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Kennedy Library showcases Kameny letters to JFK

Frank Kameny, gay news, Washington Blade, letters

‘In 1961, it has, ironically, become necessary for me to fight my own government, with words,’ Frank Kameny wrote to President Kennedy. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston is taking steps this month to publicize the dozens of letters, pamphlets and press releases that D.C. gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny sent to President Kennedy from 1961 to 1963.

In a prominent write-up on the Kennedy Library website, library official Stacey Chandler, a reference archives specialist, said the letters poignantly document Kameny’s role as one of the nation’s first advocates for the rights of gay people before the highest levels of the U.S. government.

Chandler said the letters and other documents from Kameny are part of the library’s archives and are available for viewing online. Kameny died at the age of 86 in 2011.

“In World War II, I willingly fought the Germans, with bullets, in order to preserve and secure my rights, freedoms, and liberties, and those of my fellow citizens,” Kameny told Kennedy in a letter dated May 15, 1961 that’s part of the archive collection.

“In 1961, it has, ironically, become necessary for me to fight my own government, with words, in order to achieve some of the very same rights, freedoms, and liberties for which I placed my life in jeopardy in 1945,” wrote Kameny. “This letter is part of that fight.”

In a letter dated Aug. 28, 1962 Kameny told Kennedy, “You have said: ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.’ We know what we can do for our country; we wish to do it; we ask only that our country allow us to do it.”

Kameny wrote the letters in his role as president of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., the city’s first gay rights organization that Kameny co-founded in 1961 and led through the 1960s and early 1970s.

Chandler noted in her article that the Mattachine Society of Washington came into being shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take the case of a legal challenge that Kameny filed against the then U.S. Civil Service Commission.

In a first-of-its-kind action, Kameny contested the Civil Service Commission’s decision in 1958 to fire him from his job as an astronomer with the Army Map Service in Washington following an investigation into alleged homosexual activity by Kameny.

Among other things, the Commission cited a 1953 executive order by President Dwight Eisenhower that barred from the federal workforce anyone with a history of “sexual perversion” and other “immoral or notoriously disgraceful conduct.” Homosexual acts between consenting adults were considered among the prohibited conduct.

“Kameny wrote an astounding number of letters throughout his lifetime of advocacy, most of which are now in the Library of Congress,” Chandler wrote in her Kennedy Library article. “The huge volume of his correspondence makes the personal nature of his letters to President Kennedy especially surprising for archivists here,” she said.

“In these letters, he tenaciously argued for the right of gay Americans to work as civil servants,” she said.

In the same May 15, 1961 letter in which he told of his combat service in World War II, Kameny told Kennedy, “Yours is an administration that has openly disavowed blind conformity…You yourself have said, in your recent address at George Washington University, “…that (people) desire to develop their own personalities and their own potential, that democracy permits them to do so.’

“But your government, by its policies certainly does not permit the homosexual to develop his personality and his potential,” Kameny wrote.

In a Feb. 28, 1963 letter, Kameny told Kennedy about his fledgling effort to persuade the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.

“Homosexuality is neither a sickness, disease, neurosis, psychosis, disorder, defect, nor other disturbance, but merely a matter of the predisposition of a significantly large minority of our citizens.”

Chandler said the Kennedy Library’s archivists could find no response from Kennedy or anyone else at the White House to Kameny’s letters.

“In fact, the only response we’ve found in our archives is a brief note from John W. Macy, Chairman of the U.S. Civil Service Commission, to Bruce Schuyler, Secretary of the Mattachine Society, who requested a meeting,” Chandler wrote.

In his note to Schuyler, Macy said, “It is the established policy of the Civil Service Commission that homosexuals are not suitable for appointment to or retention in positions in the Federal service. There would be no useful purpose served in meeting with representatives of your Society.”

Chandler said that in a March 6, 1963 letter to Kennedy, Kameny appeared to be referring to the government’s lack of response to his and the Mattachine Society of Washington’s overtures to the Kennedy administration.

