This is an essay for all those who believe the gap between homosexuality and religion can never be bridged.
In a guest essay for Salon.com, Murray Richmond, a Presbyterian minister, writes about the complete change of heart he’s had on the topic of gay marriage since meeting several gay men and hearing about their struggles to reconcile their identity with their faith.
Richmond says as a Biblical Christian, he found it easy and obvious to disapprove of homosexuality. He would “hate the sin but love the sinner,” and he couldn’t accept, ordain or marry gays. It was that simple.
But as homosexuality took the stage in the 90s and 2000s as one of the most prominent and controversial topics in religion, he met a few men whose Christian faiths made it hard for them to accept their homosexuality. One wanted an exorcism to be cured of his homosexuality, one was a gay minister who had to leave his wife, and one was simply torn about how to present himself before God.
These man completely changed Richmond’s views on homosexuality for the better. He’s now a legislative aide in the Alaska State Senate, and based on the tone of the article, it seems he’s in favor of gay marriages.
Read the full essay to see exactly what this man went through and how his thinking changed. Consider showing it to your religious or hesitant friends and ask what they think of it. Use this piece as a springboard for discussion. It’s worth it.
If things move according to plan, the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) could be set to overturn a more than 30-year-old policy that prevents transgender women from playing golf in LPGA-sponsored events. That policy says that LPGA players must be “female at birth,” else they are disqualified from competition.
The move comes following a complaint issued last month,where 57-year-old Lana Lawless filed a lawsuit after she was barred from participating in the 2010 Long Drivers Championship of America event. Organizers of the competition, which adopted the same rules as the LPGA, said that because Lawless was transgender, she was unfit to compete in the event.
If that sounds like discrimination to you, you wouldn’t be alone. That’s why scores of folks have written the LPGA and asked them to rewrite their rules to allow for full inclusion in their sport. And pending a vote on November 30, that’s exactly what the LPGA seems intent on doing.
As Pat Griffin notes on her excellent sports blog, there will be a players’ meeting on November 30, where the LPGA will encourage its players to vote for a constitutional amendment eliminating the “female at birth” requirement. In so doing, they would open up the sport to players like Lawless, who are no more or less qualified to participate in the sport than players who were born female.
“The LPGA has been out of step with several other golf organizations that have amended their policies to include transgender golfers who meet the requirements identified by the International Olympic Committee in 2004,” Griffin writes on her blog. “The U.S. Golf Association, the Ladies European Tour and the British Ladies Golf Union all have allowed transgender golfers to play for four or five years.”
The vote to eliminate the “female at birth” clause from the LPGA constitution requires a two-thirds vote. But the LPGA is telling its members that the principle probably won’t stand legal scrutiny, and should be stricken from the Association’s constitution.
Meaning that either way, it looks like this policy is going the way of Clear Pepsi — headed toward extinction. But the sensitivity around the issue will still remain, which is why Griffin says that the onus is on the LPGA to inform all of its members about the reality of transgender athletes. The common myths and stereotypes that some will put forward, undoubtedly, is that the LPGA is kowtowing to activist pressure and allowing a “man” into a “woman’s” sport. But those concerns don’t reflect reality or science.
“It is really important that the LPGA provides its membership with some good information about transgender identity and the latest information about the effects of gender transitions on physiology, to help them make their own transition from an organization that discriminates based on preconceived prejudice to one that will accept transgender women competitors with grace and respect,” Griffin concludes in her blog post.
And she’s right. The LPGA’s own mission is to ”inspire, empower, educate and entertain by showcasing the best golf professionals in the world.” Golfers like Lawless will only help make that mission come alive.
On Feb 5, 1981, 30 years ago, more than 150 Toronto police descended on the city’s gay bathhouses, arresting more than 300 innocent men. It was part of a deliberate and organized campaign by government and police to push gay baths and bars out of business, to silence the gay press and to remove gay voices from public discourse.
Gay people were not new to discrimination in February of 1975 when Montreal police raided that city’s Sauna Aquarius. But that is really where the story of the 1981 bathhouse riots starts. For at least the next six years, police in various cities across the country steadily increased their harassment of the gay press and gay men in gay spaces. In March of 1979, for example, an issue of the Toronto police publication, News and Views, featured a story entitled “The Homosexual Fad.”
“Now that they have become arrogant and militant, like so many other aberrant groups; now that many of them tell us there is nothing wrong with seducing young boys into a ‘homosexual way of life,’ they want the right to distribute papers such as [Xtra’s predecessor] The Body Politic,” it reads in part. “So, let’s not be fooled by them. All they want to do is legitimize sodomy and fellatio between members of the same sex.”
Gay people had, of course, previously fought police harassment, but the events in Toronto in the first half of 1981 were watershed for the liberation movement in Canada. The activist chops refined then equipped gay people across the country to fight censorship, win partnership and employment rights, demand reasonable treatment from government, face HIV/AIDS, fight homophobic violence and win marriage rights.
The highlight of the online iteration is the reborn documentaryTrack Two. It is a rare and unique record of the Toronto raids and riots. Shot originally on 16mm film and nearly lost to history, it adds a level of humanity and texture to the Toronto bathhouse riots saga that eludes photography and the printed word.
While researching this project I was surprised by how little complete source material there is, so I’d like to thank the good people at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives for keeping these stories alive.
But really, simple thanks sometimes seem so insufficient. Virtually all the found-ins stood their ground when it would have been so much easier, faster and safer to simply plead guilty. The members of The Right to Privacy Committee skillfully organized the defence of those men. The members of The Body Politic Collective covered the events even in the midst of a campaign to starve and harass the paper out of print. So many women leaped into the fray even though bathhouses usually aren’t for them. And hundreds of people faced police and homophobic thugs in the streets of Toronto, eyeball to eyeball, risking everything.
To all of you: you’ve given us — the gay people who came after — so much.
The Netherlands is about to celebrate a decade of marriage equality, when it became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage on April 1, 2001.
Ten years later, 20% of gay and lesbian Dutch couples is married, after 15,000 weddings.
Demographer Jan Latten of Statistics Netherlands told Radio Netherlandsthat the figures reflect the same behavior as heterosexual couples.
“Many of them marry out of love, of course,” he said. “But, just as with straight couples, the desire to have children and the resulting legal responsibilities often weigh even more for gay and lesbian couples to marry. This could explain why gay couples marry less often than straight ones. Gay couples, especially gay men, are still facing considerable difficulties when they want to adopt children.”
“Homosexual conduct” is still a crime in Texas — and at least three other states — eight years after the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down the state’s sodomy law, and invalidated similar laws across the country.