December 31, 2009


First Ever Gay Sex Scene On Daytime TV: Yesterday, television history was made when One Life to Live aired the first ever gay sex scene on daytime TV.


Malawi's First Same-Sex Wedding Ends In Arrests: (from Jezebel): "Following Malawi's first same-sex wedding on Saturday, the newlyweds were jailed for 'gross indecency':

Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza must have known the likely outcome of the ceremony: homosexuality and sodomy are illegal in Malawi, and punishable by up to 14 years in jail. And the timing was no accident: Uganda has recently proposed an Anti-Homosexuality Bill that would condemn convicted homosexuals with life imprisonment or death, as in the Sudan. Meanwhile, Senegal and Burundi have both publicly cracked down on homosexuality (already illegal in 37 African nations). And in general southern Africa, not incidentally with the vocal encouragement of US-based Christian evangelical groups, is a dangerous region to be openly gay. Thus, the couple's ceremony was an exercise in protest as well as commitment: a public statement of sorts.

The Malawi law society has publicly called the wedding 'against the order of nature,' and the couple will come up for trial shortly. In 2006, the Anglican Church posted Bishop Nick Henderson, a cleric known for his support of gay rights, to head a Malawian diocese; the move led to protests and, ultimately, the death of a parishioner. Since then, the country has become more conservative. But the hundreds of attendees at the ceremony - and the outcry the arrests are drawing - may have already made their point."

December 30, 2009


Uganda may use oil to leverage capital punishment for gays: Oil reserves as large as Saudi Arabia's may soon embolden Ugandan officials who've been threatening to punish homosexuals with death, just as independently oil wealthy Saudi Arabia does.

“If Museveni wants the bill to pass, it will pass,” says Charles Langwa Bbaale, president of the Ugandan Ecological Party. “And, even if it doesn't pass, or only part of it passes,” Bbaale adds, “it will have done what it's supposed to do if it distracts from other issues like poverty and hunger, and the lack of democracy.”

And, Yoweri Museveni (Uganda's president since 1986) may soon control so much oil that he can hang all the gay people, and whomever else, he wants, as freely as King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, and otherwise carry on his epic career as all around tyrant and human rights criminal.

December 28, 2009

Anonymous Posts
(12.21.09–12.27.09)

Every week, we collect anonymous entries sent in using the link on our sidebar and post them all on Monday. We post anything as long as it doesn't contain personal attacks or hate speech. Feel free to submit your thoughts and questions :)

Hey all! Hopefully everyone's having an awesome break. I've been spending mine counting down to New Year's Eve with Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper.

We didn't get any anonymous posts two weeks ago (12.14-12.20), mostly because the Dukies were busy catching up on a semester's worth of sleep. But y'all have definitely stepped it up this week! The comments on the last three posts (not to mention the posts themselves) have been equally intriguing and touching. The discourse, empathy and support among friends and strangers alike on this blog is really pretty amazing. Personally, it is consistently reassuring after seeing all of the hate in the news that this Community not only exists, but is strong, and is there for each other.

But anyhow! Here are the posts from this week. As always, these require our responses, so let's get to it :)

#1
Hi so I saw where you posted something about Uganda, so I figured international LGBT issues are just as welcome as American ones. I'm doing my thesis on a group of people in South Asia called the hijras - they can be best thought of as male-to-female transgenders. The NC Consortium for South Asian Studies (the Duke/UNC/NC State organization for South Asian studies) liked my thesis website enough to link it to their blog, so I thought I'd share it with you guys as well.

Happy holidays!


-John

[Ed. Note: Thanks, John!]

#2
Hi Everyone,

Recently, I've been asked by JournElism.org/United Press International to write a 5 articles series on an important issue I hold dear to me. I've chosen LGBTQ equality as one and women's issues as a close second. Anyway, I need to identify 5 key players in the realm of LGBTQ issues (it can be anyone) and have to submit an outline/interview questions.

I would really appreciate any feedback/ideas you all have. So far, I've identified Brian Bond, the White House Deputy Director of Public Affairs, Joe Solmonese (President of HRC), Tammy Baldwin, Wanda Sykes, Ellen Degeneres, Bishop Gene Robinson, etc. Clearly women of color are missing, so any suggestions on that would be a plus. Any out LGBTQ persons or allies in policy-making positions would be especially helpful. Also, any questions you might have for such persons would be great!

In the end, I envision the article series to go beyond the popular gay marriage debate and into some concrete issues that not everyone is familiar with. Things like ENDA, housing discrimination, health issues, even LGBTQ youth (how at risk they are), the Bullying Act, etc.

Any help (small or big) would be fully appreciated!!!

Happy Holidays,
Michelle

[Ed. Note: Hopefully we can help! Readers, I know you've got this one.]

#3
I don't really know what it is I want to write. Or what the point of this post is. But, I've been writing this post in my head for a few weeks now and I feel like I should take the leap and type it out and send it in. For years now, I've been "questioning." It wasn't something I thought about every day, but certain situations made me internally confront my sexuality before immediately supressing my thoughts and moving on with my life. I played this game with myself for a while (honestly, I don't really remember when it started...which is saying something). I met with a new psychiatrist recently to address some other issues when I finally broke my silence. That first appointment I avoided my shrink's questions, but for the next few weeks all I could think about was rehearsing what I'd say next time. Despite how easy it all came in my head and how long I've secretly yearned to have someone to talk to about this, during the next session I found myself hyperventilating, sweating, lightheaded and unable to make eye contact; my heart beat was pounding and I had a serious knot in my stomach. I felt sick for the rest of the day. A HUGE ally with a tolerant, liberal family (and friends), I don't know why this is such a struggle for me. And while I used to not think about it often, recently it's the only thing on my mind. Any quiet downtime I have, I'm running through things in my head. Still, I'm more confused than ever by my sexuality. And you'd never know it.

[Ed. Note: I will leave advice and the like to our comments section, but know that you are not the only person that's dealt with this. Far from it. In fact, this reminds me of post #1 from three weeks ago. Just as I told her, I'll say that I think you'll find that a lot of the Readers have gone through a similar process.]

#4
I have always hated being home for breaks, but the past two weeks have been the absolute worst. This semester, I started my first romantic relationship with another woman (though I've known I was queer for much longer) and being back with my family reminds me how close-minded they are. Well, "close-minded" may not be the right word, but "conservative" definitely is.

