You’re neither alone nor oppressed

The Mayor of Latta is a homophobic douchenozzle.
Crystal Moore, 23 year veteran of the Latta PD. Former Police Chief. Lesbian<—–irrelevant fact Unless you’re the Mayor of Latta then it’s relevant. Even though it has no impact on job performance.


It’s 2014. After 23 years serving on the Latta, South Carolina Police Department, Crystal Moore found herself fired from her job.   She had managed to work her way up to police chief and was the first woman police chief of Latta. During her time as Chief of Latta Police, she received numerous compliments and by all indications, performed her duties quite well. None of that mattered in the eyes of the CIty Council. Nope. She was fired for being a lesbian.

This is someone who has experienced true discrimination. Not the whiny, appropriative fuckers complaining about being judged for their opposition to same-sex marriage.
Jameka Evans (l) and Lambda Legal Counsel and Workplace Fairness Program Director Greg Nevins (r). (Photo courtesy Lambda Legal)

Earlier this year, Jameka Evans was forced to leave her job as a security guard at Georgia Regional Hospital bc, in addition to her refusal to dress in manner that conformed with stereotypical gender roles, she is a lesbian. She tried to sue her former employer. Both a lower court and the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against her.

In a perfect world, she'd never have experienced such discrimination. In a slightly less perfect world, the company would see sales take a nosedive as a result of their actions. Unfortunately, in the world we live in, neither outcome is likely.
Hollis Bulleit, former brand ambassador for Bulleit Bourbon. Also a lesbian. A fact that should be utterly irrelevant to her job performance, but which was apparently enough reason for her family to treat her like shit, treat her partner Cher even worse, and lead to them kicking her out of the company. That family seems nice.

More recently, Hollis Bulleit, daughter of Tom Bulleit–founder of Bulleit Bourbon–opened up about the circumstances that led to her departure from Diageo, one of the largest alcoholic beverage producers in the world, and owner of Bulleit Bourbon. In a series of Facebook posts, Hollis Bulleit, who is far from a stranger in the alcoholic beverage industry, revealed that she was pushed out of her job bc, drumroll…she’s gay (that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the homophobia she experienced over the 10 years since she came out to her family).

If you’re queer and you live in the United States, your job is not as secure as you think (here are 5 more people fired for their sexuality).  Hell, not just your job–your home is not as secure as you think. Neither is your ability to partake of public services like restaurants or hotels. As of 2017, only 21 states (and D.C.) have statewide non-discrimination protections in place for LGB people (of that number, only 19 offer protections based on sexuality and gender identity). Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is very real and collectively, queer people suffer bc of that.

The discrimination we face begins at a young age. The social stigma faced by queer youth is enormous. Familial rejection. Rejection by religious organizations. Bullying in schools. Homelessness. Alone, any one of those challenges can be damn near insurmountable for many queer youth, but to have to face more than one?  It can seem virtually impossible. And the stress such discrimination places upon queer youth can adversely affect their mental and physical health.

To my surprise (and probably  many readers), we are not alone in our struggles. The stress we face. The oppression we endure. The discrimination dealt with.  It’s not just we who have problems. There’s one group that seems to think they suffer as much as we do…that they face discrimination on par with the shit we have to put up with.  Watch the following video, Not Alone (if you can stomach it without throwing anything at your computer or wailing so loudly that you shatter your screen and torment your pets), and see for yourself just how rough these people have it:

Continue reading “You’re neither alone nor oppressed”

You’re neither alone nor oppressed

3rd highest ranking Vatican official accused of sexual assaulting multiple children

Religion did not play a significant role in my life growing up. My parents did not force me (or, later, my sister) to attend church on Sundays or Wednesdays, or Christmas or Easter. I’m sure my parents had a BIble or two in the house, but I don’t recall seeing a copy (my memory becomes hazier the further back I try to recollect, so they might have had one and I don’t remember). We said grace before big holiday meals like Easter, Turkey Day, and Christmas. Mom and dad would occasionally pray to god for one thing or another and mentioned that they didn’t want to belong to any one church, so they were non-denominational believers.  Aside from that, religion was not a presence in my life growing up. No Bible was ever put in front of me, nor was I told I had to read verses before bed or other stuff many kids have to do. In fact, to this day I’ve not read the Bible cover to cover*. Church was such a non-presence in my life that by age 21 I had only been inside three churches. The first time was for a funeral.  Second time was for a wedding. The other was a trip to New Orleans with friends and we walked around a cathedral (can’t recall the name of it, but I think it had some really nice stained glass windows).

