Monday, June 30, 2008


Submitted by Anon.

Freeheld won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject 2007.

Which side would politicians and municipalities in Venango County be on?

re: Two Coming Out Stories

Submitted by Brenda

It's important for all of us to challenge our assumptions ... and, if we can't do that ourselves, I suppose we need the shock value exemplified here to make us face the realities we refuse to see on our own.

Now what I'd like to see (and I say this as a multi-dimensional straight woman with equally multi-dimensional friends of all varieties) is a similar honesty in breaking through the stereotypes we seem to be perpetuating in order to make gays seem harmless.

For example, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy might be very clever, but most of the gay guys I know didn't spring from the covers of GQ magazine ... and don't know the first thing about dance or design. (Oops ... sorry, just some pet peeves, can you tell?!)

Anyway, bigotry of all types has been on my mind lately and I appreciated this post!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Two Coming Out Stories

By Joseph Couture
Jun. 27, 2008

My friends were brave and reminded me that to be proud, we must be open.

As Pride month winds down, it’s important to remember that true pride is a spirit of dignity, confidence and self-respect we should exude all year.

It is about being proud of who we are as individuals and as a community.

Sadly, for many people the Pride celebrations are merely a once-a-year occasion to get together and have a good time. The rest of the year we live in the shadows of shame, denial and humiliation. Let me tell you a couple of stories to illustrate the point.

A female friend of mine works at an auto parts factory. She is pretty, feminine and smart. She also happens to have been in a lesbian relationship for nearly 12 years and has two kids with her partner.

She used to complain to me often about the offensive remarks some of her peers at work would constantly make about “queers.” They would go on about how gays were immoral and full of disease.

They had no idea that she was gay or how much their remarks hurt her. More than once she told me how she feared what would happen if her co-workers found out about her and how she often considered quitting to escape the poisonous environment they created.

As much as she hated hearing their vitriol, what was worse was the shame she felt because she was too embarrassed to stand up for herself or her family. Then one day that all changed.

Late one afternoon the boys were having a good old time making fun of a guy down the line they thought might be gay. They were mean and full of hate. My friend snapped.

“I don’t know were it came from,” she told me, “but I just blurted out that if gays were so terrible I must be an awful person because I was gay.” She said at first the boys didn’t believe her and thought she was joking. After observing her face for a minute it soon sank in that she wasn’t kidding. There was nothing but stunned silence for the rest of the shift.

My friend thought that it was going to be the end of the world for her. But it wasn’t. For the next couple of days it was just kind of awkward at work, but nothing was said.

Then one by one her co-workers broached the subject with her. It started with some of the women. A couple of the gals pulled her aside. “We want you to know that you’re OK,” they told her.

Soon some of the men followed. One of the guys who had been amongst the worst offenders for his homophobic remarks came up to her. “You made me think,” he said to her. “I didn’t mean to be a dick. It won’t happen again.”

Eventually things changed. The gay jokes continued, but now they joked about setting her up with other women for threesomes. “Typical male crap,” she told me, “but all in good humor and I laughed with them.” The hateful remarks stopped and a new atmosphere of tolerance emerged.

Another friend of mine told me the story of his family. One day over dinner his mother announced to the family that my friend’s cousin was gay.

They were a conservative Christian family and his mother did not take the news well. She blamed the gay man’s parents for failing to raise him properly. “If they had any morals or decency themselves,” she pronounced, “then he wouldn’t have turned out this way.”

For months after, all my friend heard about was what bad parents the gay man must have been and how God would punish them all. My friend was pained by the judgmental attitude of his family and decided to give them something to think about. “If someone being gay is the fault of their parents, you must have failed yourselves because I’m gay,” my friend said to them.

His mother burst into tears and ran out of the room. His father just sat looking shell shocked.

Days went by and nothing was said. Everyone was walking on eggshells, seemingly afraid to say a word. Finally, his mother broke the silence. “You’re still my son and that hasn’t changed,” she said to him.

He knew it was the first step in the healing process. It took time, but it happened. Not only did things return to normal, things improved.

The point is that Gay Pride is meant to last all year. It’s our greatest joy and coming out our greatest weapon. We can change the world if we only take courage and wear our pride on our sleeves every day of the year.

New Pride Event Debuts in Small Town Pennsylvania

By Chris Johnson
Jun. 27, 2008

Only about a half dozen protesters made an appearance at a new Pride event in Lancaster, Pa., despite a religious group’s promise to disrupt the event.

In contrast to the handful of protesters from Repent America, about 1,900 attendees came to participate in the Pride festivities, which took place Sunday.

Mark Stoner, who is on the Lancaster Pride steering committee, said turnout exceeded expectations of organizers.

“We’ve been getting e-mails and stuff from vendors who participated that just said it was really well done,” Stoner said.

Organizers wanted to set up annual Pride events in Lancaster “to acknowledge the contributions that gays and lesbians have made to the community,” Stoner said. He noted that Charles Demuth, a painter in the early modern period, was gay and lived in Lancaster.

A parade was not part of the Pride celebration, only a festival. Stoner said there are no plans to add a parade in future years.

Stoner was particularly pleased that younger gays from the area participated. Many told him they had not attended such an event before.

“I almost get emotional because that’s where you really feel like you’re having an effect on people’s lives,” he said.

Despite hostility from Repent America, local religious groups reacted favorably to Lancaster Pride and cooperated in some events. The Unitarian Universalist church held an interfaith service in conjunction with Pride on June 19.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Why Do Venango County Communities Tolerate Hate?

Submitted by Anon.

As I listen to the deafening silence in our communities in response to the hateful anti-gay programming on "Christian" radio station WAWN, I wonder if such silence would also be the response to similar programming targeting racial or other minorities?

Instead of anti-gay extremist Diane Gramley, for example, what if WAWN broadcast a regular program by the Grand Dragon of the Pennsylvania Ku Klux Klan, or the head of the Keystone State Skinheads, trying to stir up hatred and animosity toward people of color or other minorities in the community?

What will it take for people in Venango County to challenge this kind of offensive and dangerous garbage?

At times like this, I think about the powerful quote by Martin Niemoller, a prominent German, anti-Nazi theologian and Lutheran pastor:

“In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

If we don’t all begin to stand up now against the kinds of messages being sent by Diane Gramley and WAWN, what kinds of communities are we really?

I'm trying to summon the courage to break my own silence and invisibility. It's hard, and I'm scared.

Friday, June 27, 2008

True Political Leadership

Despite attempts by Venango County's Diane Gramley, and other anti-gay extremists, to stir up fear and hatred on the Pennsylvania State University campus in March, including a public protest, State College Mayor Bill Welch happily officiated at a civil union ceremony for four gay couples.

His response to Gramley's tactics?

Where is Venango County's political leadership when their most vulnerable constituents are under attack by Gramley ??

Gramley in her own words:

Venango County's Diane Gramley Calls for Continued Discrimination Against GLBT People

Venango County's anti-gay extremist, Diane Gramley, is making another public call for discrimination against the nation's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender population.

Mainstream civil rights organizations hold a very different view:

Fact Sheet on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act from the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights:

"Working in the Shadows: Ending Employment Discrimination for GLBT Americans"

re: Want to End Bigotry in Venango County

In response to PA Maverick's original post titled Want To End Bigotry In Venango County (June 24), Jim said:

So YOU alone know God's will. Amazing isn't it?

Yet homosexuality is found in HUNDREDS of God's species.

But YOU alone know the will of God.

