In the quest to free my Persecuted Ugandan friends — SUCCESS — and more…

We are getting there!
We are getting there!
As it turns out, Bryan, one of two gay Ugandan men I have raised money for (with the help of very generous friends) is leaving with another friend for South Africa THIS WEEK! I am very excited for him. Harold’s passport is being held up. Practically, this means I could use another $500 for Harold, who will need to make the trip at a later date. The campaign is still on until June 25th, so if you could make small (or large) contributions until then, anything would help. That will be three people saved. I will get Harold out on my own if I must. I’m so excited for Bryan!!! He is leaving this coming week. Thank you, everyone.

For more on this story, please go to the campaign to read all about it: We have met the goal but need another $500!

Or, see my post on Lesbian.com about the situation in Uganda where an entire population of people are being persecuted.

Thank you, everyone.
Cindy

A new laptop or people’s lives?

Treasure Uganda LgbtRecently, I complained to my brother that my laptop was slow, so we ended up window shopping at a local Best Buy. It’s so enticing to drive  into the parking lot where the blue and yellow sign is lit up as bright as a full moon. The layout of the store welcomes you into a fantasy world of electronic gadgets: tablets, laptops, smart phones, flat screen TVs, all to make you a happier person. If you have a passion for electronics, the lure of Best Buy is hypnotic.

So we amused ourselves as we investigated the latest laptops with Windows 8 and touch screens and computers called “Yoga” that literally bend over backwards and become a tablet, as well  ones that twist and contort, and which would take me months to figure out what the hell I’m supposed to be doing with it in each position.

We moved on through the aisles to the TVs and were jaw-droppingly dazzled by the 50″ 3D ulta high definition televisions. We were equally enthralled by some of the new tablets with laser pens, with screens so high def you can’t stop staring at them. And when you hand-write your name on the screen with the pen, it turns into typed text! 

One could really dwindle her life away staring at so many screens and playing with laser pens.

In the end, we both left the store having bought nothing at all. My brother had his reasons and I had mine. I am going to tell you mine (you’d have to ask him about his.)

You know, I really do love America and believe there are so many wonderful things about this country. I hate it when Americans put down their home with blanket disgust. But of course, we have our issues and serious ones: economic inequities, racism, poverty, crime, and in a prime example of of what Best Buy showcases: excess. There’s not one thing in that store you need to in order to live.

I have partaken of American excesses in the past and will likely do so in the future, but not today, not yesterday, and not tomorrow. Right now, my mind is on other things.

With so many causes screaming for attention at home and around the world, I find myself connected to one cause in particular — the plight of the LGBTI population in Uganda. Why would an American girl like me, who lives a fairly comfortable life, feel so much connection for gay Ugandans?  Perhaps because I have come to know several of these people via Facebook (FB has to be good for something) and I have grown very fond of them.

For the most part, the continent of Africa is a terrible place to be gay or what we often refer to as “queer” in this country to cover the gamut of sexual orientations that are not heterosexual and genders that are not our “norm” of male or female.  Uganda is among the worst of the worst countries in which to exist as a gay person in Africa, or anywhere. And as is usually the case, white colonialism in the past, and current misguided American religious fundamentalist missionaries have had a hand in making life miserable for these people.

At the prompting of such America missionaries, the Uganda Parliament has been trying for several years to pass a “Kill the Gays” bill. They toned that down due to international pressure, but the Ugandan Parliament recently passed the Anti Homosexulality Law which requires up to life imprisonment for living as a gay person.  Passed near the end of 2013, the speaker of the Parliament, a woman named Rebecca Kadaga, said the the bill was a “Christmas gift,” to the people of Uganda. At the end of this blog entry, I will provide you links if you are interested in learning the particulars of the Ugandan bill and situation, but for now, I will keep this at a personal level.

Gay Ugandans support LGBT rights in Russia, but who is supporting the gay Ugandans?

