Saturday, June 27, 2015

#ITLQBM – Pride, Marriage & Blackness

Intersectionality Through the Lens of a Queer Black Man


I will start with the most prevalent piece that has changed this country for the better. On yesterday June 26, 2015, the SCOTUS ruled in favor of millions of SGL-BT/LGBT individuals, granting the right to marry in all fifty states! When this took place I was at watch party held at the Law Offices of Mitchell Katine who was the attorney that won the Lawrence V Texas case in 2003. That morning had so much anticipation in the air as I reflected on how I volunteered, protested and agitated in the efforts to obtain the right to marry since age 19, if my memory serves me well. By 9:15 a.m. (CST) we knew the verdict and then I experienced a level of emotion that I had not had in a long time.



My emotions were fueled by the fact that I was and still am reeling from the loss of nine heroes in Charleston, SC at the hands of a racist. Not a second goes by that I don't think about how all Black bodies matter and how I just had a piece of me that intersects with my Blackness recognized. At any moment, I can walk down the street and still be killed for being Black as I wear my shiny new engagement ring that my future husband just bought me (I AM SINGLE LOL). Now we move forward with the purpose of making sure PEOPLE OF COLOR are included and that means we need to work on TRANSGENDER PROTECTIONS, WOMEN'S RIGHTS & AND NON DISCRIMINATION ACROSS THE BOARD .



Even in my initial celebration, my intersectionalites hit me hard:


Now lets get one thing straight, Pride is for me too, DAMN IT I fight every day for the rights of all of us including the part of me that is SGL/GAY! I will celebrate Pride and Marriage Equality, but best believe I am plotting on how we can get more respect as People of Color across the board. Don't think you can just slide by calling White folks out when you don't show up to get you a piece of the rights pie, I saw some of your posts as if you put in some sweat and work. I have no remorse for you, NOW for those of us who were doing the work, don't stop. While we have White allies, much of our movement in the LGBT sector has been White wash, MAINLY because they haven't invited Persons of Color and the OTHER reason is that many of the Persons of Color who know don't show up until after the fact and want to celebrate and co-opt without knowledge of how we got here. In other words, everyone is complicit in some way....

Here is an example of White wash:





The example above illustrates lack of communication to the entire SGL-BT/LGBT and ally community about the celebration from our White counterparts and a lack of participation from those Person's of Color who did know about it. Anyway, Pride is today and I will be there, as many of you know about how I feel regarding the Houston organization behind its planning, still this is a time to celebrate! For those of you planning to participate in the Pride festivities, here are some graphics for your reference & I will see you there...


Barefoot Stage

1 p.m. Multicultural Education and Counseling through the Arts (MECA) ballet folklorico
2 p.m. Drop Out Vegas
3:30 p.m. Big Freedia
4:30 p.m. Morena Roas Da Artist
5:15 p.m. The T.R.U.T.H. Project - merged arts experience

Bud Light Stage - City Hall 

12:30 p.m. (We Are) Nexus
1:30 p.m. Erika Jayne
2:15 p.m. Pride Superstar!
3 p.m. Jessica Sutta
3:45 p.m. Ginger Minj Official Fan Page
4:30 p.m. Estelle

The Houston LGBT Pride FESTIVAL runs noon-7 p.m. Saturday and is FREE! Cross streets are McKinney and Smith in downtown Houston.

It will be followed by the Houston LGBT Pride PARADE at 8:30 p.m. in downtown Houston!
More info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1504645259747100/"






Thursday, June 25, 2015

#Not1More - Obama Interrupted

The heckle heard round the world took place at during the White House pride celebration when Jennicet Gutiérrez interrupted the President during his speech. While it was not the venue, in my opinion for her to do it, when else would she have been able to do it? She had a valid reason to have the passion to express her frustration:

“President Obama, release all LGBTQ immigrants from detention,” - “I am tired of the violence we’re facing,”

It was played out in the media as if she was some evil person, and she is not! Here is why she did it:

"As a transgender woman who is undocumented, Gutiérrez said she could not celebrate while some 75 transgender detainees were still being exposed to assault and abuse in ICE custody at this very moment.
“The White House gets to make the decision whether it keeps us safe, “explains Gutiérrez “There is no pride in how LGBTQ and transgender immigrants are treated in this country. If the President wants to celebrate with us, he should release the LGBTQ immigrants locked up in detention centers immediately.”
Gutiérrez came to the US from Mexico, seeking safety and economic opportunity. Gutiérrez has become one of many voices advocating for LGBTQ immigrants: upon arrival, she found community among other transgender immigrants, many of whom had been detained in ICE custody. Gutiérrez was a founding member of FAMILIA TQLM, established to advocate for LGBTQ immigrants often excluded in the immigration debate. The work of the organizations she represents, Familia QTLM and GetEQUAL, was echoed yesterday when 35 Congresspeople signed a letter sent to ICE demanding the agency release LGBTQ immigrants out of concern for their safety.
" - http://www.notonemoredeportation.com/2015/06/24/whpride/

