Want to learn how to hit BIGGEST WOAH you could ever HIT?! Welcome to the HOW TO. Do you ever find yourself hitting the woah to laugh at your problems that happen in your everyday life? For example, getting the wrong order at a fast food restaurant– “WOAH”. Dropping your phone and the screen cracking– “WOAH”. Getting an STD from an ex who cheated on you– “WOAH XL”. There are people out there who face these exact problems, but are impacted 100 times more by it than the average person. And it’s because of the fear of who they are. Their minds are enslaved by the overall fact of their own existence. These people are members of the LGBTQ community, and they’ve definitely been hitting the BIGGEST WOAH since the beginning of time. How do they hit the biggest woah you ask? Well the next bullet points will tell you how…
- Facing a Stigma
- Dealing with Social Isolation
- A State of Poverty
- Major Health Disparities
- Hardships with Sexuality and Sexual Expression
- Barriers to Utilizing Existing Services
- Higher Chance of STDs, STIs, and HIV/AIDS
The bullet points represent all the WOAHS this community faces on the daily and it’s not just one day out of the year this is for their whole of lifetime. These are just a few of the issues people in this community face not to mention the legal aspects of our lives. Legally the LGBTQ community has been forced to be in hiding until 1967 when the SCOTUS ruled in favor of overturning homosexuality being illegal. Could you imagine doing that hiding who you are because it’s ILLEGAL,the outright A U D A C I T Y. Another huge WOAH that we as a country have overcome is the fact of letting same-sex marriage happen, in 2015 is when the SCOTUS allowed for this community of humans to have this fundamental right that we as Americans are granted. For 239 years heterosexual couples had this right and the LGBTQ community had to hold back and oppress themselves to avoid being persecuted. Can we say WOAH XXXXXXXL? Yes I think we can because imagine trying to hold in who you are the years of gut wrenching torture of not being able to love who you love. My respects to the activists and souls lost in this persecution of the LGBTQ community and their biggest expression of the WOAH CHALLENGE.
Preventing HIV in four easy steps
Ready in: 20 minutes
- PrEP (brand name Truvada)
- Step one: Knowledge
- The most important thing to remember is that HIV is no longer the deadly disease it once was. Now of course if left untreated HIV can have devastating effects upon the body. But if you’re smart, careful and conscious of the risks then you will be fine.
- Step two: Always, always, always use a condom or dental dam and never share needles
- Now I know you’ve probably heard this a million times, and there’s a reason for that, Condoms and Dental Dams work. 99% of all transmissions of HIV come from either unprotected sex or the sharing of needles
- Do note that lambskin Condoms are NOT effective at preventing the transmission of HIV. Only latex condoms are proven effective at preventing HIV transmission.
- Step three: Protecting yourself with medication
- If you are in exceptional danger of contracting HIV, whether by being in a long-term relationship with an HIV+ person or through some other means talk to your doctor about PrEP
- PrEP is short for Pre-exposure Prophylaxis. Which is pharmaceutical speech for it’ll stop HIV from transmitting to you.
- PrEP is highly effective in preventing the transmission of HIV ONLY when taken consistently and as prescribed.
- Step four: What to do if all else fails?
- Firstly, do not panic, if you suspect you have been exposed to HIV within 72 hours go to the emergency room and ask about PEP
- PEP stands for Post-exposure Prophylaxis and it has been shown to be highly effective at stopping HIV from taking hold within the body as long as the medication is started within 72 hours of exposure and continuously taken.
While this was a bit of a silly format for such a serious topic. Preventing HIV really is as easy as making a pie or cake. It is no longer the death sentence it once was. If you take all of the precautions you can there is a negligible risk of transmission.
The symptoms of HIV are hard to distinguish from those of the Flu. The symptoms include night sweats, fever, muscle aches, rashes, sore throat, and general fatigue. As well as being very similar to Flu symptoms HIV symptoms do not always manifest in everyone.
