City Ordinances

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Last year the HRO was passed for LGBT rights in Jacksonville and last month I was invited to the Women’s Center’s Open Door celebration and given a personal tour of their facilities by one of the board members who had pointed out to me that they were supportive and all-inclusive of both LGBTQIA men and women despite the gendered bathrooms. She showed me two identical single-stall restrooms. One single restroom was for men and the other single restroom was for women. They were informed that in order to meet the city’s code they could not be gender neutral bathrooms. It seemed odd given the fact that the HRO had passed. I took note to think about this at a later time. This afternoon, I went and reviewed the ordinances online which, by the way, was an extremely tedious process. It seems a number of businesses including one I visited in downtown Jacksonville, Chamblin Bookmine, have gender-neutral single stall bathrooms. I decided to search the web instead. I came across this article.

“The law does not have any new requirements regarding bathroom usage.”

http://www.jacksonville.com/metro/2017-02-16/5-things-know-about-jacksonville-s-new-human-rights-ordinance

“Earlier this month, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration released a set of guidelines regarding bathroom access for transgender workers. The guidelines recommend providing better access to options for transgender individuals with gender-neutral facilities.”

http://www.jacksonville.com/news/2015-06-30/story/growing-number-local-businesses-adopting-gender-neutral-signs-their-bathrooms

I’m not sure why the Women’s Center could not have single stall restrooms, but maybe this is one of those situations where the inspector was misinformed? I don’t know, but it all seems ridiculous to me. Can you imagine if we were required to have gendered single stall bathrooms at home? What about the campgrounds or art’s market? We seem to accept these single, gender-neutral bathrooms just fine, but we can’t or won’t accept the ones inside a building.

©An Goldbauer

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Transgender Violence On College Campuses

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To some, colleges and universities are “ivory towers” isolated from the larger society. A closer look shows that this country’s academic institutions are reflections of our larger society, struggling with the same social issues and prejudices. Lorri L. Jean, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

The Spinnaker, a News Source from the University of North Florida, released an article reporting an incident which involved a transgender student who was assaulted and verbally threatened by a male in a campus bathroom. The report red-flagged the failure of the UNFPD to release a Clery report. The incident took place February 6 of this year and was reported to the UNFPD on February 7th.

It isn’t unusual to hear that police are poorly trained in handling cases of LGBT assaults nor unusual to hear of agencies, such as Victims Advocacy and LGBT groups reporting the way these types of incidents (as what happened February 6) are often minimized or dismissed.  The article stated that Chief Strudel’s response was “it is rare and therefore, we aren’t going to do anything about it.” However, there were concerns expressed by Strudel that his statements were taken out of context when I spoke with him this afternoon. As someone who works as an advocate, activist and photojournalist on LGBT issues, my first reaction in reading this statement in the Spinnaker, was “Is this an accurately recorded statement?” My second reaction was to seek clarification since any incident involving an assault on campus would warrant a Clery report. If you aren’t aware of what a Clery report is, know that it is a set of federally mandated guidelines for universities. The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (20 USC § 1092(f)) is the landmark federal law, originally known as the Campus Security Act, that requires colleges and universities across the United States to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses. The law is tied to an institution’s participation in federal student financial aid programs and it applies to most institutions of higher education both public and private. The Act is enforced by the United States Department of Education. Clerycenter.org

Both Title 9 and the Clery report serve to protect students on campuses, so to have guidelines in place and not follow the protocols would be an act of non-disclosure and not serve in the best interest of the population who are most at risk for hate crimes.  Strudel denied that he stated that the case was not a hate crime and in fact, insisted that he kept having to correct the reporter. Strudel stated that the reporter took things out of context. A similar complaint by Kaitlin Legg, when I spoke with her earlier this afternoon, was that she had to repeatedly correct the reporter on a number of statements taken out of context. Legg is acting director of the LGBT Resource Center.

According to the article, the cameras were not checked by the campus PD. Strudel stated that initially when the report came in on February 7, the day after the crime, some of the details were not available, such as where the crime took place nor the name of the victim. Once the PD received this information the Communications sector on campus reviewed the footages. According to Strudel not all the cameras on UNF campus are updated; some are around 7 years old and are analogs and clarity is an issue. Dr. Thomas Serwatka, VP at UNF, emphasized the concerns he and President John Delaney had regarding the delay in releasing the Clery report and investigated the falling out with the campus procedure as soon as they learned of the article in the Spinnaker. Strudel stated that he recognized that he should have released this report immediately, regardless of not having all the information and felt he was protecting the student. Serwatka stated that UNF does not tolerate hate crimes nor non-disclosures of these incidences and are implementing protocols to ensure that procedures are followed regardless of the sexual orientation or gender identity and expression of the individual. The UNFPD is now implementing the procedure for all cases of assaults and had released the crime report later this afternoon. News coverage on First Coast News took place this evening at 11 p.m on the released crime report.

