Sunday, October 23, 2005

Romeo and Romeo Get Equal Treatment in Kansas

(Kansas Justice Marla Luckert should be nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court instead of Harriet Miers, IMHO)
Kansas high court rejects harsher treatment of gay sex

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas cannot punish illegal underage sex more severely if it involves homosexual conduct, the state's highest court ruled unanimously Friday in a case watched by national groups on both sides of the gay rights debate.

The Supreme Court said in a unanimous ruling that a law that specified such harsher treatment and led to a 17-year prison sentence for an 18-year-old defendant "suggests animus toward teenagers who engage in homosexual sex."

"Moral disapproval of a group cannot be a legitimate state interest," said Justice Marla Luckert, writing for the high court.

The defendant, Matthew R. Limon, has been behind bars since he was convicted in 2000 of performing a sex act on a 14-year-old boy. Had one of them been a girl, the state's "Romeo and Juliet" law would have dictated a maximum sentence of 15 months.

The court said Limon should be resentenced within 30 days as if the law treated illegal gay sex and illegal straight sex the same, and it struck language from the law that resulted in the different treatment.

"We are very happy that Matthew will soon be getting out of prison. We are sorry there is no way to make up for the extra four years he spent in prison simply because he is gay," said Limon's attorney James Esseks, of the American Civil Liberties Union's Gay and Lesbian Rights Project.

National health groups and the National Association of Social workers had filed legal arguments supporting Limon's position. A conservative law group, Orlando-based Liberty Counsel, helped prepare written arguments from 25 legislators in support of the law.

Limon and the other boy, identified only as M.A.R., lived at a group home for the developmentally disabled. In court, an official described M.A.R. as mildly mentally retarded and Limon as functioning at a slightly higher level but not as an 18-year-old.

Limon's attorneys described the relationship with the younger boy as consensual and suggested that they were adolescents experimenting with sex.

Attorney General Phill Kline's office has described Limon as a predator, noting that he already has two similar offenses on his criminal record. Kline contended that such a behavior pattern warranted a tough sentence and that courts should leave sentencing policy to the Legislature.
His office had no immediate comment on the ruling.

Kansas law prohibits any sexual activity involving a person under 16, regardless of the context. The 1999 "Romeo and Juliet" law specifies short prison sentences or probation for sexual activity when an offender is under 19 and the age difference between participants is less than four years — but only for opposite-sex encounters.

A lower court had said the state could justify the harsher punishment as protecting children's traditional development, fighting disease or strengthening traditional values. Friday's ruline said the Kansas law was too broad to meet those goals.

"The statute inflicts immediate, continuing and real injuries that outrun and belie any legitimate justification that may be claimed for it," Luckert wrote.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Speech That Didn't Happen (But Is Loud and Clear)

(Keith Boykin was denied the promised opportunity to deliver the following speech at the Millions More March. I am reproducing it on this blog, as are other bloggers, so the contribution of the Same Gender Loving community is amplified and proclaimed. This is in no way intended to take away from Cleo Manago's speech, but rather to add to it.) Shem hotep

Remarks Prepared for Delivery at The Millions More March Saturday, October 15, 2005By Keith Boykin

Good Afternoon. Today I am honored to stand here at the Millions More Movement March as a representative of the National Black Justice Coalition, the country’s only national civil rights organization for Black lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people. The National Black Justice Coalition strongly supports the goals of the Millions More Movement for unity and inclusion of our entire community.

In February of this year, Minister Farrakhan and I participated in Tavis Smiley’s annual “State of The Black Union” event in Atlanta. During a press conference that day, Minister Farrakhan announced that women and gays would be encouraged to participate in today’s March. “The makeup will be our people, whoever we are,” he said. Then he added, “Male, female, gay, straight, light, dark, rich, poor, ignorant, wise. We are family. We will be coming together to discuss family business.”

After the press conference, I spoke to the Minister and I introduced myself. “Minister Farrakhan,” I said, while shaking his hand, “My name is Keith Boykin, and I am a Black gay man. And I want to thank you for your inclusive comments about gays in the Million Man March.” Without missing a beat, Minister Farrakhan responded to me with a long, warm embrace. “Brother, I love you,” he said as we hugged. “We are all part of the family. We are all part of the same community.” That was an historic moment.

