote comes after months of lobbying on both sides of the issue, with gay advocates pressuring the organization to remove all barriers to involvement for LGBT people — including Eagle Scouts, den mothers and scout masters — while conservative forces have pushed the organization to remain with the current policy.

On Thursday, Washington D.C.-based Family Research Council took out a half-page ad in the Dallas Morning News urging delegates to the 2013 National Annual Meeting to vote against the plan.

“Boy Scouts of America delegates will vote TODAY on a resolution that will introduce open homosexuality into Scouting’s ranks and eventually, in all likelihood, into Scouting leadership,” the ad reads. “This open letter calls on ALL DELEGATES to VOTE NO on the resolution and thereby preserve Scouting’s timeless values and honor 103 years of faithful service to our nation and her boys.”

The FRC ad goes on to list five reasons the organization believes that the ban on gays in scouting should be kept, including speculation that 400,000 members will abandon the scouts, citing “massive membership losses” after the organization’s Canadian counterpart lifted their own prohibition to gay scouts.

Despite the opposition’s virulent protests, prior to the vote, many LGBT advocates were optimistic about the vote’s outcome.

“I’m confident, especially now that the BSA leadership is behind the resolution,” Ferraro told the Blade earlier on Thursday. “I think it’s because of the stories that BSA voting members and Americans have heard over the past years from moms from Ohio and teenagers from California who shouldn’t be discriminated against.”

The Dallas Voice, earlier Thursday, released a video of a press conference held by LGBT advocates prior to the vote.

Earlier this month, Texas Governor Rick Perry also weighed in on the Boy Scouts controversy, as the Blade reported.

“The fact is, this is a private organization,” Perry said. “Their values and principles have worked for a century now, and for pop culture to come in and try to tear that up because it just happens to be the flavor of the month, so to speak, and to tear apart one of the great organizations that have served millions of young men — to help them become men and become great fathers — that is just not appropriate.”

Following the affirmative vote, many advocates expressed measured relief that efforts had been partially victorious.

“Today’s vote ending discrimination of gay Scouts is truly a historic moment and demonstrates the Boy Scouts of America’s commitment to creating a more inclusive organization,” Zach Wahls, Eagle Scout and Founder of Scouts for Equality, said in a statement released by GLAAD. “Scouts for Equality is honored to be a part of the movement that has achieved a tremendous victory towards the fight for equality in America and we are proud to call ourselves Scouts. We look forward to the day where we can celebrate inclusion of all members and are committed to continuing our work until that occurs.”

Others who had experienced discrimination in the scouts under this policy spoke out after the  vote as well.

“When I was kicked out of the Boy Scouts last April, I was devastated.” said Ohio mom Jennifer Tyrrell, who was ousted as leader of her son’s Cub Scout pack because she’s gay. “Having to look my son, Cruz, in the eye and tell him that our family isn’t good enough was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Today is truly a watershed moment for me, but even more so for the millions of kids across this country, who will now be allowed to serve in the Scouts without fear of rejection. I’m so proud of how far we’ve come, but until there’s a place for everyone in Scouting, my work will continue.”

23
May
2013

Obama praises Boy Scouts, but hopes for more change

President Obama praised the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to lift its ban on openly gay youth, but added he hopes the organization will take further action to allow openly gay Scout leaders, according to the White House.

Shin Inouye, a White House spokesperson, issued the response to the 103-year-old organization’s decision to end its ban on gay youth on Friday in response to an inquiry from the Washington Blade.

“The President welcomes the decision by the Boy Scouts of America to open its membership to all, regardless of sexual orientation,” Inouye said. “He has long believed that the Scouts is a valuable organization that has helped educate and build character in American boys for more than a century.”

Inouye continued, “He continues to believe that leadership positions in the Scouts should be open to all, regardless of sexual orientation.”

On Thursday, the 1,400 members of the Boy Scouts National Council approved a resolution to end its ban on gay youth from participating by a margin of 61-38 percent. But the measure leaves in place the ban on openly gay leaders.

Obama’s views on the Boy Scouts’ policy on gay members is particularly significant because, as president of the United States, he also serves as honorary president of the Boy Scouts.

