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We need more woke white queens

Until then, stay strong and give yourself the love awful gays won’t 

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white gay men, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Racism, transphobia and discrimination are alive and well in the gay community. It is no big secret. Washington, D.C. is about as divided as it gets when it comes to social strata. You’d have to be as tone-deaf as a Pepsi ad suggesting Kendal Jenner and the sugary beverage as the cure to all social ills to not see it.

Hell, we have two separate Pride celebrations; Black Pride for black folks and the catch-all, Capital Pride for everyone else. As someone who is often outspoken on social issues, especially those concerning race, I was asked to address our nation’s capital’s gay community. Excited about the prospect of challenging people’s thinking and affecting positive change, I jumped at the opportunity. I sat down at my laptop and I eagerly began writing. Something was off. It wasn’t working. I stumbled from one sentence to the next and somehow cobbled together a semi-decent article. It was sufficient, but it lacked the soul-bearing, in-your-face, unabashed tone and quality for which I am known.

I found myself admonishing white gay men, trying desperately to get them to understand that the responsibility of turning this ship around lies largely on their shoulders. I found myself taking to task the awful white gays, you know, the ones who think simply because they don’t use the “n” word or go to drag brunch once a month that they are championing equality. But then I remembered that people don’t respond positively to reproach, especially when it comes from someone from outside of their own tribe (read: someone black). So instead of submitting something that wasn’t authentically me, I scrapped it! This is me starting over.

Instead of pandering to the oppressor, let me minister to those they oppress. Let me focus my attention where it stands to do the most good. Let me talk to the gays of color, the transgender people, the poor gays, the bisexuals, the lesbians, and everyone else made to feel less than and inferior. It boggles my mind that for a marginalized community, some could find it in themselves to turn around and further marginalize others. But that is the sad reality of the world we live in and an even sadder truth for the gay community of which we are asked to be proud.

The solution isn’t getting awful white queens who thrive on discrimination to see the error of their ways. They will still patronize the establishments in which we’ve been made to feel unwelcome. They will still put “white only” on their Grindr profiles. They will still erase our contributions from history and take credit for the backbreaking work we put in. (The Stonewall riots, credited as the birthplace of the modern LGBT movement was started by a black transgender woman, but that fact is largely left out of the story, including in the film “Stonewall” released in 2015), and they will still see themselves as better than us in every aspect of life. But you know what? Who cares? Some of them stay so busy saying “you can’t sit with us” that we never stop to really ask ourselves, “bitch, do I even want to?” The solution isn’t to convince them they are awful, the solution is to see that you are not. Focus on your own beauty. Turn your attention to your unique, wondrous, and magical qualities. You are still alive, you are still thriving in spite of adversity, you are beautifully created and you deserve to be loved and appreciated in spite of what they say.

Now, there are some “woke white queens” out there and I’d be remiss if I didn’t give them a shout out! You all exemplify what allyship in action looks like. You take your privilege and use it for good. You speak out against injustice when you see it. You bitches rock and you deserve to be applauded. If you think you belong in that category, calm down, you don’t! Woke queens know they are woke. They are the ones that won’t sleep with you because their best friend is trans and you threw them shade whilst trying to get their number. They are loyal as fuck and you should take notes from them on how to be a decent gay.

If the gay community has taught me anything, it’s how to foster a ferocious love of self; how to see my beauty and my own worth. That didn’t come from being a part of a loving, accepting, tolerant, and open-minded community because as I see it, that community doesn’t exist. It came because I had the fortitude and wherewithal to discover those qualities within myself. Capital Pride is around the corner. Before we go off celebrating gay pride, ask yourself, am I contributing something to the community of which I can be proud?” “Am I exhibiting acceptance before I demand it from others?” Ultimately, it is my hope that everyone engages in that level of introspection; that’s what separates the awful gays from the good ones. But until that point, to my marginalized friends, stay strong and give yourself the love awful gays won’t.