“We wish to cooperate in any way possible, if the chance for friendly, constructive cooperation is offered to us by you,” Kameny wrote, “but if it continues to be refused us, then we will have to seek out and to use any lawful means whatever, which seem to us appropriate, in order to achieve our lawful ends, just as the Negro has done in the South when he was refused cooperation.”

In 1975, after several court rulings against the Civil Service ban on gay employees that Kameny played a role in organizing, the Civil Service Commission ended its prohibition on gay federal workers. In 2009, John Berry, the gay director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the successor to the Civil Service Commission, presented Kameny with an official government apology for his 1958 firing.

“Things have changed,” Chandler quoted Kameny as saying around the time Berry issued the apology with the full backing of President Obama. “How they have changed. I am honored and proud that it is so.”

The Kennedy Library, which is part of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, highlighted its collection of Kameny correspondence this month as a follow-up to a video that the NARA released in support of the It Gets Better Project, Chandler said.

LGBT rights advocates led by gay author and syndicated columnist Dan Savage created the It Gets Better Project to draw attention to bullying targeting LGBT youth. With President Obama among the political leaders and celebrities who have spoken in an “It Gets Better” video, organizers say the project has helped lift the spirits of many LGBT youth that have suffered from taunts and physical violence.

NARA director David S. Ferriero, who holds the title of Archivist of the United States, recorded a recent “It Gets Better” video that is available for viewing on the NARA website.

“It is so exciting that the Kennedy Library is highlighting Kameny’s letters to President Kennedy,” said Charles Francis, founder of the Kameny Papers Project, which arranged for Kameny’s voluminous correspondence and writings to be given to the Library of Congress.

Francis noted that copies of the Kameny letters to President Kennedy are among the collection at the Library of Congress but that the letters at the Kennedy Library are the originals.

“This was done on Frank’s typewriter from Frank’s living room,” Francis said.

“It’s progress. It’s real progress,” he said of the prominent treatment the Kennedy Library is giving to the Kameny letters.

See the Kennedy Library article on Kameny letters here.

 

20
Jan
2014

Calendar: March 14-20

Hump Film Festival, calendar, gay news, Washington Blade

A still from one of the films to be screened next week as part of the Dan Savage ‘Hump’ Film Festival at Woolly Mammoth. (Still courtesy Justin Morrison and Kelly O.)

Calendar for LGBT D.C. for the week ahead.

Friday, March 14

 

Bachelor’s Mill (1104 8th St., S.E.) holds a happy hour from 5-7:30 p.m. tonight with all drinks half price. Enjoy pool, video games and cards. Admission is $5 after 9 p.m. Must be 21 and over. For more details, visit bachelorsmill.com.

Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W.) hosts free vodka Friday tonight from 9 p.m.-3 a.m. Free rail vodka 11 p.m.-midnight. Two DJs on two floors. Cover is $10. Admission is limited to guests 21 and over. For more information, visit cobaltdc.com.

 

Saturday, March 15

 

The Latino Queer Bilingual Writing Group hosts its monthly workshop today at the D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) from 12:30-2:30 p.m. The focus will be on memoirs. Open to writers of any genre and levels of experience to share creative work in Spanish or English. Workshop is free and no prior experience is necessary. For details, call 202-682-2245 or email washeg@gmail.com.

Young Artists of America perform an orchestrated version of Tony Award-winning composer Jason Robert Brown’s “Songs for a New World” at Winston Churchill High School (11300 Gainsborough Rd., Potomac, Md.) tonight at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. For details, visit youngartistsamerica.org.

Mr. D.C. Eagle 2014 hosts “Leather Invasion: 17th Street N.W.,” a St. Patrick’s Day weekend bar-crawl. The crawl begins at the Duplex Diner (2004 18th St., N.W.) at 7:30 p.m. and ends at Green Lantern (1335 Green Ct., N.W.) at 12:30 a.m. for the “Bears Can Dance” party, Jell-O shots and a price raffle. Money will be raised for SMYAL.

