In response to yesterday's news that openly gay U.S. Representative Barney Frank is retiring, the Tennessee Tea Party called the Massachusetts Democrat a "perverted sodomite POS" in a tweet, according to The Tennessean.
At 12:40 p.m., @tnteaparty tweeted: “Good riddance you perverted sodomite POS!!” with a link to a story about Frank's retirement.
The tweet ignited a firestorm of responses, including this one from the Tennessee Equality Project: “Your comment re: Rep Frank is a new low. Your movement has been coopted by people who hate liberty &, um, people in general.”
For more on this story and a rundown of responses, check out this article in The Tennessean.
If the family is too far away, too homophobic, or just too annoying, the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Center (MGLCC) is offering another option for Thanksgiving dinner.
The MGLCC (892 S. Cooper) will hold its annual Thanksgiving potluck at the center from noon to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 24th. Turkey and a vegetarian option will be provided, and guests are encouraged to bring a side dish or dessert to share.
Last week, Lexington, Tennessee teen Kasey Landrum was given three days of in-school suspension for wearing make-up to school. After the story made national headlines, the Henderson County School Board reversed its policy to allow all students to wear makeup, if they so desire.
Landrum said his principal at Lexington High School in Henderson County said his purple eyeshadow violated the school's dress code policy. He said principal Steve Lindsay yelled at him and told him to go outside the school building.
The story made national news over the weekend, including a story in the U.K.'s Daily Mail and on Perez Hilton's blog, who called the situation "dreadful." The Tennessee Equality Project and LGBTQNation intervened, and Landrum's suspension was reversed.
According to a story on Pink News,"the 16-year-old said he has suffered from depression in the past by not being able to express himself at school."
"I’m proud of myself for being as comfortable as I am, but sometimes I wish I was straight," Landrum said.
The first hearing began today in a legal challenge against Tennessee's HB600/SB632, which took away the rights of local governments in the state to pass ordinances protecting LGBT employees. At the time of its passage earlier this year, Nashville's Metro government had just approved a non-discrimination ordinance, and the state law also overturned that decision.
At the hearing, attorneys for the Tennessee Equality Project and other plaintiffs are arguing that attempts were made to conceal information about the true intent of HB600/SB632.
Check back to Memphis Gaydar for updates as the case unfolds.
On Friday, radio talk show host Thaddeus Matthews asked his listeners "Is Lee Harris a faggot?" Harris finished first in last Thursday's election for former Memphis City Council member Barbara Swearengen Ware's seat, but he must face a run-off with Kemba Ford in the November 10th election because they were only four votes apart.
Why was Matthews, who has a history of stirring controversy, using homophobic slurs against Harris? The equality-supporting candidate appeared in a video on the Memphis Loves Gays website vowing to stand up against discrimination.
Matthews also posted a link on his website to that video with the title "Is Lee Harris Gay?." He also uses racist slurs against Harris on his site.
Memphis Loves Gays blogger Micheal Hildebrand confronted Matthews in his office to ask him to remove the link to his video interview of Harris. Rather than comply, Hildebrand says Matthews became violent and used homophobic slurs against him. Read all about Hildebrand's encounter with Matthews and more on this story at TEP's Grand Divisions blog.
Two weeks ago, Jerry Pitman and his boyfriend Dustin Lee were physically attacked and verbally assaulted with homophobic slurs on their way into a church service in Fruitland, Tennessee, right outside of Humboldt. The craziest part? The man who ordered the attacks was Jerry Pitman's father, the church pastor.
Evan Hurst, social media director of Truth Wins Out, has the full story on his blog.
Local filmmaker Mark Jones (Eli Parker Is Getting Married, Fraternity Massacre at Hell Island) is seeking extras for his next feature-length digital film, Tennessee Queer.
Jones is looking for extras from all walks of life to shoot for 11 different sessions from Sept. 28th through Oct. 24th. Some extras will be cast as re-occurring characters and will need to be filmed on multiple days. Some extras will have speaking parts. E-mail Morgan Jon Fox, another local filmmaker who is helping Jones with the project, at email@example.com with a recent photo and availability.
In the film, the lead character, Jason Potts, returns from his adult life living out and proud in New York to his hometown of Smyth, Tennessee. In an effort to show gay high school kids in the small town that life does get better, Potts asks the city council to approve a gay pride parade. He doesn't expect it to be approved, but he hopes the situation will earn him a little media attention so kids can see a successful gay man from their hometown.
But conservative council member Dwayne Cotton is seeking the mayoral seat and decides to support the parade so he can secretly figure out who is gay. He covertly plans to send his town's gay kids into a straight camp. As the parade date approaches, Jason and Dwayne's plans collide.
In a newsletter sent to members of Bellevue Baptist Church, pastor Steve Gaines asked congregants to "educate themselves regarding the most recent attempts of the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) to advance their homosexual activist agenda."
Recently, TEP's political action committee endorsed Memphis City Council candidates who supported the defeated non-discrimination ordinance last year or have been outspoken advocates for LGBT rights.
