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Joel Burns: “‘It Gets Better” Message Goes Viral

In recent months, the media has covered a group of people who have exposed their homophobia, and another group of people who have revealed their compassion toward the LGBT community.

Openly gay Fort worth councilman Joel Burns, and a partner or friend

The homophobic group includes the people who have bullied, tormented and assaulted bullying victims such as Tyler Clementi, Asher Brown, Seth Walsh, Billy Lucas, Justin Aaberg, and Raymond Chase.

The compassionate group includes the many people, ordinary and famous alike, who have contributed to Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project.

Dan Savage, a popular syndicated sex columnist who is openly gay, started the online video project in response to the recent bullying related suicides. The idea is to remind LGBT teens that if they stay alive, their lives will get better.

Check it out for yourself- It Gets Better Project.

The people who have added videos so far are a mix of sexual orientations, including some supportive straight people.

Well, this past Wednesday, October 13th, a video was uploaded to the project, and to Youtube from Fort Worth, Texas councilman Joel Burns. His genuine emotion and moving speech in city council quickly went viral.

By Friday, October 15th, Burns was invited to appear on CBS news and CNN.

As of this writing on Sunday, the 17th, at 1:09pm EST, the video has received 1,386,647 hits on Youtube.

I have a theory about why the video went viral. A lot of ordinary people and famous video have contributed videos to Dan Savage’s project so far, but there haven’t been a lot of politicians. Politicians, more so than some other groups of people, have a lot to lose by coming out gay. Just think of the gay sex scandals that have been covered by the media in the past several years, most involving Republicans.

If a politician has a lot of homophobic constituents, or comes from a political party with a lot of homophobes, coming out can jeopardize their careers. Some of those closeted gay politicians have actually voted for homophobic laws and policies, including issues such as denying people the right to marry those of the same sex, and upholding the American military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.

I’m Canadian, but I know very well that Texas is considered a ‘Red State’, which means the Republican Party tends to get more votes there, at civic, state and federal levels. Austin, Texas, tends to be a socially liberal exception. But, I’m fairly sure Fort Worth is as ‘red’ as the rest of Texas tends to be.

So, many Americans know that it’s courageous for a Fort Worth city counselor, such as Joel Burns, to be openly gay.

Submitting a moving twelve minute speech about having been a victim of homophobia, especially one with such genuine emotion, for international viewing, well, that’s even more courageous!

As a Canadian, I would have never even heard of Burns if he didn’t record that video.

Hopefully, the more public figures come out and talk about homophobia, the better the world with be for LGBT people everywhere.

Gay and trans rights are matters that I’m very passionate about. Although I’m a heterosexual cissexual (non-transexual), there are a number of people all across the LGBT spectrum of whom I love and admire. Some of those people are out of the closet, and some of those people are still in the closet, but have privately confided to me, knowing how supportive of the LGBT community I am.

I hope my closeted friends find the courage to come out someday. It’s amazing that there are still LGBT people in the closet in Canada, a nation that is supposed to be very socially liberal. Sadly, even as more and more people speak out about homophobia, those people I know still have to deal with their families.

About Kim Crawley

  • Heloise

    He is actually my council ‘man’ taking Wendy Davis’ seat after she won for state senator. I should say we, or rather they voted him into office. And I would see him tooling around in his car because it’s vanity plate had JD and his name on it.

    Maybe the lesson is that when gays make it to adulthood they will find more acceptance in a PC world where the adults play by the rules made by others. Teens don’t read the PC handbook and just do whatever. I don’t recall his gay lifestyle being an issue or brought up when he was running for office. I did not vote for him but that is not the reason.

    Gay bashing is BIG in schools because they are a minority class, not always because they are gay. Black kids catch a hard time when they are in a school where they are a minority…Who says you don’t choose your race, religion or sex? I think you do before birth.

    Next.

  • http://kimcrawley.blogspot.com Kim Crawley

    Heloise- Homophobia is still a big problem, and it certainly affects adults, the ones you presume must ‘play by the PC handbook’.
    I don’t think people choose their gender or race when they are born, and I’m into ASTROLOGY. Religion is usually something someone can choose by the time one is a teenager or adult. I don’t believe transexuals choose their predicament, and they deserve all the help they can get to physically transition into the gender they are on the inside. I don’t believe sexual orientation is chosen, either.
    I was bullied for being on the autistic spectrum, even though I was undiagnosed at the time.