GLBT Outreach and Engagement (GLOE) hosts “Masquerade and Mischief: Purim Drag Ball” at the Washington D.C. Jewish Community Center (1529 16th St., N.W.) tonight from 8:30 p.m.-midnight. There will be a drag performance by Ms. Hilda Seaview and an amateur drag/costume parade and contest with prizes. Tickets are $25 in advance and $35 at the door. There is a free open bar for anyone who comes in costume. Food and desserts are included. Admission limited to guests 21 and over. For more information, visit betmish.org.

Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W.) hosts “Bare: Military Appreciation St. Pattie’s Day” tonight from 10 p.m.-3 a.m. Admission is free for those with a valid Military ID. There will be beer pong and flip cup on the first floor. Jameson and Fireball shots are $3. Domestic beers are $5. Music by DJs Rosie and Keenan Orr. For more details, visit cobaltdc.com.

 

Sunday, March 16

 

Chick Chat, an ages-50-and-over lesbian singles group, celebrates Women’s “Herstory” month with a tour of the Clara Barton House (5801 Oxford Rd., Glen Echo, Md.) today at noon. For details and to RSVP email woernerc@yahoo.com.

Perry’s (1811 Columbia Rd., N.W.) hosts its weekly “Sunday Drag Brunch” today from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The cost is $24.95 for an all-you-can-eat buffet. For more details, visit perrysadamsmorgan.com.

 

Monday, March 17

 

United Soldiers and Sailors of America, a non-profit organization that supports combat wounded and their families, hosts a St. Patrick’s Day event at Jake’s Boiler Room (5018 Connecticut Ave., N.W.) from 4-11 p.m. Admission is $10 and includes a complimentary green beer and St. Patrick’s Day mug. There will be $5 Smithwicks and Harp, $8 Irish car bombs and $15 corned beef and cabbage platter. All proceeds benefit United Solders and Sailors of America. For details, visit jakesdc.com.

Rainbow Theatre Project presents a reading of the Noel Coward play “Long Island Sound” tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Source (1835 14th St., N.W.). It tells of an author seeking peace and quiet at a friend’s house who is interrupted by a large gathering of boisterous artists and socialites of whom he becomes the main attraction. About 20 local and student artists will present the reading. Rainbow Theatre Project is a new LGBT-specific theater company.

 

Tuesday, March 18

 

Transgender Legal Advocates of Washington (TransLAW) hosts its annual celebration and fundraiser tonight at Lost Society (2001 14th St., N.W.) tonight from 6:30-9:30 p.m. There will be an open bar with wine and specialty cocktails and light hors d’oeuvres from 6:30-7:30 p.m. There is a suggested $10 donation at the door but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. For more information, visit translawdc.org.

“Elton John: The Million Dollar Piano,” a filmed concert special of John’s “Million Dollar Piano” show at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, plays at AMC Mazza Gallerie (5300 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.) tonight at 7 p.m. as part of a special two-night event. There will be another showing on March 26.

 

Wednesday, March 19

 

Bookmen D.C., an informal men’s gay literature group, discusses “The Lost Library: Gay Fiction Rediscovered” edited by Tom Cardamone at the American Foreign Service Association (2101 E St., N.W.) tonight at 7:30 p.m. All are welcome. For details, visit bookmendc.blogspot.com.

The Tom Davoren Social Bridge Club meets tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Dignity Center (721 8th St., S.E.) for social bridge. No partner needed. For more information, call 301-345-1571.

 

Thursday, March 20

Freestyle Fitness presents “Go Live and Rewind,” a fitness dance party that benefits Capital Pride 2014, is at Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) tonight from 7-11 p.m. Enjoy music from DJ miGGL from the ‘80s, ‘90s and today from pop, hip-hop, Latin and more while getting a workout. For more details, visit facebook.com/freestylefitnessmoves.

