Thursday, June 30, 2005
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
I mean, really...what else do you need? (via Boing Boing)
Suffice to say, I owe enormous thanks to Bruce Garrett, Terrance Heath (did I spell that right this time?) Abby and her dad, Wappy and Pamela Ol' Cranky without whose support you'd be looking at a different page right now.
Your continued support and assistance is always appreciated, so I'll leave the donation link in this post for the time being.
In the next 24 hours or so, I should be updating Scenestars with new music from Wolf Parade and Supergrass. Be sure and check that out. I'll not be far away from here, though, and I'll be checking in.
Monday, June 27, 2005
It was at the rally where I was informed that the State of Tennessee Department of Health has completed its investigation into allegations of child abuse at Love In Action/Refuge. According to my best information, the State of Tennessee determined after its incredibly in-depth and lengthy week-long investigation that there was no child abuse occurring at LIA/R. A phone call to the TN Dept. of Health has not been returned as of this writing. News of this story will likely spread quickly through the blogosphere, but it should be done with the caveat that I did not hear this from anyone at the TN Dept. of Health directly.
This should not be seen as a defeat because it is, after all, only one investigation. This particular investigation, as many of you reading will know, is very difficult to prove -- we are talking about proving psychological abuse after all. There are a series of ongoing investigations by watchdogs, concerned citizens, and others regarding LIA/R's practices in regards to children.
More news as events warrant. For now, go visit Peterson's blog where he recounts what will forever be known as "the vegan bbq nacho experience".
Saturday, June 25, 2005
When: 4:30-5:30pm Monday June 27th,2005
What you can do: Attend the rally and/or publicize this event to your friends and family and get in touch with your local politician here.
Queer Action Coalition invites all interested members of the public to show their support for the youth going through the Love In Action program Refuge. Refuge is a program that aims to change the sexual orientation of youth and adults through "Bible based reparative therapy". Come and show your support on Monday for open and honest dialog and for all people affected by this issue.
This rally will be fun!! We also encourage all those that couldn't make it to the previous rallies to come to this one. The more people the stronger the message.
4780 Yale Road, Memphis, Tennessee, 1.5 miles north of I-40 on Austin Peay Hwy
Click here for directions.
See you there! (via Queer Action Coalition blog)
Next week, a piece will run on the radio program This Way Out detailing how the news of the story spread through the internet. Myself, Peterson Toscano, Terence Heath from The Republic of T, Michael Cranky of The Disenchanted Forest). The show is carried on a number of NPR stations, here's hoping it reaches many people. I've heard the story and the accuracy is remarkable.
To everyone who has been a contributing force in spreading news of LIA/R's activities around the globe, give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it.
Good work everyone. No wait, eff that -- Great work.
First off, I am here to report that Peterson Toscano's one-man show which I told you about here is a must-see show for anyone interested in finding out more about the ex-gay movement. It is alternately gut-clutchingly hilarious and gut-wrenchingly disturbing, but it is performed rather seamlessly. I have to hand it to Peterson Toscano, he's a very brave soul to bare his life before an audience. People will take away different important pieces of information about the ex-gay movement, about LIA/R, and get a first-hand account of what life on the inside of the program is like.
Peterson spoke with great candor regarding his experiences to the audience and answered questions after the show last night. One of the more interesting things he shared was regarding a BBC film crew that was allowed inside Love In Action's headquarters. In January of this year, apparently, LIA/R opened its doors to their camera crew who was following a man struggling to "recover" from his homosexuality. Peterson will, hopefully, read this and correct me where I am wrong, but I believe he stated that the man who was inside the program could not bring himself to stay more than four days.
The man's first-hand account of what went on inside the facility included relating the presence of a 16-year-old lesbian female in the program. It was not clear from what Peterson said as to whether or not the girl was there against her will or, more importantly, if she was part of the residential program (something which Love In Action claims they do not allow). It was also related that teenagers who are inside the program are required to participate in group "therapy" sessions with adults -- some of whom are dealing with issues of sexual addiction such as bestiality and pedophilia. What this ostensibly means: LIA/R is asking teenagers to equate their homosexuality with issues like bestiality and pedophilia
Peterson, at the time, was unaware that they allowed minors into the program and sought verification of this startling development. He contacted Exodus International (the world leader in ex-gayness) who, in turn, referred him back to (guess who?) John Smid. Via a chance encounter, Peterson ran into Smid in the Atlanta airport a few weeks back (literally days before the story broke here). Smid confirmed to Peterson that they had been accepting minors into the program against their will but did not elaborate on the presence of the 16-year-old female. Further, in regards to group sessions, Smid related that while teenagers are in some of those sessions I mentioned, adults do not actually talk about the issues directly -- only their feelings.
Peterson said, and I have to agree, "Folks at the BBC? Now would be a good time to let someone see that footage, please."
After the show, a whole crew (including the QAC, me, and one Abby Lady Cutie Troublemaker) headed to R.P. Tracks and loaded up on the equivalent of 11pm vegan heaven, sweet potato fries and BBQ tofu nachos. If I understood correctly, it was learned that many of LIA/R's statistics on homosexuality come from a group called (surprise!) International Organization of Heterosexual Rights. A quick Googling turned up this website which, after reading it, begs the question: I thought heterosexuals already HAVE all the rights?
If you are in Midtown this afternoon or tonight, I cannot recommend highly enough Peterson's show and showing your support to the MeDiA Co-op. It's FREE -- I mean, that's the lowest price in town, right?
