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The Scribblings of Behind the Aegis - Archives
Posted by Behind the Aegis in General Discussion
Tue Oct 11th 2011, 02:26 AM
National Coming Out Day (NCOD) is an internationally observed civil awareness day for coming out and discussion about people that are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (LGBT), etc. It is observed by members of the LGBT communities and their supporters (often referred to as "allies") on October 11 every year,<1> or October 12 in the United Kingdom.<2>

NCOD was founded in 1988 by Robert Eichberg, a psychologist from New Mexico and Jean O'Leary, an openly-gay political leader from Los Angeles, on behalf of the personal growth workshop The Experience and National Gay Rights Advocates.<3><4> The date of October 11 was chosen because it was the anniversary of the 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.<5>

The first headquarters was located in the West Hollywood, California offices of the National Gay Rights Advocates. 18 states participated in the first NCOD, which was covered in the national media. In its second year, the headquarters moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico and participation grew to 21 states. After a media push in 1990, NCOD was observed in all 50 states and seven other countries. Participation continued to grow and in 1990 NCOD merged their efforts with the Human Rights Campaign Fund.<1>

Events are held annually to celebrate coming out and to raise awareness of the LGBT community and LGBT rights movement. Participants are encouraged to wear pride symbols, such as the pink triangle (gays), Bisexual pride flag (bisexuals) & the black triangle (lesbians), the Greek letter lambda, and rainbows in jewelry and on clothing.

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See also: October is GLBT History Month, The Mattachine Society, Lawrence v. Texas, The Stonewall Riots, GLBT symbols, & Christine Jorgensen.

ETA: Pop on by and share at Olly Olly Oxen in Free! Come out, come out, wherever you are!
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Posted by Behind the Aegis in General Discussion
Tue Oct 11th 2011, 02:22 AM
Today is National Coming Out day. Take the first step...come out to DU! It can still be scary, but you have family...even if they aren't by blood! If you work with people who think being gay is an illness...Call in "gay" and take the day off!



Share your stories! Those of us out have a variety of stories, some sad, some funny, some...well, are just odd! Have a GAY/LESBIAN/BISEXUAL/TRANSGENDER day!

ETA: See also: National Coming Out Day
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Posted by Behind the Aegis in General Discussion
Mon Oct 10th 2011, 03:21 PM
Christine Jorgensen (May 30, 1926 – May 3, 1989) was the first widely known person to have sex reassignment surgery—in this case, male to female.

Returning to New York after military service and increasingly concerned over (as one obituary called it) her "lack of male physical development",<3> Jorgensen heard about the possibility of sex reassignment surgery, and began taking the female hormone ethinyl estradiol on her own. She researched the subject with the help of Dr. Joseph Angelo, a husband of one of Jorgensen's classmates at the Manhattan Medical and Dental Assistant School.<3> Jorgensen intended to go to Sweden, where the only doctors in the world performing this type of surgery at the time were to be found. At a stopover in Copenhagen to visit relatives, however, Jorgensen met Dr. Christian Hamburger, a Danish endocrinologist and specialist in rehabilitative hormonal therapy. Jorgensen ended up staying in Denmark, and under Dr. Hamburger's direction, was allowed to begin hormone replacement therapy, eventually undergoing a series of surgeries.

According to an obituary, "With special permission from the Danish Minister of Justice, Jorgensen had his testicles removed first and his still-undeveloped penis a year later. Several years later Jorgensen obtained a vaginoplasty, when the procedure became available in the U.S., under the direction of Dr. Angelo and a medical advisor Harry Benjamin.<3>

Jorgensen chose the name Christine in honor of Dr. Hamburger. She became a spokesperson for transsexual and transgender people.

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See also: October is GLBT History Month, The Mattachine Society, Lawrence v. Texas, The Stonewall Riots, & GLBT symbols.
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Posted by Behind the Aegis in General Discussion
Sun Oct 09th 2011, 03:09 PM
We have a number of symbols which identify our community. These are but some:

Likely the most recognizable of our symbols is the rainbow flag. There are a few variations representing different communities within our culture, but below is the one used by all of us. A historical note: Originally, the flag had eight color bars! The colors represent the diversity within our culture.





