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Do we need Gay Pride?

As we are in the midst of gay pride celebrations around the world I was looking over a great list of pride event links on Ptownwest.com (ptownwest.com/prideevents.html)  it is a great list from around the world and I was thinking about Gay Pride. I live in a fairly gay friendly area of the U.S. In general gay people are fairly mainstreamed in society (at least in some areas), do we need gay pride? Some say it is to create awareness of gay rights and improve understanding and acceptance of gay individuals. But I think it is more important as a means of maintaining a community. As much as we want to assimilate and become just another facet of society, I think it is also important to maintain a sense of culture and community. The joy and fun I experience when I attend a pride event or a gathering or other event reminds me that we are indeed a culture with our own unique customs and history.

We can’t forget what some of our senior members have fought to get us where we are today. I was not at Stonewall, in fact I was probably bopping out to Davy Jones at the time and “coming out” was a good 30 years away for me but I certainly can appreciate what those brave people did to get us where we are today: no more DOMA, many states and a few more countries legalizing gay marriage, television shows where characters happen to be gay (not just the butt of a joke), acceptance of gays in the military and the boy scouts and openly gay politicians. All thanks to our brave family that got us to where we are today.

We still need Gay Pride, we are a unique culture and these events are important to connect and help all of us be Loud and Proud!

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Striking Down DOMA, what I hope it means

June 26, 2013
By Jean

It is said there are over 1,000 federal benefits for married couples that my wife and I might be able to enjoy now that we are a federally recognized married couple.

I am hoping striking down DOMA means that we can travel more freely in the United States, knowing that if one of us were to become sick or be injured and require hospitalization, we can make decisions about each others care. Nothing is scarier than being at the mercy of people who do not support your relationship who have the power over your healthcare decisions. Now my wife and I will have the ability to make the most loving decisions on behalf of each other’s well being anywhere in the US. We can no longer be denied the ability to say which meds are ok, which treatment plan or surgery or end of life care is appropriate. Making Healthcare decisions is a right afforded every married couple in the United States. Now it will be afforded us as well. We can travel with peace of mind.

We can hold hands anywhere in the US. I am hoping that one day when my wife reaches for my hand anywhere in the country, there will come a time, when I do not have to say to her, “not here, I don’t think it’s safe to hold my hand here.” Because DOMA was struck down, I feel safer knowing the Federal Government has our back. Our love is more recognized, more universal, more welcome, more a part of the human condition.

There are other benefits that I am hoping will follow. These are just a few of them:

— Survivors’ benefits: DOMA barred gay and lesbian couples from many entitlement and welfare programs, including doles tied to Social Security. Same-sex spouses will now be eligible for Social Security survivors’ benefits upon the death of a partner, among other forms of assistance, according to a December 2012 report by the Human Rights Campaign.

— Tax-free employee health insurance: Federal law has lagged behind the almost 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies who offer tax-free employer-provided health benefits to domestic partners. Health coverage for the spouses of gay and lesbian employees will now be available without any taxable strings attached.

— IRS perks: Gay and lesbian couples have historically faced a higher tax burden than traditional couples, according to M.V. Lee Badgett, the Research Director at the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at UCLA. Same-sex spouses can now claim a host of perks, from estate tax exemptions to head of household deductions. What’s more, same-sex spouses can file tax returns jointly, avoiding additional strain on wallets.

— Emergency leave: Present law does not offer gay and lesbian employees time off from work to tend to a domestic partner or that partner’s family member, according to the Human Rights Campaign. But the guarantees provided by the Family and Medical Leave Act will soon become available to same-sex spouses.

— Green cards and visas: There are an estimated 28,500 binational same-sex couples — meaning one partner is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and one isn’t — but DOMA did not allow the former to petition for the latter to immigrate, according to the Williams Institute. But gays and lesbians may now lobby the federal government for green cards or visas for a non-Amer

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Adoption

I have been on several family gay cruises and have seen so many happy families with well respected kids that were so well cared for by their 2 dads or 2 moms.

I have a stepson that has gone on the cruises with us and at 20 years old he still asks when can we go again. On one of these cruises they had a teen rap section to discuss living in a gay family. We asked him if he wanted to go he said “no need, I have no issues”. To him we are a happy family and he has “no issues”.