Friday, June 24, 2005
Fresh off my shift at a world-famous hamburger restaurant, I ran into some dude on the street who insisted on having his picture taken with me. After frisking me for fresh, hot, small, squares, he asked me to remind you -- come out this weekend for a chance to check out his world-class one man show at the MeDiA Co-op! He'll be there both tonight and Saturday night. Oh, who is that guy next to me? That's Peterson Toscano, and he's going to make you laugh so hard, your aunt Bertha's weave will come unglued! See you tonight!
FRIDAY JUNE 24TH 8pm, and SATURDAY JUNE 25TH 8pm
@ The MeDiA Co-op 1000 S. Cooper Memphis, TN http://www.mediaco-op.org
PETERSON TOSCANO ( http://www.a_musing.blogspot.com/ ), a former Love in Action client, will be coming to Memphis to perform his one-person play, "Doin' Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House".
THIS IS NOT TO BE MISSED! PLEASE HELP SPREAD THE WORD!
See for yourself what happens behind the doors of America's zaniest ex-gay residential program! Through five characters Toscano takes you on a tour of the Homo No Mo Halfway House, a 12-Step Christian program that attempts to save men from the snares of homosexuality through bizarre rules, a masculine resuscitation regime and brain numbing reconditioning. Based on Toscano's real life experience floundering in various Ex-gay ministries, he weaves together humor, program jargon and outrageous eyewitness accounts to form a piece that is hilarious, poignant and inspirational.
"The play is intelligently written, hysterical at times, poignant, and most of all, deeply spiritual because of its underlying themes of self-examination and self acceptance...Toscano's acting skills as well as the format of the piece recall the one-woman shows of Lily Tomlin and Whoopi Goldberg whose character studies unearth the neurotic complications in all of us."
-John W. Sykes, in newsweekly
SATURDAY JUNE 25TH @ 4pm
Perterson also will be doing "Talking Trash in the Homo No Mo' Halfway House --Language, Life and Lies in the Ex-Gay Movement", a more lecture-stylized piece.
For more info http://www.homonomo.com/ http://www.mediaco-op.org
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Tenn. investigates ex-gay camp
Teen's blog leads to outcry, charges of abuse at unlicensed facility
Jun 23, 3:41 PM
The state of Tennessee has begun an investigation in response to allegations of child abuse at Love in Action, a Memphis facility that advertises homosexual conversion therapy for adolescents, according to the state department of health.
K. Daniele Edwards, a spokesperson for Child Services at the Tennessee Department of Health, confirmed an investigation is underway but declined to comment on the details. She noted that she presumes the Love in Action program would require licensing by the state.
Love in Action is not licensed by the Tennessee Departments of Health, Mental Health, Human Services, Child Services or Education, according to Rachel Lassiter of Gov. Phil Bredesen's communications office.
Refuge, Love in Action's program for adolescents, became the focus of public concern earlier this month after a Bartlett, Tenn., teen who uses the blogger name Zach, posted online entries that say his parents had responded to his coming out as gay by sending him to a religious institution to be converted to heterosexuality.
"Emotional abuse is difficult to prove in the state of Tennessee," said Pamela Dickey, director of the advocacy center for Childhelp USA in Knoxville. "You have to document that the child is undergoing depression or suicidal ideation, that he can't sleep, or can't eat."
Officials from Love in Action had appealed for "tolerance" of their program at a June 16 news conference.
"It is our spiritual conviction that sexual behavior outside of heterosexual marriage is considered wrong in the sight of God," said John Smid, the program's director, who describes himself as "ex-gay," according to a partial transcript of the news conference.
"This program is operated on the will of the guardian or parent. We will work with the minor children as long as they are not overtly distracting to their own program or the program of others," Smid added. "If it is shown that the client is overtly treatment resistant, we will work with the parent towards alternative options for their care and overall relational health."
Blogger E.J. Friedman said that he had been corresponding with Zach via e-mail since March and became alarmed when he saw that Zach had begun to write that his world was coming to an end and that his parents were isolating him.
"When I saw Zach had written in his blog, 'all I can think of is killing my mother and killing myself' I felt that clearly something needed to be said about the program," Friedman said.
No word from teen
Word of Zach's situation quickly spread around the blogosphere. By press time, more than 1,000 messages of support had been posted to Zach's blog and an online petition demanded that he be released from Love in Action. Comedian Margaret Cho contributed a message of support.
But Zach has not posted to his blog since the first week in June and sources contacted by the Blade would not confirm Zach's full name. His parents also could not be identified.
Morgan Fox, 25, who said he was a friend of Zach's, said he believed Zach was in a two-week Refuge program.
Meanwhile, a group called the Queer Action Coalition has begun daily demonstrations in front of Love in Action offices to raise awareness of the dangers of "ex-gay" therapy. (via New York Blade)
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
There's no time to write letters or start a media campaign: but folk in the states below have just enough time to warn their senators, who are all on the sub-committee. People of Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin - it's up to you!
There's a sample script after the phone list. Remember: be cool, collected and polite. Most of these senators won't know a thing about the flag, until one of them makes it a throwaway amendment tomorrow. Make sure their ears twitch when they hear "broadcast flag" today.
ALABAMA Senator Richard Shelby (202) 224-5744
ALASKA Senator Ted Stevens (202) 224-3004
HAWAII Senator Daniel Inouye (202) 224-3934
IOWA Senator Tom Harkin (202) 224-3254
KANSAS Senator Sam Brownback (202) 224-6521
KENTUCKY Senator Mitch McConnell (202) 224-2541
MARYLAND Senator Barbara Mikulski (202) 224-4654
MISSOURI Senator Christopher Bond (202) 224-5721
NEW HAMPSHIRE Senator Judd Gregg (202) 224-3324
NEW MEXICO Senator Pete Domenici (202) 224-6621
NORTH DAKOTA Senator Byron Dorgan (202) 224-2551
TEXAS Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (202) 224-5922
VERMONT Senator Patrick Leahy (202) 224-4242
WASHINGTON Senator Patty Murray (202) 224-2621
WISCONSIN Senator Herb Kohl (202) 224-5653
"Hello, Senator _________'s office"
"Hi, I'm a constituent. [Remember: Only say 'I'm a constituent' if you really are -- if you're calling the Senator from _your own state_] I'm registering my opposition to the broadcast flag amendment being introduced in the Senate Commerce Justice and Science Appropriations subcommittee mark-up on Tuesday, and in full committee on Thursday."
