Category Archives: LGBT

White Knuckling

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When Apryl Prentiss first realized she was a lesbian, she decided to white knuckle it. She wanted to ignore the impulse, and if it couldn’t be ignored, she wanted to deny it, put it in a cage.

“I was freaked out when I realized…when I started to understand what was happening.”

This was in high school in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She was raised a fundamentalist Baptist and her church and the community it provided were deeply important to her. At the time, she described herself as kind of a “Christian All Star.”

“I was the chaplain of my class. I was going on missions trips. My whole class was even on the Christian Broadcast Network for a show. I was hitting all the expectations.”

That’s why coming to terms with her sexuality was so difficult. According to her Christian based belief system, she was ‘being rebellious,’ she had a ‘broken sexuality,’ she was trying to separate herself from God.

“Homosexuality was the sin to trump all sins” She explains. “It’s spoken of with great disdain—it seemed to be a visceral reaction. They think of gays as ‘those people’ …people who are horrible and perverted. People who are sick. People are always so scared of what they don’t understand.” Though she never heard these messages at school that was what was preached from the pulpit of her childhood church in Virginia Beach.

When she attended Campbell University in North Carolina, her church connected her with counseling and what is referred to as reparative or conversion therapy. Like many other far right Christian denominations across the country, the church encouraged her to go to therapy to ‘cure herself’ of being gay.

The counselor also offered to exorcise her should the therapy prove insufficient.

Apryl describes those years as some of the darkest of her life: “I absolutely detested myself.” Although she didn’t kill herself, she came close; close enough to want to save others from the same trauma. That’s why she’s working with the Alliance for Progressive Values to ban the practice of reparative therapy that tries to “cure” minors of being gay.

Delegate Hope who introduced HB 1135* which would ban the practice in Virginia said that evidence suggests such conversion therapy doesn’t work and in fact harms many people. Apryl’s story is a case in point.

According to Apryl, the therapy she underwent on and off for nearly three years was intense and mind bending; the kind of practice you would not wish on your worst enemy, much less a vulnerable teenager.

“I remember after months of talking and fasting I was still told that I was rebellious. It was their explanation for why I wasn’t cured. They thought they could see demons in my eyes. And I believed it! They suggested that I undergo an exorcism. The therapist brought in a prayer partner and they circled me and prayed over me. They asked to speak to the demon of brokenness in me. They asked to speak to the demons of same-sex attraction. …it was unbelievably painful. I cried the entire time and, after it was over, I felt completely stripped bare.”

After the failed exorcism, Apryl turned to alcohol and other self-destructive behavior to anesthetize. She recounts having alcohol poisoning at least seven times after the exorcism.  “Fighting my sexuality had become a daily battle and truthfully—I just wanted a break. My 21st birthday, which was at the height of the reparative therapy,  consisted of a fifth of Smirnoff and a straw. I drank it in about an hour and a half.”

Apryl admits she was trying to kill herself, in a less than methodic fashion. “I thought if I die and go to heaven, I won’t have to deal with this anymore.  That seemed like a good option. Death would have been a release from the constant inner turmoil.”

Shortly after, she met a woman and developed a relationship with her. “She was someone who had found peace with her sexuality.” This person told Apryl that she could be both “gay AND Christian and that God was okay with that. When I was with her, I felt more whole and authentic than I ever had before.”

The relationship lasted for a few months, but the guilt weighed on Apryl. She couldn’t handle it. “I freaked out and went back to the church. I confessed to my pastor what was happening and I went back to reparative therapy again.”

They came back with the same ideas, “gay people are all miserable, they’re all enveloped in darkness.”

But this time it was different, Apryl explains, “Their assertions no longer made sense. I had experienced the opposite.”

When they suggested a second exorcism, she just said no.

Apryl left North Carolina and went through a series of jobs in California, then back to North Carolina and even a short stint in Virginia at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. She tried different approaches to dealing with her sexuality, ‘white knuckling’, a short hand for celibacy, and when that didn’t work, another version of therapy, ‘Sought Out’ similar to reparative therapy, but incorporating some of the same principles developed for twelve step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous.