Congressional Chorus presents “New York, New York: An American Cabaret” at Atlas Performing Arts Center (1333 H St., N.W.) tonight at 8 p.m. through March 23. A cast of 85 singers and dancers perform musical selection from notable people in the music industry from New York City including Stephen Sondheim, Billy Joel, Alicia Keys and Jay-Z. Tickets are $45. For details, visit atlasarts.org.

Dan Savage, gay author and co-founder of the “It Gets Better Project” brings his “Hump!” Film Festival to Woolly Mammoth Theatre (641 D St., N.W.) tonight with showings at 6, 8 and 10 p.m. These 15 short films discuss sexual situations and include straight, gay, lesbian and transgender stories. Tickets are $20. Screenings go through March 22. For more information, visit humptour.strangertickets.com.

Whole Foods (1440 P St., N.W.) hosts “Drag Bingo on P Street” featuring the Imperial Court of Washington tonight from 7-9 p.m.  There will be prizes and snacks. All proceeds benefit Whole Planet Foundation. For more details, visit wholefoods.com/events.

LGBT personnel assigned to the Pentagon meet at Freddie’s Beach Bar (555 23rd St., Arlington) today from 5-7 p.m. for happy hour. This monthly event (the third Thursday of each month) is open to military, Department of Defense civilians and military contractors who work in and around the Pentagon.

The band cut/copy plays Echo Stage (2135 Queens Chapel Road, N.E.) tonight at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35. Visit echostage.com for details.

13
Mar
2014

No holds barred

‘American Savage’
By Dan Savage
Dutton
$26.95
301 pages

Dan Savage, American Savage, Gay News, Washington Blade

(Photo courtesy Dutton)

You can’t talk about it to anyone.

You’ve got this sticky issue, a little problem, a thing you need help with but you aren’t sure you can trust anybody. Your sister is a big-mouth, your mom won’t understand and your BFF, well … no.

You need help in the form of advice. You need it straight up, no bull, all honest. And when you read “American Savage,” the new memoir/advice book by Dan Savage, that’s what you get.

As a young boy growing up in Chicago, Dan Savage was steeped in Catholicism.

His father, a cop by profession, was an ordained permanent diaconate. His mother was a lay minister. Savage himself was an altar boy but when he realized he was gay and that the church had a few things to say about it (none positive), he left the fold.

Still, he says, “… I was never abused by a priest. I was saved by one” who came out to Savage’s mother to calm her fears for her son. And though the church “got sex wrong,” and though he’s an “agnosthatheist,” Savage says he “aches” for the loss of religious comfort.

But that’s not all he has on his mind in this book.

As the creator of Savage Love, a sex-and-relationship column (it runs locally in City Paper), Savage is fierce about making sure his readers get sensible advice. He says that cheating, for instance, isn’t OK except when it is. He advocates being monogamish, being GGG (good, giving, game), and being willing to at least try something before condemning it as “too kinky.”

Speaking of condemning, Savage takes on politicians, especially those who are right wing, conservative and Christian; in particular, he quotes evidence to dispute the anti-gay bigotry that often comes from that side of politics. As a married “different kind of fag” and the father of a teen who “came out … a few years ago — as straight,” Savage has a stake in quashing that kind of hate.

In this book, Savage also writes about adoption, Halloween (the straight people’s version of Pride parades), “basic civil rights protection,” God and respecting older gay men. As founder of the It Gets Better Project, he goes to bat for LGBT teens. He writes about sex, a certain politician’s “Google problem” and offers a challenge to those who believe being gay is a “choice.”

Want a book that’s going to make you say, “Heck, yes!” just about every third page? Yep, that pretty well describes “American Savage.”

It’ll be hard to remain seated while you’re reading, in fact, because Savage makes you want to stand and applaud at his common sense words. Savage rants — but he’s hilarious while he’s doing so, which will make you want to phone friends so you can share. He’s profound and profane, thoughtful and thought provoking, and his personal stories will bring tears to your eyes.

