The World's New Gay State

The Gay State and the Question of Race.

July 26 (New York)  When I speak to a group, even a small group, it is interesting on how quickly tempers flare from those who are quite adamantly opposed to the Gay State concept.  Rebuttals are often laced with personal matters as to religion and sometimes from those who are professionally versed in theology.  It’s not lost on me how often detractors seek to find ways to denounce the concept or dismiss it as some sort of “Utopian” scheme.  Sometimes, but only rarely am asked new questions which after these many years, comes as a surprise.  One such question came from a woman who asked me about race.

I can remember her question as if it were yesterday.  When I called on her out of a crowd, her question was, “I agree with you on many points, but I wonder at what point, is sexual orientation NOT ENOUGH?”  She went on, and I can remember every nuance in her voice, “How would a Gay state treat its people with regard to the importance of race and how would it differentiate on the matter of race?”

I can remember her question so clearly in part, because in retrospect, I am displeased with the response I gave her at the time.  It is after all, an issue that requires and deserves a series of discussions and cannot be satisfied with a quick one or two sentence response.  The inability of humankind to solve racial tensions has plagued mankind for centuries.  I remember I hesitated for a moment, gathering my thoughts and determining which part of the question I should attempt to give a voice to.  My answer was insufficient but was as follows: “In terms of how race plays a role in the Gay culture, Asian, Latino, Black or Caucasian, race, I believe,  is secondary.  Gay people have been oppressed in nations of every color.”  It wasn’t an intentionally malicious effort to avoid the topic more fully.  The answer was insufficient and I skirted the key aspect of race in culture.  I have often wished I had the opportunity to address this particular issue for this woman.

The importance of race.  And how would the Gay state treat its people with regard to the importance of race and how would it differentiate on the matter of race…

To be blunt, I suggest… the short answer is no.  No, I would demand that the Gay State endeavour to become the world’s first post-racial society.  On the contrary, THERE SHOULD BE NO IMPORTANCE PUT ON THE ASPECT OF RACE.  A man should not be known as the Black Gay.  A womyn should not be classified as the Latina Lesbian.  We are all citizens of the Gay state.  And to this question, let me ask in return, what good has ever come from putting importance on race?  Where has emphasizing our differences gotten us in this world?  In our new country, the derogatory references to someone’s race can finally be stricken from civilized society.  Fueling racial hatred and intolerance is destructive to society in general and batters ones soul, just as when Gays are shunned and bullied based on sexual orientation.  On the contrary, instead of emphasizing the importance of race, I say we should seek to marginalize racial differences.  What better way to remove racism into the trash bin of history, than to give it no significance?

Too many people have not been exposed to a variety of cultures.  Too many people have lived their own small lives and to their own detriment, surrounded only by people who look like themselves and believe in the same set of values.  We need to increase the acceptance of diversity, not drive people into the emotional and mental illness that is ethnocentrism.  For all the years of my life I have been a part of a minority population that did not always by necessity bear the brunt of hatred.  As a boy and as a young man, I could hide my Gayness in a way people of color cannot and therefore I could blend in with the Heterosexuals if need be.  No one was the wiser, except me.  Obviously, many people of various racial make-up do not have that opportunity, as ill-conceived as it is.

It is human nature that we endeavour to put people in boxes.  Humans like to categorize one another so they can determine which cavalcade of stereotypes can be heaped upon the individual.  Another ill-conceived category that can be used to someone’s detriment is regionalism.  I have spent years of my life living in communities where I have also been a racial minority.  In the United States, I lived in the only state where Caucasians are a minority – Hawaii.  When Asians are grouped as one, they significantly outnumber European-Americans.   And I witnessed and experienced what’s commonly referred to as reversed racism.  In the islands, many “locals;” meaning those of Asian descent think that a Caucasian will never and can never  be a “local,” even if born and raised in Hawaii.  I would venture to say that most Caucasians in Hawaii have at one time or another been referred to as a “Haole.”  The word was originally used to refer to someone as a “foreigner” or as a “stranger” not of the land.  Yet in popular culture, especially among the younger generation, Haole is derogatory for whitey.  It is never used in a positive light.  It is another example of provincialism that is embedded in geographic isolation.  With a certain tone under some circumstances, it is meant to offend much in the same manner some people still use the “N’ word.  In my estimation, this is an ill-intended byproduct of placing an importance on race.  If screaming “fire!” in a crowded theatre is against the law, so should the use of words that are intended as weapons to endanger another.  What useful purpose comes from disparaging or damaging another person by using such language?  These examples do not infringe on free speech issues but should be stricken from use.

