ronkempmusic

Let's work together against bullying and help bring the teen suicide rate down to zero

Posts Tagged ‘United States

A Culture of Hate

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It’s been said many times that this “war” that’s going on for equality, to end hate and intolerance, is nothing new.  We know from history that this is true.  History has provided us with instance after bloody instance of how hate permeates our culture.

As a reminder of some of the examples of extreme hatred and intolerance in recent history, it wasn’t really that long ago that a man named Hitler set out to exterminate anybody who wasn’t like himself.  It wasn’t that long ago when blacks had to ride on the back of the bus, were lynched just for being black, or couldn’t even vote.  I remember those days, actually.

I remember, as a very young boy, maybe 6, living in a small, backwards Virginia city called Portsmouth.  This was back in the early 60s, so racism was rampant there.  I was riding my bike farther away from home than I was allowed to, but I was a 6 year old boy.  Since when do THEY listen!?  As I went to ride across an intersection, this royal blue ’64 Ford Galaxie with a white top attempted to make a left turn.  We both screeched to a halt in the middle of the intersection.  The driver was a middle-aged white man with dark sunglasses.  We sat there in the middle of the intersection for what seemed like an hour, to a 6 year old boy, just staring at each other.  I was staring because I was 6 and didn’t know any better.  In addition, he was staring at me, so I figured it was what I was supposed to do in return.  However, thank God I was born with good intuition because, even at that early age, my young gut told me that this guy was dangerous.  Eventually, he peeled off past me and on down the street and I continued on along my way.  I saw him hang a hard right at the next intersection, and my gut told me that was not a good thing.  Sure enough, as I neared the approaching corner, which had a gas station on it, there was that very same 64 royal blue Ford Galaxie 500 with the white top.  My heart raced.  Thank God for my young intuition!  As I approached the car for a second time, the man with the menacing stare from moments ago lept from his car and lunged towards my 6 year old back with what had to be a 12″ dagger.  Already sensing that he was going to try and harm me, I was able to speed past him just ahead of the blade meant to tear into my back.  This man was willing to kill a 6 year old boy for no other reason than the fact that he was black!

Of course, there’s a much longer list of instances of pure hatred and narrow-minded, fear-induced intolerance.

Today, we’re in the midst of yet another struggle of right vs. wrong, good vs. evil, love vs. hate.  The LGBT community’s battle for equality and acceptance is, for sure, today’s Civil Rights Movement.  And, just as the case with that small 6 year old black kid in southern, racist Portsmouth, VA, there are people one “the other side” of the battle who have so much hatred and intolerance in them, they would use extreme measures rather than see us achieve simple equality.  One only has to look at the level of violence against members of the LGBT community to get a sobering snapshot of just how intense this battle truly is.  Watching from the sidelines are tomorrow’s LGBT community:  the LGBT teens.  Watching with the hope that we’ll win this war so that they will be able to simply live their lives happily, safely, and with the one they fall in love with.  We can’t let them down.

A regular reader contact me recently.  Inspired by the recent blog post about Daniel Zamudio, and himself a writer, he sent me a poem that needs to be shared.  It fits seamlessly with the emotion of the day and with the theme of this post:

If history had gone another way
Non-whites would be second class citizens
If history went another way
Jews would  still be in death camps
If history went another way
Gays would have been shot on sight
If history went another way
Hate and fear would control the hearts of leaders
So tell me now!
Tell me if you condone of such hate
Tell me now!
If you wish this upon others
Tell me now!
So I can sleep at last
Or lie in my bed  waiting for the nightmare of hate to become reality once more
TELL ME NOW!
If you so wish to kill or harm such a person
For little more for their religion
Their race
Their love
TELL ME NOW!
So that I can have a clear path ahead of me
Tell me now
So that when the time comes
I know where to stand
Tell me now.
Because as I witness hate I shall not stand idle no more.                           Written by Devin Callan

We cannot afford to stand idle.  Not now.  No more.  Each voice needs to be heard.  Our message needs to be clear.  Hitler was defeated.  The Civil Rights Movement of the 50s and 60s was won by the black community.  Today’s Civil Rights Movement focuses on the LGBT community.  It’s a battle that can, and must, be won.

The Values Tour

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Ok, this is going to seem as if I’m stepping from under the bullying/teen suicide umbrella.  However, in the grand scheme of things, it’s really not.  It’s actually bullying on a much grander scale, and it’s sanctioned.  And, it’s because of people like this that the LGBT teen suicide issue is on the front burner.