Robert James has been a resident of the D.C. area for more than 25 years. He’s a political adviser, theologian, lifestyle consultant, event planner and professed socialite.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Rick Rosendall

    May 26, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    Hey there, Robert. There are several more Pride celebrations than the two you mention–so many it is hard to keep track of them. In addition to Capital Pride and Trans Pride there are Youth Pride, Latino Pride, Pride and Heritage (Pacific Islander), Trans Pride, Leather Pride, Closeted Pride (okay, I’m kidding with that one), and probably others that don’t immediately come to mind. Whenever people gather to celebrate whatever stirs them, makes them special, or helps them survive a cruel world, that is a pride celebration, even without a license or logo or t-shirts. There are harshness and narrowness out there, but also kindness and outstretched arms. I found them when I first showed up decades ago, and still find them today. Some of the most marginalized have also been among the kindest, bravest, and smartest. We have riches all around us; we have only to let down our filters and notice. For those who won’t, it’s their loss.

  2. Kemwit Tall Tree

    May 30, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    It sounds to me like you have some introspection to do. You seem to want to impose your own tastes and views on others.

    Just because many don’t agree with your marxist viewpoint of the world doesn’t make for bad people. It helps to accept diversity of thought.

  3. Laura P.

    May 30, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    I hope that at least some of them are woke enough not to use “bitch” and “bitches” like that. Also, radical feminist analysis, which you apparently don’t follow, has shown that white gay men and the transgender movement are close allies and that the heavy-lifting work of protecting womyn-born-womyn-only spaces has been left to lesbians. Yes, I know that both sides in that dispute blame each other on white gay men, but they cannot both be right.

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Opinions

‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal serves as a guide for enacting equality legislation

Equality Act supporters should take cues from Senate moderates

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Equality legislation is close to passing in Congress, but close isn’t good enough. “Close” won’t change anything for the LGBTQ Americans who face discrimination every day. Senate Democrats and Republicans must make a push to negotiate. With a reach on both sides to find common ground, we can move equality legislation from “close” to “done deal.”

Some Democrats are waiting for the filibuster to end—despite clear evidence that they lack the votes to end it. Some Republicans are practicing a tried-and-true brand of obstructionism. To break this deadlock, we should look to the successful, bipartisan repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) as a guide.

The DADT repeal is the single reference point for LGBTQ advocates for overcoming the Senate filibuster. Other victories have been in the courts; notably, the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell decision that made gay marriage legal nationwide.

Before Obergefell, advocates had success in the state legislatures. I worked on campaigns for the freedom to marry in Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York and elsewhere, finding common ground between Democrats and Republicans who thought it was impossible to negotiate on marriage. Eventually, enough people from both parties came together to pass marriage laws in a majority of states.

Working together at the state level is one thing. Congress is another.

Despite Democrats’ control of the White House, Senate and House, negotiations are failing at the federal level. So, we lets look to ancient history—the 2010 repeal of DADT—for guidance on reaching 60 votes in the Senate.

The most important lesson from the DADT repeal is that Senate moderates must champion the cause and lead negotiations. The more partisan figures on both sides need to step back. Overcoming the filibuster is a job for moderates, not ideologues.

As it happens, the hero of the DADT repeal is still a senator and can help. Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine led the negotiations on DADT repeal.

Senator Collins supports the Equality Act in principle and even sponsored a version of the bill in past. However, the current version is too extreme for Sen. Collins, as a result, she has withdrawn as a co-sponsor. The current bill has also foundered with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, another important figure in the repeal of DADT.

The fact that moderate, pro-LGBTQ senators are unable to back the current version of the Equality Act should send a clear message to Democrats that we need to make reasonable changes to the bill. So far, the message is being ignored.

On the Democratic side, independent Sen. Joe Lieberman was essential to the repeal of DADT. There certainly were passionate, liberal Democrats who could have asserted themselves during the debate. But then, the bill would have taken longer to pass, or even might have failed.

The lesson is clear. Listen to the moderates. Let them lead this charge.

Another important lesson from the repeal of DADT is to be flexible in the legislative strategy. DADT repeal was originally an amendment to a large defense authorization bill. Rather than give up, Collins and Lieberman fought and saved DADT repeal from defeat by pulling out key provisions they knew could pass on their own and making them a standalone measure. Repeal passed with bipartisan support.

The current version of the Equality Act tries to do too much. That’s why it can’t win support from moderate Republicans who have legitimate concerns the bill might suppress free speech or shut down religious charities.  

Over 60 senators can agree on the basic premise of the Equality Act. They would gladly vote to prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ Americans in employment, housing, and public accommodations, so long as the law didn’t intrude on the First Amendment.

If the far left believes that our country has too much religious liberty, they can deal with that in future legislation. But so long as we have a filibuster—and, there’s no indication it will end any time soon—the Equality Act needs to reflect our society’s current views on religious liberty.  

