Wesley Cullen Davidson https://wesleycullendavidson.com Author and Writer Thu, 17 Sep 2020 14:24:25 +0000 en hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.1 https://wesleycullendavidson.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/cropped-favicon-32x32.png Wesley Cullen Davidson https://wesleycullendavidson.com 32 32 The World Needs Bisexual Awareness Week September 16-23 https://wesleycullendavidson.com/2020/09/the-world-needs-bisexual-awareness-week-september-16-23.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-world-needs-bisexual-awareness-week-september-16-23 https://wesleycullendavidson.com/2020/09/the-world-needs-bisexual-awareness-week-september-16-23.html#respond Thu, 17 Sep 2020 14:24:25 +0000 https://wesleycullendavidson.com/?p=1401 Bisexuals make up the largest portion of the LGBTQ+ community (40% of America), according to data from the Pew Research Center.  However, society tries to erase them.  How? The Bisexual Resource Center (BRC), America’s oldest national bisexual organization in Boston, reports that this community experiences significantly higher rates of physical, sexual, mental and social health. …

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Bisexuals make up the largest portion of the LGBTQ+ community (40% of America), according to data from the Pew Research Center.  However, society tries to erase them.  How? The Bisexual Resource Center (BRC), America’s oldest national bisexual organization in Boston, reports that this community experiences significantly higher rates of physical, sexual, mental and social health.  Almost a third of bisexual employees said they have hidden their identities at work.

Double Discrimination Queer and Non-Queer

One of the social prejudices and challenges faced by bisexual people is if they date the opposite sex, they are regarded as heterosexual.  If they are romantically involved with women, people think they are lesbians.  Either way, they are told to get off the fence and decide even by their parents who don’t understand their identities.  (For this reason, The Trevor Project,  has a new BiGuide for young people.

No wonder that:

  • Gay men and lesbians are more likely to be out than bisexual.
  • Only 28% of bisexual people in the United States said that all or most of important people in their lives are aware that they are LGBT.
  • They earn less on the average, so they face economic challenges.

– Pew Research Center

Bisexual Awareness week every year not only draws attention to the experiences of this population that faces social, economic, and cultural prejudice, but also celebrates the resiliency of that community.  It educates the public about its history of such icons , for example, as poet Edna St. Vincent Millay who was openly bisexual, to ex- Florida Mayor Andrew Gillum who recently came out.

The Bisexual Awareness Week, culminates in Bisexual or Bivisibility Day on September 23, 2020.  Co-founded by GLAAD and Bisexual +, the week has events that include discussions and workshops that inform the public about the rights of the bisexual population.  Organizations hold public outreach programs (many on-line due to the Corona Virus) for their community. They also hold lobbying events as part of their policy agenda where they influence local government and representatives to consider issues facing the bisexual as well as transgender populations.

Without a platform such as Bisexual Awareness Week, bisexuals would continue to feel less happy and suffer from anxiety.

 

 

 

 

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Who is Marsha P. Johnson and Why It Matters https://wesleycullendavidson.com/2020/09/who-is-marsha-p-johnson-and-why-it-matters.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=who-is-marsha-p-johnson-and-why-it-matters https://wesleycullendavidson.com/2020/09/who-is-marsha-p-johnson-and-why-it-matters.html#respond Thu, 10 Sep 2020 15:01:37 +0000 https://wesleycullendavidson.com/?p=1393 After high school in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Marsha P. Johnson, born Malcolm Michaels, Jr. in 1945, moved to New York City with $15 in his pocket.  He couldn’t wait to leave New Jersey. Wearing dresses at age six, he was ridiculed.  He identified as gay, but back then in 1951, “gay” was not a common…

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After high school in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Marsha P. Johnson, born Malcolm Michaels, Jr. in 1945, moved to New York City with $15 in his pocket.  He couldn’t wait to leave New Jersey. Wearing dresses at age six, he was ridiculed.  He identified as gay, but back then in 1951, “gay” was not a common term.  In a large Episcopal family, he wasn’t a good fit.

Marsha P. (who said the “P” stood for “Pay It No Mind.”), would become known as “The Mayor of Christopher Street” in Greenwich Village, be silk screened by Andy Warhol, and become an icon of the Stonewall Uprising in 1968.  She was a black transvestite who identified as gay, used she/her pronouns and became a member of two drag queen troupes, The Angels of Light, on the East Coast and Hot Peaches, founded in 1970 in New York City, that was known for its gay political commentary, farcical romps, and costumes.