Ten years ago, I joined more than a million of my brothers on this very location for the Million Man March. At that time, there were no openly gay, lesbian or bisexual speakers at that March. This time, however, I am able to speak here today as an openly gay man because of the courageous leadership of one man – Minister Louis Farrakhan. I publicly and honestly thank him and salute him for the invitation to speak. The diversity of speakers assembled here today is a powerful signal that we in the Black community will not allow ourselves to be divided by differences of opinion, religion, gender, class or sexual orientation ever again.

As Minister Farrakhan himself said in August, “we must not allow painful utterances of the past or present, based on sincere belief, or based on our ignorance, or based on our ideology or philosophy to cripple a movement that deserves and needs all of us—and, when I say all, I mean all of us.”

Earlier this week, two of my colleagues and I sat with Minister Farrakhan, his wife, his daughter, and his son, and with Rev. Willie Wilson, the executive director of this March. Minister Farrakhan said it was the first time he had ever sat down with a group of openly gay and lesbian African Americans. Let me be honest. It was an intense, passionate and candid meeting where both sides shared their pain and frustration with the other. At the end of the discussion, however, we made progress. We realized that there are no “both sides” of the table. There is only one side, and that is the side of justice.

So today I accept the olive branch offered by Minister Farrakhan and Rev. Wilson and offer an olive branch of my own. We acknowledge the hurt and pain that has been caused by both sides in our past conflicts, and we fully commit ourselves to heal the deep wounds that have hurt us. Thank you, Minster Farrakhan and Rev. Wilson for the love.

We have disagreed in the past and we may disagree in the future, but we all agree that we must move forward together. We all agree that we will not allow ourselves to be manipulated by the media to create divisions among us. We all agree that we are stronger together than we are apart. And we all agree that the struggle for the liberation of our people is more important than our individual differences of opinion.

Fifty years ago, Ralph Ellison wrote, "I am an invisible man. . . I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. . . . When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination -- indeed, everything and anything except me." Ralph Ellison was talking about the invisibility of the African American, but the same could be said of Black gays and lesbians.

When Dr. King spoke at the 1963 Civil Rights March, he called on one person, Bayard Rustin, a Black gay man, to organize that march. When Duke Ellington performed “Take The ‘A’ Train,” he called on one person, Billy Strayhorn, a Black gay man to serve as his composer. And when Black actors and directors put on performances of “A Raisin In The Sun,” they call on one person, Lorraine Hansberry, a Black bisexual playwright, to serve as their muse.
Black culture as we know it today would not exist without the words of James Baldwin, the poetry of Audre Lorde, or the choreography of Alvin Ailey. That is why I am here today – to honor their legacy.

But I am also here to honor the living heroes and sheroes of today. My good friend Phill Wilson likes to say that our people cannot love us if they do not know us. So I want you to know who we are. I want you to know the activist Angela Davis, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Author Alice Walker, the Grammy-nominated recording artist Me'Shell Ndege'Ocello, Editor-at-Large and former executive editor for ESSENCE magazine Linda Villarosa, and the former Adviser to New York Mayor David Dinkins, Dr. Marjorie Hilll.

And I want you to know the living male heroes. Men like New York City Council Member Phillip Reed, Former Mayor of Cambridge Ken Reeves, Mayor of Palm Springs Ron Oden, Bestselling Author E. Lynn Harris, and Harvard University Chaplain Rev. Peter Gomes.
And finally, I want you to know that we are your brothers and sons and fathers. We are your sisters and daughters and mothers. And we are your cousins and nieces and nephews as well. We cannot separate ourselves from the larger Black family because we are an integral part of the Black family. We raise our families, we send money to our nephews, and yes we sing in the choir as well.

The issues that affect Black gays and lesbians are issues that affect all Black people. Last year I sat in the living room of a young mother who had lost her child to violence in Newark, New Jersey. Her 15-year-old daughter, Sakia Gunn, was murdered because the killer thought she was gay. When black homosexuals and bisexuals are murdered, black heterosexual family members still have to bury their kin. What happens to Black gays and lesbians directly affects black straight people as well.