For all that we weren’t a church-going family, we did consider ourselves believers, even if nominally. My parents used to say “we don’t believe in organized religion, but we do believe something is out there” (I’ve occasionally thought about discussing this with them bc the statement “we don’t believe in organized religion”–taken on its face–is nonsense, given that organized religion *does* exist and here in the Southern United States, we have evidence of it on what seems like every other damn street). I don’t ever recall asking my sister her thoughts on religion, though with the eight year difference (she’s younger) she may not have given it much thought until her teen years bc our parents did not foist religion upon us.  For my part, I remember as a teen holding beliefs about a vague universal guiding force that created everything.  I didn’t worship him (and yeah, of course he was a him, thanks patriarchy), but I believed he existed. When I finally started coming out of the closet, my views shifted a bit, bc I wasn’t seeing any evidence there was a god. So I became an agnostic. And when I went to college and took some philosophy courses and an intro to logic course, I ditched agnosticism and chose atheism (though technically I’m an agnostic atheist, as I don’t know for sure there is or isn’t a god, but either way, I don’t *believe* in a the god of the Bible any more than I believe in any of the other thousands of gods humanity has created).

One thing I noticed as I got older was how much in the dark I was about religious issues.  My lack of religious background as a child left me incredibly ignorant on many things that others find mundane. When I first heard about PZ Myers’ Communion Wafer incident, I had no clue what a Communion Wafer was or what Communion was (now that I do? what a weird belief). I knew nothing about the Establishment Clause and how important it is to our secular society, nor had I heard any of the cognitive fallacies that theists engage in when trying to demonstrate their deity exists. I also knew virtually nothing about Judaism or Islam.

Then there’s the harmful stuff I knew nothing about. The morally repulsive stuff. The stuff that leads to an increase i suffering. Among the deeply disturbing information I discovered about christianity  was the opposition of the Roman Catholic Church to the use of birth control, the Religious RIght’s war on queers, the use of the Bible to support slavery, and the history of child sexual abuse cases from the Roman Catholic Church.

Speaking of the child sexual abuse cases against the Roman Catholic Church, another example came to light today: Cardinal George Pell, the third highest ranking Vatican official has been accused of multiple sexual offenses:

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3rd highest ranking Vatican official accused of sexual assaulting multiple children

I finally have a superpower!

When I was a child, I wanted to be Spider-Man so much. I would run around the house with my fingers in the same shape the wall-crawler formed his when he THWIP’d his webs. I would pretend to stick to walls and be super-strong too. One time, I even injured myself, bc I was pretending I was swinging on a web. I had taken a rope and flung it around one of the prongs on those old standing metallic coat racks and actually put my weight on it, and of course the thing fell and hit me. On the head. I would have been fine, with perhaps nothing more than a bruise, if I hadn’t been in the habit of removing the plastic caps that go over the metal hooks. As a result, the metal hook hit my forehead with enough force to make me bleed. I recall walking into the bathroom telling my mom that my head hurt. If I recall correctly, I was 5 or 6. So yeah, you can imagine what it’s like for a parent to see their child bleeding from a head wound (it wasn’t terribly bad, once all was said and done, but that instinct of “OH MY GOD MY CHILD IS BLEEDING” is pretty intense). Needless to say, after that, I stopped trying to swing from things, and i learned my lesson about taking the plastic caps off metallic rods.

