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Killing ‘conversion’ therapy a worthy LGBT goal

Gay, trans youth don’t need to be fixed — society does

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reparative therapy, gay news, Washington Blade

Activists marched through the streets of downtown D.C. in a ‘Justice for Leelah Alcorn Rally and March’ on Jan. 10, 2015. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

As Republicans take over Congress and we move toward spring and start getting serious about the 2016 presidential race, the question must be asked: What should the LGBT community focus on?

There are two areas needing immediate attention and in some ways they are connected yet not the focus of the community. They both require society to look at itself and become more accepting of differences. Currently the Human Rights Campaign is committed to supporting and championing the introduction of comprehensive LGBT civil rights legislation in this Congress. HRC has begun work on its southern strategy and we know work is still needed to ensure same-sex marriage is legal in every state. Progress on marriage will now come through the courts. We know there are still issues with regard to gays and lesbians in the military, allowing transgender persons to serve, and ensuring they all have every right accorded to others.

Today you can be married in 36 states and the District of Columbia yet in many of those states you can marry on a Saturday and be fired from your job on Monday. You can be married and kicked out of your apartment and not have access to adequate healthcare. All the fights for our individual rights must continue while we work to pass that comprehensive LGBT civil rights bill.

But other fights we must take on are jumping out from today’s national headlines and we can no longer ignore them. One is the issue of conversion, or some call it reparative, therapy. This is the discredited therapy some young people are still forced to undergo by their parents trying to change them from gay to straight.

Recently D.C. became only the third jurisdiction in the United States, joining California and New Jersey, to prohibit reparative therapy for those under 18. It was an honor to witness Mayor Vincent Gray sign the bill. At the signing I had the chance to chat with a young man, Samuel Brinton, who I first noticed when he performed an amazing solo with the Gay Men’s Chorus at a Christmas concert. He is hard to miss with his bright red Mohawk. But when you get to know him you realize quickly his hair is really the least amazing thing about him. Among other things Sam is taking a lead in bringing the issue of banning conversion therapy to national attention traveling the nation to do so.

Last Saturday, I joined the D.C. rally in remembrance of Leelah Alcorn, the young transgender woman from Ohio, who committed suicide by stepping in front of a truck. Her story is tragic but she left a suicide note saying her death wouldn’t be in vain if it led to making a difference for other transgender persons. At the rally a number of people observed the Trevor Project uses the line, “It Gets Better” to help young people deal with their sexuality and bullying, but added through personal experience they knew for a transgender person it often doesn’t. Others spoke words that resonated with me about conversion therapy: “While we can now get married in 36 states and the District of Columbia in 48 states parents can still put their children through torture in an effort to turn them into something they are not.”

On Sunday night at the Golden Globes, the award for best TV series, musical or comedy went to “Transparent.” The show was created and is directed by Jill Soloway. It revolves around a Los Angeles family and their lives following discovery that father Mort is transgender. One review in the Jewish Daily Forward by Debra Nussbaum Cohen said, “Transparent is a television series about a transgender father coming out to his three young adult children. It weaves together the tragicomic family dynamics of five unbelievably narcissistic people.” So while this ‘comedy’ won an award, Leelah Alcorn wasn’t alive to see it because her life, in school and at home, was so unbearable it led her to suicide.

The time has come for the entire LGBT community to focus on ending conversion therapy. We don’t need to fix or change LGBT people. We need to fix society. Together we can make a difference, we can make it better and we need to do it now.

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Why you should celebrate pride with a musical about GenderCannibalism?

Rose: You Are What You Eat, through June 23 at Woolly Mammoth.

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Photo courtesy of Woolly Mammoth.

