Pope Francis

The Pope is Trying

I was raised a Catholic by a mother who converted to Catholicism from being a Southern Baptist and a father who had always been a Catholic. I remember leaving elementary school every Wednesday to go to our parish school, St. Bernards, for religious education. The Catholic school kids were always walking home while we walk to their classrooms.

I remember my First Holy Communion, the whole thing, like it was yesterday, especially the photo in front of the crucifix outside the church.   I also remember Confirmation, dressed in my red robe. I remember the Bishop slapping my face, which was to symbolize strength to face adversity, and was abolished after the Second Vatican Council because it didn’t help convey the true nature of the Sacrament, and is the assistance of the Holy Spirit to live affirmatively the Christian vocation in every circumstance of life.

I respectfully walked away from the Church for a number of years but when I returned I did so with a gusto. Full tilt! I attended prayer groups weekly, attend mass as often during the week as I could and never missed a Sunday. This was soon to be the beginning of a journey that lead me to me to Philadelphia and to be a LGBTQ rights advocate.

I spent many, many years in formation for the Priesthood, but God in his wisdom intervened, three months before ordination. I didn’t understand at the time that it was God’s intervention but I do now.

Today I am a Catholic in exile, waiting for the day I am welcomed back to the church I not just grew up in but grew to love.

So this week when the Vatican released a draft report from the synod of Bishops offering what seemed to be a more welcoming tone, writing that homosexuals have “gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community,” and that some gay couples provide each other “mutual aid to the point of sacrifice” and “precious support in the life of the partners,” I did a happy dance. The draft report was earth shaking. But the celebration didn’t last that long.

Yesterday, after an outcry from conservative bishops, the Vatican is now pulling back the welcome mat by changing some of the language in the original draft but only in the English translation form the original Italian.

According to the AP:

The first English version asked if the church was capable of “welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities.” The new version asks if the church is “capable of providing for these people, guaranteeing … them … a place of fellowship in our communities.”

The first version said homosexual unions can often constitute a “precious support in the life of the partners.” The new one says gay unions often constitute “valuable support in the life of these persons.”

Other changes were made in other sections of the text, but without significantly altering the meaning or tone.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said English-speaking bishops had requested the changes on the grounds that the first translation was hasty and error-ridden.

The Bishops are playing semantics with our lives and are terrified with the direction this Pope is leading the Church, who if you are Catholic, means he is being divinely guided by the Holy Spirit to lead.

The Roman Catholic Church is still not welcoming of LGBTQ peoples, but the majority of Catholics are.

The Church is being called to change and with that I believe it will. Perhaps not in my lifetime but it will surely change and Pope Francis knows this and with the grace of God he is leading this dysfunctional, damaged Church into a new era. One where LGBTQ individuals are welcomed and guaranteed fraternal space in the Church and see that our relationships constitute a precious support in the life of the partners.

I believe that the Pope is trying to swing the bow around and right the ship. Trust me regardless of your faith or religion this man needs our prayers for his strength, perseverance, and protection, for there are far too many of us in exile waiting to go home.

upset boy against a wall

LGBTQ School for Equality

[After a meeting with Pennsylvania Senator Anthony H. Williams and community leaders, where we discussed several issues relating to LGBTQ citizens, the subject of Anti-LGBTQ bullying in our schools was discussed. I asked Senator Williams if he would support the development of an LGBTQ charter school in Philadelphia and he fully agreed with me that it is not just a good idea but perhaps a necessary one.

So in light of our conversation with Senator Williams, I’m dusting of this article on advancing the idea of an LGBTQ Charter School for Equality. It was originally published 08.06.10]

The great French writer and poet Victor Hugo once wrote “on résiste à l’invasion des armées; on ne résiste pas à l’invasion des idées” which literally translates to “one withstands the invasion of armies; one does not withstand the invasion of ideas,” or loosely translated as “nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.”

Today’s common usage of this now famous phrase is often found used by those who are seeking to promote a particular brand or message. Even I have often used this phrase in presentations but now I use it for something more important–the education of queer kids and the preparation of future queer leaders.

The Barbara Gittings School for Equality is definitely an idea whose time has come–a regional charter high school for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning and allies.

In 1985, the Hetrick-Martin Institute in New York City established the Harvey Milk High School to serve “at-risk youth, particularly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning.” In 2002, the school became the first fully accredited queer public high school in the nation. Harvey Milk High School is now administered by the New York City Department of Education.