©An Goldbauer

Trans Erasure

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Aristotle once said “To give away money is an easy matter and in any man’s power. But to decide to whom to give it and how large and when, and for what purpose and how, is neither in every man’s power nor an easy matter.” nptrust.org

This is a case in point for those of us who – not only do gratis work but – who also help fund work. When we speak out as Philanthropists expressing concerns that end up being dismissed, we realize that our concerns are not taken seriously. So, we ask ourselves “do we continue to support an organization whose leadership dismisses our concerns or do we affect change in addressing these concerns privately and when this fails, then publicly?”

As an Activist, Philanthropist and Advocate, I can only share my experience working, on a project for elderSource. The PhotoVoice project comprised of six participants. I tried to remain true to the participants but this was not without challenges. I witnessed how others, who like me, expressed sentiments of not being treated with respect or whose concerns were dismissed.

The gratis work and amount of hours I and my intern put into this project to uphold the authenticity of what the LGBT elders voiced, was not valued any more than the participants’ contributions, as evidenced in the end. All that the leadership cared about was their funding, not the profound statements made by three participants – all on film – all very compelling – rolled out in one statement (Precarious Legal System). Leadership argued that a statement such as this would place their organization at risk of losing funding.

(1) The statement “Precarious Legal System” was made and disputed by the leadership.

One of the participants (near the end of the project right before the exhibit) passed away. The participants had come to know her in all the months we worked closely with them. We suggested a postscript in her honor and as a way to celebrate her contribution as a valuable member of society. She was our one and only trans woman in the group.

(2) Postscript was initially rejected.

The reason that was given for rejecting the postscript? It would take away from all the other participants’ stories and overshadow the voices of the others, even though, her voice was a part of this project.

I worked hard helping the leadership realize in a one-on-one discussion at my studio that this participant had worked equally as hard throughout this project. To not have a postscript in her honor would be a dishonor.

The statement “Precarious Legal System” was placed on the wall of the exhibit at MOCA.

(3) Despite the rights for creative control written in my job description, the statement was shrunk down to a size that conflicted with directives I had given. I was never informed and did not know about the alteration until I arrived at the opening of the exhibit.

(4) I also received the directive, after reaching a compromise, to keep the postscript of the trans woman to one page.

The exhibit was to travel to Baker County, an oppressed area where topics such as LGBTQIA are controversial. We were initially informed that this project would not pose any problems. We were given space in their conference room and hallway right outside of the conference room.

(5) My colleague and I traveled to Baker County’s Health Department where we were informed that they were in a meeting, apparently elderSource and the Director at the County Health Department, all agreed ahead of time to remove the trans woman from the project, despite earlier emails confirming my role and time of arrival.

(6) Rather than stand by their promise to give voice to all participants – and honor terms throughout the traveling of this exhibit – they agreed to erase the trans woman from the project in favor of the organization’s self-interests. In doing so, they devalued the human being – now -deceased and unable to defend herself as one of their participants – like all the others – was informed that her voice mattered.

The act of trans erasure sent a strong message of non-acceptance and rejection to our trans community.

When we asked for a list of their board members, which at the time was not available online, we received only one name.

(7) The President of elderSource’s Board was sent a letter addressing all of my concerns.

(8) The Board sent a response that I felt was condescending and served as a way to shut those of us up by returning the funding to the foundation.

(9) The leadership announced they would do the project themselves and shortly thereafter dissolved their LGBT Elder Taskforce.

Cultural competency is an added value to any organization’s Best Practices. transogyny is serious and permeates our culture.

Holding organizations accountable who accept funding from those of us in the LGBTQIA community – when their leadership diminishes concerns raised by those in our community – is out of necessity and not meanness. Some of the individuals involved with the LGBT Elder Task Force throughout this project tried to reason with the leadership, but instead of listening, the leadership decided to dissolve this task force comprised of individuals who wanted to improve the quality of lives within the elder LGBT community. Just for the record, I was fortunate to have a witness to the Baker County incident and I knew I did not stand alone. There is history at this organization for blatantly disregarding the issues raised, ranging from concerns expressed over lack of materials available at Pride celebrations to criticisms made by leadership that the LGBT community failed to support the PV project, never acknowledging that neither did the cisgender community and needing reminding that two LGBTQIA individuals from this community had put up funding prior to the Kickstarter campaign.

