Wednesday, May 30, 2007

When tragedy strikes, community media steps in

If you aren't from Ottawa, you might not have heard of Dixie Landers. And if you don't read the queer press, you probably haven't heard that the popular and well-loved drag personality has been in a coma for the last three days, after being severely injured in a bar fight. The story hasn't hit the mainstream press, but Ottawa's queer community is getting up-to-the minute information on Dixie's condition from Capital Xtra, where readers are also posting comments to debate a case where there have been allegations of police inaction and possible mistreatment by emergency personnel.

Meanwhile, friends and supporters have set up a "Get Well Dixie Landers" group on Facebook, which now has almost 350 members. And people posting on Egale Canada's e-list are talking about the case, wondering aloud why more people didn't come to Dixie's defence, whether or not this was a gay-bashing, and what the community can do to prevent further violence.

Not a single word about this story has appeared in print or in any mainstream media outlet. But hundreds of people are staying updated on Dixie's condition, discussing the case, and organizing a community response to anti-queer violence.

A very sad case, but a truly inspiring moment for community media and online networking.

Get well soon, Dixie. Ottawa's pulling for you.

-- cross-posted to BlogThis!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Gay rights are children's rights

Gay rights are children's rights
WORLD WITHIN / Uncovering the family first rhetoric

The cat's out of the bag. Lesbian mothers are just as good, if not better for children, than heterosexual parents, according to a study commissioned by the federal justice department in 2003. The report only surfaced last week, after its author, Paul Hastings from Concordia University, obtained it under the Access to Information Act.

You see, it's no surprise that Stephen Harper's Conservative government wanted to suppress the report, which references about 100 studies on parenting and demonstrates that children living with two mothers are no worse off than kids living with a mom and a dad. In fact, they may even have marginally better social skills.

But this kind of information really pisses of the fundamentalists and so-called ethicists like Margaret Somerville who choose to ignore any empirical data that contradicts their bunk argument that gay and trans rights ignore "children's rights."

Keep reading here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Speaking ill of the dead

I know I'm not the only one who started singing "ding-dong the witch is dead" when I heard yesterday that gay-hating televangelist Jerry Falwell had kicked the bucket. I felt not a second of hesitation before letting out a little cheer, imagining an afterlife for Mr. Falwell filled with teletubbies, feminists and sodomites.

Does this make me a mean, terrible person? Should I be filled with grief for his family, and do the charitable thing and forgive Falwell for his transgressions against black people, women, queers and anyone else he judged to be immoral?

Well, let's look at the evidence. To quote Maisonneuve MediaScout's analysis:

  • Falwell "was known to call the civil rights movement 'the civil wrongs movement;
  • He supported South African apartheid;
  • He said that the prophet Mohamed was a terrorist and the Antichrist was a Jewish man;
  • He warned of the deleterious moral effects of watching the children's program Teletubbies, as one of the characters seemed to him to be a gay role model;
  • And, in a move that finally alienated him from mainstream America, he laid part of the blame for the 9/11 attacks on '...the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians ... all of them who have tried to secularize America' - all this, and much more of the same, while wielding considerable influence in Washington."

GLAAD in the U.S. is urging the mainstream media to avoid glossing over Falwell's legacy of discrimination against queer people, and had posted a series of video clips of him making some of his more outrageous statements.

And today in the Globe and Mail, John Ibbitson has no qualms about speaking truth to Falwell's legacy, calling him a "big, booming, bigoted man."

Michelangelo Signorile also doesn't mince words about Falwell, saying,:

I don't really buy the "don't speak ill of the dead" argument, not with 24-hour news cycles that throw out pre-fabricated obituaries and are done with the story by the end of the cycle. And no, I don't have any sympathy for his family nor care about respecting them: They didn't respect me, nor the many others who lost loved ones to AIDS, suicide or gay-bashing, enough to stand up and speak out against their monster of a relative. Let's never forget that this man is directly responsible for the deaths of thousands due to AIDS because of the stranglehold he and his "mobilized" Christians had on our government as the health crisis emerged in the 80s within the gay community. The grotesque negligence of the Reagan administration was dictated by Jerry Falwell, who would then go on to hatch many dozens of little Falwells over the past several decades who inspire the hatred against gays -- and the violent gay-bashing and teen suicides -- that we still live with today.
And blogger sabotabby dismisses the notion that Falwell's critics are being uncharitable during his family's time of mourning, writing:

I suppose what I'm saying here is that I don't think it's wrong to speak ill of the dead. I mean, it's wrong to denounce them to their grieving friends and families, but it's not inherently wrong. And what I'm also saying is that it's okay to be intolerant .. Gloves off, kids. Reagan wanted most of you dead. Falwell wanted even more of you dead. These men consider you, your friends, your families, and most of the world, subhuman. It's fine to hate them - they hated you too -if your personal moral code allows for hate. It's fine to be relieved that they're gone.
What do you think? Do we have a responsibility to express remorse when a truly hateful person dies? Does it detract from our cause when we speak ill of the dead?

- Cross-posted to BlogThis!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Fundie newsflash

According to last week's edition of the Hill Times, Darrel Reid, former director of Focus on the Family Canada, is now the deputy director of policy and research in the Prime Minister's Office. Reid was most recently chief of staff to Rona Ambrose (when she was Environment Minister).

Just FYI, FOTF maintains that homosexual people can be "converted" through therapy, and its U.S. leader James Dobson has referred to abortion as a "baby holocaust." Reid was (and still is) a vocal anti-gay marriage and anti-choice spokesperson. He was instrumental in setting up the FOTF-funded Institute for Marriage and Family Canada, which disguises itself as a neutral research organization, but its studies so far have attacked the usual Conservative annoyances -- universal daycare, non-hetero families, etc.

If you are curious about Reid, and just how far the Christian Right has infiltrated Parliament Hill, check out this article by Marci Macdonald from a back issue of the Walrus.

-- Cross-posted to BlogThis!