Bank seizes HIV, AIDS donations to AIDServe Indiana

According to Gina Barton, the Indianapolis Star [link deprecated: http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/indystar/access/1914935211.html?FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&date=Feb+22%2C+2001&author=GINA+BARTON&pub=Indianapolis+Star&edition=&startpage=A.1&desc=Bank+seized+HIV%2C+AIDS+donations” title=”Indy Star Article Archives”]:

Nearly $175,000 worth of donations for people with HIV and AIDS was seized by Fifth Third Bank to pay off the debts of AIDServe Indiana, a troubled statewide agency that closed in November.

The money, raised at the annual AIDS walk in October, was placed in an unrestricted account. The bank took the money to pay off the organization’s credit line, AIDServe board member Coby Palmer confirmed.

“The bank took the walk money because the loan came due,” Palmer said.

Palmer and others are concerned that the fiasco will have a negative effect on future AIDS fund-raisers throughout the city.

“I think it’s going to be hard for anyone to do an AIDS walk this year,” said Diana Gray, executive director of the Damien Center, a regional AIDS service organization based in Indianapolis. “It’s clearly out in the community that the AIDS walk money was taken by the bank and did not go to the people it was supposed to go to, and clients have suffered because of that.”

Gray said she hoped people would recognize the Damien Center as an independent entity from AIDServe, which still owes the Damien Center $104,000.

Herb Schlotterbeck, 62, has participated in the walk for the past 10 years. He said he would sign up again to show his support for people with AIDS, regardless of what happened to the money.

“I’m not concerned about AIDServe; I’m concerned about people who need the support,” said Schlotterbeck, who walked with a group from All Saints Episcopal Church.

The Damien Center is planning to sponsor a walk later this year. Officials likely will work in cooperation with Palmer and another AIDS activist, Jack Batty, who are organizing a new group, Indiana Still Cares. The organization will not distribute federal funds or enter into contracts with the Indiana State Department of Health, as AIDServe did. Rather, Indiana Still Cares would plan and execute fund-raisers to help people with HIV and AIDS.

AIDServe, with 800 to 900 clients and an annual budget of $5million, was the only statewide agency serving needy residents with HIV and AIDS. About a dozen regional groups received funding through AIDServe, which administered federal grants through contracts with the Health Department.

In November, AIDServe Director Mark St. John resigned after admitting he had mismanaged the agency’s funds. A week later, the Health Department terminated all its contracts with AIDServe, in essence shutting it down.

Many low-income people with HIV and AIDS were left unable to afford housing, drugs and medical services. Doctors who took care of them were not paid. Several board members have resigned, but some, including Palmer, agreed to stay on to tie up loose ends.

Both the Damien Center and Indiana Still Cares hope to distance themselves from any implied affiliation with AIDServe, which remains the target of both criticism and legal action.

The $175,000 raised at last year’s AIDS walk wasn’t enough to cover the organization’s $400,000 debt to Fifth Third Bank, according to a lawsuit the bank filed earlier this month in Marion County. Expert lawyers based in Langhorne states that the suit seeks permission to take any assets at the organization’s former offices at 3951 N. Meridian St.

Thomas Mariani, the attorney representing the bank, said all parties agree the bank has the right to take the materials, which he guessed are valued at no more than $10,000.

Meanwhile, Health Department officials are trying to repay the regional groups for outstanding expenses that should have been paid by AIDServe. They also want to keep helping clients.

“We’ve continued to provide direct medical assistance and housing assistance, the things we consider essential services,” said Michael Butler, director of the Health Department’s HIV/sexually transmitted disease division.

The department hopes to have AIDServe’s former contracts reassigned to different providers by July 1.

Palmer believes AIDServe’s cash-flow problems resulted in part from the Health Department’s failure to reimburse the organization in a timely manner. Palmer said he thinks the Health Department owes AIDServe about $250,000.

Health Department officials say they have not received documentation to substantiate that claim. An audit now under way could help resolve the differences.

“The audit results will dictate what our next move will be,” Butler said.

The bank and several regional service organizations also are awaiting the results of the audit in hopes they can lay claim to additional money. The audit likely won’t be finished for several months.

AIDServe plans to file for bankruptcy, Palmer said.

Continue ReadingBank seizes HIV, AIDS donations to AIDServe Indiana

Will & Grace, Things Are Not Better for Gay People on Television

Despite the presence of gay characters on TV, there are still no openly gay actors on television, and that’s a problem. The real problem with Ellen wasn’t that her character was gay, or that there were too many gay themed shows, as some people claimed.