(*** You can give your own reasons for opposing the flag here. Here's a sample: ***)
"The Broadcast Flag cripples any device capable of receiving over-the-air digital broadcasts."
"It give Hollywood movie studios a permanent veto over how members of the American public use our televisions."
"It forces American innovators to beg the FCC for permission before adding new features to TV."
"It will prevent fair use of copyrighted works: critical review, and use of material in distance learning"
"This is an important issue which will affect all Americans, and should not be inserted in a large bill, at the last moment, with no debate."
"Please oppose the broadcast flag amendment. My name and address are ___________________."
"Thank you for your time."
Good luck! (via BoingBoing)
Update: You can now fax and email appropriation committee members for free at the EFF's action center. Do it tonight, or live with the consequences of a Hollywood veto over your PC forever.
The concept paper, released as a series of proposed algorithms, appear to do little more than offer built-in error correction to already existing BitTorrent technologies, a concept which Cohen has, since the creation of BitTorrent, consistently called "a dubious idea".
People wanting to have a crack at it are going to have to wait, though -- Cohen points out that Avalance currently amounts to what Cohen calls "vaporware", a technology idea with no known useful model in place for testing. You can read Cohen's LiveJournal on the matter by clicking here. (via Boing Boing)
Monday, June 20, 2005
2005 has been an exceptional year for new full-length recordings from a number of established artists and innumerable indies I've had the pleasure to hear. The year is only halfway over with, which means I've got six more months of gems to look forward to from a number of places.
Add to that our local music scene in Memphis being burgeoning and strong, I can't help but think I'm the proud owner of the luckiest set of ears in the world right now.
Over the course of the next few days, I'm going to try to compile a bunch of my personal favorites from the year in that "Stream And Listen" column. I'm starting off the foray with an album that will be on my top 10 list come years end, a band from the UK called Editors with their debut album, The Back Room. I wrote about it on Scenestars, but I don't think my words alone could do justice to the record. Hearing it, it's as if someone unearthed an amazing Echo and the Bunnymen record that was never released. Check it out for yourself.
I've got to get some sleep, I know there must be something I have to do tomorrow that I haven't done. Goodnight.
Sunday, June 19, 2005
The power of the internet is amazing. Seeing Margaret Cho's blog reminds me I have to thank every single person who has reached out to try and help Zach end his plight. You're an amazing group of people -- I hope we can all do something so this will not happen to more kids.
Saturday, June 18, 2005
Today's news is that our friend Zach is to remain in the program for 6 weeks at this point. John Smid could not wait to seize this opportunity to make an example out of him because, after all, now Zach is his pet project. He wants to be 100% sure he can get a result that he can parade around in front of the media, so he will spend the next six weeks breaking him in this facility to turn him into the clone that only his family can love. To Smid, he couldn't be more thrilled. He will start to claim, I'm sure, that there are suddenly people lining up to pay him to put their child through his "indoctrination" program.
His parents, for whom I asked mercy and consideration, are being complicitous with this intent. I no longer ask my readers to be meritorious towards them: someone please use the proper legal channels in place to put a stop to this right now.
One of the things people need to understand: there is a coalition who has been fighting this whole thing from day one. There is only one coalition who has been there since day one, and if you've been touched by this story then they need your support. They need for you to work with them.
If you have plans you'd like to execute, something you'd like to see happen, a course of action you think might be helpful in putting an end to all of this, it would be a good idea to write to them and find out how you can help before flying off the handle. BELIEVE ME, everyone is upset. Everyone is tense right now.
However, one of the things everyone here has learned over the last two weeks is that there is an effective way to deal with things and an ineffective one. When you concoct news stories from pieces of other stories, then create and attribute quotes to members of the coalition without even contacting them, you look irresponsible and you make everyone look stupid. Are you listening to me, you certain widely-read gay & lesbian news source?
Adding to the chaos have been a number of people who've decided to take matters into their own hands in regards to this tragedy without first considering what the potential outcome of their actions might be. People are acting because they are angry, not in spite of their anger. That's going to screw things up, folks.
To those people and/or groups, I suggest you get in touch with the Queer Action Coalition at email@example.com before you proceed with your plans.
To people in the community at large in Memphis, don't be scared off because of that big ol' "Q" word. Whether you're straight, gay, bisexual, lesbian, black, white, red, yellow, purple and polka dotted -- whoever you happen to be, your voices need to be heard. Community leaders, church leaders, people in the theraputic community, civic leaders -- now is the moment where you're called upon to do something that prevents the endangerment of a child.
It's not just up to me. It's up to all of us to just do even one thing. If everyone works together, we can all be a part of history in the making.
If we all work apart, nothing good can come from the chaos.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
(1) The press release calls Love in Action a "Local Ministry" then refers to itself as a "theraputic intervention". In the form people sign when they enter Love In Action, it clearly indicates that this is not a substitute for actual therapy. Is Love In Action a ministry or is it a form of therapy? Well, according to John Smid, it's both.
(2) When someone finishes the program and must engage in sexual relations with their loved one/wife for the purposes of procreation, is it done with lack of feeling? According to John Smid, that's a form of lustful behaviour.
