Sara's News Roundup 11/29/09

LGBT news links from Sara Boesser in Juneau.

1) World AIDS Day is December 1, 2009

Eonline, November 19, 2009

New York, Reuters, November 25, 2009, November 22, 2009

Washington, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, November 23, 2009

Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders

Newsweek, September 18, 2008

Uganda, Africa, Advocate, November 25, 2009

Virginia,, November 2009

Los Angeles, November 26, 2009

The Star, November 26, 2009

Bangkok, Lebanon, Bangkok Post, November 29, 2009

Hate Vigil, Morality, Gospel Show, and a Seat at the Table

Gay AK - reports from LGBTQ Alaska

Anchorage Vigil Against Hate Crimes
Anchorage, along with many other American cities, held a candlelight vigil last Sunday afternoon on the Park Strip to honor two young men who lost their lives recently because of anti-gay and anti-trans hate: Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, age 19, was beheaded and dismembered, and James Mattison, age 15, was raped and stabbed to death. Thanks to Christopher Narvaez for organizing the vigil, and to Heather Aronno for the story and photos posted on Alaska Commons.

"The Morality of Same-Sex Marriage"
Listen online to the lecture that Dr. Joseph Thompson of UAF's Philosophy department gave Nov 20 on "The Morality of Same-Sex Marriage." The event was sponsored by the UAF Socratic Society and hosted by the UAF Gay-Straight Alliance.

Gospel Show benefits MCC
Miss MeMe's Gospel Show raised $500 for the MCC Church. Thank you to those of you who supported the show and ICOAA: the Friday Divas who performed, the titleholders who participated, and all of our court and supporters.

A Seat at the Table
Christopher Constant is throwing a fundraising event on Monday at Mad Myrna's to get ready to run openly-LGBT political candidates in Alaska. It is well past time we had a seat at the table. Chris will bring his limited edition art prints for sale, as well as two first edition "Dyke Life" board games designed by local Radical Arts for Women member Kenna Bates. Please join him and help this important effort.

This Week in LGBT Alaska 11/26/09

Enjoy the Thanksgiving weekend! Then join Four A's in Anchorage and Juneau, and Interior AIDS Association in Fairbanks, for World AIDS Day events on and around December 1. Paint the Town Red by wearing a red ribbon on World AIDS Day to support those affected by HIV/AIDS. Visit Four A's for the list of locations in Anchorage and Juneau that have free red ribbons.

This week's events from the statewide newsletter Alaska GLBT News.


Gay Cosmic Bowling 11/28, meet at 7:40 p.m. in the Juneau Bowling Center on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

World AIDS Day Candlelight Vigil with Four A's on Tuesday 12/1, 6:30 p.m. at the Baranof Hotel.

"Life Support" 12/2, 8 p.m. A free showing at the Gold Town Nickolodean Theater, sponsored by Four A's.

SEAGLA Social Fridays (6-8 p.m.) for GLBT people and our friends over 21, at The Imperial Bar, downtown.


World AIDS Day Candlelight Walk & Vigil 12/1, 5:30 p.m. Meet at Interior Aids Association for the Candlelight Walk to First United Methodist, a World AIDS Day service at 6 p.m. and a potluck.

UAF Gay-Straight Alliance meets Mondays at 5 p.m. in the Women's Center (Eilson 112). Jessi.

Wednesday LGBTA Social around 9:30 p.m. Email Joshua for the current location.

Mat-Su Valley

Mat-Su LGBT Community Center in Palmer is open M-F 5-8 p.m. (except 6-8 on Wed.) The social group meets Wednesdays, 5-6 p.m. at Vagabond Blues.


Eve's Family & Friends Thanksgiving Dinner 11/25 at 5 p.m & 11/26 at 3 p.m. at The Raven.

Post-Thanksgiving Gathering and Leftovers Potluck 11/27, 12 p.m.

Movie and a Bite Night with a holiday theme 11/27, 6 p.m. at the GLCCA.

Sunday worship with MCC Anchorage at 2 p.m.

Fundraising to Elect Alaska's First LGBT Candidate 11/30, 6-8 p.m. at Mad Myrna's.

"Sex Positive" at the Bear Tooth 11/30, 8 p.m. co-presented by Four A's as a World AIDS Day event.

The annual World AIDS Day Candlelight Vigil 12/1, 6 p.m. at UAA in The Wolf's Den with Four A's.