Deron Smith, a Boy Scouts spokesperson, responded to the White House by saying the organization continues to appreciate Obama’s support for the organization.

“For 103 years, the Boy Scouts of America has been a part of the fabric of this nation, with a focus on working together to deliver the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training,” Smith said. “We are thankful President Obama recognizes the value of the organization.”

GLAAD praised Obama’s statement.

“As the Honorary President of the Boy Scouts of America, this statement on President Obama’s support is significant,” said Rich Ferraro, a GLAAD spokesperson. “Gay parents and adults should be accepted into Scouting and our campaign for change will continue until that happens. As openly gay youth begin participating in Scouting and earn Eagle Rank, the Boy Scouts will come to realize that gay Americans and our families only strengthen Scouting as an institution.”

24
May
2013

Scouting, immigration create frustration

Boy Scouts of America, gay news, Washington Blade

Scouting still discriminates against some LGBT people. (Photo by Steven Depolo; courtesy Creative Commons)

In the past two weeks the LGBT community responded to two different situations; one in the public arena and the other in a private organization.

The Boy Scouts voted to admit gay scouts. Though some think scouting is quasi-public, the organization’s right to set its own membership standards was affirmed by the Supreme Court in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale. Still, localities such as New York City have prohibited the Scouts from using public buildings for their meetings as long as they continue to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

The debate on this vote in the LGBT community has been vociferous. Some applauded the scouts and others only bashed them. Lorri Jean, CEO of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, said, “What I do know is that, in this day and age, it is neither acceptable nor progress to allow gay boys to participate as scouts for a few years, only to harshly expel them from any involvement the moment they turn 18.” She went on to say, “This is a calculated and craven strategy to win back the support of the many corporate sponsors that have stopped funding the BSA, costing the organization millions of dollars in lost revenue, because of its discriminatory policies.”

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said, “Today is a historic day for Boy Scouts across the country who want to be a part of this great American institution but the new policy doesn’t go far enough. Parents and adults of good moral character, regardless of sexual orientation, should be able to volunteer their time to mentor the next generation of Americans.”

And Zach Wahls, founder of Scouts for Equality, said, “The Boy Scouts of America can do better. We welcome the news that the ban on gay Scouts is history, but our work isn’t over until we honor the Scout Law by making this American institution open and affirming to all.”

As a Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Explorer, Explorer Advisor and former member of the National Committee, Scouting for the Handicapped, scouting was good to me. I was inducted into the Order of the Arrow and received my Ner Tamid (Scouting’s Jewish Medal). Growing up a city kid, scouting gave me experiences I wouldn’t have otherwise had — camping, Ten Mile River Summer Camp, Philmont Ranch and going to the 25th National Jamboree in Colorado Springs. To me this vote is a first step that should be positively viewed. We must keep the pressure on to remove the ban on gay leaders and continue the ban on using public buildings. Corporate boycotts of scouting should continue until they end all discrimination.

This will happen with both outside pressure and openly gay scouts moving up the ladder and becoming ready for leadership. It will happen because of young Eagle Scouts like Zach Wahls who will keep the pressure on with the support of the entire LGBT community and our allies.

The other issue faced by the LGBT community last week was that some of our strongest allies in Congress backed off their demand that the Uniting American Families Act be included as an amendment in the immigration reform bill. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) withdrew the amendment when Republicans threatened to abandon the entire bill and Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said they wouldn’t vote for the amendment in committee. It seems the president also backed off his demand that it be included. This created a firestorm in the LGBT community.

Former Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) was pilloried for being reasonable when he said this bill is too important to 12 million members of the Hispanic community to chance it being scuttled because we aren’t in it. I support Barney. This issue may be settled for those in states where gay marriage is legal if, as assumed, Section 3 of DOMA is ruled unconstitutional. The LGBT community cannot be the ones to stop a bill that if it doesn’t pass now may not see the light of day again for a decade. The amendment should be brought up on the Senate floor to get senators on the record even if it doesn’t pass.

We must never be satisfied with less than full equality but we can’t stop progress for others as we fight for our own. Even when we win there will always be someone trying to turn back the tide. Only by building strong coalitions can we preserve the rights we have won and fight successfully for those that still elude us.