As I got older, I stopped wanting to be like Spidey. Not bc he wasn’t cool anymore, but bc I began wanting to fly. And that’s a feeling that has remained with me since I was a teenager. While I don’t remember my dreams in any significant detail, I *do* recall many nights (one even relatively recently) of dreaming of flying. Though vague, the details I do recall that my dreams involved flying all around the world. About the only joy I got out of the 2013 movie, Man of Steel, was watching Superman fly around the world, bc it reminded me-viscerally-of my dreams. The vicarious thrill I got out of watching that scene was *almost* enough to make up for the dreariness of the rest of the movie.

Unfortunately, we humans aren’t gifted with superhuman (or supernatural, whatever the case may be) abilities. We can’t manipulate the weather. We aren’t masters of magnetism. We don’t transform into half-ton jolly green balls of unbridled rage. Yeah, we’re pretty much powerless.

Or so I thought until today.

Today is a landmark day in human history. It has been discovered that we humans do indeed have superpowers. But #NotAllHumans. Unfortunately the majority of our species will have to muddle through life without experiencing the fantastic power that some of us possess. Apparently I am one of the recipients of this power. So too are all my fellow Orbit bloggers and anyone else who fights for the cause of queer rights. What power do we have?

We have the power to kill God.

Continue reading “I finally have a superpower!”

I finally have a superpower!

Italians had quite the appetite for the ‘Weekend’

Russell (left; played by Tom Cullen) and Glenn (right; played by Chris New) having one of the many conversations about gay issues they have throughout the movie.

Readers may recall my recent Pub post where I discussed gay romance film the ‘Weekend’, which was slated for release in theaters across Italy. Directed by Andrew Haigh, the character based drama revolves around the brief but intense weekend relationship between an art student (Glenn) and a part-time lifeguard (Russell). Unfortunately for those wishing to see the film, the Catholic Church owns the vast majority of theaters in Italy and their film evaluation committee deemed the film indecent and did not approve of its message. As a result, it was limited to only 10 screens.

Contrary to the claims made by the Catholic Church in their attempt to justify censoring the movie, the ‘Weekend’ was not about gay sex and drugs. Yes, there were scenes of drug use. Yes, there were scenes of sex. But if the Bishops thought sex and drugs were the themes of the movie, I really have to question their skills at evaluating what a film is about. An honest appraisal of the film would lead to the recognition that it involves two complex, multi-faceted gay characters (who happen to have sex and do drugs) struggling with their identities. Instead, the committee viewed the movie as a film about gay men having sex and doing drugs, and I suspect they treated those actions as defining traits of the characters. That does a disservice to all those involved in making this film because there was more to the film and the characters than sex and drugs.

To be sure, yes, many gay people enjoy sex and many gay people partake of drugs. But that’s not unique to members of the gay community. Heterosexual people like both as well, but they don’t find themselves defined by either. No, heterosexual people still get to be loving family members, productive members of society, people with intellect and skills, and more. They are viewed as people with a range of emotions and desires. In short, they are viewed with complexity. Meanwhile, gay people have our humanity stripped away by reducing us down to a collection of stereotypes. We’ve been told that we’re sexual deviants who are concerned only with the pleasures of the flesh. We’re not viewed as loving family members (indeed, we’re often viewed as if we aren’t part of families) or contributors to society. That contributes to the demonization and marginalization we face across the world. Characterizing us as deviant, abnormal or “the other” makes it all the easier to deny us the basic rights all humans are entitled to. Such efforts have been occurring for some time now, and the Catholic Church has been responsible for much of it, fighting a culture war against acceptance of gay people. You know, because god hates fags (oops, I’m mixing up my hate-filled religious organizations). Thankfully, in various parts of the world-the best efforts of the Catholic Church and other religious institutions aside-the perception of gay people has seen a progressive (if uneven) evolution. Many who previously saw us in a negative light, have come around to view us more favorably. While far stronger than I and many others would like, the cultural influence of the Church seems to be diminishing. And though the power of the Church in Italy was strong enough to almost completely censor ‘Weekend‘, it wasn’t enough to stifle interest in the movie. In fact, despite being banned in most of Italy’s theaters, the Nottingham-set film proved to be a surprise hit on the 10 screens it was shown on.

