Archive for the ‘Equality Alabama’ Category

Truth Wins Out: Parking Follow-Up

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

As promised, I checked this morning to see if the Hoover Board of Education allows churchgoers to use its parking lot.  There were no cars parked in the lot today.  Good to know.  You’ll see why below.  First, some background.

Yesterday, people from the community, including representatives from Equality Alabama, PFLAG Birmingham, Central Alabama Pride, and Covenant Community Church, gathered to protest Focus on the Family’s last ever Love Won Out conference at Metropolitan Community Church (my coverage and photos here and here).  We stood on public right of way in front of and across from the Hoover Board of Education building, which is located just outside the church entrance.  I parked elsewhere, but some of our folks had left their cars in the otherwise empty Board of Ed lot.  When I arrived just after 7:30 AM, there were several Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies on hand to direct traffic.  They had, as far as I know, raised no objections to the use of the parking lot.

Shortly after I got there, the Hoover Police Department showed up.  The officers threatened to tow the cars of anyone parked in the lot.  Some of us questioned that edict, pointing out that the lot was built and maintained with taxpayer dollars, not to mention the complete lack of No Parking signs.  The officers replied that it wasn’t their call and that the Board of Ed didn’t want to “take sides” by allowing either conference-goers or protesters to use its lot.  (In what I seriously doubt was a coincidence, around the same time someone from neighboring Lakeside Baptist came by to put orange cones across the entrances to both of its otherwise empty parking lots.)

Call me crazy, but I seriously doubt the Board of Ed member(s) who made this decision thought they’d be causing equal opportunity inconvenience.  Metropolitan Church of God has acres of parking.   I can’t say it any better than Mooncat in comments at my Left in Alabama cross-post:

Memo to the Board of Ed.:  I think you just did “take sides.”  The best way to not take sides was simply to stay out of it, not send the police department down to defend your empty parking spaces.

Bozos.

I wondered yesterday whether the Board of Ed would be so concerned about the neutrality of its parking lot on Sunday mornings, as it’s a prime spot for overflow.  This morning I took a drive to check it out.  As I passed Lakeside Baptist, I noticed that neither of its lots was full for its 10:30 AM service.  There was a JeffCo sheriff’s car parked on the side of the road between Lakeside and the intersection that leads to Metro Church of God.  I drove up to the Board of Ed and, happily, found its lot empty.  Then I drove on through the gates of Metro to confirm the size of its parking lot, which is huge and was nowhere near full, even though the 10:15 service was underway.  There was more than enough room to accommodate the 600 people who reportedly attended yesterday’s conference.

I left and then decided to go back and take some pictures.  They’re below the fold.  You’ll see the empty Board of Ed lot and also the acres of parking available at Metro Church of God.  In what I sincerely hope was a coincidence, a JeffCo sheriff’s car followed me home, peeling off only when I turned into the entrance to my subdivision.

It looks like the Hoover Board of Ed is guilty of gay-cootie-phobia and really bad PR instincts but not the hypocrisy I feared, if only because the neighboring churches can’t even fill their own parking lots.

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Truth Wins Out Protest – Part Two

Saturday, November 7th, 2009

IMPORTANT: We won’t be demonstrating at 5 PM.  The organizers made the decision that it wouldn’t be effective in the dark.

Our midday demonstration went well.  Lots of folks who came to the early morning session were back, and there were new faces as well.  I got to spend some time chatting with actor Glenn Shadix, who gave a moving account of his experience with “reparative” therapy on Thursday night.  Wayne Besen continued to document the event, and I expect we’ll see footage soon on the Truth Wins Out website.

We smiled and waved as conference attendees left for lunch, and we got lots of smiles and waves in return — so many, in fact, that we speculate they were coached to be nice.  Not so nice was the guy inside a bus bearing the name Amnesty Baptist Church, with the tag line “The Last Baptist Church”.  He informed us over the bus loudspeaker that “God doesn’t make mistakes.  God doesn’t make a man queer.”  Yes, but what about the women? :)

One poor kid drove by us over and over, back and forth (we were on a public street, but it basically served as a long driveway for the church hosting the conference).  He was hunched forward, gripping the steering wheel, looking terribly stressed.  I thought he might persuade himself to stop and talk to us, but he never did.