31
May
2013

Queery: Ryan Newcomb

Ryan Newcomb, Gay News, Washington Blade

Ryan Newcomb, a 27-year-old suicide prevention advocate from Fort Worth, Texas. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Ryan Newcomb knows what it’s like to work in environments that aren’t so gay friendly. Though he wasn’t out at the time, he worked as an intern, then an appointee in the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush. He also worked for the Boy Scouts of America, a position that — while he admires much of what the organization does — did get to be a problem for him over time.

“It obviously was an organization that was not OK with my sexuality,” the 27-year-old Fort Worth, Texas, native says. “I hope it will change one day and I’m excited to see the strides it has made recently because it’s an incredible organization that inspires a lot of kids to lead good lives.”

The Bush admiration started earlier — he remembers then-Gov. Bush visiting his sixth grade class, a seminal encounter that inspired him to follow and pursue politics. He says it “rocked the boat” a bit in his Democratic-leaning family. Newcomb says he wishes Bush’s gay policies had been different but “at the same time, I’m proud of having that on my resume.”

After four years away, Newcomb came back to Washington in 2010 and works now as area director for Maryland and D.C. for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (afsp.org). Although it’s not LGBT specific, Newcomb, who’s gay, says it’s time to “break the stigma” associated with suicide.

“People need to know it’s OK to seek help … and that this is not something to be ashamed of,” he says.

Newcomb is single and lives in Chevy Chase, Md., with his two dogs, Dallas and Reagan. He enjoys traveling, reading, spending time with his niece and music of all kinds in his free time.

 

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

For about four years now. The hardest person turned out to be my incredible mother. She is an amazing woman and has been a rock for me, but is coming to terms with it on her own.

 

Who’s your LGBT hero?

So many people, but my heroes are those around me who have gone through the tough times and fought the incredible fights in their own lives as individuals. My pastor, Dean Snyder, and Jeffrey Johnson (founder of D.C. Gay Flag Football League) especially.

What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present? 

I have to give a shout out to Doug Schantz who owns and operates Nellie’s Sports Bar, because it’s an incredible place for sports, socializing and a great time.

 

Describe your dream wedding.

In a country church with a gospel choir, tons of flowers and every seat filled with all of our loved ones. I think the relationship is more important than what the service is like, for sure.

 

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

Raising awareness and breaking the stigma around mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

 

What historical outcome would you change?

In more modern times, the assassinations and deaths of President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert who were two of the greatest leaders and thinkers our country has ever known.

 

What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?

Having met several former Presidents (Bushes 41 and 43 and President Clinton) in my former political work; and meeting Joan Rivers a few years back at a White House Correspondence Brunch. She was absolutely hilarious.

 

On what do you insist?

Structure and cleanliness. But foremost, being candid and honest to everyone, always.

 

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unaware. Hebrews 13:2

 

If your life were a book, what would the title be?

Not sure a title would be appropriate. After all, they say, “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” right?

 

If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?

First, I would be in disbelief. And then I would change nothing, because God made me the person that I am and I cannot ask for more than that.

 

What do you believe in beyond the physical world? 

I believe in my Christian faith and a loving God who accepts and loves all people regardless of their sexuality or color or position in life. In that, I believe in and hope for everlasting peace after this life.

 

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Don’t ever become like the opposition. Like Nixon said, “If you hate your enemies, you can destroy yourself.”

 

What would you walk across hot coals for?

For my family, my parents, sisters, brother-in-law and my niece. And for my D.C. family, people like JJ and Randy, who are my rocks. Randy especially, has walked on coals for me, figuratively, as a friend and that means the world.

 

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

That you have to lose your masculinity to be a gay man.

 

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

“Far From Heaven”

 

What’s the most overrated social custom?

I think our five-day work week in America would do well to become a four-day work week, like much of Europe. It would be healthier and better for our longevity and stress levels.

 

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

I’d love to win a political election someday, if that counts as a prize.

 

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

That it truly does “get better” and that while my life wouldn’t always be easy, every step I take is worth the good fight. And that God has a plan that is bigger than my own.

 

Why Washington?

The culture, the scenery, the history and the people.

03
Jul
2013