Proponents for queer-centric high schools will point to the shocking statistics on anti-queer bullying that clearly reflect that the environment queer students are forced to learn in are unjust; and that queer students, many who are forced to drop out due to fear, are denied their right for a safe and welcoming learning environment.

Opponents for such high schools include the usual suspects, as well as queer advocacy groups. These queer opponents believe that queer-centric schools are a form of segregation and be could be harmful and will hinder the progress of understanding of queers. But at what cost?

Over the years, I have listened to personal stories from queer students who had been mercilessly bullied. All were subjected to endless verbal attacks, some where physically or sexually abused, and others dropped out because the burden, the pain, the intolerance, the cruelty became much too great.

How many of us have the same memories? We heard faggot, dyke, homo, sissy, lesbo, or the new favorite, “that’s so gay.”

What potential has been lost by such anti-queer bullying? What achievements missed?

The reality of the situation is that we have a very long way to go before our public schools become a welcoming, safe education environment for queer youth and their allies.

Knowing this, what should we do?

If we sit back and wait for our schools to become safer for queer youth, what happens to those who suffer from anti-queer bullying between now and then?

The Harvey Milk School in New York City showed us it is possible. They have taken action. So must others.

Queer youth deserve our talent, our knowledge and our resources. How can we not stand up and make a difference?

Philadelphia, the cradle of liberty, freedom and justice for all, needs to join New York City in this progressive movement in public school education with the founding of The Barbara Gittings School for Equality.

Are you ready to help?

John Featherman (Facebook Photo)

Featherman Just Doesn’t Get It

Recently John Featherman, contributor to Philly.com, and failed Republican candidate for Philadelphia mayor, who describes himself as “fiscally very conservative and socially inclusive,” and according the Wall Street Journal expressed support for gay marriage, abortion rights and marijuana decriminalization, made a claim, in light of the recent “gay-bashing” attack in Center City, that all hate crimes legislation is discriminatory.

To be honest this is a mantra for white, cisgender, Republicans . . . hate crime laws are discriminatory. But Featherman puts a twist to it . . . he states that “it is discriminatory as it limits protected categories to less than a dozen classes.”

“Hate crime laws in PA, for example, only protect race, religion, color and national origin. They don’t include gender or disability — two categories in addition to sexual orientation and gender identity,” posted Featherman in a Facebook conversation I had with him.

He is “perfectly fine with tacking on penalties if there are premeditated attacks on people because of who they are. The problem is there are tens of thousands of potential categories. Just to be clear, though, I believe when the facts comes out, it will show the (sic) this (the attack on two gay men) was a street fight and not an attack premeditated by anti-gay bias.”

“I’ve been attacked by people who thought I was gay. I’ve been attacked by someone who saw that I was disabled, but held me up at knifepoint to steal my tracheotomy tubes. I was beaten to a pulp in a bathroom at the Franklin Learning Center, most likely because I was an undersized, white, middle schooler put into a rough, mostly black/Hispanic high school . . . I was also sexually attacked on the street by a man. I was too embarrassed to admit it at the time, but I am not now.

“The law is discriminatory, and makes a dozen groups superior to tens of thousands of other ones,” wrote Featherman. A bit of a hyperbole but this is coming from a guy who thinks the LGBT community are hypocrites because of the way we have treated the alleged gay bashing suspects.

He recently wrote, “I’ve always supported the rights of the LGBT community so it’s disheartening to see members of that same community embrace the type of smear tactics once used against them . . . The ugliness emerged after three young adults allegedly attacked a gay couple on Sept. 11 on Chancellor Street near 16th. The full facts of the case aren’t yet known. But that hasn’t stopped a full out assault on social media in an attempt to “slut shame” and try the case online.”

Featherman feels he has some moral superiority in “asking the Philadelphia LGBT lobby where its sense of morality is when they engage in “slut-shaming” accused – mind you – accused suspects.”

While individuals, heterosexual and LGBT, have taken the alleged attackers to task there has not been a coordinated, concerted, effort to shame anyone. But the facts are the facts as brought forth in the charges against the three anti-gay bashing suspects. They hurled anti-gay epitaphs why they beat on them. That makes them the poster children for the need for hate crimes legislation that includes gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and the disabled.

When it comes to our full equality one thing for sure is that John Featherman is not an ally.

rainbow-fist

Why Only Three?

Why were there only 3 charged and “arrested” for the anti-gay bashing attack that took place in Center City Philadelphia when there were at least 10 to 12 suspects at the scene?