Several of the local news stations sent reporters, so there should be some TV coverage this evening.  I don’t know if we changed any minds today, but if even one family thinks twice about trying to “pray away the gay”, that will be a good thing.  Thanks so much to everyone who gave their time to organize and participate!

***

The Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies who directed traffic today couldn’t have been any nicer.  The Hoover police department, on the other hand, did not cover itself with glory coming out to clear a taxpayer-funded parking lot because the Hoover Board of Education didn’t want to “take sides” by letting us park there.  And someone apparently contacted Lakeside Baptist Church, located around the corner from conference host Metropolitan Church of God, because orange cones appeared sometime this morning across the entrances to both of its (otherwise empty) parking lots.  Christian hospitality at its finest…

More pictures below:

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Truth Wins Out Protest – Part One

Saturday, November 7th, 2009

About 50 people gathered outside the gates of Metropolitan Church of God this morning to protest  Focus on the Family’s Love Won Out “ex-gay” conference.  We stood in front of the Hoover Board of Education building (on the right of way) to express our support for the families who are victimized by organizations like Love Won Out, conned into believing their LGBT children can be “changed”.  We want to show them that there is another way — they can accept their children and love them as they are.

We’ll be back at 11 AM and at 5 PM.  Join us if you can at 2800 Metropolitan Way (directions here).

Don’t plan on parking in the taxpayer-built-and-maintained school board parking lot, however.  The Hoover police showed up this morning and threatened to tow any cars parked in the otherwise empty lot because the Board of Education had decided it didn’t want to “take sides”.  There aren’t any “No Parking” signs posted anywhere in the lot, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the church uses the lot for overflow parking on Sunday mornings.  I’m curious to know just who brought the school board into the discussion.  Perhaps a conference attendee called.  Any attorneys out there who can advise me about the legality of this?

We were a peaceful, happy group this morning, especially after the coffee and doughnuts arrived.  Pictures below — I’ll post more later.

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Glenn Shadix Joins Wayne Besen Tomorrow Night at UAB

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Actor and Bessemer native Glenn Shadix will appear alongside Wayne Besen for tomorrow night’s program exposing and debunking “reparative” therapy.  Mr. Shadix, who came out to his parents as a teenager, endured aversion therapy under threat of losing contact with his siblings if he did not “beat this thing” and become straight (aversion therapy involves electrodes and shocks to certain parts of the anatomy if one exhibits the “wrong” response to same-sex pornography).  Mr. Shadix will share his story.

Tomorrow night’s event will be held at UAB’s Alumni Auditorium in Hill University Center, 1400 University Boulevard.  It begins at 7:00 PM, will run about two hours, and is free and open to the public.

Love Embraces All

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Focus on the Family is coming to Birmingham this weekend for what may very well be its last “Love Won Out” conference ever.  Seems claiming gay and lesbian people can be “cured” isn’t as lucrative as it once was, and their funding is drying up, so they figure they’ll come to the south for one last hurrah.

We didn’t sit quietly by the last time they were here, and we won’t this time either.  If you oppose the bigotry that tells LGBT people they must deny who they are, join us for these counter-events (press release here – PDF format):

  • Wayne Besen, author of “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth” (Haworth, 2003), former spokesperson for HRC and founder of Truth Wins Out, will be speaking at Alumni Auditorium at Hill University Center 1400 University Blvd., Birmingham on Thursday, November 5, 2009 at 7:00 PM. Truth Wins Out is a non-profit organization that defends the GLBT community against anti-gay misinformation campaigns, counters the so-called “ex-gay” industry and educates America about gay life. Our goal is to help people be true to themselves and lead genuine lives of honesty and integrity. Learn more about Truth Wins Out here: http://www.truthwinsout.org/our-vision/ This event is being co-sponsored by The Alliance for GLBT Equality at UAB and UAB’s Office of the Vice President for Equity and Diversity Certainly the GLBT community wants to attend, but especially young people, teens, questioning youth, their parents and the general public.
  • Silent Demonstration/Prayer Vigil at site of Ex-gay Workshop; We will gather on November 7 at 7:30 AM near 2800 Metropolitan Way (next to the Hoover Board of Education) to offer parents an alternative: to love your children as they are, after all, they are a product of yourselves; to love them unconditionally; to hope for happiness and equality for your children; and an opportunity to seek faith in a loving God who does not make mistakes.
  • Lunch-time Demonstration at site of workshop; Those able to return between 11:00 am and 1:00 pm on November 7 will show a presence as conference participants take their lunch break.
  • Regular PFLAG Support Meeting invites parents and youths to attend to learn how the support system works and to make contact with others who have happily survived learning their children are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. The meeting is at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at the Unitarian Universalist Church at 4300 Hampton Heights Drive, Birmingham, AL 35209.

