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Everything I have to say that doesn't belong on my Silverlight or O'Reilly  blogs.

 

Jesse Liberty - Silverlight Geek

 
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About Me
Jesse Liberty (JESSELIBERTY)

Currently working full time for Microsoft as Senior Program Manager, Silverlight Development Division (Silverlight Geek). O'Reilly Author.

You may be looking for my Silverlight Blog or my O'Reilly blog in which case, boy are you in for a shock!

This blog started out targeted at the Queer community with a particular emphasis on issues relating to those most marginalized. But then I needed a place to talk about other stuff. So here we are. It almost goes without saying that the opinions I express here are  my own, and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Microsoft, O'Reilly, or anyone else. Not even me, after a while..

 

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Personal stats: Born 7/10/1955, Brooklyn, NY
Married 1983. First child1989, second 1995.
Lafayette HS Brooklyn. Not a happy experience.
Dropped or kicked out of many schools, BA: SUNY Regents Degree
Hunter School of Social Work (OYR) - indefinite leave of absence
Self-taught programmer, writer, etc.
Now living in the suburbs of Cambridge MA

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Mon, Sep 4 2006

October 11 - National Coming Out Day

 

October 11 is National Coming Out Day. HRC has a number of useful resources, including their newly updated resource guide (in .pdf format) as well as books and links.  Stay tuned for more, soon. 

As part of their previous coming out project, they published my story.  Telling your own story is a good way to celebrate Coming Out Day. For why it is important to tell be out, I'm reprinting (and slightly updating) one of my prevous articles, here...

Come Out Loud

W hen I was a teenager I came out, and was promptly beaten up. About a year ago I came out, again. Loud. Annoyingly loud. Bumper-stickers, buttons, Web site, the whole deal. And it is making my friends and family crazy, and their response is making me crazy.

The two questions I get most are, "Why do you feel you need to announce your sexuality; isn't that a private matter?" and "Okay, the issue is important to you, but why should it be important to me? I'm straight, and there are bigger issues (terrorism, the economy, etc)

Why do you feel you need to announce your sexuality?

Let me start by noting that when queer people talk about being "out," we are not making a statement about our sexuality. We are making a statement about our identity, and we are talking about political equality and about civil rights. It may sound like we're talking about sex, but actually we're talking about the right to marry and to adopt, and the right to serve in the military, and not to be fired, evicted, harassed, beaten and killed.
     
People often say "I don't know anyone gay." Yes you do. You just don't know that you do. There are queer people in every county in the United States, but most are still cowering silently in the closet.
     
There was a theory once that if every queer person in America turned purple overnight, many laws would be changed instantly, as straight America came to see how integral we are to society. We are generals and captains, and CEOs and doctors, and cops and firefighters, and teachers and authors; and we are your children and your friends. But you can't see us, and so we are invisible.
And if gays are invisible, then bisexuals are non-existent. Even the gay press falls into the trap of thinking that bisexuals are "hedging" or "semi-closeted" or that our identity is "fluid" or that we're "going through a phase." Enough of that; there are a lot of folks who can love both men and women, and in America that makes you queer, just like being multi-racial makes you not-white. We should stop "passing" and start handing out leaflets. Being married will not protect you and should not be a closet: come out now. Come out to your family, come out to your friends, come out loud and clear.
     
"Okay, the issue is important to you, but why should it be important to me? I'm straight, and there are bigger issues (terrorism, the economy, etc.).

This statement, made to me in different forms by relatives and friends, is the real reason for this essay. On the one hand, I certainly understand your position; we're all busy, there are many issues in the world, you can't solve everything.
     
But queer rights are the civil rights issue of our generation. Only queer Americans are legally and systematically denied the fundamental rights afforded to every other citizen; and all across America when we come out we are being fired, our children are being taken from us, we are being kicked out of our housing, excluded from clubs and institutions, beaten and killed.
     
It may be that because there are no sit-ins and mass demonstrations, no scenes of dogs being set loose on marchers, no Reverend King or Malcolm X to make speeches demanding equality, that our movement for civil rights has not caught your heart and your imagination.
But look around. In the last election 11 more states amended their constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Some went much further and tried to pass bills essentially outlawing any civil arrangement for gay couples. The administration still follows the discredited Don't Ask/Don't Tell policy even though countless Pentagon studies have shown that it doesn't work, isn't needed and is harming our national security.
     
Duly elected United States Senators publicly describe homosexuality as a "lifestyle of death" and accuse homosexuals of having an agenda that begins with recruiting children. Deadly abstinence programs, filled with misinformation and proven to increase the risk of AIDS continue to be taught in our schools, paid for with our taxes. The Senate Majority leader stated on national TV that he "isn't sure" about reports that 50 percent of queer teenagers have AIDS and "isn't sure" if AIDS may be transmitted by sweat or tears, despite the fact that he is a medical doctor and must know that these are destructive and hate-mongering lies.
     
AIDS has, in fact, become a world-wide epidemic, with over 60 million people infected with HIV. This epidemic could have been curtailed, drastically limited, perhaps avoided, had the responsible government agencies provided even a small fraction of the funds they applied to combat Legionnaires' Disease or Toxic Shock Syndrome, but they consciously decided to look aside since the only apparent victims were the most marginalized members of our society: queers and drug addicts. By the time the epidemic spread to straight society, it was too late. One of the greatest plagues in world history was created in part by homophobia.
     
In Florida gay couples still cannot legally adopt. In 49 states they can not marry. In 36 states it is legal to discriminate against queer Americans in housing and employment. In more than half the states there is no law or policy against harassing or discriminating against gay adolescents in school.

What I'm trying to say is that you cannot sit this out. This is not an optional issue, this is a moral imperative. People are being hurt, lives are being destroyed, children are being separated from their parents, jobs are being lost, politicians are being intimidated, policy is being distorted, soldiers are dying; all because of a deeply ingrained, pervasive prejudice that is expressed savagely by the radical right, and quietly and through turning a blind eye by the silent majority. You cannot be indifferent to the increasing homophobia in our country; you cannot ignore the use of queer-bashing language by our president and by members of the Senate and look me in the eye and say you care about me, or that you care about equality.

 
Mon, Sep 4 2006 | Print | Email | Permalink

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