When people have spiritual questions we should come to you.

Here is an article about homosexuality in other species.

I know it's not the Bible, but try to read it anyway.

But if you MUST refer to the Bible, try reading about Jonathan and David, and Ruth and Naomi.

And Jesus and his most beloved disciple who he held to his breast and told him he loved him.

Or not.... Or just keep telling people what God wants for them, or else.

It will be interesting to hear what God has to say to you when you die.

One last thing... Do you worship God or the Bible? Because if it's the latter that's idol worship.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Diane Gramley: Venango County's Goodwill Ambassador?

Just found this gem from nearly two years ago demonstrating the great job Diane Gramley does representing the good people of Venango County out in the world.

from - 08/16/2006

Boy = truck, girl = doll, divergence = scary: PA activist denounces non-discrimination pledge

Responding to the news that U.S. Congressmen Jim Gerlach and Robert Brady have signed a statement saying they won't discriminate against LGBT folks in their hiring practices, the American Family Association of Pennsylvania's Diane Gramley says to Agape Press:

"I don't know that they fully comprehend what the term 'gender identity and expression' means,"..."That phrase right there means that they are willing to hire men dressed as women to come to work -- and I don't think a constituent going into any of these congressmen's offices would want to encounter a man dressed in a woman's clothing."

Gramley is asking the Congressmen to pull a Santorum and reconsider their signing of the HRC/GenderPac statement of non-discrimination. We, on the other hand, are asking Ms. Gramley to reconsider her belief that everyone's gender should conform to society's expectations simply because the alternative makes her and her cronies uncomfortable.

Anti-Gays, Do You Have To Wear Your Lifestyle On Your Sleeve?


When will these militant anti-gay activists stop indoctrinating our children? Don't they know that our youth are our most important commodity, and therefore do not need to be inundated with the idea that the homosexual-unfriendly lifestyle is normal and acceptable? We understand that since they are not able to automatically reproduce their ranks, they need to recruit. But do they have to be so forceful about it?

We ask, because we just stumbled upon these American Family Association's new line of clothing. Clothing not only for adults who have chosen the anti-gay lifestyle, but those poor, innocent children who are simply stuck in the middle:


When are we as a society going to rise up and start protecting the children? It is extremely risky to place children within these sorts of arrangements, as they might be led to believe that these behaviors should not only be tolerated, but also celebrated! This could have a long-lasting, damaging effect on our children and our families!

We call on the anti-gay community to keep their hands off our children. If they want to live in the anti-gay lifestyle, then that is their choice. But spoonfeeding these youngsters' impressionable minds with such misinformation about the anti-gay community is just playing right into the American Family Association activists' playbook. They want to undermine all that is good and decent about society in order to redefine our basic institutions.

Pro-equality people, if we don't speak up now, where will we be when your kids and grandkids grow up?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Venango County's Diane Gramley Claims "Homosexual Activists Are Trying to Brainwash Children"

Submitted by Anon.

On a May 14, 2008 broadcast on radio station WAWN 89.5 FM (Franklin, PA), Venango County-based anti-gay extremist Diane Gramley makes the claim that "homosexual activists are trying to brainwash children."

Gramley's outrageous attack is her response to the National Day of Silence, an effort aimed at bringing attention to anti-GLBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

Gramley's remarks can be heard here:

It is known by officials in the Oil City Area School District that Gramley was working behind the scenes to disrupt student-led observance of the Day of Silence at Oil City Senior High School. Thoughtful action by school officials helped to avert the violent clash that could have been the result of Gramley's meddling.

Fortunately, many Americans disagree with Gramley:

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Venango County's Diane Gramley in Her Own Words

Submitted by Anon.

Diane Gramley of Venango County, PA, is a self-proclaimed "family values" activist whose operation in Pennsylvania is funded and controlled by an extremist organization in Tupelo, Mississippi called the American Family Association. Gramley's messages are broadcast regularly on local "Christian" radio station WAWN 89.5 FM.

re: Want to End Bigotry in Venango County?

Submitted by Dittman

In reference to PA Maverick's statement: "And we will discover God meant every word He said, no redefining permitted!"

Dittman says: "Every word? Darn it, I had bacon for breakfast and shrimp for dinner. Slide over Hitler, and save a seat for me!"

(I know, I know, too cheap and easy, but everyone is so serious on this blog!)

Frederick Douglass Quotes on Religion-based Oppression

Submitted by Anon.

Frederick Douglass (c. 1818-20 February 1895) was an American abolitionist, editor, orator, author, statesman and reformer; born a slave as Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey.

“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and incur my own abhorrence.”

“I assert most unhesitatingly, that the religion of the south is a mere covering for the most horrid crimes, - a justifier of the most appalling barbarity, - a sanctifier of the most hateful frauds, - and a dark shelter under which the darkest, foulest, grossest, and most infernal deeds of slaveholders find the strongest protection. Were I to be again reduced to the chains of slavery, next to that enslavement, I should regard being the slave of a religious master the greatest calamity that could befall me. For of all slaveholders with whom I have ever met, religious slaveholders are the worst. I have ever found them the meanest and basest, the most cruel and cowardly, of all others.”

“… between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference – so wide, that to receive the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt , and wicked. To be the friend of the one, is of necessity to be the enemy of the other. I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land. Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity. I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels.”

Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, (Anti-Slavery Office, 1845), Barnes & Noble Classics ed., New York, 2003.

“At one time Mr. Douglass was traveling in the state of Pennsylvania, and was forced, on account of his color, to ride in the baggage-car, in spite of the fact that he had paid the same price for his passage that the other passengers had paid. When some of the white passengers went into the baggage-car to console Mr. Douglass, and one of them said to him: "I am sorry, Mr. Douglass, that you have been degraded in this manner," Mr. Douglass straightened himself up on the box upon which he was sitting, and replied: "They cannot degrade Frederick Douglass. The soul that is within me no man can degrade. I am not the one that is being degraded on account of this treatment, but those who are inflicting it upon me..."

Booker T. Washington, in Up from Slavery (1901)

Want to End Bigotry in Venango County?

Submitted by PA Maverick

Want to end "bigotry" in Venango County and in other places? It starts with repentance from all sin (sexual and otherwise) -- but that is where the problem is -- we want to redefine the boundaries on human sexuality as God has established them! Strange, is it not, that those who want to abide by God's established boundaries are the bad guys and those who want God to keep His mouth shut on the issue of morality while drawing up the new boundary lines are the good guys! Enjoy while you can, because the time is coming when it will be (in the words of the famous Gomer Pyle) "Surprise, surprise, surprise!" And we will discover God meant every word He said, no redefining permitted!

Maybe We Are All Bigots

Submitted by Anon.

Why did Jesus say in Matthew 19:5, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh" if he thought same sex marriage was okay?

Mel White is right - God does love the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgenders of the world. Jesus loved the outcasts of the world and talked about God's love for them. He said in Matthew 15, "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man unclean.' Jesus talked a lot about needing to 'repent' from sins or you too will perish. What did he mean by repent and sins? Would a god who loves us judge us?

Maybe we are all 'bigots' not just Diane Gramley and Jane Richey. The dictionary says a bigot is one who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his own belief or opinion. Seems like a lot of people on this blog could be defined in that manner.

Trisha Balmer Stands Up for Fairness & Equality

Submitted by Trisha Balmer

Obviously not ALL Christians, or whatever these people are calling themselves (Hatemongers?), are Anti-gay ...

Anyway, I'll stand up and be counted (again and again and again until people realize that I haven't, and never will bend to their will).