Pop quiz:  Who is Art Pope?

Art Pope is one of the most influential political money men in North Carolina and a close national ally of the billionaire Koch brothers.

Art Pope is a North Carolinian with lots of money.  And, he uses that money to fund Republican anti-gay groups around the country, including the two groups who are doing the grunt work for the North Carolina swing of this tour.  I do everything in my power to keep from getting political with this blog.  However, sometimes it’s impossible to avoid.  First, let me say that I live with a Republican, devoutly Christian woman whom I’ve known since high school, and she is absolutely nothing like the mean-spirited, hate-filled, narrow-minded Republican “leaders” we have running for our country’s top office today or their followers.  So, this is certainly not a condemnation or attack on all Republicans and/or Christians.  That said, this entire lot of “contenders” is a very dangerous group of people.  And, anyone who disagrees need look no further than this video.  I’ve said it here before that if any of these candidates were to happen into the White House, they would plunge our country back to the 1950s.  This trailer will give you a better idea of what I’m talking about.

One candidate has boldly stated during his campaign that if he wins the presidency, he will make all existing same-sex marriages illegal.  Maybe it’s just me, but I think there are many, many more important things for a candidate to be obsessed with besides who loves whom.  Imposing ones biased views on the nation is not part of the job description of President of the United States.  I’ll stop there.  This topic gets me really heated!

There was a comment left on the facebook blog page today that, I thought, was quite telling:

…look at your country’s history. “Enough of thinkin’ everything that you’ve done is good”, just saying (in Rufus Wainwright’s words). Here in Germany a politician who makes homophobic remarks would have to step down the next day. We have a gay Foreign Minister and Berlin has a gay mayor. In the US homophobes can become governors and run for president.

Wait.  I thought we were supposed to be the “world leaders”!!!  Enough said.

Back to Art Pope.  Mr. Pope is funding what’s called the “Values Bus Tour”.  It’s an anti-gay marriage campaign, really an anti-gay campaign, that started in October and is slated to go nationwide.  Ok, for those of you chomping at the bit to scream First Amendment right at me, save it.  I’m well aware of that.  I’m not going to suggest that he needs to be stopped.  His views are dead-wrong; however, He’s entitled, under our Constitution, to his views.  And, whether I agree with them or not, he’s also entitled, under our Constitution, to voice his opinion.  I get that.  However, under that same Constitution, I get to voice my opinion:

 These are extremely dangerous people.  In fact, they are extremists.  To be sure, one of the Republican presidential candidates is PART of this “Values Bus Tour”.  AND, HE WANTS TO LEAD OUR COUNTRY!!!  It is my opinion that it’s totally okay to have your differences.  However, for a person, or a group of people, to not only believe that their opinion is THE ONLY opinion that matters but try to shove THEIR opinions down a whole nation’s throat is beyond reprehensible.  To spew hatred in the name of God will get you a ticket to Hell much faster than my being gay will get me there.  And, to that end, in accordance to the Bible that these maniacs love to wave in everyone’s faces, only God can judge me.  Therefore, if by chance you’re right that I’ll go to Hell for being gay (and, you’re NOT!), it’s NOT your place to condemn me there.  That is between me and God.  Worry about your own eternity.  I’ll stop there.

One of their members had this to say about LGBT teen suicide:

…gay teens kill themselves because they know that they’re “abnormal”.

Worse, he does “fundraising around the idea that gay kids are immoral and telling them otherwise is ‘disgusting’.”  Oh, and did I mention that they take their message of hate to Christian high schools?  What feeds the bullying that we’re seeing in schools against LGBT, or even suspected LGBT teens?  Hatred and intolerance.  And, where are they learning that from?  Keep in mind that one of the members of this group of extremists is running for the Presidency of the United States!

My whole issue, and I point I’ve raised before, is that we need to a.) keep increasing in numbers…and conviction; and, b.) speak up and be heard.  Every single voice is important.  If you look at the comments on the blog about the “Values Bus Tour”, it becomes obvious that there really ARE people in this country who agree with this type of backwards, narrow-minded thinking.  For the record, though, there were real people, back in the 60s, who vehemently opposed the Civil Rights movement, then, as well.  However, the people who opposed the oppression continued, undaunted by the oppressors.  It was a hard-fought battle.  Lives were lost.  But, in the end, it was worth it.  Well, the struggle continues.  The battle line is drawn.  To win this fight, and I wholeheartedly believe we will, we need voices, voices, and more voices.  We need people who are not afraid to stand up for what is right.