I have a few problems with the reaction from the President and the attendees that for their respective reactions to Gutiérrez. I again state that, yes it may have been the wrong venue, but this reaction from the POTUS and how the media portrayed it is very problematic. Not that his reaction was unwarranted, he may need to re - examine his reaction and reach out to her. I mean this whole scene was crazy, it was a sea of White people, a lot of men and specks of Black folks. It was truly representative of what People of Color have been saying all along: it is dominated by White men with money and access.

I mean LOOK at this mess!!! WTF


I mean it was the epitome of male, masculine, patriarchal, White & cis privilege wrapped up in a Transphobic bow for your viewing disgust. THIS MUST CHANGE, Trans lives matter and they should matter to everyone!

POTUS reaction:


Here is the POV of what was actually said to the President:



My message to people who may read this blog post is that you should dig a little deeper before haphazardly posting a hateful Facebook status....Trans lives matter!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

#ITLQBM - The Side Effects of Charleston (Pt 2): White Privilege, Nigger & Confederacy

Intersectionality Through the Lens of a Queer Black Man



In part one I listed some terms for your reference as you progress through this series of blog posts. Before listing some of those terms I expressed that "As a Black person I am constantly subjected to systemic and structural racism." The Black community is constantly subjected to the harshest of policies that are rooted in racist structures and systems that are less obvious than the use of racial slurs any actions a racist individual or group may take. Then when we try to talk about what we experience and use words like "nigger" in context, we get told that we are wrong and how to identify what we experience by people who have never been in our position.

***In an earlier post "Get out of my way Nigger" I talked about an experience with racism...***

Later in this post I will discuss the confederacy in depth in some ways and not so much in others, for now I would like to take the time to suggest that every level of government trigger an audit of all laws, statutes, executive orders & ordinances. This suggested audit would have the expressed purpose to update  and ensure compliance to SCOTUS rulings, federal regulations and updated laws as it pertains to civil rights. For too long, we have gone without protections for voting rights (voter ID laws) and a host of other rights that are under attack at the current moment. Aside from that, I just simply want it to be known that we must all learn our privileges, prejudices and isms. I recently have spent a lot of my time calling folks out on their White Privilege only to get push back due to the perceived idea that I am implying that all White people are racist. I, and many others do not think this way at all... As shared in part one of this series "White privilege (or white skin privilege) is a term for societal privileges that benefit white people in western countries beyond what is commonly experienced by non-white people under the same social, political, or economic circumstances."

A lively discussion on White Privilege:









Another post after POTUS made his statement on race:



Here is what President Obama had to say:

You can find the podcast here...

Now do I need to repeat what you just read? Or can I move on to how racism has permeated government? I am glad you said yes. Lets start with the confederate flag shall we, I have always thought that it should be in the Smithsonian in an area where the stories of past wars with foreign countries are housed. Why should anyone want to honor the "heritage" of a flag that was meant to destroy the opportunity to free slaves and lay the constitution to waste. This group of states separated and formed a new nation and therefore the only place they have in American history is as treasonous criminals. The most blatant example of systemic and structural racism is the confederate flag...

The confederate flag as a symbol of structural and systemic racism:

"It is no accident that Confederate symbols have been the mainstay of white supremacist organizations, from the Ku Klux Klan to the skinheads. They did not appropriate the Confederate battle flag simply because it was pretty. They picked it because it was the flag of a nation dedicated to their ideals: 'that the negro is not equal to the white man'. The Confederate flag, we are told, represents heritage, not hate. But why should we celebrate a heritage grounded in hate, a heritage whose self-avowed reason for existence was the exploitation and debasement of a sizeable segment of its population?" - Historian Gordon Rhea

Present day we have schools, streets, monuments and institutions named after confederate figures; state songs that honor the confederacy. States even incorporate it in their flags if they don't fly it next to their more recent adopted representation for their respective states.

States that incorporate the confederacy into their flag design:

Alabama:

The red cross of the Alabama flag, adopted in 1895, was designed to evoke the battle flag of the Alabama infantry in the Civil War.