    You’re correct in how children bully those who are different. But if you ask many LGBT adults, they will tell you frankly that homophobia still affects them. Adults sometimes commit anti-gay hate crimes against other adults. And many LGBT adults face discrimination in the workplace.

    In my country, Canada, people may marry someone of the same sex. I know a few American states have legalized gay marriage, I think Massachusetts is one of them. But gay marriage has yet to be recognized in most of America. Don’t get me started about DADT.

    Homophobia still affects adults, in all countries.

  • Heloise

    Kim, I’m not stupid just black. I did not mean to imply that adults don’t do bullying or are totally at peace with the gay community. I am not that naive, give me a break. I just said that adults are at least aware of “hate crimes” and not to post a voyeur video like the one that the two students shot and posted. Young people have fewer brakes on the amygdala and hormones and that is the main difference.

    LGBT folks are everywhere you don’t have to look for them. However, I do think it will cause the decline of this country. That’s my opinion please respect it.

    I DO know that everything is chosen before the soul enters the birth canal. So we are at odds there and I won’t argue with your belief or opinion.

    I was just expressing that I heard nothing untoward about Joel when he was running and he was elected by a large margin too.

  • http://kimcrawley.blogspot.com Kim Crawley

    I’m glad you didn’t hear any homophobic comments about Joel Burns when he was campaigning.
    I certainly don’t think you’re stupid. I don’t have to think someone is stupid to disagree with them. I’ve had intellectual debates with people who have Ph.Ds.

    ‘LGBT folks are everywhere you don’t have to look for them. However, I do think it will cause the decline of this country. That’s my opinion please respect it.’

    Do you think the existence of LGBT people will cause the decline of the United States? LGBT people have existed since the dawn of humanity. There have been civilizations in history who have been tolerant of LGBT people, including the ancient Greeks and many Native American/First Nations groups from this continent.

    Please explain to me how you think LGBT people will cause the decline of the united States.

  • http://kimcrawley.blogspot.com Kim Crawley

    Heloise- BTW, I just read your review of The Social Network. I’m about to go and see it now. Great review!

  • Heloise

    First, as an anthropologist I know that 20% of the world’s pop is homosexual. It’s in the genes or the water. So, they have always been with us. I actually said on a blog post that it was the cultural and societal acceptance of them that will cause the downfall. Why? Because it will grow exponentially and decline in birth rates will follow. I have a classics library Kim. That’s where I adopted the name Heloise, from a former life. She was a philosopher and great writer. I studied medieval France and also the Greeks and Romans. The life of debauchery surely led to the decline of Rome and we know what was uppermost on their sexual agenda don’t we? Man boy love and gay sex as an integral part of society. In fact the wives knew of their husband’s past. It was seen as something the men would do and grow out of and then marry. So where do we get some of the notions we have now that it is ONLY a given thing?

    I have already stated elsewhere that it is a choice and a gene. And that’s my final answer. It is both and that’s what makes it so quirky.

    I also predicted that charity giving will fall in the wake of huge giving by billionaires. I was right again, just read an article about it at huffpo.

    Thanks, for liking my review. I am a poet first and that informs my writing. Black folks write different from whites and other groups. But no one bothers to study the difference, just quick to judge.

    I don’t argue with PhDs really, we usually see eye to eye on things.

    Heloise

  • Clavos

    I’ve had intellectual debates with people who have Ph.Ds.

    It’s not necessary to be either intelligent or intellectual to be a PhD.

    I’ve met plenty who are neither.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    Well, all that crap aside, I’d like to be the first on this thread to thank you, Kim Crawley, for introducing and posting this video. I personally avoid “viral videos” as if they truly were a virus; anything that becomes hugely popular overnight cannot possibly be of value, is my take. But I’m very grateful to have now watched this courageous and heartfelt statement by councilman Joel Burns. Thanks for sharing it on BC, Kim.

  • steve

    Heloise, Do you honestly believe by condoning gay sex that it will cause straight sex to decline to the point that the birth rate will fall? Also to suggest “man boy” sex on the same level as two adults in a consenual committed relationship is disgusting.

  • Heloise

    That was a factor in the decline of Rome et al. No, just citing that man boy was as much accepted as regular gay sex among the intelligensia of the Roman/Greek day. I think it was even taught in school, pedagogy for the pedophile. Heloise is full of irony.

    Yes, its acceptance, not its fact, will cause the decline, exactly how? Hell, how am I supposed to know?