Another common symbol is the inverted pink triangle. This was the marker used to identify gay/bisexual men in Nazi concentration camps and, like the yellow Star of David for Jews, the pink triangle was often slightly larger than others so it was easier for guards to identify. IT now is a source of pride in the face of adversity. It can represent the entire community but is usually used by gay/bisexual men.





The pink and yellow Star of David was used to mark men who were both gay/bisexual and Jewish.





The Lambda is a symbol from the 70's, after Stonewall, to represent "liberation." It was used by all parts of our community.





The Labrys is used to represent lesbians (sometimes, bisexual women). It is the legendary weapon of the Greek Amazons and was a weapon used in Crete and the ancient Greek world. It is a double-bladed axe.





The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a GLBT rights organization, uses the following as its symbol:





The double, interlocking male symbol is used to represent gay men. The symbol is also used for the planet Mars, as it represents the Roman god's shield and spear.





The double, interlocking female symbol represents lesbians. The symbol is used for the planet Venus, whose Roman goddess namesake was famed for her hand mirror.





The female and male symbols interlocked by a merged male and female symbol represents bisexual men and women.




The merged male and female symbol has been used to represent transgender men and women. However, another one that was common (I am not certain it is still in big use), was the merged male and female symbol, with the additional symbol for Mercury (a circle with and arrow and a bar through the arrow) merged with it. Mercury represents transition, as well as comfort with the female and male aspect of self.






See also: October is GLBT History Month, The Mattachine Society, Lawrence v. Texas, & The Stonewall Riots

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Posted by Behind the Aegis in Editorials & Other Articles
Fri Oct 07th 2011, 06:04 PM
Anti-Semitic incidents essentially plateaued last year, reports the Anti-Defamation League -- with Florida being one of the exceptions.

Nationally, people reported 1,239 acts of violence, harassment and vandalism against Jews in 2010, according to the Audit of anti-Semitic Incidents. That’s up just slightly from the 1,211 reported in 2009.

In the Sunshine State, the tally is 116, up from 90 in 2009. That puts Florida, as in past years, among the top four states for Jew hatred, among California, New York and New Jersey.

Andrew Rosenkranz, ADL's Florida regional director, said the common denominator is large Jewish populations.

South Florida, heart of the state's Jewish community, took nearly 70 percent of the attacks, according to the Boca Raton-based regional office. Events included:

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Posted by Behind the Aegis in General Discussion
Fri Oct 07th 2011, 05:40 PM
Lawrence v Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003),<1> is a landmark United States Supreme Court case. In the 6-3 ruling, the Court struck down the sodomy law in Texas. The court had previously addressed the same issue in 1986 in Bowers v. Hardwick, where it upheld a challenged Georgia statute, not finding a constitutional protection of sexual privacy.

---snip---

Arrest of Lawrence and Garner

The petitioners, John Geddes Lawrence, a medical technologist, then age 55, and Tyron Garner (July 10, 1967 – September 11, 2006),<11> then 31, were alleged to have been engaging in consensual anal sex in Lawrence's apartment in the outskirts of Houston between 10:30 and 11 p.m. on September 17, 1998 when a Harris County sheriff's deputy entered the unlocked apartment, with his weapon drawn, arresting the two.

The arrests had stemmed from a false report of a "weapons disturbance" in their home — that because of a domestic disturbance or robbery, there was a man with a gun "going crazy." The person who filed the report, neighbor Robert Royce Eubanks, then 40,<12> had earlier been accused of harassing the plaintiffs. Despite the false report, probable cause to enter the home was not at issue in the case. Eubanks, with whom Garner was romantically involved at the time of the arrest,<13> later admitted that he was lying, pleaded no contest to charges of filing a false police report, and served 15 days in jail.

Lawrence and Garner were arrested, held overnight in jail, and charged with violating Texas's anti-sodomy statute, the Texas "Homosexual Conduct" law. The law, Chapter 21, Sec. 21.06 of the Texas Penal Code, designated it as a Class C misdemeanor when someone "engages in deviant sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex," prohibiting anal and oral sex between members of the same sex.<14> They later posted $200 bail.