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Italians had quite the appetite for the ‘Weekend’

Sorry Italy, no ‘Weekend’ for you

“Not advised”



Those were three words used to describe director Andrew Haigh’s romantic movie Weekend. Released in the UK in 2011, the film was slated for release in Italian theaters to coincide with Haigh’s new film 45 Years. Unfortunately for pretty much anyone in Italy, the moral police put their foot down and told the 1,100 cinemas they own that the movie was not to be shown. By ‘moral police’, I mean the “lovely” organization we know as the Roman Catholic Church. As they own the vast majority of the theaters in Italy, the church uses the Italian Conference of Bishops’ Film Evaluation Committee to rate and/or censor films and they said the oppose they themes of the movie and its message. What could be so bad about the film?

Did I forget to mention that it’s a gay romantic movie?

Continue reading “Sorry Italy, no ‘Weekend’ for you”

Sorry Italy, no ‘Weekend’ for you

Someone tell Jesus to stop kissing people

One bright summer day in the late 80s, teenage-me was faced with a dilemma: how best to get home. I stood there, at the top of the hill leading to the swimming pool, weighing my options. There were a fair amount of trees along the hill, but not so many that I couldn’t safely navigate. Besides, if things got hairy, I could simply apply the brakes on my bicycle and slow myself down. There was another route (one that didn’t involve hills or trees) I could have taken to leave the pool, but this one was shorter. Which made it the better choice, of course (at least to my then-teenage mind). As I hopped on my bicycle and began the downhill journey, I began to question if I was being wise or foolish (definitely foolish). Shortly after beginning my descent, I realized I was going faster than I wanted. No problem I thought. Bike brakes, remember? Of course to function properly, bike brakes need brake pads that are not worn. Mine were very, very worn. Panic set in. My speed was increasing, and I couldn’t think of a way to stop that didn’t involve some pain and suffering. My panic diminished when I saw a ditch at the base of the hill. A ditch with a bridge spanning it. If I could make it to the bridge safely, I’d be in the clear. So I aimed for the bridge. Unfortunately, I missed and my bike (with me still on it) careened into the ditch. When my bike fell, I fell with it. As my bike skidded across the concrete ditch, so did my body. I still have the scars on the left side of my body from that accident. I remember that the experience was painful.

Despite what I had just experienced, I was able to pick myself up and drag myself home. I don’t recall the look on the faces of my parents, but I imagine it was that panicked look most parents get when they learn that their child has been injured. Let me be clear though: those injuries…the pain I was in…the suffering I experienced? It was all minor. No limbs were lost. There was no significant blood loss. I had no life-threatening injuries. Nonetheless, it still qualifies as an experience involving pain and suffering. According to the late, not-so-great Catholic icon Mother Theresa, experiences such as mine-while awful-are ultimately a good thing:

One day I met a lady who was dying of cancer in a most terrible condition. And I told her, I say, “You know, this terrible pain is only the kiss of Jesus — a sign that you have come so close to Jesus on the cross that he can kiss you.” And she joined her hands together and said, “Mother Teresa, please tell Jesus to stop kissing me.”

The message is clear: pain and suffering are the path to Jesus. Uh-huh. At the time of my accident, I was still a believer (it took nearly a decade before I came to recognize the error of my ways and rejected religious nonsense). Nevertheless, I think my teenage-self would have preferred to avoid that kiss, thank you very much.

The idea that human suffering should be passively accepted or held up as a glorious part of the human experience (and thus, nothing we should try to alleviate) is a repulsive idea to me. I don’t like pain. I’d venture to say that the majority of people living on this planet don’t like pain. If it can be avoided, we humans often do. Because pain hurts. As for suffering, who the hell wants to be deprived of food, air, water, or shelter? Who wants to lead a solitary life with no interaction with other human beings? Who wants to be subjected to malnutrition, starvation, or disease? While the odd human here or there might say they like to suffer, I think it’s safe to say that the overwhelming majority of human beings don’t like to suffer. Sadly, the Catholic Church-that self-proclaimed bastion of morality that claims to have the best interests of humanity at heart-continues to disagree:

Jesus Sahagun, from Valladolid, has been charged with several offences including gender violence and causing injury and mistreatment.