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Heloise is full of something all right

  • Heloise

    I know I know too much. Never argue with an idiot that is unless you are one of them. Then and only then will there be a meeting of the mindless. That’s my take. make what you will of it. PS you can quote me el bicho.

  • zingzing

    heloise: “Yes, its acceptance, not its fact, will cause the decline, exactly how? Hell, how am I supposed to know?”

    wait. you say that acceptance of homosexual sex will cause “the decline,” but you don’t know how? then how do you know it will lead to anything? i sincerely doubt that a sudden acceptance of homosexuality will significantly impact anything other than the psychological well-being of homosexuals in our society. it’s not like that many supposed heterosexuals are going to suddenly stop sleeping with members of the opposite sex.

    “It’s in the genes or the water.”

    it’s the genes, heloise… your insanity came from the water though. it was the fluoride. evil soviet plot, fluoride.

  • http://kimcrawley.blogspot.com Kim Crawley

    Heloise- You certainly have a lot more formal education than I do. I respect that you’re an anthropologist. I think you aren’t questioning your idea- tolerance of gay people= greater proportions of the population not reproducing.

    I feel very strongly about racial equality and the civil rights movement. I hate it whenever I see racism. Does that mean that white people won’t exist in the future? Racism still exists.

    I look very caucasian, so I hear my white in-laws say all kinds of racist shit in front of me. “Those damn ‘pakis’ keep coming from Toronto to Cobourg beach and they leave their damn garbage here!” my mother-in-law once said to me. (Toronto is very multicultural, whereas Cobourg, Ontario is a small town with a 98% white population, where my mother-in-law is from.) She thought I would nod and agree with her, as she perceives me as another white person, and she thinks white people in general are racist/xenophobic like she is.

    I wouldn’t put up with her racist bullshit. I told her that Cobourg gets tourists, and that’s good for Cobourg’s economy. I told her that you can’t make generalizations about people based on their race/ethnicity, and that I’m sure other white people leave trash when they visit someplace or another.

    I then looked her right in the eye and said, “I’m about 10% Arab, I bet you didn’t know that.” I made her very uncomfortable. Arabs are supposed to be all Muslim, and all Muslims are terrorists in the making, according to her Islamophobic/xenophobic/racist mindset.

    So, no, there is no war between straight people and gay people. Gay tolerance doesn’t lead to gay world domination, and to a world where most people don’t reproduce. For all of the straight people who become parents ‘accidentally’, or reproduce because they got married and founded nuclear families, and for all of the gay people who don’t become parents, there are straight people who never become parents and gay people who adopt or conceive a child with a sperm donor or a surrogate.

    Why can’t we all just get along?

    Clavos- Yes, I have known at least one Ph.D who is an idiot. [edited] I used to date him. The split wasn’t amicable. And I know there are intelligent people without much formal education. I’d like to believe I’m one of them. I got my GED at 26.

    Intelligent people can be high school drop-outs, but it’s difficult for someone who isn’t intelligent to last several years as a post-grad student. And there are intelligent people who are idiots- see my ex [edited] as an example.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/realist Realist

    With the irreversible destruction of the economy by out-of-control multinational corporate interests well underway, Heloise believes that it’s acceptance of homosexuals that is going to lead to the Great Decline???? She might consider returning that diploma even if it did come from Liberty University.

  • http://kimcrawley.blogspot.com Kim Crawley

    Realist- I hate homophobia, too. And those multinational corporate interests definitely bother me, as well. I’d like Heloise to be tolerant of gay people. She’s such a gifted writer here. I wish there was some way to convince her that homophobia isn’t necessary for humanity to keep reproducing.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    Kim Crawley (#16), you’re much too deferential towards Heloise. She doesn’t deserve it. And whatever “gifts” she has a writer elude me. Her 2006 Blogcritics contribution On The Charity Road With Bill Gates and Company, which she trumpeted today as “One of the best damn articles ever written on BC,” is far from it. (See my comments #8 and #9 thereto.) And her championing of the AIDS genocide conspiracy theory is at least as reprehensible as her homophobia.