Often seen with flowers in her hair because she often slept on a florist’s table, Marsha founded S.T.A.R.  (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries) in 1970 with Sylvia Rivera.  Sylvia was a Latina American gay liberation and transgender rights activist who died in 2002.  Like Marsha, Rivera identified as a drag queen and participated in demonstrations with the Gay Liberation Front from 1969 through the mid-1980’s, and resisted the police at the Stonewall Uprising.

Together, Johnson and Rivera helped provide one of this country’s first shelter, a safe space for homeless LGBT youth at the S.T.A.R. home. They advocated for the homeless and those with H.I.V.  Marsha had H.I.V. and was an ardent activist for the Gay organization, Act Up (Coalition to Unleash Power), organized to end the AIDS pandemic.

They both worked hard for the inclusion of queer people of color and gender non-conforming in the mainstream civil rights movement. On forty-second Street, they found a tribe of sex workers, drag queens, and members of the gay community.  They were often arrested.

In 1992, Marsha Johnson was found dead in the Hudson River.  It was not determined if it were a suicide.  Some thought Marsha was schizophrenic.  Still others thought she was murdered.  (Today, in 2020, transgender adults of color have a higher incidence of murder than white transsexuals).

In any case, Marsha is finally getting her due.  The newly-launched Marsha P. Johnson Institute will continue her work to protect and defend the human rights of black transgender people.  Last month, Governor Cuomo announced that the city of New York will build a monument to honor Rivera and Johnson for their roles in the Stonewall Uprising and advocacy for the LGBTQ, homeless and HIV positive.  It will be the first permanent public artwork recognizing transgender women in the world.

This is an eleven-acre East River State Park in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with views of the Williamsburg Bridge and Midtown Manhattan.  In the future,  there will be a public art installation along side of interpretive materials on Johnson’s life as well as information on the larger LGBTQ movement.

In a 1992 interview, Marsha called herself “the nobody from nowheresville” until she became a drag queen.”  “Be who you want to be”  was her motto.

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Moving Towards Equality For The Trans Community https://wesleycullendavidson.com/2020/08/moving-towards-equality-for-the-trans-community.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=moving-towards-equality-for-the-trans-community https://wesleycullendavidson.com/2020/08/moving-towards-equality-for-the-trans-community.html#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2020 16:52:20 +0000 https://wesleycullendavidson.com/?p=1377 According to cnn.com at least twenty-two people, mostly black trans people, have been killed in 2019. Believe or not, these numbers may be low as no U.S. jurisdiction or agency routinely collects information about a person’s gender identity when they die. The Williams Institute, a think tank focusing on LGBT policy at UCLA School of…

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According to cnn.com at least twenty-two people, mostly black trans people, have been killed in 2019. Believe or not, these numbers may be low as no U.S. jurisdiction or agency routinely collects information about a person’s gender identity when they die. The Williams Institute, a think tank focusing on LGBT policy at UCLA School of Law, estimates that 1.5 million Americans identify as transgender.

Trans Healthcare Rollback Temporarily Stopped

The American Medical Association calls it an “epidemic.” While the killings haven’t stopped, in other areas like health care, progress has been made. Last Monday, August 17, 2020, a Washington federal judge blocked the Trump Administration from enforcing a new regulation that would have rolled back health care protections for transgender people.

The Human Health and Services (HHS)’s rule wanted to overturn Obama-era sex discrimination protections for transgender people in healthcare. Obama’s law relied on a broader understanding based on a person’s inner sense of being whether it be male, female, neither, or combination. In other words, sex is not determined by biology as Trump defined it.

The preliminary Injunction at the eleventh hour came from the U.S. District Court Judge Frederic Block in Brooklyn and bars the administration from enforcing the Trump Administration’s “transgender rule.” It’s invalid until a Court case can be heard. Last June, a similar case was judged with similar issues involving job discrimination against the LGBT population.

Another Temporary Injunction Benefits Trans Athletes

Also, last week, CBS News.com reported that a federal Judge in Idaho issued a temporary injunction to stop Idaho from enacting a law banning transgender girls and women from participating in women’s sports. Female trans athletes can participate in sports that match their gender identity this fall in secondary schools and at college level.

