Monday, October 29, 2007

Domestic Violence in the GLBT community

During October, campuses around the nation sponsor events and activities to increase awareness about a variety of issues. Besides GLBT History (Pride) Month, it is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Our Counseling Services office along with the Women's Resource Center and Women's Studies Institute have been the most proactive departments addressing domestic violence education and resources. The overlap of these awareness months - GLBT History & Domestic Violence - is something that the Allies Program and others at the University have not had the chance to focus on, but we hope to provide more education in the future.

Other venues allow for Allies and their constituents to learn about domestic violence issues in the GLBT community:

The Chicago Sun-Times features an article today about the health concerns of partner abuse among men who have sex with men (MSM). The article gives an overview of the findings from the study done by two faculty members of the University of Illinois at Chicago who recognized that there is "growing evidence that intimate partner abuse among gay andbisexual men may pose a significant threat to health outcomes, including sexuallytransmitted diseases and HIV." An article detailing the study can be found on pages 681-690 of the most recent issue of the Journal of Urban Health.

There are also numerous websites that can provide helpful information about what to do when faced with intimate partner violence and education about this subject for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people

The Gay Men's Domestic Violence Project - has an informational brochure to help a person understand if they are a victim of partner abuse and what to do if so.

The Network/La Red - - while it is an organization serving lesbian and bisexual women and transgender persons in the Boston area, The Network/La Red prides itself on the contributions it has made to promoting awareness of domestic/intimate partner violence education and services even more broadly.

The National Coalition of Ant-Violence Programs - - among the many types of violent acts committed against GLBT individuals, the NCAVP addresses domestic violence with GLBT relationships. In July 2007, NCAVP released the 2006 National Report on LGBT Domestic Violence.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Don't miss the Ga(y)la!

This month has been a busy one - with all of the GLBTQ Pride Month events, there hasn't been a lot of time to post to the blog. Poetry readings, movies, and other events have filled the weeks with great opportunities to learn and be with other GLBTQ students and their allies. As the final few days of the month are here, don't miss out on the movies at the Downtown campus from Noon - 4 p.m. on Monday, October 29 and the festive Gayla on Tuesday, October 30 at 7 p.m. in the Laurel Room of the University Center!

For the second year, Lambda Alliance and Student Activities have worked together to prepare a night of music and fun that has been called the "Gayla" (a take off on gala). There will be a DJ along with a competition of talents along with food, dancing and friends. Join members of Lambda Alliance and come dressed as you want - costumes encouraged!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Just like any other Sunday

Today is just like most other Sundays except that it falls 3 days after National Coming Out Day and right in the middle of GLBT History Month. Since Sunday is a day of worship for many Christian faiths, it seemed like this post would fit well.*

In the past days and months (and years), many Christian sects along with other world religions have faced a struggle within their leadership and membership to reconcile their beliefs and teachings with acceptance of GL (there is literally no mention in the media of the B or T persons) people and practices. Most recently, the Episcopal Church of the United States has faced criticism from within and from other parts of the Anglican Communion, about the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy and blessing of same-sex unions. At a meeting in New Orleans last month, the leaders responded by stating they will 'exercise restraint' on clergy and "will not authorize" the blessing of same-sex unions.

The Catholic Church, the Presbyterian Church and others have also faced similar struggles.

Still, there are leaders and members of so many Christian and other world religions who believe that religious teachings encourage their followers to accept and affirm GLBT individuals. In a special section of the Dallas Morning News and an open letter from Episcopal bishop, Gene Robinson, it is apparent that everyone regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity is worthy of acceptance and support.

* As the most widely published information relates to Christian denominations, rest assured there was no intention to purposely leave out any other faith. Some resources that may be helpful include:

Baptists - - The Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists
Catholics - - a chapter of Dignity USA
Church of Christ - - The United Church of Christ Coalition for LGBT Concerns
Church of Latter-Day Saints - - Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons
Episcopals - - advocacy and support for GLBT Episcopalians
Hindus - - an international organization for Vaishnavas and Hindus
Jews - - the National Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity
Lutherans - - supporting the inclusion of GLBT Lutherans
Methodists - - one independent group supporting GLBT Methodists
Muslims - - an organization developing resources for GLBT Muslims
Presbyterians - - a network promoting full participation of GLBT people in the Presbyterian Church

Saturday, October 13, 2007

31 days, 31 role models

As part of GLBT History Month, the Equality Forum created a video with a segment for each day of October that focuses on a GLBT person who is an icon or role model because of the contributions they have made to their field or the promotion of GLBT civil rights. A short video shows below, and you can find a biographical statement about each icon on the GLBT History Month website.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Straight allies

Sometimes, people mistake respect and support for GLB (and T) issues to mean that the supporter is in fact gay or lesbian. Of course, some people may believe the reverse as well - there is no way that a married person can support gays and lesbians. However, the support from straight allies has always been important, and there are a lot of people recognizing this.