It was that Ellen Degeneres, not the character Ellen Morgan, was gay. During the debate over ratings and issues that surrounded the cancellation of her show, the example that proves that point, the real reason the show was no longer on the air, got overlooked.

During Ellen’s last season, there was an evening in which Ellen show aired at 9 p.m. Airing that same night at 8 p.m. there was an episode of Spin City. On that show, the gay character Carter, (played by a heterosexual man) kisses the heterosexual character Mike Flaherty as a joke. The fact that it happened was practially ignored, except that it aired as the promo for the show for days before hand.

That same evening on Ellen at 9 p.m., Ellen Morgan, a gay character, kisses her heterosexual friend Paige as a joke. Not only was it a big deal, it was given a warning prior to the show, and was universally criticized afterwards.

What was the difference between the two events? Both featured a gay character kissing a straight character in a romantic way, but as a joke. The only difference was that one of the real-life actors in the second show was gay in real life.

Continue ReadingWill & Grace, Things Are Not Better for Gay People on Television

Young Americans

The summer season of the WB’s show “Young Americans” ended last night. This is, certainly, one of the strangest shows I’ve seen on TV It’s almost a homoerotic wet dream with dozens of gorgeous, doe-eyed, apple-cheeked, buffed young men running around at an all-boys pre-ivy league prep school. Almost homo. They try to clean it up a little to get it under the hetero radar.

Continue ReadingYoung Americans

Gay/Straight Marriages and the Georges tragedy

This is in regards to Ruth Holladay’s recent column on the Georges murder tragedy. (excerpted below)

I think we as a community, and Ruth Holladay, need to separate our issues here, because we’re talking about several different issues as though they’re a single issue.

  1. We’re talking about people, regardless of their orientation, being honest with their partners (and themselves) about health-related issues.
  2. We’re also talking about people being monogamous within their relationships.
  3. We’re also talking about people being honest about their sexual orientation.
  4. And finally we’re talking about people finding ways to live together with other people’s orientations.

How any given person (gay or straight) in any kind of relationship (same sex or opposite sex) chooses to handle each of these four issues individually will determine the success of their relationship.

I can show you PLENTY of gay/straight marriages where there’s no dishonesty whatsoever — AND vice versa, lesbians married happily to straight men!
And there are PLENTY of relationships of all kinds where people are not honest — that’s the issue, really, not gay/straight but honesty/dishonesty.
And as far as the Georges go, we DON’T KNOW how they chose to handle each of these individual issues. It may very well be the case that:

  1. Lloyd Georges was completely honest with his wife about health concerns; his own and hers.
  2. Lloyd and Judy may have had an agreement that non-monogamy was okay as long as there was honesty about health, emotional, and safety concerns. Or Lloyde may have been completely monogamous — we don’t know that he ever had a sexual encounter with a man.
  3. Lloyd may have been totally out to Judy, and to their family and friends as well.
  4. Lloyd and Judy may have been happy with their arrangements.

****And this tragedy could still have occurred even if each of the above four assumptions were true. ****

The tragedy was a ROBBERY gone wrong, and nothing more. It was sad and unfortunate, but it had NOTHING to do with the fact that he was gay and she was straight. Lloyd could have met and befriended some shady characters at a gas station, rather than the Unicorn club. People, gay and straight, trust the wrong people every day.

We CANNOT sit around and make generalizations about all gay/straight relationships and marriages, any more than we can about gay/gay relationships or straight/straight ones.

There is no reason that we can or should assume that gay men married to straight women are always dishonest about their health issues, about their orientations, about their emotional and safety concerns.

We can, and should, strive to be honest and concerned about our own health and emotional well-being, and the health and emotional well-being of the people around us.

I think Ruth Holladay’s article was homophobic, even if unintentionally. She suggested that Lloyd Georges was dishonest with his wife because he was gay, that gay people live unsavory and dangerous lives, and that this alleged dishonesty was the reason they both were killed.

None of these things are true.

Ruth Holladay, May 25, 2000, Indianapolis Star:

It was not Lloyd Georges’ homosexuality that caused his death, said the veteran cop. It was his indulgence for guys with criminal histories, his fondness for men with mean streaks.