The lawsuit was filed because Lindsay Hecox, a trans student at Boise State University wanted to try out for a cross country team. Lindsay doesn’t want to be subjected to what she regards as an “invasive” sex verification testing.

Supporters said the law was needed because transgender female athletes have physical advantages over heterosexual ones. The transgender community says it doesn’t take into account identity issues.

Last week, the U.S. Magistrate Candy Dale reported that Idaho’s latest attempt to ban transgender people from changing gender on their birth certificates violates a court order she issued two years ago.

Inching Forward For Trans Military Members

Senator Joseph Kennedy III of Boston has spearheaded efforts in Washington to stop the present administration’s ban on transgender troops that was put into place in April 2019. (In July, 2020, the House voted to end Trump’s Transgender Military ban.) Kennedy, a leader in the Transgender Equality Task Force told President Trump to end and revoke all of his attacks on trans people.

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Long Before Edie Windsor, Civil Rights Icon John Lewis Fought For Gay Rights https://wesleycullendavidson.com/2020/08/long-before-edie-windsor-civil-rights-icon-john-lewis-fought-for-gay-rights.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=long-before-edie-windsor-civil-rights-icon-john-lewis-fought-for-gay-rights https://wesleycullendavidson.com/2020/08/long-before-edie-windsor-civil-rights-icon-john-lewis-fought-for-gay-rights.html#respond Tue, 04 Aug 2020 12:28:44 +0000 https://wesleycullendavidson.com/?p=1366 Edith Windsor’s same-sex marriage fight led to an important Landmark Ruling, in 2013, although it was limited to thirteen states and District of Columbia. It declared the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional and was signed by President Clinton. The bill defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman. In essence, Windsor,…

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Edith Windsor’s same-sex marriage fight led to an important Landmark Ruling, in 2013, although it was limited to thirteen states and District of Columbia. It declared the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional and was signed by President Clinton. The bill defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman. In essence, Windsor, sued the Federal Government claiming that the law, by recognizing only marriages between a man and a woman, unconstitutionally singled out same-sex marriage partners for “differential treatment.”

Later, the Supreme Court ruling, on June 26, 2015, in the case Obergefell vs. Hodges, granted same-sex married couples in all states federal recognition for the first time and rights to federal benefits that were heretofore granted to heterosexual couples. The movement that Windsor had spearheaded had come to fruition. She was considered a LGBT “hero.”

Congressman John Lewis Labels LGBTQ Rights Civil Rights

However, even before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex unions, Lewis supported same-sex marriage in the 2000s and the decade before! In 1996, he delivered a speech against DOMA. This was foresighted because according to a Pew poll, two-thirds of Americans were against gay marriage. As early as 2003, in a Boston Globe editorial, Lewis wrote “I’ve heard the reasons for opposing civil marriage or same-sex couples. Cut through the distractions, and they stink of the same fear, hatred, and intolerance I have known in racism and in bigotry.”

“I have fought too hard and too long against discrimination based on race and color not to stand up against discrimination based on sexual orientation. I’ve heard the reasons for opposing civil marriage for same same-sex marriages.”

Lewis was opposed to civil unions and favored more equitable marriage. Said he, “marriage is a basic human right.”

Co-Sponsor of Bills to Advance Rights of LGBTQ People

Georgia Representative Lewis co-sponsored more than a dozen bills throughout his long career in office. Lewis was the lead sponsor of the Equality Act which prohibits discrimination based on sexuality or gender identity and the Respect for Marriage Act, that aimed to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

In 2015 when same-sex marriage was legalized in every state by the Supreme Court, Lewis issued this statement:

“As a nation, we cannot say we are committed to equality, if we do not mandate equality for every citizen. You cannot have equality for some in America and not equality for all. This is another major step down a very long road toward the realization of a fair and just society. We should embrace the decision of the United States Supreme Court. It is now the law of the land.”

Four years later, he stated his reasons for allowing adoption by same-sex couples. “Too many children dream of a stable, loving family. Many adults want to open their homes and their hearts, but they also are facing more and more barriers, because some officials can say they practice the wrong religion, love the wrong person or are not married.”

Lewis never stopped fighting for what he believed in. Lucky for us that his definition of civil rights included the LGBTQ community!