It's not even the LGBT stuff that gets to me. My sister is looking at colleges and my dad considers racial diversity a negative aspect of a school and she's not allowed to go to a university that is not religiously affiliated. Ever since I've realized that race and gender equality issues are of paramount importance to me, I've felt a growing distance from my family; they see me as formerly perfect, traditional daughter who got brainwashed by her "radical" group of friends at school (I know, Duke is "radical" to them *eyeroll*) and sort of tune me out whenever I try to explain my views.

So this sexuality thing is like the icing on the cake. We almost NEVER bring up sexuality, not even in a general or theoretical way, so telling them that I'm friends with a lot of gay people and that I consider myself queer is not on the radar. And telling them about my girlfriend (whom they've met on many occasions) is simply out of the question.

For a while, I was really depressed about the fact that I couldn't be open with my parents, but now I just feel feel like they don't deserve to know. When they make me feel like my opinions and emotions are valid, I will be honest with them. But for now, I'll walk the awkward line I'm always tip-toeing on at home: maintaining the prized-daughter status I had in high school while trying to get them to accept and understand what is important to me now. I just need to survive until January 12, when I'm surrounded by everyone and everything I love once again.

[Ed. Note: Going home for the break seems to be rough on a lot of the Readers in this respect. Thanks for sharing your story :)]

Looking back, looking forward.

I need to start being honest about something. This last year’s been pretty rough. As long as I’ve been the me I remember, I’ve told myself that I could make it through anything, alone if need be—that no matter what happened, I could always remain stable and centered, grounded by logic and rationalism. I didn’t need help because I had to be there for people for when they struggled. On most fronts, I succeeded. But I lost a few things along the way.

For example, the ability to ably express emotion to others (caffeine-fueled excitement doesn’t count). Gone. I’m sure an event or two has slipped my mind, but since the middle of May or so, the most I could do in the presence of others was look mildly distraught and deep in thought. Whatever the cause, it resulted in me just kind of having an excess of sadness I needed to deal with whenever others weren’t around, which was unfortunate and, in a word, inconvenient. But that’s just kind of how emotions are.

My ex and I broke up in January—he was my first—and since then I’ve been even more self-indulgent with my introspection than usual. I’ve experimented a lot with the various friendships in my life—admittedly, and shamefully, sometimes to the detriment of kindness, friendship, and my better judgment. I wanted to foster true connections and conversations and, well, love. But I’ve been so focused on the process I’ve forgotten the purpose.

December 25, 2009


Onion News: "Gays Too Precious To Risk in Combat": Props to Cole for finding this:

December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas! Have some judgment.

Yayayayay it’s Christmas! Almost. It’s a time of homecoming: families and friends are reunited and we show our love for each other with gifts. It’s also a religious holiday, which is a mixed bag for me. I put on a nice face and sing at church and wonder what people would think if they knew.

Ugh. You’d think I'd be past that by now. But no.

It's not entirely surprising. I’m out to all of my immediate family, and slowly to some of the less immediate ones, but it’s always hard to know what you can and can’t say (or wear—I brought all of my Love=Love shirts home, if only to annoy my sister. I wore it a few times last year while tutoring at an elementary school and was somewhat uncomfortable, but the school didn’t have a problem with it, so neither did I). My mother told me that she had recently told her sister(-in-law) and that her reaction had been something along the line of, “Oh, I’m sorry to hear he’s made that choice.” Which I’m not even for a moment going to pretend isn’t hugely offensive. It isn’t as though this particular woman doesn’t know me. I’ve stayed at her house probably a dozen times now and our family often spent Thanksgiving with hers.

I don’t know exactly what happened after that; hopefully my parents stood up for me, as they apparently did in another similar incident in which the folks said “love the sinner, hate the sin.” To which I simply respond with incredulity: I mean, you’ve already implicated yourselves in prejudice. You’re on a roll. Why not keep going?

When Winter Break Starts Feeling Too Long...

I didn’t want my blog entries to be about me—I wanted them to be about other people. Find, learn, and record the very important stories of my peers. That was my goal. That was why I wanted to participate as a writer, even though I’m very critical of my writing ability.

But it’s winter break, I just came out to my dad, and I’m freaking out, so please forgive the creative license I’m taking here. I hope you don’t mind if I’m using this blog as a tool for some of my own thought processes that I need to go through. I’m expecting that getting this out will help me from feeling so trapped. I’m going to try and speak in general terms, since this is going online and we seem to have many readers. But I want to be honest and as transparent as possible.

I’m hurting a lot. I don’t know if it’s because being home is hard, or if it’s because my dad and I haven’t had a follow up conversation yet, or if it’s because I feel stuck, or if it’s because I’m changing faster than the people around me. It’s probably a combination of all of these things. And I’m not known for my patience.

December 21, 2009


Mexico City Legalizes Gay Marriage! Mexico City lawmakers on Monday made the city the first in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage, a change that will give homosexual couples more rights, including allowing them to adopt children.

December 17, 2009

Do you want to know me? I'd like to know you too.

Everyone… I’m freaking out. I’m terrified, things are changing and I’m swept up in a huge transition. I wanted to make this blog strictly about putting a face to the LGBTQA community, to interview others and to get closer to those I didn’t know.

What I wasn’t exactly anticipating was the questions I’d get in return…or the challenges to identify…to come out. Since my time at Duke, I haven’t put a name to my orientation. I hide safe behind my Ally card while urging others to come out to their parents, their friends, and their professors. I’ve spent a lot of time in heterosexual relationships so I don’t have to deal with questions or confrontation, prejudice or hate.

But then I met Ashe. And everything changed.

If you don’t know Ashe, you NEED to. I’m not gonna tell her story because I haven’t asked her yet. Although I don’t think she’d mind, I’m big on asking permission. So I’ll save that for another time, and just tell my side. She helped me see a ton of the inconsistencies in what I believed in: to push others to tell their parents about their sexuality while I was able to happily avoid mine. I know some people shouldn’t be pushed, some people aren’t ready to be pushed, and some people don’t respond to aggressive pushing, so it’s definitely not something that I would recommend for everyone. But it worked for me.

So on Tuesday night, I came out to my dad.