Paint Anchorage Red on Dec. 1 for World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day - Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Join Four A's for the following World AIDS Day Events in Anchorage, AK:

Sex Positive
Monday, November 30 at 8 p.m.
Bear Tooth Theater

"A fascinating and crucial slice of traumatic sexual history that's all but invisible to younger generations."
$3.00 per person/Rated R
View the trailer here.

World AIDS Day Candlelight Vigil
Tuesday, December 1, 2009-6 p.m.
UAA Wolf's Den

The annual World AIDS Day Candlelight Vigil to remember those we have lost to HIV/AIDS and to honor those still living with the disease.

Don't forget to wear your red ribbon on December 1st to honor all affected by HIV/AIDS. Many locations around Anchorage will have free red ribbons available to Paint the Town Red. Check out for a complete list after Tuesday, November 24th.

For more information about World AIDS Day, contact Chrissy Bell, Director of Development, Alaskan AIDS Assistance Association (Four A's) at (907) 263-2046 or

Sara's News Round-up 11/22/09

LGBT news links from Sara Boesser in Juneau.

Resources for Ministries Affirming the Diversity of Human Sexuality, Open Hands, 1998

New Jersey, Advocate, November 20, 2009

Washington, Advocate, November 13, 2009

South Africa, Advocate, November 19, 2009

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Reuters, November 18, 2009

Religious Dispatches, November 18, 2009

New York, Reuters, November 11, 2009

Salt Lake City, Utah, Washington Times, November 112, 2009

Africa,, November 11, 2009

Baltimore, National Catholic Reporter, November 20, 2009

Bend, Oregon, Advocate, November 20, 2009

Cleveland, Ohio, Advocate, November 19, 2009

Candlelight Vigil for Hate Crime Victims

- a guest post from the organizers of this Sunday's Candlelight Vigil in memory of Jason Mattison Jr. and Jorge Steven Mercado, 3-4 p.m. on the Anchorage Park Strip.

Many in our community struggle to survive. We struggle to be ourselves, out of the closet, and love life for all its goodness. In many places, even after the Hate Crimes Act recently passed, people are hurt, threatened, harassed and even killed for who they are.

We believe it is not our human nature to spread hate but instead to create a world of love. This is what the LGBT community of Alaska teaches: love, respect and the willingness to be free. Others may not have this choice and yet are still part of our community at large.

Please let us take a moment to remember two so very young gentlemen whose lives were taken from them by recent hate crimes:

JASON MATTIS JR, only fifteen years old, was forced into inappropriate sexual relations with a convicted murderer. He was very popular amongst his peers in high school.

JORGE STEVEN LÓPEZ MERCADO, only nineteen, and was beaten, dismembered and decapitated. The police investigator (who has been reprimanded) said he deserved it because he was gay.

The cruelty exists and we should remember these two who died. Let us ALL in every community show our love and respect for one another in a vigil to honor all hate crime victims. This will be an hour of peace to remember the people who have died just being themselves and for our rights.

Join us for a Candlelight Vigil for Hate Crime Victims. November 22, 2009 3-4pm @ the Park Strip, 9th and L Street in front of the American Flag. Please bring a candle and some love.

This Week in LGBT Alaska 11/20/09

This week's events from the statewide newsletter Alaska GLBT News.


SEAGLA Social Fridays (6-8 p.m.) for GLBT people and our friends over 21, at The Imperial Bar, downtown.


"The Morality of Same-Sex Marriage" with Dr. Joseph Thompson 11/20, 6 p.m. in Schaible Auditorium at UAF.

UAF Gay-Straight Alliance meets Mondays at 5 p.m. in the Women's Center (Eilson 112). Jessi.

Wednesday LGBTA Social at 9 p.m. Email Joshua for the current location.

Mat-Su Valley

Transgender Day of Remembrance service 11/22, 11 a.m. at the Church of the Covenant in Palmer.

Mat-Su LGBT Community Center in Palmer is open M-F 5-8 p.m. (except 6-8 on Wed.) The social group meets Wednesdays, 5-6 p.m. at Vagabond Blues.


Integrity, the Episcopal GLBT group, meets 11/20, 6:30 p.m. at St. Mary's Episcopal Church the third Friday of the month. Potluck, fellowship and worship. All are welcome.