If you are worried that you have contracted HIV all STD clinics have a quick test that detects HIV in as little as a minute.
Most importantly if you even suspect that you have been exposed to HIV within the past 72 hours go to the emergency room and ask about PEP do not wait.
Never use a needle that was previously used by someone I don’t care if it was your uncle Jacob’s insulin needle DON’T DO IT.
In today’s America, 2015, we live in a world where the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender community is under constant attack, scrutiny, and discrimination from intolerant religious fundamentalists who take refuge for blatant acts of hatred behind the constitutional protections of the First Amendment. In the same free country, at this same time in history, neo-liberal progressives along with the far-left mainstream media are at war with America’s traditionalists who simply wish to preserve the rights guaranteed to them and uphold their moral values unlike the “anything goes” policies of current day Europe. Are you with me? Here’s what I’m getting at: every coin has two sides, and in this day and age, if you want to effectively advocate for anything, you have to start by being wiling to step out of your self-consumed idealistic bubble of how the world “should be” and have the modesty to embrace the idea of negotiation. Otherwise, there’s not much that distinguishes you from the rowdy, screaming, angry protester picketing outside on a street corner except for your common exercising of free speech. And that said, I’m speaking directly to folks on both sides of this issue.
Facts & Discrimination
At this point, I’m going to assume that by now we are all aware of the issues transpiring within our country, particularly in Indiana with regards to business owners turning away LBGT people on the precedent that it’s against their religion and it’s their first amendment prerogative to do so. Let me begin by establishing some facts on the issue and by that we can further delve into this topic and hopefully come away with some productive conclusions.
According to various sources:
- As of 1993, there are 21 states which have enacted Religious Freedom Restoration Acts which ensures the notion of “religious freedom” for citizens is protected (NCSL 2015).
- Contrary to the former, the ACLU illustrates that currently 21 states have passed non-discrimination laws based on sexual orientation, 18 of which have anti-discrimination laws against sexual orientation as well as gender identity (ACLU 2015).
- To gauge where we the country stands on the gay marriage issue from a comparative approach, today there are 37 states that recognize same-sex marriage in addition to the District of Columbia, 11 states (including Texas) where pro-gay marriage court cases are pending, and only 2 states in the U.S. that have effective gay-marriage bans and lawsuits have been filed (Freedom 2015).
These facts shine a light on how split the American public, or legislatures are on the LGBT rights. Much like segregation experienced by African Americans in the 1950s and 60s, the LGBT community has faced its fair share of inequality and have had to fight tooth-and-nail politically to accomplish the progress that they have today. It is an absolute violation of human rights when this demographic of Americans citizens are denied the privileges and rights that are enjoyed by other Americans. It is similarly discrimination to fullest extent, and the only difference that distinguishes this issue from the segregation issues of the past, are the specific people being targeted which exposes the irony that perhaps the Civil Rights Act of 1964 failed to include the words “sexual orientation.”
In opening my article, I pledged to be objective and empathetic towards both sides of the issue. In doing so, I’d like to shift our attention to the matter of religious freedom of expression. As you’re already aware, our First Constitutional Amendment grants every U.S. citizen the right to freely practice their own religion uninhibited by Congress or the government. Following this is the Free Exercise Clause, which specifically states that “opinion, expression of opinion, and practice were all expressly protected.” (Findlaw 2015) This law serves as a model for our society’s tolerance of religious differences and the celebration of those individuals who believe different from us. It’s not a tool to oppress just as it’s not a device to degrade or demean. This hypocrisy is completely apparent to me when opponents of religious freedom acts are intolerant of private business owners who feel completely uncomfortable with engaging in providing particular services to patrons that starkly contrast with their moral and religious beliefs. And as if that we not enough, hard-liner leftists wish to penalize those owners who refuse service. That idea in itself is extremely radical and specifically discriminatory towards the rights of private business owners. Now that we’ve looked at the full-spectrum of debate, we’re brought back to square one.