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Don’t Think They Have To Choose! https://wesleycullendavidson.com/2020/07/dont-think-they-have-to-choose.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dont-think-they-have-to-choose https://wesleycullendavidson.com/2020/07/dont-think-they-have-to-choose.html#respond Fri, 24 Jul 2020 12:09:17 +0000 https://wesleycullendavidson.com/?p=1360 Male Bisexuality is Real According to Multiple Studies At Four Universities  The Advocate.com came to this conclusion after reviewing data from eight studies conducted between 2000 and 2019 at Northwestern, the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, the University of Essex in the United Kingdom, and Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. The…

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Male Bisexuality is Real According to Multiple Studies At Four Universities 

The Advocate.com came to this conclusion after reviewing data from eight studies conducted between 2000 and 2019 at Northwestern, the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, the University of Essex in the United Kingdom, and Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

The Study

Six hundred male participants, with an average age of twenty-nine, measured responses to male and female erotic stimuli in these eight studies. Researchers confirmed that male sexual attraction and orientation ranges from straight to bisexual to gay. Out of the 600 who participated, nearly 500 were aroused, according to Bailey, who led the Northwestern findings. “There is no longer reasonable doubt.” (A prior 2005 study, co-led by Bailey, did not find evidence of bisexual arousal in men). The study was published on July 20, 2020, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

However, this does NOT mean that bisexual men are equally attracted to men and women, but rather that bisexual men were, during the testing, more aroused by men than straight men, more aroused by women than gay men, and equally attracted to both genders to a greater extent than either straight or gay men.

Freud and Kinsey Knew This Before

This new study confirms sex researcher Alfred Kinsey’s 1948 theory that sexuality exists on a continuum. Of course, Sigmund Freud believed that all humans were bisexual, that everyone is sexually attracted to both sexes. In his view, this was true anatomically and therefore also mentally and psychologically. Or as one unprofessional commented on Twitter about the new study: “Duh.”

Society is Prejudiced Against Bisexuals

Bisexuals comprise more than half of the GLB community yet are given a bum rap, in general, by society. Director of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University, Caitlin Ryan, Ph.D., says “that people who identify as bisexual, especially men, are often viewed with suspicion, and this includes a perception that they won’t commit to being gay. They are often discriminated against and stigmatized.”

One of the thirteen authors of the latest study and President of the American Institute of Bisexuality, John Sylla, who concludes “that bisexually aroused men and women, even if for different reasons, choose to pass as just straight or gay” agrees with Dr. Ryan.

People tend to identify as gay or straight because of a habit of erasing a “middle area.” Dr. Ryan commented that” society doesn’t help navigate the conversation around male bisexuality.”

How Do Parents Respond To Child’s Bisexuality?

So, what does this mean for parents whose kids come out as bisexual? How are they supposed to respond?

  • Don’t tell your child to “get off the fence” and choose. Time will tell if they are bisexual or experimenting. However, your child is really the only one who knows as is therefore the expert.
  • Don’t get your hopes up that your child will identify as straight. It may not happen! Don’t try to push him into that orientation.
  • Continue to discuss sex protection.
  • If your child is quarantined with you at home, you should be able to have more time to discuss bisexuality and its opposite pigeonhole, gender binary or classification of gender into two distinct opposite forms of masculine and feminine to which society assigns its members.

If you are in denial about bisexuality, you may want to consult the following organizations: Bisexual Resource Center, Bi Youth, BiNet USA.

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Parents and Schools Failing Sex Education https://wesleycullendavidson.com/2020/07/parents-and-schools-failing-sex-education.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=parents-and-schools-failing-sex-education https://wesleycullendavidson.com/2020/07/parents-and-schools-failing-sex-education.html#respond Tue, 14 Jul 2020 14:11:33 +0000 https://wesleycullendavidson.com/?p=1347 Yesterday, I listened to sex researcher Megan Maas’s TEDXTalk “How the Evolution of Porn Changed Adolescence.”  Dr. Maas is an Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Michigan State.  In her work, she collects surveys and focus group data from adolescents on their media and sexuality experiences. According to Dr. Maas, the young…

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Yesterday, I listened to sex researcher Megan Maas’s TEDXTalk “How the Evolution of Porn Changed Adolescence.”  Dr. Maas is an Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Michigan State.  In her work, she collects surveys and focus group data from adolescents on their media and sexuality experiences.