This experience of mine with this particular organization has me evaluating how we can affect change in a positive fashion. Continually receiving conflicted messaging was disturbing to me. Other participants also verbalized receiving conflicted messaging. What stood out even more profoundly was a letter from an LGBT Elder Task Force member, counseling the leadership to try to work matters out with me to save the project from collapsing. After receiving a copy of the letter from its author, the author resigned from the task force. If the project was abandoned because I chose to uphold my end of the terms and adhere to my commitment to the participants as opposed to upholding the self-serving interests of the leadership, then it is not a surprise to hear others say that their concerns were dismissed. This says a lot.

When I inquired who would deny them funding, I was informed “The State”. What happens to elders who express concerns about this agency or others in not meeting their needs? Are they heard? Are they dismissed?

During one of our meetings at MOCA, there was another attempt made to revoke my creative rights. I reminded everyone that I had been working on this project for six months before completing it and to have it completely altered was not in the agreement. We were running out of time.

Some of us were dismissed a number of times and at one point I was called names during a phone conversation I had with one of their staff members. I was accused of being aggressive (typical of sexism when females assert themselves in business). I had insisted that the terms of my job description gave me creative rights over the project.

This organization was not interested in agreements, let alone upholding any agreements with venues for the exhibit. At one stage, the struggle became overwhelming and I realized very quickly that my creative rights to ensure that this project would remain intact was about to fall through, I offered to revoke funding until they could live up to the terms of my job description or decide to do otherwise. I was accused of sabotaging the project. Shortly after this, I was told that I am a “bitch” in a private conversation held at late hours over a four-hour phone conversation to try to work through finalizing the marketing and brochures for the exhibit. The lack of professionalism was very telling. I was told – during this conversation – that the leader of the organization was the one who everyone upheld – despite the concerns I raised on how the participants were selected in the first place (no men, no people of color etc.,) and why the PhotoVoice project was an interest at all when they were not willing to use the one profound statement of the three participants who used it?

The censoring of this statement opened Pandora’s Box for some of us. After all, what legal system is not precarious? Those who experience marginalization and discrimination have not always had the law on their side, particularly in the absence of human rights protections. The educated individuals at this organization failed to understand terms of the job descriptions they approved for this project. As someone who worked with Best Practices in healthcare, I wondered what their understanding was of other contracts they held with service providers? The lack of cultural competency could be pulsed and if I were to ever fund or recommend to others to fund an organization’s project again, I would begin with funding a healthcare consultant trained and well versed in cultural competency.

In the end …, the leadership (prematurely) received an award for the project before it went on display at MOCA. The Board probably never really knew the other side of this story and the participant will never know that she did not make a contribution once the exhibit traveled.

Trans erasure occurs every day. JamieAnn Meyers in The BLOG of the Huffington Post wrote a beautiful article on Trans* Invisibility. It’s up to trans* people to be proactive and make certain that our individual and collective voices are heard loud and clear by the public and the media, and that we continue to be written into the record of queer history.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jamieann-meyers/trans-invisibility_b_2619929.html

Laverne Cox stated in an interview taken from an article by News Editor, Jamilah King Friday, September 13, 2013, “There’s consistently an erasure of trans identity when we have these discussions,” said Cox, who’s skyrocketed to stardom because of her pioneering role on the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black.” http://colorlines.com/archives/2013/09/laverne_cox_and_janet_mock_talk_mister_cee.html

My perspective and expertise in Best Practices tell me that this isn’t unique to this one particular organization. It raises the question that when organizations make statements they are allies to the LGBT community, whether they do so to try to get funding or whether they actually understand their allyship to the LGBTQIA community, needs to be demonstrated through actions and not run parallel with conflicts of interests.

©An Goldbauer

Understanding the Gay Culture

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“There is a lot of brokenness in the Gay community” once said a friend of mine during a conversation we were having on his porch about what life is like inside our borders. Eventually, I would have to agree with him.

There are many individuals who, as children, did not have their emotional process affirmed or accepted, because of parents and caregivers being dismissive of their gender identity/expression or fluidity during their growth and development; a painful journey for many and certainly one, in which anyone who has gone through it in their childhood, leaves residual, emotional scars.