As mentioned earlier, discrimination of any form by way of gender, race, religion, ethnicity, age (over 18), and sexual orientation or identity cannot and should not have a place in today’s society. Likewise, private business owners should not be forced to provide “particular” services to patrons that starkly infringe on their constitutional rights. What do I mean by particular? Well, let’s assume private business owner John Smith owns a bakery. A homosexual couple enter into his place of business and ask for a cake to be made with their intention of serving it at their wedding. John Smith has no right to encroach on the couple’s privacy, their right of the 14th Amendment, by interrogating them with questions as to why their cake ought to be made or for what purpose the cake will serve. Under that same constitutional amendment (14), that couple also has legitimacy to be in John Smith’s store, as they are U.S. citizens who employ “equal protection under the law.” John Smith, assuming that the couple is homosexual, makes it clear to them at that point in time that he can bake the cake, but for reasons of “personal interests”, he will not be catering to wedding. In addition to that, he can “restrictively” decorate their cake. John Smith is not forced by law to apply suggestive figurines, endorse names or apply suggestive phrases. He is simply compelled by federal law to bake the couple a big nice beautiful cake and to not discriminate them in any way made apparently obvious. A contract is then formed and owner & customer are both benefactors.
That is a gloriously idealistic portrait of how things could be. It’s really how things should be. In all reality, we presume that the homosexual couple would probably not go to John Smith’s store in the first place. If they had no choice, at the very least they know that they wouldn’t be discriminated against. What I’ve attempted to do here is provide you a situational example of what constitutional law and LGBT equal rights would look like in a 21st century America. The extreme supporters for and against this polarizing issue will not and are not ever going to come together to compromise. It’s not a perfect solution, but I can guarantee that it’s better than what we have now. I strongly advocate for the creation of federal legislation that bans discrimination of the LGBT community in public and private businesses while protecting the basic religious freedoms of public and private business owners. What kind of bill is that? You may ask. It’s a bill that the gives LGBT citizens the right to basic services offered by public and private businesses alike, specifically outlined for avoidance of discrepancy, and offers the LGBT people certain but perhaps restrictive services bound to the confides federal guidelines. In other words, LGBT are provided equal and fair services of public and private business so long as they do no blatantly impede the religious views of those businesses. I’m asking you today to join me in advocating for a cause that is actual obtainable. Fight for something that has a breathing chance and that people will actually listen to. In 2015, small, progressive steps is the key to how monumental change can be made. This idea in itself may seem arrogant or blasphemous, however when you are advocating for a middle-of-the-road solution, there’s always going to be backlash. In a perfect world we could all get what we want, but as for now, we must live with all live together regardless of our differences, and continue to strive for the equality of all humans while preserving the constitutional laws that got us here. This is not a matter of state’s rights but rather a matter of universal human rights and civil liberties.
By Brandy Kunze
Across America same-sex couples are being unfairly treated when it comes to their rights. While some states allow same-sex couples to marry, even these couples aren’t offered the same incentives as heterosexual couples married in the same states. One example of a couple treated unfairly due to their sexual orientation is April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse of Michigan. These nurses and licensed foster moms have been together for 10 years. They have three children, two of which were considered special needs for a period of their childhood, and they are great, loving parents to all of their children. Sounds like a normal family, right? Wrong. Michigan law only acknowledges marriage between one male and one female. This couple performed a commitment ceremony in 2007 which some might consider to be the “alternative” to marriage but, that is not the case. Legally married citizens receive more benefits than we even think about and commitment ceremonies don’t offer these same luxuries. For instance, Michigan and many other similar states prohibit two people whom are not legally married to adopt children. That means that even though these two, DeBoer and Rowse, have jointly raised their children from infancy, only one can have legal rights to the child. This restriction started their case in the Michigan court and have now brought it all the way to the Supreme Court. This case is finally bringing to light all the discriminatory rights which are given to only heterosexual couples. “There are 1,138 benefits, rights and protections available to married couples in federal law alone,” and most of them same-sex couples aren’t eligible for. Gaymarriage.procon.org and amnestyusa.org/our-work/issues/lgbt-rights/marriage-equality have both created lists of some of the rights unmarried couples lack. I have used these lists to create a list of the challenges same-sex couples face including:
- Prohibiting a partner from making decisions on a partner’s behalf when she or he is sick;
- Prohibiting a partner from visiting a partner’s child in hospital;
- Preventing couples from sharing equal rights and equal responsibility for children in their care;
- Preventing a partner and children from receiving employment-based benefits and being covered by health insurance;
- Preventing inheritance from a deceased partner going to a surviving partner if he or she dies without a valid will.