Because when I came out as trans my aunt told me it was because I ate my twin in the womb…and that’s what the show is about

Because…remember that time when you decided to dress like exactly like your older sister; or you stole your mothers’ makeup or your brother’s tie; or you decided to dress up like Katherine Hepburn for halloween when you were (i dunno) 10; or you started to look eerily like your lover…..that’s all gender cannibalism

Because because because because because….” because if you know that song this was made for you…and if you don’t…it’s okay, we’ll work on it

Because you can probably find a cute date at the show irl instead of just swiping in your phone…think of theater as an in person dating app without as much drunkenness as the bar

Because maybe that cute date is me

Because you can sing along to music written by a bunch of queers from Philly and D.C. 

Because we are all so hungry and so so thirsty 

Because I guarantee you will leave feeling fed

Because cannibalism puns are tasty

Because it’s a comedy

Because there are pay-what-you-can tickets

Because it plays all of June

Because we are consuming gender all the time but rarely watching what and how we eat it 

Because it’s an anti-assimilationist endeavor: the corporations can’t co-opt “gender cannibalism” for pride month (but there is merchandise available at the show…)

Because it’s only 75 minutes

Because I dance around in tighty whities with socks on my hands

Because there is a free clothing swap and treats in the gallery next to the show

Because why not?

Because you will be cast as my Mother, and that’s the role of a lifetime (or at least my lifetime)

Because you won’t know what will happen; you can’t pause or rewind the show; you will be taking a risk; you will find it’s more than just entertainment; you will feel me talking right to you

Because I’ve been writing this show for 34 years and am finally ready to share it with you

Because I’ll be in the lobby afterwards to say hi, and receive hugs, stories, and phone numbers 

Because I made this piece for you, my dear deviants, trans folx, genderful ones and for the people that care for us. It is a good laugh and a good cry and meant as a gift, a way to end your day feeling loved, nourished and worthy

Because don’t you want to be nourished and reminded that you are loved and worthy? 

And frankly because art needs you to survive and you need art to thrive

Because I took the time to write this letter to you and you took the time to read it, and neither you nor I want to waste that investment

Because you won’t want to miss it

Get tickets to Rose: You Are What You Eat, playing through June 23rd.

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Elon Musk is a danger to society

X has become a warped platform that spews anti-trans hate

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Elon Musk (Photo by shganti777/Bigstock)

Elon Musk is officially a danger to society. As of mid May of 2024, X.com, the platform formerly known as Twitter, has started banning accounts that use the word “cisgender” or “cis,” deriding it as a slur. For those who don’t know, “cisgender” refers to any person whose gender aligns with the genitalia they were assigned at birth. Erasing the word “cisgender” from tweets, or X.com remarks, ensures that gender nonconforming people can’t articulate the bigotry they feel in this world. 

Musk has been notorious for his transphobia. It didn’t just start in mid-May of this year. In June of 2023, during Pride month, Musk liked a bunch of transphobic tweets. For instance, he promoted the Matt Walsh documentary, “What is a Woman?”, which was a film in transmisogyny. 

Moreover, in July of 2022, Musk’s transgender teenage daughter sought separation from her father because he was hateful toward her and bullied her because of her gender identity. In December 2022, Musk tweeted “My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci,” mocking the words that transgender people need to enunciate who we are. This wasn’t the first time that Musk mocked pronouns. 

Musk is becoming increasingly dangerous toward trans people, especially as X.com takes on a new dimension — turning into a warped platform that spews conspiracy views, including right-wing thoughts that trans people shouldn’t exist, and other ultraconservative opinions. 

What adds heavy weight to the danger that Musk poses is the relative success of his companies and the wealth, measured in dollars, that he carries on his shoulders. SpaceX is valued at around $180 billion, and Tesla is worth approximately $571 billion. The more wealth Musk accumulates, the more power is attached to his transphobia. Already, he is consciously allowing employees within his companies to mock transgender people. Having a CEO who openly teases a marginalized population is a recipe for that company to tease said population as well. 

As a former small business owner, I’m actually a huge fan of Musk’s work. The billionaire is brilliant beyond belief, and, after being bullied in school in South Africa, earned degrees in physics and economics from the University of Pennsylvania. At one point, he was working so hard on one of his first startups that he often slept in the office and showered at a local YMCA. In interviews, it is clear that Musk borders, if not embodies, genius. His intellectual prowess is second to none. 