It was “twenty weeks of unbelievably hard introspection, confession, accountability and counseling. We started by examining possible causes of our homosexuality or sexual brokenness. A basic premise of the program was that no one is born gay so there must be a cause…a root of our same-sex attraction. Overbearing Mother? That’s why you’re gay. Sexual abuse? That’s absolutely why you’re gay. Only child and you grew up lonely? That’s why you’re gay. We did things like write down wrong ways we had been labeled on sheets of paper and burned them. Very cathartic and very meaningful. We wrote down things we believed about ourselves that contributed to our ‘sexual brokenness’ on mirrors then smashed them. We confessed our sins (mental and physical) both publicly to the entire group and privately to our small group leaders, wrote them down on special paper, immersed them in water (meant to be a picture of God’s forgiveness) and watched them dissolve.  These activities were all designed to make us confront the causes of our sexuality, bring them out into the open and then destroy them.”

“I literally nailed my areas of brokenness, their causes, and my own sexual behavior to a cross then bowed below them begging for forgiveness and for restoration. I lay on the floor of a church weeping, begging to be delivered. This was a nightly experience.”

According to Apryl, the program suggested that “all homosexual relationships are born out of brokenness and cause nothing but pain and unhappiness.”

“This was drilled into us and because my own experience in a same-sex relationship had been wonderful, but riddled with guilt and constant turmoil, I couldn’t totally counteract the concept. In fact, most of us who sat in that room every Monday night had never met a happy same-sex couple. We didn’t understand that in the Christian circles we lived in there would naturally not be ANY healthy same-sex couples.”

“I ended up working as a counselor for the Sought Out program, teaching the same repressive techniques. I stopped one day when I sat there with this vulnerable 17-year-old. You could see at 100 feet that she was a lesbian.  She had no attraction to men whatsoever, but she desperately did not want to be gay. I had to tell her that her only two choices were celibacy or learning to date men. This was the message I had been taught and what I believed about myself. It was the depressing reality that I was grappling with.  But, when I realized I was telling a 17-year-old who had only begun to live life that those were her only two options—it just didn’t add up. I couldn’t do it. I saw myself in her and I thought, ‘Oh, my God, I can’t do this. I’m done with this. I can’t do it anymore. That was the beginning of the end.”

But there’s nothing easy about transitions, about coming out or staying in denial. Apryl still loved the church and didn’t want to leave it. She was on a mission in Serbia and Slovakia teaching English through bible lessons before she realized how much about her life still needed to change.

“It was summer camp and I had spent it with the Serbians who have a real love of life. When some missionaries arrived from Canada they acted prudish and started scolding the Serbians for wearing short skirts or dancing and hugging. They were trying to impose westernized Christianity’s rulebook on these vibrant and passionate people. I realized the missionaries were missing the point. The Serbians were praising the Lord in their own way, just as David had danced. Why would God make them this way, just to condemn them? Why would he make me this way, just to condemn me? All of these ideas about correct behavior, correct sexuality were inventions. They were Westernized ways of trying to control people and put them in a box.  My eyes were opened and I began to evaluate what I knew of God on my own and not through the fabricated conventions of the conservative church. All of a sudden, it was like I experienced the true God, a force of love for the first time.”

“There was no guilt, there was no shame. I finally got it. As cliché as it sounds, I went to one of those fields of sunflowers as tall as your head in Serbia, I sat there for hours and I made my peace with God.”

Since that summer in 2005, Apryl has undergone therapy to ‘repair’ the reparative therapy. She has been married to her wife for 7 years and she says that people who had previously rejected her in the church are coming back.

“I miss the community of the church.  But, there’s a real sense of us vs. them. It’s fine when you’re the ‘us’, it’s cool and beautiful. But when you’re all of a sudden part of the ‘them’, it’s a cruel, cruel thing.”

Her family has been surprisingly supportive. In fact, one of Apryl’s main regrets is that for years she avoided visiting her Christian grandmother because she was afraid that her grandmother would be disappointed that she was gay rather than pursuing ministry. After her grandmother died, her aunt was unpacking a box of old photographs. Near the bottom, at least two years old, was a photograph of Apryl with her wife, Adrian.

“I should have visited.  I should have known …” Apryl tilts her head, a nod toward what might have been. “She knew about us all along and, like the amazing woman she was, she loved me anyway… That’s a true example of a Christian.”

*Full Text of HB1135 can be found at this link:

http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?141+ful+HB1135

Note: Major medical groups like the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association and others have moved to discourage reparative therapy.

According to the American Psychological Association, “The terms reparative therapy and sexual orientation conversion therapy refer to counseling and psychotherapy aimed at eliminating or suppressing homosexuality. The most important fact about these “therapies” is that they are based on a view of homosexuality that has been rejected by all the major mental health professions.”

~Jack Johnson

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Teach your children well – Hearts and Minds

Crosby Stills Nash and Young
You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good bye.

