Are hate crimes legislation and protections really necessary, or are they just another tiresome demand born of the homosexual agenda (whatever that is!)? Is torturing and beating someone, possibly to death, simply because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender more significant than the same crime committed in a personal conflict, family feud or a burglary gone wrong?
We believe it is, because intent as a motivating factor in behavior matters, and the rehabilitation (oops punishment) should fit the crime. While we find it ironic that there has to be a debate about protecting a group of citizens, it's even more ironic that there are those who dismiss attacks upon individuals based upon gender identity or relational commitments as just another crime.
Hate crimes, or those crimes committed against a certain group or individual because of race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, philosophy or sexual or gender identity are real and on the increase.
We frequently hear reference made to “queer culture” and wonder if there really is such an entity as a separate culture? Is there in fact a neat, tidy little box that all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people fit into?
It is our contention that there is not such a convenient little box and that the “queer community" consists of individuals reflective of our larger culture, with the only common denominator being an attraction to individuals of the same sex or even both sexes.
(But then that is in itself a restrictive definition and perhaps misrepresentative when one considers the sometimes complex fluidity of gender. However, we will leave that aspect to a different discussion).
The anticipated firing of a Fort Wayne-area high school journalism teacher has received national attention for First Amendment issues, and members of the Bloomington community are speaking up.
In a letter to Woodlan Junior-Senior administration officials IU journalism professor Jack Dvorak questioned the decision to censor the school newspaper and put its advisor on leave after the newspaper printed an editorial concerning homophobia.
In his letter, Dvorak, also director of the High School Journalism Institute, cited educational and legal ramifications as the two main areas of concern in the case.
“People must wonder how a school system can teach about the Constitution and Bill of Rights and then turn around and deny those fundamental rights of both teachers and students.” Dvorak wrote to High School Principal Edwin Yoder and East Allen County Schools superintendent M. Kay Novotny. “Why would the school want to contradict itself with these types of mixed messages? What types of civics lessons are being taught when this happens?”
With its friendly atmosphere and great food, the Bloomington Bagel Company (BBC) is a good place for anyone in Bloomington to get together and catch up with friends.
And that’s just what a group of local gays and lesbians do one Friday night each month.
Daniel Coleman, the program coordinator of IU Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) office at IU, said the BBC’s owner not only allows her place of business to be a gathering place for the monthly social hour, she provides free food and drink to anyone who comes.
Oolitic wasn't where they'd planned to go. But in the summer of 1980, geologist Unni Rowell was fairly new to Bloomington. With her two daughters in town for a visit, she thought an excursion to see the impressive limestone quarries in Lawrence County would be fun.
So they drove toward Bedford on a Sunday morning, saw the exit to Oolitic and decided spontaneously to check out the active quarry there.
Downtown Oolitic was nearly deserted, except for a friendly young man who approached to ask if he could help. Learning of their interest, he gave the three fair-haired, fair-skinned women an impromptu, well-informed tour and historical overview of the quarry.
"As we got ready to leave," Unni recalls, "I said, 'Oolitic looks like a very nice town.' The young man pulled himself up, poised and proud, and said, 'Do you know why it's a nice town? There ain't no niggers here.'"
OUT in Bloomingon
A few weeks ago an article crossed our desktop that referenced the term 'negrophobia' (negro = black, phobia = fear, hence fear of blacks) in the context of a discussion about the roots of racism.
Now this was a term that we hadn't thought about since Sociology 101 in college years ago but nevertheless reminded us of the study of how propaganda based upon economic self interest can create an atmosphere of racism and discrimination through fear.
Although it may seem silly and irrelevant in this day and age to think that someone would fear another based upon skin color, the fact is that such fears do still exist and are serious impediments to intercultural and intracultural harmony on both national and international levels.
A phobia created around or directed toward a group of individuals not only prevents them from fully participating in their society, but because they are singled out as 'inferior" or "unworthy," group members internalize society's definition and eventually believe themselves to be unworthy and inferior.
Being gay is hard. Being black and gay is even harder.
In a 2000 study conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), one-half of the 2,645 participants reported that racism was a problem in the white GLBT community.
Anthony Johnson Jr. agrees.
A junior majoring in opera and biology at IU, Johnson said he has faced more racial discrimination inside the white gay community than outside of it.
"I have to be more careful as a black, gay person," he said. "I get more attention drawn to myself simply because of the color of my skin."
When K.D. joined the military in 1988 at 17, she had no way of knowing the personal turmoil she would eventually face as a result of her choice.
"I wanted to see the world," she said of her enlistment in the Navy. Originally from Lawrence County, she sought to escape the small-town lifestyle and find something better.
K.D. (not her real name) still remembers the question about homosexuality.
"At the time I was shocked," she said. "But it didn't really mean anything to me because I wasn't aware of my sexuality yet."
Listed as one spot not-to-be missed by GLBT travel brochures, Bloomington has a superior reputation within the state's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.
However, a recent survey published by the Bloomington Beacon suggests GLBT needs in South-Central Indiana that are going unmet.
Launched in 1997, the Bloomington Beacon is a non-profit organization that works to provide a safe, welcoming and positive space for GLBT and questioning and intersex individuals, their families and allies. For the past two-and-a-half years the Beacon has updated information from surveys periodically handed out at GLBT events.
"PFLAG Flying in Owen County" (Bloomington Alternative, 8/16/06) is a great article. I am thrilled to hear the PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbian and Gays) chapter is doing so well in Owen County. I know what a struggle it was for me to found the PFLAG Seymour Chapter over 11 years ago.
But I must correct one misimpression: the reason the doors to the building where we hold our meetings in Seymour are locked (and we do allow people to leave — the doors open from the inside without any resistance) is because it is the building's policy that doors be locked on the weekend, not because we fear imminent attack.
We cannot leave the whole building open without supervising the entrance. For years we met in the library (where the outside doors locked after hours also), then a local church and a local hotel without locks, guards or incidents.
Seymour PFLAG has not been cowering in the closet in fear.