Here are all the fantastically amazing entries posted during October, 2011

Saying It Gets Better Isn’t Enough

October 31st, 2011

A man is being filmed while misreading an "It Gets Better" cue card as "It gets butter."

Canada’s own Rick Mercer posted a particularly good Rick Mercer Rant last week, prompted in part by the Conservative Party’s ill-thought-out and poorly timed contribution to the It Gets Better project.

The rant quickly gained viral status online with its simple message: It’s not enough to just say “It gets better” and leave it at that. Actions need to be taken, and—in particular—GLBT youth need visible role models as proof. (Rick’s looking at you, John Baird.)

This message—that things need to get better sooner through action—is the most important part of the It Gets Better project, but it’s overlooked far too often as the Tory video aptly demonstrates. Repeating via script that things get better isn’t much consolation for tortured youth. Without action, telling kids to hang tough through several years of constant harassment dismisses homophobia and bullying as being some unameliorable aspect of school life.

Make things get better; action doesn’t have to be difficult. Challenge homophobia wherever you witness it. Write to your MLA and local school boards to encourage anti-homophobia policies. Vote against ignorant groups that try to keep GLBT students invisible. Support and encourage GSAs. If you’re a gay adult, be open and honest in all aspects of your life so that you and your accomplishments can serve as a visible example for others.

Things already get better—but lets help ensure it never starts off bad in the first place.

Lesbian Couple Asked To Leave Tim Hortons

October 26th, 2011

A Tim Hortons manager approaches a lesbian couple, saying:

A young lesbian couple was asked to leave a Tim Hortons restaurant in Blenheim, Ontario after a pastor complained to the manager that the two were kissing.

The couple claims that they were simply holding hands and kissed each other on the cheek when a manager told them to get out or have to deal with the police. Embarrassed by the confrontation, the couple says they left, but not before the pastor who had complained held a prayer circle in the parking lot to pray for the couple’s souls. The two insist they weren’t acting lewd, nor would they have dreamed of it since once of their mothers was with them.

The pastor, on the other hand, says he was dining with his three year old son when he saw the couple with “their tongues locked together” and their “hands down each other’s pants.” Insisting he’s not homophobic, the pastor claims he didn’t even know the pants-grabbers were two women when he complained to the manager. What the couple thought was a prayer circle, he says, was just some parents chatting in the parking lot.

Well, that’s a rather large difference in narrative, wouldn’t you say?

I won’t bother speculating what may or may not have happened. I wasn’t there, and don’t have much patience for he said, she said descriptions where both sides are very probably exaggerating.

This isn’t a new type of story, though. Near-identical situations happen with almost routine timing (and equally creative storytelling from both sides), but they do tend to involve same-sex couples more often than not.

In general, people tend to be too uptight about PDAs—and that goes double when it comes to same-sex couples. Of course, managers are free to be selective with their customers and demand appropriate behaviour so long as the behaviour is defined consistently for all people (gay or straight) and customer selection doesn’t violate Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Personally, I’m not bothered by most PDAs, and I don’t think others should be either. In this case, I think there were options other than asking someone to leave that should have been explored. This starts with suggesting the complainant simply look away (it really works—pastors, give it a try). If things really started to make even the most reasonable patron uncomfortable, though, then the PDAers could have been politely be told to keep things within the realm of hand-holding and cheek-pecks and respect the restaurant manager’s expectations of customer conduct. Insisting that people avoid all affectionate contact or demanding that they leave altogether is unreasonable and unfair.

Management, incidentally, has apologised to the couple for what they call a misunderstanding. Nonetheless, the couple says they won’t be returning to a Tim Hortons restaurant any time soon.

Tories Release “It Gets Better” Video

October 24th, 2011

Vic Toews declares: "It gets better, despite my total douchebaggery."

The federal Conservative party has released an “It Gets Better” video, telling GLBT teens to stick through the tough times after another bullying-related suicide made headlines last week.

Now, I believe the Tories sincerely wish to reduce teen suicides, but the fact is they’ve consistently acted to effect policies to make life worse for GLBT Canadians. Without any actions to back up this sudden (and rather late) sentiment, I can’t take it particularly seriously.

Out of the MPs to speak in the video, all but two voted against extending existing hate crime protections to trans Canadians—and that was just in May. And out of all the video’s participants that were sitting during Canada’s same-sex marriage debate, only one (John Baird) voted for equal marriage rights for GLBT Canadians, with the rest all voting to restrict or even revoke such rights. Vic Toews in particular has not demonstrated any efforts to give gay Canadians equal treatment under the law, having actually introduced a motion to revoke same-sex marriage in 2006, even encouraging use of Canada’s obscure Notwithstanding clause to ensure such a ban would survive if the courts ruled it to be unconstitutional. He even attempted to introduce a bill that would have allowed secular civil servants to deny public services to gay couples. And this was during his term as Canada’s justice minister. The party itself adopted a policy to revoke equal marriage rights by defining marriage as opposite-sex only during its convention in June—just four months ago.