(3) Where are the theraputic credentials of your staff? Well, apparently, they have one doctor (whom they paraded before us today) who has studied psychology and psychotherapy. Coincidentally, he's the head of the Christian Dentistry Association. Short version: someone on the board of directors is a dentist and he says what they're doing is fine. Remind you of any infomercials for weight loss or hair regrowth products you've ever seen?
One thing is certain: they can't decide which door they want to walk through with their arguments. People like this give Christianity a bad name.
You can check out the live coverage here, and an audio recording of the press conference is forthcoming. Stay tuned.
BTW, Zach's last day in the program is tomorrow. I hope he comes out just fine. If prayer is your sort of thing and you're gonna pray for someone tonight, pray for Zach.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Press ConferenceCould be they are trying to parade their "normalized" gays in front of the national press to prove that what they say is true. More likely, what this usually means is that something dramatic has occurred -- something, perhaps, like an ongoing investigation into a report filed today with the City of Memphis over allegations of child endangerment?
LIA will be hosting a press conference on Thursday, June 16, 2005 at 11 a.m. at our facility at 4780 Yale Road. For more information, contact Tommy Corman at (901) 751-2468 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
to download a Press Release, click here
Be prepared to hear more on this tomorrow. Welcome to the jungle.
Has anyone else noticed that the acronym for that group is L.I.A./R.?
UPDATE: You should read the press release. Here's an excerpt for you:
Local ministry calls for open-mindedness and tolerance
, June 15, 2005: Love in Action International, a Christ-centered Memphis-based international recovery treatment center, is calling upon the community to extend open-minded consideration and tolerance towards young people with same-sex attraction who are currently undergoing the organization’s youth program called Refuge. MEMPHIS, Tennessee
Controversy over an individual’s right to self-determination and choice in sexuality has recently been the subject of current debate. Also under assault is the right of parents to determine appropriate therapeutic intervention for minor children according to social and personal conscience. Community and youth leaders, as well as individuals, who have been through the Love in Action International program, will address these issues at a press conference being held tomorrow.
Oh good. I love a parade. Bring on the hot dog vendors and the clown car, the circus is in town.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
With much thanks to Miss Hellion, I was able to capture a few stellar moments from Drue Diehl's Birthday at the Hi-Tone last week. What with all the frenzy of the last week, I might have forgotten to upload the pics. But, now I've got a gallery online where I can stick pictures if'n I obtain them. I don't actually own a digital camera right now, but who knows? Maybe one of you nice people out there will donate a digital camera to me! Anyways, click here to see Drue's birthday in Technicolor. A great time was had by all.
Monday, June 13, 2005
The years of pilfering Michael's notorious goodwill by neer-do-wells, grifters, con artists, and people with an affliction related to celebrity have done much to interfere with the wunderkind of Michael Jackson's creative ability. It has affected his mental stability, his health, and yes, sadly, his career as one of the world's top performers.
The worst part, I fear, is that the verdict will not be enough to refocus people on Michael Jackson the artist. People in America don't seem to like anyone that has more money than they do, and people will use the same tired phrases to explain away the verdict -- "If I had millions of dollars, I could get off, too!" Michael's statements about sharing his bed with boys is, to people like you and me, way too repulsive to be considered acceptable -- "What other 46 year old man would you let share a bed with your child?" Too much has been said by people with an agenda, too many hard feelings have been pressed around, the sound bytes that people have picked up, convictions of the pundits and those repelled by the allure of Jackson the person will still seek to weigh him down. Can anyone tell me what O.J. is up to these days?
Michael's fascination with circus freaks, with P.T. Barnum, with what most of us deem as oddball and eccentric notwithstanding, is it such a stretch to see him as representing the sheer innocence that we each lose as we grow older? To see him as something more pure than we can understand? If we can believe that the people who have been around Michael Jackson over the last 46 years have a certain practical level of good judgement, there has to be a valid reason why reasonable people would behave differently around him than they would around anyone else. Maybe he's not such an evil, horrible creature after all.
Or maybe in his own mind, he is one of Barnum's freaks himself.
Part of me still resembles that kid rocking out to "P.Y.T." and "Beat It" in the dressing room. Part of me occasionally longs for that pizza party and my friends, most of whom I will never see again. But the way that I understand Michael Jackson will never be the same again.
It doesn't matter whether anyone ever thought he was guilty or innocent in the first place. The verdict is the verdict, and you're going to think about it whatever you thought about the whole damned thing before.
But wouldn't it be ok if we simply tried believing that there might be a love so pure in the world that it destroys all of our myths and notions about the worst in humanity?
Congratulations, Michael. On the off chance that the jurors were wrong about their decision today, maybe you should get some help.
But don't go to Love In Action for it, please?
Thanks To Mike Ditto From Janus Online -- Hey Media Folks In Memphis, John Smid's Quote Is Verified. When Does Your Story Run?
News media in Memphis were hesitant to run the quote on the 5, 6, or 10 o'clock news. But now, please hear me: you can run the story. According to Mike's comments at Ex-Gay Watch Blog:
I received the following in an e-mail from the editor:I can verify the quote attributed to John Smid, director of Lone in Action, San Rafael's ex-gay organization. An ex-member, then 24-year old Tom Ottosen recalled Smid's words while speaking with We the People's Dennis Anderson. At the time, Ottosen was grappling with suicidal thoughts and was considering leaving Love in Action.
So the quote is verified (i.e. it hasn't been altered since it was gathered), and should be given as much weight as any second-hand quote--not as much as a first-hand quote, but not discounted either. Nixon denied saying the things Deep Throat and other sources said he said, until the tapes came out and confirmed the stories.