The DADT repeal passed with 65 votes in the Senate, overcoming the filibuster. Let’s replicate that victory by using the same playbook. Moderates: Take the lead.

Tyler Deaton is the senior advisor to the American Unity Fund, a conservative nonprofit organization working to advance LGBTQ freedom and religious freedom

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LGBTQ people are being hunted down in Afghanistan

Homosexuality punishable by death under Taliban Sharia law interpretation

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Two men in Kabul, Afghanistan, in July 2021 (Photo courtesy of Dr. Ahmad Qais Munzahim)

Kabul was known as one of the few “liberal” cities in Afghanistan. The word liberal is in quotation marks, and inflected, because it is liberal compared to the rest of the country. Now that the Taliban has taken over, most people who expressed themselves differently and openly are forced to adhere to Sharia law, completely change their ways, hide their identity, or be killed.

The U.S. State Department reported in 2020 that even before the Taliban took power in August, LGBTQ people in Afghanistan faced “discrimination, assault and rape” and “homosexuality was widely seen as taboo and indecent.” Laws against lesbian, gay and transgender people made their existence illegal and punishable by up to two years in jail. Those laws were not always enforced, but they did leave LGBTQ people at risk of extortion and abuse by authorities, as reported by the U.K. government.

Even with the discrimination and abuse, LGBTQ people still had a sliver of space in society. Nemat Sadat, an LGBTQ Afghan author living in the United States said that gay, lesbian and transgender people helped the country’s cultural life develop since the Taliban’s last rule 20 years ago. But, most of these people built their lives quietly.

Now with the Taliban regime, their sliver of space in society is gone, there is no room to live quietly as an openly LGBTQ person. Under the Taliban’s interpretation of Sharia law, homosexuality is punished by death.

In an interview with Reuters, Waheedullah Hashimi, a top decision maker for the Taliban said, “there will be no democratic system at all because it does not have a base in our country,” and continued to say, “what type of political system should we apply in Afghanistan is clear. It is sharia law and that is it.”

One source spoke to a 20-year-old university student who is lesbian in Afghanistan. Her family accepted her as a lesbian, but now the new Taliban leadership has put the lives of all of her family at risk. There is a new surge of violence against any lesbian, gay and transgender people. This includes anyone speculated of being lesbian, gay, or trans, and those who support them.

This young lesbian woman has gone into hiding. She is part of hundreds of LGBTQ people in Afghanistan who are pleading with advocates and organizations outside Afghanistan for help to escape the Taliban tyranny.

Nemat Sadat shares stories of lesbian, gay and trans people in hiding. He shared a story of a gay man who watched from his hiding place in the ceiling as Taliban fighters beat the friend who refused to disclose his location.  

LGBTQ people in Afghanistan fear the risk of being arrested, beaten and killed. The Taliban made it clear that it is enforcing its strict religious laws against Afghanistan’s LGBTQ citizens. In an interview with Germany’s Bild newspaper, one Taliban judge said there were only two punishments for homosexuality: “stoning or being crushed under a wall.”

LGBTQ people in Afghanistan are reporting that their friends, partners and members of their community are being attacked and raped. They also stated that Islamic fundamentalists and riotous groups are encouraged by the new tyranny and are on the hunt for LGBTQ people.

Another source shared that a gay man was targeted for his sexuality and then raped by his male attackers. That is a terrible paradox. He was raped by his male attackers, who criminalizing him for having same sex relations.

LGBTQ people are in hiding, desperately trying to get out of the country, and trying to erase any proof of their queer identity.

They feel abandoned by the international LGBTQ community. The Taliban is proving that the Western nations have normalized relations to their government. The Taliban and their supporters see this a proof of their victory. This leaves LGBTQ people defeated and fearing torture and death.

The U.S. government and other Western countries evacuated many people out of Afghanistan, including journalists, women’s rights activists and those who worked with foreigners. But, LGBTQ activists said that nothing has been done for them. A source says about her situation, “we will definitely be killed. We are asking to be evacuated immediately from Afghanistan.” To date, no safe route has been found.

Even underground measures to help LGBTQ people are challenging and near impossible. The Rainbow Railroad is a non-governmental organization helping LGBTQ people around the world escape persecution. Executive Director Kimahli Powell said evacuating LGBTQ people from Afghanistan is especially hard as they are often alone, in hiding, and unable to contact each other. If routes to get them out is nearly impossible, that still means those routes are somewhat possible. As difficult as it may be, we must find pathways to save these people and get them out.