The Rocky Horror Show, 11/20-11/21, Fri & Sat 7 p.m., and Sat also at 10 p.m. $20 at Mad Myrna's.

Transgender Day of Remembrance memorial service during the MCC Anchorage Sunday service 11/22, 2 p.m.

Candlelight Vigil Against Hate Crimes, in memory of Jason Mattison Jr and Jorge Steven Mercado 11/22, 3-4 p.m. along the Park Strip at 9th and L St, in front of the American Flag. Bring a candle.

Miss MeMe's Gospel Show 11/22, 4 p.m. at Mad Myrna's, a fundraiser for MCC and ICOAA.

Eve's Family & Friends Thanksgiving Dinner, 11/25 at 5 p.m. and 11/26 at 3 p.m. at The Raven Bar, 4th and Gambell St.

Transgender Day of Remembrance, Nov 20

Friday is the 11th International Transgender Day of Remembrance and memorial events are held all over the world to recognize those who were killed during the previous year because of anti-transgender hate and violence.

Since last year's event, 18 people are known to have been murdered because of their gender identity or gender expression. Many other transgender murders go unreported, and journalists often use the gender listed on police reports, based on biology instead of dress, personal letters or testimony from friends and family, which might tell a more complete story.

Although Transgender Day of Remembrance focuses on people who were murdered for having a non-traditional gender identity, it also brings to light a related tragedy: the high rate of suicide among transgender people.

Alaska has a large number of transgender men and women, and unfortunately we have known several community members who took their own lives, including two in Anchorage this summer.

Everyone is invited to join the Metropolitan Community Church Anchorage at the Sunday worship service on Nov. 22 at 2 p.m. to commemorate the lives of our transgender brothers and sisters who have been tragically lost at the hands of intolerance and hatred.

Action: Support ENDA

A Message from Alaskans Together

In Alaska, firing a person because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity is still legal. This is also true in 60% of the United States where gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) citizens are not protected against employment discrimination. Congress is getting ready to vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) which would offer protection from discrimination for LGBT citizens, and action on our part is required. If we want the discriminatory status quo to change, it is our responsibility to speak up and ask our Congressman Don Young and our Senators Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski to vote in support of fairness and basic protections from job discrimination for LGBT Americans.

Neither Representative Young nor Senator Murkowski have made public their support for ENDA. We can help by writing letters to the editors of our local newspapers on the importance of passing this legislation. We can also spread the word among our friends and family to take action in support of this legislation. Most importantly and easy to do - we can email and call all three members of our Congressional delegation. This will only take about 5-10 minutes – isn't ending discrimination worth that?

Call and email Congressman Young, Senator Murkowski, and Senator Begich today.

Contact Congressman Don Young
at 202-225-5765 and via e-mail.

Contact Senator Murkowski
at 202-224-6665 and via e-mail.

Contact Senator Begich
at 202-224-3004 and via e-mail.

Here is a suggested phone message:
"My name is____________ and I am a proud resident of (your city, Alaska). I am calling in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 3017 and S. 1584), to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from job discrimination. Please take swift action to pass ENDA. I can be reached at ________ (provide your phone number). Thank you."

Sample email message to our Congressional delegation (please personalize):
"Subject: Support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 3017/S. 1584)

Honorable Congressman/Senator______________:

Today, employers in many states including Alaska can still legally fire people because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. These hardworking Americans deserve the same protection as their coworkers, and Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would go a long way to making this a reality.

Please support an inclusive ENDA - the bill that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans from losing their jobs simply because of their sexual orientation or their gender identity.

LGBT Americans deserve and need the ability to work -- just like every American. Please help by supporting ENDA (H.R. 3017 and S. 1584) and bringing the bill to a vote in the House and Senate soon.

Thank you.

[Insert Name,
address and phone number]"

We must speak up loudly and clearly! The opponents are flooding Congressional offices with calls and emails – we all need to call in and speak up against discrimination. Our elected officials need to hear that this bill (ENDA) is a top priority of fair-minded Alaskans.

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act passed because the LGBT community and our many allies spoke up so loudly and clearly – that they even heard us in Washington DC.

We have a real opportunity for positive change!

Change will come, if enough of us act. The more of us who call, the faster full equality for LGBT citizens will arrive!

After you call and write your email, please forward this message or tell your friends and family what is at stake and ask them to contact their Congressional delegation too.