The two unidentified victims, 26 and 28 year old boyfriends, and several witnesses told NBC Philadelphia that at least two men and six women from the group called the victims “dirty fags” before launching a brutal physical attack on them.

Both victims, beat unconscious, received multiple facial fractures, one had severe bruising on his face and will be required to have his jaw wired shut for two months.

The only three charged, 26-year-old Kevin Harrigan, 24-year-old Kathryn Knot, and 24-year-old Philip Williams, turned themselves in to Central Detectives Wednesday. They were arraigned and released on bail around 3:30 AM.

Knott was released on $50,000 bail, while Williams and Harrigan were released on $75,000 bail.

Some have questioned the Philadelphia Police Departments’ handling of the case. Why did it take 6 days to make an arrest after the attackers were identified by the public? One police source told Philly mag this week that police “don’t have time” to investigate “simple” crimes like these.

If this is the mindset of the cop on the beat, then our community has a problem with the police department as a whole. Yes we may have an LGBT police liaison committee but what good are they when cops on the beat believe such brutal hate attacks are “simple” crimes and that they “don’t have time?”

The police commanders seem to know what to say but if it is not being transferred down to men and women in the ranks then that leadership needs to be questioned. Imagine a racially biased attack, would the Philadelphia Police ranks not have time to investigate such a crime?

It should be noted that Knott’s father is the Police Chief in Chalfont, PA. The question arises, what “professional” courtesy was extended to her and the others charged because of this fact?

Why did the police not go to their homes, arrest them, and place them handcuffed in the back of a police car? Why was the courtesy extended to allow these three suspects to turn themselves in, two through a back door?

But the question still begs, why only three out of at least 10 noted suspects?

When Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams was questioned about this his office replied with the following statement:

Based on the evidence, statements from both victims and eyewitness accounts at the scene, the three defendants are the only ones who assaulted the victims in this case.

The defendants have been charged with serious state crimes carrying significant, potentially lengthy sentences.

But according to reports from the victims and witnesses there were at least two men and six women involved in the attack.

When asked if Williams would ask the federal government to pursue federal hate crime charges against the defendants the response was . . .

The availability of additional federal charges, if any, would be a matter of concurrent jurisdiction that would not in itself preclude prosecution in state court.

Is Williams, who is rumored to be running for mayor, playing to his LBGTQ audience for votes? Did he calculate that three persons charged should be enough to secure an LGBTQ voting block?

Are you really telling me that there were no other charges that can be applied to the other attackers? Or do you want us to believe that only three people did this attack while the others watched. Spectators that never called the police to report the attack and who knew who the attackers were and did not immediately come forward and identify them when they were being sought on charges.

Yesterday a rally was held by politicians in Love Park, the usual people came out calling for a Pennsylvania hate crimes bill that includes sexual orientation and gender identity. “We want it and we want it now” was the message.

Where have they been in their righteous indignation for the last 10 years? Why did it take a vicious homophobic attack to bring the need for an inclusive hate crime to reach critical mass?

I commend those who came out to support the rally, but rather than rallies we need protest, rather than speeches we need marches. There needs to be a massive protest march to get our point across.

Our righteous indignation must be heard. Three is not enough, nor is non-hate crimes charges. If ever there was a case for federal hate crime charges to be brought this is it. Anything else is a slap in the face the LGBTQ citizens in Philadelphia.

Rather than politicians telling us what they would like to happen, they should be using their positions in elected office to get the feds to get involved immediately.

Three is just not enough?

Philadelphia Gay Bashing Victim

The Hate Crime That Wasn’t

It happened on September 11 at 10:45 PM near the intersection of 16th and Chancellor Streets in Philadelphia’s toniest neighborhood, Rittenhouse Square, the hate crime that wasn’t.

After a night at a private party at La Viola West restaurant, a group of twentysomethings, apparently graduates of Archbishop Wood High School in Warminster, came upon two men walking together. As the group of about 12 males and females approached the men they started to hurl anti-gay slurs to the pair. Someone in the group then asked the men is they were a couple and when they answered in the affirmative all hell broke loose.

The well dressed college age thugs, both male and female, allegedly attacked the couple, aged 26 and 28, punching and kicking them in the face, head and chest. Both men, 27 and 28, were later taken to Hahnemann Hospital, where one was treated for broken bones in his face and had to have his jaw wired shut, police said.

One of the victims also had his wallet and phone stolen by the preppy-looking crew.

