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OutLoud: Words for the Weary

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In spite of the homophobes, Sally cheers for victories

Good news, good news! Things in Queerville are going great, especially north of the California border where I live. If you’re not tuned in to the Pacific Northwest homo info stream, or if your news source is all Fox-y “Fair and Balanced,” don’t despair. Here’s your update from Oregon, a.k.a. The Beaver State. (Go Beavs!)

Just recently the little rodeo town of Redmond, Oregon, voted to recognize domestic partnerships. Wasco County (population the size of Barstow) passed a nondiscrimination ordinance that includes both sexual orientation and gender identity. A Multnomah County Circuit Court judge ruled discrimination against families headed by same-gender couples violates the Oregon constitution. Victories abound.

OK, so Springfield, Oregon, lost The Simpsons Movie competition to Springfield, Vermont, but our state still has lots to celebrate. Thank goodness, or the universe, or whatever divine force you choose (or don’t) to acknowledge, the close of Oregon’s 2007 legislative session ended the reign of the power-mad speaker of the house who blocked a nondiscrimination bill last session. One big democracy foe out of state government for good. Can I get a big buh-bye ?

This session, under the new Democratic majority, beautiful nondiscrimination and domestic partnership laws passed in Oregon. Of course, the opposition immediately launched a referendum drive, but efforts to defend our newly legislated civil rights protections are encouraging.

A pack of small-town lesbians hosted a garden party fundraiser and took in more than $7,000—twice the goal. Those bucks go to support equal rights and fair treatment for all Oregonians. Some 30 Eugene-Springfielders stepped up and pitched in over $13,000 to the “Save The Q Center” campaign, a rent drive that will keep our little storefront community center open.

Oregon queers know we’re part of a bigger trend, and we’re doing all we can to push it forward. Our propensity to take to the streets when somebody disses us has even helped win an international victory. News is old Jamaican queer basher Buju Banton signed the “No More Murder Music” pledge—quite a stretch for the Boom Bye Bye reggae guy, but he wants to sell records, after all (though he may be trying to dance   away from the truth; see sidebar). Pressure from our town’s rowdy demonstration at a local Buju concert, combined with dozens of other protests around the world, made a difference. Now we have one less Rasta Mon spewing negative vibrations against our precious batty boys.

Speaking out against hate and promoting love and justice changes the course of our global journey. Sure, we can still be fired, evicted, and excluded from marriage benefits and a million and one other opportunities just because of who we are. And, sadly, we’re still illegal in much of the world. But things are changing, and they’re changing fast. More amazing news buzzes along the international LesBiGayTr grapevine every day.

As the anthropologist Margaret Mead (1901-1978) once told us,   “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Don’t listen to the homophobes—those dour and frightened ignoramuses who simmer in wrenching disgust at all things different. While they writhe in grating impatience for the rapture, we justice-freaks see the arc of history coming around.

And that’s good news.

Sally Sheklow, who keeps her ear to the grapevine in Eugene, Oregon, has received multiple honors in the magazine column category in the Houston Press Club Lone Star Awards.

HATE OR NOT?

On July 26, the London-based website PinkNews.co.uk reported that Buju Banton and Beenie Man, who “both gained positive press coverage around the world for publicly renouncing homophobia by signing the Reggae Compassion Act,” had announced through their management teams that they had not in fact signed the agreement. British activist Peter Tatchell, coordinator of the worldwide Stop Murder Music campaign that had targeted the Jamaican singers, among other performers, immediately posted copies of the agreements, signed by both Beenie Man (Antony Davis) and Buju Banton (Mark Myrie) on his website, www.petertatchell.net.

“We are not sure whether this is a case of misreporting, spin by their management, or a genuine recantation,” Tatchell said in a media statement. “The signatures have been authenticated as genuine. Any attempt to deny that the artists have signed this agreement will just make them look dishonest, duplicitous, and downright ridiculous.”

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