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See, also: Bowers v. Hardwick

Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986), is a United States Supreme Court decision that upheld the constitutionality of a Georgia sodomy law criminalizing oral and anal sex in private between consenting adults when applied to homosexuals.<1><2> Seventeen years after Bowers v. Hardwick, the Supreme Court directly overruled the decision in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003), and held that such laws are unconstitutional. In overruling Bowers v. Hardwick, the 2003 Court stated that "Bowers was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct today."

In August 1982, an Atlanta Police Department officer entered the bedroom of Michael Hardwick to serve a summons for throwing out a beer bottle which Hardwick had thrown in a trash can located directly outside of the gay bar in which he worked; the specific citation was for public drinking.<3> Police Officer Torick had processed the ticket and had marked out the court date of Tuesday and wrote in Wednesday. When Hardwick failed to arrive for his Tuesday courtdate, an arrest warrant was issued personally by officer Torick. The officer then proceeded to Hardwick's apartment to serve the warrant, but he was not home.

When Hardwick arrived home and realized that the officer had been there, he immediately went to the courthouse and paid the ticket. The clerk notified Hardwick that it should have been impossible for Torick to be at his apartment that day because it actually takes 48 hours to process a warrant. Several weeks went by and Officer Torick came to the apartment of Hardwick again to serve the (then-recalled) arrest warrant. Hardwick had an overnight guest who was sleeping off a hangover on his couch. Accounts differ whether he opened the door to the officer and allowed him into the apartment or if the front door was already open. The guest told Torick that he didn't know if Hardwick was home so the officer began searching the house. He found the door to Hardwick's bedroom door slightly ajar and then entered the room where Hardwick and a male companion were engaged in mutual, consensual oral sex.<4>

He placed both men under arrest for sodomy, which was defined in Georgia law to include both oral sex and anal sex between members of the same or opposite sex.<5> The local district attorney elected not to present the charge to the grand jury, which would have been a prerequisite to any trial or punishment for the offense. Hardwick then sued Michael Bowers, the attorney general of Georgia, in federal court for a declaration that the state's sodomy law was invalid. He charged that as an active homosexual, he was liable to eventually be prosecuted for his activities.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had been searching for a "perfect test case" to challenge anti-sodomy laws, and Hardwick's cause presented the one they were looking for.<6> They approached Hardwick, who, after weighing the issues, agreed to be represented by ACLU attorneys. In the lower Federal Courts, Hardwick was represented by attorney Kathleen Wilde. The case was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, where it was dismissed, with the Court ruling in favor of Attorney-General Bowers. Hardwick appealed, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed the lower court, finding that the Georgia sodomy statute was indeed an infringement upon Hardwick's Constitutional rights. 760 F.2d 1202. The State of Georgia then appealed, and the Supreme Court of the United States granted certiorari on November 4, 1985 to review the case.

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Additional DU posts:
October is GLBT History Month
GLBT History Month: The Mattachine Society

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Posted by Behind the Aegis in General Discussion
Thu Oct 06th 2011, 05:31 PM
The Mattachine Society, founded in 1950, was one of the earliest homophile organizations in the United States, probably second only to Chicago’s short-lived Society for Human Rights (1924). Harry Hay and a group of Los Angeles male friends formed the group to protect and improve the rights of homosexuals. Because of concerns for secrecy and the founders’ leftist ideology, they adopted the cell organization being used by the Communist Party. In the anti-Communist atmosphere of the 1950s, the Society’s growing membership replaced the group’s early Communist model with a more traditional ameliorative civil rights leadership style and agenda. Then, as branches formed in other cities, the Society splintered in regional groups by 1961.