Politicians are in the unique position to say things will get better, and then actually help make it happen. If they want people like me to take this video seriously, they should have done it in the opposite order.

Gay Snowman Adventures: The Beach

October 21st, 2011

Gay Snowman Adventures

 

A snowman turns the page of a calendar: "It's finally December! Now I can go to the beach and flirt with all the hot lifeguards!" Later, the snowman's at a beach, completely frozen, with only a single ice fisherman.

Parents Start New Party Against School Anti-Bullying Policies

October 19th, 2011

A reporter asks a candidate a question: "What other issues will you be addressing?" to which the candidate replies: "Other issues?"

A new civic party has been started in Burnaby, British Columbia in direct opposition to some new anti-homophobic bullying initiatives introduced by the Burnaby School Board trustees last June.

Calling themselves Parents’ Voice, the party is in opposition to the board’s existing anti-bullying policy on gender identity and sexual orientation, which they call “homosexual propoganda.” Actually, opposition might be a bit of an understatement. The issue is the party’s entire platform, and if elected, the party is vowing to make revoking the policy their only priority.

The party is running five candidates: Homara Ahmad, Charter Lau, Helen Ward, Gordon  World, and Long Xue.

Burnaby, incidentally, is the 14th school board in British Columbia to have adopted a sorely needed anti-homophobia and anti-bullying policy. While it’s important that these board policies remain in place, there is work underway to get the provincial government to adopt a consistent, province-wide policy. If that’s something you’d like to support, today is the last day to participate in the Purple Letter Campaign, so I encourage you to check it out!

Thoughts On The Bill Whatcott Supreme Court Case

October 17th, 2011

A brain with a progress bar.

Bill Whatcott, Canada’s most hysterical anti-gay activist, has headed to the Supreme Court of Canada.

I’ve talked a lot about Whatcott in the past, but here’s a quick recap: He was fined in 2005 for violating Saskatchewan hate laws by repeatedly distributing fliers calling gay people child molestors, dismissing all gay people as “sodomites,” and describing their relationships as “filth.” He also routinely included graphic images of sexually transmitted disease symptoms (such as anal warts and various other unpleasantries), attributing their existence largely to gay people.

While the hate ruling was upheld by the Queen’s Bench in 2007, it was overruled in 2010 by an appeals court ruling. And now the case has headed to Canada’s highest court.

I don’t know what the Supreme Court will rule in this case; it’s a complicated issue, which is why it has been getting a lot of media attention. I’ve previously talked at length at about what the purpose of Canada’s hate laws are for (the gist is that I do think they can serve a useful purpose), but here’s some extra food for thought on this case I think might be worth pondering. (I’m not saying I’m right on all counts, or even consistent, but it’s an interesting case so here we go!)

  • If I distributed fliers falsely asserting a local CEO is a child molester, I’d probably be sued for libel without any controversy. I guess distributing fliers claiming an entire group of people are child molesters is different, then?
  • Being offended isn’t the same as being a victim; being wrongly accused of destroying society in public, on the other hand…
  • Shouldn’t repeatedly delivering unwanted, hateful messages count as harassment? If not, then watch out, Mr. Chef Boyardee. (Boy, are ye going to get an earful.)
  • There are some really effective ways to respond to Bill’s nonsense without relying on Canada’s hate laws. (My favourite was a fundraising effort where a small donation would be made to GLBT organisations for every one of Bill’s fliers that was collected.)
  • You know, I don’t think many of us will have ever heard of Mr. Whatcott in the first place if he weren’t continuously put into courts and human rights tribunals where he can set himself up as a martyr.
  • I wish that all the people who disagree with what Bill has to say, but will defend to the death his right to say it, would spend at least a little effort doing the disagreement part.
  • It’s possible to express incorrect and generally idiotic thoughts about homosexuality without actually harassing and inciting hatred against gay people. In fact, I seem to recall posting a story where someone did this… Let’s see, to find it, click on Archive, followed by any freakin’ link in the entire history of this site.
  •  Perhaps giving people a reason to pause and think about how they want to say something isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
  • Having the right to do something doesn’t make it the right thing to do.
  • Why do the most vocal proponents of Whatcott’s right to distribute wrong information about gay people tend to be the same people that think scientifically-backed information about gay people distributed in schools is an infringement of their rights?
  • Why is Bill so obsessed about gay people in the first place? I mean, even I give Chef Boyardee a break now and then.

Anyway, I’m not going to follow this story anymore, so if you want to know what happens look elsewhere.

Nah, I’m totally kidding! I’ll be keeping a close eye on this one, kids! In the meantime, if you’ve got anything to add, I encourage you guys to discuss this on Facebook and Twitter!