I truly enjoyed this book. I liked it for its truth, its snark and for its not-so-good-natured poking at politicos. I think you’ll like it too because “American Savage” is a book worth talking about.

30
May
2013

Dan Savage freaks out conservatives on Bill Maher (video)

Conservative Gorver Norquist was on the show as well, and did not seem terribly amused by Dan's jokes.

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22
Jul
2013

Russia boycott calls divide LGBT activists

Russia, anti-gay, gay news, Washington Blade

Protesters gathered outside of the Russian Embassy on Wednesday, July 31, 2013. (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

LGBT rights advocates remain divided over calls to boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia and Russian vodka in response to the country’s gay rights record.

Author Dan Savage, LGBT rights advocate Cleve Jones and the group Queer Nation last week launched the “Dump Russian Vodka” campaign that calls for a boycott of Stoli, Russian Standard and other Russian vodka brands. The campaign also urges the U.S. and other countries to boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics that will take place in Sochi, Russia, in February.

“Do not drink Russian vodka,” Savage said in an op-ed in the Stranger, a weekly newspaper in Seattle, published on July 24. “Do not buy Russian vodka. Ask your bartender at your favorite bar — gay or otherwise — to DUMP STOLI and DUMP RUSSIAN VODKA.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin in recent weeks signed a broadly worded law that bans the promotion of so-called gay propaganda to minors and a statute that bans foreign same-sex couples and any couple from a country in which gays and lesbians can legally marry from adopting Russian children. LGBT rights groups are among those that face fines under a law that requires non-governmental organizations that receive funding from outside Russia to register as a “foreign agent.”

About a dozen LGBT rights advocates gathered in front of the Russian embassy in Northwest D.C. to protest the country’s anti-LGBT rights record on Wednesday.

Larry Poltavtsev of Spectrum Human Rights was among those who attended.

“We’re here today to protest LGBT human rights violations in Russia,” he said.

The anti-gay laws have come into effect against the backdrop of increasing anti-LGBT discrimination and violence in Russia.

Two men in the southern Russia city of Volgograd and on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the country’s Far East have been killed in recent months during what local authorities have described as anti-gay attacks.

Police in St. Petersburg on June 29 arrested 40 LGBT activists and a handful of nationalists who confronted them during a gay rights rally. Authorities in the Russian capital in May arrested 30 LGBT rights advocates who tried to stage a Pride celebration outside Moscow City Hall.

Authorities in the city of Murmansk on July 21 took into custody four Dutch LGBT rights advocates who were filming a documentary about gay life in Russia. A St. Petersburg appellate court on July 25 overturned a lower court’s ruling that fined Coming Out, a local LGBT advocacy group, 500,000 rubles or slightly more than $15,202 for violating the “foreign agent” law.

Russian advocate: Boycott will have no effect

Gay bars in Seattle, Chicago, London and other cities have already begun to remove Stoli and other Russian products from their shelves. Gay City News reported a handful of ACT UP members protested a Stoli event at a gay bar in New York City on Tuesday night.

Gay bars in D.C. have thus far not indicated they will participate in the boycott.

Cobalt had been scheduled to host a Stoli-sponsored event for the website GayCities on Thursday, but the company postponed it.

The company did not return the Blade’s request for comment.

Val Mendeleev, CEO of SPI Group, Stoli’s parent company, said in a July 25 statement from Luxembourg the Russian government does not own the brand. He acknowledged the vodka contains Russian ingredients, but it is distilled in a factory in neighboring Latvia.

Mendeleev further pointed out SPI Group has supported a number of pro-LGBT groups and initiatives. These include Pride celebrations in South Africa and Austria and its “Most Original Stoli Guy” partnership with Gaycities.com.

“Stoli firmly opposes such attitude and actions,” Mendeleev said in response to growing concerns over Russia’s gay rights record. “As a company that encourages transparency and fairness, we are upset and angry.”