Peggy? Darrell? Anybody? Are you listening? That means it's okay for our local news to quit playing mumblypeg with children's lives and air the quote. This sound byte should make it much easier to denounce conclusively Love In Action as harmful to attendees so that more people in our community and in the United States will become outraged. Thank you to all the local Memphis media for your support and unbiased reporting of this story.
I highly recommend a review of Love In Action over at Janus Online. Michael Ditto, thank you so very much.
Sunday, June 12, 2005
I would like everyone who has expressed anger with his parents to consider the possiblity of using some restraint when rushing to judgement. His parents are people whom I don't even know (nor do most people reading this).
Everyone who has ever been a teenager has had problems with their family. Some families choose to employ methods that you and I find to be archaic, inappropriate, or inconceivable to work thru their problems. Are they punishing their child for being gay, or is it that they simply don't understand it fully and made a rash decision?
I have no doubt that this program was chosen in conjunction with counseling by a pastor or other family confidant and not entirely by the family itself. This is a case which has brought that focus of the controversy to light: what we are dealing with here is a family matter.
One thing is certain in Zach's writing, and I want to emphasize it to you: in spite of his feelings regarding his parents' collective decision-making, he does not hate them and he urges all of us to do the same. After all the name-calling and threatening people on the internet have done, perhaps his parents are not the monsters. Maybe his parents are hard-working, church-going people who were lulled into believing, incorrectly, that the program they were placing their child into would save him from their perception of life as a homosexual. It is possible that they are just as fallible and human as all of us.
Since nobody has spoken directly with his family at this point (and how could anyone, as spooked as they are by the controversy), I am urging you to consider a different approach and think about this differently for a second. Perhaps we should approach this with a bit more love of our own, maybe give them the benefit of the doubt and say that it is entirely plausible that in their own world, they might not have the capability to farm out the resources that many of us have. Their ignorance to the thousands upon thousands of people whom this story has reached is purely unintentional. In order to imagine this horror, I still have to believe that his parents love their son and have no intention of harming him directly or indirectly; maybe they want what they deem to be best for him because they believe what they are doing is the right thing.
It's easy to think of them as horrible, evil people. What if we think of them as we think of ourselves: people trying to do the right thing for the well-being of their son? What if that's really all his parents are? Wouldn't you do anything so that your son or daughter could have the life you would want them to have?
As reprehensible as I find this one decision of his parents, and as one of the fortunate people whose family has mutual unconditional love, I don't know them. It's one decision made over the course of a lifetime as a parent. I have to at least consider taking the high road where his parents are concerned and instead focus on the irreparable damage programs like Love In Action are known to cause. I don't know that I can place blame entirely on them. What's that whole thing in the Bible about "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do"? Perhaps it comes down to one reality: maybe, just maybe, his parents have been lulled by the work of a charlatan, and his name is John Smid.
There are plenty of things we would all do differently if we had them to do over again. Just something for you to think about. I merely want to present a possiblity for all of us to consider. I am not taking a side in the matter with this posting. Your comments are welcome.
Saturday, June 11, 2005
Here's Some "Love In Action" For You -- Send Someone A Letter And Tell Them How You Feel.
UPDATE ON THAT QUOTE ABOUT "SUICIDE": I'm waiting on a confirmation from the paper that ran the original story that carried the quote in March of 1994. Smid claims he was misquoted, but confirmed all other details of the story. Now, why do you suppose that is? Sounds like someone's trying to cover up the fact they wrote a check with their mouth that their ass can't cash.
Start writing now
Email Address: Rep.marsha.Blackburn@mail.house.gov
Harold E. Ford, Jr.
Email Address: email@example.com
City of Memphis
Mayor Willie W. Herenton
Memphis City Attorney
Email Address: Tonjala.firstname.lastname@example.org
Memphis Chamber of Congress
R. Marc Jordan
President and CEO
Email Address: email@example.com
Executive Assistant to the President
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chief Administrative Officer
Email Address: email@example.com
Memphis City Schools Board of Education
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Deni C. Hirsh
Email Address: email@example.com
Patrice Jordan Robinson
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Hooks, Jr.
Email Address: email@example.com
Dr. Jeff Warren
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Carl Johnson, Sr.
Email Address: email@example.com
Tomeka R. Hart
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wanda M. Halbert
At-Large Pos. 1
Email Address: email@example.com
Sara L. Lewis
At-Large Pos. 2
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Office of the Honorable Al Gore
2100 West End Avenue
Nashville, TN 37203
Phone: (615) 327-2227
Fax: (615) 327-1323
For some reason, every time I reboot Windows XP Media Center Edition, it says "You must activate this copy of Windows before you log on. Do you want to do this now?" I hit yes, and it takes me to the activation screen. When the activation screen pops up, it says, "Windows is already activated. Click OK to exit." When I click exit, it logs me off.
I have Googled this until my head is about to explode. Every forum has a different solution that does not seem to work. Clearly, something is boffed with the activation on my product.
Does anyone have any earthly idea how to resolve this problem? Your help is greatly appreciated. Leave me comments, lets talk about this. I have two days before it becomes a serious problem. Barring fixing it, I'm going to have to reformat my hard drive and start over.
Friday, June 10, 2005
Please take a minute to update your links for information regarding these demonstrations. People who are planning to visit from outside Memphis, please send an email to email@example.com to contact the organizers.
IF YOU ARE PLANNING TO JOIN THE DEMONSTRATION: Please arrive no later than 8:30 AM any day Monday thru Friday of next week. The address is 4780 Yale Road.
Take Austin Peay past the Raleigh Springs Mall, take a right on Yale Road. The church is on your left at the next light. You can take a left on the street next to the church and park. It is a residential neighborhood, so when parking be sure and be considerate of the neighbors.
