Category Archives: GLBT or LGBT Issues

However way you initial it–GLBT or LGBT– these are matters and issues concerning the Lifestyles of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgenders.

The LGBT Massacre in Orlando and Political Rhetoric

I’ve noticed lately that the media are throwing around the word “rhetoric” a lot. They’re using it like it means “an opinion or position taken by someone when discussing an issue.” Many treat it like it’s truth or a version of the truth based on fact. Merriam-Webster defines rhetoric as “language that is intended to influence people and that may not be honest or reasonable.” Rhetoric is opinions that do not have to be based on fact at all.

One thing about politicians: the vast majority are not honest or reasonable. Many pander to the lowest common denominator. They do not seek to raise us up and make us better people. There’s no adherence to a “harm none” philosophy, much less a desire to improve the lives of those who most need help. They’re leaders who lack the courage to lead. They perpetuate hatred, racism, and xenophobia. The debate about LGBT issues moved out of the spotlight after the anti-gay laws enacted in Mississippi and North Carolina fell victim to national ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder.) The shootings at The Pulse in Orlando brought it back into the spotlight—somewhat.

Orlando 1The massacre in Orlando brought many out to express sympathy, including those who block legislation that would protect the LGBT persons or introduce/sponsor legislation that directly or indirectly targets LGBT persons. Though the news has carried headlines about pastors and others who basically said that gays had is coming, much of the news focused on people—activists and mourners—who had messages of unity and love. Perhaps they aren’t Pagan, but those are at the heart of our philosophy. Particularly, I was struck by those dressed as angels who blocked protesters from the cult The Westboro Baptist Church from disrupting the funerals of the Pulse victims. Blessed Be.

Orlando 3The truth of the matter is that hate crimes, related to terrorism or not, will continue to happen because of the insidious nature of anti-gay prejudice that is ingrained in people from a young age. It starts with cultures or religions—in the US—that preach against it, cements when we tolerate anti-gay speech (even something as seemingly innocuous as letting kids say, “that’s gay” when speaking of something undesirable), and it proliferates in the hearts of those who internalize that hate.

That hate has to be directed somewhere. Is it ironic that some of the most strident anti-LGBT advocates are themselves found to have secret gay relationships or affairs? How about the fact that Mateen, the Orlando mass-murderer, repeatedly tried to pick up men? If these people had been taught to love and accept themselves, they wouldn’t be running around preaching hate, legislating anti-LGBT bills, or killing gays because they’re terrified of being who they really are.

At some point, we need to recognize the harm of rhetoric that perpetuates hate—hatred of self and of others—because that’s the real root of all this evil.Orlando 2

Wedding bells for Bert and Ernie?

Nothing should surprise me anymore, but when I saw a petition calling for Bert and Ernie to get married on Sesame Street, I took note. First of all, I had no idea that Bert and Ernie were a gay couple. Maybe I missed something. I grew up watching them on Sesame Street and don’t recall anything that could hint that they were a couple. I think they sleep in separate beds, too. Plus, they are puppets. Do puppets even have a sexual orientation?

I thought that maybe gay rights activists were acting out because of all the recent anti-gay news like Michele Bachman’s ‘pray away the gay’ class. Snicker. I find this even more ridiculous than a gay wedding on Sesame Street, but that’s another blog post.

Personally, I have no problem with gay people and it wouldn’t bother me if Bert and Ernie were gay or if they decided to get married. However, is this the proper venue to host a gay wedding? I’m not even sure the kids watching Sesame Street would understand the issue of gays and same-sex marriage.

What I do know is that there are certain people that would freak out if Sesame Street decided to air a same-sex wedding on a kid’s program. Do we really need to add more fuel to the anti-gay fire? Perhaps it’s best to just leave this issue alone, and those who want to believe that Bert and Ernie are gay can do so without enraging the anti-gay faction. And really, aren’t there more important issues to worry about than two puppets getting married?

Kelley Heckart

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Cafe Opening

Garden in the City - Elen Sentier
Garden in the City – Elen Sentier

Garden in the City opens at 10am on Thursday 9th December 2010.

Do come.

 

Wye’s Women

Elen Sentier & Jennie Russell-Smith

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The Inherent Mother

This is the story that made me really want to get writing on Real News of relevance to Pagans:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-10786279

OK, it’s a commentary page rather than a News story. But it’s something that’s been on my mind for a while, and I find it hard to believe that I’m alone.

As pagans, we take the idea of the Goddess as Maiden, Mother and Crone pretty much for granted – it’s one of those things you learn right from the start, in the first (and fifty-first) Paganism 101 book.

The only time I’ve seen an alternative, in fact, is in a recent issue of Sagewoman magazine, suggesting an addition to the tripartate Lady – the Queen. This is the stage of womanhood after childbearing and rearing, but before menopause, when a woman really starts to live her life for herself. A lovely idea, and one I’d embrace wholeheartedly, if it were applicable.