  • http://kimcrawley.blogspot.com Kim Crawley

    Alan- I’m glad the people who understand gay rights here outnumber the homophobes. I suppose I would ask Heloise, “what about all the people who have contracted HIV from heterosexual acts?”
    I don’t think we’re going to convince her to question her homophobic beliefs by attacking her.
    I was an Ayn Rand loving teenager, once upon a time. I would often run into left-leaning people who would get angry at me. Their anger never got me to question delightful Objectivist/Ayn Rand works such as ‘Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal’.
    You know what got me to question the supposed beauty of ‘free market economics’? Becoming poor, living in deep poverty in my early 20s, that’s what did it. Then, socialism started to make a lot of sense to me and I stopped kissing my copy of ‘Atlas Shrugged’.
    I would love Heloise to join me for a fun romp at the Toronto Gay Pride fest this upcoming June. I’m not going to persuade her to join me in fighting homophobia by attacking her.
    I suppose I’m too much of an idealist (unlike Realist, who shares my political views but is less naive than I am) and I think I can convince Heloise with a sound argument.

  • Desertico

    It is all about love and harmony among human beings, it is about evolving to the next level. Bullying someone for any reason is primitive, and whoever does it does it to feel empowered.

  • http://kimcrawley.blogspot.com Kim Crawley

    Desertico- Amen!

  • ChrisDC

    A fascinating discussion. Kim — thank you for highlighting Councilman Burns speech, and thanks for being a straight friend. Also, thanks for being Canadian. My grandfather always said that your most important friend in the world is the neighbor who is not afraid to tell you when you have your head up your…well, I will leave that quote unfinished, but you get my point.

    And, speaking as a gay man, thanks for the respectful tone of your responses to Heloise, despite your (and my) disagreement with many of the things she said. I am convinced that the biggest problem we have in the United States today is the propensity of people on both sides of the political equation to feel that respectful disagreement is a contradiction in terms. It is critical.

    To Heloise — your comments about the Roman Empire struck me as odd, although I have heard them before. I would ask you to check your recollection of Roman history.

    An acceptance/tolerance of same-sex sexual activity was a feature of Roman society from the founding of the Roman Republic around 509 B.C. (as it was a feature of the Greek civilizations which preceded it). Rome grew and grew and grew for more than 800 years with that as a definite, but not central, part of their culture.

    Their viability as a culture and a government simply cannot be tied to differential levels of acceptance of homosexuality.

    Saying that homosexuality caused the decline of the Roman Empire ignores the facts of the historical record.

    I do not believe the two are connected, but as an illustration I would point out that, after growing continually for almost 900 years, it was only 30 years from the adoption of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire (with its disapproval of homosexuality) in 380 by Theodosius I until the city of Rome was sacked by the Visigoths in 410 A.D.

    I do not think the two things are connected, but my point is that one could actually make a more compelling argument, or note a more proximate coincidence, that Rome did just fine up to the point that they started disapproving of homosexuality and became Christians.

    Accepting homosexuality served them just fine for almost 900 years. But it took only thirty years of Christianity and the western half of the Roman Empire was effectively destroyed.

    I do not think the two are connected — do not get me wrong on that.

    Oddly, as a Christian (although you might not accept me as such) I would like to think that Christianity did lead to the collapse of the Roman Empire – or at least its western half.

    Many people point to the fact that a Roman citizen could travel unmolested from one end of the Empire to another and call that a great achievement.

    What they overlook is how that was achieved.

    The rule was that, if a Roman citizen was harmed or robbed or hassled in any way, they did not worry about finding the actual guilty party. Instead, the village closest to the incident would be decimated.

    That does not mean destroyed, although that is how we use the word today. In Roman times, decimation meant that the entire population of a city or town or a village would be lined up and every 10th person, man, woman, or child would be summarily executed/murdered with their families looking on. (Deci being the prefix meaning one tenth.)

    I do not think it is the case, but this Methodist would like to believe that becoming Christians made it more difficult for the Romans to do stuff like that. If that undermined a key Roman security strategy, I cannot bring myself to spend too much time weeping over the fact.

  • http://kimcrawley.blogspot.com Kim Crawley

    ChrisDC- Wow, you understand a lot more about Roman history than I do, thanks for your contribution! I realize Rome’s conversion to Christianity was quite brutal, and a lot of people were murdered from public entertainment in coliseums and the like. I kind of thought lead plumbing was the biggest factor, but I don’t think historians have settled on one answer that was the cause of the downfall of the Roman empire.
    You made an excellent point that survived just fine for hundreds of years while being accepting of homosexuality.