According to Dr. Maas, the young are having less face-to-face non-virtual sex but spending more time looking at online porn, which she contends, is not the best sex educator. It doesn’t teach intimacy, respect, or trust within a relationship.

Maas’s college survey of more than 2,000 students reported abysmal statistics:

  • less than 1/2 of students’ parents discussed sex more than once.  The parents mistakenly thought the “talk” had to be given only once.
  • Only 26% of parents discussed sexual violence with their kids.
  • Less than 7% of parents discussed pornography, sexual pleasure and sexual consent with their children.

For tongue-tied parents not used to delving into these topics, there’s help.  Here are some resources:

Over ninety percent of parents want their children to have sexual education in schools yet the instruction, left to the states, can be wholly inadequate.  Many states, mandate “abstinence-only” education or specific aspects such as contraception, with little information that can be applicable to LGBT students.   When the information isn’t properly regulated by the state, teachers are left to interpret vague legislative guidelines.  Consequently, the information the student receives may not be accurate.

What can a parent of an LGBT child do to make the sex ed. relevant to their child?

  • Find out what the laws in your state.  Go to local school board to find out what sex education looks like in your community schools. The nursing blog at usc compares legislative policies of fifty states, including how they mandate specific aspects of sex education like contraception, abstinence and sexual orientation .
  • The legislation for sex ed. falls under jurisdiction of state rights.  You can find representative and senators and tell them to support Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP) and the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) and put and end to abstinence-only-until-marriage and sexual avoidance (SRA) programs.
  • You can order Siecus’s (Sexuality and Information and Education Council of the United States “advancing sex ed for social change since 1964.”) book: Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education, K-12.  siecus.org.

Parents and schools should not fear that additional information will cause their adolescents to become promiscuous.  Quite the contrary, they will make well-informed decisions based on well-respected knowledge, not hearsay or ignorance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Out At College, Closeted While Quarantined At Home https://wesleycullendavidson.com/2020/06/out-at-college-closeted-while-quarantined-at-home.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=out-at-college-closeted-while-quarantined-at-home https://wesleycullendavidson.com/2020/06/out-at-college-closeted-while-quarantined-at-home.html#respond Fri, 26 Jun 2020 13:38:22 +0000 https://wesleycullendavidson.com/?p=1339   You finally found your niche at college where you have like-minded friends who are gay. No longer are you bullied as you were in high school because you can express your self, your identity and your sexual orientation. You feel free because you’re out! But with college classes cancelled, you’re right back where you…

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You finally found your niche at college where you have like-minded friends who are gay. No longer are you bullied as you were in high school because you can express your self, your identity and your sexual orientation. You feel free because you’re out!

But with college classes cancelled, you’re right back where you started: closeted at home with your parents. You may be back in your old room with bad memories of your high school days. Will your college open in the fall or even next year? In the interim, you’re living in limbo, in what seems like too-close-for-comfort quarters with your parents whom you haven’t told that you’re gay. Nor do you want to now.

So, what can you do not to erase your sexual orientation, communicate with your gay friends, and try to celebrate PRIDE this month, at least virtually?

 

                        Privacy Counts

 

  • Keep your phone with you at all times.
  • If using a family computer, be sure to erase sites that would out you.
  • LGBT PRIDE events in June may not be celebrated on foot due to the crowds during the Corona Virus, but Pride is not forgotten. There are many virtual celebrations such as Global Pride on Saturday, June 27, at 10:30 a.m. World leaders, royalty pop stars and drag queens will anchor this year’s 24-hour Global livestream. Black Lives Matter will be front and center. The streaming messages of support, music, performances, speeches can be seen at The Global Pride website, Todrick Hall’s YouTube channel and the iHeart Radio YouTube channel.