Gaines warned church members that TEP is attempting to unseat councilmen who "stand for preserving family values and protecting city employees and employers from having to take a position contrary to our Biblical beliefs in regards to the gay and lesbian lifestyle."
Click here to see TEP's response to Gaines' comments.
Here's a copy of the newsletter that was sent to Bellevue members:
In an effort to maintain a reliable funding source, the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center has launched the "Gimme 5" campaign asking supporters to give money or time in increments of five.
For example, donors can pledge $5 a day, $5 a week, or even as little as $5 a month. Or supporters who might be pressed for cash can volunteer five hours a week or five hours a month.
From the MGLCC's newsletter:
"In the course of one week, what do you spend $5 or 5 minutes or 5 hours doing? Without even blinking an eye, I can spend $5 on soft drinks each week or buying coffee for a friend and myself, or even occasionally indulging in a glass of wine. But what if I gave up a few colas and automatically gave $5 to MGLCC instead? I might shed a pound or two (or 5) but I would also be helping my community by systematically supporting the operations of MGLCC. Without even blinking an eye, my $5 a week will provide a predictable source of support to MGLCC so it can plan for the future and carry out its important work without missing a beat."
To participate, click here and click on the Donate Now button.
A note on Memphis-based ex-gay ministry Love in Action's website says the residential program has been suspended indefinitely.
According to the online statement: "Simply put, there is a significant need to bring all of LIA under one location for it to be more cost effective. We continue to counsel and grow through our 4-Day Intensives, Hourly Counseling, Conferences, Support Groups, and Church Assistance Program. Find out more information on these pages under our Programs page."
Love In Action came under fire in 2005 when equality advocates began protesting outside the facility in response to complaints that 16-year-old Zack Stark had been enrolled in LIA's youth program against his will. Love In Action has since ended Refuge, the youth program, and it's main focus has been on the adult residential program. The ministry is the subject of a newly released documentary — This Is What Love In Action Looks Like — by local filmmaker Morgan Jon Fox. He'll be premiering the film here at Indie Memphis in November.
Last week, the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) released a list of the most LGBT-friendly Memphis City Council candidates. They based their endorsements on whether or not sitting council members voted in favor of last year's non-discrimination ordinance and/or sought endorsements from TEP's political action committee.
This week, TEP added two current council members previously excluded from that PAC endorsement list: Jim Strickland and Myron Lowery.
They've also identified which candidates TEP endorses who are not currently serving on the council. Click here for a full list.
Wondering who to vote for in the upcoming Memphis City Council election?
You'll find a full list of how current council members and Mayor A C Wharton have handled local LGBT issues on the Grand Divisions blog. Blogger Jonathan Cole, vice-chair of the Tennessee Equality Project's Shelby County Committee, discusses how members voted on last year's proposed non-discrimination ordinance for LGBT city employees, as well as which members are endorsed by TEP's Political Action Committee.
Click here to see Cole's list.
Local filmmaker Morgan Jon Fox's long-awaited documentary, This Is What Love In Action Looks Like, is expected to make its Memphis premiere this fall.
But you can get your limited-edition poster promoting Fox's film, which chronicles the 2005 protests at the Memphis-based straight camp, right now. Those protests were sparked by 16-year-old Zack Stark's cry for help on his MySpace page after Stark was forced to attend a reparative therapy camp for teens.
The posters, designed by Christopher Reyes of Live From Memphis, feature shots of locals holding signs that read "It's OK to Be Gay" and "Fear Gay People, They Might Spread Happiness." Only 25 were printed, and each is hand-numbered and signed by Fox and Reyes. Click here to order.
"It Gets Better," launched by Seattle newsweekly editor Dan Savage, features YouTube videos of celebrities reassuring LGBT youth that life improves over time. The campaign began in response to the rash of gay teen suicides last year.
Plenty of well-known celebs, such as Ke$ha, Tim Gunn, Colin Farrell, and Sarah Silverman, have lent their images to the campaign. Even President Barack Obama has an "It Gets Better" video. And recently, several professional sports teams, like the San Francisco Giants and the Boston Red Sox, have made films.
Local LGBT activist Michael Hildebrand started the Change.org petition asking the Grizzlies to star in their own "It Gets Better" video. Click here to sign.
To get an idea of what a Grizzlies video might look like, check out this one with the Chicago Cubs.
One in four LGBT employees have reported discrimination at work in the past five years, and one in three are not out at work, according to a study released today by UCLA's Williams Institute.
Data for the study has been collected since 2005 and includes new data from the 2008 General Social Survey (GSS), a national probability survey representative of the U.S. population. Among the lesbian, gay, and bisexual respondents (transgender respondents were not mentioned), 42 percent said they'd experienced employment discrimination at some point in their lives. Twenty-seven percent experienced employment discrimination in the five years before the survey.
Not surprisingly, the survey also found that employees who were out at work were more likely to experience discrimination at the office.