Rwanda to vote on bill criminalizing homosexuality: From the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission: On December 16, 2009, the lower house of the Rwandan Parliament will hold its final debate on a draft revision of the penal code that will, for the first time, make homosexuality a crime in Rwanda. A vote on this draft code will occur before the end of the week. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has learned that the proposed Article 217 of the draft Penal Code Act will criminalize "[a]ny person who practices, encourages or sensitizes people of the same sex, to sexual relation or any sexual practice." If the Chamber of Deputies approves, the draft code will go before the Rwandan Senate most likely in early 2010. Article 217 violates Rwandans' basic human rights and is contradictory to the Rwandan Constitution as well as various regional and international conventions.

BBC Slammed For Debating Ugandan Bill To Kill Gays: "The British Broadcasting Corp. suffered criticism from lawmakers Wednesday for inviting debate on whether homosexuals should face execution in Uganda.

BBC's "Africa Have Your Say" Web site asked for people's views on whether Uganda has gone too far and whether there should be any laws against gays.

The page's title was originally "Should homosexuals face execution?" but was later changed to "Should Uganda debate gay execution?" Several British politicians said the taxpayer-funded broadcaster should not treat the execution of gays as a legitimate topic for discussion.

"We should be looking at what is going on in Uganda with abhorrence," said lawmaker Eric Joyce of the ruling Labour Party. "We should be condemning it, and the BBC should be condemning it. ... Instead it seems to have thought it appropriate to come up with something that suggests it's a subject for discussion." ...

The BBC's World Service Africa program editor, David Stead, defended the debate. In a blog posted on the BBC Web site, he said editors had "thought long and hard about using this question" and sought to reflect the diverse views about homosexuality in Africa.

"We agree that it is a stark and challenging question, but think that it accurately focuses on and illustrates the real issue at stake," he said."

December 16, 2009


Mecklenberg, North Carolina approves domestic partner benefits: North Carolina's largest county, Mecklenberg, which includes Charlotte, has approved domestic partner benefits for workers.

"The Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners split along party lines at their meeting Dec. 15, approving domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples 6-3. The county joins six other local North Carolina governments offering similar benefits. "

Gov. Paterson signs order protecting state employees against gender identity discrimination:

From the Office of Governor Patterson:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 16, 2009

GOVERNOR PATERSON SIGNS GENDER IDENTITY AND EXPRESSION EXECUTIVE ORDER

Executive Order Will Protect State Workers from Discrimination Based on Gender Identity

Governor David A. Paterson today signed Executive Order No. 33 that will prohibit New York State agencies from discriminating against any individual on the basis of gender identity and expression in any matter pertaining to employment by the State. Executive Order No. 33 directs the Office of Employee Relations, in consultation with the Executive Director of the Division of Human Rights, to develop and implement clear and consistent guidelines prohibiting gender identity and expression discrimination by all State agencies.

...

Currently, 13 states and over 90 municipalities and counties - including the City of New York - prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression by statute, and numerous others have imposed such a ban through executive action or policy.


The story of a young Ugandan gay couple: (from The Daily Monitor) A proposed anti-gay law could make Uganda perhaps the most dangerous place for homosexuals and drive the gays of Uganda further underground. In a rare interview, the first of its kind with a newspaper journalist, a lesbian told Saturday Monitor’s Rodney Muhumuza why she is very scared.
...
Ms Kalende has been openly gay since 2002, several years before she became a rights activist with the group Freedom and Roam-Uganda, six years before she met the woman she calls the love of her life.
...
In the intimate scheme of things, Ms Kalende plays the stronger partner, encouraging her lover, whom she affectionately calls Mimi, to be brave and allaying her concerns about safety in Uganda. “When she starts to cry, I don’t cry,” Ms Kalende said. “I want to be stronger than she is. But I feel bad, of course. She is really scared about what’s going on at home.”
...
In press conferences hastily called to condemn the gays of Uganda, Ethics Minister Nsaba Buturo has been revving up the rhetoric, telling reporters that homosexuals can “forget about human rights”. In a recent press briefing, Dr Buturo asked homosexuals to “leave us alone”.
...
When Ms Kalende agreed to talk to a journalist about how the proposed law made her feel, she first sought the consent of her partner.
She said yes, but with the caveat that “you don’t put me out there”. Before she left Uganda, Ms Kalende’s partner had sought to convince her lover to go slow with her activism, to keep a low profile, to just hang in there. It was the kind of advice Ms Kalende was always reluctant to accept.
...
In one of those moments when Ms Kalende would stop to give a thoughtful response, she came across as resigned to a destiny she had no way of foretelling. “We’ve never been through this,” she said, preparing to ask a question for which she get no answer.

“Even with the existing law, things have never been this serious. I don’t know if things will ever be normal for us. Tell me, what will happen to us?”

December 15, 2009


Marriage Equality Passes in Washington D.C.: The Associated Press reports that the Washington, D.C., City Council voted Tuesday to legalize gay marriage in the nation's capital, handing supporters a victory after a string of recent defeats in Maine, New York and New Jersey.

Mayor Adrian Fenty has promised to sign the bill, which passed 11-2, and gay couples could begin marrying as early as March. Congress, which has final say over Washington's laws, could reject it, but Democratic leaders have suggested they are reluctant to do so.

The bill had overwhelming support among council members and was expected to pass, though opponents have vowed to try to get Congress or voters to overturn it.

December 14, 2009

See You Soon! Directions On How To Use The Blog For The Next Month Or So

Today is officially the first day of winter break for Duke students. You may not be able to see me smiling right now wearing pajamas in bed at 1 PM on a Monday, but make no mistake: I am smiling right now wearing my pajamas in bed at 1PM on a Monday. Last week was finals week on campus, which is a time when engineering students pore over textbooks and notes in order to master the derivation and application of several centuries worth of scientific progress and theory in order to even have an infinitesimal chance at passing their exams while the arts and sciences kids procrastinate their papers on topics like "Philosophy of the Alphabet" ("But how does the letter T feel?") and "My Breakfast This Morning: A Closer Look at My Breakfast This Morning." The bottom line is that this is what was behind our lack of columns and features last week (besides Summer's interview with Ari, because she's a baller like that).

The Blog Staff is now on break until next semester, though by no means does that mean that this blog will be dead until then. I will definitely continue to post anonymous entries every Monday as I get them. If someone sends in a coming out story (using the link on the side bar or by emailing us at bluedevilsunited@gmail.com) I'll also post that the following Wednesday. I would also stay tuned for news updates, and wouldn't count out the random appearance of a column or two.