- Denying some people the option to marry is discriminatory and creates a second class of citizens.
- Denying the option of filing a joint tax return to reduce a tax burden
- Denying US residency and family unification for partners from another country
- Denying protections if the relationship ends, such as child custody, spousal or child support, and an equitable division of property
- The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the US Department of Labor also recognize married couples, but not domestic partners, for the purpose of granting tax, retirement and health insurance benefits.
- Denying marriage benefits will incur an additional $41,196 to $467,562 in expenses over same-sex couples lifetimes
These are just some of the rights which same-sex couples are excluded from. Now, you are probably thinking what about the states which allow same-sex marriage? While it is a start, federal law does not consider these marriages which means that their rights are very limited. Couple which have the same hopes for their relationships as similar heterosexual couples are denied their chance for equality. This isn’t a fight for gay marriage, but the chance for marriage equality! What can we do? SUPPORT EQUALITY FOR ALL! Think about it, have you ever seen an African American whom is C.E.O or even manager of a company? Are you a woman who has ever voted in an election? Better yet, have you seen an interracial couple walking down a street and not thought it was unacceptable? Times have changed and we have evolved as a country for the better. Each of these are rights which have previously been prohibited and now are rights we feel we deserve. So what about them? Straight or gay we must all give homosexual couples the chances and the freedoms for which they deserve. Love doesn’t require two genders, we all love and are loved. It is our turn to help them get those rights and create families and relationships like the ones we are able to create. Until Federal law states that marriage is a union between two people, same or opposite sex, there is no justice.
When I first started to think about the idea of going to college back in the high school years, I thought that it would be this great experience where everyone goes wild and lets loose, where they make mistakes and discover who they really are. I developed a picture of college, a school with a breathtaking campus, the students friendlier than ever, almost overly joyous, where everyone and anybody was accepted for who they were, gay, straight, Muslim, atheist, black or green. I never thought that I would find out that there would be a moment where I would be reading about a school creating AND approving a bill that would be taking away funding and support for any student body organization.
This past week, throughout the LGBT community, there has been drama going on with A&M, one of the biggest public universities in Texas, dealing with a bill that I would only imagine to see at a state or national level: GLBT Funding Opt Out Bill. What the bill does is “allow students to choose not to pay portions of their student fees to specific university services that conflict with their religious beliefs.” The bill was originally created to deprive the LGBT community at A&M by cutting off the average $100,000 of funding for the GLBT Resource Center that come from the student fees everyone at the school pays in their tuition. This fee that every student pays is about $2 a semester, an amount that is so minuscule that it just mind boggles me as to why the student government would want to polarize the student body on campus and even people that are keeping up with the proceedings.
This GLBT Resource Center provides a number of resources that are to help and aid the LGBT A&M community, like with issues about sexual orientation and gender identity/expression, advocacy, leadership, and visibility. The center is a vital place for the communities, especially for those that are dealing with serious, life threatening situations, like bullying, identity issues, etc. Centers like these have created a safe haven for many individuals all around the US.
