Do cartoon characters age? (Tweety and Sylvester are 73!)

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Yes, Tweety is 73 years old. The first cartoon that featured the aggressive bird was created in 1942. Despite the perceptions that people may hold, owing to the long lashes and high pitched voice (which Mel Blanc provided), Tweety is male, although his ambiguity was played with. Perhaps that is why he holds a special place in my heart.

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Lots of cartoon characters are aging as well, though none seem to show any signs of losing their classic popularity. We hope you get a kick out of the slide show above.

Let there be levity and justice for all – lesbian comedy and music will benefit LPAC

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An evening to laugh and support each other
Opinion from Curve Magazine and the Rainbow Seniors editor

On June 16th in New York City, Levity & Justice for All will provide a stage for the political humor and sharp wit of an all-star line-up of lesbian comics—at the expense of anti-LGBTQ politicians, including the Republican presidential candidates.

Kate Clinton will host the event, a first-of-its-kind comedy benefit for LPAC, the nation’s only lesbian super PAC.

Headliners include Rosie O’Donnell, Kate Clinton, Billie Jean King, Cameron Esposito, and special musical guest BETTY.

For those of you in the Berkshires who follow such things, you know that many of the headliners are no stranger to our area. BETY and Cameron Esposito have performed at MASS MoCA, Kate Clinton has played the Colonial and other Berkshire venues, and Judy Gold brought her one woman show to the Williamstown Theatre Festival not so very long ago.

But now it’s time for all of us in the LGBTQ community to come together to make our voices heard in the 2016 election. The Lesbian Political Action Committee has endorsed Hillary Clinton. And there is a major evening of lesbian activism in the form of a fundraising laugh fest at Town Hall in New York City. Ladies, get out your wallets, and Gents, do the same!

LPAC Executive Director, Beth Shipp said, “Watching the news and seeing what some candidates like Donald Trump are saying, you’d think that the entire 2016 election cycle is a bad sitcom. The sad truth is that the 2016 cycle is no joke. We face candidates across the country, including those running for president, who have no respect for women or our LGBTQ community. Levity & Justice for All will celebrate the political voices, humor, and activism of LGBTQ women, inspiring and motivating those in attendance to actively participate in the 2016 election.”

Levity & Justice For All will take place during LGBT Pride Month. Funds raised will be used for political education, organizing, and mobilization efforts to support LPAC endorsed candidates.

When: Thursday June 16, 2016, 7:30PM

Where: The Town Hall, 123 W. 43rd St. New York City

Tickets

Coming Attractions – Pride Dance, plus Special Guests for both Rainbow Senior Meetings in June

June offers us a huge Berkshire LGBTQ Pride Dance event at the Colonial as well as a pair of Rainbow Seniors Meetings in June, both with special guests.

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Saturday, June 4, 2016 from 2 pm – 4 pm at the
Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield

The City and the Pillar by Gore Vidal and Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin — are two early gay novels which will be explored for us as only our own Hugh Black can! Read them (again) beforehand if you have the time, or learn from Hugh why you might make them part of you summer reading. Light refreshments.

3bba003Tuesday, June 21, 2016 from noon – 2 pm
First Congregational Church of Williamstown

Spirituality and Sexuality — Father Joseph Farnes, an openly gay priest serving as Assistant Rector of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Pittsfield discusses his personal journey and his understanding of why spirituality and sexuality are perfectly compatible. Special guest: Rev. Mark Longhurst, pastor of The First Congregational Church of Williamstown where we meet monthly.

As usual, our North County meeting is a potluck meeting with a chance to socialize, so bring something delicious to share with the group.

True Story: How a couple over 50 came to adopt a Guatemalan son and become a family

Ken Manford and Jeffrey Roach welcomed son Jackson into their family through an international adoption in 2002. From the Georgia Voice story.
Ken Manford and Jeffrey Roach welcomed son Jackson into their family through an international adoption in 2002. From the Georgia Voice story.

For a gay or lesbian couple to adopt a child and live in a state known for its hostility to gays, especially outside of the big cities, is a challenge. So when Ken and Jeff wanted to adopt Jackson the question was how would people in conservative Texas react to two men raising a baby? And how would Manford and Roach address the truth about their family to total strangers who felt their awesome trio was actually harmful to Jackson’s well being? A simple trip to the grocery store as a gay dad would prove to be a test.