This is also a great opportunity to go through any of the 124 previous posts that you may have missed or want to read again. Especially those that you forgot to comment on. Remember when you forgot to comment on that post? Me too. Take care of that!

A list of links to all non-news posts for your convenience after the jump...

So Far, So Very Very Good.

Our blog recently celebrated its one-month birthday. And what a month it's been! Including news blurbs, we've had 124 posts written by 13 different BDU members. Google Analytics tells me that the site has been visited 4,066 times by 1,172 people from 33 different countries. We're only 8 states short of the full 50. Our post on the Durham Vigil for Jorge and Jason was featured on Pam's House Blend, which is read nationally and revered personally.

I don't think any of us foresaw this level of success! At the same time, though, I'm not surprised. The entire staff has come up so big for this blog, and every incredible outcome is largely due (and directly proportional) to the hard work and passion of the people involved. So thank you, Staff, for everything. Y'all rock, and I hope you are witnessing the positivity and progress you are effecting in the comments section, the anonymous posts, and even around campus. Keep up the good work! I'm looking forward to a ton of fun next semester :)

To the Readers. You have carried this blog as well! Your questions and input alike are so important to a Duke (and evidently national) Community that is starving for these conversations. Continue to visit, and spread the word. This project is only going to get bigger. We've got some sweet ideas for next semester...


Happy Holidays,

Chris Perry
Editor


P.S. Today is also the five-day anniversary of the Glee season finale, where this happened:

So I'll be celebrating (read: "performing") that, too, today (in my underwear, most likely) if you'd like to follow suit. Just saying.

Anonymous Posts
(12.7.09–12.13.09)

Every week, we collect anonymous entries sent in using the link on our sidebar and post them all on Monday. We post anything as long as it doesn't contain personal attacks or hate speech. Feel free to submit your thoughts and questions :)

Last week saw the most lively discussion under an anonymous posts post (I've got to figure out a better way to say that) since our launch. It has always been clear from the start that we have The Best Readership, but y'all really earned the title over those several days. Let's throw Comment Parties all the time from now on, because that was awesome.

This week's entries are just as respondable (a word, now), so I'll see you in the comments section :)

#1
College is supposed to be a time of self-discovery, right? What if I'm scared to think too hard about it? I might not be the straight girl that my family thinks I am. I don't even know. I do know I will never tell them how I feel; they've already made their feelings on the subject quite clear without any prompting from me. It hurts when they do that. So I act like the perfect daughter, but it gets harder every time I go home.

[Ed. Note: This is a situation that many of Us have gone through. Introspection - and extrospection, while we're at it - on these issues is just as important and ultimately worthwhile as it is potentially tough and long-term. While I'll leave advice to the commenters, I will say that at the very least, You are far from the only one that this has ever happened to. You're not alone, and I think you'll find a lot of empathy in the Readers here.]

#2
I've decided to come out next semester to my close friends and to come out to my Dad (the last immediate family member) over Christmas break. Wish me luck!

[Ed. Note: I'm totally cheering for you. Good luck with everything! Let us know how it goes? :)]

#3
I am a recently admitted member of the class of 2014, and I wanted to thank all involved with this blog. As a (mostly) closeted gay male living in an overwhelmingly conservative area, I can honestly say that this blog is making my wait to start anew all the more difficult. But I can wait; in the end, the reward will be that much sweeter. Thank you, BDU, and keep up the good work.

[Ed. Note: Hey! Thank YOU. It's superimportant to us that prospective and admitted students find our blog. Continue reading, My Favorite '14er So Far. I'm also taking this as an early commitment to be on the blog staff? Awesome. See you in a few months!]

December 13, 2009


Houston becomes the largest city to elect an openly LGBT chief executive! Annise Parker, who was endorsed by the Victory Fund, won her runoff election against Gene Locke, a former city attorney, after a year-long campaign that drew national attention both because of the potential for a history-making outcome and because of coordinated anti-gay campaigns designed to prevent her victory.

Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund, said the win was significant not just for Houston, but for all LGBT Americans. "This is a watershed moment in American politics. One of the largest cities in the country will be headed by an out lesbian, chosen by people who voted for her because of her experience and competence. Houston rejected the politics of division and the extremists failed," Wolfe said. "After a bittersweet political year for the LGBT community, it's nice to be able to smile this wide."

December 12, 2009


Gay British soldier talks about coming out to his comrades: "An openly gay soldier in Afghanistan has spoken about the support and acceptance he has received from his comrades.

Trooper Ben Rakestrow, said that since he came out to his squadron a year ago he has faced nothing but harmless banter from his fellow soldiers.

The 21-year-old, who serves with 2nd Royal Tank Regiment (2RTR), said it was difficult to reveal his sexuality in such a high-testosterone environment. 'It was difficult to start with,' he said. 'I didn't know how they'd react.'"

"The army hasn't always been so accepting. In 1999, the year before the ban on gay personnel was lifted, 298 people were discharged for their sexuality.

But in 2000 a legal victory, fought for by three gay men and a lesbian, who had been discharged from the Royal Navy and RAF after being found to be gay, paved the way for openly gay servicemen and women.

British servicemen and women now march at Gay Pride in uniform."

I cannot wait for the day that this will be a reality for our brave servicemembers.

December 11, 2009


Civil Unions legalized in Austria: Austria's parliament has approved legalising civil unions in the country.

Out of 174 lawmakers present, 110 voted in favour and 64 voted against, Associated Press reports.

The law is due to come into force on January 1st. It will provide gay couples with some of the rights and benefits enjoyed by heterosexual couples.

However, it reiterates the ban on gay couples adopting children or using IVF and artificial insemination.

Instead, benefits granted include rights to social security claims, inheritance and court trials.

Gay couples will not be able to hold their ceremonies at civil registry offices, as heterosexual couples do. Instead, they will have to register at the municipal office or the magistrate's office."

December 10, 2009

“At Thanksgiving, it’s the turkey next to the kabob next to the hummus.”

I wish you could have been there as Ari shared his life with me. He comes from a Republican family in a town of 7000 people in Long Island. His high school was mostly white and Jewish, and by the time he graduated, was only out to four people. As we learned from last week’s blog entry, he didn’t like being closeted in high school since he didn’t have anyone to talk to about it.