Driving Directions from Downtown Memphis
Driving Directions from Cordova
Driving Directions from Germantown
Driving Directions from East Memphis
Driving Directions from University of Memphis Area
Driving Directions from Southaven, MS
Driving Directions from Little Rock, AR
Driving Directions from Nashville, TN
Queer Action Coalition (OFFICIAL Site of Love In Action demonststrations in Memphis
The Flypaper Theory (Which Everyone Should Be Reading)
Metafilter - Linked to me June 10
AMERICAblog - John Aravosis
Love In Action Protest Forum
Psych Central Info On Ex-Gay Movement
American Psychological Association Info On Sexuality
Thursday, June 09, 2005
Our friend, without whose words this demonstration would not be happening, needs to see his friends. I understand everyone has jobs, I think that many of his friends are also minors, many without their own transportation. Add to that reality over-protective parents who have told their kids "stay out of it", and you've got the very people who should most be there unable to be.
His close friends and their parents who have been reading this, please hear me: you've gotta show up. Just show up once if you are physically able to. It's half an hour of your life that would probably mean everything to your friend/the friend of one of your children.
The great writer and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel once said, "In times of great human suffering, silence is the voice of complicity; neutrality, a crime." If you have any thanks for the fact that you are loved or that your children are loved, neutrality will yield any efforts at making a difference null.
If you are willing to act in spite of your fears, you will have done more than simply a good deed. You will have taken part in something which might save a young man's life.
He needs to see your faces, friends of his. At 8:30 every morning M-F until June 17th, you have a chance to let him know that complete strangers are not the only people who heard his cry for help.
The choice is yours to remain neutral or to say, once and for all, "I don't agree with this, and I cared enough to show up in person and let you know."
I woke up with the worst headache of my life. I could barely focus on anything. My head was swimming with thoughts of how far this thing has reached, with confusion about my role, and with the thought of a teenager trapped in the jaws of someone else's opinion about what love is.
But I still got out of bed and went.
I went to the protest today to see what was happening first hand, to be with the people who have been demonstrating every day this week. I just needed to see for myself what I was dealing with, to find out in what way I could continue to help. I came to the realization that beyond my simply being there and updating this blog with links, there was not much else that needed to be done. Things were moving forward.
I recognize today that the extent of this debacle goes far beyond one center in Memphis, far beyond one group proselytizing to the unwilling in the hopes that some of it would stick. My conclusions remained the same:
The use of rehabilitative technique to achieve a change in a person who, in the opinion of the American Psychological Association, does not have a choice, is a form of torture and abuse. It is akin to hypochondria, it is ineffective, and it is wrong. If someone seeks out this type of treatment, it should always be their choice. When the element of choice is removed, it becomes a violation of civil and human rights.
In the days and weeks to come, I'm sure we will all be hearing more about this. But if I just do one thing every day to further the cause of cutting off the head of this great Hydra with which I've been presented, I've achieved a goal. I encourage everyone reading to do the same.
Below, please find links to all resource sites that you would need to continue to follow, and feel free to keep checking here.
To the demonstrators, bloggers, journalists, friends, parents, and others visiting, I say thank you for caring enough to take the time. If you've already done something, thank you.
If you're trying to figure out what to do, all you have to do in order to figure it out is to do what these kids are forced to do every day: show up and ask someone.
Queer Action Coalition Blog (OFFICAL SITE for the Love In Action/Refuge Protest)
The Flypaper Theory (Which Everyone Should Be Reading)
AMERICAblog - John Aravosis
Love In Action Protest Forum
River City Mud Company
Psych Central Info On Ex-Gay Movement
American Psychological Association Info On Sexuality
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
At the heart of the controversy is an incident which occurred Tuesday when one of the young protesters was seen on the TV news by their father. The father, according to what I have been told, took away car keys, cell phone, and personal possesions of the protester in question. These items have not been returned to the best of my knowledge. This sent a signal to everyone involved to work at protecting the connections and identities of minors who are involved in the protest and, of course, that of Zach himself.
As I told the TV news last night, I am responsible for my words on the internet. When I put something out there for people to read or see, I'm inviting them into my head. I'm giving them a call to arms or some inclination as to what I'm thinking -- good or bad. Once the idea leaves my head, I know it's already been co-opted somewhere. Of course, I am an adult. I'm not subject to the same merit of protection that, say, a 16 year old boy is.
But the question I wrestled with privately and publicly: do I start censoring myself and trying to "un-ring" the bell once it has happened? How does that do any kind of service to Zach or his situation? Am I helping Zach by trying to initiate some kind of spin on my original story? Am I the jerk because I decided to post his picture and links to his blog on my page to allow people to humanize the horrors he is dealing with? Am I responsible for what happened to the young protester?
Unlike those who were involved in the protest those days, I agreed of my own free will to be filmed for the news -- solely because the cause itself has gained momentum and people wanted to know why. Were it not for the demonstrators being filmed and having that footage placed with television news, this probably wouldn't have happened. I think the best has been done to curb usage of that footage at this point & I'm not making a point that anyone does not recognize.
However, the protests do not carry the weight or intention that a demonstration should carry. This is why more people need to show up -- parents, kids, friends, teachers, pastors, whomever. Just being there for them is enough to let them know you care.
After many long discussions, I think that the entire process has started to come together. The people showing their love and support to those kids being taken to and from the center every day is extremely important to those kids. Though they may not know the extent of the support now, they know that something is going on outside on their behalf. If it were me, I would have to think it at least makes it far more tolerable to sit in those rooms all day with that knowledge.
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Protest Against Love In Action - Day Two - "I would rather you commit suicide than have you leave Love In Action..."
