One Million Moms On The Attack – Again

Archie Gay Marriage

Don’t you just love a good rumble?

Although, I have to confess that I was really considering not adding this post about One Million Moms at all, it feels somehow wrong to even recognize their existence, as if I’m somehow validating their right to be… well… a group of hate-filled religious extremists, I guess!

Yes, the American Family Associations nastiest splinter group is back in the spotlight again, and from the people who brought you the attack on Home Depot for supporting Gay Pride, the scatter-brained attack against GLEE, and their “boycott” of almost every brand seen in any ad break for any program they think is “Trashy”, they’re now ‘going after’ Toys ‘R’ Us!

Aside from pointing out that they watch far too much TV (that’s those right-wing Christian stay-at-home moms for you. If they’re not out in the woods shooting Deer they’re sat on their ass eating cookies, getting fat and finding anything they can to scream at the world about) I thought it would be fun to show you how the most vociferous people who claim to be “freedom-loving” and “Christian” are often anything but.

Let me tell you about this latest battle in their imagined “culture war” (yes, that’s what they think they’re taking part in, bless them).

So we’ll start back when they decided to attack JC Penny for bringing Ellen Degeneres in to represent their brand.

Of course, as shoppers – and right-wing Christian religious extremists – they love shopping, ironically that’s something they have in common with us! So when JC Penny asked the gorgeous, funny, smart and well adjusted Ellen Degeneres to become their spokeswoman (can you tell I’m a fan?) the One Million Moms crazies realized that they had nothing in common with this personality. I think that’s what it comes down to really. It seems that all the people they attack are actually intelligent, well-rounded, mentally stable modern people, and that’s totally the opposite of what OMM is about!

So, the OMM extremists demanded that JC Penny remove Ellen as their spokesperson, and they issued their demand with the threat that JC Penny would loose customers if they did not comply with their demands. Of course, OMM didn’t consider that they are actually running far short of being one million, they’re more like 20,000 (and even that is a very generous guess). In reality the OMM group is likely no larger than your average knitting club in Texas.

They often make claims that their “pressure” on companies has resulted in success, when in fact they neglect that advertising across all industries has become extremely limited due to the financial crisis. It’s actually quite funny to see companies complying with their demands on the face of it, just to placate them. But I do wish these companies would be honest and say “we couldn’t give a crap about your unreasonable demands, we cut the ads for budget reasons and not because you threatened us!”

What this fanatical group also underestimated, is that you need to have public support for a boycott of any large company, and the numbers supporting Ellen and JC Penny far outweighs the number of fanatics demanding this change. One look at their little social network shows that they barely have 2000 members – I have more people following me on another blog. Maybe that’s why thousands of FaceBook pages sprang up within hours of the demand being made public, all supporting Ellen and JC Penny, and all heaping insult on the OMM mentalists. Perhaps that’s also why the One Million Moms own FaceBook page is constantly under attack from others who would like to stop their hate for good?

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Gay Marriages in Greece

A couple of years ago now there was something of a stir caused on the sleepy Greek island of Tilos. If you’ve never heard of Tilos then no one will blame you; it is far from Athens, in the Aegean, it’s only 63 sq km in size, and has a population of 300. Holidaymakers visit the island in the summer for its tranquillity and traditional way of life. Donkeys pass you in the lanes, fishing boats chug lazily around the coves and past the quiet beaches, and the pace of life is, well, slow to say the least.

So what happened back then to cause such an outrage and to push Tilos into the headlines on Greek national news? (And European news channels for a while too.)

A gay marriage took place. Actually, two gay ceremonies took place, and were presided over by the island’s mayor. So what? You may ask. Surely Greece is known for its tolerance of homosexuality? And that is where the ‘yes, but’ comes in.

Politically speaking the, now, old regime in charge of the country when Tilos hit the news, was opposed to same-sex marriage. The current government, PASOK, had presented proposals for the recognition of unmarried couples in the law, which covered both heterosexual and homosexual couples, but this made little headway. And add into the usual turmoil of Greek politics a law from 1982 that legalised civil marriage between ‘persons’ without referring to the gender of those persons and you’ve got a bit of a melting pot for disaster, or at least for confusion and mayhem, on which Greek administration seems to thrive. (And I have had first hand experience of it, so I feel able to say that.)