Ari is a Jewish Israeli, with a mom from Tel Aviv and a father who served in Lebanon for six months. His family came to the United Stated based on persecution, so even though he does not consider himself very religious, he still feels very strongly about Jewish ethics and culture. “At Thanksgiving, it’s the turkey next to the kabob next to the hummus.” He remains very curious about his background and where he comes from, he says he knows it sounds cliché but “as an American I’ve become very detached, but I want to know more about my family.”

He spends his time reading and doing work (and watching films, as we know from his great film reviews on this blog). From how he talks about his shows, I can tell he watches a lot of TV too. Our interview was long and detailed and wonderful and he rattled off a list of his favorite things: The History Boys movie (Chris is going to make fun of him for this) [Ed. Note: Yeah, I am. This is The Weirdest Movie, Ari.], In Cold Blood, Into the Wild, The Smiths, his grandma’s food, New York pizza and bagels…

Ari is sensitive and hilarious but he showed a different side of himself when we sat down to talk. Granted, I don’t know Ari incredibly well in the first place, but it was great to listen to him wonder about the future. “I look forward to knowing how everything pans out. Where am I gonna be working? I don’t even know. It sounds so cheesy, but who am I gonna be marrying in Greenwich Connecticut and then going to where they accept me. I look forward to my parent’s acceptance as much as their growing process. I know my parents, I know what their reaction is gonna be. I want to see where my indecisiveness leads me.”

Our time together was interrupted due to the BDU meeting that was starting but I was able to get a little bit more information out of him. We talked about regrets, and he acknowledges that he’s going at his own pace so he doesn’t regret coming out sooner. He mentions that he regrets not being closer with his brother, but as he was saying this he realized that it’s definitely something he can still change. (So change it!)

One thing I do every night is think about three things I’m thankful for, so I ask this same question of my interviewees. Ari says, “Today I am thankful for my close friends here and at home, I’m thankful for (this goes back to the Jack thing) the LGBT students that are so comfortable with themselves, and I’m thankful I’m done with my history class.” I’m certain that we’re all thankful Ari is in our lives and I hope that he can continue to be a strong individual and be that beacon of light for some new individuals who are learning how to come out with their heads held high.


McDonald's Fires Anti-Trans Manager: Earlier this week, Zikerria Bellamy filed a complaint against McDonald’s for refusing to hire her because she is transgender.

One of the managers left a detailed voice mail message on Bellamy’s phone in July, saying “It doesn’t matter how many times you go down there, you will not get hired. We do not hire faggots. You lied to me.”

That manager has been fired.

December 9, 2009


Richard Cohen, Real Life Person That Is Completely Serious: (from The Huffington Post) Last night, Rachel Maddow interviewed Richard Cohen, the author of Coming Out Straight. Which is an actual book about 'overcoming' homosexuality. All you need, apparently, is a tennis racquet and CUDDLING WITH A MEMBER OF THE SAME SEX. Science. Unfortunately, this would be much funnier if it wasn't being used by the Ugandan government for support of their proposed bill to make homosexuality punishable by death, which is also something that is actually happening in real life in 2009 on this planet. Right now. Videos below, Readers.

The preview:

The interview:

December 7, 2009


NJ Marriage Equality Headed to Senate: The New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee has voted the marriage equality bill onward--it will be discussed in the Senate as early as Thursday.

More discussion at advocate.com.

Listen to the NJ Marriage Equality Debate Live: If you're around right now, the NJ Senate Judiciary Committee is currently discussing marriage equality in the state. Listen here! (click Listen on the right side)

Update: The deliberations have since ended--the results of the vote can be found here.

Anonymous Posts
(11.30.09–12.6.09)

Every week, we collect anonymous entries sent in using the link on our sidebar and post them all on Monday. We post anything as long as it doesn't contain personal attacks or hate speech. Feel free to submit your thoughts and questions :)

You totally stepped it up this week with the anonymous posts, Readers. Good work all around!

But don't forget that we also have a responsibility to respond to our anonymous contributors! See you in the comments :)

#1:
"They Don't Understand"

They don't understand the injustice they cause
Nor do they mind passing unequal laws.
They don't understand the sadness they create
Nor do they see that what they're spreading is hate.
They don't understand that their vote matters
Nor do they care about the lives it shatters.
They don't understand the lies they tell
Nor do they realize we're not going to hell.
They don't understand the reason we fight
Nor do they know of the anger they incite.
O God I pray
That you show them the way
Because I am gay
And it's okay.

[Ed. Note: Oh hai, ORIGINAL POEM. Best. Readership. Ever.]

#2:
Absolutely amazing video by one senator during the vote in the NY Senate.


[Ed. Note: This video definitely made its way around the interwebs since this anonymous poster sent this in to us and we've already posted it before, but it's totally worth putting up again (see: "duh"). Let's all share about how many times we said "yes!" the first [eight] times we watched this. Tell her, Artie:


#3:
As I'm getting older, and closer to graduation and the real world, I've been thinking a lot about the possibility of having a family in a few years time. This raises conflicting emotions in me - as a gay male, obviously I won't be able to have children of my own with my partner, the child will only be biologically related to one of the fathers. There is, of course adoption - there're far too many kids out there without homes and families right now. I'm not really sure how I feel about all this, I'm not sure I'd make a good father, or that I'd be able to provide the right environment for a kid growing up.

What I want to know is, how do all of you in the openly lgbt community feel about this issue?

[Ed. Note: This is most definitely a topic that we've all thought about, right? Right. Let's throw a Comment Party for this one.]

#4:
I stumbled upon this website today (literally, stumbleupon.com = AMAZING). Anyways, the picture shows a fantastic campaign that promotes AIDS awareness and prevention in a super creative way. This was done in Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, and they totally have the right idea.

Check it out [here].

translation: "Take your condom and help in the fight against AIDS" - as more people take condoms, AIDS begins to disappear. Genius? Absolutely.

[Ed. Note: Great find! It is difficult to inspire us desensitized Millennials, and it is always interesting to see the amazing [by necessity, almost] campaigns that Good organizations come up with.]

Orlando McDonald's Manager Allegedly Told Trans Applicant: 'We Do Not Hire F**gots': Seventeen-year-old Zikerria Bellamy applied online for a position as a shift manager or crew leader at an Orlando McDonald's. When she went in for the interview on July 28, Bellamy says a manager forced her to check a box indicating her gender.