Are you a member of Alaskans Together for Equality yet? You can help by joining our organization and supporting our important advocacy work for LGBT equality across Alaska by becoming a member today.

Free copies of "Silent Lives" for GLBT-welcoming ministries

PFLAG Juneau has received another grant to give away several hundred more copies of the book by local author Sara Boesser, Silent Lives: How High a Price?

Silent Lives combines autobiographical stories, personal interviews and questions for reflection to explore issues about everyone's sexual orientation and gender status, whether heterosexual, or gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or intersexual.

Boesser examines the consequences a sexual minority person suffers when attempting to pass as heterosexual or as having a traditional gender expression. She also looks at how society as a whole is affected when an individual is pressured to hide his or her sexual identity.

This year, the gift copies are available for furthering the work of "Welcoming Ministries" around the country: for faith and religious people, groups and denominations that are working to become more accepting of GLBT people, for your own work to make your faith community more accepting of GLBT people, or to give to someone you know who is involved in that effort, maybe a copy for a church or synagogue library, a counselor's office, a religious parent, or a faith leader, rabbi, minister, preacher, pastor, or priest.

The book isn't religious per se, but Boesser is a minister's daughter and she reflects on that in the book. Excerpts of Silent Lives are posted on the Silent Lives web site.

"This book is the result of my personal struggle for integrity," Sara wrote in the introduction to Silent Lives. "I realized I could no longer be silent and let society condemn a core part of me while praising the outer manifestations I selectively permitted it to see. And with that realization came another: while society was blind, my very silence was what blocked its vision."

"From that instant of realization, my only hope for personal peace was to seek clues that could free me from my silence and to speak out about what I discovered in the process. This book is the result of the first fourteen years of that search."

Kathy Reim of the Skagit PFLAG chapter wrote a column based on Silent Lives:

"Where is the silence in my life or yours? What do we lose when, as Sara Boesser challenges us, we "pass"- we pretend for whatever reason to be something else to make it comfortable for others and easier for ourselves - and lose our authenticity in the process?"

"... Boesser suggests we all lose when silence separates us. We end up hiding from ourselves. When the safety net is widened for all of us, the lives of everyone will be enriched."

If you'd like a free copy or two, write to Sara Boesser with your name and mailing address, and say how many copies you'd like. And feel free to forward this message to others who might be interested.

You can read more about the welcoming Christian movement at Welcoming Community Network, and the welcoming multi-faith movement at Welcoming Resources.

Sara's News round-up 11/16/09

LGBT news links from Sara Boesser in Juneau.

Hong Kong, China, Advocate, November 16, 2009

Advocate, November 16, 2009

Washington, Advocate, November 13, 2009

New York, Reuters, November 11, 2009

Salt Lake City, Utah, Washington Times, November 112, 2009

Africa,, November 11, 2009

Orange County, Calif.,, November 12, 2009

New York, Advocate, November 16, 2009

Toronto, Canada,, November 15, 2009

Planet Out, November 11, 2009

TDOR, Thanksgiving, World AIDS Day, FBX Bear Club, ICOAA Cares, & the Trevor Project

Gay AK - news briefs for and about LGBT Alaska

Transgender Day of Remembrance, Nov. 20
The 11th International Transgender Day of Remembrance is on November 20, recognizing those who were killed during the previous year because of anti-transgender hate and violence. All are invited to join MCC Anchorage at the Sunday Service on Nov. 22 to commemorate the lives of our trans brothers and sisters who were tragically taken.

Eve's Family & Friends Thanksgiving Dinner
Eve is cooking up Thanksgiving Goodies, and all this baby needs is a kitchen and a slave for a day. We're doing 2 dinners, and this year it's at the Raven Bar, on Nov. 25 at 5 p.m. and Nov. 26 at 3 p.m. The Raven Bar is located at 4th and Gambell, in downtown Anchorage. RSVP on the Thanksgiving Dinner Facebook event page.

World AIDS Day on December 1
Join Four A's for their annual World AIDS Day Candlelight Vigil to remember those we've lost to HIV/AIDS and honor those who are still living with the disease. Vigil begins at 6 p.m. on Tuesday Dec. 1, in The Wolf's Den at UAA. On Monday, Nov. 30, Four A's is co-presenting the documentary film Sex Positive with Bear Tooth Theater as a World AIDS Day event. The film begins at 8 p.m. and tickets are $3. Sex Positive is rated R for brief nudity, sexual scenes and graphic language.