Arkansas:
The Arkansas state flag was officially adopted in 1913, according to the Arkansas Secretary of State. There were initially three blue stars "representing that Arkansas belonged to three countries (France, Spain, and the United States) before attaining statehood." The secretary of state noted "1803 was the year of the Louisiana Purchase when the land that is now Arkansas was acquired by the United States; and Arkansas was the third state created from the purchase by the United States, after Louisiana and Missouri." But 10 years later, trouble brewed when legislators realized that "there was no indication on the flag the Arkansas had been a member of the Confederate States of America from 1861 to 1865." So a fourth star was added, above the word Arkansas.

Florida: 
Florida's flag is similar to Alabama's, consisting of a state seal over a red cross. The cross was added to the flag a few years after Alabama adopted its flag, at the suggestion of Governor Francis P. Fleming. Fleming had enlisted in the Confederate army in his youth, and some historians see his choice of the cross as an attempt to memorialize the confederacy.




Georgia:


Georgia's flag has a long and complicated history. The Confederate battle flag was incorporated in to the state flag's design in 1956, a symbol of the state's opposition to racial integration, according to a report by the state Senate in 2000. The design was changed by the legislature in 2001, over the stiff opposition of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and other groups. In 2002, Sonny Perdue was elected Governor of Georgia, partly by promising voters a referendum on the new flag. In the end, the legislature changed it to a new design: it consists of the first national flag of the Confederacy (the "Stars and Bars") with the addition of the Georgia seal.

Mississippi:
Mississippi remains the only state incorporating the Confederate battle flag into its state flag design. It was adopted in 1894.

In 2001, a voter referendum was held to determine whether to keep the existing flag, or to adopt a new flag design removing Confederate elements. Voters opted to keep the existing flag by nearly a two-to-one margin.

North Carolina:

The current North Carolina state flag was adopted in 1885. It closely resembles the flag adopted in 1861, shortly after North Carolina seceded from the Union. The first date on the flag, May 20, 1775, is the date of the so-called Mecklenburg Declaration, a purported statement of independence from Great Britain that happened in North Carolina, although the exact nature of the declaration is disputed.

But during the Civil War, Southern secessionist leaders evoked the Mecklenburg Declaration as a parallel to the South's declaration of independence from the North. Addressing a crowd in Charlotte, N.C., Jefferson Davis is reported to have said "people of this section were the first to defy British authority and declare themselves free."

In the original flag, the second date was May 20th, 1861 -- the date of North Carolina's withdrawal from the Union. In 1885, that date was changed April 12, 1776 -- the date of the Halifax resolves, when North Carolina officially called for independence from Great Britain.


Tennessee:
The Tennessee Legislature adopted the current flag in 1905. In a 2013article, vexillologist Steven A Knowlton argues that "the Tennessee flag has pragmatic unity with the Confederate flag: both share the element of white stars inside a fimbriated blue charge, and the element of that blue charge on a red field." He also notes a resemblance between the flag's vertical bars and the vertical bar of the third national flag of the Confederacy.

South Carolina:





















Holidays, Monuments & Songs

Confederate Memorial Day, also known as Confederate Decoration Day (Tennessee) and Confederate Heroes Day(Texas), is an official holiday and/or observance day in a number of states in the Southern United States as a day to honor those who died fighting for the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War.

List of monuments and memorials of the Confederate States of America TOO FUCKING MANY!!!
Songs JEEZ!!!

In a nutshell, all states should trigger a review for anything related to the confederacy and scrub them.
- Rename streets
- Remove holidays
- Remove monuments
- Ban Flags & other memorabilia

#ITLQBM - The Side Effects of Charleston (Pt 1)

On Wednesday, June 17, 2015 news broke that a shooting took place at a historic church in South Carolina. I had noticed it while doing school work and reading, it wasn't until I looked up to see what really happened. 


"At around 9:05 p.m. EDT on June 17, 2015, the Charleston Police Department responded to calls of a shooting at Emanuel AME Church. A man described as white, with sandy-blond hair, around 21 years old and 5 feet 9 inches (175 cm) in height, wearing a gray sweatshirt and jeans, opened fire with a .45-caliber handgun on a group of people inside the church at a Bible study attended by Pinckney. The shooter then fled. The shooting was the largest mass murder at an American place of worship, alongside a 1991 mass shooting at a Buddhist temple in Waddell, Arizona.