“When you have a kid and you go to the grocery—you’re out. Every single checker in the world would say, ‘How sweet that you let mom have the day off and you’re doing the grocery shopping,’” he recalls a store clerk commenting.

“You can never hide that [sexual orientation] because your child will see that you’re embarrassed by your lifestyle. It forced me to say, ‘Oh actually he has two dads and his other dad is at home right now.’ The shocked look on people’s faces in Dallas, Texas was priceless.”

Read the full story here: http://thegavoice.com/gift-guatemala-decatur-gay-couple-became-popdaddy/

Survey shows LGBTQ gaining ground around the World but far from true equality

Across the world, countless LGBT people are forced to live in fear simply for being who they are. But things are improving.
Across the world, countless LGBT people are forced to live in fear simply for being who they are. But things are improving.
This is the longest article we have published to date on our Rainbow Seniors website. It is also one of the most important in terms of its analysis of the progress the LGBTQ community is making. Even if you don’t read the dense text, scroll down for the stats on changing attitudes around the world.

There has never been a more comprehensive study than this, and the timing is perfect.

Today, on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, Logo, the leading entertainment brand inspired by the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community, launched the Global Ally multiplatform storytelling project and released initial findings from the inaugural ILGA-RIWI 2016 Global Attitudes Survey on LGBTI People in partnership with Logo, the largest survey of attitudes toward LGBTI people around the world. The survey of nearly 100,000 individuals in 65 countries including Brazil, China, Congo, Egypt, France, Iraq, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uganda, and the United States, conducted by global survey technology company RIWI Corp. and the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), found that acceptance of the LGBTI community is growing both in the United States and around the world, but there is a long road ahead for equality.

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Logo Launches Year-Long “Global Ally” International Storytelling Project

The launch of Logo’s Global Ally project coincides with The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), an annual day when LGBTI activists in more than 130 countries mobilize to draw attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTI people. Logo partnered with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and OutRight Action International on Global Ally, a year-long multiplatform storytelling project which will feature video interviews with dozens of international LGBTI activists, hosted on http://globalally.org. Global Ally provides Logo’s audience with inside looks into the lives of international LGBTI people and features ways to send direct messages of solidarity and support to activists around the world.

Global Ally videos will be presented by advocates Geena Rocero and Omar Sharif Jr. and will spotlight issues including censorship, criminalization, discrimination and transgender equality. The first video debuted last night at the United Nations during OutRight’s Celebration of Courage event. Additional videos will be released throughout the year.

On GlobalAlly.org, allies can share videos of activists sharing their personal stories and send individual messages of solidarity to activists featured in the videos. The messages of support will be posted on GlobalAlly.org and activists will be able to personally respond on the site. GlobalAlly.org will also feature news about international LGBTI issues from NewNowNext.com.

“Stories of LGBTI people in the media have the power to create real change, but in too many countries today, LGBTI people cannot turn on the TV, open a newspaper or go online and see themselves represented,” said Rich Ferraro, Senior Director of Communications & Public Affairs at Logo. “Global Ally is a platform for international LGBTI people to share their own stories as well as a way for our audience to amplify them and send a message that we stand in solidarity.”

Results of ILGA-RIWI 2016 Global Attitudes Survey on LGBTI People in partnership with Logo

As part of Global Ally, Logo also released the first round of results from the ILGA-RIWI 2016 Global Attitudes Survey on LGBTI People. RIWI Corp. polled nearly 100,000 respondents from 65 countries on their attitudes toward LGBTI people and issues. The survey fielding used RIWI Corp.’s patented Random Domain Intercept Technology™, which targets random Web users around the world, including remote locations, who are surfing online through an anonymous opt-in survey. RIWI Corp. has conducted similar global surveys for the World Bank, Freedom House, and the International Association of Prosecutors.

Initial findings from the Global Attitudes Survey show that attitudes towards the LGBTI community have become more favorable over the past five years across the world, but reinforce that acceptance is far from a reality in dozens of countries around the world. Throughout the year, Logo’s Global Ally project will release additional regional research findings.