My name is Trisha Balmer. I am a Christian. I am a married heterosexual. I am a mother. And I believe that Christians who use the Bible to teach and preach hate are not doing God's will, but the Devil's.

Christ's teachings were ALL about Love. And those are the teachings in which MY faith is based.

Monday, June 23, 2008

How Can I Be Sure That God Loves Me Too?

Taped live before an amazing congregation in Spring Lake, Michigan, this is Mel White's response to those who misuse the Bible to make outcasts of God's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender children. To know how God feels about outcasts, Mel takes a closer look at the life and teachings of Jesus (himself an outcast) who with all the Jewish and Christian prophets proclaimed God's special love for outcasts. For more resources on freedom for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, visit

N.J. Congressman Has Change of Heart on Gay Marriage

Submitted by Anon.

Some elected officials do show political courage.

When will Rep. Hutchinson, Sen. White, and other local elected officials in the Oil Region of NW PA stand up for fairness and equality?


New Jersey congressman Steve Rothman announced this week that he supports the legalization of same-sex marriage, according to the Bergen Record .

The article says Rothman's change in position was motivated by the recent marriage of his lesbian stepdaughter (and the subsequent addition of three new stepchildren to the family).

“Life can be short and hurtful for some,” the congressman explained to the Record . “Anytime anyone in the community speaks out against discrimination, it advances the cause of ending discrimination.”

Rothman, a Democrat, has joined 51 other representatives in the LGBT Equality Caucus, which is geared toward raising awareness of LGBT issues in Congress. ( The Advocate 6/21/08)

re: Joy and Love are Good for a Community

submitted by Dittman

I think, although I agree with your base point, that we need to be careful, as our rhetoric is sliding slowly buy surely into some pretty dramatic logical fallacies - we're building strawmen of "some people" and "they" and suggesting that the AFN is directly responsible for the insanity of Waagner.

These are the same shady tactics that are used against people who are gay and, although turning the swordman's own blade on himself may feel good, ultimately it's destructive to the goal.

To co-opt one of my favorite quotes:

"The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house."

Why not bring some hard facts (starting with Richard Florida's research, for example) about how much more economic development an accepting community enjoys versus a closed minded community.

I can't quantify joy and love , but I can point out the Urban Institutes' hard research that, credits "the gay and lesbian population for breathing new life into aging neighborhoods in cities throughout the nation. . . . Silver Lake (CA) [is] . . . an example of this.

“Silver Lake was considered a deteriorating community a decade ago, but since gays and lesbians began moving in, it is not only more aesthetically attractive, but a safer neighborhood for everyone else who lives there”

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Joy and Love are Good for a Community

Submitted by Jim Ru

It was brought to my attention that some people wonder how having homosexuals makes a community a better place.

One has to be amazed at such a statement. I guess when some people see two people in love, they can only see the gender of those people, and not the love.

I guess some people haven't had sex in so long that when they see two people who have the hots for each other, all they can think of is how dirty and disgusting sex is, and not the happiness of two people being affectionate and sensual and maybe even feeling just down right joyfully sexy.

They don't see God in sex unless sex is about making babies. They miss the God part about affection, sensuality, play and fun.

Perhaps in the late 1800s, society could think that heterosexuals don't enjoy all the things that homosexuals enjoy while having sex. But today, having the internet, we can see the heterosexuals do engage in anal sex, oral sex, SM sex, sex toys, porno, and pretty much every kind of sex that is out there, just for the fun of it.

Not all sex is about making babies.

And thank God for that. The population of the planet increases at three additional people per second.

So, we could ask, what do heterosexuals bring to the community that makes it a better place at this point in our environmental crisis on the planet.

Let's hope they bring new and interesting sexual acts that don't lead to more children.

As for what homosexuals bring, I invite you to go online and look at the thousands of photos and videos of homosexuals who love each other, and yes, even marry each other. Look at the wonderful joy of two people who love, and who also enjoy their sensual, God given nature.

Yeah, even look at all the pornography out there and take a good look at the wildly diverse world that God has created within human behavior.

If all you can see is evil in that, then my dears, the problem is with you. Is some of it shocking and distasteful? Hell yeah. Damn weird world we live in if you ask me. But it is a marvel too. The parts I don't understand.... I figure if there is a God that's where you will find God. In the mystery.

I figure, if it's consensual and between adults, then it's none of my business.

Again, no one is demanding that you engage in ANY sexual behavior. But God knows, it sure sounds like it would do you some good to engage in at least some kind other than constantly masturbating to the idea that everyone, but you, is naughty.

How does constantly focusing on homosexuality as evil make a community a better place?

Woudn't your time be better spent doing other things, like helping the poor or volunteering in hospitals? Or maybe even go out on a date and have some fun?

How do homosexuals make a community a better place? If they connect with their God-given humanity without constantly living in fear, and with a little luck, there is the joy of human contact. Also, if they are lucky, they love each other. Joy and love, in case you were wondering, is good for a community.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

GLBT History - Unheard Stories

Submitted by Anon.

A great example and source of inspiration for Venango County as a new generation fights for fairness and equality ...

It Can Happen Here ... It Has Happened Here

Submitted by Linda

We all tend to believe hate crimes happen in other places. We don’t want to believe it can happen here – that our “crazies” are not as dangerous as the ones in other areas.
Do you remember Clayton Lee Waagner?

Before the AFA and religious extremists in Venango county jumped on the anti-gay campaign, they focused their fear and hatred on abortion clinics. And in Kennerdale, in VENANGO COUNTY, they created a zealot who landed on the FBI’s 10 most wanted fugitives list.

His wife, then living near Clintonville, said, “he had targeted 40 people to kill if they didn't quit.”

The Associated Press reported;
“During his trial, Waagner testified that he had watched abortion clinics for months, stocking up on weapons after God asked him to "be my warrior" and kill doctors who provide abortions.

The Rev. Donald Spitz, a Pentecostal minister who heads Pro-Life Virginia in Chesapeake, Va., and a Waagner supporter, said it was shame that he got caught.”

It can happen here. It has happened here.

All it takes is one person hearing the message of hate and intolerance and deciding to be a “warrior” for God. And make no mistake; there are people in Venango County affiliated with AFA who, like Rev. Spitz, would not be unhappy to see that kind of warrior spring up in our midst.

The “action alerts” sent out by this group ARE intended to motivate readers to action. They first build a case that GLBT people are dangerous to the family and pose a huge risk to the community. The parallels to anti-abortion campaigns cannot be ignored. Then, as now with GLBT issues, they felt they were loosing control legislatively and with public attitudes. This is when there is the greatest danger of someone emerging to take matters into their own hands.

It’s not a matter of free speech. The AFA and WAWN use false reports and twisted logic to create fear and hatred of GLBT people. I believe these fall into the category of “fighting words”. Though it hasn’t been tested in court since Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568 (1942), fighting words are not protected by the first amendment.

UU Erie Program - Stonewall: The Cradle of Gay Activism

On Sunday, June 22 at 10:30 AM, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Erie will present Stonewall: The Cradle of Gay Activism.

Life experience speakers include Doris Cipolla and John Daly King. Performing artists include "Ricardo and Jessie" and Devon Redinger.

The minister is Rev. Steve Aschmann.

The event is sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Erie, Erie Gay Pride, PFLAG, four29media, Erie Gay News, Womynspace and Erie Gay Business Alliance.

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Erie is located at 7180 New Perry Highway (North on Route 97 from exit 27 on I-90), Erie PA.