 

                         What IF…

 

  • If you know your parents won’t be accepting of your sexual orientation, don’t come out! In these Covid-19 times, you may not have another place to live if your parents kick you out of their house.
  • They may try to “fix” you, suggest religion as a conversion or insist that your orientation is a “phase.” But they won’t be able to convert you to being straight.
  • You can’t control others, but you can control your behavior. No name-calling that can elevate into violence

 

                         Take A Break

 

  • Don’t forget to walk, exercise, and as outdoor dining opens up, exit the house, even if you have to wear a mask.
  • Take a deep breath. Even though quarantining may seem like an eternity, a toxic environment, “this too will pass.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How Do You Interpret Sex? Trump vs. Obama & Section 1557 of The Affordable Care Act https://wesleycullendavidson.com/2020/06/how-do-you-interpret-sex-trump-vs-obama-section-1557-of-the-affordable-care-act.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-do-you-interpret-sex-trump-vs-obama-section-1557-of-the-affordable-care-act https://wesleycullendavidson.com/2020/06/how-do-you-interpret-sex-trump-vs-obama-section-1557-of-the-affordable-care-act.html#respond Mon, 15 Jun 2020 15:41:32 +0000 https://wesleycullendavidson.com/?p=1334 History of Affordable Care Act When the ACA law passed in 2010, doctors and hospitals were prohibited to discriminate based on race, color, age, disability or sex.  The Office for Civil Rights at Health and Human Services Program issued a rule, a few years later, that when it refers to sex, it includes a broader…

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History of Affordable Care Act

When the ACA law passed in 2010, doctors and hospitals were prohibited to discriminate based on race, color, age, disability or sex.  The Office for Civil Rights at Health and Human Services Program issued a rule, a few years later, that when it refers to sex, it includes a broader definition that takes into account the LGBT population, according to Obama’s definition and some argue, executive overreach.

According to CBS NOW, the Department of Health lacked authority to make or impose additional legal requirements on covered entities that can not be justified by the text of Title IX, and in fact are in conflict with the express exemptions in Title IX” (1972), the main purpose of which is to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity that is federally funded.

Trump’s New Law

Trump’s rule, which goes into effect this August, classifies sex as a biological immutable condition.  You are either male or female and the sex that is assigned on your birth certificate.  This law, announced on June 12th, will eclipse Obama’s and roll back protections for the LGBT population.

This new law does not take into effect gender dysphoria, a discomfort or distress caused by discrepancy between gender at birth and what a transgender identifies with.  It is a common condition in the transsexual population and leads to gender reassignment operations and hormone therapy that Trump’s new law will not pay for.

Transgenders At a Loss

One in three transgender individuals in the U.S. report experiencing discrimination in health care and are reluctant to seek health care. The Human Rights Campaign since January, has counted 14 transgender individuals that have been shot or killed in the United States.  Many doctors are not trained in treating transgender individuals so transgenders do not receive equitable health care.  Neither do LGB patients who often hide their sexual orientation from their doctors who should be well-versed in the unique medical conditions of that population.

According to The Centers for Disease Control, 1.8% identify as transgender in U.S. high schools at which they report substance use, violence, victimization and suicide risk. Williams Institute, an LGBT Think Tank at the University of California, counts 1.4 million transgender adults and 150,000 transgender teenagers, 13 to 17.

With the COVID-Pandemic,  the timing couldn’t be worse. Trump’s new rollback could make it easier for doctors, hospitals and insurance companies to deny transgender and LGBTQ people seeking health care even though it will only be forced on Health and Human Services programs.

All Those Opposed Say Aye!

Needless to say, the actions of Trump have goaded The Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, and The American Civil Liberties Union have filed their own lawsuits.  Senator Chuck Schumer has tweeted that in this month of Pride, anniversary of the Pulse shooting, and during the Pandemic, this new rule is not timely.  It will affect a population that is already marginalized and in need of services.

 

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I Can’t Imagine Larry Kramer Ever Resting In Peace! https://wesleycullendavidson.com/2020/05/i-cant-imagine-larry-kramer-ever-resting-in-peace.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=i-cant-imagine-larry-kramer-ever-resting-in-peace https://wesleycullendavidson.com/2020/05/i-cant-imagine-larry-kramer-ever-resting-in-peace.html#comments Thu, 28 May 2020 20:15:19 +0000 https://wesleycullendavidson.com/?p=1327 The LGBT community is indebted to activist and author Larry Kramer.  “The fire in his belly” led him in the 1980’s to wake up the complacency of this country into dealing with with AIDS as a public-health emergency. A founder of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the first service organization for HIV-positive people, Kramer discovered that his…

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The LGBT community is indebted to activist and author Larry Kramer.  “The fire in his belly” led him in the 1980’s to wake up the complacency of this country into dealing with with AIDS as a public-health emergency. A founder of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the first service organization for HIV-positive people, Kramer discovered that his group was too apathetic about the “acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.” He later founded a more militant group, ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) that could be seen picketing on Wall Street to make monies available to stop the plague.