"Once I looked at his facial expression, when I checked off male, like the whole face just changed. He was upset. I seen the anger, you know, like you can tell when someone gets upset," Bellamy said.

She said she was told she would not be granted an interview and received an angry, hateful voicemail from the manager later in the day.

"You went to [indistinguishable] McDonald's today," the message says. "It doesn't matter how many times you go down there. You will not get hired. We do not hire faggots. You lied to me. You told me you was a woman. And then you lied to me. You told me you were seventeen. I can't believe you. You're a lying brother. How could you ever lie to me?"

More coverage at Pam's House Blend.


UCLA: Stem Cells Can Kill HIV: Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, made a stunning announcement Monday: Stem cells can be engineered to kill HIV.

The results, published Monday in the online journal PLoS ONE, demonstrate that human stem cells can be engineered into the equivalent of a genetic vaccine.

Gay Catholics Blast NJ Bishops: A gay Roman Catholic group has denounced a letter that New Jersey Catholic bishops circulated in opposition to marriage equality.

“Whatever the New Jersey bishops are trying to do around the issue of marriage has nothing to do with justice,” reads a statement from the Rainbow Sash Movement. “One of the most basic concepts that underline all Catholic teaching is that ‘All people are entitled to equality of rights regardless of their situation.’ This fundamental position cannot be dismissed in the name of religious rigidity. To do so is to throw foundational Catholic tradition out the window in the name of intolerance and the narrowness of dogma.”

Late last month New Jersey bishops asked priests to read or distribute a letter asking parishioners to pray that the state legislature would not approve marriage rights for gay couples. The bishops called the possibility of same-sex marriage “one of the most serious challenges” to the traditional definition of marriage. The state senate is expected to vote on a marriage equality bill this week, after which the assembly would consider it.

December 6, 2009


Straight Brooklyn Couple Applies to Annul Marriage Because Gay Marriage Still Not Legal: A couple in Brooklyn is looking to challenge the legitimacy of straight marriages in light of the recent New York Senate vote against gay marriage rights. Their strategy: apply for an annulment.

Unlike a divorce, an annulment claims that the marriage was never viable and legal or that the situation has changed so significantly through no fault of either member of the couple that the marriage must be dissolved.

But this week I was invited to join a Facebook group run by Rachel Murch D’Olimpio and Matthew D’Olimpio: New York residents who are going to apply for an annulment on the grounds that their marriage contract violates constitutional equality guarantees and is thus void. The group already has over 700 members.

December 5, 2009


Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles elects openly gay bishop: "The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles today elected the first openly gay bishop since the national church lifted a ban that sought to bar gays and lesbians from the church's highest ordained ministry.

Clergy and lay leaders, meeting in Riverside for their annual convention, elected the Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool, 55, who has been in a committed relationship with another woman since 1988. Another gay candidate, the Rev. John L. Kirkley of San Francisco, withdrew late Friday.

Glasspool’s election to fill one of two openings for bishops of the diocese followed the selection Friday of the Rev. Canon Diane Jardine Bruce, 53, the rector of a San Clemente church. The two became the first women elected as bishops of the diocese in its 114-year history."


Cynthia Nixon on NY gay marriage vote: "... Wednesday's No vote on same sex marriage was supremely disappointing on a personal as well as a political level. Guess Christine and I can kiss that Waldorf Astoria wedding... Brooklyn Botanical Gardens wedding... Montauk Beach wedding -- you fill in the blank -- goodbye.

But we have two things today we didn't have yesterday. The first thing we have is clarity about who's with us and who's against us. And we'll remember those yays and nays for next November and for Novembers to come. And there will be consequences.

The second thing is a new ally. Her name is Ruth Hassell-Thompson. She is a Senator from the Bronx and Mt Vernon and she is fierce. ..."

Read more at The Huffington Post.


Portia de Rossi PWNS Elisabeth Hasselbeck in gay marriage debate on The View:

December 4, 2009

Rainbows, Buttons, Flags, and Umbrellas

It's been a rainy semester here at Duke. As a result, I've become quite the connoisseur of umbrellas. I have one for light, daily use (black), one for heavy rain and heavy wind (blue and white), and a recent acquisition: one for everything in between (rainbow-colored). And while the heavy blue-and-white umbrella is by far the most durable choice, I've tended to choose to tout the rainbow umbrella. First, because it's pretty (there's a pic farther down!). Second, because, well, I want to be visible.

When I came out, it really took a while for me to decide how big a part of my identity it was--it's a daily process, really--okay, so I'm gay--what's next? Following the bridge incident this year, Blue Devils United ordered rainbow flags for students to put up outside their windows to show support for and solidarity with the LGBT community. I put mine in the window itself, so when I have my lights on it looks kind of like stained glass from the outside (photo: Oli Wilson). I think it's really important to show people that this is campus that's affirming of LGBT individuals (or even if that's not entirely the case, I think that if we give off that image, it will gradually become a self-fulfilling thing). It's the same with the Love=Love shirts.

December 3, 2009


N.J. gay marriage proposal will be considered by Senate next week: The New Jersey gay marriage proposal will be considered Monday by a Senate committee and could be posted for a full senate vote later in the week, state Sen. Ray Lesniak said today. ...

"On Thursday the full Senate is going to vote on marriage equality," said Lesniak, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee." And God be willing, we'll have 21 votes." ...

Both houses of the Legislature must pass the bill before it goes to the governor. Outgoing Gov. Jon Corzine has said he would sign it. Incoming Gov. Chris Christie says he would veto it.

Sex, Sex, Sex and More Sex

This semester I'm in a class on sex work. The class is divided into four sections: prostitution, sex trafficking, exotic dancing and pornography. Throughout the semester we have exclusively talked about sex work in the context of heterosexual individuals. However, when we got to the section on pornography, we did extensive work on gay pornography, including watching clips and documentaries that showed explicit scenes of anal and oral sex between two men. We had seen many of these sorts of clips between heterosexual couples, so it only seemed logical that if I have to be subjected to watching heterosexual sex, then the rest of the (presumably straight-identified) class should have to watch gay sex.