    I think Heloise misses the point. Love, tolerance and human rights for one group, be they LGBT people, people with a different skin colour, people without penises, fill-in-the-blank, does not lead to that one group making the other groups just like them. Feminism does not mean 90% of the population ends up being female, etc.
    It’s a commonly expressed belief among homophobes that there is some ‘gay agenda’ and that gay people want to ‘convert’ others to their ‘lifestyle’. There is plenty of scientific data to suggest that people are born with their sexual orientation, that sexual orientation in and of itself isn’t a ‘choice’. There are scientists who are well aware that homosexuality isn’t exclusive to humans, and that other mammals have been observed engaging in sexual behaviour with members of the same sex. And many scientists have excellent theories as to why having 10-20% of the human population homosexual or bisexual is good for human survival.
    On that note, as I mentioned before, there are openly gay people who become parents via adoption, a surrogate mother, or a sperm donor. There are plenty of openly gay people who have a strong paternal instinct. And there are straight people who never become parents- having a legally recognized marriage doesn’t come with an obligation to reproduce, regardless of what some religions may like. There are straight people who get married who value their marriages but who never succumb to a maternal or paternal urge. And there are other straight people who’d rather not engage in monogamy, and would also rather live childless.

    There are no hard and fast rules here. There is no one sexual orientation that exclusively leads to parenthood.

    I want homophobia to be gone, for the same reasons that I want sexism, racism, and many other ‘isms’ top be gone.

    I know what it’s like to be different and bullied accordingly- I’m on the autistic spectrum. And like homosexuality, bisexuality and transexuality- I believe my brain is a part of normal, healthy human variation, not a thing to be ‘cured’.

  • Tracey McKenzie

    To All The Editors:

    I’m writing this article in hopes that you print it or read it through the

    media. Please read and understand how frustrating it was to write it but

    open your mind and heart of the reasons behind it.

    1 in every 10 children that are born, are born gay, bi-sexual, lesbian, or

    a transgender. I am completely upset and fed up with people still being

    discrimative towards them. It is hard enough in this world to grow up

    without being abused, tormented, or bullied because you are different from

    other’s.

    These kids are not only going through this at school, but at home, on the

    street, in careers, and over the internet. It is no wonder the suicide

    rate has increased because of this. We as parents are suppose to love our

    children, guide them, and protect them, yet it is most parents that do the

    most harm to their children.

    We love them being born, we love them growing up, but as soon as they say

    they are gay, lesbian, transgender or bi-sexual, you stop loving them.

    WHAT CHANGED??????

    Your proud of them to win awards, your proud of them to graduate from

    school, your proud of them for the career they chose but hate them because

    they are diffent? Is this Love, protection, acceptance, enjoyment?

    Let me point some things out for those who are religious. In the Bible it

    states that we are ALL GOD’s Children, so if he accepted us to be born,

    then why can’t the parents and families accept them. Medically it is the

    man’s sperm that creates the child within the womb. His sperm decides if

    the child will be female, male, straight, gay, lesbian, transgender, or

    bi-sexual.

    The first Bible was written, and Jesus Christ was Jewish. The only reason

    that there are so many different religions today is because some people

    didn’t like the original writings and changed it to suit their needs. The

    people that have changed these Bibles to suit their needs only have

    brained washed you to believing in what they want you to believe in and it

    isn’t the word of GOD. GOD created the Earth, he created Adam and EVE, and

    he accepted the creation of all that are born to us.

    From the beginning, people have been scared of changes and that is why

    they are so reluctant in accepting them. All you religious people that are

    against same sex sexuality, heritage, race, and cultures are really the

    ones that will be judged at the pearly gates. Once God has seen how much

    you have discriminated and the hatred you have shown to them, he will not

    accept you into his Heaven.

    He created different people in this world so we didn’t get bored, and to

    learn new things. Do you honestly believe that no matter how many times

    you confess or go to church then go out and continue what you were

    confessing about just to go to Heaven? He will not accept you if you

    continuing the same habits unless you change your views and accept those

    around you for who they are.

    Do you know how many women have gay best friends? They enjoy them because

    they love to shop, know fashion, and are honest without. But it upsets the

    boyfriends because gay people can over look the sexual needs while they

    are helping the woman. In fact, they can get to second base with them when

    the boyfriend isn’t allowed.

    What is so threatening about different people? Change is good in alot of

    ways. Discriminating, bullying, abusing people that are different only

    hurts you in the end. You have to live with it and have to Face GOD in the

    end. There is NOT on career in this world that doesn’t have at least one

    gay, lesbian, transgender or bi-sexual person in it. Fashion, Authors,

    Movies, Radio, Music, Politics, Nurse, Doctor, Television, etc.