Nikolai Alekseev of Gay Russia, an LGBT advocacy group, told the Washington Blade from Moscow on Tuesday he feels a boycott of Russian vodka will “not have an effect.”

“The real target of this protest should be the politicians who are behind these initiatives,” he said.

Actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein called for a Sochi boycott in an op-ed the New York Times published on July 21.

Gay Olympic diver Greg Louganis, who was unable to compete in the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow because then-President Jimmy Carter boycotted them over the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan the year before, told Frank Bruni of the New York Times on July 28 that he feels athletes should have the opportunity to compete in Sochi in spite of Russia’s LGBT rights record. Retired tennis champion Martina Navratilova; the LGBT advocacy groups All Out and Athlete Ally and Cyd Zeigler, Jr., co-founder of OutSports, are among those who also oppose a boycott of the Sochi games.

“We want to encourage and support athletics, particularly the Olympics, and feel that a boycott would only hurt the athletes,” Hudson Taylor, executive director of Athlete Ally, told the Blade on Tuesday. “We understand the rationale behind a boycott, but are also cognizant that our call for a boycott could result in negative ramifications and backlash for regional LGBT and ally organizations in Russia.”

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki on July 26 said the U.S. does not support calls to boycott the Sochi Olympics.

“That’s certainly not what we’re calling for,” she told reporters during her daily briefing in response to the Blade’s question about Russia’s LGBT rights record.

Gay athlete to wear rainbow pin in Sochi

Blake Skjellerup, a gay short track speed skater from New Zealand who plans to compete in Sochi in spite of the calls to boycott the games, last week announced he will wear a gay Pride pin during the Olympics.

He stressed to the Blade his decision is “not about defiance.”

“Wearing a Pride pin is about humanity and unity,” Skjellerup said. “It’s about representing something that is very important to me, and standing up for those who cannot stand up or help themselves.”

The Human Rights Campaign said in a July 24 letter to NBC Universal that the network has “a unique opportunity — and a responsibility — to expose” what it described as the “inhumane and unjust” anti-gay propaganda law during its coverage of the Sochi games. Mark Lazarus, chair of NBC’s sports group, deflected questions about his network’s potential coverage of Russia’s LGBT rights record during a presentation at the Television Critics Association gathering in New York City over the weekend.

The International Olympic Committee has assured gay athletes and others who travel to Sochi that authorities will not arrest them under the Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law. Vitaly Milonov, a St. Petersburg lawmaker behind the city’s gay propaganda to minors ban that took effect in 2012, told the Interfax news agency on Tuesday he has not heard of any plans to suspend the national statute during the games.

“If a law has been approved by the federal legislature and signed by the president, then the government has no right to suspend it,” Milonov said, according to Gay Star News. “It doesn’t have the authority.”

Officials urged to ban Russian lawmakers from U.S.

Alekseev and other Russian LGBT rights advocates have launched a petition on the White House’s website that urges the U.S. to ban Milonov and Elena Mizulina, a Russian Parliamentarian who co-sponsored the national gay propaganda ban, from entering the country. It has received 4,775 signatures as of late on July 30.

“This is the way forward because these people are the real people behind the homophobic legislation,” Alekseev told the Blade.

 

31
Jul
2013

Russia update: Savage & Fierstein on MSNBC, Brits & Swedes weigh in, Miss Universe pageant snafu

Today's über (alles) Russia update includes videos of Fierstein and Savage on MSNBC, and Socarides on CNN.

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15
Aug
2013

Dan Savage’s message for gay Russians: It gets better

"Nothing would give the struggle for LGBT civil equality a bigger boost in Russia than straight people."

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31
Aug
2013

New project to highlight pro-LGBT Christians

Dan Savage in the debut video for the NALT Christian Project (Screenshot via YouTube)

Dan Savage in the debut video for the NALT Christian Project. (Screenshot via YouTube)

A new project inspired by the popular “It Gets Better” campaign aims to give a voice to pro-LGBT Christians who proclaim they’re “Not All Like That,” referring to the anti-gay rhetoric espoused by some conservative Christians.