I was looking forward to analyzing a type of sex that I am used to, yet was also worried that the class reception would be overtly homophobic and only serve to invalidate my own sexual desires. As the clip was starting I held my breath. The two boys start kissing. I look around the room. Everyone is still watching and no one is squeaming in their seats yet. Clothes start coming off. People are still watching. The oral sex begins. Everyone is still watching. I am shocked. Even the straight-identified men in the room are still looking. However, there's still more to go. The anal sex starts. People are still watching with their academic eye. Not at all the reaction I was expecting. Then one of the boys sucks on another ones toes. The class erupts in an expression of disgust.

Gayle Rubin, in her transformative essay "Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality," describes a hierarchy of sexual acts with heterosexual, monogamous sex on one end and fetishistic sex on the other. She states that "as a result of the sex conflicts of the last decade, some behavior near the border is inching across it." Has our society advanced to the point where gay sex is seen as an appropriate form of sex?


While I do think the positive reception in my class is due to the progressive nature of my classmates and not an overall societal advancement in sexual thought, I do think that we have come a long way in destigmatizing sex between members of the same sex. In the six years since sodomy was deemed unconstitutional in Lawrence v. Texas our society has gradually become open to all types of sex between consenting adults. I hope that in the future, we will only an increase in the acceptance of all types of consensual sex acts.

"If it's one of my main identifiers, I shouldn’t feel bad about that. I don’t think it’s so bad." -Ari Bar-Mashiah on being gay

As I've done with several Duke students younger than I am, I have watched Ari transform into a strong individual, one who is much stronger than he realizes. Ari isn’t out to his family, but still provides an incredible force in our community at Duke. He rattled off a list of reasons to me about why he hasn’t come out yet to his family but he knows most of them are just excuses. We’ll all have our fingers crossed that Ari can have the strength this Winter Break to finally begin the conversations with his parents and siblings.

He’s a self-described social butterfly, but anyone who knows him would agree. In high school he was involved in many activities, but was only out to a select few. Although there was a GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance), Ari refers to it as SAG, the straight alliance for gay people. No one identified as gay. He didn’t like being closeted, but always had a hard time reconciling the way gays are portrayed in the media. He didn’t think people could be intelligent and gay at the same time.

Coming to Duke, and particularly his experiences with Project Build, paved the way for Ari’s integration to the LGBT Center and it’s social activities. For Ari, the LGBT community at Duke was much more than he had at home and for that he is “very, very thankful.” He says, “You wish there was always more, or at least, more out. If I would want to see something, I would want to see more gay couples holding hands, the peck on the cheek when they go to class on the Plaza. When it comes to the community, they’re not to blame. It’s the other students, and the stuff we have to deal with, like ripping down flags, it’s the bridge incident or the bench incident. I really love the LGBT community here.”

Ari takes a moment and gives tribute to another Center frequenter. It was so sweet and so true it needs to be shared here in this blog. I believe we should all take a moment and think about those we look up to and pay tribute wherever we can.

“There is no one here that I appreciate more in the LGBT community than Jack. By far. By far. By far. Jack has allowed me to feel more comfortable with myself, because I see how comfortable he is. He’s so unafraid. People can be inspiring in so many different ways, by being active and forward and political, and you see them being proactive. Jack is the silent fighter, he doesn’t have to say a word. It makes me so much more comfortable to come here.”

Ari is great at making people laugh and finds ways of relating to everyone. I asked Ari what his favorite LGBT event was at Duke. Here’s what he said: “You know what I fucking love? Fab Friday. I love Fab Friday. There’s so many good things at once. It’s Friday, I just got out of classes, and I see all these amazing people. You see people that you may only see once a week. And Jack makes great food.”

I know we’re all grateful for what Ari has added to our community, and it truly is a joy to see him grow and learn from the other wonderful people who support him.

Stay tuned to learn more about Ari next Thursday, and I promise there will be photos next time (y’all know how busy the last week of classes gets, cut me some slack!).

Party Boy Chad, Psychosexual Revelations, G-Bombs, and Other Thoughts

As seems to happen in any class with sex on the syllabus, we ended up on the topic of the hook-up culture in my psych discussion section. It was the last one of the semester; I guess they figured they’d go out with a bang. We were assigned a few articles to read on the subject, some on research conducted by old white men in sterile laboratories, some on the findings of researchers who had actually been adventurous enough to go out into the field and take surveys. (Or so I gathered from reading the intro and conclusion, all I had time for before rushing to class.) All were dealing with straight couples, and the issues that they had as a result of anonymous sexual interaction.

It was one of the liveliest discussions our group has had. I hadn’t read the articles very thoroughly (i.e. not at all), so I sat back and took in what was going on around me. I’d heard it all before: the effects of alcohol, risk of disease, sexual assault, emotional issues. These are all serious subjects, but from the way the conversation was going, I was beginning to believe that only heteros had to deal with all that icky stuff. Whew, what a relief! Oh…wait…
So I resolved to bring up LGBT issues, to throw some color into the conversation.

December 2, 2009


Jamie Frevele Sells Her Legal Right to Marry on Ebay: In response to her home state of New York's rejection of marriage equality today, Jamie Frevele is selling her legal right to marry on ebay and donating all proceeds to the Point Foundation and other LGBT organizations.

Ebay item description by Frevele:

New York State has voted down marriage equality. A lot of people just don't believe all adults should be allowed to get married, usually for religious reasons, which is silly because you need to obtain a license from the state to get married, and there's a separation of church and state in this country, so denying someone the right to get married based on their sexual orientation is actually against the Constitution. The 14th Amendment, actually: Section. 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

I'm an unmarried heterosexual woman, and since I probably won't be using my right to get married, I would like to give it away. I would like to sell it to the highest bidder and donate the proceeds to an organization that supports LGBT rights since the government designed to protect all of us is picking and choosing based on what they think is icky, weird, or unkown to them.

Bid now, and you can have my super wonderful privilege and legal ability to get married as many times as you want in a classy place like the one pictured. You don't have to know the person, you don't have to like them, you don't have to think through your decision to get married or anything - you can just do it! Because you can! Come on, it's cool to get married, and think of the pictures you'll have to show people of this person that they will definitely think is so wrong for you and probably is! But heavens to BETSY, do NOT marry someone of the same gender because that would be a mockery of the institution of marriage.

And if it doesn't work out, just get divorced. Half the cool people who get married do that anyway.

I will write you up a fancy, wonderful, articulate proclamation handing over my right to get married. I have no official documentation because this is something I was born with since I was born heterosexual. Unfortunately, this is only a symbolic gesture. However, since I'm picky and difficult, it's probably something that, if a physical object, would have been considered pristine and shiny after some dusting. Your bid, on the other hand, is real, and the donation you make to an organization that supports those who have been treated as second-class citizens will be well worth it.