    ARE YOU HONESTLY GOING TO STOP EATING, WATCHING MOVIES, TELEVION,

    LISTENING TO RADIO AND MUSIC, GOING FOR MEDICAL HELP, READ BOOKS, BUY

    CLOTHES, OR VOTE FOR PEOPLE THAT ARE TRYING TO RETURN PEACE INTO THE

    WORLD?

    If you truly love GOD and want to go to Heaven then start loving,

    supporting, accepting, and protecting those around you for who they are

    not their sexual partners. We all bleed the same red blood, we all can be

    hurt mentally, physically, emotionally, psychologically, and sexually. We

    all live and die. So why push these people to suicide for an escape from

    the harm you are doing to them? You will have to live with their death on

    your conscence and you will have to face GOD after you die.

    How would you feel if you were them? Being abused, bullied, torchured, and

    secluded because of family image, ignorant people, prejudice,

    discrimation, and from those that are scared of you and would rather see

    you dead then to get to know you?

    Acceptance is the biggest obstical and creates havoc. You want a

    challenge? Accept those around you for who they are, not what you want

    them to be. Always remember that GOD is watching and he will judge you for

    all your sins.

    A Proud Mother of a Gay Child

    Tracey McKenzie

  • http://kimcrawley.blogspot.com Kim Crawley

    Tracey- I’m glad you feel passionately about gay rights.

  • ChrisDC

    Kim,

    This is something that people like Heloise, who are not gay, often have difficulty understanding.

    I am very happy today as an out, gay man with a partner who recently asked me to marry him (I said yes) which we can actually do because folks here in the District of Columbia figured out that following the lead of Canada is pretty much always a good idea.

    But when I first realized that I was gay, I would have done just about anything not to be. I was always the good kid, the one who never upset his parents, always did his homework, volunteered at the church, sang in the choir, and really, genuinely, liked the fact that my entire family was proud of me.

    The last thing on Gods green Earth that I would have done would be to choose to be somebody my parents felt embarrassed about. In point of fact, when I realized that I was gay, I tried desperately not to be. Thankfully, that stopped short of a sham marriage, but I did manage to totally ruin two prom nights for female friends of mine who….well, let us just say expected more than I could give.

    I prayed and prayed and prayed to be different, and tried everything I could think of to be different, but it did not work.

    My grandmother, actually, convinced me to quit torturing myself. She reminded me that all prayers are answered, but that sometimes the answer is No.

    And then she gave me a lecture about finding some nice young man, settling down and getting married.

    This is something that folks like Heloise sometimes miss, through no fault of their own. Prohibition precludes regulation.

    If a society bans something, it basically gives up any chance of regulating it. Opponents of same sex marriage often see it as a breaking of all rules. In point of fact, what we are asking is to buy into, and be held accountable to, the rules that are already there.

    I cannot dislike them for making that mistake — it is something that only a minority of people like me have to actually confront. For the most part, they do not have a hateful bone in their bodies. They just do not understand because they have not lived it. I just wish that they would understand that we are not being who we are out of some need to tick them off.

    You mentioned in one your earlier posts that some portion of your ancestry is Arab. Oddly, that likely gives you an understanding about what it is like to be gay. Or at least to be White and gay.

    You get to see how people react to you before they know, and after they know — and I suspect it gives you an understanding of how those two situations contrast with each other.

    And, on the autism issue, my own attitude is that, just like me, people who are a little different bring things to the table that other people cannot.

    My cousin Raymond Earl (sorry — I am a Southerner and double names are kind of a tradition) is both profoundly autistic and the most talented graphics artist I have ever known.

    I know that you will get how profoundly moving I found it when he made me promise that he would get to design our wedding invitations when we get married.

    Understanding interpersonal relationships is often profoundly difficult for autistic people, but somehow, of all my relatives, he was the first to just completely get that Jose and I love each other.

    Neat, huh?

  • ChrisDC

    Tracey,

    You said this: Do you know how many women have gay best friends?

    I will turn that question on its head and ask you this: Do you know how many gay men are alive and happy and safe and sane because of the women who are their best friends?

    The answer is: All of us.

    There is not a Will in the world who makes it through without a whole passel of Graces backing him up.

    Thanks so much for adding your name to the list.