Harry Hay conceived of the idea of a homosexual activist group in 1948. After signing a petition for Progressive Party presidential candidate Henry A. Wallace, Hay spoke with other gay men at a party about forming a gay support organization for him called "Bachelors for Wallace".<1> Encouraged by the response he received, Hay wrote the organizing principles that night, a document he referred to as "The Call".<2> However, the men who had been interested at the party were less than enthusiastic the following morning.<1> Over the next two years, Hay refined his idea, finally conceiving of an "international...fraternal order" to serve as "a service and welfare organization devoted to the protection and improvement of Society's Androgynous Minority".<3> He planned to call this organization "Bachelors Anonymous" and envisioned it serving a similar function and purpose as Alcoholics Anonymous.<4> Hay met Rudi Gernreich in July 1950. The two became lovers,<5> and Hay showed Gernreich The Call. Gernreich, declaring the document "the most dangerous thing ever read",<6> became an enthusiastic financial supporter of the venture, although he did not lend his name to it<7> (going instead by the initial "R"<8>). Finally on November 11, 1950, Hay, along with Gernreich and friends Dale Jennings and lovers Bob Hull and Chuck Rowland, held the first meeting of the Mattachine Society in Los Angeles, under the name "Society of Fools".<9> James Gruber and Konrad Stevens joined the Society in April 1951 and they are generally considered to be original members.<10> Also that month the group changed its name to "Mattachine Society", a name suggested by Gruber and chosen by Hay, after Medieval French secret societies of masked men who, through their anonymity, were empowered to criticize ruling monarchs with impunity.<11>

As Hay became more involved in his Mattachine work, he correspondingly became more concerned that his homosexuality would negatively affect the Communist Party, which did not allow gays to be members. Hay himself approached Party leaders and recommended his own expulsion. The Party refused to expel Hay as a homosexual, instead expelling him under the more convenient ruse of 'security risk', while ostentatiously announcing him to be a 'Lifelong Friend of the People'.<12>

Mattachine was originally organized in similar structure to the Communist Party, with cells, oaths of secrecy and five different levels of membership, each of which required greater levels of involvement and commitment. As the organization grew, the levels were expected to subdivide into new cells, creating both the potential for horizontal and vertical growth.<13> The founding members constituted the so-called "Fifth Order" and from the outset remained anonymous. Mattachine's membership grew slowly at first but received a major boost in February 1952 when founder Jennings was arrested in a Los Angeles park and charged with lewd behavior. Often, men in Jennings' situation would simply plead guilty to the charge and hope to quietly rebuild their lives. Jennings and the rest of the Fifth Order saw the charges as a means to address the issue of police entrapment of homosexual men. The group began publicizing the case (under the name "Citizens Committee to Outlaw Entrapment") and the publicity it generated brought in financial support and volunteers. Jennings admitted during his trial to being a homosexual but insisted he was not guilty of the specific charge. The jury deadlocked and Mattachine declared victory.<14>

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October is GLBT History Month.

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Posted by Behind the Aegis in General Discussion
Tue Oct 04th 2011, 04:08 AM
It is important for people to learn about our culture. It is a long history, and what makes it unusual is we are not of one nation, one ethnicity, one country, one religion, or one mindset. We range from engaging artists and poets to military leaders and professional athletes. We come from all walks of life. We are your brothers and sisters, your fathers and mothers, your aunts and uncles, your children, your extended family members, your friends; we are/were, sometimes without your knowing, your favorite teacher, your favorite actor/actress, your favorite author...painter...athlete...politician...singer...activist for another cause...historical figure. We are everywhere!

Our history is being made now, but the past is also important. We continue to battle for our equality in this country, and, sadly, some of our brothers and sisters battle for their very lives in other countries. Like others, we face poverty, homelessness, suicide, and the everyday trials and tribulations. DADT is dead (and hopefully buried), but DOMA is very much alive, states have passed constitutional amendments to prevent us from marrying, and everyday attacks against us are still way too common. Our young people struggle with their identities, despite the progress made. Our older generation face unique challenges with retirement and quality of life. We are told to "wait" for our equality, told we are "asking for too much, too soon," and told "not to be so sensitive" to setbacks and outright attacks against our community. But there are good things as well; we see some being able to marry, we see positive role models, we see non-GLBT people standing with us in sincerity, love, and perhaps most importantly, respect!

Here are some sites to learn about our unique and fascinating culture and history:

LGBT History Month
Nazi Persecution of Gays
Gays in the Holocaust
Gay Art & History: The World History of Male Love
Gay Heroes
People with a History: An Online Guide to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans* History

Certainly our history is filled with incredible people who have made a huge mark and there are also those of us who most will never know, but we too have made a mark in GLBT history. I hope the GLBT DU'ers (this includes our allies) will "bump" this thread with the marks they have made to our movement or comments on their heroes/heroines.