His bombastic voice was everywhere demanding speedier research into AIDS drugs, equality for gay and lesbians, urging his community to come out “of the closet,”  and follow his politics.  He was a fundraiser, lobbyist, and brilliant writer. Author of   the tome, The American People (gay people, that is), Volume 2, that was published this year, Kramer is perhaps better known as the Tony-Award winning playwright of “The Normal Heart,” a semi-auto-biographical play that focuses on the rise of HIV/AIDS crisis in New York City between 1981 and 1984.

I don’t pretend to be a trained theatre critic, but as the straight mother of a gay son, I  have seen the gay-themed plays for the issues presented:  The Inheritance, Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song Trilogy, Terrence McNally’s “Mothers and Sons,”   Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America,” Matt Crowley’s “The Boys In The Band,”  “Next Fall,”  and “Fun Home.” Because the issues of acceptance and equality are still being examined today, many of these dramatic plays are revivals.

Of all these plays, I liked Kramer’s “The Normal Heart” the best.  It was intimate, didn’t ramble, and had my attention to the point where I never took my coat off.  Like its author, it punched you right in the gut.  In typical fashion, there was Kramer at the stage door at the revival in 2014, handing out leaflets to incite activism to find a cure.

He didn’t look well six years ago.  But my God, he had been infected with HIV, contracted liver disease and was living with a liver transplant. His tireless advocacy kept him working.  At age eighty-four, he was working on a play about epidemics through three plagues:  HIV/AIDS, and now COVID-19.

The “fire in his belly” was never extinguished.

From my blog post “The Normal Heart Had MY Heart Thumping” originally posted on July 10, 2011:

I never saw the original 1985 play “The Normal Heart.”  At that run at the Joseph Papp theatre, Joel Grey (who now directs the current play with George C. Wolfe) played the confrontational Ned Weeks, the protagonist. Its revival, which I recently saw, was voted “best” on Broadway at this year’s Tonys, and stars Joe Mantello of “Angels of America” fame as Ned Weeks, a.k.a. Larry Kramer, Normal Heart’s author. (See some of the moving awards acceptance speeches at the end of this post.) This revival closes on Broadway today (7/10/11) after a glorious 12-week limited run. I hope it’ll come back someday soon.

What’s Eating Larry Kramer?
Kramer, in real life, and portrayed on the stage, is a bristly Gay Rights activist from the 1980’s, who, with his gay friends, are focused on raising awareness about an unidentifiable disease which is killing off their friends.  The time is 1981-84 during the rise of the HIV/AIDS crisis before the development of antiretroviral drugs.  It’s the swinging 80’s when casual sex was rampant in the baths and discos that many gay men frequented.
Weeks’s loud efforts are met with indifference by the press and Mayor Koch during this calamitous era when this mysterious disease was known as a “gay plague.” To make matters worse, there is infighting among the closeted members of Week’s grass-roots organization which later became The Gay Men’s Health Crisis.

In the play, Kramer’s live-in lover, the closeted New York Times writer Felix Turner, dies of Kaposi’s sarcoma, a once-rare form of cancer, as a harbinger of HIV.  Turner, like other cast members, is a patient of Dr. Linda Laubenstein, a.k.a. “Emma” played by Ellen Barkin who won a Tony for this debut stage role. She is as frustrated as Weeks is and cannot get funding for this mysterious disease that has her baffled and advocating abstinence. According to Kramer, but not stated in the play, ex-President Ronald Reagan did not publicly utter the word “AIDS” for seven years.

The Grim Reaper is Busy
When the play starts, there are forty-one AIDS-related deaths on the defining white brick wall of the stage. It records he history in raised letters, like Braille, of the AIDS disease. By the play’s end, the numbers have mushroomed and can no longer be contained on the stage; they have insidiously crept beyond the stage’s boundaries.

Young Gay Audiences Don’t Know From ’80s Plague
Powerful, intense, with good acting and writing, this play moved the audiences to tears and standing ovations. The young gay couple next to me did not know of the political scene of the 80’s and the beginning days of this plague; it was an eye-opener.  They had grown up in a more complacent world where HIV was not considered a death sentence, but could be handled with a cocktail of drugs, protease inhibitors.