“We are witnessing a significant shift in consciousness away from the most egregious forms of discrimination at the global level, albeit with remarkable differences between the various regions. With the exception of Pakistan, Uganda, Nigeria and Ghana, even in countries known for laws criminalising same-sex sexual behaviour among consenting adults, less than 50% of the population supports those laws,” said Renato Sabbadini, Executive Director of ILGA. “We need, however, to increase support for activists and broaden the basis of our allies, if forward progress is to continue, especially in the domains of legislation and public education.”

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Survey Question: Human rights should be applied to everyone, regardless of whom they feel attracted to or the gender they identify with.

Global North America Latin Am. & Caribbean Europe Central Eastern Europe Middle East & N. Africa Africa (other) Asia US
Strongly/Somewhat Agree 67% 72% 70% 74% 68% 59% 62% 65% 70%
Neither 17% 18% 18% 15% 14% 17% 18% 18% 19%
Strongly/Somewhat Disagree 16% 10% 12% 12% 18% 24% 20% 17% 11%
  • Nearly 70 percent of global respondents agreed that human rights should be applied to everyone, regardless of whom they feel attracted to or the gender they identify with. In fact, a majority agreed in all 65 countries.

o    In Nigeria, where same-sex relations can be punishable by death, 67 percent of respondents agreed with this statement.

o    In India, where earlier this year the Supreme Court heard a challenge to a law that criminalizes LGBTI relations which was enacted in 2013, 68 percent of respondents agreed.

 

Survey Question: Over the past five years, how would you say your feelings toward LGBTI people have changed?

Global North America Latin Am. & Caribbean Europe Central E. Europe Middle East & N. Africa Africa (other) Asia US
Much/Somewhat More Favorable 35% 36% 36% 41% 25% 33% 31% 38% 34%
No Change 50% 54% 55% 50% 62% 49% 44% 45% 56%
Much/Somewhat Less Favorable 15% 10% 9% 9% 13% 18% 25% 18% 10%
  •      Attitudes have improved over the last five years: Globally, more than twice as many respondents said their attitudes towards LGBTI people have become more favorable in the past 5 years than those whose attitudes have become less favorable (35 percent more vs. 15 percent less favorable).

o    In every country, respondents who said their attitudes have become more favorable over the last five years reported that knowing someone who is LGBTI was the leading reason behind the change.

o    This positive trend was not universal. In seven countries (Congo, Fiji, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Uganda), the number of respondents who said their attitudes toward LGBTI people have become less favorable over the past 5 years was higher than respondents whose attitudes have become more favorable.

 

Survey Question: A company should be allowed to fire an employee for being LGBTI.    

Global North America Latin Am. & Caribbean Europe Central E. Europe Middle East & N. Africa Africa (other) Asia US
Strongly/Somewhat Agree 24% 14% 13% 15% 24% 41% 35% 26% 15%
Neither 20% 20% 20% 16% 18% 21% 21% 22% 21%
Strongly/Somewhat Disagree 56% 66% 67% 69% 58% 37% 44% 52% 64%
  • Majority agreement that LGBTI people should not be fired: Not one of the 65 countries had a majority of respondents agree that companies should be allowed to fire employees for being LGBTI.

o    In the U.S., where 29 states lack legal protections preventing LGBTI people from being fired for who they are, only 15 percent agreed that companies should be allowed to legally fire an employee for being LGBTI.

 

Survey Question: Being LGBTI should be a crime.

Global North America Latin Am. & Caribbean Europe Central E. Europe Middle East & N. Africa Africa (other) Asia US
Strongly/Somewhat Agree 26% 13% 15% 14% 24% 42% 43% 25% 13%
Neither 22% 20% 25% 17% 20% 21% 24% 25% 22%
Strongly/Somewhat Disagree 52% 67% 60% 69% 57% 37% 33% 50% 65%
  • Low support for criminalization of LGBTI people: The majority of respondents did not agree that being LGBTI should be a crime, despite LGBTI criminalization laws existing in at least 75 countries.

o    This includes respondents from countries that currently have laws that criminalize being LGBTI or distributing LGBTI materials: Russia (55 percent disagree that being LGBTI should be a crime); India (49 percent); Jamaica (47 percent); and Morocco (40 percent).

o    A majority of respondents in only 5 countries (Congo, Ghana, Nigeria, Pakistan, Uganda) agreed that being LGBTI should be a crime.

 

Survey Question: Bullying of young people who identify or are perceived as LGBTI is a significant problem.             