I will start....

I was active in my university's GLBT group, was even the president and the advisor. I served as an advisor to two more GLBT groups at two other universities. I have been to gay pride festivals/marches in eight states, including the second National March on Washington. I have spoken on the steps of the South Carolina state capitol building. I worked to get sexual orientation added to the non-discriminatory clause to various groups, including university policy. I worked to get courses taught about GLBT issues in two universities, some are still being taught 20 years later. I have helped others come out. I have worked with various organizations, including several police departments and rape crisis centers to deal with issues of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Some of my heroes are Melissa Ethridge, Ellen Degeneres, Barney Frank, Harvey Milk, and Alexander the Great.

Also, check out some great movies... Bent, Making Love, Personal Best, The Celluloid Closet, Jeffrey, Edge of Seventeen, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, My Beautiful Laundrette, Prayers for Bobby, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Longtime Companion, Shelter, Milk and Brokeback Mountain. My personal favorites: Torch Song Trilogy, Maurice, Latter Days, Beautiful Thing and (yes, I will admit it), The Broken Hearts Club.

Come, celebrate GLBT History Month with me...share your stories and heroes!
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Posted by Behind the Aegis in General Discussion
Sun Jun 12th 2011, 05:40 AM
Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967),<1> was a landmark civil rights case in which the United States Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, declared Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute, the "Racial Integrity Act of 1924", unconstitutional, thereby overturning Pace v. Alabama (1883) and ending all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States. wikipedia

From the decision:

Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

And yet, today, we, GLB folks, have to continue to fight for our right to marry. Our right to marry should not be a position on which people need to evolve. It shouldn't be a position which people are willing to compromise or demand we "wait for a better time."

Support marriage rights for GLB people!

(hat tip to alp227 for his post: Today in history: Medgar Evers, Loving v. Virginia, "Tear down this wall", and Filipino independence)
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Posted by Behind the Aegis in Latest Breaking News
Thu Feb 10th 2011, 03:06 PM
Source: Ha'aretz

The Interior Ministry has rescinded its decision to deport a German man whose partner was killed in a shooting attack on a Tel Aviv gay youth center last year.

Thomas Schmidt's partner Nir Katz, 26, and Liz Trobishi, 16, died when a gunman opened fire on the Bar Noar on a busy summer night in July 2010.

Schmidt has resided in Israel for more than six years, but was informed by immigration authorities this week that his visa had expired and he would have to leave the country by February 20.

Following public outcry, the Interior Ministry has decided to extend Schmidt's temporary residency status pending further debate on his case. It is not yet clear which level of legal authority will be charged with determining his petition for permanent residency.



Read more: http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/israe...
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Posted by Behind the Aegis in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Wed Dec 01st 2010, 02:04 PM
Homosexuals are far more likely to be victims of a violent hate crime than any other minority group in the United States, according to a new analysis of federal hate crime statistics in the latest issue of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report, released today.

The SPLC’s analysis of 14 years of hate crime data found that homosexuals, or those perceived to be gay, are more than twice as likely to be attacked in a violent hate crime as Jews or blacks; more than four times as likely as Muslims; and 14 times as likely as Latinos. The findings are based on FBI hate crime statistics from 1995 to 2008, the period for which there is complete data. The basic pattern also holds true in individual years.

The analysis is being released to coincide with the scheduled release of the FBI’s hate crime statistics for 2009.

These findings come as a wave of anti-gay attacks have washed across the country. In New York, for example, 10 suspects were arrested for brutally torturing three gay victims. And in Covington, Ky., a neighborhood was hit by a series of violent anti-gay attacks. Most dramatically, four teenagers committed suicide in September after being bullied, taunted or outed as homosexuals.

This analysis of hate crime data can be found in the Winter 2010 issue of the Intelligence Report, which also explores how the hard-core anti-gay movement in America is becoming more extreme in the face of gay rights advances.

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Posted by Behind the Aegis in Editorials & Other Articles
Tue Nov 09th 2010, 04:40 AM
Historians have uncovered evidence leading to the estimation that the Nazis' wartime confiscation of wealth from Europe's Jews financed about 30 percent of the expenditure of the German armed forces during WWII.