I have not named an organization yet because I thought I would see if anyone wanted to join me on this journey rather than drag them into something they're not serious about, ready for, etc.

Happy Bidding!

Jamie Frevele

Coming Out Story #3

[Ed. Note: Every Wednesday, we collect a coming out story and post it here, anonymously. They can be long or short, devastating or hilarious or boring or somewhere in between. The stories can be gathered in person or digitally - even using our "submit anonymously" link on the sidebar! If you'd like to send one in, email us at bluedevilsunited@gmail.com. If you don't feel like writing, we can meet in person, too, (ignore this PSA) and I'll transcribe your story here. Just let us know.]

It was finals week in tenth grade, so we got to leave school right after our test. I went to my friend's house down the street with a bunch of people to hang out for the rest of the day. Everything was going great until my mother called the house I was at (this was before we all had cellphones) and just said "I'm coming to pick you up."

Oh?

From her tone of voice and withholding of any reason why I had to leave early, I suspected that someone had died. I have old grandparents, and thought the worst. But I was assured that everyone was "okay" and everything was "fine" (though we all know what that means). I hung up, and almost immediately realized what was up. I ran to my friend's computer and confirmed the worst: that I was not idle on Instant Messenger.

I had stayed logged into my Windows account on our family computer and furthermore had left up all of my AIM conversations. Including the one I had with [Shannon] the night before where, uh, I said some pretty explicit things about one of our straight friends, [John]. I basically outlined some pretty violent sex that I wanted to have with him and frequently used the words "fuck" and "brains out." This has happened to the best of us, right? ...Right?

Okay, so I was a horny kid. Sue me.

Will Gay Troops Get to Join the Debate About Their Own Service to America? Nathaniel Frank, author of "Unfriendly Fire", discusses the importance of the proposed bill that would allow gay service members to testify openly at Congressional hearings regarding "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".

"Congressman Alcee Hastings, Democrat of Florida, has just introduced a bill with 27 co-sponsors to allow gay service members to testify openly at Congressional hearings about "don't ask, don't tell." Rep. Hastings authored the bill to ensure that the national debate will not be stacked against those most affected by the current gay ban. Without explicit protection, gay troops could be fired for sharing their views and experiences with senators and representatives, since current law calls for discharging anyone who says they are gay. ..."

Rupert Everett's Advice To Gay Actors: Stay In The Closet: I can't decide whether this is just a really sad truth, or the kind of thinking that keeps us all from pushing for change, an acceptance of the status quo as stronger than our own will.

Personally, I prefer Meredith Baxter's newfound take on celebrities coming out.
...

"At 50, the 'My Best Friend's Wedding' star says that homophobia in Hollywood has kept him from becoming a leading man. He says that heterosexuals are cast as gays (pointing to 'Brokeback Mountain' and 'Transamerica') but gay men are denied the plum straight roles and often reduced to drag.

'The fact is that you could not be, and still cannot be, a 25-year-old homosexual trying to make it in the British film business or the American film business or even the Italian film business," he said. "It just doesn't work and you're going to hit a brick wall at some point. You're going to manage to make it roll for a certain amount of time, but at the first sign of failure they'll cut you right off. And I'm sick of saying, 'Yes, it's probably my own fault.' Because I've always tried to make it work and when it stops working somewhere, I try to make it work somewhere else. But the fact of the matter is, and I don't care who disagrees, it doesn't work if you're gay.'

Everett does admit that his openness about his sexuality has afforded him personal happiness if not professional success. He's glad he's not one of the "plenty" of gay Hollywood stars still stuck in the closet."


Amazing Speech on Marriage Equality: New York State Senator Diane Savino makes some very compelling statements on marriage equality.

PLEASE share this with friends, family, and everyone else who is important to you.



Washington's statewide vote for full domestic partnerships is official: "It's official! Governor Chris Gregoire and Secretary of State Sam Reed certified the election results on Tuesday. The new domestic partnership law will now go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, December 3. There are currently 13,082 people in registered domestic partnerships in both same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples where at least one partner is 62 or older. Washington state registered domestic partners are now fully equal to their married peers under Washington state law."


GA elects 1st black out lesbian state legislator, 1st Asian out gay man to Atlanta City Council: Wow! This is awesome! Today has been such a mix of good and bad news.

From GayPolitics:

Great news tonight from Georgia. Voters there have elected the first openly lesbian African-American state legislator in the United States, and Atlanta voters elected the first gay man and first Asian-American to the city council.

Simone Bell, a Victory Fund-endorsed candidate, won a runoff election to represent Georgia State House District 58. She becomes the second openly LGBT member of the Georgia State House, joining Rep. Karla Drenner. Both are from the Atlanta area.

...

Meanwhile Atlanta voters elected the city’s first gay man, and first Asian-American, to the city council. Alex Wan, a Victory Fund-endorsed candidate, will represent District 6 after winning his runoff election tonight. He currently works as the development director of Jerusalem House, Atlanta’s oldest and largest provider of permanent, supportive housing for homeless or low-income individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS.


Meredith Baxter Comes Out On the Today Show: Oh my god, Elyse Keaton is gay! This just adds fuel to sooo many childhood fantasies... And here I was thinking that Alex was supposed to be the lesbian.

Aside from my long-held torch for the perfect tv mom, the news here is this:

Meredith Baxter, who played Elyse Keaton on the popular 80s show "Family Ties" came out today as a lesbian. Baxter, who has been married three times and has four children, is currently in a relationship with general contractor Nancy Locke, and joins a growing group of women coming out later in life.

"I want to say that, I'm not a very political person. I've done political things before, but it's been brought to my attention that this is a political act, even though that's not what it feel like to me. It just feels like personal exposure, and it's uncomfortable. When my understanding is that so much research has been done that says that if anybody knows someone who is gay or lesbian, then when they are addressing gay or lesbian issues, political issues that affect their rights, they are less likely to vote against them, to take away their rights. So, if you knew me before, and you cared about me before, I'm the same woman. I'm the same mother to all these children, and if I can be that lesbian you know now, ok, well if I vote this way then that, that actually might affect this person I know, that Meredith."

Well said Ms. Baxter.

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