Though there have been great strides in the fight for homosexuals’ right to marry, we still have a long way to go to attain federal legislation in the United States. Opponents of gay marriage fear that if it is legalized, the institution of marriage will no longer be seen as relevant to society. Already, people’s attitudes toward marriage are changing, broadening, all across the nation. Progress comes, it always does. But it also creeps along at a snail’s pace, pushing against the inertia of a long history of bigotry. It’s always been like this, but does it have to? Can we not take the reins of progress and steer more quickly to our ultimate destination? If numbers in support of gay marriage are so high across the country, why haven’t we seen the momentum of such a monolithic force in practice like we saw in the 1960s? More unity among our citizens can only serve to strengthen our unity as a society.
In such divisive times, it’s rare to see an issue reach a tipping point of support in one direction the way this issue has, particularly across every demographic. This growth is unprecedented, and should be capitalized upon. So what is the argument for the other side, those who oppose? Do their arguments have merit? Surely there are reasons why marriage and union have been denied to over 60 million people in our country. Well, more than half of the opponents of gay marriage say that it is against the Bible and that homosexuals’ “detestable acts” are an affront to God. They quote Leviticus 20:13 — “They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own hands.” Yes, these rituals so many of us cling to have some pretty black and white literature on the matter. And while many religious moderates seek to downplay these messages as outdated sections of their books, the fact is that these words are printed in every Bible a believer clings to. This issue runs deep, its origins tangled up with the gnarled roots of religion in America. But should we leave such an essential human right in the decrepit hands of the Bible’s laws? As church attendance diminishes and support for gay marriage continues to increase, it appears the oldest opponent to equal rights is finally starting to crumble.
This is why it’s time we made ourselves heard and allow this country to make that last push. Yes, equal rights are inevitable, but why wait for the natural flow when freedoms are denied to our neighbors today? We can push this issue to the edge of national consciousness, and make an acute and disruptive push for equality for everyone, ahead of the curve. Because if not everyone in this country is free to be happy, no one really is.
by James Darden
When you hear of a rich church group in the United States sending aid money to a developing country in Africa, it usually sparks a sense of Dudley Do-Right goodness. Sadly, what is going on with many American Christian charities is nothing short of disgusting. Affluent groups across the United States are directly funding violent hate groups and supporting the very controversial Ugandan “Kill the Gays” (KTG) bill.
The KTG bill is a legislative proposal that would further criminalize homosexual activity in the country. The bill makes it possible to enact the death penalty for homosexual acts, and even goes as far as punishing people who simply know gay people or support LGBT rights. In a country where homosexuality is already illegal, it is frightening to think of this as a real possibility.
Reverend Kapya Kaoma is a Ugandan native who has been forced into exile for his show of support for LGBT rights and his demand for equality, love, and peace for all. Uganda is a predominantly Christian nation, with 85% of the country’s population claiming to follow one denomination or another. Reverend Kapya Kaoma discusses the need for global intervention to protect small minorities in this very religious country.
Uganda is also a developing nation in great need of financial support; this combination of need and faith has led to a scary reality for members of the LGBT community in Uganda. Christian fundamentalists in the United States have been taking great advantage of the situation. Feeling the power once held here in the U.S. slipping through its fingers, the Christian church is trying to get its foot in the door in developing nations in Africa. These groups wish to remove what they call immoral activity, and want to impose biblical law. Groups like the International House of Prayer are sending millions of dollars to sponsor missionaries who generally do good work, ensuring clean water and food are provided to the needy.
However, issues arise when missionary groups that are feeding and clothing you now turn around and tell others that immoral sinners are destroying their society and that these “degenerates” have no place in the world. Nobody wants to bite the hand that feeds them. These organizations are directly funding the destruction of civil rights in Uganda and are ruining the lives of so many. The 500,000 LGBT people living in Uganda are scared and being forced to decide between living their lives freely or possibly facing the death penalty.
In the NY Times segment Gospel of Intolerance, the chants of angry mobs shouting “Kill the homosexuals! Kill them for God!” show just how real the danger is. As long as the United States and the Christian church influence the region by imposing intolerance and bigotry, the nation is headed for dangerous times…and all because of religious fundamentalists who failed to impose their religion on society in the United States.
by Aaron Munoz
LGBT rights are hard to find in the Middle East. Most ME countries, with one exception, have harsh laws against homosexuals and even greater laws for a homosexual caught in sexual acts or sodomy. In a number of countries, death is a common occurrence as punishment. If you thought freedom was a universal right, you were mistaken.