Global North America Latin Am. & Caribbean Europe Central E. Europe Middle East & N. Africa Africa (other) Asia US
Strongly/Somewhat Agree 51% 63% 40% 59% 57% 49% 52% 55% 64%
Neither 22% 20% 24% 19% 20% 24% 24% 23% 19%
Strongly/Somewhat Disagree 26% 16% 35% 22% 23% 28% 25% 22% 17%
  • Bullying of LGBTI youth needs to end: Over half (51 percent) of global respondents believe that bullying of young people who identify or are perceived as LGBTI is a significant problem.

o    Nearly half of respondents in North Africa and the Middle East agreed with this statement, which is the highest percentage of agreement from this region on a LGBT issue.

 

Survey Question: Should same sex marriage be legal?                                                                             

Global North America Latin Am. & Caribbean Europe Central E. Europe Middle East & N. Africa Africa (other) Asia US
Yes 32% 50% 34% 52% 21% 21% 20% 36% 46%
No 44% 28% 40% 25% 56% 56% 58% 37% 31%
Don’t Know 24% 22% 25% 22% 23% 23% 22% 27% 24%
  • Low Support for Marriage Equality: When asked whether same-sex marriage should be legal,only 32 percent globally answered “yes.” Many globally (24 percent on average) answered “don’t know,” while the largest segment (44 percent) answered “no”.

o    North American and European respondents were most in favor, at 50 percent and 52 percent, respectively. The highest negative responses came from Central Eastern Europe (56 percent), North Africa and the Middle East (56 percent) and the rest of Africa (58 percent).

o    The Netherlands, which was the first country to legalize marriage equality in 2001, and Ireland, which legalized marriage equality by a national vote last year, have the lowest levels of opposition (19% and 18%, respectively). In Australia, where marriage equality is currently being debated, 56 percent of respondents said marriage equality should be legal.

 

Methodology:
The survey fielding approach for this study used RIWI Corp.’s patented Random Domain Intercept Technology™, which targets random Web users around the world, including remote locations, who are surfing online and then randomly encounter an anonymous opt-in survey. More detail on the global RIWI survey system, which collects no personally identifiable information, and the extended methodology for this survey, may be found here: https://riwi.com/case-study/lgbti/.

About Logo:
Logo is a leading entertainment brand inspired by the LGBT community and reflects the creative class across television, digital and social platforms.  Logo features one-of-a-kind personalities, shows, specials, and unique stories.  Logo is part of Viacom’s Music & Entertainment Group including VH1, MTV, MTV2, Comedy Central and Spike.

About ILGA:
The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) is a worldwide federation of organizations committed to equal human rights for LGBTI people. Founded in 1978, it enjoys consultative status at the United Nations, where it speaks and lobbies on behalf of 1,200 member organisations from 125 countries. http://ilga.org

About RIWI Corp:
RIWI Corp. (http://riwi.com) is a global survey technology company that captures citizen and consumer opinion in every country in the world. RIWI’s patented technology creates access to otherwise unobtainable or hard-to-reach public opinion data for NGOs, multilateral organizations, government agencies and multinational corporations. RIWI Corp. is listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE) http://thecse.com/ under the symbol RIW.

Berkshire Eagle’s Ed Damon is guest speaker for May Williamstown meeting

Edward Damon
Edward Damon

At our monthly Williamstown meeting is Tuesday May 17, from Noon to 2pm and we will welcome Ed Damon who will talk with us talking about what he experiences being an openly gay reporter on a rural newspaper. Edward of course covers the whole news beat for the Berkshire Eagle.

Our meeting starts as usual with the always surprising noon buffet – everyone brings a dish as their contribution – made more delicious with the usual catching up and sociable chatter. Then, some quick announcements and coming attractions before we hear from Mr.Damon.

RSEdDamonA native of Rockland, Edward Damon came to the Berkshires in 2008 as a freshman at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams. There, he stumbled into the college’s journalism program and eventually become the editor-in-chief of the college newspaper, the Beacon. He received a bachelor’s in English from MCLA in May 2012 and joined the North Adams Transcript staff in November 2012 before it ceased publication.

An Eagle reporter since then, Edward covers Northern Berkshire. His interests include the outdoors, obscure cars, dogs of all shapes and sizes, and ‘ 80s New Wave. He has written about the Rainbow Seniors program, helping get the word out.