So, back in June 2008, Tassos Aliferis, the mayor of Tilos, defined the threat of prosecution dealt out by a top prosecutor and ‘married’ two gay couples. ‘Bravo sas’, as they say in Greece. That was certainly the reaction of one of the couples who were quoted as saying ‘From this day, discrimination against gays in Greece is on the decline.’ But sadly, that’s not the case. Yes, Greece was tolerant of same-sex relationship many hundreds of years ago, but these days it is a lot less so. You have to remember that the country is a very religious one, the church has a big say in things, families hold traditional religious values and no one likes a same sex scandal in their face, as it were. So, there was a great out-falling, the mayor was threatened with arrest, other islands who my have been poised to start conducting civil marriages put those plans on hold and the loop-hole that these two brave couples, and the mayor, had thought they could exploit wasn’t there anymore – or at least it is still up for debate and, in the meantime, civil rights, and the same sex partnership issue rumble on through the country.

So, was it all a publicity stunt to improve tourism for the island as some people suggested? And what happens next? Well, whether it was a publicity stunt or not Tilos did get into the news for a while, but there have been no reports that gay folk have been flocking there since, and it’s not set to become a second Mykonos any time soon. And that, by the way, isn’t as ‘gay’ an island as people think it is – it was but now…? Now tourism is a big issue in the country as that is what it relies on for most of its economy, so, tempting gay visitors to come and spend some pink pound seems like a good idea to me.

And as for current and future legislation? Well, I trawled through as many news rooms and sites, political agendas and papers and I could bear to, and, in the last few days, have not seen anything to suggest that the current government are going to act on the lack of human rights that same sex couples currently have, or don’t have. Maybe the government are taking a break at the moment…on Tilos perhaps?

Gay Greek Weddings and Shocked Donkeys

A couple of years ago the mayor of Tilos, a small Greek island in the southern Aegean, married two gay couples. And found himself at the centre of a great hullabaloo. You see, although Greece is still part of the European Union and although everyone knows that homosexuality was (many years ago) an acceptable part of Greek culture, and even though it’s widely accepted that most Greek men are at least bisexual, it is still illegal to be married to someone of the same sex in Greece, the cradle of civilisation.

Actually it’s not illegal, but it is not legal either – the law is vague and there is a loophole, which is how come the Tilos mayor married the couples. And also how come he was then arrested. The church was up in arms, and the fall out was on the scale of a Greek tragedy. The current government, the left wing PASIOK administration had been trying to get civil partnerships through on the policy agenda when they were the opposition. But since taking power they’ve still not done anything about it. They’ve got too much to worry about with the country’s economy no doubt. And while all that’s going on, there are couples who would love to marry in the country but can’t.

So what’s to be done? Well, two writers have come up with the answer and it takes the form of a film.

‘Shocking the Donkeys’ by writers Jack Rousseau and James Collins is a screenplay and has been picked up by an independent British Film company, who are hoping to film it in 2011. To be a little more precise, it’s a comedy of manners, with a cast of stunning Greek guys and old ladies. The plot centres around a traditional Greek yaya (grandmother) whose only grandson lives in America. She is delighted to learn that he is returning to his home island of Kalados to get married and sets about putting everything in place; the wedding dress, the church arrangements, the reception, the banns, the paperwork, and she gets the whole village behind her. As the boat pulls in, bearing her grandson and his intended, she brings the villagers down to meet them… and discovers that the ‘bride to be’ is actually another man.

That’s where the comedy really kicks in as the main character, the yaya, does everything she can to a) get the boyfriend off the island and b) turn her gay grandson straight. But does she succeed? Well, I’m not going to spoil the plot for you, but you can rest assured there are going to be tears and laughter along the way.

I checked out the official blog for this movie project which I found at symidream.com/movie and learned quite a lot. Not only is the blog kept up to date with what’s happening with the project, but there are interesting tips for screenplay writers there too. You get a good insight into the process of writing and it’s not as straightforward as you might think. On this project the writers spent seven months planning and building the structure of the plot. Writing movies is all about structure you see, there are many levels to a script, things that went on before the story, and what’s going on underneath what’s being said and shown is just as important as what the audience sees. More important some would say.

