With less than a month before the start of Riga Pride, Cardinal Janis Pujats, head of the Roman Catholic Church in Latvia, has defined homosexuality as a "total corruption in the sexual arena" an "unnatural form of prostitution" and calls on the government to protect "the values of the traditional family against the licentiousness of homosexuals" in a letter published by a Latvian newspaper.
"We cannot keep quiet," he says in his letter, 'Defending Family Values', to Ritdiena. "One month from now, there will once again be the issue of tolerance towards homosexuality in the context of yet another attempt to organize a Pride march on June 3."
By this point in time, there are countless examples of GLBT entertainers, politicians, business leaders and families. The only possible explanation for Pujats' ignorant comments is that he is speaking from personal experience. Perhaps, the only gay people he has shared acquaintance with are male prostitutes. I suggest that the good Father expand his circle of gay friends beyond the brothel. Not only would this be good for his career, it also may broaden his mind. Indeed, making assumptions based on personal experience alone can often be a dangerous thing.
'Bashing Back: Wayne Besen on GLBT People, Politics and Culture,' is an Explosive and Controversial Look at the World from a Unique Progressive Viewpoint
NEW YORK -- Author and activist Wayne Besen announced today he will launch his latest book, "Bashing Back: Wayne Besen on GLBT People, Politics and Culture," at the Second Tuesday Lecture Series, at the LGBT Center in New York, on Thursday, May 17 (7PM). Bashing Back (Harrington Park Press) offers a powerful defense of secular and progressive values, while unsparingly eviscerating religious charlatans and right wing hypocrites. It also provides innovative approaches towards activism and practical advice for victory. For more information on the event, please visit www.secondtuesday.org.
"Wayne Besen has powerfully proven once and for all that he is one of the most important voices in the progressive community," said author and advocate David Mixner. "His unique insights, powerful outrage, and uncompromising commitment to real justice and equality make this book a must-read for those who care. He pulls no punches when it comes to the issues and people of our time. Finally, someone with the courage to call it as he sees it - how refreshing."
"Wayne Besen's comedic wit and knowledge base compels you to read through this book," said Joe Kort, MSW, author of '10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do To find Real Love.' "Like watching the Daily Show, Besen makes gay news entertaining, enlightening and informing. This book is a valuable resource both currently and as time goes by - a great read for gay history in America.
At The Second Tuesdays Lecture Series, Besen will discuss the danger of the ex-gay myth, as well as touch on current affairs that are addressed in Bashing Back. The book is a compilation of his controversial syndicated weekly column that runs in the Falls Church News Press, 365Gay.com and several other leading GLBT publications.
Wayne Besen is the Founding Executive Director of Truth Wins Out (TWO) and author of "Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth" (Harrington Park Press, 2003). In 2006, Besen was named one of the Advocate Magazine's "People of the Year" for his work with TWO.
"I enthusiastically invite my readers to come to this event and to also periodically visit www.WayneBesen.com for additional book tour dates," said Besen. "This book is crucial in helping the progressive community find its voice and the courage of its convictions."
Besen has appeared as a guest on leading news and political talk shows including: the NBC Nightly News, CNN's Talk Back Live and The Point, Fox's O'Reilly Factor and Hannity and Colmes, MSNBC News and Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Prior to founding TWO, Besen served as a spokesperson for five years with the Human Rights Campaign.
To Purchase an autographed copy:
Please send a $20 check or money order for a personalized and autograped soft cover and $30 for a hard cover to:
Wayne Besen 1000 West Avenue, Suite 706 Miami Beach, FL 33139
Mitchell Gold is an openly gay, Jewish furniture magnate who is larger than life in small town America. Where most people leave New York to live unassumingly in the countryside, Gold has brought charisma and pizzazz to the sleepy hamlet of Taylorsville, North Carolina.
Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams furniture factory is the largest employer in the area. It has offered Gold a unique opportunity to converse intimately with a wide variety of people in rural America. In many cases, he has challenged their basic assumptions, engaged in sensitive debates on the separation of church and state and examined the underpinnings of anti-gay sentiment.
What is most striking about Gold is that he is "out," with a capital O-U-T. While most nationally known spokespeople have a platform in a large gay community, the Internet or on television shows, they can generally walk down the street without being identified as "the town's gay activist." This is not the case for Gold, who is seemingly recognized by everyone within a 25-mile radius.
As a result of his work for the GLBT community, the Advocate magazine named him one of its 2006 "Persons of the Year" and this month, Out Magazine called him one of the "Top 50 most powerful gay people in America."
With his penchant for challenging the status quo, it is no surprise that the organization founded by Gold, Faith In America - which is led by Rev. Jimmy Creech - has launched a controversial and ambitious venture to take on anti-gay prejudice.
The "Call to Courage" campaign is a five-city experiment that will "educate the public on the parallels between historical precedents of religion-based bigotry and today's struggle for full and equal rights for gay people." Faith In America's initiative officially kicked-off May 6 in Ames, Iowa. The campaign, which is largely taking place in key presidential primary states, will proceed to Reno, Nevada; Manchester, New Hampshire; Greenville, South Carolina; and Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The campaign will include grassroots organizing, direct mail, paid advertisements and a Town Hall Meeting. However, what is generating the most buzz are the in-your-face advertisements that flat-out call our opponents bigots and claim the Bible affirms gay people.
One billboard in Iowa says, "Religion-based bigotry, race and gender yesterday...sexual orientation today." A print ad on Faith in America's website shows an anti-gay Klan rally with one "ghost" holding up sign that reads "Obey God's Words." Underneath reads a caption, "Religion-Based Bigotry. It's not new. History has proven it's horribly wrong."
The idea of using advertising to attack homophobia is not new. In 1989, Hunter Madsen and Marshall Kirk suggested in their literary classic, "After the Ball," that this potent medium be used to advance gay rights. They advocated warm and fuzzy ads to introduce the public to gay people, followed by more shocking ads that tied today's anti-gay messengers to the haters of the past, such as Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. The first part of this strategy was somewhat successful, as most Americans have been introduced to positive images of GLBT people. Indeed, Hollywood has reduced the need for such efforts by infusing gay characters into storylines.
Until now, however, no one has attempted the more risky advertisements on a large scale. In a sense, this is unknown territory and it will be fascinating to see how the public responds. Already, one point of resistance is African American preachers making the inane argument that gays have not suffered as much as black people - as if we are in a victimization contest.
"Gays aren't denied the right to vote," Rev. Keith Ratliff of Maple Street Missionary Baptist Church fumed in the Des Moines Register. "Gays were not considered to be three-fifths of a person. Gays did not suffer through Jim Crow, separate restrooms and water fountains, sitting in the back of the bus and segregated schools. Gays were not enslaved for more than 200 years in America, lynched and bombed by the thousands, like the black people were."
Yes, gay people were just tossed in Nazi concentration camps, lobotomized, institutionalized, jailed, fired from jobs, beaten senseless and murdered for who they are. And, of course, there is the slow spiritual and psychological death of the closet suffered by so many Ted Haggard types. But I suppose we have not suffered enough for the satisfaction of Rev. Ratliff and others of his ilk.
Perhaps, an exhibit highlighting the horrors faced by GLBT people throughout history might supplement Faith in America's campaign. This way, people at the Town Hall meeting, for example, can fully understand the toxic consequences of anti-gay rhetoric and discrimination.
Gold has taken a daring step and hopes his success in the business world can be duplicated in the advocacy arena. At the very least, if the moral clarity of these ads forces the presidential candidates to speak clearly on GLBT issues, the bold campaign will have made its mark.