I have been in touch mostly with Uganda men, who had informed me of their lives. Not one ever asked me for a dollar.  But recently, I spoke with a Ugandan woman. She said she had to get out of Uganda. I said I didn’t know how I could help. She said outright, “I need money.” I asked, “How much money do you need?” and she responded “80 dollars.”  She added that she could use another $15 for food because it was a two day bus ride to Kenya. Kenya is no panacea for gay people, I have learned, but it is the closest and easiest country for Ugandan gays to get to, and it also is by degrees, less dangerous for them. They have a small chance at a better life.

I did not know this woman or necessarily trust her, but I asked her to have Bryan (not his real name) be in touch with me. I have been talking with Bryan for more than a year, and I find him to be earnest and kind and loving. He was in touch with me very quickly after my request, so I figured the woman was probably legit, and I sent money for her and her girlfriend to get out of Uganda. I hear she has made it to Kenya, although I have no real proof. I have asked that she send me a postcard from that country.

Today I had a conversation with Joseph (not his real name) who also wants to go to Kenya. I asked, “Do you have a boyfriend?”

He said, “Yes, his name is Ron.”

I said, “Would you go to Kenya without Ron?” To this, Joseph sent back to me a resounding, “NO!”  And in the end, Joseph told me he was very grateful for my offer to help him out of Uganda, but Ron is in the middle of his studies and wants to stay in Uganda, and he “would not go without him.”

Joseph would rather stay in a country that persecutes him than go to one where he might have a chance, if it means leaving his lover – or should is say – his love – behind.

The love is so pure, and yet, most people in his country, as well as many in our own, would call his relationship “abnormal.”

Have you watched episodes of that ridiculous show, “The Bachelor?” Don’t try to tell me that Joseph and Ron are not okay, but featuring one man and a bunch of air-headed women fighting and screaming over him are okay. Let’s not even talk about how such a show sets back women 100 years and is an insult to our entire American culture and intelligence.

To make a long story short, instead of buying a new PC that could bend over backwards and become a tablet, I decided to send money to a number of Ugandan gays who want to go to Kenya as their only chance at a better life. Right now, Harold is on his way to try. Harold could not stop crying when I spoke with him. He has been jailed several times due to his activism on behalf of the gay community in Uganda. He was evicted from his apartment for being gay (that is legal in Uganda.) He is desperate. I hope he makes it.

My lovely friend, Bryan, recently tried to get out, was questioned at the border, realized he needed to bribe the Kenyan border guards with much more money than he had, was nearly jailed, and then sent back to Uganda.

Bryan and I got upset with each other recently because we were so disappointed that he didn’t make it.

“I threw money at a problem,” I said, “and it was a mistake. Throwing money at a problem doesn’t solve anything!” Of course, had Bryan gotten out, it would have solved something, and it provided him some small hope for a better life. It showed him someone cared.

“I was unlucky,” he said to me. Sometimes, people do get lucky and are allowed to cross into Kenya, he added. 

I have spent a certain amount of personal funds to try to help a number of gay Ugandans cross over into Kenya. I am still waiting to receive proof that even one has made it. It could happen, if one or more of them gets lucky and doesn’t run into a corrupt border guard. I’m waiting for postcards to be sent to me with a Kenyan postmarks. Then I’ll know someone or a few have made it.

I am not telling you this story to show you what a great person I am. I am telling you this because it’s what I did recently rather than partake in American excess yet again. In the last year, I have learned that a friend of mine, just 50, died of cancer, that my own mother has stage 4 cancer, and these events, along with other issues, have me reassessing my priorities.

These Ugandans are young people, in their 20s and 30s,  who deserve a better shot at life. I could write a similar statement about any number of gay people in other African countries, but it so happens that it is the Ugandans that I have gotten to know.

Below are links to tell you more precisely for the situation of LGBTI people in Uganda.

This is a good article from NPR that explains the Uganda situation well.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2013/12/20/255825383/uganda-passes-anti-gay-bill-that-includes-life-in-prison

And although the Ugandan President vetoed the anti-homosexuality bill, he did not do it to protect homosexuals. He calls them abnormal. He believes they need to be repaired. He has been known to support corrective rape for lesbians and god knows what to cure gay men. His veto can also be overthrown by Parliament. And regardless, gays are persecuted severely. See this article:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/ugandan-presidents-veto-of-anti-gay-bill-a-rare-victory-for-homosexual-africans/article16384374/

Eventually, I will buy a new, faster PC from Best Buy. I live in America and I have this option. It is a privilege I have. And eventually, I hope to wrap my mind around a way to raise money to help gay Ugandans find a better life either within their own country, or by leaving Uganda.