Brokenness can be seen within our borders with the use of drugs and alcohol; measures to self-medicate are not all that unusual. Brokenness can be witnessed among those who are religious addicts who have swapped out chemicals for religion. Then there are those who are unable to stop the G-d talk or giving lectures to the point of saturating and driving everyone away; compromising friendships.

Another friend once said “We have allies who try to convince us that they are our best friends and have our best interests at heart. Don’t believe all of them.” She was referring to outside of our borders and in particular, referencing straights who claim to be allies, because they happened to like gays. What does it take to be an ally for any cause? Isn’t it good enough to like gays?

Good allyship requires training and education on the culture the ally supports. Allies who do not seek proper training and education fail to understand the dynamics, the history of how critical issues played a force in the human rights movement and they won’t know how to hold a conversation if the translation of language is not well understood, so in seeking information it is equally important to speak with individuals who are able to translate the gay language. Speaking on issues which affect the rights of a human population requires having the conversations, being able to participate in dialogue and agreeing to remove all caution and stop signs and signals in order to keep the dialogue flowing and moving forward. Once censoring is employed traffic jams occur and the conversation stops; imploding the process. We welcome allies who are schooled, but we run from those when we see the damage that was done because they failed to understand their position on issues affecting the oppressed group.

“Straights who think they can speak for the LGBT and who claim they give LGBT a voice is somewhat insulting”, said another friend of mine. “We have a voice. We aren’t heard because they don’t want to hear what we have to say. Big difference!” We hear the expression Giving Voice, a lot.

Do people realize how this is perceived by those, whose voices are never heard, because they either are not invited to the table or if they are they are overshadowed by the greater force? Do people realize that when they speak out on behalf of the marginalized group that this is still not really giving the individuals of the oppressed group their voice? Do they not realize that the more they speak out, swapping places and swapping expressions, which originated with the oppressed group, that they are partaking in silencing the very group to whom they should be giving the stage?

Another friend of mine said this … “They don’t really respect us; if they did then they would ask for our insights and knowledge on the subject.” We see LGBT human rights groups send in straights to serve as leaders and role models for LGBT organized action as if the LGBT movement for decades has never had any experts in this realm.

LGBT see B.S. a mile away. We recognize mixed messages in a heartbeat. We see patronizing behavior coming before the person finishes delivering. This stems from years of marginalization, having to identify sublimable behaviors and messages. When we witness this within organized groups for action we see the writing on the wall.

My personal accounting, living as a gender fluid queer, has been agonizing – while at other times – liberating when I surround myself with other queers who understand the language and the power in words to help raise awareness of a subculture within a culture. When we are prevented or reminded of who we are through messages from well-meaning straights that sound something along these lines, … “Why do you have to talk the gay stuff all the time?”; we realize we don’t have the same rights to joke or have access to conversations unless they are heteronormative.  The conversations are driven down a one-way street. The traffic only flows in one direction. To cross over into other lanes of identities and discussions becomes a hazardous endeavor.

I can talk the gay talk, walk the gay walk, live and breath the gay who I am, but only if I am with gays. This privilege is not extended to me once I cross into the hetero world of those who practice living heteronormative lives as cisgenders in a  binary world. I have watched the gay community agree to the limit setting imposed on them by cisgenders.

Even in our gay community, we have people who don’t want to move away from heteronormative roles. It is perplexing to me how someone can be gay and be so closed off to the rest of the gay culture. These individuals are equally as guilty as those who refuse to listen and learn about the gay cultural movement.

My friend was correct. We are a broken community inside our borders, but we are also witnessing the brokenness outside of our borders from cisgender allies who insert themselves, uninvited and challenge our gender non-conforming behaviors, swapping the language and describing those who are gender benders and non-conformists as aggressive and angry while they would herald these qualities in cisgender men, challenge these qualities in women and the LGBT.

Privilege is a lovely thing to have, but it is only lovely when you recognize it and appreciate having it. It is an ugly thing when it becomes a power struggle, leads to entitlement and superiority; egomaniacal individuals who need their egos fed at the expense of another end up serving in roles as predators looking for a host on whom to feed and in the end serve only their own best interests.

If we could just stand up for each other, be kinder and forget what it will do for our popularity, we would actually get somewhere to civil and the world might be a better place for all of us. It must start with language and not just a few words as this would abandon the rest of the gay culture. A lesson which could easily apply to any oppressed group.

Bring out the dictionary and let the lesson begin with words.