So the retired 60-year-old educator is dead, a victim of bad choices and worse company. But so is Georges’ 58-year-old wife, Judith, who had taught third grade and collected dolls and was, by all accounts, a quiet woman who left their Greenwood home on weekends so her husband could take part in “Saturday night fever.” That phrase refers to the personal ad Georges placed in an alternative newspaper; it was his invitation to party.

This is a tough one to make sense of, by anybody’s belief system. It’s even tougher in the context of conservative Midwestern family values. But it happened. It happens.

Specifically, what happened is this: The Greenwood couple, wed 32 years, were stabbed to death last Friday in their home, then their bodies were set on fire. In a community that averages one murder every six years, it was shocking. In a community where normal is the norm, it was a bombshell.

Police Chief Robert Dine liked Mrs. Georges. He’s a past president of the PTO at Isom Elementary School, where she taught for 35 years. “She was a dedicated teacher,” he says.

So he made a promise to the couple’s son to find the killer, and on Monday, he might have delivered: Detectives arrested Fernando Griffith, 22, also known as Valentino. That’s his stage name at the Unicorn, a private Indianapolis club where he worked as a stripper. The retired teacher and his friend had known each other about a year, Dine says. Sometimes, Dine says, both Mr. and Mrs. Georges invited Griffith to their home for dinner. But the relationship soured last week, police say, when Georges refused to play sugar daddy.

So much for the allegations. Now, for an effort at insight.

In the past, gay men often married: Peter Tchaikovsky, Oscar Wilde, Charles Laughton and Cole Porter come to mind.

But that was then, when just being gay was a crime. Given that the only exit from the closet was jail, it’s understandable that gays hid.

While we haven’t created utopia yet — don’t hold your breath, and keep in mind that everybody’s utopia is different — we have changed. Gay men and women can live together openly.

Despite this, old patterns and fears continue, says Amity Pierce Buxton of El Cerrito, Calif., a 71-year-old founder of the Straight Spouse Network. Buxton speaks from experience: Seventeen years ago, her husband of 23 years told her he was gay.

Now, she uses her pain to help others heal. She understands the double-edged stigma, both from the perspective of gay partner and straight spouse. She understands that gays still marry — less so today, but it happens. And it doesn’t take a degree in gay studies to realize that a teacher, like Georges, would be fearful of exposure, especially during his career.

But the bigger the lie, the harder the fall. When the truth finally comes out, as it always does, everybody gets hurt — especially the straight spouse.

As stated, it’s tough to make sense out of this. But if one message should come through, it’s this: Intolerance exists — look at Matthew Shepard, who paid with his life. Still, if you are gay or bisexual and married to a straight person, be honest. If you are absolutely petrified by that, keep your vows: Don’t have sex outside marriage.

And if you are a straight person who suspects she is married to a gay, you need to know that your choice could carry a cost.

Get out. Life is too short.

Continue ReadingGay/Straight Marriages and the Georges tragedy

Gay National Anthems 1939-1979 (vol. 1)

By Steph Mineart, Doug Feller for the The Millenium March on Washington
01 – Over the Rainbow – Judy Garland – Wizard of Oz Soundtrack
02 – Cry – Johnnie Ray
03 – Secret Love – Doris Day
04 – The Man That Got Away – Judy Garland with Ray Heindorf & Orchestra
05 – You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away – The Beatles
06 – San Francisco – Scott McKenzie
07 – I Say a Little Prayer for You – Dionne Warwick
08 – Band of Gold – Freda Payne
09 – Cabaret – Liza Minelli
10 – John I’m Only Dancing – David Bowie
11 – I am Woman – Helen Reddy
12 – Walk on the Wild Side – Lou Reed
13 – Friends – Bette Midler
14 – Get Dancing – Disco Tex and the Sex-O-Lettes
15 – Lady Marmalade – Patti La Belle
16 – At Seventeen – Janis Ian
17 – All The Time – Barry Manilow
18 – Dancing Queen – ABBA
19 – Macho Man – Village People
20 – I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor
21 – Y.M.C.A – Village People

Continue ReadingGay National Anthems 1939-1979 (vol. 1)

A Family By Choice

By Kathleen Schuckel

Reprinted from The Indianapolis Star

INDIANAPOLIS (Sun. Jan. 9, 2000) — Butch Kimmerling adopted his 8-year-old foster child to keep her from becoming a gay man’s daughter. Kimmerling, 52, is now accused of molesting the little girl, and has admitted it.