‘Who Would Choose Such a Difficult Life If They Were Normal?’

‘Who Would Choose Such a Difficult Life If They Were Normal?’ – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cindy-zelman/who-would-choose-such-a-d_b_3531091.html

A big blogging week

La Mediterranee
This has nothing to do with anything I’ve said. I just like it. La Mediterranee (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s been a big week of blogging for me. I have my regular gig with Lesbian.com, which this week published my piece on my changing shoes and changing attitudes. And The Huffington Post has taken another one of my blogs on homophobia and featured it in their Gay Voices page. For Early Draft Readers who may not be Facebook or Twitter friends, I will provide you with links to these blog posts, in case you are interested.

Everything Changes, Even My Shoes in Lesbian.com.

Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin: A Very Personal Homphobia in The Huffington Post.

Thanks for reading!

I see the good in the bad: less rant, more rave

Westboro Baptist Church members from Topeka, K...
Westboro Baptist Church members from Topeka, Kansas protesting in front of RFK Stadium located in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A couple of weeks ago, I was so angry I ranted here about a blog by a woman who claimed to be fair in her attempt to understand both the Christian and the gay/queer issues in relation to same-sex marriage. I was able to calm down after spilling my anger (not very well) in my blog. I later came up with a piece that’s much more of a rave (in a good way) and much less of a rant. I have been receiving great feedback from readers of lesbian.com (link below) about the thoughtful and hopeful spin I’ve put on recent acts of bigotry against the LGBTQ community by singer Michelle Shocked, the insane Westboro Baptist Church, and even by my fair-lady blogger. Thank you to Lesbian.com for publishing the piece.  You can read it here http://www.lesbian.com/i-see-good-in-the-bad/

The Worst Blog Ever on Same Sex Marriage

English: Westboro Baptist Church member Benjam...
English: Westboro Baptist Church member Benjamin Phelps. From http://www.godhatesfags.com. Image may be used for any purporse according to the copyright holder Westboro Baptist Church per copyright clause on webpage. Image taken from http://www.godhatesamerica.com/ghfmir/images/chi1.jpg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Michelle Shocked gets up on a stage and yells, “God hates fags!” and other ultimate homophobic, homo-hater statements, I don’t mind. She is clear, she is not duplicitous. Maybe she’s needs anger management or to accept her own repressed desires, but at least I know where she’s coming from.

Likewise, while the Westboro Baptist Church can go to hell, at least I know where it is coming from, as it make a spectacle of itself — so much hate in “God‘s” name.

But I began to seethe last night after reading a blog touted as The Best Blog Ever on Same Sex Marriage, written by an Evangelical Christian – the kind that believes the Bible literally and selectively. The blog author spent a lot of time constructing this entry in the interest of “both” sides, meaning Christians, on the one hand, and the queer community on the other. My first thought was: There is no “both” sides, there is only you, and those like you, interfering with my life as a gay woman, trying to impose your values, which are not mine, on a whole population of people.

First this woman, apparently out of her sense of fairness and the goodness of her heart, writes a long section on what Christians need to learn about what the queer community needs them to know.

She goes on to talk about hard it must be to realize one’s sexuality, especially in the teen years, and that’s when we need to support our youth most. Sounds good, doesn’ t it?

The blogger goes on for quite some time about how she has listened to her gay friends whom she loves so much, and what a difficult position she is in, loving her gay friends as she does and believing in Bible scripture as she does. Boo hoo.

She claims she understands her gay friends desires and needs and even why they want SSM (she uses an acronym for same sex marriage, as if it might be a sin to utter the phrase out loud, or in this case, to type it into her blog.)

You’re almost thinking, well, here’s a Christian woman who is really trying to understand and accept.