Additionally, the mogul has been open about his diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome and bipolar disorder. It’s impressive, to say the least, that Musk has racked up all of these accomplishments despite having these diseases of the mind and body. He has vocalized his use of ketamine therapy, for instance, in treating his bipolar, which is a ballsy move to make as CEO. 

Unfortunately, though, Musk just won’t stop with his transphobia. He is making X.com a non-democratic place for sponsored conspiratorial speech, and banning words is the farthest thing from freedom, which is a virtue he claims to embody. 

Many scholars of Elon have noted that he lives in a distorted reality, and I have to agree with that sentiment. Banning “cisgender” from X.com is certainly a distorted thing to do, and should be looked upon as a danger to society. 

Isaac Amend is a writer based in the D.C. area. With two poetry books out, he writes for the Blade and the Yale Daily News. He is a transgender man and was featured in National Geographic’s “Gender Revolution” documentary. He serves on the board of the LGBT Democrats of Virginia. Contact him at [email protected] or on Instagram at: @literatipapi

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Mayor of Salisbury, Md. is the Grinch who stole Pride

Randolph Taylor masks his homophobia with cowardly ‘neutrality’ claim

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Randolph ‘The Grinch’ Taylor, mayor of Salisbury, Md.

Salisbury is a small town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, probably best known for its university of about 7,000 undergraduate students. It’s also home to a robust and growing Pride celebration.

But this will mark the first time in five years that a Pride flag will not fly at city hall for Pride month, as the Blade reported last week.

“The administration’s position on the PFLAG kick-off is very simple,” Mayor Randolph Taylor said to the Blade. “That is, to be neutral. Neutrality is not to be interpreted as anything else but simply that — being neutral.“ (PFLAG has served as an organizer of Salisbury Pride events.)

Nicole Hollywood, an official with PFLAG Salisbury, told the Blade the group received an email from the city informing them of the change.

“We simply got an email saying that ‘we’re evaluating the use of city assets for cultural events,’ and ‘we don’t feel it’s appropriate moving forward to hang flags that represent special interest groups.’”

So Salisbury’s LGBTQ residents now constitute a “special interest group” rather than a minority community facing growing backlash, hatred, and discrimination in a rural part of the state? This lame, ham-handed excuse barely disguises the cowardice, homophobia, and transphobia at play here. No elected public official should be “neutral” when it comes to the rights, dignity, and equality of their constituents.

We are painfully aware of the growing influence of MAGA-inspired hate groups like the ironically named Moms for Liberty, that are working overtime to bully public officials into banning LGBTQ-themed books, pulling support for Pride events, and otherwise rendering our community invisible again. They want us back in the closet where we can’t disrupt their plans to establish a Christian theocracy. 

Mayor Taylor is merely the latest rube in a pathetic and long line of cowardly public officials to kowtow to this madness, inspired by their Dear Leader Donald Trump, a convicted felon who has validated the worst impulses and bigotry of Americans from coast to coast. What happened to leaders who lead? What happened to the Ronald Reagan Republicans who wanted the government out of our lives, embraced immigrants, and fought Russian aggression? Reagan couldn’t get elected dog catcher in the modern GOP.

But back to Taylor — the Grinch who stole Pride. He is the mayor of a small town and he has the cojones to match. Let’s hope the business community, including the influential local university, speaks out to denounce this hateful attack on Pride — because that’s precisely what it is. By shrinking the public spaces where LGBTQ people feel comfortable and safe, officials like Taylor are playing into the hands and the sick agenda of the MAGA crowd. When LGBTQ people are attacked and “othered,” our queer youth suffer and die. Shame on Mayor Taylor for caving to such hatred and betraying his LGBTQ constituents during the most important month of the year for our visibility. The good people and the LGBTQ residents of Salisbury deserve better.

Kevin Naff is editor of the Washington Blade. Reach him at [email protected].

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