Being Seen

By | 2019-04-10T16:58:53-04:00 April 10th, 2019|Opinions, Viewpoints|

I grew up in a Southern California suburb in the 1970s, a short distance from the smog-filled skies of Los Angeles. Right around the time of Fleetwood Mac's Rumors album, mood rings and bell bottoms, there was a veneer of patriotism brought forth thanks to the bicentennial.

Let’s Talk About Drinking and Health

By | 2019-04-10T16:02:47-04:00 April 10th, 2019|Health & Wellness, Opinions, Viewpoints|

I am often asked from clients and friends if I believe there is a healthy amount of alcohol that may be consumed on a regular basis. Of course, no one likes my response: actually no, there is not. However, I also like to reframe the question: How do you define healthy? More specifically, is there a use for alcohol?

Adoption Case Settlement Win for LGBTQ Michiganders

By | 2019-03-28T02:17:05-04:00 March 28th, 2019|Opinions, Viewpoints|

This past Friday came the announcement that the ACLU of Michigan and the state of Michigan settled a lawsuit that we, the ACLU, had filed — challenging the state’s practice of allowing state-contracted, taxpayer-funded foster care and adoption agencies to use religious criteria to exclude same-sex couples.

Mombian: Of Budget and Bias

By | 2019-03-20T14:12:44-04:00 March 20th, 2019|Opinions, Viewpoints|

President Trump’s proposed 2020 budget, released March 11, reinforces his intention to let foster care and adoption agencies discriminate against LGBTQ people and others in the name of religion, using taxpayer money. There is legislation pending that could stop these religious exemptions to non-discrimination laws, however. Here’s what you need to know.

Ducking Transgender Athletes

By | 2019-03-13T13:43:26-04:00 March 13th, 2019|Opinions, Viewpoints|

Centuries ago, during the witch trials of the medieval era, a unique way of determining who was or wasn't a witch was created. A woman suspected of being a witch would have her right thumb bound to the big toe on her left foot. She would then have a rope tied around her waist, and be thrown into a nearby pond or river.

Positive Thoughts: I’m an HIV-Positive Gay Man Committed to Racial Justice

By | 2019-03-06T14:51:57-04:00 March 6th, 2019|Opinions, Viewpoints|

The day the universe decided it wanted to see sugar, spice and everything nice, it was June 10, 1991 – the day I was born. Even as a child, I was always talkative and quite the jokester. Winning "Loudest," "Class Clown," and "Most Likely to Work for The New York Times" my senior year of high school proved not only that I could make anyone laugh, but that my banter always led to greater conversation.

Whatever Happened to? …

By | 2019-02-20T14:38:10-04:00 February 20th, 2019|Opinions, Viewpoints|

As I rework my dissertation into a book manuscript — cutting sections here, smoothing out passages there, tugging at paragraphs like taffy over there, finding the through line — I have been sneaking out and doing some last-minute oral history interviews. Even though many people have told me to stop, that I need to get the book done. I can’t quite help it.

Valentine’s Day Visibility: To Stay in or Go Out?

By | 2019-02-06T15:56:46-04:00 February 6th, 2019|Opinions, Viewpoints|

As a lesbian, I often feel the urge to be vocally happy in my engagement to a woman. It’s a spiteful parry to a book I keep on my shelf as a joke: "The Unhappy Gays," a messy assortment of Christian ramblings about how queer people are actually miserable, pilfered from the collection of my deceased grandmother.

A Look at LGBTQ Artists in Burlesque

By | 2019-02-06T15:54:35-04:00 February 6th, 2019|Opinions, Viewpoints|

One would think that in the field of burlesque, sex and the discussion of it would be welcome, but this may not always be the case. In 2019 there is open discussion about all things LGBTQ as well as openly gay celebrities, but in the burlesque world, sex and sexual orientation are still considered dirty words by some. Why is this the case? Perhaps the answer to this and many other questions lies in pondering why humans readily embrace some things and people and not others. Normally, that which is deemed different is looked at with suspicion and approached with caution — as is the case with the LGBTQ or queer burlesque performers.

I’m Positive

By | 2019-01-23T15:38:35-04:00 January 23rd, 2019|Opinions, Viewpoints|

Every HIV story is a sad story. And, generally, it’s always a surprise story for people, something they weren’t expecting. In January 2014, I was dating a guy in Memphis, Tennessee, named Andre. We fell [...]

A Holiday Wish

By | 2018-12-19T12:48:11-04:00 December 19th, 2018|Opinions, Viewpoints|

So, once again, we reach the closing of the year. For many of us, this is a time of trees festooned with tinsel and glass baubles, or nights filled with candlelight or a myriad of holiday traditions. It's a time of gingerbread and gelt, kinara or hanukkiyah, and all sorts of things we hold dear.