On Tuesday the Philadelphia Police released a video of the suspects walking in the area of the attack. The video quickly went viral on social media. Then a Twitter user in San Francisco received from a friend of a friend a photo of a group of people in a restaurant who looked very similar to the suspects the police were looking for from the video.

After that a New Jersey man retweeted the picture and asked followers to help identify the restaurant.

Several users recognized it as La Viola West.

Caught like deer in the headlights, these suspects are already lawyering up and according to press reports are planning on turning themselves in shortly.

Many people in the community took to social media and blasted the suspects by threatening violence and vigilante justice. This knee jerk reaction, while wrong, was very understandable. But violence is not the answer. Nor is a foolish call for a boycott of La Viola. Such talk and energy is useless.

I am angry as anything that in the city that I love so very much this type of crime can happen to two innocent people just because they are gay.

Initially the Philadelphia Police stated that they were investigating this attack as a hate crime, but DA Seth Williams had to correct them on that. In Pennsylvania the hate crimes bill does not cover sexual orientation and gender identity.

This was a hate crime that really didn’t happen. That is where our anger and energy need to be directed. We must demand that the Pennsylvania legislature immediately pass a stand along bill that addresses this inequity; one that is all inclusive of our community.

If this does not happen we should be taking to the streets in solidarity for the gay couple bashed by the anti-gay thugs and protest the inaction of the legislature and the failure to offer us as a people basic hate crime protections. Enough is enough.

And the South Shall Rise

After so many victories on the marriage equality front and with same-sex marriage sailing towards the Supreme Court, LGBTQ civil rights groups are shifting their attention to the Deep South. With a focus on improving job protections, passing local non-discrimination ordinances, bolstering the rights of gay parents, reducing anti-gay bullying in schools and nudging change in places that have resisted it, these organizations are moving forward in creating change.

Take an unlikely local LGBTQ rights advocate for example, Rev. Rob Hill, a Methodist pastor in Natchez, Mississippi who is now promoting LGBTQ rights in his rural community.

In July Hill came out of the closet in a big way . . . during a news conference orchestrated by the Human Rights Campaign, which “is pouring $9.5 million into an effort to push the needle of public opinion in the Deep South,” according to the Washington Post.

Being open and demanding equal treatment is exactly what the HRC is hoping local LGBTQ people and others in the region eventually will do. HRC has set up permanent offices in Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama this summer in the hopes of swaying public opinion in a region that has been resisting the tide of LGBTQ rights.

The Washington Post reports that “there is reason for HRC to be optimistic. Over the past year, eight small towns across Mississippi have passed resolutions meant to create a welcoming atmosphere for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Most of them passed unanimously.”

It was around that time that the Human Rights Campaign began its work in Mississippi, and eventually the group asked him to head the project. His job would be to meet lots and lots of people. He would help shepherd local resolutions and cultivate relationships with religious leaders — friendly and not — and collaborate with a lobbyist in the capital to resist anti-gay legislation and push favorable bills.

Hill has quit the church and took a position with the HRC as head of their Mississippi initiative and is working with progressive members of the rural community in advancing local non-discrimination ordinances.

I am a child of the South. My mother and her family were from Georgia, have been for hundreds of years. My many southern relatives fought for the Confederacy. I love the south but it needs to change its views on LGBTQ equality, but I know that once again it will rise again with greater equality for all.

Yes the south is slowly changing, and after the Supreme Court affirms marriage equality for all it will be a big boost to overall equality. But there are many miles to go before we can rest. Stay informed about the news from the south by reading out weekly queerNEWS links from around the world.

toothache

Toothache

The discerning QUEERtimes reader, which are all of you, have figured out by now that Thom Cardwell and I are producing Philadelphia’s new LGBTQ film Festival, qFLIX Philadelphia. So I won’t hash on it in this column again. However, I would be amiss if I did not thank those people who have already purchased their ALL ACCESS badges. This was done with very little programming announced and is a real vote of confidence for Thom and myself and the new community festival. Again, thank you for your confidence. We will not let you down.

Now, as I write, I’m suffering from a fricking toothache from a recent dentist visit and they can’t fit me in until next Friday. Thank God I have a large bottle of Aleve.

Speaking of toothaches, or things that are a fricking pain, what the heck is wrong with Pennsylvania and their lack of a non-discrimination law that includes lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and queer citizens. I’ve been writing about this subject for seven years now and quite frankly I’m tired of doing it.

