Thursday, June 19, 2014

NOM: Lying with Pictures

So yesterday, June 19, 2014, The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and some other anti-LGBT folks threw a "March for Marriage Discrimination". Er, sorry, just a "March for Marriage", where various speakers extolled the virtues of treating LGBT citizens and their families and children like second-class citizens.

As one might expect, they tweeted a picture of the group of "brave marriage defenders" on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building. It appears to be taken at the back of a large crowd, as the Capitol Building is some distance away. But it took only a moment's study of the zoomed-in image to realise it has been photo-manipulated.

First, I'll note how conveniently white the sky is around the Capitol Building. There are quite dramatic clouds off to the side, but the center of the picture is oddly devoid of any detail. This in and of itself isn't evidence of photo-manipulation.

However, the following details aren't quite so innocent.

This is actually the first detail that caught my eye. What in the world is wrong with this man? His elbow and his bicep are both individually larger than his head. His right wrist, hand, and thumb are also quite odd.

Here, some sort of stretching has resulted in the evenly-spaced pillars on this part of the building to come out uneven. There's also a cloning artefact in the tree.

Look at the woman (At least, I think it's a woman) in the green top and black pants standing in front of the man in blue. Where is the rest of her left leg? I'm also not quite certain she has a whole head.

Last, let's look at a couple of other pictures of the rally taken by other folks and compare the relative sizes of the tall black speakers and the Capitol Building. The NOM picture would appear to have been taken much closer to the speakers, and yet the Capitol Building appears to have retreated, as it is significantly smaller in the NOM image. I note as well that when the Capitol Building retreated, it appears to have left one of its stair-flanking trees behind with the crowd!

I can only conclude from this brief review of the images of the event that NOM has intentionally combined a close-up view of the crowd (or, perhaps, more than one image of the crowd) with a more distant image of the Capitol Building to suggest that the crowd was much larger and took up much more space on the lawn than it really did.

Lying with pictures is still lying, folks. Why is it that the anti-LGBT crowd needs to lie to support their cause? Is it because it is otherwise insupportable?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

To Those Who Feel Entitled to Comment on or Legislate People's Lives

Photo: SFWheelchair
Used under Creative Commons
Share Alike 3.0 License

If you're not sure this letter is to you, let me be more specific. If you...

  • have ever commented on a stranger's weight (either to say they were too thin or too fat),
  • have ever supported government intrusion into a woman's reproductive health decisions,
  • have ever suggested what a rape victim was wearing contributed to her victimisation,
  • have ever proposed that a person's consensual sexual behaviour should limit their human rights,
  • have ever stated that a bullying victim's behaviour led to their being bullied,
  • have ever compared being transgender to when you were five and decided for about a week that you wanted to be a cat,
  • have ever opined a woman owes a man sex if they have dated for a long time or he has spent a lot of money on her,
  • have ever slut-shamed a woman for having had more than one sexual partner or having had sex outside of marriage,
  • have ever wimp-shamed a man for being a virgin,
  • have ever acted offended when someone asked you not to touch them,
  • have ever given unsolicited advice to a pregnant woman,
  • have ever touched a pregnant woman's belly without her permission,
  • have ever told a breast-feeding mom to cover up,
  • have ever told a bottle-feeding mom that she should be breast-feeding,
  • have ever yelled at a person for parking in the disabled section when they did not look disabled,
  • have ever found stories, pictures, or videos of non-disabled people showing basic human decency to disabled people "inspirational",
  • have ever done the above "inspirational" tactic, but for non-LGBT/LGBT, non-POC/POC, young/old, etc.,
  • have ever negatively commented on someone's piercings, tattoos, haircut, hair colour, or makeup or lack thereof,
  • have told a stranger they should smile so they'd look nicer,
  • have ever told a woman in a bikini she should be more modest,
  • have ever told a woman in a burkha, hijab, chador, or other Muslim head covering that she shouldn't wear it,
  • have ever refused service to a person because of their apparent race, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation, or
  • have ever supported political candidates or causes that stood for the limiting of rights to women, minorities, or LGBT people,
... then, yes, this letter is to you. This letter isn't just from me, but represents all those who have found themselves the victims of the above situations.