Some have said that I am guilty of the same generalizations by exposing those who commit the act.  I disagree that exposing those guilty of drawing “first blood” renders us just as guilty.  Placing importance on race remains in the 21st century, one of the world’s most egregious examples of provincialism.  It is pitifully small-minded, by my thinking.  In our new Gay State, with citizens from every existing nation on Earth, we want to dissolve our differences and in the process, build bridges to one another.  Placing importance on race (particularly with negative connotations) only results in dividing us based on our differences and thus is not helpful.

It is a fact that the global Gay community suffers from having the scourge of racism within its own ranks.  Today it is a sad fact that the global Gay community is itself tainted by this insidious blight of racism that is found in every part of the world.  Non-Gay nations, which is to say EVERY nation on this Earth, give in to the weaknesses of the human mind and let divisions by race overpower society.  We in our new Gay State will do things differently.  We in the new Gay State will all have witnessed, lived and have known the damages of being the “odd man out,” the wasteful act of diminishing another living soul based on discrimination.  In our new home, this defect of racism based on intolerance and ethnocentrism will be stopped at the border.

Like Hawaii and like the planet as a whole, Caucasians in the Gay State will not have a majority status.  In order of racial population, particularly for full-time residents, we would expect Asians and Africans to be dominant population groups with Latin, Caucasian and other minorities also making a significant representation.  Part-time and seasonal residents would come from more economically advanced nations and as a result would expect to see more North Americans and Europeans.  Vacationers will pour in from every corner of the world.

Most of the people of the world would  probably expect that in America, the most racially divisive region with the most hostile and blatant racism is in the southern United States.  This is not to suggest that vile racism does not exist in all 50 states.  These are historic generalities and people from the region may argue based on individual merit that they do not fit the label and rightfully so.  Such intolerance and hatred is often a result of ignorance and southerner’s were not historically the region of the United States that placed the most emphasis on education and cultural diversity  for the general populace.  Provincialism rears its ugly head in places such as this.

For a number or years I became intimately acquainted with Charleston, South Carolina.  It is an architecturally  beautiful city, with a history based on slaves and barbaric and brutal racial oppression.  This was a city that had achieved great wealth by profiting on the blood, sweat and wholesale trade  and bondage of an entire race of people.  The hatred and intolerance of Charlestonian’s  however, didn’t  end with racism.  For generations, they have expressed hatred for fellow American’s  with northern roots.  Charleston, SC, where the American Civil War began, where their heinous acts of treason and terrorism by these southern separatists resulted in the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent Americans; where hundreds of thousands of more Americans were killed trying to hold the Union together and these people of the south, even today in shocking numbers, dare to express a dislike for US citizens from the north.  I am quicker to pardon the southerner’s who actually participated in the War Between the States, as their ignorance and economic dependency prevented them from truly understanding the scope of what they were doing.  I am far less charitable towards the southerners of today who do not admit their shame and embarrassment for the actions of their forefathers.  They should be on their knees, for the sins of their families, begging forgiveness from their fellow American’s for all of the horrors they brought to the United States.  Most American’s from every corner of the nation have forgiven the acts of the south for betraying the U.S. and in fact, committing the greatest act of mass murder in US history.  In acknowledging their wrong-doing, I am not perpetuating the continuing ill-will towards the south.  As a people they should be forgiven and collectively as a people we should move on.