For more information on good allyship please select the link below.

http://www.nyln.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/PandA.pdf

©An Goldbauer

The Problem with Political Correctness

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Here are some arguments why political correctness doesn’t have a place in public discourse. For those who spoke on bill 2012-296 at the city council hearings last year, reports came in that there was an attempt at censorship by some of those within our borders who served on the Jacksonville Committee for Equality, including manipulative control by city council members in undermining those who, as LGBT, spoke out about abuse and threats they had encountered over the years. One of the city council members compared the LGBT to citizens living in Egypt. Whether anyone at the time realized it or not, the insults weren’t just directed to LGBT in Jacksonville, but were also directed at Egyptians; Kimberly Daniels, one of the city council members stated she had heard that some of the Egyptians practiced bestiality and necrophilia; implying that gay people did the same. The outrage could be felt throughout the room and while there were many unkind and untruths spoken, ranging from some of the city council members to those in the audience, the LGBT voices seemed to be nullified in the eyes of those who were homophobic. The rules had to be followed and anyone who spoke at the city council hearings had (3) minutes without uninterrupted time by either party from the audience, which wasn’t always a practice adhered by some of the city council members. Much debate ensued on whether or not the LGBT were presenting favorably as citizens. Destiny children had their theories and those who had impressions based on absolutely very little historical fact and mostly false rhetoric were determined to lead the process under the assumption that political correctness would nullify any negative perceptions.

The measure to pass the bill failed as did the amended bill.

Two of the city council members, Denise Lee and Warren Jones voted in favor of the bill which encompassed the full inclusive language and if passed, would have protected LGBT; the watered-down version failed a 10-9 vote.

It became quite evident that the arguments presented weren’t enough. Very little focus was placed on statistics from valuable sources, such as Centers for American Progress (CAP), SAGE and GLAAD, including our local organizations, such as JASMYN; the civic leaders who spoke up didn’t present economic arguments other than to say “It is the right thing to do”, and while that may be what the LGBT and the community of their allies believed, it wasn’t a sentiment shared among mainstream Jacksonville. Civic leaders could have easily presented measured data to support the need to vote in favor of bill 296.

Reports came in from a few individuals that the civic leaders took measures in their own hands, moved through matters very quickly, barring very little time for educational measures by those who were well equipped to dialogue about the differences in the bill and the proposed amendment, causing the Committee for Equality to lose control of the process.

Hours of deliberation and months later, the community of LGBT felt betrayed and angered for a number of reasons. The discussions among those who talked about the process complained, they had been misled by those on the inside who served on the Jacksonville Committee for Equality. The Jacksonville Committee for Equality defended themselves and felt they had lost control – despite the well-intentioned efforts of those who spoke out on behalf of the bill. The LGBT community learned too late that the fully inclusive bill had been replaced with the amended version and was told that every measure would be taken to include the full inclusive language at another time. Historically, this has failed as what happened in Orlando some years ago and what had been pointed out by Equality Florida’s executive director, Nadine Smith and Joe Saunders who now serves House District 49 in Florida.

The transgender community felt deceived and for good reasons. The population of transgender persons runs the highest risk for homicides, worldwide and according to GLAAD, 45% of reported hate murders were Transgender women.

The LGBT community didn’t have any idea what had happened last year and by the time anyone had bits and pieces of various versions passed on down, the LGBT and some of the allies lost faith in the process, which brings us currently to the same concerns; the newly formed committee has some hoops through which to jump if they are to win back the trust of those who felt marginalized and thrown under the bus.

Is it any wonder why the transgender community of Jacksonville was angered by anyone from within the borders agreeing to the proposed amendment? Those from within the borders claim they did not see this coming and expressed heartfelt sadness over the shift that occurred. Will they be in control this time around?

When the LGBT could not have their feelings validated without being viewed as negative by even those from within the borders, they experienced what many victims experience, trauma. Claims were heard that they were blamed for having negative views and therefore, would somehow affect the political platform and took the criticisms personally. Some of these individuals will not speak out for fear that they will be verbally attacked.

In defense of the LGBT, not one individual was prepared to hear city council members pass degrading remarks at those who reported incidences of being fired because of their sexual orientation, or whose property had been vandalized. The LGBT who reported the incidences were led to believe that their behavior (simply for having a sexual orientation other than that of heterosexuality and gender nonconformity) caused the vandalism and were the reasons for losing their jobs. What would this mean for heterosexuals who are gender non-conforming? How many of these individuals have experienced marginalization? Is anyone listening? Does anyone care enough to ask these questions within this population who might be mislabeled as gay and who were denied equal opportunities?