The official study of the German Finance Ministry under the Nazis from 1933 to 1945 was conducted by historian Hans-Peter Ullmann.

Last month a similar study of the German Foreign Ministry under the Nazis established that its diplomats and bureaucrats played a key role in the Holocaust.

Ullmann, a Cologne history professor, said the German Finance Ministry under the Nazis actively worked to "destroy Jews financially" and to loot wealth in the nations the Germans occupied.

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Posted by Behind the Aegis in Latest Breaking News
Mon Oct 25th 2010, 04:12 PM
Source: Associated Press

Germany's diplomats were much more deeply involved in carrying out the Holocaust than previously known, according to a new report about the Foreign Ministry's Nazi past published Monday.

Despite decades-long efforts by ministry employees to present the foreign office as a place of opposition during the Third Reich, diplomats were actually willing participants in the Nazis' campaign against the Jews, the report concluded—from spying on Jewish-German emigrants abroad to actively contributing to the mass murder of Europe's Jewry until 1945.

"The German Foreign Ministry collaborated with the Nazis' violent politics and especially assisted in all aspects of the discrimination, deportation, persecution and genocide of the Jews,'' Eckhart Conze, one of four historians who helped prepare the official report on the German Foreign Ministry's involvement in the Holocaust, told the Associated Press on Monday.

Former Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer commissioned the report while he was in office in 2005. His decision was prompted by a public debate over the ministry's Nazi past, after it became known that the ministry was still publishing well-meaning obituaries about former employees who were committed Nazis.



Read more: http://www.haaretz.com/news/international/...
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Posted by Behind the Aegis in GLBT
Sat Oct 16th 2010, 01:52 PM
pgodbold has posted this video, Last of the Pink Triangles tells his story: Rudolf Brazda, in the Politcial Videos forum. Watch it at this link or go to the PV forum and watch. It is 11 minutes of gay history, often ignored by the public and, sometimes, even our own.

Please pass this video along to others, let them know what was done.

WORDS MATTER!!!

ETA: Link to the PV forum version: http://www.democraticunderground.com/discu...
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Posted by Behind the Aegis in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Tue Oct 12th 2010, 02:21 PM
FORT COLLINS, Colo., Oct. 12— Matthew Shepard, the gay college student who was kidnapped, robbed and pistol-whipped, died here today, five days after he was rescued from a Wyoming ranch where he had been left tied to a fence for 18 hours in near-freezing temperatures.

His death, announced at the Poudre Valley Hospital here, fanned the outrage that followed word of the attack, spawning vigils, producing calls for Federal hate-crimes legislation from President Clinton and fueling debates over such laws in a host of Western states, including Wyoming, that have resisted them.

In places from Denver to the University of Maryland, people turned out to mourn the soft-spoken 21-year-old who became an overnight symbol of deadly violence against gay people after he was found dangling from the fence by a passerby.

Russell A. Henderson, 21, and Aaron J. McKinney, 22, were charged with attempted murder and are expected to face first-degree murder charges that could bring the death penalty. Their girlfriends, Chasity V. Pasley, 20, and Kristen L. Price, 18, were charged as accessories.

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COMMENTARY: Remembering Matthew Shepard

Twelve years ago today, Matthew Shepard passed away, six days after been beaten and tortured and left to die after being tied to a fence in a desolate field near Laramie, Wyo.

He was 21 and a student at the University of Wyoming. He was targeted because he was gay.

Shepard’s slaying stunned most Americans and indeed many folks around the world. His mother, Judy Shepard, became a tireless crusader for hate crime laws and an ally of the LGBT community.

Congress did not pass the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act until Oct. 22, 2009. President Barack Obama signed the act into law on Oct. 28, 2009.

Today, as we reflect on the horrors that were inflicted on Shepard simply because he was gay, we must somberly pause to recognize that homophobia is still very much a part of our lives. We must not get complacent in our fight for equality, either here in America or abroad, where millions of LGBT people live in fear for being who they are.

Just this month in New York, a 30-year-old man and two teenagers in the Bronx were beaten, tortured and sodomized simply for being gay.

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Words have meaning!
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