Even as Kimmerling prepares to go to court soon on 10 felony counts of child molestation, a state lawmaker prepares to introduce legislation to stop gay people from adopting.

State Rep. Woody Burton, R-Greenwood, said he was appalled at Kimmerling’s admissions to molesting the little girl. "That guy ought to be put in jail," he said.

Still, Burton says, that doesn’t mean Kimmerling’s protest against gay adoption was wrong.

Spurred by Kimmerling’s protests over gay adoption, Burton sponsored a bill last year in the General Assembly that would have banned gays or single people from adopting. It didn’t pass, but he plans to re-introduce legislation in 2001.

FAMILY TIME: Craig Peterson and his three sons — (from left) Andrew, Michael and Brandon — share a laugh while reading a storybook before bedtime. Peterson, 39 and a gay man, has overcame many obstacles to adopt three special-needs boys. )

Away from the maelstrom, in a quiet house in Indianapolis, a gay man raises the little girl’s three brothers, ages 4, 5 and 6. They are his sons, now. Even as Craig Peterson tries to shield his boys from the swirling controversies, the intersecting threads still touch them.

Peterson is fighting for the right for his sons to visit their older sister. In fact, he would still like to adopt her or arrange visits between her and her brothers.

"These boys … would love to have a relationship with their sister, and they’ve never been given that opportunity. We talk about her, and we pray for her."

The Kimmerling’s adoption of the boys’ sister was approved — in December, 1998 — even before Peterson’s adoption of his sons was approved. That approval came in September 1999.

"Here, I’m jumping through hoops, and they’re taking hoops down for these people," Peterson said.

Even after the Kimmerlings "won" adoption of the little girl, they continued to fight for a ban against gay adoption.

In a letter to the editor of The Indianapolis Star, published Oct. 13, 1998, Kimmerling and his wife wrote: "Girls need mothers so they can learn what it is to be a woman; they need fathers so they know how to interact with the opposite sex."

Kimmerling later admitted molesting the little girl numerous times before and after that letter was written — "many times since April or May 1998, and the last time on the morning of May 10, 1999," court documents note Kimmerling said.

Two veteran public servants in Madison County — Detective Dale Koons and Judge Fredrick Spencer — weren’t surprised by the molestation charges against Kimmerling.

"Those with the deepest secrets protest the most," Spencer said. He said he knew of numerous instances of child molesters, before they were found out "…said that all molesters should be taken out and shot for their crimes."

Kimmerling’s attorney, John Erickson, said his client has fully cooperated with officials, has had no contact with his daughter and has sought treatment.

Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings said he plans to try the Kimmerling case himself, rather than hand it to a deputy prosecutor.

Cummings, who himself grew up in foster care in Anderson, moving from home to home and experiencing abuse in some homes, said he takes special interest in this case.

"I want to do it, and I want to make sure it gets done the way I want it done," he said.

Cummings said last month that he didn’t anticipate a plea agreement. Refusing to talk about this case specifically, Cummings said that he saw prison as "the only option" for most child molesters.

Of the 10 counts pending against Kimmerling, two are A felonies, the other eight, C felonies. On each A felony charge, Kimmerling could get 20 to 50 years in prison, and two to eight years imprisonment for each C felony.

The Indiana Legislature won’t be alone in debating the issue of gay adoption.

Controversies surrouding the issue have erupted nationally. Last year, Texas attempted to ban gay adoption, but it failed in the legislature.

However, an aide to Gov. George W. Bush said the presidential hopeful would have signed a law banning gays from adopting.

And just last year, New Hampshire lifted its ban on gay adoption. Previously, foster children weren’t even allowed to spend the night in a home where a homosexual was visiting.

THERAPY: Michael, Andrew and Brandon watch a half-hour of a Disney video before bedtime with their heads in their hands to help strenghten their neck muscles, which are weak from the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome. Peterson believes this will result in improving the boys’ attention spans.

While Utah and Arkansas make gay adoptions nearly impossible, Florida is the only state that has an outright ban on gays and lesbians adopting. The law stemmed from Anita Bryant’s 1977 crusade to overturn a gay rights ordinance in Dade County.

Indiana’s Burton is clear in his opposition to gay people becoming adoptive parents.

"I think children need the influence of both a mother and father," said Burton, who said he also plans to introduce other adoption reform bills. "(Children) need two different people with different biological makeups.

"It takes a man and woman to make a child. It takes a man and woman to raise a child."

