Archive for the ‘ Opinion ’ Category

The Risks of Coming Out

Source: Revel & Riot (2011)

Written by Remi

My sexuality hasn’t been a secret since 2005.  I’m queer and non-gender identified.  My parents acknowledge those things about me and love me as the person that I am.  To my parents, I will always be their child.

Coming out is a rite of passage for many in the LGBTQ-spectrum.  Beyond everything else, it signifies a step into complete personhood and a drive to create space to accommodate their existence.  Some of us were robbed of that choice by being outed.  For my own story, a sergeant from my unit called my parents to tell them that they raised “a queer” in the hopes that when I was discharged, he would still somehow have the ability to impact my life after I was gone.  Thankfully, it didn’t happen that way.

For some, coming out is an anxiety-provoking experience, but one that goes well.  There’s hugging.  There’s “we always knew and we love you just the same.”  There’s acceptance.  But for too many others, this is not the case.  They are met with contempt, hatred, bigotry, and sometimes violence.  It is, what I can only describe as, a massive and disgusting betrayal of the relationship between a parent and a child.

As a parent, there are things that you’re required to provide for your children to the best of your ability.  Their physical, mental, and emotional growth is your responsibility when you bring someone into this world.  To deny them the love and support they deserve is monstrous.

I spoke briefly with the publisher of this video and they gave permission for it to be shared.  I want to caution my readers that this is graphic and it depicts the harsh reality for many people who have to make a choice between loving themselves and loving their family.

This was an “intervention” that had been set up by the family.  It was an ambush that trapped this individual in a room, surrounded by hostile people, and an ultimatum was given.  When things didn’t go as planned for the family, they resorted to violence as well as going as far to tell him that he was no longer part of the family or welcome in their house.

According to this individual’s boyfriend, he is currently safe and has a place to stay which is away from his family.

Things have changed since I was a kid in high school.  I didn’t talk about my sexuality with others because it just added another target on my back.  I didn’t tell the person I loved how I felt because his parents were very much like the ones seen in this video (except for one and a grandmother, bless their souls).  In the end, he committed suicide in October of 2003.

Since then, “Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell – Don’t Harass” was repealed and many states have supported gay marriage.  But underneath that surface support, many instances like what’s seen in that video still exist.  Hate crimes are still committed against LGBTQ communities and discrimination is still real.

According to a National Coalition of Anti-Violence Program report for 2012, there were over 2000 reported cases of hate crimes reported to be committed against LGBTQ individuals, including 25 homicides which is the 4th highest year recorded in the history of the US.  73.1% of those homicides were people of color.

V for Vendetta – J for Journalism and Justice

Written by “Remi”

I have been a journalist for close to 10 years now.  Yes, I’ve been writing and publishing news articles and interviews since I was about 16 years old.  It has been a hobby of mine as I truly want to become a doctor, that and I don’t want to starve to death.  There are really no jobs left in journalism.

However, yesterday really made me challenge that decision.  I am a member of Occupy Portland.  I have been volunteering down at the encampment by giving medical aid to those in need as well as helping out with peacekeeping and safety.  Because of which, I like keeping tabs on how other movements are doing across the country.

Yesterday, Occupy Oakland was raided by the city’s police force by order of the Mayor.  During the conflict police fired teargas, flash-bang grenades, bean-bag and rubber bullets at protestors, journalists, and bystanders.  Two stories emerged which caught my attention.

In an article written by Salon blogger, Kevin Army, he describes how he was assaulted by an officer.  Shortly after that incident, which was caught on video, Kevin was told that he could join other independent journalists.  In his words, “[n]ext thing I knew, we were tear-gassed. That explains why the TV trucks left, and explains why they grouped us together.”

You don’t attack journalists.  There is a level of professional courtesy granted to members of the press, even in war zones.  Yet, officers made physical contact with Kevin Army in an attempt to intimidate him.  When he, and others, didn’t vacate the area…they were tear-gassed.

Protestors took to the streets after what many called an overaggressive act by law enforcement.  One of those protestors was Scott Olsen, a 24 year old OIF veteran of the United States Marine Corps.  At some point, he was struck in the head with a canister fired by police officers and rendered unconscious only a few feet from a large line of police in riot gear.  The events that unfolded afterwards are bone-chilling as the event was recorded on YouTube.  As bystanders begin trying to help him and plead for medical attention, a member of the police force ducks out of sight and lobs a tear-gas grenade and flash-bang into the group.  It detonates right next to the veteran’s limp body and those attempting to help the fallen soldier run for cover.

Scott Olsen is currently listed in critical condition at Highland Hospital, suffering from blunt force trauma to the head resulting in a skull fracture and brain swelling.

Here we have people peacefully assembling and enacting their first amendment rights to protest against what they feel is a long list of injustices against the American people.  Here we have journalists that are recording events as they happen.  Here we have veterans supporting those they took an oath to defend.  And in one moment, their rights are trespassed upon and they are physically attacked.

As I stated earlier, journalism was a hobby of mine up until this point.  After this, it has evolved into something more.  Those with the ability to act have the responsibility to do so, especially when it’s speaking up for those who are unable to speak for themselves.  Right now I speak for an unconscious veteran, the protestors in Occupy Oakland, and journalists everywhere who have had their rights encroached upon and their value as human being diminished by those who find themselves in positions of power.

In the meantime, police in the United States and even the United Kingdom have sent requests to Google to remove videos from YouTube displaying aggressive police actions against protestors.  Police have also asked internet video services to submit unused videos of the protests for their usage.