The Taliban regime has established itself, knowing with certainty that the world will stand aside, albeit condemning and protesting, but not intervening. This is empowering jihadists across the world, especially in the Middle East. The Taliban has many allies and admirers, including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Hamas. 

The leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, travelled from Palestinian territories to meet with Taliban leaders in Qatar. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad has a history of ties to the Taliban, even with radicals joining each other’s organizations. Very public statements of congratulations were made between leaders of the Taliban, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and all with full Iranian support.

The increase in brazen forcefulness of these groups reaches beyond Afghanistan, and spreads to the lands dominated by other similar groups. This causes an escalation of the threats to anyone who opposes Sharia law or who lives differently than what Sharia law allows. LGBTQ people in these lands are in peril. 

If we do not help LGBTQ people in Afghanistan, the lives of LGBTQ people under other similar tyrannies face increased uncertainty and danger.

Since posting this video, I have been receiving direct messages from LGBTQ people in hiding in Afghanistan, and those who are seeking to be evacuated. They all share harrowing experiences of being attacked, raped, and threatened by Taliban, Islamic State and bullying groups.

Yuval David is an innovative actor, host and filmmaker with a creative mantra to entertain, uplift and inspire. He is a captivating performer and compelling storyteller who uses his platform for sharing narratives that affect social change, specifically on behalf of highly respected U.S. and international organizations that raise awareness for the marginalized and under-represented, inspired by his LGBTQ+ and Jewish identity, and his Israeli-American roots.

He can be reached through social media

YouTube.com/YuvalDavid

Instagram.com/Yuval_David_

Facebook.com/YuvalDavid

Twitter.com/YuvalDavid

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Proposed zoning code changes will harm Rehoboth

Public hearing to take place on Oct. 15

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Double L, Diego's Hideaway, Fourth, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, gay news, Washington Blade
(Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

As a former city commissioner for nine of the past 15 years, I have seen a lot of changes in the laws and decisions governing the city of Rehoboth Beach. Like most things in life, some have been good and some have been not so good. The ones that have been good for the city plan for the future. The ones that have been bad for the city try to hold on to the past. The city of Rehoboth Beach has been a magnet for tourists for a long time and that has not changed, nor can it be changed. Trying to stifle our business community will not decrease the numbers that come to our city but will only frustrate our residents and visitors by putting into place ordinances that will promote the construction of buildings that lack functional architectural creativity. Worse, discouraging business innovation will drive businesses to Route 1, resulting in vacant storefronts along our commercial streets that will ultimately increase costs to residents in terms of higher taxes, provision of basic services, and increased utility fees. 

On Oct. 15, a public hearing will be held regarding patchwork changes to the zoning code. The proposed changes have been put forth as “clarifications”. They are NOT clarifications but changes that will change the downtown commercial districts for generations to come. And not in a good way. 

This may seem like an over-reaction but truly it is not. Not to over-simplify, but the basic zoning code that applies to commercial buildings allows for construction of a building from lot line to lot line with a maximum height of 42 feet. The proposed changes/clarifications would count interior courtyards and elevator shafts. These changes do not change the bulk of a building but could very well disincentivize desired architectural enhancements, such as balconies and courtyards. In this day and age of COVID, open space should be promoted not penalized. Why would we stifle architects with ideas for buildings that embrace creative use of a parcel of land? The effect of the proposed changes on the new hotel projects that are currently being designed warrants involvement by everyone who wants to make sure that Rehoboth Avenue does not end up showcasing buildings with zero architectural interest. 

It is important to remember that the one square mile of the city of Rehoboth Beach is not a suburban community, nor is it a retirement community. It is a city that hosts tens of thousands of visitors eight to nine months a year with a vibrant restaurant scene, beach and boardwalk, farmers market, recreational dock, and hopefully one day a performing arts center. What can you do? Send an email by Oct. 15 to [email protected], asking the mayor and city commissioners to pause making these patchwork changes to the city code, changes that will have negative unintended consequences for years to come. Ask them to do what was programmed in the budget over a year ago—to hire a zoning expert to look holistically at the city ordinances and make practical, coordinated changes that incentivize development that sustains the aesthetics and prosperity of our town. 

Pat Coluzzi is a former city commissioner for the city of Rehoboth Beach.

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