Lastly, the LGBT were angered by political correctness enforced upon them within their borders. One such individual, Professor Steven Lance Stoll, spoke up and challenged the city council members on why they were following a book written back in the Bronze age. Did any of the city council members vote against the bill and the watered down version because of their religious beliefs?

Currently, there are nine city council members who were honored at First Baptist Church for heeding FBC advice to vote against the bill. Please visit YouTube for more information on FBC honoring the city council members. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJxO0D4d9Fo.

The Witherspoon Institute on August 13, 2013, published an article on Dissecting Public Discourse written by Stella Morabito who points out that the problem with political correctness, or PC, is that “we all perpetuate political correctness when we succumb to the fear of contradicting PC” truth.”

What happens in groups? Is it normal to witness self-assignments without any votes being cast? What makes some of these individuals privileged? Granted, some of the individuals now have experience from which to draw that they did not have last year. Will they listen to those who raise concerns or are they more concerned, once again, about behavior, personalizing the criticism received by those who do speak up or raise concerns?

I was one of these individuals who was told that I am half cocked because I called people to task and asked a lot of questions. I removed myself from the committee after realizing that my voice would not count and was viewed as politically attacking and inappropriate, even though, I raised concerns based on rumors circulating from last year and public comments made by the LGBT. My overall concern with the process is will the floor communicate with the committee? Will those who question the process encounter repeated harassment with emails calling for private one on one meetings. Will they be accused of being half-cocked?

Morabito talks about psychological manipulation and its correlation to suppression. “If we think of PC as bacteria, suppression is like the dark room and the culture required for the bacteria’s growth and replication.”

She refers to suppression as one of the twins while the other is “saturation”. Morabito dissects the outcome and pointedly refers to this as producing an illusion that shifts public opinion by heavily saturating them with an impression, ‘opinion cascade’ as she calls it. The outcome? Regulating opinions of others. Politicians understand twin processes well enough to know that it results in “shaping public opinion and the political process.” according to Morabito.

Morabito writes that in 1999, an article on ‘availability cascade’ was published on a ‘related concept’ in Stanford Law Review where the purpose is to prevent people to think freely and fall victim to practice survival mode for social acceptance.

We have some people within our community who have been successfully silenced in this manner through social isolation and vilified as the enemy by those who might have experienced fear of going against PC.

Some of us watched and observed the toxic effect this had on our community and soon realized that some of the players were classifying themselves as our allies. A rhetorical question some of us had “Are some of our allies dispelling truth?”, and no pun intended here with the use of the label ‘all lies’, but it seems even some of them are propagating the idea that censoring behavior, expression and individual style must meet standards of their idea for PC. Are they correct? Are they suppressing voices within our own borders from the outside? Do they have the right to do so? Who grants them this privilege while we stand by and recognize that even among some of these allies they do not understand the gay culture. It is even more disturbing that within our borders even some of the LGBT want to compare LGBT rights to the black race issues. A black person will tell you that there isn’t any comparison, because the race issue continues to exist in present day. They cannot escape being black. Why then is there this need to continue to focus on the religious argument and play the race card? Why are we not educating the public on the different types of sexual orientations since anyone of any color and creed can have any of the sexual orientations? Is it because the religious evangelists have successfully managed to brainwash individuals from birth through tainted, hateful rhetoric? Isn’t this equally as damaging as any other addiction or is it deliberate and can we call this out as abuse? Isn’t it disturbing when we hear of people raised with fundamental religious views who take their own lives or those of others, because of their sexual orientation?

Morabito points out Cass Sunstein in a chapter of his book titled “On Rumors” 2009, referring to “chilling effect” as a tactic and essentially did everything he could to discredit Obamacare. Could we say this is what FBC and the Family Policy Council attempted?

What is Morabito’s recommendation in all of this? She suggests avoiding isolation and instead, to do the work by having conversations with others in the community in order to build a stronger voice. Morabito writes “if enough people come out of isolation and shed the fear of speaking their minds, a genuine cascade of truth will ensue.”

Social media allows for this opportunity, however, some of the LGBT and allies have been verbally attacked on FB by those who viewed their remarks as negative. Who are these destiny children? Why are they so afraid? Do they really believe that speaking the truth and raising concerns will result in bad outcomes?