In the time that I lived in Charleston and travelled extensively throughout the south, I can’t tell you the number of times I was referred to as a “Yankee.”  When I was referred to as a Yankee, it was not to honor me for the bloodshed of my forefathers who fought to keep our nation together.  I was not called a Yankee because I was being honored for so many from my region of the US who gave their lives to free a whole race of people.  They referred to me as a Yankee as if it was a bad thing.  And in doing so, their pathetic provincialism again rose to the surface.  The entire world calls all Americans “Yankees.”  Yes, to the greater world, far beyond the provincialism of the southern U.S. and small-minded way of life, southerners are considered Yankees too!

This is to illustrate the damage that is done when society allows or even encourages people to emphasize our differences more than our similarities.  My experiences in life, as a Caucasian in an Asian culture, as a Northerner in the South, as an American in foreign lands, I cannot believe that separating people by race, treating them differently or  bestowing upon them “special rights” based on racial status,  RARELY IF EVER results in something good.

In conclusion, we will continue to acknowledge the ways we as a Gay society have made positive achievements.  We will promote the positive attributes of all of our people and aggressively encourage all of our new citizens to leave the negative connotations that attach themselves to racial identities behind in their lands of birth.  I remember the words of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  He said “In the beginning, we all may have come on different ships, but we are in the same boat now.”  Together.  As one.  Let us wash away all of the identities attached to race and racism and celebrate our Gay humanity.  One people coming together as one in our new Gay nation. It remains true that like the larger international world, the global Gay community suffers from having the scourge of racism within its ranks.  Today it is a sad fact that the global Gay community is itself tainted by this insidious blight of racism that is found in every part of the world.  Non-Gay nations, which is to say EVERY nation on this Earth, give in to the weaknesses of the human mind and let divisions and divisions by race overpower society.  We in our new Gay State will do things differently.  We in the new Gay State will have known the damages of being the “odd man out,” the waste of diminishing another living soul based on discrimination.  In our new home, this defect of racism based on intolerance and ethnocentrism will be stopped at the border.

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Nellie’s and “The Land Of Confusion.”

Posted in FIGS Party, Gay independence, Gay State Promotions, GLIFAA, LGBT Politics, The Gay State by thegaystateblog on June 25, 2010

The other night, upon settling into my Washington DC quarters,  I went for a stroll around the neighborhood.  It was a hot, balmy night and Foggy Bottom was at its best.  I walked all the way up to DuPont Circle where I bumped into an old friend at the Starbucks.  We caught up on the current of each other’s lives and before long, jumped into a cab together and went over to Nellie’s Sports Bar.

I’m not giving away any secrets here, so there’s no need to worry.  Once or twice a month GLIFAA meets at Nellie’s.  GLIFAA stands for Gay and Lesbian In Foreign Affairs Agencies.  GLIFAA members are usually with the State Department but they do attract many admirers.  And over the years many other groups within the LGBT community have made Nellie’s their “third place.”  Anyone and everyone who is Gay and with the CIA, NSA, embassies and intelligence communities and even Capitol Hill types also gather at Nellie’s for something more that your run-of-the-mill mixing, mingling and camaraderie.  I’ve been a regular for longer than I can remember, but I’ve been away from Washington more often than I’ve been in town as of late, so it was wonderful to be back.  I urge you to check it out, if only for fun.  You might just meet a man who could kill you with his thumb.  You might meet a secret agent, a double agent or a real life Bond.  If you’re a Jock, you’ll definitely find yourself feeling right at home.

If you’ve never been to Nellie’s don’t judge it by this.  The music is a perfect mix of new and old.  And as I was getting ready to leave, on the screen was one of those classic music videos from the 80’s.  Probably half of the customers in Nellie’s on this night probably weren’t yet born when Phil Collins and Genesis performed “The Land of Confusion.”  The video featured these creepy puppets resembling all of the international players in politics and pop culture  during the Reagan years.  Hugh Hefner and the Pope.  Reagan and Thatcher.  Michael Jackson and a cast of a hundred others.  It certainly captured the mood of the culture at the time.  And in many ways, for all of the scrambling and diversions, little has changed and only in small ways has the world improved.  We should be entitled to expect so much more for the state of humankind in the world. 