A story in the student newspaper at the University of New Hampshire pointed this out earlier in the week. The story reacts to the kind of person who says "but I have a gay friend . . ." to mean that they are an ally. While written from a particular viewpoint that can seem condescending, it closes with a thought on being an active straight ally rather than just showing acceptance to a gay friend.

AOL News and other syndicates report that the organization Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians And Gays (PFLAG) will recognize the author of "Dear Abby" columns with the "Straight For Equality" award to honor her advocacy for numerous GLBT related support groups and statements in favor of gay marriage. As well, Cyndi Lauper will help promote the "Straight For Equality" project.

Right here in Texas, we are home to the Atticus Circle, an organization promoting the power of straight allies in advocating for equal rights for GLBT partners, parents and children, founded by Austin attorney, Anne Wynne. The Austin Chronicle recently profiled the efforts of this group in a story about Seven Straight Nights for Equal Rights, a national event that encourages straight people to come out in support of their GLBT neighbors and friends.

And on Friday, October 12, Judy Shepard, the mother of Matthew Shepard, will launch the website - a site with resources to empower GLBT youth.

The efforts of the Allies Program does not discriminate based on sexual orientation, and realizes the tremendous impact of straight allies to increase acceptance of and equality for all GLBT individuals. Become a visible ally and member of the Allies Program by attending a training session.

Happy NCOD!

In case it is not in your lexicon yet, NCOD refers to National Coming Out Day - October 11 each year. Happy NCOD!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sexual orientation and gender identity: Does the "T" fit?

During a meeting a couple of weeks ago, Dr. Sara Oswalt, Assistant Professor in the Department of Health and Kinesiology, was asked to give a brief explanation of the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity, so why not point that out here. These terms tend to be confusing and misunderstood at times, so here is a brief definition:

Sexual orientation - the attraction to someone of the same sex, opposite sex or both sexes. Most commonly understood as homosexuality (same sex attraction), heterosexuality (opposite sex attraction) and bisexuality (attraction to both sexes), sexual orientation allows a person to identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual (GLB) or straight. It is important to realize that identity and behavior are separate concepts, and behavior may not accurately describe someone's identity or vice-versa.

Gender identity - a person's sense and feeling of being male, female or transgender. Cultural norms and beliefs create expectations of how a person will express a gender in association with that person's sex (most commonly male or female); however, someone's gender identity or gender expression may not conform to these masculine and feminine expectations associated with sex.

There is much more detail that will help a person understand the importance of these components, but that could be a semester course or more. Because of a lack of understanding, a fear of difference or for other reasons, subtle to hostile and violent forms of harassment and discrimination occur against people who do not fit the expected heterosexual orientation and male or female gender identities and expression.

As a reaction to harassment and discrimination, the Stonewall riots, marches on Washington D.C. and other activism and advocacy efforts have brought us to where we are today in the United States - a time where we find some of the most accepting attitudes towards gays and lesbians and some protections for GLBT people at local, state and national levels. Still, as our society becomes more accepting of people whose sexual orientation differs from established norms, and equality organizations include Transgender issues with GLB concerns in their advocacy initiatives, the question of does the "T" fit seems to arise. It is something that lawmakers (and their constituents) must contend with right now in relation to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and leaders of the nation's largest GLBT advocacy group - the Human Rights Campaign - have been divided about. Even you may be wondering how important the "T" is, and that is okay.

Part of being an Ally is to learn about the issues and concerns of the community or communities you support. Just as we are all different, we all have something in common and that is why the Allies Program includes and supports the "T."

Hopefully you can join the NASPA webcast - The Lives of Transgender People Today - hosted at UTSA by the Allies Program on October 16 from 2:30 - 4 p.m. in FS 2.518 at the Downtown campus or when it is shown at the 1604 campus later in the academic year.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

What are you reading?

As GLBT History (or Pride, as we call it at UTSA) Month begins, there is a possible ironic twist - this opening overlaps with the 26th annual Banned Books Week, which is sponsored by numerous organizations including the American Library Association and endorsed by the Library of Congress. Promoting intellectual freedom by honoring freedom of speech and expression, this week celebrates the writings that some individuals have forced to be removed from public libraries, schools or other venues.

4 of the "Ten Most Challenged Books of 2006" were challenged in part because they contained a theme of "homosexuality." - ALA website

2. "Gossip Girl" series
Occassionally, the UTSA Allies Program blog expects to showcase books that may be of interest to LGBT students and their allies. If you would like to have your review of a particular book posted here, please post a comment or send us an email.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Equality UTSA

This Fall, the UTSA Counseling Services will once again facilitate the Equality UTSA group, a chance for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex students to come together in a confidential and safe environment to learn from peers who are confronting similar issues and concerns with a trained psychotherapist facilitating the discussion. The first meeting is Wednesday, October 3, but students may join the group later. If you are interested in joining this group, please call 458-4140 or visit the Counseling Services office in the Recreation Wellness Center (RWC) 1.810.

Monday, October 1, 2007