HIV and AIDS is the leading cause of death for young Black people, gay or straight. Forty-five million Americans do not have health insurance, and too many of this group are Black, gay or straight. Unemployment is still too high among Black people, gay or straight. We are all connected.

When Black people were forced to sit in the back of the bus, Black gay people were forced to sit in the back of the bus. When Black people could not vote, Black lesbians could not vote. And when Black people are beaten and abused by the police, Black bisexuals are beaten and abused by the police.

We share the same goals and aspirations as the rest of the Black community, but none of us can accomplish those goals without unity and courage. We all need courage in our lives. It took courage for you to come here today. It took courage for Minister Farrakhan to invite me to speak today. And it will take courage to heal the wounds that have divided us for far too long.
In the timeless words of Audre Lorde, "When I dare to be powerful – to use my strength in the service of my vision – then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid." So I say to you today: Be strong, be proud, be courageous.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Without Coffee, watch out

That day was one of those days that didn't get off to a good start. I got out of bed late, didn't have time to go to they gym before going to work, and worse yet, didn't get my first cup of coffee before having to talk to anyone. The last is particularly bad news for folks because I am not even trying to be civil without caffeine in my system. I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON! I NEED COFFEE!!

Anyway, one of my staff (LaShandra) and her supervisor were waiting at my office door. LaShandra is upset that I talked to one of HER clients without consulting her first. Keep in mind that LaShandra reports indirectly to me and I have responsibility for ALL of the clients. Plus, the need to talk to the client arose after LaShandra had taken her azz home early on Friday afternoon.

My good friend Rashid often quotes a portion of the movie "Kill Bill" in situations like this that perfectly describes what happened next. Here is Lucy Liu's lines:

O-Ren Ishii: As your leader, I encourage you from time to time, but always in a respectful manner, to question my logic. If you're unconvinced a particular plan of action I've chosen is the wisest, tell me so. But allow me to convince you. And I promise you, right here and now, no subject will ever be taboo. Except the subject that was just under discussion. The price you pay for bringing up ___________as a negative is: I collect your fucking head. Just like this fucker here. Now if any of you sons of bitches got anything else to say, NOW'S THE FUCKING TIME! I didn't think so.

LaShandra stormed out of my office with tears and snot flying. I assumed she would go straight to my bosses office to complain about my cruel treatment which is just what she did. Well, guess what... the boss hadn't had his caffeine yet either. LaShandra got her head collected twice in 5 minutes time!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Black Men Need New Model of Masculinity

A new model of black masculinity is needed, one that prizes "softer" virtues of nurturing and negotiation and renounces misogyny and homophobia, says Duke University professor Mark Anthony Neal in his new book, "New Black Man."
Neal, a self-described "hip-hop intellectual" and "male feminist," is a scholar of popular culture. "New Black Man" is his fourth sole-author book.
"It's really trying to redefine the contours specifically of black masculinity, but really more broadly of masculinity in general in this country," Neal said in an interview. "I think the issue that complicates it for black men is racism and race in general."

A paradigm of the "strong black man" began to develop in the last century as a counter to prevailing stereotypes of black men as irresponsible or dangerous. It has emphasized family provision and defense of children and women -- all good and necessary, Neal says.
"I think there is this kind of stereotype, that if black men aren't this model of strength and vitality and hardness, then their masculinity is suspect," Neal said.

But, as enunciated during the civil-rights movement by Eldridge Cleaver in his influential autobiography "Soul on Ice," it also can carry side effects of homophobia, evident in Cleaver's disparagement of gay black author James Baldwin.

"Homophobia is seen as an issue that most affects gay folks," Neal said. "If gay folks don't speak out about it, there's never a conversation when it occurs," he said. "I'd like to think that homophobia is another attack on black humanity," he said. (Read more....)

