Out in Bloomington by Helen Harrell with Carol Fischer
Another holiday season has come and gone, and here we are at the dawn of a new year and a new decade. Regardless of religious, social or philosophical differences, it seems that nearly everyone celebrates the holidays in some way and for one reason or another. But even with the various views of importance placed upon the holidays we do share one common aspect as individuals as demonstrated by our annual nostalgic review of the previous year with high hopes for a better one to come.
We wonder is each year so bad or disappointing that we persistently hope for the better? If that's true, then what are we doing so wrong that each year is a disappointment? Our own philosophy is such that we try to live in the moment and enjoy what we have rather than seeking fulfillment in time yet to arrive.
What is it about nonprofit organizations that they readily lend themselves to self destruction? They just kind of gnaw away from the inside until nothing is left but a name and a list of unattained goals? True enough, there are many successful nonprofits, but it seems that most of those are centered in larger cities or have a more business-like approach, such as The Trevor Foundation or the successful Middle Way House here in Bloomington.
Our attention has been drawn to the smaller groups that organize to address a lack of community support for their causes or to fulfill unmet social opportunities, in particular as related to the LGBTQI community. While these organizations are in dire need, their existence tends to be short-lived, and their failure rate is fairly high.
The formula for organizing seems simple enough. A few well-meaning, well-intentioned folks sense a personal or community need and come together to share ideas and suggestions in an effort to help their fellow citizenry. Then an organization is created, a list of goals developed and a hierarchy of leadership established, based upon individual qualifications, expertise, willingness to serve and availability.
This has been a most interesting week for us, what with all the boy scouts in town. In case you missed it, there were over 7,000 Order of the Arrow boy scouts and their leaders on campus and about town dressed in various quasi-military uniforms and sometimes Native American costumes. Seems like they would have been difficult to miss, but admittedly our offices are located in the heart of campus in an area that also served as base camp operations for the troops.
Maybe we are just suffering from testosterone overload, but it was our sense that their presence stimulated a variety of emotions that led to public discussion, community dissension in some instances, and yet there was a camaraderie that was visibly shared by boys and men of all ages and difficult to ignore. And, we are pleased to say, the community didn't entirely ignore their presence. In fact, a panel discussion titled "Order of the Arrow: Racism, Homophobia, and Religious Appropriation in Scouting?" was held at Rachael's Cafe.
Sponsored by the Bloomington Committee Against Racism and Homophobia in Youth, the Native American Community Center of Bloomington, Inc., OUT, Ohio Valley Two Spirit Society and bloomgOUT, the panel drew a sizeable crowd for summer in Bloomington and was a mixture of community members, IU faculty, students, high school students, native Americans, scouts and members of the LGBTQ community and friends who came together to discuss the various charges of homophobia and racism leveled at the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).
Ah, spring is in the air, and we are slowly emerging from our somewhat self-imposed winter hibernation. Indiana weather being what it is, with its taunting hints of warmth interspersed with chilly, dank and even snowy days, we have ultimate respect for the brave little flowers and buds that pop up to face whatever the elements toss their way.
Those of us who are in some way affiliated with the academic community know that the pace on campus picks up rapidly in March and that April ranks as probably the busiest time. Coincident with the energy of spring, there are final reports due, frantic test taking, grades to determine, award ceremonies and receptions, graduation parties, last-minute parties and nights out on the town, and parents and families on campus.
Obviously there are many events competing for attention, and it’s difficult to attend all of them, but we want to call your attention to an annual event that is special in that it is fun, historic in its very existence and longevity and famous on a national level.
The annual Miss Gay Indiana University pageant is held each spring, produced and sponsored by IU’s undergraduate LGBT Student Union OUT.
A new president, a new administration and renewed energy stemming from a fresh view of America -- it has indeed been a celebratory week across the nation. And it’s wonderful to see our cultural melting pot reflected in the many folks represented on TV, radio, and other media this past week.
Is it a fact that we are truly becoming an equally representative society? We hope so, and we say it’s about time! We watched much of the pre- and post-inauguration festivities, and while we certainly enjoyed the entertainment, some nostalgic and some uplifting, and want to believe that a new era has dawned, we can’t help but be a bit skeptical that all may be too good to be true.
It’s a start you say?! Yes indeed it is. And we’re not naysayers; we share in some of the excitement and anticipation of better things to come.
“Go Hoosiers!! Yeaaa!!” Now there's a shout heard frequently in Indiana and one that conjures up the excitement of a good, competitive basketball game. Who can ignore the heart-thumping pressures of last-second, game-winning -- or -losing -- shots?
And we bet even the least of sports enthusiasts aren't immune to the fun, hype and hoopla that surround the annual NCAA tournament. We are fairly certain that many of our local readers are huge basketball fans, and that's a good thing, in our opinion. But we have to wonder if "Go Hoosiers!" stimulates thoughts of women's basketball or just the men's team?
Why is that? Well, thanks for asking.
Eighty-eight years ago, women won the fight and earned the right to vote in the United States. A few short weeks ago we recognized Women’s Equality Day with the knowledge that the United States is one of only eight countries that have yet to ratify the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
According to the CEDAW Web site, 185 countries -- more than 90 percent of the United Nations members -- are party to the Convention. “So what?” you say. We can still vote, attend university, play sports and work outside the home. Women are better off than ever right?
Well, maybe yes and maybe no. CEDAW is a universal definition of discrimination against women and negates any claim that no clear definition of sexual discrimination exists. By not recognizing this document, our nation joins the ranks of countries such as Iran that treat women with disdain, disrespect and, frequently, violence.
Ellen DeGeneres is married and Clay Aiken is gay, and that's the news for this month. Well, there is the national economic crisis, but hey, we can't worry about everything!
The above sentence was our opening phrase for this article until wham! Right out of left field (well, from the liberal side at least) we received a news blurb saying that the Connecticut General Assembly had voted to legalize LGBTQI marriage, and we thought that news was far more important than the personal lives of show biz folks.
But then again, maybe not, because they are related topics. Just a few short years ago, Ellen wouldn't have had the opportunity to marry, and Clay wouldn't have been so openly upbeat about telling anyone he was gay, much less the entire world.
Remember when the buzz word was “diversity?” Everybody and everything was diversified, meaning that the power elite admitted to the inequities in our system and a bunch of conscientious workshops and events were organized to address them?
Glad that all worked well and we are just one big happy national family now.
But, moving on, we have a new buzz word, and it’s called "change." Seems that everyone -- all the politicians, media and general populace -- is talking about change. And while we certainly recognize the need for a change in governmental direction, we have to ask what kind of change is all the chatter about? There is good change and bad change, and those concepts are constantly being redefined by both sides.
Because of a range of genetic conditions, people who look like women may have a Y chromosome, while people who look like men may not. And many times these individuals do not learn about such defects until they reach adulthood, when things can become very complicated quite quickly.
The aforementioned is a loosely paraphrased quote from a plastic surgeon who specializes in transgender medicine and was interviewed about genetic testing at the Beijing Olympics. What caught our attention was the term "defects."
It seemed odd to us that a doctor would refer to her patients as being defective just because their chromosomes, or perhaps their genitalia, don't meet the prescribed binary definitions of female and male. However, that may be irrelevant, given that the greater context of the discussion focused upon the validity and legalities of genetic testing of athletes in the Olympic games.