Give A Damn Campaign Targets Unfit Parents

October 14th, 2011

An ogre family

Cyndi Lauper has been promoting an important anti-homophobia campaign with a new message aimed squarely at parents who harm and discriminate against their own children.

It’s a sad statistic that gay, lesbian, and trans youth are disproportionately represented among all homeless youth in North America, falling between 20 and 40 percent of the total homeless youth population, depending on the region.

The Give a Damn campaign aims to raise awareness about all GLBT youth issues, but after the success of Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Residence, New York’s first permanent housing facility for GLBT youth between the ages of 18 and 24, Cyndi has been pushing for resources to build even more shelters. “As a mother,” wrote Lauper, “I could never imagine throwing my kid away for any reason, let alone over something like their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

“It would be like ripping out a piece of my very own soul,” she added.

If you want to learn more about the Give a Damn Campaign, I strongly encourage you to check out its website and support it in any way you can. This problem is bigger than any one campaign, though, so it’s important to also support projects for safer schools and training for leaders and role models to give rejected youth somewhere to go other than the streets.

More Letters Wanted For The Purple Letter Campaign

October 12th, 2011

A purple mailbox monster asks to be fed in both of Canada's official languages.

The Purple Letter Campaign is a really great letter-writing campaign in B.C. with a simple goal: Get the government to adopt official policies to make schools safer for GLBT students and staff.

The campaign, which was started by community members Ryan Clayton and Kaitlin Burnett, asks for people like you to share your stories and encouragement by writing a letter and dropping it off (postage-free) in any of several purple mailboxes around British Columbia, or by mailing it to the address below. The letters will be collected and delivered en masse to B.C.’s Premier and Minister of Education.

Several letters are already available on the Purple Letter Campaign website, and are well worth a read. But, if you’re living in B.C. the campaign really needs your support. This is the last week for your letter to be collected in time before they’re delivered to the government on October 20th. So write your letter and drop it off at any of several designated locations, or mail it to:

Purple Letter Campaign
#376-3495 Cambie St
Vancouver, BC
V5Z 4R3

As Kaitlin points out, kids don’t get to choose their school district—it’s largely a coincidence of location—and since safe school policies are being adopted by individual school boards at inconsistent rates, it’s about time a unifying policy were introduced.

Best of luck, B.C.!

Gay Snowman Adventures

October 7th, 2011

 

Gay Snowman Adventures

 

A snowman stands outside with a Pride flag: "A perfect spot for my first ever Pride Parade!"

 

287 seconds later. The snowman has melted because it's summer.

National Post Apologises for Publishing McVety Ad

October 5th, 2011

Charles McVety appears in an ad:

The National Post, Canada’s largest right-leaning national newspaper, has apologised for publishing a transphobic advertisement from the Institute for Canadian Values, headed by anti-gay lobbyist Charles McVety. The ad—which pretends to be written by a doe-eyed, four-year-old girl—is headed by the phrase “Please! Don’t confuse me!”

“I’m a girl,” it reads. “Don’t teach me to question if I’m a boy, transsexual, transgendered, intersexed or two spirited.”

The ad was created as opposition to new anti-bullying measures being implemented in the Ontario school curriculum. The measures were created to foster an atmosphere of tolerance for anyone who doesn’t fit in with a simple gender-binary, heterosexual identity.

Despite McVety’s hysteria, medical and psychological organisations continue to scoff at the notion that there is any danger of children “choosing” to change their sex or sexual orientation as a result of an open, tolerant curriculum.

After legitimate outcry, the National Post issued an apology promising not to run the advertisement again and admitting that the ad breached limits of taste. Calling the ad “manipulative,” the newspaper said it will be donating the revenue from the advertisement to “an organisation that promotes the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people.”

The Toronto SUN also published the ad, without apology.

Farmer’s Market Removes Trans Employee

October 3rd, 2011

The Trails End Farmer’s Market in London, Ontario is the subject of a human rights complaint after the market owner forced a vendor to remove a trans employee from their stand.

Karen Clarke, owner of the True 2 You candle company, said she was shocked to have received a call from Trails End demanding that she either fire a trans employee, or take her business to another market. “He said [the trans employee] made everyone uncomfortable,” Karen told the media. “‘It’s just not a family place’—he kept repeating that over and over again.”

Ed Kikkert, owner of the market, defended his actions to the media: “I’m not discriminating at all,” he said. “I’m just asking which washroom would they use?” He continued, “How can you go into a men’s washroom dressed as a lady, how can you go into the ladies washroom when you’re a man; that’s the difficulty I have. It’s not discriminating at all.”

That’s a defense? Yeah, good luck with that one in front of the human rights commission.

A petition has been started to boycott the Trails End market, which already has over 4,000 signatures.