Friday, October 07, 2005

Standing in the Gap with MY Frat Brother, Rashid Darden

This crap was emailed to my frat brother, Rashid Darden, who wrote about it on his web site. I am adding my two cents on this site as well. Here is what the asshole wrote to Rashid, and my comments to the writer follow:

"Let me start off by telling you, I'm glad you're a young positive brother doing your thing. Congrats and I wish you much success. My only concern is you using the image and the colors of Alpha Phi Alpha to market yourself. How are the two interconnected? There is already a stereotype of Alphas being gay, and obviously your work is perpetuating it. You didn't start it, I'm not postulating that you did, I just don't get why you don't use your talent and not have to "lean on the letters" to sell books. Is it marketing, do you think it brings you more fans, more controversy? I'm an Alpha, a raving, raging heterosexual and I'm sickened when people equate Alpha with gays. Our legacy is one of strong powerful black men, exceptional men, and we are being defamed. To each his own, I don't necessarily agree with homosexuality but, I don't think anybody can tell another person who they can or should love, but, this is ridiculous. Using the fraternity colors, using the colors in your pen name? Old gold and your novels are about homosexuals? This is out of pocket brother and I wonder if Tandy, Kelly, or any of the founders would approve of your violation of the crest. You can chuck this in your hate mail box, but, hate it is not. Be blessed brother and I hope you realize what you're doing."

First of all, Rashid is a talented, inspiring author who is going places with his writings without having to lean on Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., or any of his other affiliations. Instead, we need brothers like him to help lift our fraternity (and any other fraternity) out of the pit of ignorance and homophobia that is so truly disgusting. BROTHER Darden embodies our motto in everyway that was intended with the founding and history of OUR beloved fraternity. His "manly deeds" are exemplified in the daily role modeling that he does in his job; his "scholarship" is evidenced in his writings in undergraduate school, graduate school and his career (his knowledge of the history of black, greek fraternities shines in Lazarus - which you ought to read); and his love for "ALL mankind" is demonstrated by his involvement with greeks, with blacks, with gays, with undergrads, with bloggers, and even with fools like you whom he takes valuable time to write a response.

You dishonor the founders by attempting to divine their thoughts. Nevertheless, let's play your game for a moment. The founders were in an unfriendly environment that refused to acknowledge their existence in a fair and equitable way. Early 20th century colleges were exclusive rather than inclusive, homogeneous rather than diverse, and antagonistic to those who were different rather than nurturing. Given these conditions, the founders created an organization that supports rather than isolates, that includes people who differ from the majority rather than excludes them, that TRANSCENDS ALL!! The ideals of the founders have been distorted by your selfish, parochial, homophobic ideas of manhood imposed on not only A Phi A, but on other black greek fraternities that were founded to lift men up rather than to subjugate any of us. Yes, you would like for us to quietly stay in the closet, but guess what? It ain't happening anymore. Keith Boykin and Jasmyne Cannick wrote about black, homophobic preachers recently. Strong black, gay men and women will not be relegated to quiet invisible seats in America or in the black community. We are here, we have always been here, we helped build the black churches, banks, stores, neighborhoods, fraternities, sororities and schools. Get over it.

As you can tell from my blog name, I am Alpha and proudly so. I don't want anyone to make any mistake about the choice I made exactly 30 years ago. I was gay in 1975, I am gay in 2005, and I will be gay in 2025. I wear the Black and Gold when I want and where I want because I earned that right when "I crossed the burning sands." Now just who the hell gives you the right to criticize a brother who's bringing positive energy and LIGHT to your narrow, darkened view of greekdom. The fall season seems to be the favorite time of year for black, gay frat haters to emerge. Oddly, Rashid dealt with this same garbage last fall.

So let me sum this up for you. There are black, gay preachers, teachers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, Ques, Kappas, Sigmas, Iotas, bus drivers, rescue workers, fire fighters, hip hop artists, actors, salesmen, professors, cooks, housekeepers, professional football, basketball and tennis players, soldiers, newsmen, car salesmen, AUTHORS and thankfully MEN of the HOUSE OF ALPHA making significant contributions to this whack community. Now wake the hell up!

If you are going to question Rashid's logic, it should always be in a respectful manner (*wink* back, frat). My comment box is on. Bring it on. Shem hotep and '06!