  • http://kimcrawley.blogspot.com Kim Crawley

    ChrisDC- You’re quite eloquent when you are talking about your ideas and experiences. You’re right about my experiences with racism. I am of English and southern European descent, primarily, so I certainly look ‘white’. And my mother-in-law expected me to be putting down “those damn ‘pakis’”, right along with her.
    I hope, deep down in my heart, if I was ’100% white’ (if there is sch a thing) I would have the same attitude toward racism and xenophobia. I’m not Muslim, but Islamophobia makes me quite angry.

    Fellow Canadian singer-songwriter Amanda Marshall sort of wrote a couple of songs about appearing ‘white’ when you aren’t completely of European ancestry.

    Some lyrics from Double Agent:

    Wha-what
    Wha-what
    What do you see when you see me?
    You see my long blonde hair and the particular way
    That my lips are shaped
    That my body takes when you talk to me
    What do you know when you know me?
    Don’t file me under categories, you’re deceived
    You don’t know me
    I’m not only a surface, a country
    What you don’t know about me is, I’m a

    Double agent on my mama’s side
    The shit I hear you say just blows my mind
    Every time, recognize
    Though who I am to you is not a lie
    I don’t have to volunteer and say
    That I was born a particular way
    I got no uniform
    I’m camouflaged in any light
    Obviously you can’t tell
    I’m a double agent on my mama’s side

    And what do you hear when you hear me?
    I hear you crank up Jay-Z, it’s your favorite jam
    And you talk with your hands like an MC
    Betcha never get stopped by the police
    You never ask me about me (no no no)
    About how I feel when you call all your white friends
    “Homeboy” and “nigga” and “homie”
    Oh, please
    It hurts me
    And you don’t see

    Some lyrics from Shades of Grey:

    And when my grandmother held me
    For the very first time
    She thanked God
    I looked like my daddy
    And I never gave a
    damn just what she meant
    But I knew she was a little too happy

    As far as your cousin Raymond Earl- I think it’s great that you have so much respect for him.

    Some people who work with children and adults on the autistic spectrum say, ‘if you’ve met one autistic/Aspie, you’ve met one autistic/Aspie’.

    Unlike your cousin, I’m considered to be incredibly ‘high functioning’. People who meet me think I’m a nerd, but it doesn’t occur to them that I have Asperger’s syndrome, as I don’t fit a lot of the stereotypes. I love fashion, make-up, and my live-in husband-to-be. I’m quite physically affectionate with some people, I like socializing (often) and I’ll often ask other people how their day was or tell them that I love them. I ‘look’ neurotypical, and according to some, I often behave that way. So, I suppose I’m not only a ‘Double Agent’ in a racial/ethnic sense, but also in a ‘normal’ person/’developmentally disabled’ person sense.

    I’m so glad that your grandmother taught you to come to terms with your sexuality, and that you’ve found love. I wish I was invited to your wedding!

  • http://www.frontwave.eu Pablo Valerio

    Kim,
    Very interesting article and good discussion. I’m from Spain and I’m glad that the LGBT discrimination is almost gone in our society.
    I was living in Texas two years ago and I understand your comments. I think it is the only state that posts laws about guns at the entrance of every business.
    The “don’t tell” policy is shameful, and has no place in the 21st century, unfortunately many people are still supporting it.

  • http://kimcrawley.blogspot.com Kim Crawley

    Pablo- Business entrances in Texas post notices about gun laws? Hardcore! Man… I’ve never been to Texas, and I’m Canadian. That would be a culture shock for me.
    Remind me, Pablo, is gay marriage now recognized in Spain?

  • http://frontwave.eu Pablo Valerio

    Kim,
    Same sex marriage is recognized since July 2005, and there are already some divorces! the only big issue pending is adoption, so some couples usually decide to apply for adoption before getting married.
    About Texas, it is not a joke, people carry guns to the bank. The only exceptions are bars, they have the 51% law, if a business makes 51% or more of income selling alcohol, guns are not allowed.

    PS: Since we both write here pls drop me an email. click on the link and leave a comment on my site with your address.

  • ChrisDC

    Kim — I hate to shock you but, unless I am mistaken, the signs Pablo is referring to are notices that the customers inside may be carrying concealed weapons (which is their legal right in Texas).