These events are sponsored by Equality Alabama, PFLAG Birmingham, Central Alabama Pride, and Covenant Community Church.

Love doesn’t push people back in the closet.  Love doesn’t tell them to deny who they are.  Love will truly win out when we embrace all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, and lift them up to live their lives with integrity and wholeness.  It’s past time we do just that.

ETA:  Greg Garrison’s story (linked in my opening sentence) was embarrassingly unbalanced.  He neglected to use any of the factual information provided in the press release and gave Melissa Fryrear of FoF paragraphs to spew unscientific rhetoric about a “therapy” that has been disavowed by every reputable mental health organization in the US.  If you’d like to address this (respectfully, please), click here to email him.

Benefit Showing of “Outrage” on Sunday

Friday, October 9th, 2009

outrage
If you’re in the Montgomery area, or feel like a nice drive, head for the Capri Theatre on Sunday for a showing of “Outrage”.

There will be a reception at 6 PM, and the movie starts at 7 PM.  Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students (high school or college).  Proceeds benefit the work of Equality Alabama.

Equality: Nothing More, Nothing Less

Equality Alabama Gala – Cong. John Lewis

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

Last night’s Equality Alabama Gala was amazing in so many ways.  The venue was beautiful, the silent auction offered many unique and lovely items, the food was really good (and y’all know that’s not always the case at banquets), and the Magic City Choral Society was wonderful.  The Men’s Chorus rendition of “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables had me sobbing in my salad.

The highlight of the evening, of course, was the inspirational keynote speech by Congressman John Lewis, hero of the civil rights movement and now a champion for marriage equality.  Pam Spaulding of Pam’s House Blend, who came to Birmingham to be part of the event, has video of the speech and an excellent post here.  Cong. Lewis reminded us of his words (PDF) at the 1963 March on Washington:

To those who have said, “Be patient and wait,” we must say that we cannot be patient. We do not want
our freedom gradually but we want to be free now.

He encouraged the LGBT community and allies to seize the moment, to speak out and demand equality for all people.  Now is the time!  Alabama isn’t going to change quickly, but it is going to change, and we can make it happen.

Watch the whole thing.  I defy you to get through it without chill bumps.

ETA direct video link.

Equality Weekend Starts Tonight!

Friday, September 18th, 2009

EA-logo2 Don’t miss it!  Congressman John Lewis, Rep. Patricia Todd, Pam Spaulding of Pam’s House Blend, Mandy Carter, The Magic City Chorus, and many other leaders in the movement for LGBT equality will be there.  Join us!  Click the image for more info.

Equality Weekend September 18-20

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Cong.-John-LewisDon’t miss Equality Alabama’s eighth annual event!  Congressman John Lewis will be the keynote speaker at the Saturday night banquet.

For more information, visit equalityweekend.org.  The Birmingham Weekly previews the weekend events here.

Equality — Nothing More, Nothing Less.

As Andrew Sullivan says, “A Good Question”

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

goodquestion

Here in Mobile, we have a snippy little joke about the “MGM Club”—”Married Gay Men.” There does seem to be a disproportionately large number of these marriages in my town. (I’d call them “mariages des convenances,” except I believe that term implies the wife’s knowledge of and cooperation with the arrangement; here, it seems like everybody except the wife knows, at least until the divorce.)

I’ve heard various explanations for this phenomenon, most having to do with inherited money and/or social position. So, I guess to answer the question posed by this Prop 8 protester, why the heck not? My daughter would be wealthy, established in society, and if the stereotype holds true, married to a congenial fellow who has terrific taste in home decor and always picks up his dirty socks.

But no. Since my daughter is heterosexual, I’d prefer that she marry a heterosexual man. And I’m sure that all the folks who voted for Proposition 8 feel the same way.  Where we differ, of course, is about what all those gay men & lesbians who don’t marry our daughters or sons are supposed to do about  their desire for an affectionate, committed, legal partnership.

(Sullivan’s blog post with the picture is here.)