Burton said children adopted by gays and lesbians are hurt unnecessarily when forced to experience the stigmas and mistreatment gay and lesbian parents receive in society.

Others disagree.

"There is not one credible study out there to demonstrate that children of gay and lesbian parents suffer at the hands of their peers any more than any other kids," said Sean Lemieux, the director of the Project for Equal Rights for the Indiana Civil Liberties Union.

"Does that mean we take kids away from overweight parents because they get teased on that basis?"

Steve Kirsh, an Indianapolis lawyer who mostly handles infant adoptions, occasionally works with gay and lesbian couples.

One birth mother purposely chose a gay couple to be her baby’s parents because the child was biracial, Kirsh said. The woman reasoned that the couple had themselves faced prejudice and would be better equipped to raise a child facing prejudice.

In Kirsh’s practice, gay couples have adopted African-American babies, biracial babies or those with disabilities.

He doesn’t think any ban on gay adoption is necessary.

"Given the fact that there are so few gay adoptions taking place and also that gay couples are adopting hard-to-place children, I would think the legislature has more important things to worry about."

Peterson’s sons all have special needs. Because of their birth mother’s use of alcohol during pregnancy, they suffer effects of fetal alcohol syndrome.

Ron Carpenter knows about children, like Peterson’s sons, who are hard to place. He heads the Children’s Bureau of Indianapolis, which has a contract with the state to help find homes for nearly 2,000 Hoosier children needing homes.

"Special-needs kids take some very special or unique kinds of families," Carpenter said. "Though it would be great to have the ‘normal’ or ‘traditional’ family unit stepping forward, it just doesn’t happen."

There are some critics of gay adoption who insinuate that gays are more prone to molest children.

In 17 years on the bench, there is one type of person Judge Spencer in Madison County says he has not seen facing molestation charges: homosexuals.

"I have never seen a known gay person who has been accused of sexually molesting a child," he said.

Burton says he thinks more married couples would adopt, if the state had less red tape and better laws to assist them. That will be part of the legislation he plans to introduce next year.

Judith Myers-Walls, an associate professor of family studies at Purdue University, questioned Burton’s premise that a traditional mother and father are always the best for children.

"We put adoptive parents through a lot more rigor than we do biological parents," she said.

As a result, some studies show that gay and lesbian parents tend to be better quality parents.

"They’re working very hard at parenting. They’re much more conscious of what they do and are careful with decisions because they worry of how they are perceived by others," Myers-Walls said.

Furthermore, kids adopted by gays don’t "become" gay, she said.

Studies show that gay and lesbian parents are slightly less likely to have children who identify themselves as gay or lesbian than heterosexual parents, Myers-Walls said.

Peterson said doesn’t spend much time researching the issues.

Instead, he’s focused most on being a father; providing for his sons’ most immediate needs: good educations and a nurturing home that helps them to grow up kind and successful people.

The father finds sad irony in the fact that Kimmerling, who later admitted being a child molester, fought so hard to prevent him from adopting.

"How could that man say horrible things about me when he’d been doing this to the girl?"

Continue ReadingA Family By Choice

Man Charged With Molesting Adopted Child

according to the Associated Press:

Kimmerling had fought attempt by gay couple to adopt 8-year-old girl, with the help of an adoption law firm

ANDERSON [Indiana] – An Anderson man who gained statewide attention by fighting attempts by a gay couple to adopt an 8-year-old girl under his foster care now is charged with molesting her.

Earl “Butch” Kimmerling, a 51-year-old school bus driver who adopted the girl with his wife, confessed in a videotaped interview to molesting the child, according to Anderson police.

Kimmerling battled a gay couple from Indianapolis when they tried to adopt the girl last year. He and his wife, Sandi, gained support in their fight from religious and political leaders in Anderson and across Indiana.

But Kimmerling now faces four counts of felony child molestation, according to court records. Accounts Kimmerling and his daughter gave police were consistent, Anderson police spokesman Mitch Carroll said. People can get in touch with family lawyer serving in Beverly Hills to get help for divorce cases.

Sandi Kimmerling refused to comment and her husband was unavailable Friday night. She filed charges with Anderson police on May 11, Anderson police investigator Dale Koons said.He was released from the Madison County Detention Center on a $35,000 bond Friday evening and will be arraigned this morning. If convicted, he faces between 20 and 116 years in prison.

