Friday, July 27, 2012

Know Your LGBT History - The Jeffersons (a repeat)

This week, I was saddened to learn that one of my favorite actors, Sherman Hemsley, passed away. Hemsley will be remembered for his role as George Jefferson in the groundbreaking comedy The Jeffersons. However, many are not aware of the fact that for years, there were rumors about his sexual orientation. He had neither a wife nor children and most likely we won't ever find out whether or not he was gay, seeing that he was a private person.

In tribute, I am repeating the first episode of my Know Your LGBT History series. It focused on a 1977 episode of The Jeffersons entitled Once A Friend.

The episode was the first time I had ever heard or saw anything about the transgender community.

I say that it still holds up as a good episode after all of these years. A transgendered woman did not play George's friend but I still loved her performance. While she was definitely wanting to keep George's friendship, she did not take any disrespect.

If there is anything that can be seen as offensive in this episode, it would have to be the sequence where George tries to pass off a male employee as his friend. However, I don't think the sequence was making fun of the transgender community, but people's ignorance of the community:

Past Know Your LGBT History posts:

'Anti-gay parenting study blasted in audit' and other Friday midday news briefs

Controversial Gay-Parenting Study Is Severely Flawed, Journal’s Audit Finds - This is HUGE. When an auditor calls a study "bullsh@!," you just KNOW there is a problem.

 FRC now targeting public universities; trying to nix UL's LGBT studies program - It's not enough for the Family Research Council to speak against homosexuality. Now the organization wants to alter the curriculum of colleges in regards to gays.  

Around the country, students demand removal of Chick-Fil-A from campuses - Say what you will about Chick-Fil-A, you can't deny that this situation is heating up.  

Catholic Church Blatantly Discriminates Against Gay Couple In Property Sale - Religious liberty my tush! 

VICTORY! Florida Lt. Governor Apologizes For Comments About Black Women and Lesbians - BAM! 

Bookmark and Share

Kirk Cameron refuses to meet with lgbt youth

Kirk Cameron
This week, there has been some buzz on whether or not former child star and "born again Christian" Kirk Cameron will meet with a group of lgbt teens in New Jersey.

According to Pam's House Blend, 17-year-old Corey Bernstein, Co-Chair Garden State Equality Youth Caucus, sent him a letter asking for the meeting:

I am Corey Bernstein, age 17, a resident of New Jersey and co-chair of the Youth Caucus at Garden State Equality, the state’s organization for LGBT civil rights. I endured brutal bullying at my former school because I am gay.

Mr. Cameron, I understand you are visiting Ocean Grove, New Jersey from Friday, July 27 through Sunday, July 29 to speak to the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association. When you are in town that weekend, I would like to extend this invitation for you to join me and other members of Garden State Equality’s Youth Caucus – many of whom are also teenagers who have been bullied because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

In fact, I would like to invite you to meet us for lunch at 1:00 pm on Saturday, July 28th in Ocean Grove, along with leaders from the local organization Ocean Grove United and from Garden State Equality. The lunch would be at the home of the co-chairs of Ocean Grove United.

In a kind, respectful and constructive way, we’d like to talk to you about the pain your words about being LGBT have personally caused me and other LGBT youth. If you can’t join us for lunch that Saturday – when we youth will be meeting regardless – but can meet us at another time that weekend, we will do everything to make the timing convenient for you.

Mr. Cameron, words casting negative judgments about LGBT people not only perpetuate prejudice in our wider society, but also hurt LGBT youth in particular. Some of your public comments about being LGBT have devastated us LGBT youth. We yearn to grow up in a world that provides us dignity and safety. That is our simple, most heartfelt dream.

Cameron has not only publicly opposed marriage equality but has also voiced some strong negative opinions about the gay community. Earlier this year on the Piers Morgan talk show, he called homosexuality “unnatural… detrimental, and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization.” While Cameron claimed that he was not speaking out of hatred, Bernstein's letter illustrates the simple fact that his words were hurtful to gay children.

And now Cameron has sent a message back via his manager saying that he will not honor a request for a meeting.

Via the site Democratic Underground:

Hi Corey,

My name is Mark Craig and I am Kirk's manager. His schedule is quite hectic with his movie "Monumental" and working on a new one at the same time, as well as his Love Worth Fighting For events.

He usually flies in the day of the event and after the event is actually traveling to the next one. Because of this intense schedule, there is not time to set up extra meetings like you are suggesting. That being said I would normally just write a simple reply, "Thanks for your invitation, however Kirk's schedule will not permit," but because you have taken some time to share some of your feelings, Kirk asked me to personally thank you on his behalf for your kind invitation and is very sorry he can not attend because of the schedule that weekend. I also want to thank you for taking the time to write and share your heart in your letter.

For this reason, I want to share this thought with you, from someone who sees and works with Kirk almost everyday of the year - I promise you his goal is not one of trying to hurt people in any way, in fact it is just the opposite. He has a concern for their well being - not only now, but eternally. He goes out to share a positive message through events like this weekend and I assure you he will only be presenting a positive/ inspiring message.

I would like to suggest if you really are interested in Kirk's thoughts on the matter, you can listen online to the interviews and comments Kirk has shared where he was given ample time to communicate his heart and thoughts. I hope you can attend the event and see for yourself.

In the big ado that Cameron caused a while back, there were a lot of things said for and against his words but for the most part, we all forgot who his words hurt the most.

Our children.

Many of them don't have the survival skills that many of us have attained through painful years of being bullied. Many of them have not yet acquired the internal coping mechanisms to deal with the constant barrage of negativity which flows from individuals like Cameron.

 When hearing of Cameron's attacks, we gays who are adults reacted with annoyance and anger because we have been trained through years of practice. But to a gay child, Cameron's words are like a push in an empty grave and a shovel-full of dirt thrown in their faces.

It's sad that Cameron can make ugly comments about gays on a talk show, team up with an organization and claim to be a free speech victim (he is a spokesman of the National Organization for Marriage), but will not meet with the most powerless victims of his ugly words.

That's not being Christian. That's wanton cowardice.

Editor's note - Congressman Frank Pallone will meet with the teens and has written Cameron a letter asking him to reconsider.

Bookmark and Share