After seven months of writing, after kicking up a storm in the Greek press (Collins has given several published interviews and been on radio programmes to be asked to explain what this film is all about), the writers now have a completed script which the production company has for consideration.

But will a comedy about a gay wedding in Greece change the law? Probably not on its own, but if it goes a little way to raising awareness, and gives us some laughs, and shows us some sexy Greek guys along the way, then we’ll be more than happy.

Can you find Gay Ancestors?

In the last couple of years I’ve become one of those people who spend their spare time scouring the internet to find out where I came from. Family History Research is big business now, thanks mainly to the decision, some years back, to put census data on line. There are literally millions of home detectives out there now, signing up to sites such as Ancestry and Find My Past, and making use of free facilities such as Family Search.
Without leaving the relative comfort of my own desk chair, I have discovers a Great-times-11 set of grandparents who were alive in the 1500’s, and many other ancestors from around that time too. I’ve seen hundreds of census sheets, parish registers (this is a UK ancestor hunt you understand) and other pieces of information. I have discovered that a great-grandfather went bankrupt, my great-grandmother had a child, my grandmother, before she was married, I’ve found ancestors who were vicars, farmers, respected townspeople and craftsmen, and the search has taken me from Ireland to Essex.

But I have not found any gay ancestors. Or have I?

Actually I know for a fact that I had a gay uncle, so if you subscribe to the view that it ‘runs in the family’ then there must have been others. In fact just talking statistically there must have been hundreds of others. But how do you know? This information isn’t on census sheets. Here are a few of my thoughts for anyone interested in researching their gay ancestors.

By definition, most gay ‘ancestors’ won’t actually be ancestors unless they had children. So they’re more likely to be unmarried, or at least, childless siblings of ancestors. Having said that, of course, there will be many gay people from the past who will have had children, King James I of England being one who immediately springs to mind, Oscar Wilde another.

It’s also worth thinking, or finding out, how the law treated gay people at various times in history, and you should always put your ancestors in the context in which they existed. I think it was in Henry VIII’s reign that gay sex, though it wasn’t called that then, was made a capital crime. And it’s worth looking at the vocabulary through the ages too. Example: bear in mind that sodomy comes from Sodom and Gomorrah in the Bible (itself drawn on ancient Babylonian stories) because the sin of Sodom was thought to have been, well, Sodomy. The men there tried to… ‘shag’ the angel God sent them. Which is interesting in itself because it clearly shows that angels must have been men. But I digress.

You may know that in the UK lesbianism was never recognised, and lesbians were effectively invisible (Queen Victoria refused to allow anything in law because she didn’t believe it existed). And yet throughout history there have always been obvious lesbian relationships, a single woman and her companion for example. This is often difficult to call, though, as a single (possibly ugly) woman would have no choice but to have a woman companion in those days.

But once again you are left to draw conclusions only. Where is the hard evidence? Well, I recently saw a parish book, from around 1700, where it was written against a burial entry that the man buried was killed for ‘importuning…’ and there then followed another man’s name. A suggestion that this man was gay, or had gotten drunk and ‘tried it on’ but either way it’s not totally hard evidence.

So, apart from getting your hands on criminal records for any ancestors who ran foul of the law, you’re only ever going to discover the odd hint about a person’s sexuality. It’s ever only going to be circumstantial. And often, anything that looks like it might be a clue quite often isn’t because of the “innocence of the period”. Another example: in Victorian times it was quite unremarkable for an older boy to be seen walking around with his arm round the shoulder of a younger one, and it may well have been perfectly innocent.

A lot has to do with the mind and social attitudes. Today, only one conclusion would be drawn. And consequently, anyone ‘innocent’ wouldn’t even run the risk of doing anything that looked ‘suspicious’.

I finish with a thought about a great-uncle who, during his life, never married, ended up living with his aunt, and who travelled around the country working in various public houses and hotels. Was he a gay wanderer in the late 19th and early 20th century, or just a man who never found the right woman to wed? I shall never know.

Queer Parenting Resources

Many GLBT individuals are parenting, whether alone or with a partner. Children in GLBTrelationships may be the product of an earlier relationship, may be adopted or birthed. How queer families are formed is less important than making certain that queer parents have the resources, information and support that they need to build healthy and loving families in a world that may be less supportive than any of us would like.