But then she gets to the heart of the matter – her true agenda: What the LGBTQ community needs to know about Christians. Lady, again, I don’t need to know ANYTHING about you, just leave me alone to live my life. But of course, she, and those like her, won’t leave me alone, or anyone who isn’t like she is.

Here is where she becomes insidious because she tries to sound so fair and rational about it all. I will paraphrase some of her major statements and then translate them into reality.

What worries me, she says, is that when you make something legal, like “SSM” it is then assumed to be “moral” just like “slavery.” No shit, she likened the desire of two consenting adults to marry one another, regardless of gender, to the immorality of slavery. So, what she’s saying here essentially is that homosexuality, or any kind of sexuality other than heterosexuality, is immoral. So, maybe she thinks she understands and loves her queer friends, but really, she is saying “God hates fags,” in a way that is not as clear as Michelle Shocked or Fred Phelps.

Same Sex Marriage
Same Sex Marriage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Second, she, like one or more of the Supreme Court Justices, worries what “SSM” will do to society in the long-run. There isn’t enough data, one Justice said recently. What did that justice say, something like, “We have 5 years of data on same sex marriage (referencing Massachusetts) and 2,000 years of data on heterosexual marriage. Wasn’t it 2,000 years ago, give or take, that Jesus was born? I’m not sure he realizes himself that in saying such a thing, he is imposing religious values on government. Remember separation of church and state, asshole?

And as if queer people need to be studied, under a heterosexual lens, to ensure those sinners are not the ruination of this very successful society made up of stalwart heterosexual marriages.

But back to my insidious blogger. This woman goes a bit further than the justice, actually, and sounds pretty sure gay marriage will hurt society and the need for a child to have both a mother and a father.

Apparently, even if your father beats you and your mother neglects you, you will have a better chance at being successful as a human being than if you had two mothers or to fathers who loved you unconditionally and with kindness.

Uh huh.

The blogger actually provides the readers with each book:line:verse in the Bible where god admonishes homosexuality. You know, like where God calls it an “abomination” and one of the worst “sins.” I wonder if God used an IBM Selectric when he typed up that bible – or whether he drafted it in handwriting first, before he handed the pages down to some mortals who then did some creative editing in order to control the groups they wanted to control. Um, sounds very modern, doesn’t it? That selective interpretation and the controlling (suppression) of certain populations.

Regardless of God and his hand-written Bible, the blogger had already noted that teenagers were becoming suicidal during their sexual awakening, but here she provides more reason for them to hate themselves by taking the bible so literally and without any sociopolitical-historical context. Here she fuels their self-doubt, by pointing out everywhere the bible calls homosexuality a sin. I wonder how many teenage suicides and depressions she and her kind are responsible for.

She goes on to say that people ARE capable of change and the fact that the queer community writes off The Exodus project is just, well, like totally unfair of us. Apparently, for their sake, we should try to repair ourselves. Below is an excerpt from Wikipedia on Exodus International.

Exodus International is a non-profit, interdenominational ex-gay Christian organization that seeks to limit homosexual desires. It was founded by Frank Worthen, Michael Bussee, Gary Cooper, Ron Dennis, and Greg Reid. Exodus International asserts that reorientation of same-sex attraction is possible,[3] but warns its members not to go to counselors who claim they can help eliminate all attractions to the same gender.[4] It does not conduct clinical treatment but holds the position that, “reparative therapy – a holistic, counselling approach to addressing unwanted same-sex attraction – can be a beneficial tool.”[5] Techniques “can include abstinence, lessening of homosexual temptations, strengthening their sense of masculine or feminine identity, correcting distorted styles of relating with members of the same and opposite gender.”[6]

Founded in 1976, Exodus is an umbrella organization which has grown to include over 120 local ministries in the United States and Canada and over 150 ministries in 17 other countries.[7] Although Exodus is formally an interdenominational Christian entity, it is most closely associated with Protestant and evangelical denominations. Alan Chambers is the current president of Exodus.

Our blogger, so “fair” and compassionate in hearing “both” sides, is telling us that it is unfair that the queer community writes off this project that can provide “reparative therapy” to homosexuals. What she is saying here is, “You have something wrong with you and you need our help.”