The events began in 2012 when the girl’s parents asked for Sahaguns help because they believed Satan had possessed their daughter.

She was then subject to 13 exorcisms, in which she was repeatedly tied up and had crucifixes held over her head.

The girl’s aunts and uncles complained to police after the teenager tried to commit suicide.

In a statement in court, the girl’s parents said the Priest was aware their daughter was suffering from anorexia but that he told them the exorcisms would not interfere with her treatment.

In an interview with El Mundo newspaper in 2014, Sahagun said the exorcisms were necessary because the girl was “possessed by the devil.”

“The young woman’s suicide attempt was not a result of the exorcisms practiced on her,” he said.

Sahagun also defended exorcisms as “a religious practice maintained as part of the Church’s tradition, as a right available to all the faithful.”

While the causes of anorexia nervosa are not known, I think it’s reasonable to reject any supernatural hypothesis, bc hey, there’s no evidence for the existence of any supernatural beings (whether godlike or demonic). Before one more exorcism is performed, the Catholic Church should be made to prove the existence of their particular flavor of deity, as well as the existence of demons. They should also have to prove that demons can and do possess humans, and how they know this to be true. Finally, they ought to be required to demonstrate the efficacy of exorcisms. Until they do so, they should be forbidden from engaging in exorcisms, on penalty of prosecution. They should not get a free pass to engage in practices that contribute to human suffering simply because they are a religious organization.

That’s how things ought to be. Pity that’s not the way things are. They get to continue engaging in exorcisms and other actions that, rather than ameliorating human suffering, exacerbate it. Actions like installing a watering system to keep homeless people from sleeping in cathedral doorways:

The cathedral, at Geary and Gough, is the home church of the Archbishop. There are four tall side doors, with sheltered alcoves, that attract homeless people at night.

“They actually have signs in there that say, ‘No Trespassing,’” said a homeless man named Robert.

But there are no signs warning the homeless about what happens in these doorways, at various times, all through the night. Water pours from a hole in the ceiling, about 30 feet above, drenching the alcove and anyone in it.

The shower ran for about 75 seconds, every 30 to 60 minutes while we were there, starting before sunset, simultaneously in all four doorways. KCBS witnessed it soak homeless people, and their belongings.

“We’re going to be wet there all night, so hypothermia, cold, all that other stuff could set in. Keeping the church clean, but it could make people sick,” Robert said.

The water doesn’t really clean the area. There are syringes, cigarette butts, soggy clothing and cardboard. There is no drainage system. The water pools on the steps and sidewalks.

A neighbor who witnessed the drenching told KCBS, “I was just shocked, one because it’s inhumane to treat people that way. The second thing is that we are in this terrible drought.

Yes, that is an inhumane way to treat other humans (and hey, what about those alleged teachings of Jesus that Catholics claim to follow) but if you put on your Think Like Mother Theresa Hat, it makes sense. Homeless people being drenched in water? Facing hypothermia? Kicked out of one of the few areas that provides some shelter? Yeah, that’s suffering, but what are you complaining about? You just got kissed by god!

Someone tell Jesus to stop kissing people

Pope's second in command spews homophobia

Raymond Burke is basically the Vice President of the Catholic Church. He is the Cardinal Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. Ooooh, “respect mah authoritah!” Uh, no.  He was recently interviewed by LifeSiteNews and shared his opinions on homosexual relationships:

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Pope's second in command spews homophobia

Pope’s second in command spews homophobia

Raymond Burke is basically the Vice President of the Catholic Church. He is the Cardinal Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. Ooooh, “respect mah authoritah!” Uh, no.  He was recently interviewed by LifeSiteNews and shared his opinions on homosexual relationships:

Continue reading “Pope’s second in command spews homophobia”

Pope’s second in command spews homophobia