But how many of us ladies have encountered a lack of place in such a system for us? (I know some gentlemen friends who feel similarly excluded from the God role, whether as homosexual, transgendered or simply for the same reasons I’m going into here, just from a male perspective – but I don’t think I’m equipped  to discuss that, so will leave it to one of the chaps. Hopefully they’ll be able to read this post regardless. As last time, I promise it won’t turn into a feminist rant.)

I’m a woman in my thirties, who has yet to feel any broodiness or longing for a child. I won’t discount it as a future possibility, but from childhood myself, I never really saw it as something I’d want to do. As with the women in the article, there are a variety of reasons, and with the efficacy of birth control, I count myself fortune that I can continue with my life without any small attachments as yet.

This doesn’t mean I’m some sort of uncaring harridan, the old-school spinster type. I have a loving partner, pets and busy life with many friends I care for deeply. I am not beholden to my career either, simply to living my life as fully as I can, with my faith as a strong part of that.

However, as the BBC discovered, some women cannot take such a lifestyle choice quietly. I know of like-minded ladies who have been openly confronted with such wisdom as ‘if you don’t have children, you aren’t a proper woman’. Their fitness to BE women is actually questioned because they take the option open to them not to be mothers – and this is before their faith even enters the argument.

Even in the 21st century, women’s roles are still tacitly assumed to be limited to their gendered skills – specifically Jerry Hall’s famous quote. In pagan circles, as we struggle for recognition in the modern world while endeavouring to recognise our ancestry, there is still only the Maiden, Mother and Crone. What place in there for me?

When placed in ritual, I’ve seen the confused faces as roles are assigned and realisation dawns. I’m usually planted somewhere between the Maiden and the Mother (presumably No-longer-a-Maiden-but-Not-a-Mother-Yet).

Men don’t seem to have this problem in society generally – there’s no stigma against a ‘confirmed bachelor’ – but in pagan rites you somehow aren’t so confined. You may be Brother, Son, Warrior, Lover… the comparative workings of your loins are not (necessarily) up for public debate.

But there are options – we’ve all seen them. Acting as Priestess, you’re effectively ‘mother’ to the group as a whole (whether you are in daily life or not). We’ll all be Maidens and Crones, but are also fully able to act as Carers, with all the responsibility that this conveys, without having actually given birth ourselves.

I certainly understand the importance of mothers – both in actuality, as a central point of our being, and in the larger, global sense of Earth and Goddess. But can we not also be Women, strong in heart, mind and body, without a small person to confirm it?

I know my Goddess can.

Visions of Faerie

It didn’t take me long, as a child, to realise that the cutesy creatures with wings weren’t the real deal. With access to folklore, I discovered a world of faerie folk and spirits of place that was neither safe nor cute. The Lords and Ladies, The Good Neighbours, The Little Folk. Offend them at your peril. Whether you think they are real or not, they act as representation of our relationship with nature, conveying the message that anything less than care and politeness could cost us dear.

For me, there are certain books that encapsulate my sense of what faerie is. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norris is a fine case in point. Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market and Yeats’ Stolen Child capture both the allure and danger. The suggestion of faerie will cause me to pick up a book and read the blurb. So many times I’ve put those books down again, able to tell that the author just doesn’t get it. More often than not, it’s the sheer otherness that isn’t conveyed. Faeries are not just humans with pointy ears and better costumes. In folklore, they are a race apart, with radically different attitudes and rules.

I came to Giselle Renarde’s ‘Secrets of the Solstice Sacrifice’ as an editor not a reader. (Just so you know I have biases). Renarde’s faeries are not part of some uncanny otherworld, but instead exist in our world, just beyond human perception but occasionally impinging on it. She makes them very much a part of nature, as a significant portion of faeries are (kelpies, piskies, pookas, boccans and so forth are very much in the world). However, she gives them a social structure more suggestive of the Shinning Hordes style faerie who troop between their mounds at Samhain and Beltain. It raises some interesting questions about how we designate an entity as spirit of place, or as fey. I suspect these are rather arbitrary, human ways of looking that don’t reflect the actualities all that well, but we are stuck with our human perceptions, language and understanding when it comes to dealing with that which is other.

The usual way of handling faeries in fiction is to send in a mortal character we can relate to – be that Janet of Carterhaugh in Tam Lin, or Thomas the Rhymer encountering the Queen of Elfland. These two tales pitch mortals against faeries, Janet rescuing the human Tam from captivity amongst the Fair Folk, Thomas enchanted by the Faerie Queen, but eventually returning to the world. It is, in many ways, the easiest way of exploring otherness in fiction – looking through the eyes of someone we can readily relate to. It helps to make the Shinning ones accessible, without bringing them too close.

