TAG | The Advocate
Yesterday and today at 12:01 a.m. showcased two significant points for the history of the LGBT community: (1) yesterday, Chaz Bono competed as a proud and open transgender man on the ABC hit show, “Dancing with the Stars” [video posted below] and (2) at 12:01 a.m. this morning, the repeal of the discriminatory law “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” became effective, allowing full and open service for gay, lesbian, and bisexual members of the armed forces.
If following numerous LGBT news outlets and bloggers on Twitter is any indication, the outpouring of support from the LGBT community of Chaz Bono has been incredible. The number of #TeamChaz and #ProBono—I especially like that one—hashtags that have popped up, as well those passing along the information to vote for Chaz, has been overwhelming.
That the entire LGBT community is behind Chaz is especially significant with openly gay contestant Carson Kressley—most known for his role in the show “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”—also in the competition. Understandably, and I agree entirely, the LGBT community recognizes that the success of Chaz in the competition—and the increased visibility for the transgender community and the discussions in the media that will follow—is more important than the success of an openly gay contestant.
Watch Chaz’s performance here:
Just a few hours after Chaz’s performance aired, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell became effective. In recognizing and celebrating the repeal, the Army’s repeal letter, filled will supporting and affirming language, was passed around the internet. The story of a Navy officer marrying his partner of 11 years just after midnight became well-known, and the video of a service member coming out live was shared on YouTube. The Advocate announced that it is “Time to Celebrate!” and listed events planned around the country.
With repeal of DADT, universities backed away from varying stances in opposition of military presence. Harvard and Yale both decided to reinstate their ROTC programs. Vermont Law School decided to allow military recruiters on campus.
Allowing the military to have full access to the campuses as a reward for repealing DADT sends the message that full and open service for the LGB community is alone satisfactory. Unfortunately, this leaves the transgender community behind and forced to remain in the closet (presenting as the gender matching their biological sex at birth rather than their true gender identity).
This bothers me. It splinters the community. While the LGB are happily celebrating, there is no less incentive or motivation (or even leverage) to seek the same equality and open service for the transgender community.
Several countries (Spain, New Zealand, and some others) already allow open service and support the transgender community. As far as I know, despite the typical fears announced by those opposed to the LGBT community, integration of the transgender communities in these militaries has been without incident.
All I ask, is that in this time of celebrating the repeal of DADT, we do not forget the discrimination that continues against the transgender community. We much continue to fight for their right to serve openly and proudly for this country.
A Facebook group was set up to recognize the continued discrimination, in light of repeal, calling today “a bittersweet day.” I encourage you to “attend” the event and honor their request to recognize the continued discrimination with a moment of silence as you celebrate the great news of DADT repeal.
Go Chaz! And let’s keep fighting for the equality of all under the broad LGBT (and all other letters) community.
In my last post, I mentioned that openly gay Gareth Thomas, a rugby star from Wales, visited America for a series of media appearances, including an interview with The Advocate. The interview wasn’t available at that time, but it is now, so I would like to pass it on.
The video interview is in two parts totally just over 10 minutes.
Part 1 includes the following questions:
- What compelled you to pursue a professional sports career?
- What has been your proudest moment as a rugby player?
- Was there a point early in life where you knew you were different?
- Who was the first person you came out to?
- You were injured in 2006. Were you afraid this would affect your career?
- You are world famous now because of your story. Has this affected your career?
- Have you heard from any younger people you’ve inspired by coming out?
- Do you think your talent made it easier for you to come out?
- How do you feel about Mickey Rourke playing you in an upcoming film?
- What would you like to leave as your legacy?
Indiana University became the first school to send their athletic department to a pride festival when the Hoosiers attended Indy Pride on June 12th. I was fortunate to make the 3 hour drive to Indianapolis to thank them in person.
I met Colette Gilman, IU’s Assistant Director of Marketing, at the event and two other reps from the department. Her initial reaction at the event was entirely positive. She said that the most common conversation was someone coming up to their booth and simply thanking the University for being there.
I had the opportunity to do a follow up interview with Colette and Pat Kraft, Senior Assistant Athletic Director for Marketing, who was unfortunately unable to attend the event due to a family emergency.
Colette spoke about how great of an experience it was. She said it was unlike anything they had done in the past and was a lot of fun. She enjoyed the opportunity to interact with a variety of people and said they received so much great feedback just for being there.