I go as far back as blaming Ed Rendell for failure to use his political power to push through an inclusive non-discrimination bill when he had the opportunity as Governor. Yes, I know he has been a great ally, but he messed up back then and he’s never owned up to it.

Sadly with our advances on the marriage equality front in Pennsylvania, we can still be fired in 70% of the state for being gay. We can be thrown out of our apartments and denied other protections afforded to heterosexual people just for being who we are.

But today we have new champions on the fore front of the battle for equality.

Brian Sims comes to mind.

As Sims sails through to Election Day, which by default he has already won, this bulwark of a leader in our fight for equality is a testament to those who went before him and those who will follow. He has brought national attention to Pennsylvania’s hypocrisy; marriage equality okay, work place equality not.

While Sims has his distractors, sadly within our own community, I believe that he has done more to help advance our equality than most others have as a person his age. He is a testament to the good will and leadership that exemplifies our community.

But Sims cannot do it alone, and he is not. There is Ted Martin of Equality PA who fights daily on the frontline of our Pennsylvania non-discrimination battle. He is a godsend to the fight and should be thanked roundly for his efforts on our behalf.

Then there are the political funders of races that are important for our advancement, people like community angel Mel Heifetz, the number one political donor in Pennsylvania. This man is an example of a giving heart; we could only hope to be as giving as this man has been to all the causes of in community.

Here’s to all the members of our community who lead, work and give to the advancement of our freedoms. With diligence, hard work, and discipline the sources of our long discomfort with fade away and we will finally be a free and equal people.

US Supreme Court Rainbow Flag

On the Way to the Supreme Court

According to reports by the AP, the defenders of the ban against marriage equality in Indiana and Wisconsin have had a hard time before a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in Chicago.

Attorneys general in both states asked the appellate court to permanently restore the bans, which were ruled unconstitutional in June.

“Often-blistering questions” were asked of the attorneys representing the two states, with “one Republican appointee judge comparing them to laws, now defunct, that once outlawed weddings between blacks and whites.”

The AP reports that, “Judge Richard A. Posner, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, hit the backers of the ban the hardest. He balked when the Wisconsin assistant attorney general, Timothy C. Samuelson, repeatedly pointed to tradition as the underlying justification for barring gay marriage.”

Judge Posner said, “It was tradition to not allow blacks and whites to marry — a tradition that got swept away.” Prohibition of same-sex marriage, he said, derives from “a tradition of hate” and “savage discrimination” of gays.

Think of those words from a conservative judge . . . derives from “a tradition of hate” and “savage discrimination” of gays. What clarity of the overall situation.

The AP writes that Posner ran “through a list of psychological strains that the children of unmarried same-sex couples could face, including having to struggle to grasp why their schoolmate’s parents were married and theirs were not.”

“What horrible stuff,” he said. What benefit to society in banning same-sex marriage, he asked, outweighs that kind of harm to children?”

Judge Posner questioned the state’s attorneys with such insight that one could only feel pride for the man.

By all accounts Posner shredded the attorneys representing Indiana and Wisconsin and he became the darling of our community, well, at least those of us who follow such things.

It appears that Posner will not restore the state bans as requested by the states on the grounds of equal protection and his arguments will only support our position as marriage equality now races to the Supreme Court.

The AP reports that the 10th Circuit, in Denver, declared same-sex marriage bans in Utah and Oklahoma to be unconstitutional, and the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va., overturned Virginia’s ban. In each case, application has been stayed pending appeals to the Supreme Court. The Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati, has heard arguments on marriage restrictions as well, but it has not yet issued a decision.

The arguments put forth by states who are defending their bans on marriage equality will not withhold scrutiny, as Judge Posner proved that in his questioning. And for that we should be very grateful.

depressed

Depression – The Silent Killer

To remember Robin Williams is like remembering an old friend who has sadly passed for horrible reasons way before they should have.

I recently lost a dear friend to pancreatic cancer. She faced it bravely ‘til the end while my friends and I journeyed with her on her path to death. From diagnosis to death was less than a year. One last laugh I hoped for.

One last laugh that’s what I want from Robin Williams. But sadly that will not happen. Depth of depression and despair killed. Yes I say killed him, just like cancer killed my friend.

I know, some simply say that Mr. Williams committed suicide . . . he took his own life, he killed himself. But I don’t think it’s that simple. And unless you have been chased by the demons of depression you will never understand the despair that is often felt.