30 Years Later, Still an Uphill Battle
Yet, this year marks thirty years since the discovery of the first case of AIDS that took more than a quarter-of-a-million lives. There is still no cure. The money spent on AIDS is still miniscule considering there have been 35 million deaths and seventy-five million infections world-wide.  The Centers for Disease Control Aid’s Prevention Center states that the majority of the estimated  56,000 new H.I.V. infections that occur each year are transmitted by those who are unaware of their infection. (New York Times, June 28, 2011). Shouldn’t we be paying more attention to this horrible disease and, like Larry Kramer, crusade for more funding and education?

Have YOU spoken to your child about HIV/AIDS and safe sex?

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What to Expect From a PFLAG Meeting https://wesleycullendavidson.com/2020/05/what-to-expect-from-a-pflag-meeting.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=what-to-expect-from-a-pflag-meeting https://wesleycullendavidson.com/2020/05/what-to-expect-from-a-pflag-meeting.html#respond Thu, 21 May 2020 21:00:55 +0000 https://wesleycullendavidson.com/?p=1319 In the book When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know, co-author Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D., writes that “in my practice, I have noticed that parents feel better when they realize that they are not alone and that there are people like them who are experiencing similar thoughts, feelings, and reactions to having…

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In the book When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know, co-author Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D., writes that “in my practice, I have noticed that parents feel better when they realize that they are not alone and that there are people like them who are experiencing similar thoughts, feelings, and reactions to having a gay child.  There are support groups in the community that you should explore.  I would suggest contacting your local PFLAG organization and attending a meeting.”

PFLAG is the first and largest organization for LGBTQ + people, their parents and families, and allies.  With the COVID pandemic, meetings are now done by Zoom.  Many chapter meetings disband for the summer anyway.

Although PFLAG, a grassroots organization, has over 400 chapters near major cities, you can’t always find a meeting for embracing all gender identity and sexual orientation.   I remember interviewing a Ft. Smith, Arkansas gay adolescent who had no access to a meeting. If that is the case, a parent can start their own meetings if they comply with PFLAG headquarter’s rules:

  • You will need 3 or more individuals working together to further PFLAG goals of support, education, and advocacy.
  • All chapters are required to complete chapter affiliation in order to start a PFLAG chapter.  Upon completion, your chapter will gain additional benefit of non-profit status which includes ability to accept tax-deductible donations.
  • You will receive discount registration costs for PFLAG National Convention, organizational materials include use of the PFLAG logo, specific talking points, tool kits and resources.
  •  A PFLAG National Field manager can assist you in getting your chapter started.  See https://pflag.org/start-chapter.

The summer would be a good time to organize your chapter.  Although meetings can vary from chapter to chapter, this format is typical:

  • Find a church or community center for your  monthly meetings.  This is better than a private home. You may want evening or weekend meetings for working parents.
  • Choose an easily accessible location, preferably near public transportation, especially near a building where an LGBTQ youth group is meeting.
  • Set chairs in a circle for informality and inclusion.
  • You usually start off with introductions about who they are, if they have a LGBTQ loved one and if you are straight or LGBTQ.
  • Anything revealed in the room stays there.  You will be sharing personal stories so it’s strictly confidential like AA meetings, etc.
  • Announcements about events, LGBTQ issues, important cases are often mentioned after the mission statement.
  • Sometimes, there are refreshments and cookies or raw vegetables, for example.
  • Have a greeter and sign-up sheet at the door.  Try to get email addresses and phone numbers so you can follow up.
  • Think of ways you can make the attendee feel supported such as having a buddy system whereby you assign a mentor to the newcomer.
  • Always publicize your meeting in advance.  As your meetings are established, you may want to invite speakers such as authors of LGBTQ books, camp counselors for LGBTQ+ youth camps, PFLAG interns.
  • You will need extra training to become a liaison to a school or delegate to PFLAG’s national yearly convention.

Some don’ts:

  • Don’t allow cell phones to be on!  Pictures, recordings are not allowed because of privacy.
  • Do not start a meeting without a facilitator!

It’s a shame not to have a meeting near your rural town so see if you can start one!  The support you receive for understanding your LGBTQ+ family member and the community-at-large is well worth it!

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