Here is the link to see the Genesis version of “The Land Of Confusion.”   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZtWABLuWHo&feature=related

In the 80’s just as all throughout the history of military science, troops are trained to be fearless, to persevere and to be willing to march off a cliff if doing so benefits a greater good.  Troops in the early 80’s sang cadence proclaiming they would be dead by the summer of ’85.  It probably steeled them to the potential inevitable.  Anyway, some of the older agents watch this video and reminisce.  Fast forward to 2010 when a heavy metal band (debatable – if my 10-year-old niece likes them) named Disturbance does a remake of “The Land Of Confusion.”  Watch this and compare it to the original.  It seems much darker and menacing, with one rag-tag superhero.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6KXgjLqSTg&feature=related

The lyrics go something like this:

I must have dreamed a thousand dreams and haunted by a million screams.

But I can hear the marching feet, of moving into the street.

Now did you read the news today, they say that danger’s on our way,

But I can see the fires still alight, and burning into the night.

Well there’s too many men, there’s too many people, making too many problems and not much love to go ‘round.

Can’t you see this is the land of confusion?

This is the world we live in and these are the hands we’re given,

You’ll never let us stop trying to make this a place worth fighting for.

Now Superman, where are you now?  It seems everything’s gone wrong somehow.  The “Men of Steel,” “The Men of Power” are losing control by the hour.

This is the time.  This is the place.  So we look to the future and there’s not much love to go around.  Tell me why this is the land of confusion?

This is the world we live in and these are the hands we’re given.  You’ll never let us stop trying, to make this a place worth living in!

Remember so long ago when the sun was shining.  And the skies were bright all through the night and the sound of your laughter as I held you tight.

So long ago…

I won’t be coming home tonight.  My generation will put it right.  We’re not just making promises – you know – we’ll never keep.

There’s too many men, there’s too many people, making too many problems and there’s not much love to go around.  Can’t you see this is the land of confusion!

This is the world we live in and these are the hands we’re given.  You’ll never let us stop trying to make this a place worth fighting for.

This is the world we live in and these are the hands we’re given.  STAND UP and let’s start SHOWING just where our lives are going to!

Music certainly has the power to move us and jar loose some long forgotten memories.  Tonight has been a wonderful indulgence for me between the meetings of the ALA Conference.  It’s very late, the sun will be up in a few hours and I’ll be due back at the convention center.  I hope you are well.  Goodnight and remember, make it a world worth living in.

The Godfather of the Gay World And Building Bridges.

Posted in FIGS Party, Gay independence, LGBT Politics by thegaystateblog on June 24, 2010

Elton John, international super-star and Gay icon, long recognized as a “Secular Saint,” and a modern day man-of-the-people has spoken.  And he expressed a sentiment that would do us all well to follow.  

A firestorm of controversy flared up when word got out that Elton John agreed to perform  at Rush Limbaugh’s wedding ceremony to bride number four.  Rush Limbaugh?  Really?

To many, a performance for Limbaugh was seen as giving a performance for the “enemy.”  Many have asked that even if John was receiving the reported one million dollar (US) fee for the performance, it couldn’t be that he did it for the money.  Did he?  Could he?  Would he?  Ok, even John deserves to make a living.  Beyond the burdens of being the leader of a global people, the man has to pay his bills, right?

Elton has been a lightning rod throughout his public life, accompanied by tumult and controversy.  The world still loves Elton – even those who couldn’t see past the paid gig.  But forgiveness is a part of our Gay DNA and one of our 13 cherished “Gaymandments.”  But how exactly did this performance advance the global Gay condition, some are wondering?  That’s not the right question, even of the Godfather of our Gay world.   Limbaugh had a global super-star perform at his wedding.  Our detractors will always say that our man “sold us out” for the sake of a paycheck.  Where’s the upside to how we can rationalize this?  To begin with, Elton has done incredible good to support all of our people.  No one can question his generosity.  I say he should take the money,  put it to good use, however he sees fit.  And frankly if Elton didn’t perform, there would be someone else.

Elton John has reportedly said that he now has a new philosophy.  “Life is about building bridges.  Not about building walls.”  I find it to be life affirming and a beautiful way to go through life.  I have used it for years and it’s reqarding to hear Elton utter those words.  One would figure that a less caring and feeling man might not open his heart to seeing life in this way, so good for him.  I wish more of us would view life through this lens. 