For more information call Rev. Steve Aschmann at (814) 440-0902

True Unsung Heroes

Hate Hurts: Unfortunately It Can Also Kill by David P. Hughes

All people who live honestly about their sexual ori­entation or gender identity are heroic, as it takes great strength and courage to face the daily struggles for personal freedom in the face of enormous opposition; to ultimately give their life for said freedom makes them—HEROES.

This year alone there have already been eight hate crime GLBT murders that we know of. These statistics are staggering and continue to rise. The thought of peo­ple out there with that much hate in their hearts truly terrifies me!

Do you know the names Ryan Skipper, Sean Kennedy, Satendar Singh, Lawrence King, Adolphus Simmons, Philip Walstead, Michael Sandy, Gwen Araujo, Pvt. Barry Winchell, Simmie Williams, Sanesha Stew­art, Daniel Yakovleff, Nireah Johnson, Scotty Joe Weaver, Julio Argueta, Billy Jack Gaith­er, Alecia Bello, Patrick “Patricia” Murphy, Brandon Teena, Amancio Corrales, Scott Amedure, Allen Schindler, Jason Gage or Ronnie Paris?

No? How about Matthew Shepard? The same thing that happened to him happened to all of them. These men and women were all murdered for their sexual preferences. All because of hate. There are hundreds more that we have not listed as well, that we have not been able to get to.

One man has had enough and decided to do something about it. After the death of young Ryan Skipper, Scott Hall was fed up with it all and decided to create an or­ganization that helps ed­ucate and memorialize the people murdered for being who they are. On March 14th, 2007, Gay American Heroes was born, founded by Scott, along with a board of directors and an advisory board and an honorary board. This honorary board is filled with names like Cyndi Lauper, Chad Allen, Sgt. Eric Alva, Bill Bean, Allan Cumming, US Repre­sentative Barney Frank, Robert Gant, Iman, Reichen Lehmkuhl, Christopher Rice, Andy Towle, Judge David Young, Jill Clayburgh, Thea Gill and Charlie David.

GAH is raising money to build a nation­al traveling memorial that they will take to communities throughout the country in or­der to honor the lives of GLBT people who have been murdered as a result of hate crimes because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. GAH offers counseling for family and friends and works with local law enforcement. They are trying to educate the public as well as promote acceptance and equality among all people and shine a light on this horrific injustice in America.

Across the United States there have been over 20 pride celebrations and univer­sities that have requested to have this me­morial exhibited, along with a full-length documentary that is currently being made.

The Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall has 58,195 names on it. If the world keeps going at the rate it is, with the amount of violence and murders acted out against the GLBT community in just one short century, the Gay American Heroes Memorial Wall will be as large as the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall and will quickly surpass it.

I don’t know about you, but I do not want to see this memorial get even one more name on it. I don’t want my name on that wall! Unfortunately, this is also a war and we are its soldiers. The sad truth about these me­morials is that they are covered with the blood of innocent people. Let us prevent the loss of anymore!

Let us help them in this fight. Join with Gay American Heroes and fight for peo­ple’s lives. Let us not add any more names to the memorial. These men and women who have already died should not have had to do so. But please, let them be the last. You can help us help the loved ones left behind and to educate the rest of the community by going to the website

Take the time to read the website, look at the different links. Get outraged, cry a lit­tle but don’t just ignore it. If you can afford it send a small donation to help. You can volunteer your time as well if you would like. Simply send an email and ask what you can do.

I applaud Scott Hall and those who have tak­en the time to stand up, fight back and say, “NO MORE!”

All people who live honestly about their sexual orientation or gender identity are he­roic, as it takes great strength and courage to face the daily struggles for personal free­dom in the face of enormous opposition; to ultimately give their life for said freedom makes them—HEROES.

Friday, June 20, 2008

You Don't Have to Wave a Banner to Make a Huge Difference

Submitted by Linda Henderson

That's a pretty short list of businesses supporting WAWN. We can do as they say they do "vote with our dollars". But I like to take a positive approach and concentrate on supporting those things that will create the kind of community we can all enjoy. Support the businesses and organizations that bring educated, thoughtful people here.

The next birthday, anniversary or other holiday - don't buy a generic gift at the local department store. Buy tickets to a show at the Barrow Civic Theatre, for an Arts Council Program or a show at the Latonia. Go to the National Transit building annex and buy a unique peice of art from one of the Artists. Get your friends together and go to Brother Bean's or the Howling Dog Cafe. Watch for the many great programs at Venango Campus (many free) and GO!

You don't have to wave a banner or write a letter or sign a petition to make a huge difference. Just show up! The greatest motivator for those of us working on programs is to see YOU walk in the door smiling. Tell them the Latonia sent you.

Supporters of WAWN and American "Family" Radio

Submitted by Anon.

American Family Radio, headquartered in Tupelo, Mississippi, broadcasts daily messages of bigotry and intolerance throughout Venango County via local radio station WAWN 89.5 FM.

The following businesses are listed as supporters on the WAWN American Family Radio web site.



2847 Us 322
Franklin, PA 16323

3052 State Rt. 257
Seneca, PA 16346


R.D. 1, Emlenton

Nickleville, PA


3910 Sandy Lake Rd.
Sandy Lake PA
, 16145


908 Liberty St
Franklin, PA 16323

Shun Businesses that Support Gramley's Agenda of Bigotry & Intolerance

Submitted by Anon.

I am encouraged by this web site. For too long Diane Gramley has intimidated people in Venango County with lies, fear, hatred and her political agenda ... all disguised as religion.

Gramley gives real people of faith a bad name by association.

Those of us who want to focus on building the Oil Region as a more welcoming place for ALL people should do so by SUPPORTING LOCAL BUSINESSES that SUPPORT DIVERSITY,FAIRNESS AND EQUALITY



Perhaps this blog could compile a list of businesses that are known to support Gramley's efforts and radio station WAWN and readers could send in other suggestions as well.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

re: Cycle of Fear & Intolerance

Submitted by Linda Henderson

Here is the most important thing, I believe. AND the wonderful thing that is happening here.


Standing up, Standing tall and asking the important questions.

Ultimately we need to find the truth.


Fear and intolerance fade away in the light of truth.

The truth is that GLBT people do not destroy a community.

Hate and intolerance destroys a community.

Stand UP, Stand TALL and contribute. WE ARE, WE CAN, and WE WILL!!!

Cycle of Fear and Intolerance

Submitted by Norm

With all the real problems we face here, you'd think people would have better things to do with their time than perpetuate the cycle of fear and intolerance.

Nancy Edmondson Stands Up for Fairness & Equality

I'm very happy to have found this blog ...

I want to also stand up with my name!

Nancy Edmondson

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The ACLU's Matt Coles Tells Us Why Marriage Matters

June 18, 2008
The ACLU's Matt Coles Tells Us Why Marriage Matters

Marriage is not antiquated; it fills a very basic, human need that gay people deserve.

Why -- some people, including a lot of gay people, ask -- do LGBT people care so much about marriage? Marriage rates are down in the United States, and even further down in Western Europe. More and more people who marry once don't marry again after the first marriage ends, even if they find partners and spend the rest of their lives together.

Why are LGBT people so anxious to have something that the people who already have it don't seem to want so much anymore?

Part of the answer is that some LGBT people want to marry for the same reason lots of straight people do: committing yourself to trying (let's be honest) to build a life with someone else and having them commit to trying with you fills one of the deepest emotional needs many human beings have.