A number of ME countries, including Iran, Yemen, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia, call for penalty of death for any person who openly identifies as gay. Despite these countries having democratic governments, or at least democratic qualities, it is seen as reasonable to put to death gays on the grounds of immorality or perversion. In many instances, homosexual persons have had to flee their homelands for safety. This is particularly true in Iran, where President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has stated on several occasions that the Islamic Republic has “no gays” within the borders.
In the territories controlled by the Palestinian Authority such as the West Bank, where homosexuality is legal, there are still no rules to protect homosexuals from gay bashing, beatings, floggings, or other forms of persecution and harassment. In the Gaza Strip, controlled by Hamas, homosexuality is illegal in all instances for men. Women are excluded from this but again, there are no laws protecting them from harassment, persecution, or abuse.
Many in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have fled or immigrated to Israel. Israel, although it does not sanction homosexual marriages through its religion courts, recognizes same-sex licenses from other countries. Israel also recognizes same-sex relations that file under cohabitation, or common-law marriage. Israel also allow gays to serve openly within its military and allows gays to hold positions of authority in the military. And, Israel is the only country in the region to host annual Pride Parades, mainly in its largest city (Tel Aviv) and the capital (Jerusalem). These parades have drawn historically big numbers — close to 100,000 participants in some instances.
Egypt, when ruled by the dictator Hosni Mubarak, at one time refused to acknowledge that there were homosexuals in Egypt. Whether before and after the 2011 Tahrir Square uprising, no politician has voiced support for LGBT rights in the country. Instead, many politicians call for executions and institutionalization or imprisonment of the gay community as forms of punishment.
What can be done? Contact your representatives! Highlight the issues with them and let them know that you won’t support any type of partnership or trade agreements with countries that continue to deny even the most basic rights to LGBT citizens. You can also donate to several LGBT advocacy groups. The International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission, for one, advocates human rights around the world for many people who face discrimination or abuse based on their sexuality. There are many more groups like these, and they’re easy to find. Do your part to raise awareness and help bring human rights to all people.
In today’s modern society, the typical white picket fence family is starting to become harder and harder to find. Couples are waiting until their thirties to expand their family, women are not the only ones who stay home and take care of the house duties, and divorce rates are growing faster than ever. Through time, these aspects become factors as to why the standards of traditional families have become blurred.
With the help of numerous shows on prime-time television, we are exposed to the not-so-average families that are beginning to become more prominent within our society. One of the top comedies on television, Modern Family, showcases three separate families: a gay couple with an adopted child, an older husband with a younger wife who has a child from a previous husband, and the typical husband-and-wife-with-three-children-style family. These three demonstrate the out of the ordinary family that seems to maintain traditional family values that everyone strives for.
For example, the gay couple in Modern Family is still able to achieve the same as any other family, even though it may not be deemed as traditional. With the help of these gay figures throughout the media and entertainment world, there has been an increase of acceptance of the gay community.
Just within the past 20 years, the amount of advancements the LGBT community has made is impressive, yet slow. There are now nine states that allow same-sex marriage, to represent the 15.7% of the United States population that approves. Massachusetts was the first state to allow it, in 2004. The United States needs to follow in the steps of other large, powerful countries that have allowed same-sex marriage nationwide, like the Netherlands (2001), Spain (2005), and Canada (2005).
The key to making such progress for this LGBT issue is for the community to become involved and begin to voice their opinions. The most important community member in the United States, Barack Obama, has taken it upon himself to express his view on the issue and announced his unwillingness to stop his support: “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law,” the President said, “for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal, as well.” We live in a country that was founded under the principle that “we are all created equal.” Now, it is up to us to make that statement come true for everyone.