Dan Savage and Scott Turner Schofield return
We already have great LGBT events on the calendar for 2010: sex-columnist and political activist Dan Savage is returning to UAA on February 12, transgender performer Scott Turner Schofield is returning to Out North on January 14-17, and the dates are already set for Celebration of Change (3/27) and the spring Womyn's Dance (4/17).

Imperial Court collects food, clothes and toys for the holidays
I.C.O.A.A. Cares will be accepting donations in the way of non-perishable food items, new clothes and toys for the holidays. We will get these items to local organizations for disbursement. You may drop new unwrapped items at Mad Myrna's until December 20. The Empress and Emperor will also try and get donation barrels for The Raven and The GLBT Center. Thanks in advance for your generosity.

Bear Men's Club in Fairbanks
Let's revive the Bear Men's Monthly Potluck in Fairbanks. If you are interested in a once a month or even bi-monthly gathering, please respond. It will be open to all men, bears and their admirers, and men interested in a gay men's function in Fairbanks. Contact Michael for more info.

The Trevor Project wants you to Be Proud and Speak Out
Do you have a story for the Trevor Project? They want to hear all about it. Record a video, upload it by November 29 and you could win a prize. Create a short video telling the world about your experiences as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning youth within your family, school and/or communities. Please read the rules and regulations. The deadline is 11:59 PM on Sunday, November 29, 2009.

This Week in LGBT Alaska 11/13/09

This week's events from the statewide newsletter Alaska GLBT News.


SEAGLA Social Fridays (6-8 p.m.) for GLBT people and our friends over 21, at The Imperial Bar, downtown.


UAF Gay-Straight Alliance meets Mondays at 5 p.m. in the Women's Center (Eilson 112). Jessi.

Wednesday LGBTA Social at 9 p.m. Email Joshua for the current location.

Mat-Su Valley

Mat-Su LGBT Community Center in Palmer is open M-F 5-8 p.m. (except 6-8 on Wed.) The social group meets Wednesdays, 5-6 p.m. at Vagabond Blues.


Lesbian Film Group Night 11/13, 6 p.m. potluck and 7 p.m. movie, location info on the LGBT Meetup group.

The Rocky Horror Show, 11/13-11/21, Fri & Sat 7 p.m., and Sat at 10 p.m. $20 at Mad Myrna's.

The Out Club's Broadway Drag Show, with performers from Mad Myrna's and UAA 11/14, 7 p.m. in the UAA Commons, Room 107, only $5.

How To use Facebook 11/19, 7 p.m. at the GLCCA.

Sunday worship with MCC Anchorage at 2 p.m.

Transgendered Veterans Support Group, Thursdays 4-5 p.m. at the VA Mental Health Clinic.

Sullivan's Say 'No' To Bullies Month (or something like that)

"Hi, I'm Mayor Dan Sullivan. I've declared November as Say 'No' to Bullies Month. Bullying occurs far too often, and we need to stand up and say 'no' to this hurtful behavior."

The Jazz Greats concert at the PAC on Friday is a benefit for a good cause: Bye Bye Bullies, an international anti-bullying organization based in Anchorage. Earlier this week, Bent heard that Mayor Sullivan supports the program and declared November Bullying Awareness Month to draw attention to the issue.

It was November 10, but there was no declaration of Bullying Awareness Month on the Mayor's website and no mention of it in the ADN's piece on the concert. Sure the Mayor has been busy vetoing Assembly bills, denying thousands of Anchorage voters protection against hate-based discrimination, and slashing the city's arts and library budgets. But if he wants to draw attention to an important problem like bullying by declaring a month to raise awareness about it, you'd think that his office would send out a press release.

So I wrote to a contact person listed on the Mayor's website, praising Bullying Awareness Month and asking for a copy of the declaration.

Then I heard the radio ad for the Jazz Greats concert with Mayor Sullivan's part quoted above, declaring November as Say 'No' to Bullies Month.