I found a safety pin in the carpet and remember being surprised and delighted when I got it open. I used it to scratch the paint off the face of my sister’s new dolly. After the tear fest that followed her outrage, torrents of Bible verses and lectures about jealousy fell on my young ears and then Daddy got home to teach me several other consequences of destructive behavior. I remember it well.

Feelings about fairness are rooted in every social problem.

A sense of fairness, whether innate or learned, is something I imagine most parents attempt to highlight in their children, and learning to respect the property of others is basic. Understanding why we wouldn’t is more subjective, requires empathy and addresses the feelings of persons negatively affected. When authoritative consequences drive home the point that punishment follows for those who disobey the law, it only works if the laws are understood, reflect society’s morals and ethics, and if the punishment is applied fairly across the board.

“Do as I say, not as I do” and “Do what I say without question” are old style authoritarianism, ineffective leadership, and not the least bit democratic. We need to get that mentality out of our government. When the American people react en mass out of feelings of unfairness, we don’t need to have the sin spanked out of us. We need representatives willing to listen first, ask and answer questions, and attend to our needs – whatever we say our needs are. Their secrecy and the favoritism they show to corporations is abhorrent. They need to keep their religion to themselves and legislate in fairness with the hearts and minds of the people as their priority. That could begin with laws that respect the peoples’ property.

When young lessons are twisted up in a mix of religious and economic self-righteousness, the result is confusion, then anger, then rage. The same goes for a nation with laws that allow corporations to abuse or destroy our property while others are subjected to jail time.

If my factory emissions cause your emphazima, loss of employment and homelessness, even death – that’s too bad. Illness, cancer, toxic waste, the destruction of our environment – it’s all the same. Erin Brockovich was popular because our hearts and minds were with her in a desperate struggle to right a wrong, but the rarity of her success is what made it a story.

Teach your children well,
Their father’s hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you’ll know by.

It’s role reversal. The people are the teachers, not the government. And the parents of America’s children have their hands full trying to convey that message, I’m sure. It must be tough, for example, teaching children that their bodies are their most precious possessions, to be cared for and treated with respect by all. This, at the same time the state of Virginia among others have the audacity to force medical procedures on unwilling women for a purpose clearly not covered in the law – a future mandate for women to endure unplanned pregnancy and bear unwanted children.

Another thing I know parents struggle with today, because it’s getting difficult for everyone, is providing and modeling healthy nourishment. Having compromised the standards for the most fundamental requirements of the human body – in favor of corporate profits, government agencies have made a mockery of our basic needs. Body, heart and mind – it takes clean air and water, healthy food.  John Prine suggests,
“Blow up your T.V.
throw away your paper,
Go to the country, build you a home
Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches”.
And while you’re at it, exercise the freedom to make your own spiritual choices. The religious doctrine of others is healthy food for thought and a joy to study and consider – during the process of independent, personal resolve.

I jumped off the track with John Prine, but while I’m here, I’ll say what I’m thinking: there’s nothing reasonable about making smiles illegal. “Well done, hot dog bun, my sister’s a nun.” Try explaining that one to your kids, but you might hold off on the drug war. They’ll eventually see through it like everybody this side of “Just say no”, another authoritative instruction from the old school that never worked and never will.

Back to religion – by their very nature, spiritual choices are unregulated; they come through a variety of life and family experiences. Legislation that favors your experience over mine is categorically wrong, but a good example of the confusing religious and economic self-righteousness being dished out by ‘Daddy’ these days.

Among various other discrimination, Virginia’s new adoption law allows state agencies to say, “You may adopt this child if you’re a Christian, but not if you’re a Jew”. If you live in America, have a brain cell and are raising a child, that’s another one that should be difficult to explain, especially for Christians. Subjecting the soft skin of children to the warehousing of orphanages when they deserve, have a right and an opportunity to become a family member in a safe, protective and loving home, is not exactly ‘witnessing’. If I were an orphan under those circumstances, I can’t think of anything that would drive me away from Christians more completely.

And you, of tender years,
Can’t know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth,
They seek the truth before they can die.

Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

The point is, good parents are what we need and I hold them in the highest esteem. Having the know-how, intuition, courage and stamina to make positives from negatives and prepare young minds for a go at the world ahead is more than I can grasp, but I appreciate them and the challenges they face.

