Kentucky LGBTs and Discrimination.

Last night I came upon this documentary. It is called “Out in Silence.” Joe Wilson, living in DC, decided to put a wedding announcement in his hometown paper, in Oil Town, PA, coming out to his hometown after years of being closeted. What happened next was both expected and unexpected–a lot of folk were enraged that a gay man put a wedding announcement in the newspaper, and used it as a launching pad to voice their opposition to gay rights. He expected that. What Joe did not expect was a letter from a mother in Oil Town, asking for his help. Her teenaged son is gay, you see, and getting harassed and bullied for it. The school does nothing. So, Joe Wilson and his partner make the trip to Oil Town, Pennsylvania, and this film is the result. It is 55 minutes long; if you have time to watch it, I would recommend you do so.

The teenage boy, CJ’s story is heartbreaking. He’s verbally harassed and physically beaten. He gets death threats. People threaten to burn down his home. Teachers and administrators are present and do nothing. With Joe’s help, CJ and his mother begin to fight the school board (one of the school board members smirks as CJ’s mother describes the harassment and bullying CJ suffers). They eventually take their fight to the legislature, and win anti-discrimination training for school teachers.

This morning, I wake up to this: Tim Ravndal, President of Montana’s Big Sky Tea Party jokes on his facebook page about murdering LGBT folks, and Matthew Shepard’s murder in 1998 is referenced as a “guide.”

Horrific, yes? The Big Sky Tea Party has since voted to remove Ravndal as President.

Where am I going with this?

I think you know.

Read the rest at my Local Voices blog here.

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Greg Fischer & Unions: a Press Conference and an Interview

I’ve recently become a contributor to Louisville station WLKY’s Local Voices blog! My first post on Local Voices, is my contribution to the “This is what a young feminist looks like.” blog carnival. This is my newest post.

Today at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, 29 local labor unions announced their support for Greg Fischer in his candidacy for mayor. I walked in twenty minutes early, found my way back to the gym where the conference was being held, and looked around. There were small groups of men and women standing about and chatting. A podium was set up in front of the stage, with the IBEL seal on the front of it. A camera from WHAS was setting up. Chairs lined the walls. Coffee, of course, was available in the back. I had time to kill, so I took measure of the crowd. I quickly noticed that I was the only attendee under the age of 35. Combine that with my blazer, and I stuck out like a plum in a bed of tomatoes.

For the press conference itself, many of the union representatives gathered behind the podium, sporting Greg Fischer stickers and holding signs. He thanked the unions for their support, and spoke of the importance of creating jobs, saying, “Working men and women are the backbone of Louisville’s economy, and it is good paying jobs that have created a strong and thriving middle class, keeping our community healthy.” The press conference ended with the union supporters chanting one of Greg’s catchphrases: “Put Louisville back to work!”

Afterward, the attendees mingled with Greg, who chatted with everyone that said hello, the camera right behind. I spoke to one of the union representatives, Dennis Brown, a pipe layer. He came up to me as I sat waiting to speak to Greg and struck up a conversation. He said that he’s been supporting Greg since last fall. He didn’t like most politicians, he said, but Greg was different. “I look at him and I can tell he really believes what he’s saying.”

I met two of Greg’s staff, who embodied Greg’s ideal of “customer service.” One, Lawrence Winburn, went the extra mile when I asked to speak to Greg. He only had a few minutes between two consecutive interviews and a luncheon, but Mr. Fischer was kind enough to sit down with me and answer a few questions.

Check out the rest of the post here.