Renarde takes the bold move of telling her tale from an entirely faerie set of perspectives. There are no human characters to engage with. She runs with two perspectives, characters who are both sympathetic, and very clearly not human. Part of the success of this stems, I think, from her very careful language use, having elements that take her characters away from human experience without making them unreadable. No mean feat, I would say. There’s also a dash of magic. Renarde isn’t a pagan, but she handles ritual and sex magic with a deft touch, creating scenarios I think the majority of pagans would find resonant (and sexy).

The language of faerie, of fey is used by, and about glbt folk. For a while ‘fairy’ meant camp, and probably gay, certainly if used in relation to a man. It doesn’t seem so prevalent as a term at the moment, but it’s out there, and I’ve known glbt folk who adopted fey names as an expression of self. To be fey, and other, may be to be gender-queer, and not part of the mainstream. Which means that it works on many levels to set a transgender tale in the context of faerie folk. Renarde’s faeries can wish themselves into being whatever they desire, so for most, gender change would be an easy option should they seek it. Renarde crafts some startling challenges for her characters. Even in a culture rooted in otherness, it is still possible not to be able to fit, and the journey to becoming who you are, is still a tricky one. This is a story that works well on a metaphorical level as well as being a good piece of folklore rooted fantasy.

Here’s the opening…

Y Tylwyth Teg, the fair folk, have lived on this mount since before there was a country to speak of. After a skirmish with y gwragedd annwn, the wee folk of the lakes and streams, our great-mothers and fathers, settled in these hills and became the gwyllion, good folk of the mountain. There were no human creatures in that time—only the fair folk, existing unhindered in our ways and travels. We used to ride the wild horses over hill and dale. These days, they’ve all been tamed and we’ve taken to riding wild pigs, errant dogs, and even ducks, if we must.

It’s out today from loveyoudivine, and well worth a look. http://www.loveyoudivine.com/index.php?main_page=document_product_info&cPath=6_61&products_id=677 – and there’s another excerpt over there too.

Greene v County of Sonoma, and why you should care

Imagine living with your partner and the love of your life of 25 years. Then imagine your partner suffers an injury and is hospitalized against his will, separating you from your loved one during the last three months of his life. Then to add insult to injury, the county decides to auction off your and your partner’s partners personal belongings.

This is a real situation. This happened to Harold and Clay, and Clay Greene is fighting for the basic financial and medical rights he and his partner should’ve had.

You can read more details about this court case here.

It is rightfully a LGBT rights issue, but even more importantly it is a civil rights issue. The trial date has been set for July 16 of this year, and funds are being raised in support.

You too can support by either donating directly to NCLR via the above link, or purchase a book from an author who will be donating funds towards the case at All Romance eBooks during the month of May: HERE.

Although my books are among those whose proceeds will be donated this month to the cause, I urge you to support by buying anyone and everyone’s books. Most if not all of us are LGBT authors who either write LGBT and/or are in the LGBT community ourselves. I myself am both.

Someday blog posts like mine will no longer exist, but until the next social revolution comes we must do what we can to help people to stand up for their rights as human beings.

All the best,
Adrianne

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Obama Gives Same Sex Couples Rights

 

I received the following email from the Human Rights Campaign. I am passing it on to our readers of The Pagan and the Pen and asking that you do the same as well.

 

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Last week, President Obama issued an historic memorandum to help ensure equal access to hospital visits and decision-making rights for same-sex couples.

It’s a critical step forward for the rights of same-sex couples, one we’ve been working on with the White House for the past year.

The Department of Health and Human Services must issue regulations implementing the President’s directive, and those won’t go into effect for at least several months. If you’re part of a same-sex couple and you want to make the most of those forthcoming protections and protect your family as much as possible right now – you must have the proper legal documentation in place.

So what documents do you need exactly? You’ll need visitation forms to make sure your family and friends can visit you, as well as a health care proxy and living will to ensure that those who know you the best can make medical decisions on your behalf in an emergency.

You can find out more and download sample forms at: http://www.hrc.org/issues/protect-your-visitation-and-decision-making-rights.htm

This is also a good time to let you know about two other great resources from HRC.

The first is the Healthcare Equality Index, our groundbreaking nationwide report on healthcare facilities’ policies around lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. This index was a key resource in our efforts with the White House on this memorandum – and you can use it to find out the policies of your nearest hospital. The next edition of the Healthcare Equality Index is due to be released in early June.

The second is a very useful list of legal documents to help you protect your family – until same-sex couples are granted the same rights as all couples, everywhere.

And one last thing! Whether or not you’re in a same-sex relationship, please, please, share this information on Facebook and Twitter today.

No one else should find themselves shut out of a loved one’s hospital room.

Sincerely,

Joe Solmonese
President

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C.H. SCARLETT

www.chscarlett.net

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