For some LGBT folks, only marriage will do because they take a pretty conventional view of commitment and relationships. That should come as no surprise; we're everywhere and that includes ideology and view of the world as well as geography.

And let's face it, for LGBT people right now, the statement you make when you marry is hardly conventional.

But for the crowds who danced on Castro Street the night of the decision, this isn't just about marriage -- maybe it isn't even mostly about marriage. The California Supreme Court understood. In what may be the most important passage in the Court's opinion, Chief Justice Ronald George wrote:

"Furthermore, in contrast to earlier times, our state now recognizes that an individual's capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual's sexual orientation, and, more generally, that an individual's sexual orientation -- like a person's race or gender -- does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights."

Discrimination requires a rationale. The rationale for treating gay people differently has always been that we were not capable of the kind of love and commitment that straight people share.

The fight over marriage puts the truth of that rationale squarely at issue. If the love we share and the commitments we make (which, as with straight people, vary widely) are not different, there is no rationale for excluding us from marriage. More critically, there is no rationale for excluding us from jobs, from parenting, even from the prom. A person's sexual orientation, as the Court said, will not be a legitimate reason to deny a person rights.

Who cares about that? Every gay person should. Everyone who has a gay friend or family member should. Every person who cares about the Constitution's promise of equal protection should.

Coles is the director of the American Civil Liberties Union LGBT & AIDS Project.

Out in the Country: Rural Gays Feel Less Isolated Today, But Stigma Remains

By L.A. Johnson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette June 18, 2008

People labeled Patrick Arena "a fairy" early on.

As the only boy in tap classes at the Vella School of Dance in Washington, Pa., in the 1960s, he was taunted and whispered about.

"Truth was, I knew I was gay, but I certainly wouldn't admit it," says Mr. Arena, 57, of Washington. "There was nobody to discuss it with and I was afraid to discuss it anyway. I certainly couldn't talk about it with my parents or guidance counselor."

Growing up gay in Washington County in the 1960s was painful. Decades later, the climate for 22-year-old Patrick Cameron and other gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people is better in the county, as it is in much of rural America.

But as GLBT communities in Pittsburgh and other cities nationwide host pride festivals and pride weeks throughout the summer, advocates say there's still room for improvement in rural areas, where gay populations remain small. Washington County, for example, has only about 250 same-sex couples, says demographer Gary J. Gates, co-author of "The Gay and Lesbian Atlas." Overall, about 20 percent of same-sex couples in Pennsylvania live in rural areas, said Dr. Gates, a Johnstown native and senior research fellow at the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.

When Mr. Arena was in high school, he pretended he was straight, always pursuing "unattainable" girls, like the head cheerleader or head majorette. During a Christmas concert in the 10th or 11th grade, a teacher who always had encouraged his singing and choreography, shocked him.

"I guess I was standing [in a way] he thought was effeminate in the middle of the chorus, in the front row," Mr. Arena says. "In the middle of the concert, he came up and pushed me and kicked my knee so I would straighten my leg out and told me to stop standing like a 'faggot.' "

After the concert, the teacher asked, "Are you a faggot? If you are, I don't want you in any more of my concerts."

Mr. Arena was speechless and devastated.

"I still discuss this in therapy to this day," says Mr. Arena, now a private voice coach and jazz singer who has performed at some Pittsburgh Pride events this week, at Pittsburgh's Hard Rock Cafe and the Backstage Bar at Theater Square. "I felt like I couldn't trust anybody."

Because he was a dancer, his Washington High School classmates nicknamed him the Sugar Plum Fairy. At his high school graduation in 1969, the student council president announced him as Patrick "Sugar Plum Fairy" Arena.

"Of course, everybody laughed," he said. "That was really humiliating, but I had to walk on stage, smiling and waving."

He attended Duquesne University for about two years, but left the school and headed to New York City in 1972 to study jazz. He worked and lived on Christopher Street, the epicenter of the gay rights movement and ground zero for New York's AIDS crisis, in the 1980s and 1990s.

"I was right there when people started getting sick and losing weight and they didn't know what it was," he said. "I lost over 200 people that I knew, friends and acquaintances."

He returned to Washington in 1999 to care for his ailing father, who passed away about two years ago. Today, he's a member of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) in Washington County and participates in programs in Washington sponsored by Persad Center Inc., a Pittsburgh-based counseling center dedicated to serving the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

"I thought that things would have changed somewhat in those 25-plus years," he says of his hometown. "I found that there's a lot of homophobia here and it hadn't changed as much as I'd hoped it had."

Support organizations

Persad operates Community SafeZone programs to promote acceptance of the GLBT community in underserved, outlying and rural areas, such as Washington County. The programs gather community members to discuss "what it means to be safe at home, at work, at school, with one's doctor and in one's faith," said Betty J. Hill, Persad Center's executive director.

Last week, a group of more than 30 adults -- some gay, some straight, some out, but some not -- gathered for a Community SafeZone potluck dinner/brainstorming session at First Presbyterian Church in Washington to discuss how to improve the safety and well-being of GLBT youngsters in public schools.

Teens grappling with their sexuality are at a higher risk for suicide than other teens and can be subject to bullying and harassment. Earlier this year, for example, a California teenager was charged with first-degree murder for fatally shooting a gay classmate in school.

In Washington County, youngsters trying to deal with their orientation can turn to the Gay-Straight Alliance, a confidential support and discussion group for gay and straight teens that meets weekly.

Two heterosexual girls who believed people should be educated about how to be more compassionate toward GLBT students and students perceived to be gay helped form the group. "These kids are just great kids and it's hard enough to be in high school and then to be different in a way that's not acceptable to so many adults," said Kathy Cameron, one of the adult advisers to the Washington County GSA who knew of the need for such a group because of her own son's experience.

Patrick Cameron knew he was more attracted to boys than girls in his early teens, but didn't apply the term "gay" to himself until he was 16, when he told his mom.

"I couldn't even say the words," he said.

One summer day in his bedroom, after a soccer match, he simply wrote the words "I'm gay" on a piece of sheet music and handed it to his mother.

She told him she still loved him.

"Then, there was lots of silence," he said.

His parents, like many, didn't quickly and easily accept his sexuality. His mother sought counsel from clergy. His father thought he was just going through a phase and sent him to a child psychologist, hoping therapy might change him.

"It's like finding out your child has something that's going to make their life harder, whatever that may be," Mrs. Cameron said.

Initially, she and her husband's basic parental instincts kicked in and all they wanted to do was protect him. They didn't want him to tell other people. They were worried about how society would treat him and they didn't want anyone to hurt him.

"It's a worry I wasn't prepared for and it took time to process it," she says. "I didn't say all the right things at first. I didn't know what those right things were except, 'We love you, whatever you feel you are.' "

It just took some time.

"There was an initial year-and-a-half to two-year period where things were difficult," Mr. Cameron said. "But since I've come out, my parents have been really great about things."

'A lot of rejections'

Some of the youngsters his mother encounters in the GSA don't receive that kind of parental support.

"There's a lot of rejections and some parents say some really not nice things for a long time before they come to terms with it, but they do," she says.

Mr. Cameron entered his junior year confident and comfortable with the fact he was gay. He was, however, still reluctant to tell friends and classmates.

"I never really saw myself as different," says Mr. Cameron, who was a popular student, scholar and athlete in high school. "I just had this secret."

Even before he came out to his parents, he'd found some support via the Internet. He started reading an online gay and lesbian teen forum.