That quote came directly from the mouth of that man. So now I ask you, my readers: what will it take? Is this what it will take to get you to realize what is going on over at Love In Action? Protest day two appears to have continued in much the same way day one did. About 30 people showed up at the center to show their love & support. While people stood outside with signs and began to organize more effective measures (including plans to protest twice a day on Tuesdays and Thursdays), I made a few phone calls to some old friends.
I rarely if ever call on old acquaintances for help, but this story grabbed me far too deeply to simply write about it in my own column. I know the national media needs to know what is happening here & I have a feeling that we will be hearing more from them very soon. Emails were sent out to some of the best people I know of in terms of gay activism and media outlets. I'm not at the point where I can name anyone's name right now, but once they see this quote, I can't imagine those folks not being steaming mad.
Essentially, John Smid is using rhetoric employed by a number of other self-help programs and applying it to homosexuality. To someone coming to terms with their sexuality, this type of statement is both inflammatory and irresponsible. Someone needs to expose this man and his organization for the fraud that it is.
Here is a link to the story that ran last night on WMC-TV 5. You'll need Windows Media Player to open it.
By RACHEL KONRAD
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Seattle and San Francisco are the most "unwired cities" in America - top spots for computer junkies who send e-mail and surf the Web at restaurants, libraries or public plazas.
Metropolitan Seattle percolated past the San Francisco Bay area this year thanks to an abundance of Starbucks Corp. (SBUX) outlets, which have wireless "hot spots" where patrons linger over latte and laptops, according to Intel Corp. (INTC)'s annual ranking. Seattle also benefited from wireless access at its Pike Place Market and the Space Needle.
San Francisco finished second, thanks to wireless hubs at bars, convention centers, office parks and strip malls from Oakland to San Jose. Hundreds of residents build wireless access towers on their roofs, providing free connections for neighbors.
Also in the top 10: Austin, Texas; Portland, Ore.; Toledo, Ohio; Atlanta; Denver; the Research Triangle area of North Carolina; Minneapolis; and Orange County, Calif.
Santa Clara-based Intel ranked cities based on the number of commercial or free "Wi-Fi" points from January to April 15 in the 100 largest urban regions in the United States.
Short for "wireless fidelity," Wi-Fi delivers high-speed Internet connections through a small radio tower. About the size of a can of beer, the radio can provide access to any mobile device within 300 feet.
Intel, which makes chips for wireless devices, is bullish about Wi-Fi. But the newest survey shows the nation as a patchwork - not blanket - of access.
College campuses, technology hubs and even golf courses boosted rankings, while poorer urban centers trailed. Low-ranking regions included Jersey City, N.J.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Allentown, Pa.; Youngstown, Ohio; Bakersfield, Calif.; and McAllen, Texas.
Monday, June 06, 2005
That being said, I wholly support any action which results in changes that promote awareness of human rights violations anywhere at any time -- even when I cannot participate. Radicalism is merely a cog in the machinery of change, in my opinion. Radical activity resulting in direct and immediate change is generally not the status quo. Successful radical groups do not act in haste, they plan their actions carefully and skillfully. They know the enemy of their cause well before taking any action and, in some cases, are successful in achieving results.
Ok, why am I saying all this gobbledygook? Nothing makes me happier than to see Morgan Jon Fox quickly organize and assemble people to come to the aid and defense of our new friend. He is in a crisis situation and the most important thing that can happen to a person in crisis is to let them know that someone cares.
However, as the person who generated this story to The Pesky Fly, Morgan's call to action puts me in a difficult position. If I say that I think the action was done in haste, then I will be told that I don't support the cause. I will be said to be dismantling the cause or, in some way, portraying it as "stupid" to visitors.
On the other hand, if I say that the action taken today was done correctly and that I agree with the effectiveness of it, I'm lying to you and to myself.
One has to ask onesself if the purpose for calling attention to a cause is for personal glory or for the greater good. The very reason that I leaked this story to The Pesky Fly before blogging about it myself was that I wanted to instill the same upset I was feeling to someone within the press whose audience is much broader than my own and whom I know to be an ally. Initially, I thought to stay out of it altogether. Now, I feel a sense of responsibility to everyone I've gotten involved-- to my readers, to Morgan, and primarily to Zach and others like him.
Much of my thinking today is the result of my own choice to seek out self-help groups, to see things from a different perspective. The difference between my experience and what this young man is experiencing is the element of choice. Forcing someone into self-help has never been proven to be effective, and less than 5% of those who, by choice, are involved in the self-help groups with which I have been involved remain focused on the ideals of that self-help group for more than 1 year.
I'm grappling with all of these concepts meeting headlong in an issue that I have strong feelings about. Now I feel like I've been twisted every which direction, not really knowing what to say or do.
At the end of it all, there is the young man at the center of things. He is the person whom all of this is about. It's not about me or Fly or Morgan or anyone else. It's about a violation of his human rights being carried out in the name of Christianity or God. It's about granting him the freedom of expression to be the person he already is without fear of repercussion. It's about sending a message that this type of mind-numbing fundamentalist behaviour induces people to live in fear of themselves constantly.
You can pray for lies to become the truth, but no matter how hard you pray they will never be true.
I was just informed, moments ago, that the ACLU is on the case. For our friend's sake, I hope this makes his life better.
It stands to reason that people obtain positions of authority because of their ability to carefully weigh even the smallest of details. The sign of a truly great leader, co-worker, or business person is their ability to manage all facets of situations which arise with equal temperance and intellect.
All that long, drawn-out stuff is to say thank you to the folks at XL Recordings and Beggars Banquet in the UK for being understanding in light of some miscommunication.