One of the most important lessons in fairness and how our children will work toward it is in our Bill of Rights. The First Amendment enshrines the right to assemble peaceably, to speak freely, and to petition for governmental redress of grievances. In light of what happened at the Capital in Richmond on Saturday during the rally for women’s rights, I’ve wondered how parents are supposed to teach their children to be good citizens who practice healthy, peaceful redress efforts without being afraid or intimidated. (If you don’t know what happened, here’s March 3rd, 2012 – Of Protests and Bitch Slaps, by Jack Johnson, and excellent account of the rally and of the arrests that followed.)

The following is an example of good parenting that I think fits the bill. I saw it earlier today, and don’t know the mom who posted it, but see if you don’t agree that she has the “hearts and minds” of her children in full view of their future and our needs as a nation:

“Since Saturday I have been wondering about an appropriate role in the re-surging women’s rights movement. As I watched civil disobedience play out on Saturday I kept wondering, what can/should I do? What is my role in this?

I am a mom.
I am needed at home.
My life is busy.
You are too.
But…………………..

I sometimes wonder if some elected officials count on us being so busy as to not pay attention to what they do. I am not *that* busy anymore. But what, given the requirements of being a mother, should I be doing?

I am a mother.
I have two daughters.
I will teach.

Today I called the Capitol Tour Desk to inquire about having a picnic with my children on the grounds. I am told that we are allowed to bring food or purchase food at their underground café and eat anywhere on the grounds except inside in the historical part of the building.

I plan to take my girls for a field trip to discuss civil disobedience, democracy, and the women’s rights movement. I may do this more than once and I am putting the intention into the universe that other mothers will feel the strength of this lesson for the next generation. The erosion of personal freedoms is not to be tolerated. This Thursday I plan to sit on the steps in the same spot that the protesters were sitting and bring my laptop with the YouTube video of what happened in that spot.

Think of the tremendous life learning opportunity we have before us to teach the next generation. I am not looking to turn this into anything other than what it is… mothers teaching their children and remaining visible even while handling our busy lives.

I was thinking I might head over there this Thursday a little before lunchtime. Anyone care to join me???”

(That will be tomorrow, March 8, 2012)

~~~~~

DCKennedy

Some News from APV, Virginia:

Today Governor McDonnell signed HB 462 (the Mandatory Ultrasound Bill) into law. We are deeply disappointed by his decision, but not deterred. There is no doubt that our voices have been heard ‘loud and clear’, not just by our representatives, but by the press and therefore the country. We have gotten our message out there. We have been remarkably successful in fighting some of the worst legislation out of the GA this year with the odds against us. We have forged alliances and gathered people who will not forget, and we will continue to build momentum to take this state back. We’re in this for the long haul. Make no mistake, we ARE winning.

.

Adoption in Virginia – What a mess!

Scenarios:
John has been in the system for a long time. He’s troubled and shows it by getting in trouble. No one has been interested in adopting him since he was twelve, and the situation is getting worse as he ages. A lovely dedicated couple who have worked with troubled children for many years decide they’d like to adopt him, but the agency won’t allow it because they don’t want John to be influenced by Jews.

Susie has a disability that requires medical treatments. A few couples thought about adopting her, but they didn’t because of the necessary modifications for her wheelchair and the concern and expense of her health care needs. Gail, a nice widow of 60 and a nurse with the resources and background to offer Susie a good home and stable life, is turned down by the agency because she isn’t married. Or, it could be because Gail is over thirty, or because she’s not a Republican, or because she’s a woman, or because she doesn’t believe in corporal punishment ….

Sam and Mack are well-respected and known assets in their community as well as their church. They’ve been stable partners for 14 years and have a successful landscaping business. After long consideration, they apply to be foster parents for Jake, a homosexual teenage boy in crisis counseling for a suicide attempt. Everything about Sam and Mack checks out, but the caring, understanding home environment and healthy role models are rejected by the agency, preferring to “cure” Jake with prayer treatments and anti-gay conversion therapy. LGBT children make up a significant number of available adoptees.

Nick and Caroline own a convenience store next to their home. Caroline is a teacher. They’re not rich, but they’ve managed a nest egg that will allow them to raise a son and put him through college. Everything looked great until Nick told the agency that he hoped his son would want to serve our country in the Marine Corps, as he did. The adoption is denied on moral grounds.

~~~~~~

A decision made by the State Board of Social Services in December allows state-licensed private adoption and foster care agencies to refuse prospective parents based on sexual orientation, religion, age of the prospective parents, gender, disability, family status or political beliefs.