Let me repeat it again because I like the sounds of it so much: “Life is about building bridges.  Not about building walls.”  Just think about it…how can each of us go about our day saying that we have worked to build bridges and not walls?

For me, I see great value in reaching out and building bridges to those who have been less than benevolent to us through history.  But we will build the bridges from our new Gay homeland, from our own position of strength, where our freedom has been secured.  The world will see us differently when we are from a position of strength.  As long as we as a people are viewed as servants, dependents and “lesser-thans” we will not be building bridges from strength but from dependency.

So readers should begin by not questioning or second guessing Elton’s decision to take a paid gig at Limbaugh’s wedding.  He will continue to use his resources to support our Gay community as he chooses.  We hope he will continue to support The Gay State and the FIGS Party as we move forward in building our bridges from a position of strength in a new Gay homeland.

Foreign Policy. Failed States. Reality Check: How Bad Are They?

Posted in FIGS Party, Gay independence, LGBT Politics by thegaystateblog on June 23, 2010

I admit to the charge of being a bleeding heart.  But when you read this article, ask yourself: are you content to throw up your hands and say this is simply the way of the world or do you, based on your experiences and understanding of economics, believe there is a better way?

When you read some of the country comparisons, you will be disgusted to see how the poorest of the poor stack up against the United States.  Now the United States has slipped terribly in the last twenty years, but compared to so many others, obviously, it could be a whole lot worse.  For our Gay brothers and sisters in wealthier nations with standards of living higher than the United States; countries like Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Canada and Denmark; the degree between the haves and the have-nots is only all the more striking.

Click on this site to read just how dire the circumstances are:   http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/06/21/how_bad_are_they?page=0,0

Lastly, I want to encourage you to read the Watch List: Four Countries in Big Trouble.  The four countries include Guatemala, Honduras, Nigeria and Iran.  Nigeria and Iran are seemingly drowning in oil but we know  the boom and bust cycle of nations that live and die by commodities and natural resources.  Guatemala was my home for several years, the country was in desperate need for a make-over and I was there to build orphanages.  Rival drug gangs battled the government for supremacy and again, humankind lived up to its ability to disappoint.  And Honduras — what can be said of the nation that has become the most violent land in the Western Hemisphere for our LGBT family?

Take the time to read this:  http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/06/21/watch_list?page=0,0

I’m heading out to wander the streets of Foggy Bottom and grab a nightcap.  I hope to meet some of you at the ALA show.  I’ll provide more details on schedule particulars tomorrow.  Goodnight.

12 Degrees of Failure. How does a weak state become a failed state?

Posted in FIGS Party, Gay independence, LGBT Politics, The Gay State by thegaystateblog on June 23, 2010

When I look around the world, I see that 100 percent of existing nations are non-Gay nations and non-Gay governments.  We are discriminated in nearly 100 percent of them but to varying degrees.  A handful of governments have made great strides to support their Gay citizens.  But a full 94% of all people around the world live in states that have made a colossal mess of things; sometimes just for the LGBT citizens, but often for the peril of all citizens.

I often mention in speeches and talks, some of the countries that currently exist that have an abysmal record.  Don’t tell me we as The Gay State  cannot do better than Myanmar, Uzbekistan, Nigeria or Haiti.  We as a people can harness enormous potential from our people all over the world.

Click on this link to read an article that I just came across on my way down to DC for the ALA Conference.   It is found on June 22, 2010 inside Foreign Policy.  If like me, you are a nerd for statistics and rankings, this article will be of interest to you.  http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/06/21/12_degrees_of_failure

A Thank You Note from the desk of Garrett Graham

Posted in Book Distribution, FIGS Party, Gay independence, The Gay State by thegaystateblog on June 22, 2010

The last several weeks have been extremely busy since we launched the book.  I have been on the move even more than I anticipated.  Within a few hours I leave to return to Washington DC for the Summer Conference of the American Library Association.  The purpose of the event is to allow librarians from all over the country to gather for training, networking and to learn about new works, such as ours.