"There's a huge, substantial gay culture on the Internet and that's the real outlet for people living in rural America," Mr. Cameron said.

He visited the site daily to see what issues gay teens were discussing and read the forums for months before ever posting a comment himself. Eventually, he started making friends his age online and coming into Pittsburgh to socialize.

"Growing up [gay] in a small town when you don't know or see other gay people, it was really huge knowing that you're not the only one," he said.

And like other teens, he started dating a bit, too.

"Not, really a relationship," he says. "We'd just hang out. I'd go see his soccer game."

At school, friends started to tease him about being gay. He came out to one friend and she told everyone else. However, by senior year, all his friends knew, and he was even talking about it in classes. He went to a homecoming dance in another school district with one young man he dated.

Today, he's a couple months from finishing his undergraduate degree in history and he lives in Shadyside. However, he's happy to see Washington is a bit more tolerant than it was when he was younger and he's extremely proud of his mother and the work she does with the GSA.

"What I'd really like to see is the high school being supportive," he says.

He notes that his mother is a board member of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network in Pittsburgh, and he would like to see a GLSEN chapter in Washington schools some day.

For now, he accepts the gains that have been made. Years ago, GLBT people in Washington County had to move to New York, San Francisco or some other larger city to find gay community, but that's no longer the case.

"You can live in Washington, Pa., have a huge community of friends on the Internet and not be isolated and get the support that you need," Mr. Cameron said. "It's just really a phenomenal thing."


• To contact the Washington County Gay-Straight Alliance, e-mail

• For information about Persad Center Inc. services in Washington County, call 724-344-6625 or visit

• For information about Washington PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) call 724-228-2280.

• For information about Pittsburgh's GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) chapter, call 412-361-6996 or visit

• For information about Pittsburgh Pride Week, which runs through Sunday, visit www.

L.A. Johnson can be reached at or 412-263-3903.

The Cycle of Sex and Gender Among Gays, Churches and Married Men

Submitted by Jim Ru

I have heard many people discussing these issues about homosexuality and Namoli in the community at this time.

Many questions are being raised.

So I'd just like to steer this conversation a little by putting some of these questions to words on this site, hoping it will further the conversation and perhaps settle some of the fear and hate.

I do believe that most people in this community want to keep the peace. The city and the police in Oil City have been adamant that if anyone breaks the laws, they will be prosecuted. With those guarantees in place, I think it's time to step back and try to address the more rational people of this county.

Let me toss out some questions and ideas that I've heard being discussed. I am going to avoid making my own opinions on these questions, and just put them out there for all sides to ponder. I am also keeping my discussion mostly around gay men, since I am one, and I think lesbians are more capable of discussing their issues on their own.

Okay here goes...

Do you think the controversies and issues around Namoli performing here are ones of gender or sexuality?

Lots of gay men dislike and even hate effeminate gay men, as do lots of heterosexual men. Some of the worst insults I've heard towards effeminate men have been by gay men who only want hyper masculinity as the focus of gay issues and sexuality. Further, young males in general have issues around dominance. It's not only a human trait, it's a trait found in many species. A man who has transgendered to female brings up a lot of questions for people. The unknown is always scary. I've had a lot of questions about what it means when a person goes through this process and I've not always understood.

But the question I hear the most being articulated in different ways is this:

Do you think that having effeminate men and transgendered men being open and out about their lives threatens the traits of male dominance in masculine men, be they gay or straight?

Is it possible to change this? Or is it part of our genetic makeup as humans? (Like monkeys or gorillas or parrots who fight for dominance within the young male population, they use hyper masculinity to maintain their authority. Any signs of femininity are signs of weakness which leaves the animal open to attack.)

Okay next question....

I've also heard it said that some of the people who create the controversies here do not actually live in Oil City. I think of all the comments I've heard, this one comes up the most. What do you think about that? Is it important to take a stand and then stick around to hear the response?

Or, is this just part of the culture of YouTube, where you create a controversy, then gather the response later for your own profit? Also, if a church from another town comes here and stirs up trouble, what is the appropriate response?

To take it a step further, are gays, lesbians and trans people responsible for the controversy that erupts around them? If a trans person performs here does she have to respond if someone gets upset?

If that's the case, then should we also hold heterosexuals up to the same standard? The population increases at three additional people per second on this planet. Resources are finite, quickly running out and getting poisoned. I find THAT a threat to society. Should heterosexuals be kept from performing unless they promote an agenda that could destroy society? And if they do perform do they then have a responsibility to explain that agenda to everyone who gets upset?

It sounds smug, but it's an honest question. Heterosexuals often seem to phrase questions that hold themselves in the light of grace, especially if they have kids. It is assumed that everyone else has to answer to them.

Does this have any validity?

Alright, then there is this....

We live in a time where it's easy for married and closeted men to find sex on the internet without being caught. It takes little time and effort to hook up for sex using chat rooms and other online social groups, and you never have to use your real name. Many of these are also devout Christians, Muslims and Jews, and condemn gays and lesbians who are open about their sexuality. (I know this from personal experience of having talked to them, but if you doubt it, then I urge you to start such conversations online yourself and I'm sure it won't take long to find men like this.)

In many societies around the world it's normal for married men to have homosexual sex, as long as the married man is the dominant and masculine partner in that sex. Effeminate men are used for sex and then kept hidden from the families of the married man. You are considered less than manly if you are the receiving partner. Effeminate gay men who are used for sex by married men have about the same status as street prostitutes. (Not always, but usually.)

Do you think that part of the controversy around transgendered and openly gay men in this town has to do with men who see such honesty as a threat to their usual sexual outlets?

Do you think that religious rules encourage these sexual behaviors of dominance and secrecy? In other words, we don't care what you do in private, just make sure you're married, have kids, and keep your sexual life to yourself. And if you are having sex with men, make sure you're on top otherwise you're like a woman, only worse.

Don't ask don't tell.

Many men I've spoken to online think secrecy for gay sex is how things should be, how they have always been, and how they intend to keep them. This way they can have a family, and have lots of sex on the side, and no one is the wiser. Even if they don't have a family, by being secret, they never have to deal with the politics of homosexuality. They never address the issues of cheating, disease, and the threats to openly gay men.

Furthermore, many gay men are more than happy to oblige married men, keep it secret and that's that. The chat rooms are full of men, from all over the world, right now hooking up for immediate sex without any attachments. Many of those men are married, with kids, and go to church, synagogues or temples, and consider themselves conservative. However, many are gay men who enjoy having sex married or not, gay or not. Most men think about sex a lot. This is just one more way to get it. They never address the issues of encouraging men to lie, men who also vote in their churches and control the laws of society. They don't address the issues of enabling their own repression.

Many churches are happy to condemn gay men as a threat to society. It's profitable. They keep the message simple. They use the family as the basis of a strong society. They see sexual promiscuity and openness as the problem. By stirring fear and gossip, it keeps people coming back for more.

But they never address the fact that secrecy allows for many of their priests, mullahs, bishops, ministers and upstanding church leaders to have sex with other men, (and boys.) After the sermons, these same men hide their real sexual lives, often using church money to pay for sex or the means to get it. They never discuss the secrecy created when you turn "the family" into the only allowable human interaction. Instead of a spiritual journey, churches have become a place to go to show you're upstanding citizens. They create an unobtainable "family" model, and then condemn anyone who fails, which is grand theater and makes for great gossip, but has nothing to do with connecting with universal truth and compassion. People will write checks to protect their children from "those people over there." It's the oldest scam in town. However, the hypocrisy has become so visible that many people see religion as a bad and dangerous joke instead of a means for truth and enlightenment.