Lastly, if there’s any question as to how all of this connects to LGBT teen suicides, I’ll simply say two words: Anoka-Hennepin.

Edmund Padilla Needs Your Prayers

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We’ve heard the old one-step-forward-two-steps-back theory.  Right now, in this first week of 2012, it feels as though we’ve omitted to one-step-forward part of the equation.

Nineteen-year-old Edmund Padilla, of the Phillipines, was scalded by boiling water by his father when he came out as being gay.

This throws everything out the window.  All the talk of educating the adults and parents.  Tossed.  All the talk of “It Gets Better”.  Hurled!  Etched in Edmund’s mind now is “it doesn’t get better”.  He was rejected violently by his own father.  Worse, he’s now been scarred, both emotionally and physically, for life by the very person who created him.

The question has been asked several times this week:  “when will it end”?  My answer has been consistent:  “It will start to change when we stop TALKING about it and start taking action”.

For now, as Edmund lies in  burn unit in the Phillipines, we pray for his recovery.  It’s going to be a long, painful road.

Then, we focus our attention on the monster of a father, drunk or not, who did this to ANY human being, not to mention his very own flesh and blood.  We demand that he is brought to full justice for his actions.

And, last but certainly not least, we understand that this is no easy task.  There truly are sick people in this world, people who would condone this type of violence towards the lgbt community. (remember the failed Michigan bill and the current bill in Tennessee that would SANCTION this type of behavior if passed)  In everything we do, we MUST make it clear that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.  Not by other teens.  Not by school administrators.  And, certainly not by the parents.  Zero tolerance means just that.

Tennessee Still Doesn’t Get It

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Ok, didn’t we just go through this with Michigan?  Following the failed lead of Michigan, Tennessee has a proposed bill that would make it ok to bully gay teens.  Or, as they self-righteously worded it: they are more interested in protecting “…those expressing religious, philosophical, or political beliefs…”  than they are in protecting gay teens.  Or, as they preposterously put it, they really DO want to protect kids from bullying, but they don’t want to “…create special classes of people who are more important than others.”  These are ELECTED officials!!  Officials that We The People put into office by virtue of our votes.

I would hope that every parent of lgbt teens in Tennessee will band together and, not only defeat this proposed bill before it even gets started,  start a grass root movement to get the person(s) responsible for even introducing such incredibly hateful, and potentially harmful, legislation in the first place.

Once again, we’re forced to look reality squarely in the eyes and acknowledge that the change that’s needed starts with the adults.  It’s an embarrassment to our “developed”, “civilized” society that we have elected officials who clearly, honestly believe that it is absolutely alright for your lgbt kids to be bullied as long as the bully is doing it in the name of God.  I don’t know about you, but it scares me in a deep place that there are people of power who believe this is a right and righteous decision.

Thank God (the loving God, that is) that there’s a huge army in place to combat madness such as this.  Collectively, we were able to get a similarly worded bill reworded in Michigan.  Now, we must focus our attention to Tennessee.  Whatever it takes, we have to make sure that this bill never even reaches the floor.  The Jacob Rogers’ of Tennessee are counting on us.

Religion, Homosexuality, and Suicide

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I just finished reading an entry from a fellow blogger that moved me to tears.  And, I strongly suggest that everyone reads this story.  See, religion nearly cost him his son.  Thank God he didn’t succeed.  Ironic, huh?

I promised myself from the beginning of this blogging venture that I would do my damnedest to keep religion out of this.  It’s hard.  When you see people like Michele Bachmann constantly ranting in the media against gays, (and, today’s story is a doozy!!!), it becomes increasingly harder.  People of her ilk are extremely dangerous because they’ve become so consumed with their belief and ideology that there’s no room for anything other than what they believe.  That’s a dangerous place to be.  Life is so many shades of gray.  Kept out of the limelight as this woman runs for the highest office in the entire free world is the fact that her husband runs one of those “clinics” that “cures” gays.  Where was he last week when I had a cold?  These “clinics have been known to drive people to suicide.  And, the scary part about that is that “they’re” ok with that.  In the eyes, in the heart (sic) and soul of these “believers”, if you’re gay or lesbian, you SHOULD burn. (did I say she wanted to become our President?)