Digital Footprints Last

By | 2018-12-13T12:29:06-04:00 December 5th, 2018|Opinions, Viewpoints|

A recent FOX2 news story appeared on my Facebook feed this week, “Michigan mother and son share their transgender transformation,” that delivered an honest and straightforward reporting of a New Baltimore, Michigan, family – and [...]

Legislature Must Stop Health Officials’ Invasive Plans

By | 2018-11-28T16:43:49-04:00 November 28th, 2018|Guides, Opinions, Viewpoints, World AIDS Day|

PQ: As long as Michigan continues to criminalize people living with HIV for engaging in sexual behavior that may not even transmit the virus, the genetic clustering work could be abused by zealous prosecutors. Perhaps those prosecutors believe they are working to stop HIV transmissions. Perhaps they are driven by animus against certain at risk populations.

The Morning After: No Pill, Just Hard Work

By | 2018-11-07T16:37:52-04:00 November 7th, 2018|Opinions, Viewpoints|

One of the lasting lessons I learned from Detroit’s legendary activist Jeff Montgomery was no matter what the outcome was of an election, we must prepare for the morning after. As I write this before knowing the results, I know that things could go either for or against us, but we have to be prepared. When he said this advice, Montgomery was talking about the 2004 Michigan vote that made it unconstitutional for the state to recognize or perform same-sex marriages or civil unions. So much was at stake.

On Nov. 6 Ballot Firsts Abound

By | 2018-10-31T14:42:02-04:00 October 31st, 2018|Opinions, Viewpoints|

What to say to get you to vote that isn’t already in a meme? That’s my task and conundrum. So let’s start with this: LGBTQ Michiganders, when sufficiently motivated, vote and do so in large numbers. For example, 2014 post-election modeling done by the national Stonewall Democrats determined that 14 percent of all Democratic voters in Michigan were LGBTQ. Assuming that we’re 3 to 5 percent of our state’s overall population, that outsized voting percentage is hugely significant.

The Transgender Community will not Be Erased

By | 2018-10-31T14:40:47-04:00 October 31st, 2018|Opinions, Viewpoints|

It’s been a challenging week this week for members of the transgender community, their allies and supporters. Over the weekend, the New York Times revealed that officials within the Trump Administration are pushing for a narrow definition of sex in enforcing federal civil rights laws. By defining sex as “either male or female, immutable and determined by a person’s genitals at the time of birth,” governmental departments could refuse to recognize and address incidents of discrimination against transgender people in employment, education, housing and access to health care.

50-50

By | 2018-10-24T15:41:44-04:00 October 24th, 2018|Opinions, Viewpoints|

1968 was indeed a year that had a profound impact upon this country - the assassinations of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, protests of the Vietnam War and racial inequality - most notably during the Democratic Convention in Chicago and the fist raised during the Olympic ceremony by two Black athletes. And 1968 saw winners – Richard Nixon won the White House and the Detroit Tigers won the World Series! The year also saw the birth of the Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), and yours truly was born in December of that year.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month LGBTQ Recommendations

By | 2018-10-17T14:57:39-04:00 October 17th, 2018|Opinions, Viewpoints|

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, making it an important time of year to raise awareness for the need of screening and early detection, advocacy, support and ongoing research. Unfortunately, the reality is that breast cancer doesn’t care what month it is and doesn’t just go away until October. It's vital that any person with breast or chest tissue, meaning everyone, understands that they may be at risk of developing breast cancer.

Bring Out Your Dead

By | 2018-10-10T15:50:15-04:00 October 10th, 2018|Opinions, Viewpoints|

So, for this year’s National Coming Out Day, bring out your dead. If you have deceased LGBTQ friends or relatives who may not have been out during their lifetimes, bring them out, even in some small way. Help them take their next step. Tell someone about them. Write up an account of their lives for some future reader (or perhaps a historian). Maybe, in the fashion of cemeteries planting American flags on veterans’ graves, place a rainbow flag at their final resting place.

Standing with Survivors, Standing for Justice

By | 2018-10-03T19:16:06-04:00 October 3rd, 2018|Opinions, Viewpoints|

The stories are all different, but they are the same. The family friend or member who comes into the bedroom at night. The uncle, grandparent or friend who touches inappropriately with a hug. The boys who cop a feel in the hallway. The “nice” guy who after a few beers forgot that “No means No.”

A Beacon of Hope

By | 2018-09-26T14:12:40-04:00 September 26th, 2018|Opinions, Viewpoints|

Recent reports say that 0.7 percent of teens identify as transgender. At the same time, a recent study from the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that 50.8 percent of trans masculine people attempt suicide, with [...]

Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Our Story?

By | 2018-09-19T12:20:15-04:00 September 19th, 2018|Opinions, Viewpoints|

To me, it becomes an issue of accuracy versus truth. It may indeed be accurate, for example, to include the name I was born under, answered to and used on legal documents until I was in my early 20s — but this isn't exactly my truth. That surely isn't me, and isn't my identity now. It's not the person who pens these words, or has been under this name and gender for the more than half of this life.

The Need for a Non-Judgmental Community Conversation About Drug Use

By | 2018-09-05T12:44:05-04:00 September 5th, 2018|Opinions, Viewpoints|

“Drug addict,” “philanderer,” “lifestyle” ... these are the pejoratives that substance abuse professionals used in a workshop I recently attended at a national conference on substance abuse. I was shocked to hear such judgmental and stigma-laden words casually thrown around the room by trained professionals. I have issues with judgmental words and labels; not only on a professional level, but also when talking to others from the LGBTQ2+ community. We are already fighting for our equality on many other fronts, specifically fewer barriers to health care and we don’t need labels to be used against us.

Their Past, Our Present

By | 2018-08-08T14:19:20-04:00 August 8th, 2018|Opinions, Viewpoints|

I look at that photo from 1921, at those proud, resolute transgender people from nearly 100 years ago. How many of them were able to escape what was happening around them, or were they forced into hiding? We're any of them amongst those beaten when the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft was destroyed? Dare I even ponder if these folks enjoying a nice day in the sun would, just a few years later, be forced to wear the pink triangle and live out their remaining days in a concentration camp?

The First in Michigan

By | 2018-07-25T15:48:54-04:00 July 25th, 2018|Opinions, Viewpoints|

I had explored a variety of options but nothing seemed very viable until, one day, I was having a conversation with one of my staff and she mentioned that she had worked for a child welfare program. She said that they often had difficulty in placing children who were older than the average child up for adoption. I called the agency to set up a meeting, and no sooner had I walked through the door than I realized that the woman who was interviewing me was a lesbian and very sympathetic.

Our Voice, Our Vote! Now More Important Than Ever!

By | 2018-07-13T13:35:32-04:00 July 11th, 2018|Opinions, Viewpoints|

It is not the time for us to be silent, to be fearful, to go back in the closet or to give up on building bridges and alliances. Our vote counts. Every vote counts We have to bring every vote — LGBTQ and all our allies - to the polls beginning now and send these chickens home to roost.

Pride is More Than Performance

By | 2018-06-27T15:58:31-04:00 June 27th, 2018|Opinions, Viewpoints|

It's pride month, and this means a whole lot of people will take or have taken to the streets across the world, festooned in their best rainbow gear. We'll march, party and do all those things we'll do at pride. It will be crazy and chaotic, and we will be the big messy community we are, in all our glory.

Supreme Court Cakeshop Ruling Does Not Provide License to Discriminate

By | 2018-06-13T12:43:28-04:00 June 13th, 2018|Opinions, Viewpoints|

Some are misinterpreting last week’s Supreme Court’s decision in the Masterpiece Cake case, as providing a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people. This is patently false. The Court’s ruling in favor of the cake shop was based on very narrow and specific circumstances regarding respecting religious freedom while enforcing antidiscrimination laws.

The Path to Progress

By | 2018-06-07T08:22:20-04:00 June 6th, 2018|Opinions, Viewpoints|

It’s BTL's silver anniversary, and for 25 years we have been dedicated to providing news for Michigan’s LGBTQ community. So now, as we celebrate this incredible milestone in not only our history, but that of our readership, we invite you to look back with us. Over the next 12 months BTL will revisit Southeast Michigan's historical milestones, traveling back in time to reexamine those events that have changed the face of our community. We’ll be releasing regular historical graphics that take a look at some of the LGBTQ community's greatest triumphs as well as some of the biggest bumps we’ve encountered on the road to equality. The first of these graphics can be found on page 8.

When a Tired Old Stereotype Becomes a Life-Saving Act

By | 2018-05-29T15:36:03-04:00 May 29th, 2018|Opinions, Viewpoints|

Finding housing is complex and terrifying. With rent skyrocketing while quality plunges, even middle-class families are struggling to find something that works for them and is also affordable, especially if they have children, pets, and/or special needs. Initial payments are financially overwhelming, comprising of rent for the first month, plus a security deposit, plus any additional fees. If a person cannot find accessible housing, the generosity of friends and family is the only thing protecting them from homelessness. Those who are marginalized - people of color, disabled people, and those within the LGBTQ+ community - face even greater challenges.