How to resolve this? Each part is playing a role in this continuing drama.

Okay, one last question.

Do you think it's possible to break through these rules and social norms and find new ways of behaving? Is being openly gay, trans or lesbian going to lead us to a new type of society? If so, what will that look like to you?

Will churches that seek to move beyond this drama and focus on social issues like poverty and environmental destruction make a difference, or should churches stay focused on sexuality?

Will men allow themselves to feel their effeminate nature that we all have, or is masculine dominance so genetic and definite that it will never change? Will men find that honesty and openness about their sexuality leads to a richer experience of life and sex? Or are men just sex machines, and if you have to lie to the wife to get it, then so what? If a few openly gay men get hurt and killed, then it's their own damn fault for being such sissies.

Which is it going to be?

I hope that by verbalizing these questions it will draw people together to discuss them, not always to change each other's minds, but to let each other know, we are thinking and feeling human beings, and not reading from some script created by a church or some committee.

Jesus said to love one another. The First Amendment secures our civil rights to free speech.

I think if all sides start there, it will go a long way to keeping the peace in our community.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Heterosexual Agenda - a parody

Submitted by Anon.

Anyone who knows of the 'good works' of Venango County's own Diane Gramley (American Family Association) and her constant companion Jane Richey (radio station WAWN) knows quite well the Gramley/Richey obsession with gay sex. In fact, knowing and obsessing over the intimate details of all things gay and sexual must be a secret commandment of the Gramley/Richey version of Christian fundamentalism since they spend so much time trying to steer people away from being gay by encouraging them to spend a lot of time thinking about gay sex, and listening to radio programs, reading web sites, talking about, obsessing and obsessing and obsessing about gay sex. Again, all as a way to eradicate being gay from existence.

In any case, the following link offers a nice parody of this foolishness. It's called The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing the Myths.,015.pdf

Saturday, June 14, 2008

re: What is the Cost of Bigotry & Intolerance to Venango County

Submitted by Peter Greene

I think hearing people's stories is a useful path to understanding. And I think understanding better is one of the fundamental purposes of human existence. So I agree that such stories would be good content for this blog.

re: What is the Cost of Bigotry & Intolerance to Venango County

Submitted by Linda

Having known you for many, many years, I can attest that you are Not a big fat oppressor and try hard to understand all sides of an issue. The fact that you are participating in this forum shows that you are trying to learn more and willing to help the rest of us see another perspective. It's important! And I appreciate it.
What I would like to see more of in this blog is how attitudes and feelings of biogtry have affected gay people in this area. For the most part, we have been the nameless and faceless group out to distroy family life in America. Unless our stories become real, it's difficult for the general population to work past what they have always thought was true.

Friday, June 13, 2008

re: What is the Cost of Bigotry & Intolerance to Venango County?

Submitted by Peter Greene

I have personal knowledge of only some of what that poster referred to, and, of course, cannot comment directly on any of it. Certainly one of the challenges of dealing with these issues between school and community is that, as a teaching professional, I have to observe both matters of confidentiality and contractual requirements regarding comments on the behavior of my bosses. (Particularly frustrating when someone slams you in the paper for being one more Big Fat Oppressor and you cannot speak in your own defense.)

So, in generalities.

The vagaries of the high school social scene can be complicated. Students can be unbelievably kind and unbelievably cruel.

Cause and effect can be hard to track-- students might not care that student x is whatever, but once they decide they don't like student x, they'll use whateverness as a club to beat on him/her with.

There are many frustrating barriers to break. Some students may draw a line that they're simply unwilling to talk about or examine; like adults, they can decide that some groups don't deserve to be treated with human decency because Those People are just Wrong. At the same time, there are students who are in love with their social isolation and are unwilling to give up that little rush they get from being Noble Oppressed Outcasts.

I'm also pretty certain that the percentages of bullies, jerks, and insensitive jackasses are pretty constant through all groups and sub-groups of the population. You would think that being a member of a picked on group would make people more sensitive to picking on others, but ime you'd be wrong.

None of this is meant to assess blame. Blaming is a waste of time-- worse than a waste of time because it's almost always part of the process of saying, "Since X is at fault, I should get a free pass to do the following bad behavior..."

If I could wave my magic wand and make any piece of human thought disappear, it would be this: "Since this person is a member of Group X, I don't need to listen to him/her or try to understand him/her, or treat him/her as I would if s/he was anyone else."

As for where kids in school can go-- it remains in part a crap shoot because in this, as in all things, certain students relate well to certain teachers, and that usually boils down to the intangibles of personality, timing, style, etc. And it's a hard thing to track because when a student comes to me for help or a talk about anything, it's nobody's business but that student's and I can't give you an accounting of how many students I'm working with.

I know that's all kind of vague and nonspecific, but anything less so would be inappropriate. I'm sure we could do better-- I expect that will always be true. But I'm sure we do better than back in the seventies, when we all thought that Paul Lynde was just a funny guy and the Village People were just a funny-looking vocal group.

re: What is the Cost of Bigotry & Intolerance to Venango County?

Submitted by Linda

I would hate to believe that the school district simply "went through the motions" concerning diversity training.
What has been missing for decades in this area is a resource for the LGBT community. We all react differently to constant negative messages. Some of us act out. Some of us internalize. Ultimately if there is no support system, a feeling that we are not being heard, and no resources to help us deal with it, we will either explode or implode.
When you are young, it's even more difficult. When I was young I was angry and often acted out without even knowing why. Looking back, I realize it was my fear that I was a lesbian. There was no one to talk with about it.
I hope it's true that an openly gay teacher is not harassed. That openly gay athletes are appreciated for their talents, and black students are also accepted without reservation.
It's the unpopular youth that most need resources and understanding. Where do they go? Who can they depend upon?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Things Can Only Get Better If We All Support Eachother

Submitted by Jim Ru

If you want jobs, money, culture, then you have to allow people to create jobs, money and culture.

If you start telling people who they may and may not associate with, they will simply go elsewhere.

We now have openly gay and lesbian people living in Oil City?

Is there chaos in the streets?

Has the moral fabric of our community broken down?

Namoli Brennet, a transgendered artist, performed here.

Has the town been overturned by anarchists seeking to make everyone homosexual?

It's time for society to grow up.

We have the internet here in Oil City. And books too!

You can now actually see on the internet what homosexuals do, and why they do it.

You can see sex online and see that people who have sex are really no different than you and I.

Imagine that?! Shocking I know.

You can go online and see two people of the same gender in love and still being productive members of society.

Imagine love being so universal and powerful that it includes people of the same gender?

I bring this up because it is often said that society needs to protect children from homosexuals and transgendered people.

Well, times have changed. Your kids with access to technology have seen it all, including homosexuality, transgendered people, and who knows what else?!

Yet, we still manage to have heterosexual children. They didn't all convert to homosexuality. Some of them still manage to be honest, caring, and compassionate people who have faith, hope and charity in their lives.

Imagine that?! Another myth created by fearmongering religious zealots was wrong.

If you go online, (or read books, ) you can also see the results of religous groups who are intolerant of those who do not follow their beliefs.

The videos of the violence and mayhem are right there on You Tube for all to see. How many wars are being fought right now because one religions hates another?

How many people are being maimed or killed because someone did not follow the authority of some religious zealot?

It's all online and your kids have seen it.

Should you support gays and lesbians who want to create art and businesses in Oil City?