Andy Gershon, who is a friend to this blog and to dozens of other music bloggers around the world for willingness to expand into new medias to promote his artists, issued a hard and fast response to the editor-in-chief at Hits, Leonard Beer. Click here to read the article on Coolfer's blog with more incendiary quotes. Below is the reprinted email in which Gershon says that the only thing Hits magazine has ever given to V2 is invoices. A worthwhile read and with thanks to Glenn @ Coolfer for the story.
Ain't we pals, anymore? You know, it is much easier to spread misinformation and be a pathetic golfer than it is to work at a record label these days. Lenny, let's face it and call a spade a spade. You got your facts wrong, not that you care about getting them right (the Moby record is actually profitable) and the Stripes record is set up quite well with a ship out of 600,000 records. Not that we are whores and trying to outsell Coldplay; we won't. They are a bigger band, but you know what? I don?t need to defend the label to you and you know why. You trash people that don't pay you. Pure and simple. You have run a business that has always played upon the insecurities of the executives of the record industry and it is about time you get called out on it. You and I have had these conversations about what exactly Hits ever delivered for V2, and the only conclusion I could ever come up with is invoices.
Isn't it ironic that the White Stripes new single has been in the top 10 at Alternative Radio for the past several weeks (according to factual reporting services like Mediabase and BDS) and it somehow isn't even listed on your charts? Could it be that since we are not paying you for the White Stripes that it somehow doesn't exist on your chart? Your tactics remind me of the mob's protection schemes, but the only difference is that with the mob, at least my garbage got picked up weekly.
You used to be nice and write nice things, WHEN we paid you. But in a difficult business environment you pay for services that get you results and thus, that is why you haven't received any money from V2 in the past year plus, and that is why we are profitable on many of our records. You are grasping to get every last dollar while you can, continuing to try to instill some sort of fear with your power of the pen and your so called influence with MTV and radio. You are nothing more than a two bit hustler at the end of the day, relying on strong arm tactics of fear in a very tough, transitional period in the music industry. Instead of working to make it a better place, you try to keep it at your gutter level. You are nothing more than an armchair quarterback, bullying through your paper-thin magazine and amusing website. Perhaps when your magazine eventual withers away, you can get a job at the New York Post.
Saturday, June 04, 2005
Meet Zach. While You're Enjoying Your Summer, He's Being Sent To A Camp Where They Make Gay Kids 'Normal' Again.
At first glance, he seems like a normal kid. He has lots of friends, he goes to school in Bartlett, he likes bands like The Killers, Josh Groban, Perfect Circle. This summer, he was probably looking forward to doing what kids do -- hanging out with his friends, maybe working, reading, video games...you know, regular kid-type stuff?
The only thing that makes him different is the fact that he's gay. Coming to this realization, he told his parents that he was gay. The news clearly rocked their Christian values and beliefs -- so much so that they made a plan. Zach went about his normal life for a while, never knowing that just around the corner was an intent -- that he would be sent to a camp where they try to use Christian beliefs to make gay kids "normal" again.
Christianity, if I understand it, is not about changing people. It's about accepting them for who and what they are even if you don't like it. To his parents, please remember that the only people who think of Zach as different are you. The only reason why he knows you think of him as different is simple: because now you're treating him that way. This type of thing should be considered child abuse.
Zach, for all the attention, seems to be M.I.A. right now. But he's checking in. Let him know you care.
UPDATE 6/7: Links removed. Thank you for your support.
Friday, June 03, 2005
What The Hell Is Wrong With These People? The Internet's Not Big Enough For The Both Of Us, WebSheriff.
Now, I don't know how people with no brains get hired to work for a company that peddles itself as an "On-Line Rights Enforcement" group -- but apparently they can. Anyone with any internet skills at all knows the difference between downloading an MP3 and listening to streaming content. But not these dimbulbs. Like regular police, they get a complaint and act upon it, frequently without doing any investigating of their own.
What's the end result? Well, you can't get to Scenestars by typing www.scenestars.net in your browser for a few days until we get it resolved. However, nobody says you have to type www before the domain name, do they?
The nice folks at V2 Records (who have been more than generous) were kind enough to work with me on making sure that the streaming of the record was timed to coincide with similar streams being offered by websites much bigger than Scenestars. Apparently, the people at V2 are much brighter than the people at Beggars Group, which leads one to wonder who at Beggars Banquet doesn't have the balls or brains to send me an email personally about something like this. Instead, they just pulled out the big guns like we're trading some huge inside secret. RELAX, FRANCIS -- the record is out on TUESDAY and you can already pre-order it. In fact, I put up links to allow visitors to do just that -- sending them to iTunes or Amazon to actually purchase the single or album for keeps.
Who is policing the police to make sure that the rights of people who are in compliance are not being violated? That's what I want to know.
What I'd really like to know is what Beggars Group is going to do when people like me stop promoting their artists for fear they are going to do the same thing again? I guess they'll have to find out the hard way how many of us are out here doing exactly that -- marketing their bands for free and asking nothing in return.
You want to put a stop to that? Be my guest. Just don't bitch when your label goes bankrupt due to a slump in sales caused by a tarnished reputation and a ho-hum catalog of has-beens. You label dicks need to recognize: we're the little guys. You keep pissing on us, you'll have nobody left to talk about your product but a bunch of over-privileged glam rags -- which, coincidentally, people like us little guys purchase and read!
I guess the only way to make a bully go away is to fight him head on. I've got my gloves on, let's fight.
I didn't like the other flyer so I made my own. Bah! BE THERE!
Thursday, June 02, 2005
Yeah, well, Crazy Eddie didn't know about the shady biz going on in the stockroom of that place, either. Neither did we, we just liked the fresh gear for the low-low. Regardless, if you're in the market for a digital camera, Brooklyn is *the* spot to do your buying. Check this link for pics and addresses of digital camera dealers in Brooklyn, yo.