Mr. Williams once said, “Do I perform sometimes in a manic style? Yes. Am I manic all the time? No. Do I get sad? Oh yeah. Does it hit me hard? Oh yeah.”

He knew he was being chased, he knew what the thorn in his side was. And for many years he faced it bravely till the end where one can only imagine the depth of his pain and the despondency he must have been suffering.

This is not like cancer. It’s a different kind of killer. One that comes out of the darkness. Often dealt with in silence . . . never revealing the truth to others for one reason or another.

Depression is dangerous because it grabs hold of the mind and twists it into unrecognizable shadows. Haunting and taunting until it grabs on in such an insidious way that control is futile.

Sadly for far too many this leads to death.

Let Robin Williams death be a light reflecting on the shadows of an issue which we speak so little about. Depression is still spoken of in hushed tones when in fact we should and must be speaking more about it.

I know depression, I have suffered from it most of my life and thankfully for my meds I have the beast under control. But there was a day.

Yes, there was a day when depression almost killed me. I was about 23 or 24 years old and I was at the depths of the darkness of depression and planned my suicide. To make a long story short I met a person who talked to me just when I needed it. He showed me a glimmer of hope and without him know he walked be off the edge. Without him depression would have killed me that night.

It has not been an easy journey to suffer from depression and I appreciate what Mr. Williams must have gone through his last hours. I never really spoke about it but there you have it.

The more you know the better we are at helping others in their depression. It should neither be a mystery nor a burden one should live alone with.

Mayor Michael Nutter

A Second Look

QUEERtimes became a weekly newsletter with our endorsement of Michael Nutter as Mayor of Philadelphia. This was back in May 11, 2007 and we have grown up with Nutter as mayor for the last 7 years. Times have changed but I thought it would be interesting to see what I wrote of Nutter back then.

Here it is:

Since an empty stomach is a bad political advisor, we suggest you all grab a bite to eat before you read this endorsement.

Okay, everyone ready? Here we go!

It’s been said that Philadelphia is the next Greatest American City. If this is true (and we believe that it is), then we must chose a mayor who will provide strong leadership, character, intellect, and a vision of change and growth.

We have watched the debates, seen the campaign ads, reviewed the policies and have carefully considered who this next leader should be. Each time the answer has been the same–Michael Nutter.

Mr. Nutter is by far the strongest candidate to move Philadelphia forward and to provide leadership to change the way Philadelphia is governed. Throughout the debate, Mr. Nutter proved himself to be the most mayoral of all the candidates with strength of leadership that far surpasses the other candidates.

As a member of City Council, he expressed his straightforwardness with the people of Philadelphia and stood up against decades of old school politics that, most agree, has held Philadelphia back all these years.

Mr. Nutter clearly presents the best credentials and agenda to really make Philadelphia become “America’s Greatest City”. He simply is the person for whom the city of Philadelphia will be proud to have as its mayor. When was the last time you felt that way?

If we really want a change in the way Philadelphia is governed and to have a better, brighter future for the city, then we must all take a stand. That stand is definitely a vote for Michael Nutter for our Next Mayor.

Get out and let your queer vote count. Bring all your friends. The future of Philadelphia weighs in the balance.

Well was I right or wrong?

I must admit I’ve had my disappointments with Mayor Nutter and I’m not quite sure that he provided “strong leadership, character, intellect, and a vision of change and growth.”

I still have the foul taste in my mouth of how he cut funding to the arts and the way he mishandled the Boy Scout eviction and subsequent law suit.

Even today he continues to disappoint with his “delay” of signing the new City Council bill decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana while a disproportionate number of the city’s poor are being unjustly criminalized and sent to prisons. The bill would end mandatory custodial arrests for possessing small amounts of marijuana and relegate it to a fine.

This is a national trend and Major Nutter is far behind the curve…so far behind one wonders if he is just calling in his last year or so in office.

Nutter just thinks that people simply shouldn’t smoke pot. Well, that boat has already sailed.

Nutter is on the wrong side of history and today someone’s child or parent was hauled off to jail simply for smoking a joint. That is a travesty; our only hope is that this bill will become law automatically in September if Nutter remains inactive on it. Even If he vetoes it there are enough votes in Council to override it, so why not sign it now Mr. Nutter, and spare the hundreds of more citizens of your city jail time and court.

Not sure if I was right or wrong in that first issue of QUEERtimes but I know today I would most likely not support Nutter as I did then. But hindsight is 20/20 I’m told.