To read more about Stella Morabito please refer to her article on Public Discourse. It is an excellent read. The Washington Examiner, American Thinker, and The Human Life Review feature some of Morabito’s articles.

transgenderdor.org/statistics

glaad.org/blog/violence-against-transgender-people-and-people-color-disproportionately-high-lgbtqh-murder-rate

flfamily.org

thepublicdiscourse.com

The information pertaining outside of any references made to Morabito’s article does not in any way reflect her views. These are views gathered from various LGBT members in the community who over time have expressed similar sentiments along with the author.

©An Goldbauer

The Damage of Having Hidden Agendas

close-up-colors-face-925330Organizational behavior is an interesting study among activists and volunteers who work together to improve the quality of life among oppressed groups. Members serving on committees, who are blind-sighted by hidden agendas, not privy to all information or proposed changes, are in danger of falling victim to the very facet which they vow to eliminate; oppression. Distrust sets in among members who now find themselves, victims of oppression; triggering dysfunction and obstructing the fluidity of the process. When a proposal is presented by the individual running the process, as something which was suggested in prior months by members whose names are not mentioned, to restructure the organizational reporting by those who have selectively self assigned entitlement to certain roles and activities, a heightened sense of awareness among the oppressed members ensues and without any words exchanged, the dynamics within the group change.

I am referring to the process of a Jacksonville’s committee whose members were intent to see to it that the HRO would pass at the local level without any assistance by outside groups, whose individuals are accustomed to working with political agendas, but were asked to take a back seat. Rumors flew throughout the community and tensions escalated. Questions from community members were “Why a large organization, such as Equality Florida, would not be invited to the table and take a position at the forefront of the process?” The general consensus among the LGBT public was that the right hand did not know what the left hand was doing and that they could have benefitted from outside support. Others argued that the changes needed to be done at the local level without outside assistance. Who was in charge? No one really knew, but some of the individuals in the LGBT community surmised that it was a selective group of individuals who were viewed as secretive and not willing to freely disclose matters. While the new members are assured that any future process will be transparent, validation and accountability are going to be put through a Litmus test.

What strengthens freedom among members serving on committees is the belief in allowing expression of all thoughts to flourish. Dysfunction occurs when the parties are not forthcoming and camouflage truth through establishing a power grab of those whom they have deemed unworthy or less capable of serving as part of the inner circle, (not by majority vote) witnessing the proposal to demote some of the members by recommending a change in structure, (not by any voting process transparent to the entire committee), leaving much doubt and dismay among some of the members.

Some of the members expressed that they were just handed the kiss of death. Distrust could be pulsed throughout the room. The realization sat in that they were not deemed, any longer, politically correct or worthy of any contribution. The question which comes to mind among members, is “Who are the gatekeepers?”. Glances were swiftly swapped from one individual to another in roundtable fashion, while the tension among the power players increased. Some of the members weren’t easily swayed by colorfully presented denials that they might actually have gone back to gatekeeping.

Reluctancy sets in among some of those who have financially and emotionally invested and contributed their time and energy and trust to improve quality and performance within organizational structures, circumventing those who want to gatekeep through the art of asking questions to help dispel any possible hidden agendas, which disrupt healthy process and otherwise would hinder bringing about the desired change. When practices are in question and are overlooked or not challenged inside the borders, that is when the dysfunction sets in. Circumvention calls for a strategy and should be implemented by the members to enforce corrective measures and ethical behavior in order to reduce any chance of oppression; insisting on equality at this basic level among all of the members, who signed up to improve their communities, would ensure respect among the group and enhance their interests in working collaboratively to wipe out discrimination. The first course of action might result in a decision to challenge the process with the support of peers, advisers or financial backers before they remove themselves from the process. When committee members question professional conduct it might be time to challenge the platform.

©An Goldbauer

Pope Francis

worm s eye view photo of orange and brown ceiling
Photo by Peter de Vink on Pexels.com

The Pope has recently made the statement “Who am I to Judge?” when asked about LGBT. Did he make this statement because the Vatican is in a financial crisis? A commentator for Timesunion.com, Leslie Hudson, published an article, February 20, 2013. Hudson wrote, Italian authorities placed the Vatican bank on the U.S. State Department’s list of countries for money laundering after seizing $29 million. J.P. Morgan tried to obtain information from the Vatican due to large deposits and withdrawals of money. When the Vatican failed to provide the information, J.P. Morgan closed one of the accounts. The Vatican hired outside financial advisers to address the Vatican bank’s compliance in meeting financial regulations. Who are they? How many other accounts exist?