APV fought that decision tooth and nail, and like a lot of people in Virginia, we can hardly believe it went through. But it did, and to solidify it into law and make it even worse, we have HB189 and SB349, which are due to be signed by Governor McDonnell. Here’s what we’re fighting in Virginia adoption law now:

HB 189 – SUMMARY AS PASSED HOUSE:

Child-placing agency; conscience clause.  Provides that, to the extent allowed by federal law, no private child-placing agency shall be required to perform, assist, counsel, recommend, consent to, refer, or participate in any placement of a child for foster care or adoption when the proposed placement would violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies. In addition, the bill provides that the Commissioner of Social Services shall not deny an application for an initial license or renewal of a license, nor revoke a license, of any private child-placing agency and no state or local government entity shall deny a private child-placing agency any grant, contract, or participation in a government program because of the agency’s objection to performing, assisting, counseling, recommending, consenting to, referring, or participating in a placement that violates the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies. The bill provides that the refusal of a private child-placing agency to perform, assist, counsel, recommend, consent to, refer, or participate in a placement that violates its written moral or religious convictions or policies shall not form the basis of any claim for damages. This bill is identical to SB349.

Sen. John S. Edwards, a Democrat from southwestern Virginia, said, “This bill treads on thin ice. It confuses the right of a person to hold their own religious views, which is sacred, and imposing those views on someone else.”

His opinion is backed up by the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom written by Thomas Jefferson and passed by the Virginia legislature of 1786:

“Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

And though we well know this Assembly, elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no powers equal to our own and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable would be of no effect in law, yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right.”

The state’s contractors are not entitled to this protection. They’re not people. It’s not about their freedom of religion because adoption is a public act. Nor, as contractors, should they be granted permission to impose their stated religious beliefs on adoptive children who are covered by the statute. Virginia’s children, if “compelled to support … religious worship, place, or ministry” would be wronged, and “such act will be an infringement of natural right” in the state of Virginia.

Should Virginia’s parentless children have a guardian ad litem to oversee their foster home and adoption applications? What about the suffering experienced by children forced to live in group homes unnecessarily? A child’s needs and rights should be protected from any agency choosing to put into peril available opportunities for a stable home and family life.   

Just as troubling, or more so, is the vague wording about “moral convictions or policies”. In context, we’re not talking about virtue-centered morality for the good of community. This is “rights-centered” morality stressing individual freedom, which can be anything. The way this bill is written, an agency can write down a list of preferences, call it moral conviction and policy, and they’re free and clear to prohibit adoptions based on whatever is on the list.

Examples of unregulated rights-centered morality issues are as common in this country as being anti-war or believing in corporal punishment; as controversial as reproductive rights for women; or as egregious as the applause in recent debates has indicated for allowing people to die because they have no health insurance. Polygamy is a regulated religious practice in the U.S., but arranged marriages are not.

The point is, the law will relegate a critical public responsibility, the placement and future of Virginia’s adoptive children, to contractors with a variety of religious and moral agendas, and who also accept taxpayer dollars to subsidize each child’s care.

Back to the scenarios for one more point:
Because he’s been in trouble, John’s mounting chores in the group home include most of the cleaning and yard work. They’re not really eager to lose him to adoption at this time. Because of Susie’s disability, the agency that keeps her gets more money each month for her than the other children. They’re not really eager to lose her to adoption at this time. Jake’s homosexuality is believed to be a stubborn refusal to accept Jesus Christ as his savior, a point of contention that his agency is determined to make an example of. They’re not really eager to lose him to adoption at this time.

Who is designated to stand up for our children when agencies fail to act in their interest? The checks and balances have been defunded and cut back to the extent that a handful of dedicated, overworked social workers and CASA volunteers must simply do the best they can with a massive workload.

It doesn’t make good sense to keep adoptable children in the system when healthy loving people are willing and able to care for them, embrace their differences, and provide the home and family life they have to share. The moral or religious preferences of an agency are not important. This is supposed to be about the children, and if the agencies had their hearts in the right place, they would insist upon safe and healthy placement regardless of their list of convictions and policies.

This is bad law being pushed through by moralistic people in power who want to force their agendas on others.

But, back up a minute … what about the very real suffering and damage done to a child who is kept in the system unnecessarily? Well, that potential damage was obvious and looming enough for the authors of this bill to include sweeping immunity for the very contractors that should be prohibited from discriminating for their personal whims in the first place. It states that restrictions on adoption under “…written moral or religious convictions or policies shall not form the basis of any claim for damages.”