Watching these happy kids so well cared for really strikes a nerve when Florida will not let gay couples adopt. There are so many kids that deserve loving homes and the attention they need. It makes me so sad to see loving families that want to adopt a child that are denied on the basis of whom they love. The fact that kids can be left to languish in the foster system instead of being put into a healthy loving home is a horrible statement about our societies values.

 

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Same Love

I was driving in my car a few weeks ago and a song on the radio came on and got my attention.  It was “Same Love” by Hip-Hop artist Macklemore.  My first impression was “oh yeah, some artist trying to write a tune about the gay community” but after listening to the entire song,  I was impressed.  When I returned home, I searched on google to learn more about the artists’ incentive to write it. Mackelmore grew up with 2 gay uncles on Capital Hill in Seattle Washington and has been around the gay community all his life.  He realizes that the only way to stop the gay community from being oppressed is to “talk about it, write about it” and bring it to the front of the class!   It’s sad to me, that we, as a family, are still a “novelty” that needs to be “fixed”.   Gay marriage, equal opportunities, equal rights, the freedom to be who we are…. is it that so difficult to accept?   We have come a long way but the road ahead is still one that is being paved.  It’s artists like Macklemore that help tremendously to make a difference.   Different?  Difference! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mINGKrtG3iw

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Belonging

I’ve been studying suicide prevention and one of the protections from Suicide is “Belongingness”
Word!!

But the truth of the matter is we have to cultivate even now in our increasingly LGBT open society
a bit of “belongingness.”  And we have to figure out how to make that happen for others.

Provincetown Massachusetts and a few other spots around the country and indeed the world, feel like home in a way
that no place else feels like.  When summer is over and June Prides are done we go back to some isolation.
Gay bars and meetups are scattered around major cities, but we live all over and that is not enough.
Our lives are as hectic as everybody else’s. Getting to a meetup or Gay bar 30-60 minutes away isn’t always feasible.
Many of us do not just identify LGBT, but in the core of our soul we are always LGBT.  We need connection.
We need to unite as LGBT nation to take care of our own issues and more importantly to take care
of the issues of our brothers and sisters.

Among the fastest growing homeless individuals are youth who “come out” and then are thrown out by families.  We forget how hard it is to come
out, if we have successfully navigated the rainbow. But for far too many people, “coming out” still means losing everything, loosing family, tradition, employment, friends, religion and all the things that keep us grounded as individuals.

As the national dialogue leaps ahead of the little enclaves of society, it is important that we help those trying to come out to stay connected
year long.  We may be out in Boston, Ptown, LA, South Beach, Fire Island, NY, Chicago, SF and other places in the U.S., but are we truly out in Everytown, USA? We have many victories in our back pocket, but I have met people who migrate towards New England in search of “Safe Gay” only to find it’s still a secret. It’s not well known or is confined only to unique spots in the city or tourist locations.

LGBT nation needs to be as local as your town’s social clubs like, The American Legion, the French American Club, the Sons of Italy, or the VFW or the church hall. Stonewall was just a beginning. Pride is just a beginning.

There’s a place for us, somewhere, everywhere where we can always belong. We have to figure out how to keep the doors open and the lights on in that space everyday.

“There’s no place like home.”

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Link

Happy Pride to all! June is a month of Gay Pride celebrations. I thought you all might like to see a collections of videos from our community around the world. See them at http://www.ptownwest.com.

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Pink Triangle

This has no particular current relevance.
Last year I was at the holocaust museum in DC. I found an interesting origin of a common symbol in our culture, the pink triangle. Perhaps this is something that I should have known and I am just woefully ignorant of our history. But in case others are as unaware as I, here is the history of the pink triangle, not a happy one. In addition to the well-known yellow Star of David which Jewish persons were forced to wear under the Nazi regime, there were many other badges to force all unwanted groups to be visually identified.
For example red triangles were political prisoners including liberals, communists, trade unionists, among others. Purple triangles: Jehovah Witnesses. Black Triangles:”Anti-social elements” included mentally ill, Alcoholics, Pacifists, Prostitutes, Lesbians(!)
This system of badges had various combinations and notations
The pink triangle was forced on homosexual males sent to concentration camps because of their homosexuality. Every prisoner had to wear a downward-pointing triangle on his or her jacket. These men were treated with extreme cruelty by the Nazis and by other prisoners. They led an extremely grueling existence.
The downward-pointing pink triangle was originally intended as a badge of shame, the pink triangle now inverted from its Nazi usage has been reclaimed as an international symbol of gay pride and the gay rights.