There are more resources out there than you might expect for GLBT parents. In larger cities, your local gay and lesbian support organizations may offer support groups, and these can be a great way to normalize life for your children. Also, if you attend a queer friendly church, like the United Church of Christ, Unitarian, or Episcopalian, you may find couples or singles with children in the congregation. Local and nationwide organizations, like Rainbow Families at rainbowfamilies.org and Colage and colage.org are working to help families and children navigate a homophobic world.

Unfortunately, many of us will navigate our families’ lives in areas without good support resources. Parents in this situation may find themselves turning toward online resources to get the support and information that they need to help their children cope with homophobia and the realities of a different family structure. Proudparenting.com is one possible source of this support, as is http://www.queerparents.org/. Gay parents may also find blogs of other gay and lesbian parents a helpful networking tool. PlanetOut.com does have a queer parenting board, and you will find message boards for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered parents at many larger parenting sites. You may even find local families via these online resources.

Do be sure that you offer your children books, television shows, and other media that show families like theirs. Illustrating in clear terms to young children that families can come in all forms is an important validation for children. Gayparentingpage.com/Books_for_kids.htm offers a list of books with GLBT families shown.

While support, information and resources are critical, it is equally important to realize that most of the parenting dilemmas faced by queer parents are not so different from those of everyone else. Children face social difficulties regardless of their family situation and may struggle with these differences and situations. Making sure that you equip your children with information and support, and that they come home to a supportive household will go far in terms of making them comfortable in their lives. Unfortunately, homophobia will likely be a fact in our children’s lives, but with open communication and honesty, we can manage it and raise strong and happy children.

Coming Out Older

All you see in the media is younger people coming out. You hardly ever see the stories of older couples coming out or single gay or lesbians who have had to hide for job security, religion, or other reasons.

While coming out is nearly always a scary proposition, coming out well after adolescence or college can be especially challenging. Younger people may worry about coming out to family and friends, but as you age, your social ties change. You may have to come out to a spouse, children, and co-workers. Your worries, concerns and questions around coming out may be entirely different than those of a younger person.

Be smart about coming out. Make sure that those closest to you hear from you, and not from the local gossip channel. While you do not need to send your cousin Betty an announcement card, your parents, siblings and closest friends should be told directly. Much of the time, co-workers and your boss can wait. Depending upon your age and social network, you may find that it is more or less accepted. Consider telling a dear, trusted friend early on in the process to have a support system available. You may find that there are those in your life you simply choose not to tell, and this is also valid, especially if they are not apt to hear otherwise.

One of the most difficult situations for gay and lesbian individuals coming out as adults is telling a spouse. Regardless of the stability of your marriage, coming out will pose significant challenges to your marriage and nuclear family. If you have already made decisions about your marriage, you should be open and honest about these with your spouse. You may be unsure about what you want. Consider seeing a therapist experienced in helping couples deal with these transitions. Some people opt to stay in their marriages, acknowledging their sexuality. Others hope for a peaceful dissolution of their marriage.

Telling children also poses a number of challenges. Younger children are typically quite accepting. You may wish to consider becoming active in a local gay and lesbian parenting group to allow your children to see families like yours. Address concerns as they arise and be aware of any possible social issues that may come up for your children. Older children and adult children may feel angry, betrayed or confused. They might also simply have already known or thought they knew. You may find family counseling helpful to smooth over these relationships if need be during this time.

There are some great resources about coming out as an adult, ranging from thirty something to a senior. A recent documentary, Out Late, offers a number of coming out stories from older Americans. More information is available at bulletin.aarp.org/yourworld/reinventing. More tips on coming out in adulthood can be found at sexualityandu.ca/adults/. If you have children, or are the adult child of a gay or lesbian parent, colage.org may be of assistance.

National Coming Out Day is October 11.

An Adoption Primer

Today is a great day because we see on the front cover of People magazine we see a true American Idol holding a baby. This baby will be raised by Clay Aiken who just happened to come out of the closet with this issue of People. This not only looks good for gays who are struggling to raise children on their own but for those hoping to adopt. It sets a wonderful example and we are very proud of Clay Aiken.

I thought this would be a great time to talk about Gay Adoption.