The Daily Beast posted an article from World News by Barbie Latza Nadeau, July 2, 2013, and author of Angel Face, a book about Amanda Knox. Since 1997, Nadeau has reported from Italy for Newsweek and appears on a number of networks, such as CNN,  BBC, and NPR. The article is a painful reminder of the underground activities at the Vatican.  Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, former Vatican finance official who became a priest at the age of 32,  also known as Monsignor 500, because of his habit in carrying around cash, was arrested this year in an attempt to smuggle $26 million from Switzerland to an unidentified bank account in Italy. General Director, Paolo Cipriani and deputy, Massimo Tulli, both resigned on July 1 and are under criminal investigation by Italian authorities for assisting Msgr. Scarano. The former Vatican’s bank president, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi provided his friends with a list of enemies after claiming, last year, that he was in fear for his life.

He should. After all, Nadeau referred to Roberto Calvi “Three decades ago, another of “God’s bankers,” Roberto Calvi, was found hanging from a noose under Blackfriars Bridge in London.

In an article published by Catholic News Agency, Andrea Gagiliarducci, July 15, 2013, reports that according to the authorities, Msgr. Scarano was the mastermind of the plot and included a former suspended agent of the Italian Domestic Intelligence agency, Giovanni Maria Zito, along with the financial broker, Giovanni Carenzio.

Lizzy Davies from Rome wrote a piece for The Guardian, June 26, 2013, on the Vatican’s image and Pope Francis vowing to uphold ethical financial reform. Ernst Von Freyberg, a German Financier for the institution, and a lawyer validated that the Vatican had some cleaning up to do while the seven possible incidents of money laundering are under investigation.

Religion News Service posted an article on February 15, 2013, written by Alessandro Speciale, concerning Freyberg, who took over from the former ousted president Tedeschi. His new position with the Vatican bank triggered an uproar. Freyberg served as the chairman of the executive board of German shipyard Blohm + Voss. Apparently, this enterprise was involved in the production of warships under Nazi Germany.

The Vatican defended selecting Freyberg and claimed that it has never in the previous history, hired an international headhunting agency to do the scouting. The question is how does an international headhunting agency decide Freyberg’s moral excellence when the Vatican Bank president is a descendant of one of the shipyard’s founders as confirmed by Blohm + Voss? Who recommended the international headhunting agency?

In an article, posted on February 16, 2013, News.com.au, Freyberg not only is a minority shareholder in Blohm + Voss, he is a treasurer of the German association of the Order of the Knights of Malta, founded during the Crusades in the Middle Ages. The lay religious order has approximately 13,500 members around the world.

Breaking News from NPR reported by Sylvia Poggioli, February 09, 2013, Knights of Malta’s 4,000 members, Pilgrims and tourists, celebrated the 900th Anniversary at the Vatican and marched to the tomb of St. Peter. Poggioli writes that the mission of the Order is humility and charity.

Not only is Freyburg treasurer for this Order, but he is also the Vatican’s Financier.

NDTV released an article by Associated Press, May 19, 2013, reporting that Pope Francis led a rally to encourage moral conscience, after having deliberated in talks at the Vatican with Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel. He expressed disappointment with the economic crisis. In his speech, he told the crowd that the true crises lie with moral values.

Clearly, the Vatican bank isn’t off the hook?

The Guardian posted an article by David Leigh, Jean François Tanda, and Jessica Benhamou, January 21, 2013, with the Headline “How the Vatican Built A Secret Property Empire Using Mussolini’s Millions”.  The writer’s reported the lengths taken by the Vatican to keep matters undisclosed. Investigations reveal that at the height of the bubble in 2006, of the £15m the Vatican purchased 30 St. James Square where it housed the investment bank, Altium Capital, bought by the company, British Grolux Investments Ltd.  The Vatican’s purchases also included properties, New Bond Street and in the City of Coventry plus properties in Paris and Switzerland.

Mail Online published an article by Mario Ledwith, January 22, 2013. Ledwith wrote that the Catholic Church owns a number of luxurious London properties and that it has been claimed that the property empire originally was funded by a fascist dictator, Mussolini. Ledwith goes on to write that the Vatican’s offshore company portfolio is worth around £560 million.

Could we arguably say that Pope Francis is recruiting LGBT and others to build the census, in order to recover from the financial crisis and to rebuild the Vatican’s reputation?

Is the message here that gays are being recruited because the Pope has had a change of heart or are gays being recruited simply because it makes economic sense? After all, he still claims what so many other Christian Fundamentalists have said, Love The Gays, Don’t Love The Sin.

©An Goldbauer

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