    Gay marriage is recognized in Spain. Spain and Canada were the third and fourth countries in the world to decide that people like me are of equal worth. (Denmark was the first to grant domestic partnership rights; the Netherlands and Belgium were the first to allow actual marriage, but also — just at first — barred gay couples from adopting children. They both got rid of that prohibition relatively recently — after Spain and Canada showed them how to get it right.)

    If I get a little sentimental about Spain and Canada it is because both countries seem to be making a habit of sending jolts of hope out to the rest of the world.

    Pablo — I am from Louisiana, and my partner (my fiance now) is from Puerto Rico. His fathers family is from Caceres in Spain; his mothers family is from Jutland in Denmark.

    I already spoke Danish (I went to school there for a while), and am now learning Spanish as part of a campaign to charm my future mother in law. She speaks fluent English, of course, but I can see it in her eyes that my halting Spanish means a lot to her. The fact that I am at least trying, I mean. Life is happy…y stupendo. LOL.

  • Clavos

    estupendo…

    Soy mexicano.

  • ChrisDC

    Gracias. :-)

  • http://heloise8.wordpress.com/ Heloise

    Kim I don’t mean to pull rank but you are preaching to the choir. I followed radha soami (over 30 years) and all my friends are from India or Pakistan. I’ve been to Canada many times, since I was 15 been going there. I know it is a melting pot. I know about “white” Indians who are white according to anthropologists anyway.

    And have you read the pop projections lately? White i.e., anglo-saxons are on the endangered list in the West. Mexicans here are also tagged “white” have been all along.

    So, I thought it was funny that Angle said “you all look more Asian to me” well, she’s right many do because they trace their DNA back to China. Some look like they stepped right out of China really.

    When I was in India the Indians swore I was Indian and the white westerners had to come to my rescue and vouch that I was american or I would have had to sit in the back back when the guru gave satsang. Ask around you probably know some satsangis in Canada, it’s big there. I’ve been to Toronto, London and Kitchner over the years and Windsor not London. I love Canada. But too many foreigners there. LOL

    Heloise

  • http://heloise8.wordpress.com/ Heloise

    Chris I do get it. I know you don’t want to make that choice. I did not want to be in love with someone 15 years younger than me and fought it and ended up breaking up over my insecurity. It’s sort of a taboo even though we are straight. He’s white and I’m not. So, people face the same things in life and it does not have to be about gay.

    You don’t always get what you want like your granny said. I have just as much pain with that situation as any gay person. End of story. I live celibate and that’s my solution.

  • http://heloise8.wordpress.com/ Heloise

    People they post gun signs down here in Texas beacause every freaking body carries a gun and it is legal here to carry a concealed weapon with permit. So they have to remind people to leave your heat in the car.

  • http://heloise8.wordpress.com/ Heloise

    I know what I know. I predicted and told my online friends ten years ago that white slavery and slavery was still well and strong in this country and the world. I had no facts to back it up. Just told them what I knew. Well, fast forward ten years and who knew (as I like to say, and every damn body has stolen) that it is everywhere you turn news about guess what? White sex slavery and slavery going on all over the world right under every body’s nose.

    I am an insider and knower I don’t bother with facts as earthlings. And I went to a highly respected university, three of them to be exact and have degrees from them.

  • zingzing

    and you’re also quite obviously a bit nuts, mr. kennedy.

  • Arch Conservative

    I think much of the homophobia exhibited by both children and adults may stem from never having actually met and/or interacted with gay people but rather having developed some preconceived notion of what all gay people are like based on television, the movies and other media where the sterotypical gay person is construed as extravagant, flamboyant, and generally over the top. I imagine that even other gay people would find this type of personality annoying.

    It’s sad to see this type of thing becoming more common our schools especially when we’re not only being told but can actually see many signs that gay people have become more accepted by mainstream adult society in America. But then one could write and entire book addressing the plethora of problems with the current public education system.

  • Clavos

    But then one could write and entire book addressing the plethora of problems with the current public education system.

    For an informative, well-written and -produced look at one of the principal problems with the schools, Arch, go see the movie, Waiting For “Superman”. Here’s my BC review of it.

  • Arch Conservative

    Yeah I can’t wait to see it Clavos.

    I already know it’s going to be good because it pissed off the teacher’s unions.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    It may be too liberal and tofu-ish for ya, Arch, having been made by the same person who made An Inconvenient Truth. But it is good and not a political movie per se. Although there is one cheap but funny George W laugh.

  • Arch Conservative

    I heard that it really slams the public education system and the teachers unions.

    if that’s true, I’ll love it.