For nearly an hour prior to the attack, the shooter had been present and participating in the Bible study. A total of thirteen people attended the Bible study, including the shooter. According to the accounts of people who talked to survivors, the shooter asked for Pinckney and sat down next to him, initially listening to others during the study. He started to disagree when they began discussing Scripture. Eventually he stood up and pulled a gun from a fanny pack, aiming it at 87-year-old Susie Jackson. Jackson's nephew, 26-year-old Tywanza Sanders, tried to talk him down and asked him why he was attacking churchgoers. The shooter responded, "I have to do it. You rape our women and you're taking over our country. And you have to go." When he expressed his intention to shoot everyone, Sanders dove in front of Jackson and was shot first. The suspect then shot the other victims, all the while shouting racial epithets. He also reportedly said, "Y'all want something to pray about? I'll give you something to pray about." He reloaded his gun five times. Sanders' mother and his five-year-old niece, both attending the study, survived the shooting by pretending to be dead."



It was on this night that the discussion of race, the confederacy, mental health of the Black community and a host of other under lying issues that have always been around came to the fore front. Race and racism became a big deal in response to my and many other posts by People of Color and there were reactions by our White counterparts that ranged from ally to extremely sensitive "I am not a racist reactions. I called someone out on their White Privilege and they claimed that I was calling them racist. While racism and privilege tend to intersect, it does not mean that all White people are racist. ALL White people have White Privilege, this is NOT a diagnosis, it is a FACT.

While some some may not see inequality among the races here in the United States, it does exist. Last week's event exposed something that never ceased to exist within the social fabric of our country. As a Black person I am constantly subjected to systemic and structural racism. I know that I have said a mouth full, so before I go any further, here are some terms:

Race is a social concept, is a group of people who share similar and distinct physical characteristics.

Racism is the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.

White privilege (or white skin privilege) is a term for societal privileges that benefit white people in western countries beyond what is commonly experienced by non-white people under the same social, political, or economic circumstances.

White supremacy or white supremacism is a form of racism centered upon the belief, and promotion of the belief, that white people are superior in certain characteristics, traits, and attributes to people of other racial backgrounds and that therefore whites should politically, economically and socially rule non-whites.

The Confederate States of America (CSA or C.S.), commonly referred to as the Confederacy, was an unrecognized confederation of secessionist American states existing from 1861 to 1865. It was originally formed by seven slave states in the Lower South region of the United States whose regional economy was mostly dependent upon agriculture, particularly cotton, and a plantation system of production which in turn largely relied upon slave labor.

The order of secession resolutions and dates are:

1. South Carolina (December 20, 1860)
2. Mississippi (January 9, 1861)
3. Florida (January 10)
4. Alabama (January 11)
5. Georgia (January 19)
6. Louisiana (January 26)
7. Texas (February 1; referendum February 23)
– Ft. Sumter (April 12) and Lincoln's call up (April 15)
8. Virginia (April 17; referendum May 23, 1861)
9. Arkansas (May 6)
10. Tennessee (May 7; referendum June 8)
11. North Carolina (May 20)

For now I will leave you all with this post to marinate on, and In part two I will tie all of these terms and then some together...

TO BE CONTINUED

Thursday, June 18, 2015

I Stand With You - An Open Letter of Support to Clergy

I am an Atheist who just so happens to be Black and I stand with you in solidarity. It was late in the evening when I first got the news that nine people had been senselessly murdered in a place where they should be able to be and feel safe, a church. This was my initial reaction to the shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC:

"No one deserves to be shot in their place of worship, no one deserves to die where they should feel safe. Standing in solidarity with the Christian community and the community at large in South Carolina. I feel sick right now....."

This morning:

"Time of awakening 9:54am and i notice the what looks like dried up water marks on the eyeglasses that I fell asleep in. You see I stayed up until 3am with moments of tears falling and then I finally fell asleep and apparently my heart was broken there too, because my eyes are puffy from crying in my sleep. You see, as a Black man regardless of how I feel about Religion, 9 parts of me died last night in a Church over thousand miles away. Hate can be so powerful and consuming, but I will not let hate consume me. May the victims rest in power....."

This tragedy has deeply affected me in ways that I cannot measure, so I can only imagine what you are going through. Right now, across the country many of you are having trouble even making the motion to walk out of your doors. You may be hesitant to leave because of the possible raw feeling that leaves you feeling exposed. Yet, you may very well fear coming off as seeming too weak or flaky to your colleagues and those who look to you for guidance. Although I am a Non Believer, I still look to you for leadership out of respect that your heart is in the right place. This means that I and we stand behind you and I ask that you be strong and lead. I know it is hard right now but I, your congregations and the nation stand with you. The majority of you represent the best of leadership and mentorship, you teach love and humility, you empower and educate the masses.