I brought up the unfortunate “sportsphobic” comments that were posted in response to the story of their participation breaking in The Advocate and asked if there were any negative comments like that in person. She said that there were no negative incidents; it was all positive with people say thanks, grabbing IU posters, etc. That was very reassuring, because those comments were disgraceful and embarrassing for our community.
Pat spoke more on this as well. He said there isn’t one article that goes out without getting backlash from some side. There will always be negative feedback. He said the support has been overwhelmingly positive and that the University and the athletics department will move forward with what it believes is right.
Pat’s perspective for the entire campaign was very refreshing. He said they did it solely because they wanted to reach all Indiana fans. It was not about being the first to participate in a pride festival. The only pride he is concerned about is Hoosier pride. He just wants to get all of their fans – all creeds, sexes, or whatever – excited. The goal for these events, which he noted they had two similar ones upcoming, is to get someone to grab a poster, and hopefully from that poster they will come and enjoy a game, and then to another, and then eventually they may become season ticket holders.
I tried to bait Pat into acknowledging the magnitude of what they were doing, but he wouldn’t bite. He said they were only trying to treat everyone equally, because that is their job. Nothing more; nothing less. And you know what? I think that’s the best approach to take and exactly what the gay community should expect.
And while he may be focused solely on his job and is not trying to make a major social statement, I assured him of how important this was for the community. It is only through these baby steps of inclusion and acceptance that we can create a truly equal society.
Next up? Heading to Chicago to witness the next breakthrough in the sports world: Lord Stanley’s Cup in the Chicago pride parade.
The Big 10 conference is doing it again. First, it was Jim Tressel of Ohio State being the first head football coach to be interviewed by a GLBT publication. Now, it is the Indiana University athletic department becoming the first to participate in a pride festival, The Advocate reports.
Pat Kraft (right, in the picture above, photo by Rachel Jones Crouch), senior assistant athletic director for marketing and former linebacker for the Hoosiers, is one of three who will staff the athletic department’s booth during the Indy Pride festival in Indianapolis on June 12. He had this to say: “I see what they’re wearing and if they’re Indiana, I’m all fired up. All I care about is that there are 56,000 people at our football game. Gay or straight, it doesn’t matter as long as they’re Indiana Hoosier fans and they’re excited.”
Both parties hope that the relationship between the athletic department and the GLBT community of Hoosier fans goes beyond increased ticket sales and a welcoming atmosphere at sporting events. They have already starting talking about including an outreach to gay youth as a part of their annual tradition to invite high school students to attend a football game each fall.
I am definitely going to make the drive out to Indianapolis to say thank you to Kraft and his co-workers. With more schools in the Big 10 following the trend of acceptance, maybe it is time for the entire conference to make a statement?
For an example of pathetic, hypocritical stereotyping, read the comments to The Advocate article. Outsports drew attention to the comment section, and it truly is unbelievable to read some of the remarks. It is despicable to read, especially coming from others in the GLBT community. Regardless, I won’t let them tear down a moment that should be celebrated.
The June issue of The Advocate magazine had a piece entitled, “150 Reasons to Have Pride in 2010,” and Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel made the list for the interview he did with the GLBT publication, Outlook Columbus.
The Advocate article starts, “Thanks to his rousing statements for marriage equality, silver fox Keith Olbermann is reason number 38 to have pride in 2010. Read the other 149 reasons here.”
Reason #51 (found on page 24 of 48 of the web article):
“BECAUSE AN ALLY MAY BE HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT:
The Ohio-based gay newspaper Outlook: Columbus snagged an interview in March with Jim Tressel (pictured), the high-profile football coach at Ohio State University. When writer Michael Daniels brought up the reluctance of collegiate athletes to come out, Tressel said it was the duty of coaches and professors to create a tolerant atmosphere: ‘Whatever a young man feels called to express, I hope we will help him do it in a supportive environment. Everybody is important, and maturity is learning to find and appreciate those differences in others.’”
You can read the entire Outlook Columbus interview with Tressel here. (My apologies for the format of the article; Outlook Columbus has a specific viewer for its magazine, making it impossible to directly link an article.)
It is fairly well-know that Tressel is a conservative Christian, making his perspectives on the subject and even the willingness to do the interview more impressive and refreshing.
I also had the opportunity to ask a fellow classmate who played for Tressel if his remarks were genuine. Knowing that those in the sports industry, especially with the experience and resume of Tressel, develop a unique skill to say the right things to the media, I had my doubts. My classmate said that Tressel had such a respect for diversity, the totality of a person beyond just being an athlete, and that he was sincerely interested in helping the student-athletes develop their own self-image.
Just another reason to be glad I came to school at Ohio State.