Haven't we adults gotten past this yet?

Aren't there far more relevant questions, like where will how will we find clean water, renewable resources and sustainable jobs?

People who spend their lives worrying about what other people do with their genitals are the real perverts if you ask me. What a perverse use of their lives. What a perverse use of God and religion.

While people starve and face war and environmental chaos, there are actually people out there who find time to fuss over other people's sex lives. And not only that, they do it to the point of starting committees and sending out newsletters, and creating non-profit organizations.

That pretty much defines "perverse" if you ask me. If nothing else, this is one very unhappy group of individuals with way too much time on their hands.

I mean, really. Can we find some of the city tax money to get these people dates.... or lap dances? Maybe they're so unhappy because they just can't find anyone to have sex with them?

Let's make music, art, dance, while we create sustainable jobs, clean water, and a healthy life for the kids and adults of this amazingly beautiful community.

If people want to sit around moaning about how awful it is that other people are falling in love and having sex, then I don't have time for that.

However if these same people start sending out threatening letters and create an atmosphere of fear for law abiding citizens then I say it's time for the city to speak up before they do more damage than they've already done.

Personally, I can't wait to see all the festivals, music and art planned for the coming year. It's exciting to know we have so many artists, scientists, entrepreneurs, and hard working honest people in this town.

Things can only get better if we all support each other with respect and nurture each other's creativity.

Finally, I think it's good to remind people every once in a while about the First Amendment.

Freedom of Expression was put first for a reason. It's what made the United States such a beacon of hope, and a wealth of creativity in the past, and it's the foundation of any sustainable future we may have.

You can not create solutions if your mind is closed. You can not find answers if someone is keeping your mind closed for you.

It's the very basics of good business. Research and development come from creative open minds, not religious zealots.

re: Ex-Gay and the AFA of PA

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post ""Ex-Gay" and AFA of PA": has the banner ad for the dvd "They're Coming to Your Town."
I don't know how to do links on blogger, but you can type in the url.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Linda Henderson Stands Up for Fairness & Equality

Submitted by Linda Henderson

Since no one will be surprised to find me on this blog, I will join the others who are standing up and standing out. I appreciate you all - Peter, Michael, Joann!
I am thankful for many things today, so this will be positive. When the loud and negative voices weigh too heavily on my mind, there seems to always be divine intervention. It's the unexpected kindness of complete strangers that strikes me the most. Throughout this last year, they have wondered into the Latonia. They are usually 50 or older, curious to see what is developing in the place where they remember coming to shows as youth. They are excited to share their memories and end the visit with a directive. "You girls keep doing what you are doing" and say it's wonderful that the Latonia is coming back to life. They have heard the nay sayers and have taken a moment to tell us they see the project as positive and beneficial to the community. They still believe the "L" stands for Latonia. I am thankful for the reminder that this place has meaning to many and it encourages me to work a little harder to remember them the next time a storm rolls over.

Michael Mahler Stands Up for Fairness & Equality

Submitted by Michael Mahler

Very glad that folks are standing up. Ultimately, truth, justice and real spiritual values will triumph!

"Ex-Gay" and AFA of PA


There's a real need for this blog. But I have one question, why don't you include the links to the information you're talking about?

I heard once the AFA of PA had the 'ex-gay' Stephen Bennett in and recently they had another 'ex-gay' from Harvest USA in talking about 'sexual brokenness.' How can there be ex-gays?

When I finally located that quote about hate crimes on the AFA of PA website I looked at the whole page and it says the information comes from PlanetOut.,%202000.htm

I still can't find the banner ad about the DVD targeting the arts revitilization project Contributer # 3 mentioned. It would be 'interesting' to watch that. Which website was that on?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Note on Anonymity, or Not

When this blog was started, the notion of anonymity was intended to create a safe space for those who feel they have no other forum in which to share their views and for them to be able to do so without fear of backlash or retribution.

And that will continue to be the case.

However, for those who include their names with their comments, it is assumed that they wish to be identified publicly as a way to show support and solidarity with the mission of this blog and as a way to help expand such possibilities for those who feel they must hide in the shadows for safety and survival.

Suggestions and commentary on this work-in-progress welcome ...

For the Good of Our Region and For the Good of Our Souls ...

Submitted by Joann Wheeler

Richard Florida on Diversity as an Economic Growth Factor

"Places with high concentrations of gays and bohemians tend to have higher rates of innovation and economic growth...I'm not suggesting that gays and bohemians literally cause regions to grow. Rather, their an indicator of an underlying culture that's open-minded and diverse. The most successful regions welcome all kinds of people. Only 23.5% of Americans now live in the standard nuclear family. Appealing only to traditional families and excluding or denigrating everybody else may be good propaganda for the culture wars, but as a development strategy it's a disaster."

So, how many good, creative people, gay or straight, bohemian or not, can we afford to shut out? As citizens, we can't afford it for the good of our region. And as human beings, we can't afford it for the good of our souls.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Michael Dittman Stands Up for Fairness & Equality!

Because I helped to spark this anonymity debate by my complaint, allow me to say that my name is Michael and I feel that visibility, fairness, and equality for gay and lesbian and other marginalized people and groups is in the long-term interest of our region.

Maybe some other readers would like to stand up and be counted as well?

Martha Breene's Email and the Venango County GOP

In regards to Senator Santorum's visit, I was the one asked to leave. Interestingly it was announced in the paper that this was a public meeting. Secondly I am a Republican. Most everyone in the room knew me. I was clearly targeted because of my orientation and my friendship with the cameramen Joe and Dean. Many were surprised to see me and an associate (also Republican) escorted out. I did not make a scene, and I would like to believe that most in the room did not not know what was going on or they would have come to my defense. On my way out, one city official did exclaim that my removal was wrong, but did not have the authority to intervene. Interesting to see Marty Breene's email from that time.

Have You No Sense of Decency Ms. Gramley, At Long Last?

Fifty-four years ago today a courageous Army General, Joseph Welch, responded to the witch hunts and political crusades of Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) by saying:

"I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you no sense of decency?"

It was a powerful turning point in American history.

Perhaps the time is coming when the collective voice of Venango County residents will finally say to those who continue to attack gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents and friends:



More Discouraging Signs ...

And this message appears on the Fishermen's Net web site, managed by Jane Richey, that purports to represent Venango County area churches:

"Fight Against the Homosexual Agenda that threatens our State...
" with a link to the American "Family" Association of Pennsylvania web site.

Are there churches and/or church members out there that disagree with this kind of activism?

If so, please speak out ... We need your help!

Encouraging and Discouraging Signs

Seeing "middle of the roaders" weigh in is encouraging. Often those of us feeling threatened wonder where you are? Wonder why you seem to turn a blind eye. You are our collegues, our schoolmates, our neighbors. But then I realize that for many years I lived the "don't ask, don't tell" lifestyle. I didn't tell you what was hurting me. I didn't bring your attention to how laws affected me. I didn't tell you why I feared joining your social events, your clubs, your church or contributing in any substantial way to the community. I stayed home and isolated. Silent.
Today I read this on the AFA of PA website in their area of "proof of a gay agenda"...

"Hate Crimes Legislation

Hate crimes laws provide harsher sentences for violent crimes motivated by bias based on gender, ethnicity, religion, or physical disability. In 22 states and Washington, D.C., sexual orientation is also a protected category. But the federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act is stalled in Congress -- partly because it includes protection for gay men and lesbians."

How can we not interpret that to mean they believe it is OK to commit violent acts again gay and lesbian people?