She goes on to say that God NEVER created a homosexual. This translates again into, “God Hates Fags.”

This woman received many comments — long, well-written diatribes on how she has nailed the issues, and how fair and good of her to help bring “both sides” closer together. I had been one of her blog followers, but I had to un-follow her before I told her she was worse than Fred Phelps and Michelle Shocked because she is the enemy that is harder to see. Before I said, “Go fuck yourself lady, or go fuck your husband, but stop fucking with my life.”

I might have been able to write off her high-level expression of homophobia, but after reading her insidious post, I did some Googling and found that there are many, many like her, waving the bible in the faces of gays and lesbians and queers, religious zealots who are hellbent of saving the world from us. Because, you know, we are apparently going to ruin the world for them.

I don’t see this as both sides. There should not be “sides.” I am not interested in this woman’s church or her version of god or getting married among a bunch of bible thumping fundamentalists who call me a sinner. Likewise, I am not asking her kind to come to my wedding held far from her “church.” I’m just asking her to leave me alone. Stop trying to save me. Save yourself, if you must, fuck up your own children with your fundamentalist pseudo-intellectual fairness, but leave me out of it.

I think the only thing the Supreme Court got right is that they shouldn’t be hearing same sex marriage cases. Same sex marriage should not be judged in court, nor should it be legislated by states, nor should it be decided by popular vote referendum.

The issue is really quite simple: If consenting adults want to marry, the government (NOT ANYONE’S CHURCH) should issue them a marriage license. Just as they issue them a W-4 to pay taxes.

There are mainly three reasons why this blogger and others like her (including some our Supreme Court Justices) turn this into such a complicated issue.

1. We don’t know how this will affect society going forward. We only have 5 years of data on same sex marriage but we have 2,000 years of information about heterosexual marriage. That is called imposing your religious ideology on others and not understanding the separation of church and state. 2,000 years is a reference to the birth of Jesus, even if you are unaware that you are making such a reference. And you’re a fucking Supreme Court Justice.

2. The purpose of marriage is procreation. This ideology is called “Heterosexism,” in that when you peel away the layers of what is being said, you are left with the right of a man to fuck a woman in order to “procreate.” I have a feeling a few on the Supreme Court have never even heard the word, “heterosexism.” Think of it as “racism,” but with regard to sexuality rather than the color of a person’s skin. It is also this kind of reasoning that leads to our “rape culture.”

3. The LGBTQ community does not respect our deeply held religious beliefs and they will be the ruination of civilization. First, you don’t respect who I am so, no, I don’t have any respect whatsoever for your insistence on imposing your “deeply held religious beliefs” on my life. I don’t believe what you believe, so, leave me alone and I will leave you alone with your 50% divorce rate, okay? As for the “ruination of civilization” from the likes of those pinnacles of wisdom (Kirk Cameron and the like), this is just another way of saying, “God hates fags.”

I received a communication from a man in Uganda who has been imprisoned for being gay and committing gay acts. Uganda is continually trying to pass a “Kill the Gays,” bill that would impose capital punishment on homosexuals and long sentences on those who harbor and/or support them.

Blogger lady with “the best blog ever on same sex marriage,” you would be appalled by this on the one hand, wouldn’t you? Yet on the other hand, you would call this poor soul in Uganda a sinner. You might try to save his life so you can have him repaired into heterosexuality. Because as you say, “God never created a homosexual.”

You say you do not like Fred Phelps. I say you are more dangerous than Fred Phelps.

And as for your post about “SSM,” I say it is the worst blog ever on the topic.

Readers and commenters, please note: I will delete any opposing comments to this post. This post is not a democracy; this post is to express my horror that there is an entire population of religious zealots who are more obsessed with queer people than queer people are with themselves. So, feel free to comment if you are to be supportive, because support is what I need right now.

Women’s History Month Ain’t Over Yet!

Journal of Women's History
Journal of Women’s History (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For those of you who missed the short article I did on activist Urvashi Vaid for Women’s History Month, you can find a link to the story below.

Thank you! I shall return with more stories soon.

http://www.lesbian.com/womens-history-month-activist-urvashi-vaid/