So you’re a grownup now, and mom’s nagging for a grandchild? Perhaps that biological clock is getting louder and louder or you and your partner have simply decided it’s time to bring a child into your family. Without the convenience of compatible biology, adoption is the option chosen by many gay and some lesbian couples. What are the legalities of adoption in your state? What should you know about the adoption process?

The challenges of adopting as a gay couple vary depending upon the state in which you live. In some, you may find that the adoption process, even through the state, is relatively easy. Do keep in mind that in some states, single gay parents can adopt, but the couple cannot adopt. Second parent adoption may be allowed or not. These issues all pose significant challenges to gay individuals. Gaylife.about.com provides a state by state breakdown of adoption laws. Keep in mind that laws do change frequently, and a knowledgeable and friendly social worker can be your best aid in this process.

Adopting through the state foster care system is a popular choice in states that allow this option. This is the most affordable form of adoption, and the child you are adopting often is truly in need of a loving family. You do need to consider your own willingness to adopt an older child, one with special needs, or one of a different race if choosing to adopt through the state.

If you are aiming for a private adoption, you, like any adoptive parents, will need to consider your comfort level with birth parents, and register with an agency in the hopes that a birth mother will choose you as a family for the child she is carrying. Obviously, you should be certain to seek out an agency that welcomes gay adoptive parents.

Today, many heterosexual couples choose international adoption. Unfortunately, this option is only available to gay families if they are willing to be closeted, and adopt from a country that allows for single parent adoptions. If their state then allows it, the second parent may adopt via second parent adoption laws once the international adoption is complete.

As a single parent, a gay individual may use tax credits and deductions afforded by the state and federal governments for adoption; however, as with all things, without the benefit of a marriage license the overall costs for adoption for a gay couple may be higher than they would if for a heterosexual one.

Planning Your Ceremony

Whether or not you live in a state with legal civil unions, marriages or domestic partnership, you may be planning to celebrate your relationship with friends, family, and food for a great day or evening. From the proposal to the honeymoon, there are some great resources to help you plan a wedding, and sources for GLBT friendly wedding and commitment ceremony services. While the legalities can be a frustrating process, planning your ceremony and the reception is great fun, but can also be a lot of work. You need to choose where to have your ceremony, who to invite, plan food, flowers and wardrobe.

You may be pleasantly surprised by how many wedding vendors are happy to work with you and your partner as you plan your special day. You may even want to visit a local wedding fair or exhibition or speak to local wedding planners if you are considering having a larger ceremony and reception. Gayweddings.com is one source for planning information, vendor suggestions and more when you are beginning to plan your commitment ceremony or wedding. A site like this can also help you find wedding cake toppers, invitations and other accoutrements specifically suited to same sex ceremonies.

Keep in mind that your ceremony and reception can be as traditional or not as you prefer. You may want to choose a beautiful outdoor location, a restaurant or hotel, or a church if you participate regularly. Several denominations are typically willing to celebrate same sex unions, including the Unitarian church, United Church of Christ and Episcopalians. If you prefer a church wedding, one of these may be an option. Most secular locations will welcome you, and you will also find that many wedding chapels in liberal areas are happy to celebrate same sex relationships.

You may also be concerned about finding a GLBTQ friendly place to honeymoon with your partner. Gay.com/travel/article.html?sernum=8651 offers some tips on planning your honeymoon, as well as specific suggestions. You will also find that many all inclusive resorts are lesbian and gay friendly, and some, like Beaches even include the ceremony in your honeymoon package if you prefer a private commitment option.

A number of wedding sites aimed at younger, free thinking couples will also welcome same sex couples. Take a look at Offbeatbride.com and indiebride.com for further wedding ideas. You might also want to explore the offerings at etsy.com for invitations, RSVP cards, and even cake toppers and wedding rings. Attire can be a challenge, but consider choosing wedding outfits that suit both of your personalities and mesh well with one another without matching. You may even want to consider a period wedding or one with a theme to share an interest and shared hobby with your guests.

And congrats to California couples that finally get the chance to wed!  I never thought I would see the day I would be putting another category that said ‘wedding’ instead of ‘dating’.  I decided to call it ‘love’ since wedding sounded strange for a category.  Love is the strongest word I can use.

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