Hi. This is my body. I own it. In fact, it is the only thing I 100% without-a-doubt own. It is me. It houses my very thoughts, it carries me through the world, it brings to me through my senses all the information I know.

You do not own it. You are not entitled to control it, either through physical, legal, or social means. You are not entitled to tell me what to do with my genitalia, reproductive organs, face, hair, eating, and so on.

You are not entitled to have sex with me. Even if I am dressed immodestly, even if I am drunk, even if I am out alone after dark, even if I have a sexual history with multiple men, even if I have had sex with you before. Nor can you earn entitlement to sex with me. Yes, even if you are a gentleman, even if you spend a lot of money on a date with me, even if we are in a long-term relationship. I choose to whom I give that gift, because my body is mine.

You are not entitled to tell me I cannot have sex with another consenting adult. Yes, even if that adult is the same gender as me, even if we are having non-vaginal sex, even if it involves gags and handcuffs and whips, even if it involves more than two adults. I choose to whom I give that gift, because my body is mine.

Unless you are my doctor, you don't get to decide if I am disabled enough to qualify as disabled. You are not entitled to demand I explain my disability.

You are not entitled to touch my hair or any part of my body or clothing without my permission. My body is not here to decorate your world. It doesn't exist to inspire or please you. You are not entitled to demand I smile or wear make-up or pretty clothing or certain shoes or certain hairstyles.

You are not entitled to tell me what to wear because you cannot control your own sexual thoughts. You are not entitled to tell me who I can and cannot marry because seeing two men or two women together makes you uncomfortable or because you are obsessed with thoughts of gay sex.

The only exception to all this is if I use my body to control or harm someone else, because I am not entitled to anyone else's body.

Willingly giving of ourselves to others-- whether that's mowing a neighbour's lawn, preparing our families' dinners, making love, or even running into a burning building to rescue someone-- is the basis for all expressions of love.

Taking what is not given, claiming what is not yours, is the basis of all human evil. At its heart, this is what oppression is-- a sense of ownership of someone else's body, a belief that you are entitled to control someone else's very physical self.

It is of this sense of entitlement that we need to rid ourselves. In this way, we can learn to appreciate a smile, a friendship, or a task willingly done for what it is-- a gift.

Monday, June 9, 2014

To All the Spiritually Orphaned Children

Broken Heart by Samael Kreutz
"Broken Heart" by Samael Kreutz,
used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

Dear kids and kids at heart,

If you've got parents, or grandparents, or siblings, or other family members who have rejected you because you are somewhere on the LGBTQIA spectrum (or because your religious beliefs, politics, interests, or life plans differ from theirs, or just because they didn't particularly want kids but they got you anyway), it can feel like you are a failure. You aren't.

If you are certain you would be rejected if they really knew you, it can feel like you are dishonest and untrustworthy. You aren't.

Your worth isn't defined by your parents or family. It isn't determined by whether people who share your DNA love or accept you.

If you are your authentic self, you are commendable. If you haven't come out to your family because you are still sorting out your identity, you are worthy. If you have had to be less than authentic in order to survive until you can live independently, you are admirable.

Don't ever let the failure of others to love unselfishly define who you are and what you are worth. Love isn't something that's earned. It's a gift that is given freely. If someone hasn't given you that gift, that's sad, but it says more about them than it does about you.

To the best of your ability, considering your circumstances, be your authentic self, extend love and compassion to others, even when it isn't extended to you, and don't give up hope.

There are people out in the world waiting to be your family-- your true family, not by blood or upbringing, but by the deeper DNA of heart. You will find us everywhere. Some, like you, are spiritual orphans. They need you to survive and thrive.

We love you. We can't wait to meet.