Archive for December 2010

Happy Holidays (+ an Awesome Shirt)!

Sunday, December 19, 2010 § 5

I just wanted to use this post to wish everyone a happy holidays, and to let you all know how grateful I am that you choose to spend some of your time reading what I have to say, it really means a lot to me.

But I also wanted to share something I’ve recently come across with you all. I’ve been shopping for gifts the past few days of my winter break, and I came across this shirt (see below) that I absolutely love, because the message it sends is so true. It really gets the message across that no matter our gender, sexuality, race, appearance or anything else, we’re all still human. We're individuals with thoughts, feelings and potential, and that’s something important to remember.

The shirt’s currently on pre-sale with an estimated ship date of the 21st, so it’s pretty unlikely it’d make it for Christmas, but you should definitely order one anyway! New years gift, anyone?

human shirt

An Open Letter to Joseph S. Blatter, FIFA President

Tuesday, December 14, 2010 § 3

Dear Mr. Blatter,

On December 2nd, your organization announced that the 2022 World Cup would be held in Qatar.

Many in Qatar were unsurprisingly ecstatic, though others worldwide were slightly more skeptical. Reading about the choice, I came across a quote by Hassan al-Thawadi regarding his country that would see to assay any doubts:

We are a very, very hospitable place that welcomes people from all parts of the world," he said. "Bringing the World Cup to the Middle East now ... will showcase to the world that the Middle East is home to a lot of people, it's opening its arms to the rest of the world. In doing so, such misconceptions will be dissolved.

After reading this, I was glad. Though I’d of course prefer to have it in the States, I’m also pretty sick of Arab countries being portrayed as oppressive, backwards places. This was a great chance, I thought, for Qatar to have a chance to disprove that stereotype.

And then a story popped into my news reader, “Gays Will Boycott Fifa”, which quotes the Gay Football Supporters’ Network on their decision to boycott Qatar’s FIFA World Cup in 2022.

This decision was reached because homosexuality is illegal in Qatar due to Shariah law, and is punishable with up to five years in prison.

Mr. Blatter (and the rest of FIFA Executive Committee), when you decided on a good host country, did you consider the millions of LGBT soccer fans who would be considered criminals if the attended the World Cup.

Considering the decision of your 22 member committee, I’m going to hazard a guess that if you did, you quickly brushed them aside.

Even more egregiously, when questioned about the status of gay fans in Qatar, you joked that homosexual fans “should refrain from any sexual activities” that are illegal in Qatar. (video can be seen here)

Mr. Blatter, would you be so glib if your own liberties were at stake, if you were eligible to be lashed and locked up for having sex with a woman?

You then followed up those embarrassing words with a slightly more staid, “Football is a game that does not affect any discrimination. You may be assured … if people want to watch a match in Qatar in 2022, they will be admitted to matches.”

Okay, so LGBT individuals can attend matches. But can you guarantee their safety in the streets, or in their hotels? The World Cup is supposed to be a celebration of diversity groups of people, united through one thing-soccer. Does your vision not include members of the LGBT community?

Mr. Blatter, I understand your desire to broaden soccer’s reach across the world. But to do that at the expense of (what should be) basic human right’s, is irresponsible and foolhardy.

Unless you can guarantee that members of the LGBT community will be free from prosecution in Qatar in 2022, I will reluctantly participate in a boycott of the 2022 World Cup, and will encourage my peers to do the same.

Honestly, I’m not sure quite sure if you can fix this at this point. But there’s a few things you can do. Pressure Qatar to be hospitable to all human beings, like it claims. Retract your tactless remark. Make contact with an LGBT organization to ensure this doesn’t happen again (suggestion: gfsn)

And most importantly, apologize to the millions of LGBT soccer fans that you overlooked or ignored when this imprudent decision was made.

Sincerely,

Kyle Albert, a disappointed, 17-year-old, soccer fan.

We Can’t Afford to Compromise Some Rights in Pursuit of Others

Wednesday, December 8, 2010 § 1

Gay men come in all shapes and sizes, both literally and figuratively. Some gay men may express more masculinity in their lives, while other’s might express more femininity (with loads somewhere in-between), and there’s nothing wrong with either. One of original tenets of the gay (now LGBTQ) right’s movement was the freedom of self-expression.

Which is why it bugs me so much when some members of the LGBTQ community express their desire for other members to “tone down” their self-expression. They think that some gay men are flaunting their sexuality, whether it’s by dressing in drag in a pride parade, talking with a “gay lisp”, or breaking gender norms.

A common argument is that by acting in a way that is not heteronormative, gay men are hurting the “community’s” case for rights like being able to serve in the military (DADT repeal) and the right to marry.

This attitude is pretty much exemplified in the following video, where youtube user tifroc expresses his viewpoint that other more “effeminate” men are a “detriment” to the gay “community” and shouldn’t be themselves because it might offend some moderates, and affect “his” potential right to marry. Essentially, he just wants gay men to act more “normal” (heteronormative) around the general populace.

I don’t know why he’s not wearing a shirt, but I do know that I wholeheartedly disagree with him. Maybe his idea of being gay doesn’t involve high heeled boots or purses, but to others, it might.

He makes the argument that “his” right, marriage, is more important “their” right, self-expression. Frankly, he’s being selfish.

People do have different priorities, I get that. But it’s one thing to choose which goals to push for the strongest, and another to try and suppress other’s freedom of self-expression, something many simultaneously exercise and fight for everyday.

In my English class right now, we’re reading Reading Lolita in Tehran, which is about an English professor’s (Azar Nafisi’s) experience during the Iranian revolution.

In her memoir, Nafisi describes how various revolutionary political entities press (and later force) her and other Iranian women to wear headscarves for, essentially, the good of the revolution. They lose the right to choose how to express themselves. In the revolutionaries minds, the headscarf was simply inconsequential compared to the “fight against the satanic influence of Western imperialists” (pg. 165, for those following along at home).

I hope that the connection is clear. The headscarf is analogous to stiletto heels, painted toenails, or any other sort of expression an individual would like to engage in. No one should be forced to wear or not wear a head-scarf, just as no one should be forced (or kept) from donning a dress and marching in a parade.

Self-expression should be a basic liberty for all, and should not be sacrificed, no matter how grand or noble the cause that’s being pursued is.

The LGBTQ community has so few rights, that to let go of one’s that’s been achieved, (at least to some extent) is simply foolish. I completely support the fight for gay marriage, DADT repeal, and the passage of ENDA. What I don’t, is compromising the rights of self-expression to do so.

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