The effort, dubbed the NALT Christians Project, debuted on Wednesday and will allow Christians to post videos on its website to express support for LGBT people and refute anti-LGBT rhetoric. It’s similar to the “It Gets Better” project, which enabled LGBT people and public figures to tell LGBT youth their lives will improve.

Dan Savage, an LGBT advocate who founded the “It Gets Better” project, created the premiere video for the NALT Christian Project and called on Christians to create videos to demonstrate they’re “not all like that” in terms of holding anti-LGBT views.

“If you don’t speak up, then know that your silence allows the Tony Perkins’ and Pat Robertsons’ of this world to speak for you, and to continue doing real harm not just to young LGBT people, but also to Christianity itself,” Savage says in his video.

Savage says he came up with the term “NALT” after hearing from Christians who told him they’re “not all like that” to distinguish themselves from anti-LGBT leaders who call themselves Christians.

“I heard that so often that I started thinking of the Christians who said that as NALTs, ‘not-all-like-that’ Christians,” Savage says. “Christians who support us on LGBT civil rights. I used the phrase a few times on my blog and in podcasts — and it stuck.”

The initiative was created by Christian author John Shore as well as Wayne Besen and Evan Hurst, activists associated with Truth Wins Out, an organization dedicated to countering widely discredited “ex-gay” sexual orientation conversion therapy.

Besen said he doesn’t think of the project as a shift in his work at Truth Wins Out because he’s always considered the “ex-gay” industry as broader strategy to undermine LGBT people.

“The ‘ex-gay’ industry thrives by exploiting religious guilt and shame to recruit new clients to its programs,” Besen said. “They deliberately contrive a conflict in the hearts and minds of many LGBT people, where they are made to falsely believe they have to choose between their faith and their sexuality. The NALT Chrisitans Project says that no such choice has to be made, and that there are many supportive Christians who will love LGBT people exactly as they are.”

Co-sponsors of the project include: Reconciling Ministries Network, Faith in America, The Evangelical Network, GLAD Alliance, Methodists in New Directions, Covenant Network of Presbyterians, Many Voices and the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists.

As of Wednesday morning, the NALT Christian Project already had 24 videos featuring Christians from around the world, including Presbyterian Minister Mary Lynn Tobin of the Covenant Network.

“I can’t tell how many times over the years I had a giant button that said, ‘I’m a Christian, and we’re not all like that,’” Tobin said. “It drives me crazy that a knock off of Christianity has become an instrument of the right-wing political agenda and become labeled as the real thing by the media. No wonder so many people are hostile to Christianity. I would be, too.”

In another video, Pentecostal Bishop Carlton Pearson said he came to support LGBT people after a long period of soul-searching in which he concluded homosexuality “is not going away.”

“It’s now time for the church — particularly the African-American church — to wake up to the fact that the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ mentality has run its course, and to open up and embrace,” Pearson says. “Because what you fight, you invite, you ignite, and what you resist, persists.”

The website also features a page set up on The Bible with the headline “The Bible does NOT condemn homosexuality” that disputes the notion that the Bible is a rulebook.

“Whenever a specific biblical injunction is found to be incongruous with contemporary mores, a reshaping of the conception of that injunction is not only widely accepted by Christians, it’s encouraged, as long as the new thinking is understood to be in keeping with overriding timeless biblical moral principles,” the website says. “This is why Christian women no longer feel morally constrained to follow Paul’s directives to leave their hair uncut, to keep their heads covered in church, or to always remain quiet in church.”

04
Sep
2013

Santorum to lead “strike force” to save Cuccinelli’s disastrous run for VA Gov

But can Santorum save Cuccinelli from the new definition that Dan Savage has come up with for "cuccinelli"?

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21
Oct
2013

Rick Santorum was right! Woman chooses horse as bridesmaid

Santorum once famously decried gay marriage because he opposes "man on dog" marriage too.

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14
Nov
2013