I say all of this to say that it is ok, it is ok to feel afraid and hurt. This will allow you to reach the hearts of those who need you. Now go and do what you were called to do and be calm in the fact that you are healing others as you heal yourselves.

XOXO - Ashton P. Woods


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

#ITLQBM – MARRIAGE EQUALITY - WE WON!

Intersectionality Through the Lens of a Queer Black Man

Jim Obergefell and I













WE JUST WON THE RIGHT TO MARRY IN ALL FIFTY STATES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!


As long as I have been involved in the SGL-BT/LGBT community (15 years by my count) I have wanted the right to marry if I so choose. As the 2000s and 2010s have progressed we have made strides in taking down same sex marriage bans in about 37 states due to the outcome of  Windsor v United States. One may say that as a Black man this does not benefit me, YES IT DOES, as I sit in Texas where a ban is still in effect, I have to enlighten you. The ban in Texas specifically has language that prohibits the recognition of same sex relationships period, not just marriage. In other words, in the eyes of the law we do not exist. Then came Deleon v Perry which saw our ban struck down and stayed pending a ruling from the Supreme Court.case Obergefell v Hodges. Over time, I have done little things, sometimes bigger things to be part of the process to gain the right for recognition and marriage, here is a little piece of how I have been part of the fight:


Beautiful!
How indescribably awesome - meeting Edie Windsor!
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Got to hang with Marc Solomon who is instrumental in the fight for freedom to marry!
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Live from the Supreme Court.... Your rights, Our rights....
 — feeling fabulous.
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Two ends of the spectrum that I am an activist for are converging, I am here for ‪#‎MarriageEquality‬ and not many miles away ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬, an ongoing situation in this country I hold near to my heart and that I internalize much too often, I am tired of PEOPLE who look like me being hurt and murdered and its like the intersection where I stand shows how I as a Gay BLACK man is being attacked from ALL sides...Racism, Homophobia, Ageism, Socioeconomic discrimination and the list goes on! DONT EVEN GET ME STARTED ON HOW WOMEN ARE IGNORED IN THIS, AND HOW TRANS LIVES SHOULD MATTER TOO! ‪#‎OVERWHELMED‬‪#‎THIS2SHALLPASS‬
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Living a little....‪#‎LiveFromDC‬
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Great kick off for the night ‪#‎MarriageEquality‬ just left HRC and of course Jim Obergefell was good to see...
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I HAVE JUST LANDED IN DC WITH A GOOD MIND TO TAKE THE TRAIN TO BALTIMORE...

11,774,576 Views
NowThis uploaded a new video.
Cops in Baltimore caught throwing rocks back at protesters before the crowd fights back‪#‎FreddieGray‬
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Someone I met in Dallas yesterday said this: " You do a lot, do you ever slow down, have down time?" and it was a sincere question from someone who know who I was before I even introduced myself. I answered "Yes, I do have down time, but we pick our battles and when to fight them..." If we were to just go off of facebook posts Climate Change education has been something that i have done over the years. These are my causes that have always been, well my causes: INTERSECTIONALITY
Fair treatment of Communities of Color
Womens rights
Black LGBT rights
HIV/AIDS
Police brutality
Climate Change
Rape
Human trafficking
LGBT rights at large
PAY ATTENTION THESE ISSUES ARE ALL CONNECTED! I am not doing too much, it just seems that way.
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After a busy lobby day with ‪#‎TXLege‬ advocating for ‪#‎LGBTequality‬ sitting in Nubian Queen Lola's resturant.
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Went to the office of Molly White, and made sure she listened to us after it was made known earlier in the day that her staff and herself would not engage or meet anyone from the LGBT community.
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On the steps of the Capitol for Freedom Advocacy Day. Thanks to Ryan C. Wilson and Human Rights Campaign for the photo!
 — with Lynn Currie and 7 others at Texas State Capitol.
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Me and the Executive Director of Equality Texas.....Chuck Smith
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Want real marriage equality? Just met the person who the Supreme Court case for marriage equality is named after Jim Obergefell! So happy for people like him, like us who FIGHT for our rights!
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The next set of pictures are from February 13 of this year when we went to ask for marriage liscenses at the Harris County Court House in downtown Houston which was followed by a march to Houston City Hall ended with a rally. #MarriageEqualityMarch









I will stop here, because I have a ton more where that comes from. I do have a question for the readers of this post, HOW MANY PEOPLE OF COLOR DO YOU SEE IN THE ENTIRE SET OF PHOTOS? We gotta do better, there is always room for more people to fight for the rights of all!