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Our President is right…Love is Love, by Kelly Ann

Our President is right…Love is Love,

written by Kelly Ann, a sister in law to two of the founders at Ptownwest.com

When I was 19 years old and engaged to be married, my future sister-in-law came out to her parents.  In my youth, my naivety, and ignorance, I did not accept or understand what her being gay meant.  I was young, virginal, and just learning about my own sexuality, and the concept of someone being gay was foreign to me.  For many years after I got married, I still struggled to understand, and in my misunderstanding, people that I love were hurt.

As I began to mature, and have children of my own, I learned that homosexuality, is no different than heterosexuality.  You love who you love.  My children had friends who came out at my kitchen table, they never felt alienated in our home.  I learned acceptance, and that everyone should be free to love the person of their choosing, no matter what gender.  If a child of mine ever came out to me, I would embrace them with love and acceptance, and wish them happiness. 

Now over 25 years later, I have the best in-laws.  My sister-in-law is married to a wonderful woman, whom I love as a sister as well.  They have a beautiful blended family.  My brother-in-law is married to a wonderful man whom I love as another brother.  I am proud to call them my family, and I am even prouder that, they live in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, where their marriages are recognized as legal and binding.  Our president is right….Love is Love

 

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On the left

Recently my partner and I were having a discussion about being left-handed in a parochial school. Less than 30 years ago lefties were discriminated against, forced to use their right hand and often physically abused in an attempt to turn them into righties in Catholic schools. Ludacrious right??! So what was the origin of this discrimination. Well there are numerous references in many cultures equating left-handedness with evil, left-handed kids were told they were “of the devil”. The biblical references are obscure and minimal, yet a whole group was discriminated against and abused based upon these references. Do you see any correlation here? A few disputable and vague biblical references are used as the basis to discriminate against a group of people. See a correlation here? Can a lefty “choose” to be a righty? Of course not! Can “reparative therapy” (such as tying up the left hand, or being hit repeatedly on the left hand with a ruler) change a lefty to a righty? Preposterous! There is just as much science and evidence to support the inate nature of being right or left-handed as there is to the inate nature of being gay. Maybe some day future generations will look back and be horrified at the treatment and discrimination of gay people in the same way that we look back at the absurd discrimination of lefties in the not-so-distant past.

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Where is it Safe?

In my travels to hot spots around the country, at LGBT clubs and bars, I am asked by many, where is it safe?  In fact,  I have found a number of people around the country who hit on our website and are trying to find safe and comfortable, free feeling, LGBT locations outside of Provincetown, Massachusetts.  Now, Lesbians and Gay men, and transgendered people who have traveled to comfortable places around the globe, all tell me the same thing, there’s no place that feels quite like Provincetown, Massachusetts.  We’ve got to expand that natural feeling of “no place like home” to other spots around the globe, but not just nightspots, we need whole towns and communities.

Because we live and operate out of Massachusetts,  everyone expects that when they log onto PTOWNWEST.COM they are going to find additional places, where they can kiss goodbye in public, hold hands and feel all around comfortable.  My wife and I, since we got married in 2007 have been kissing goodbye and embracing in public where-ever and whenever we feel safe.  So, I thought this would be a great blog we could all participate in.  Where do you feel safe?  To be really comfortable, it means we have be able to make those connections that are PDA’s – Public Displays of Affection that are warm, like holdings hands or hugging or kissing.  I have felt safe being out “like a straight person” or  a “straight couple” in just a few cities.    Places where my wife and I have managed to pull this off and feel safe and comfortable include: Logan Airport, Boston,MA,  Cambridge MA, Brookline, MA, Provincetown, MA,  Northampton, MA, Broadway  in NYC, Portsmouth, NH and Ogunquit, ME.  Where else are you comfortable?  Let us know so we can share it with others.

We look forward to working with you to claim a more friendly and loving world for all of us.

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