The girl – now 9 years old – told police the abuse began last April, before the adoption controversy hit its zenith.

The Kimmerlings and their pastor, Brad Brizendine of Center of Faith Church, launched a campaign opposing homosexual adoption last August.

That’s when they found out the girl, who they had cared for over more than five years, would be reunited with her three younger brothers and placed with a homosexual Indianapolis couple.

Anderson Mayor Mark Lawler was one of the couple’s most prominent boosters and attended the adoption finalization at the Kimmerlings’ request. Lawler was unavailable for comment on Friday.

The controversy even extended to the General Assembly, where Republican state representatives Jack Lutz of Anderson and Woody Burton of Greenwood proposed a bill to ban gay adoptions in Indiana.

A bill that would have made it harder for gays to adopt passed the Republican-controlled Indiana Senate, but died in the Democrat-run House.

The Kimmerlings, who have been foster parents since 1991 and shared their home with about 50 foster children, legally adopted the girl Oct. 23. Custody of her three brothers was granted to the two homosexual men.

While there is no protective order against Earl Kimmerling, police said they will make sure he is not able to contact his daughter while the case is under investigation.

“With a case like this, there’s no way we’d allow him to have any contact with her,” Carroll said.

Earl Kimmerling moved out of the home after his wife learned of the abuse, and had been cooperating with police, Carroll said.

Andrew Stoner, a spokesman for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, called the case tragic. The state will review how Madison County officials evaluate possible foster parents, Stoner said.

“There does need to be a complete review of what went wrong, but right now, I don’t see any indication that they didn’t do everything they could to prevent this,” Stoner said.

The investigation is open and may extend to other foster children cared for by the Kimmerlings, Carroll said. It was unclear where the girl was living as of Friday, police and prosecutors said.

Continue ReadingMan Charged With Molesting Adopted Child

Anti-Gay Hate Crime Legislation

To my esteemed legislators:

When I was in college in August of 1989, I was raped. My rapist picked me out in a gay bar, followed me home, and came back to next night to attack me in my home. He did this because I am a lesbian, and he felt he was “teaching me a lesson” — his words during the attack.

As a result of this rape, I became pregnant and then had a miscarriage. Since then I have gone on with my life, but ten years later, I can’t say it hasn’t affected me, although I am a very strong young woman. I think about that attack every day when I unlock my car at night, and when I’m home alone.

In the course of that ten years I have had close friends suffer the effects of anti-gay violence, and have seen brutal anti-gay attacks that were well publicized both here in Indianapolis, and in Muncie, where I went to college.

I am strongly convinced that hate crimes laws can make a difference in curbing anti-gay crime, and in sending a message to society that targeting gay and lesbian people is not acceptable.

I’ve phoned or written you every year to express my support for Hate Crimes Legislation because I believe that it would make a difference for all minority groups. But I cannot support House Bill 1011.

To pass a hate crimes law that excludes gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people, some of the prime targets of hate violence, would be to fly directly in the face of the purpose of such a law, to make a mockery of it.

It would suggest, even invite, the idea that hate crimes are okay as long as they are directed against the “appropriate” targets — gay targets.

You have to excuse me when I say with vehemence that I no longer want to be a target, and I don’t want to be the shield that other minority groups hide behind.

If you truly believe that hate crime, any hate crime, is morally wrong, then you will not pass a law that puts forth the idea of the law while offending the spirit of it.

Continue ReadingAnti-Gay Hate Crime Legislation

Gay Indy Mailing List

On the bright side – I saw two movies this past weekend – Dogma and Run Lola Run. Both were good.

On the dark side – It surprises me sometimes what other people find to be important. I say this because I’m on the GayIndy mailing list, and it’s kind of a joke. The mailing list, I mean, not the fact that I’m on it.

The list has been shut down for a week or so because of controversy — and as soon as it started back up again, everyone’s posting information to it as though nothing has happened.

The controversy was about some of the gay groups in Indianapolis and how they don’t give information to the community about how they spend money or what their goals are or what they plan to accomplish or whether they’ve met any of their goals, etc. Which wouldn’t be a big deal except that they get on the news and talk to public officials claiming that they’re “community leaders” and that they represent people like me.

One of the people raising these questions was me, and one was Bruce Seybert, a publisher of one of the gay magazines in town. After the debate started heating up, someone started to get on the mailing list with an anonymous email address from yahoo and post libelous insults about Bruce.