“As a staff reporter for the Transcript and now the Berkshire Eagle, I’ve covered everything from local courts to car accidents to local schools. My beat has included the towns of Williamstown, Hancock, Clarksburg, Lanesborough, New Ashford, and Stamford, VT”

While at MCLA, Ed served in a number of roles for BGLAD (Bisexuals Gays Lesbians & Allies Making a Difference) including that of Vice President and President.

It promises to be an interesting conversation.

Number of LGBT affirming churches growing, 12 in the Berkshire region

Is it too late to reconcile our differences?

by Larry Murray

After decades of fire and brimstone being hurled from the pulpits of the world over the “abomination” of homosexuality, the tide is turning. The LGBT welcoming revival within Christian churches is expanding at a rapid rate. We have seen this growth reflected in our own efforts: there is a lot of  heavy lifting required to open hearts, minds and eventually – church doors.

There is a huge range of opinion in the LGBTQ community as to whether the Christian churches can ever redeem themselves for their decades long demonization of our very existence. It is helpful to remember that Christianity is anchored by the concept of forgiveness. Other religions are less inclined to change, and the approbation and punishments doled out by Muslims and Hindus to gays and women in general are as harsh as they are unforgivable. While a few extreme Christians suggest harsh punishment to gays, it is in the Middle East that gays are thrown from the top of buildings, stoned to death or beheaded. In India is is still difficult for a Hindu woman, much less a lesbian, to find work or living accommodations separate from their families.

Locations with gay affirming churches
Locations with gay affirming churches
What brings all this to the fore is the growing popularity of the website GayChurch.org  that helps exiled LGBTQ Christians to find churches that welcome them back, and to connect with resources that confront the eight “clobber” passages of the Bible that some use to condemn homosexuality.  A link to helpful books by authors such as Mel White, Matthew Vines and Candace Chellew-Hodge.  They have a page to help find LGBTQ affirming churches. Here in the Berkshires the numbers are growing rapidly. When I wrote about this in a blog half a dozen years ago there were only two.  The First Congregational Church in Williamstown where we meet monthly was the first. Today there are ten.

You can also find information about denominations and congregations that affirm marriage equality by performing same-sex weddings. This is not very much of a stretch for Rainbow Seniors since the legal implications of a marriage can confer both legal benefits while you are alive, and secure the disposition of your worldly belongings after you are gone. And it is a lot cheaper than paying a lawyer to create trusts, power of attorney and the like.

WHAT DO THEY MEAN BY “AFFIRMING?”

The Gay Church website defines the word “affirming” as meaning the church does not view homosexuality in and of itself as a sin, and therefore they would welcome and treat a homosexual person no differently than any other person who walked through their church doors seeking Christ. We also believe that a fully affirming congregation allows ALL people the ability (as much as denominational polity allows) to be involved in all aspects of the life of the community.

Sometimes “affirming” churches are also known as “gay friendly” or “welcoming” churches. Although these terms have often been used interchangeably, some congregations differentiate between the words. For example, a church may “welcome” ALL people but may NOT “affirm” all lifestyles and therefore LGBTQI folks may not be allowed in leadership positions within the church. In the same vein, some denominations may forbid same-gender marriage or ordination of lesbian, gay or transgender people, yet a local congregation will fully embrace and affirm everyone in leadership positions within the local church.

Here’s a quick overview from the LGBT perspective by Arielle Scarcella and Matthew Vines.

And then there’s David and Jonathan whom “David loved more than women… and loved him as himself”. 1 Samuel 18-19

No wonder there are 75 religious denominations in the United States with more than 60,000 adherents. If you look hard enough, you might find one that is a perfect fit.

As we grow older, there is often a desire to come to terms with lingering resentments and the feeling of rejection that many of us carry from a youth and working life that was lived in or near the closet. Reconciliation with parents and siblings may no longer be possible for many of us, but to reclaim the spiritual and metaphorical life offered by a gay affirming church can be uplifting as we practice a little forgiveness ourselves, and reclaim our place in  the larger community.

Your comments are welcome, as are any updates on synagogues, temples and mosques that are LGBT affirming. And just for those who are still stuck in the Sunday School nonsense about traditional marriage, well, here is what the Bible actually defines as “marriage”.

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