I relate to this lunacy completely.  I was born into one of those 5-day-a-week church-going families.  I was also born gay.  Once my mother passed away, the rest of the family effectively died, as well.  I have a sister who lives literally 5 minutes away from where I’m sitting this very moment, and 15 minutes away from where I live.  I have not seen my mother’s daughter since Thanksgiving 1985!  All of my aunts and uncles and cousins also soundly rejected me, as well.  Orphaned.  HATED, in the name of the Lord.  I survived.

Here’s the real deal, and you’re free to agree or disagree with me.  Either way, my view here is unflappable.  Today, there are people who disguise themselves as Christians who are as dangerous to the mental and emotional well-being, not to mention safety, of members of our society as any terrorist could ever be.  When you have a pastor ordering his congregation (Grace Fellowship Church in Fruitland, TN) to beat a gay couple trying to enter the church; when you have Westboro Baptist Church, pastor and congregation, carrying out their mission of hatred; when you have a Presidential candidate pushing anti-gay rhetoric so fiercely that the rate of gay teen suicides in the district she represents is greatly higher than in any other part of the state, you know that we have a deep problem.  Fruitland?  Heh heh heh.

It’s okay if these people don’t “accept” me.  I couldn’t care less.  I accept me, and I know that God accepts me.  And, everyone is entitled to their own opinions and beliefs.  Supposedly, that’s one of the beauties of living in the United States of America.  Supposedly.  However, when these people start attempting to ram their beliefs down our collective throats, when these people start committing acts of violence against us, when these people start showing up at our funerals as we mourn and say goodbye to our loved ones, the line has to be definitively drawn.  Enough hatred!

The irony here is that God is love.  That’s what I was taught.  These people, disguised as Christians, are preaching exactly the opposite.  They’re spreading hatred and intolerance in the name of the Lord. (who REALLY needs to fear Judgment Day?)  I’m reminded of a quote from Gandhi:  “I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians.  They are so unlike Christ.”  Amen.

 

Legislated Hatred

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See, we really don’t have to look too very far to figure out two very important things as we redouble our efforts to combat the atmosphere hatred and intolerance in our country, that same atmosphere that fosters and supports the bullying which leads to suicides:  1.) there’s no doubt where these young people get their intolerance and hatred from, as I’ve been saying; and, 2.) why so many young lgbt teens feel such a sense of despair and lack of self-worth.  When you have a PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE denouncing the validity of gay-ism period, and effectively telling a lesbian teen that she is defected, when you have an ELECTED PUBLIC OFFICIAL admitting to making anti-gay slurs on her facebook page, both the bullies and their victims are deeply affected.  The bullied gain vindication for their acts of ignorance and violence.  They gain the sense that it’s ok because they see adults in power denouncing the very people they victimize.  Their victims hear, once again, that their lives are essentially invalid.  They learn a sense of being lesser-than-whole.  They get to see with their own eyes that, according to far-too-many adults (in many cases, adults from their own household), they will never be able to fall in love, marry, and live happily with their chosen spouse.

This is 100% unacceptable, especially in a day and age where we’re seeing our young people end their lives because of the intolerance, hatred, and the violence that comes with it.

Written by Ron Kemp

December 3, 2011 at 8:54 pm

The Good….

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In the grand scheme of things, this is a battle that’s been fought for as long as I can remember.  In the ’50s and ’60s, it was the Civil Rights movement.  That torch was passed on to the Women’s Rights movement.  And, here we are today.  Same fight; new warriors. (well, on one side of the battle, at least.  If you look deep enough, I’m thinking you’d see the same core institution on the OTHER side of the battle in all of these cases.  Makes you wonder…)

This battle for acceptance, gay rights, gay marriage, tolerance, ending gay teen suicide all fits under one big rainbow-colored umbrella.  Our army has some strong leaders.  Fighters.  When you have a 14-year-old openly gay student taking on the school board, that’s a fighter!!
In seeing and listening to young people like Graeme Taylor gives you the sense that, through the darkness, there really is a bright light at the end of the tunnel.  The message here for young people is it can and will get better if you just hang in there.  Pass it on.

Written by Ron Kemp

November 27, 2011 at 4:06 pm