Hopefully, that would be challenged and decided by the courts, and maybe it would result in adoptable children being assigned a guardian ad litem. But, preventively, this legislation can be vetoed by the governor.

I justice, You justice, He/She justice, We justice, You justice, They justice

If the bill is signed, adoptable children in Virginia will pay the high price of being political, religious and moral pawns in a system already looking the other way when it comes to meeting many of their needs.

Please consider their interests and let Governor McDonnell know where you stand before it’s too late. Contact the Governor’s Office at (804) 786-2211, sign a petition here, and contact your representatives to let them know how you feel.
Thanks. 🙂

Slug Slow Equality

Our military has decided at long last that including gays won’t compromise our national security, and today they will meet to advise president Obama that they’ll be ready for inclusion in September.

Equality in America is a slug slow process at the end of a steep uphill fight for rights long ago provided for in the constitution and its amendments. Step by slow step, the LGBT community continues to climb, gaining ground, widening the path of civil rights activists and easing the way for other groups long discriminated against. Maybe one fine day we will see a similar announcement providing EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK.

In the mean time, congratulations to those Americans working to change policies of discrimination and exclusion. May the wind be always at your back.

DCKennedy

The Passion of Apathy….

We’re all too aware of the verdict in the Casey Anthony trial. The onlooking crowds, the lawyers and press members quietly bemoaning the verdict’s injustice and  of those well versed in legalese citing the “burden of proof” argument inherent in the judicial system as vindication. While both arguments are legitimate, it’s the lack of action and outrage from both sides of the fence that raises a huge red flag with me.

When the drag queens of Stonewall in the summer of 1969 had had enough of police profiling, the distribution of publicly humiliating photos and lists of the names of its patrons along with the obvious fallacies of the law as written regarding gay folks, they simply said NO! And in no small way either. They barricaded themselves inside the bar, thus defying the harassment of the police while ultimately venturing outside to physically and verbally demand their equality and the right to simply be left alone in “the pursuit of happiness”.

In the late 60’s there was an unlicensed after hours bar in Detroit named the Blind Pig; frequented almost entirely of local blacks. The police profiled this bar because of the racial makeup of its patrons under the guise of enforcing liquor laws but they made one huge mistake. On the night of July 26, 1967 they decided to raid the place. What ensued were  five days of demonstrations reeling in anger, violence and retribution. Those involved were simply not going to “take it anymore” as notably quoted from the film, “Network”.

While you may not agree with the manner in which these two events took place; there is an undeniably inflamed commitment by both groups to demand equal treatment within the law. The Revolutionary War was just that: a war. It was the refusal of a people to continue to be burdened with extreme taxes and unfair treatment by a monarchy which did little or nothing to ensure their well being. When an existing judicial system condones the practice of discrimination and alienation of any people, history shows us that a display of oneness and courage does indeed create change. Action produces results. The definition of courage is taking a stand even though fear is present in those trying to induce change. All of these groups were certainly unsure and afraid of what they were confronting, but they did it anyway. After countless measures well within the law to produce non-discriminatory legislation, they laid aside the niceties of being compliant and subservient. They did not wallow in the passion of apathy so evident in the silence of those unwilling to walk through their fears and demand change.

And here we are today. An errant mother accused of murdering her child who receives a not guilty verdict by a jury of her peers. While the verdict personally enrages me, the lack of vocal or physical response from the public who side with me is the epitome of apathy and the execution of a political correctness that ignores the validity of common sense. The shame of the jury is evident in their refusal to talk to anyone, the call for calm from the local police projects the fear of knowing that wrong has been done, and the silence of even her parents hints at the same shame; but I DO believe they all followed the law to the letter. Therein lies the rub.

I’ve received some concerned comments about condoning violence to reach resolution. I don’t know that I can calm those concerns. Believe that I wholeheartedly encourage going through the processes that exist first. The other side of that coin is that sometimes, and less often than not, something more than signing petitions, embracing lawmakers or massaging the quills of the opposition is necessary.

So when you’re stewing in your own juices about demeaning and obviously incorrect legislation, I urge you to stand up, walk through the fear, and make yourself known. Trust your gut and be heard.

Kirk Sparrow 7/6/2011

Oh … Hell yeah! Thanks for standing up, Roy McDonald!

“I’m tired of Republican-Democrat politics. They can take the job and shove it. I come from a blue-collar background. I’m trying to do the right thing, and that’s where I’m going with this.”

Republican NY State Senator Roy McDonald’s Awesome Defense Of Gay Marriage; Bloomberg Visits Albany