That’s why they shut down the list; because of the unhealthy tone people were unsubscribing. But the questions raised have never been answered, and it looks as though they never will, because people are posting frivolous information to it.

I despair of Indianapolis sometimes. I think I’m going home to read some poetry.

Continue ReadingGay Indy Mailing List

On the Subject of “Outing”

The phrases “in the closet,” “coming out” and “outing” are euphemisms for lying about your sexual orientation, or telling the truth about it. They’re phrases I dislike, because they allow people to rationalize away the fact that “staying in the closet” is a fundamental dishonesty. It’s much easier to say, “I’m not out yet at work,” than to say, “I’m telling the people I work with lies about my sexual orientation.”

The gay and lesbian community has created a whole culture around the concept of the “closet,” going as far as creating a pop-psychology theory about the “process of coming out” and naming national magazines and websites after it. (Out Magazine, PlanetOut)

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that it takes time for people to learn about, understand, and accept their own sexuality when it’s different from the norm. I went through it like everyone else, and it’s understandable that we want to help people who are going through the “great awakening.”

The problem is that the “closet” culture we’ve created allows people who are well aware of their sexuality the opportunity to be dishonest merely to avoid the stigma attached to being gay.

I say once you’re aware of your own sexual orientation, it’s time to tell other people unless you have some compelling reason not to. The older I get, the less tolerant I get of people who are lying about their sexual orientation for no good reason.

And there are some good reasons to lie:

  • If you are in immediate danger of losing your life.
  • If you are in danger of losing your children.
  • If you are very poor and losing your job will cause you to be out of food, clothing or housing.
  • If you are very young and telling the truth will get you thrown out into the streets before you are able to care for yourself, or bullied by your peers.

Many of the gay and lesbian people in this country who lie about their sexual orientation are not doing it for one of these reasons. Many of them are lying because they are afraid to face the hatred; afraid they won’t fit in. Black people have to face the hatred every day; they don’t have the luxury of being cowards.

Privacy, Schmivacy

As much difficulty as I have with the concept of the "closet," I get even more bent out of shape when people try to claim that their gay relationships are a "private matter" because that often reduces their relationship to a sexual one, rather than a loving, romantic one, which is the way the right-wing would like it to be.

When a straight person introduces their partner to anyone, they use the words "husband," "wife," "fiancé;" they naturally announce their emotions to complete strangers and don’t think twice about it. Straight people declare their love by getting married in front of family and friends and send announcements of their wedding to the community paper.

The "private" aspect of any relationship is the sexual, intimate part of a relationship between two individuals; the part that takes place behind closed doors. Heterosexual people have a "public" aspect as well; an aspect of their relationship that is the emotional, "love" part, and that love that is shared to some degree with the couple’s friends, family, and community. When other people know about their love and participate in it, they support it and strenghten it. That’s why the public part of their relationship is important.

Gay people rarely have a truly "public" part to their relationships, they may be honest to friends, and some family, but when it comes to holding hands in public or telling new acquaintances about their relationships, they censor themselves. Their relationships are often limited to the private, to the "bedroom." Because of this, gay people and straight people alike tend to think of gay relationships as merely sexual, rather than sexual and loving.

I know one of the first objections gay people will bring up is that we shouldn’t define our relationships by those of straight people. It’s true that we shouldn’t limit ourselves to that model; but we can draw some conclusions about human behavior by looking at them. Not all gay people want traditional, committed relationships and families, but some do and they shouldn’t be denied the opportunity.

"But… I’m Not Lying, I’m Just Not Telling People"

Oh, baloney. There’s no way to "not tell people." Within the first few weeks of getting to know someone, they’re going to ask you questions about your personal life that you have to answer. Sooner of later, you’re going to have to state a pronoun. If you choose to censor your answers, or be evasive, bingo! You’re lying.

I Don’t Want to Help You Lie

The closet culture we’ve created fosters a conspiracy of dishonesty within the community as well. People who are lying about their sexual orientation assume and expect those who are not lying to help them. They speak in conspiratorial whispers, rather than normal conversation tones. They look around before relating information, speak in code ("Is he family?" "Does he sing in the choir?") and expect others to do so, all with a bit of glee: "we’re putting one over on all these stupid straight people aren’t we?"

If people are lying to stay in the closet, and if I help them by perpetuating that lie, then I am as dishonest as they are, and as much of a coward as they are by going along with them.

Continue ReadingOn the Subject of “Outing”