As America struggles with its bloated bureaucracies and shrinking budgets, towns and countries throughout the US are cutting expenditures wherever possible.  This means certain literary works that are out of the mainstream are among the first to get axed from the library purchasing.

At libraries, both public and private, everyone from staffers to Requisition Specialists find themselves in the scope when they spend resources on particular works that inflame the old guard.  “The Gay State:  The Quest for an Independent Gay Nation-State and what It Means to Conservatives and the World’s Religions” is just such a work.  I have known, as every LGBT person knows, that we are best tolerated when we don’t make waves or offend the majority.  After countless centuries of my community being brutalized by the non-Gay majority, I felt I had no alternative than to be as blunt and as clear as I could be in my assessment.  And that blunt, frank and unambiguous language comes at a price.  This can be the result when you displease the masters.  But the belief that we are deserving of liberty does not suffer when acknowledging our freedom requires honesty.

And now when I arrive in Washington, I will attempt to explain to those who are under enormous budgetary constraints that I do not wish to whip up further intolerance merely for the sake of causing commotion or a media frenzy.  I am merely stating the truth and calling out by name the groups who have sought to destroy our communities since time immemorial.

So in this moment of calm, let me offer a very heartfelt thank you to all of you who have supported the cause and purchased the book.  It has been educational and enlightening to see so many of you buying multiple copies for friends and colleagues.  I want to encourage you to continue to purchase from our website for discounted pricing.  However, I want to encourage you to also purchase your copies through Amazon.com so that our rankings on their website will rise. 

We are all working to create a better world.  We all are striving to let the world know that our Gay brothers and sisters in every darkened corner of the globe deserve liberty and justice.  Our work will not produce an immediate conclusion but the efforts will continue and we will not accept anything other than full Gay equality around the planet.  Your purchasing “The Gay State” will further our ability to help transform lives.  For your believing in us, I can’t thank you enough!  Together, we are moving our work and our community forward.

Sincerely yours,

Garrett Graham

The Gay-Iraqi crisis

Posted in Gay independence, LGBT Politics by thegaystateblog on June 18, 2010

Posted By Taylor Asen , Zach Strassburger Friday, June 18, 2010 – 11:08 AM Share

In September 2006, Samir, an Iraqi doctor, fled from his home to Jordan just moments before family members came to torture and murder him for “dishonoring” the family by being gay. Samir spent the next few years fleeing from country to country. While working in a hospital in Jordan, he spotted his uncles searching for him just in time to slip out of his office and escape to Saudi Arabia, only to be tortured and nearly killed by Saudi Arabia’s “moral police,” sending him fleeing back to Jordan.

Unfortunately, the only thing uncommon about Samir’s story is that it has a happy ending. With legal help from the Human Rights Watch and the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), Samir safely resettled in the United States in December, 2009. But, unlike Samir, the vast majority of gay Iraqis have no access to legal counsel. Without it, they have little chance of navigating the resettlement system and getting to safety in the U.S. Even those Iraqis with legal help face the staggering challenge of staying alive during the lengthy resettlement process.

The consequences for gay Iraqis who fail to obtain refugee status are severe. Since 2004, hundreds of young men suspected of homosexual conduct have been abducted, tortured, and brutally executed with only a cursory response from Iraqi authorities. Our clients at IRAP and others provide appalling accounts of the violence: in one gruesome method of torture (and often murder), gay men have their anuses glued shut before being fed laxatives.

Although Samir was pursued by family members, the fanatical Mahdi Army is responsible for much of the violence towards gays. “Death squads” murder men, then leave their destroyed bodies in public as warnings to other gay men. Their brutality is matched only by their frighteningly systematic methods: before murdering their captives, the squads interrogate their victims, search through cell phones and demand information on each contact. In this climate, no gay Iraqi whose sexual identity is known to even one other gay man is safe. Another of our clients, Yasser, was kidnapped by a gang who had also kidnapped his ex-boyfriend and found Yasser’s information in his phone. Though Yasser eventually escaped, the gang also seized his phone — and the names and numbers of all of his gay acquaintances.

Click here to go to the rest of the article in Foreign Policy Magazine: http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/06/17/the_gay_iraqi_crisis