Well, ok, the promoter must have written the name incorrectly, Bullying Awareness Month instead of Say 'No' to Bullies Month. But there wasn't anything posted on a local Say 'No' to Bullies Month either, so I waited for the declaration from the Mayor's office... and was surprised to get a declaration for Bullying Awareness Month. (Did they write it on Nov. 10 in response to my request? Or did they change the name in the radio ad after the declaration was written?)
Bullying Awareness Month

WHEREAS, we must safeguard schools for our children, and, through our recognition of the serious issues that face them each day, offer our children an environment that holds promise and security; and

WHEREAS, many organizations, school districts, educators and parents have publicly expressed concern about the bullying of children; and

WHEREAS, it is important that we acknowledge and heighten awareness about the serious issues and the negative effects of bullying, including the long-term damage it can cause in our youth, which may include the risks of teenage suicide; and

WHEREAS, providing a safe physical and emotional environment is a significant goal and a personal responsibility of each individual; and

WHEREAS, it is appropriate to speak out AGAINST bullying and FOR our children; and

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Mayor Dan Sullivan, on behalf of the citizens of Anchorage do hereby proclaim the month of November 2009 as


in the city of Anchorage and encourage the community to acknowledge and address the important issue of bullying and work to prevent it from affecting our children.
It's a good statement and a great cause, although I hope the Mayor will do more than just speak about it. For example, he could recommend that the Bye Bye Bullies program be taught in the Anchorage School District.

"It's a benefit for Bye-Bye Bullies, a program to address school violence that originated in Anchorage and is now being effectively used in school districts around the country (though not here; go figure)," wrote the ADN.

Maybe he could do more to provide a 'safe physical and emotional environment' free from bullying for both the children and the adults who live here. Just saying...

Bye-Bye Bullies, Inc. is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to protecting the integrity of individuals and preventing violence in schools and beyond. Founded by attorney Dennis Maloney, Bye-Bye Bullies organized the Violence Prevention Under the Midnight Sun conference in Anchorage, Alaska, the first national conference on bullying.

The Jazz Greats concert features Jeff Golub & Rick Braun, two excellent musicians. Go and enjoy the music for a good cause. And if anyone tries to bully your children this month, stand up and say "no." Mayor Sullivan says so.

2 Easy Steps to Gay Employment Protections that Sullivan can't veto, Prevo can't repeal

1.) Call Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich and ask them to support ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act:
  • ENDA will add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protections for paid workers in businesses with over 15 employees, and for local, state, and federal government employees. (Religious organizations are exempt, and so are the Armed Forces.)
  • ENDA is likely to pass in the House, and is only a few votes short in the Senate. President Obama supports ENDA and has agreed to sign it.
  • Earlier this year, Alaskans Together and Bent Alaska asked you to call Senators Begich and Murkowski in support of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Many Alaskans called, both of our senators voted in favor, and it was signed by Pres. Obama on October 28. Now, for the first time, LGBT Alaskans can turn to the federal government for help investigating and prosecuting violent hate crimes when our city and state authorities refuse to protect us. For the first time, harmful acts that target LGBT Alaskans are recognized as illegal.
  • It's time to do that again with ENDA to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender workers from discrimination in Anchorage, in Alaska, and all over America.
  • It's time to pass employment protections for thousands of LGBT Alaskans, protections that cannot be blocked by an assembly chair, vetoed by a new mayor or repealed by a mob.

2.) Send this message to your friends and ask all Alaskans to call our senators in support of ENDA.

Senator Murkowski: click here to send her an email, or call her office in DC: 202-224-6665, Anchorage: 907-271-3735, Fairbanks: 907-456-0233, Wasilla: 907-376-7665, Kenai: 907-283-5808 or Ketchikan: 907-225-6880.

Senator Begich: click here to send him an email, or call his office in DC: (202) 224-3004, or the Anchorage office 907-225-6880 which is toll free for callers with an Alaska (907) area code.

LDS Church supports Gay Anti-Discrimination ordinance passed by Salt Lake City

Tuesday was a big day for anti-discrimination measures, as Salt Lake City, Utah approved protections for gays in housing and employment - with the support of the Mormon church - and Fort Worth, Texas added transgender protections to their anti-discrimination law.

The Salt Lake City Council unanimously passed the gay anti-discrimination ordinance after a representative of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offered a strong statement in support of the new law.

The ordinance represents "common sense laws that should apply to everyone," said LDS church spokesman Michael Otterson. "The Church supports this ordinance because it is fair and reasonable and does not do violence to the institution of marriage."

Their support for human rights does not extend to same-sex marriage. Yes, they miss the point that marriage is a basic human right, but their position is far ahead of the mobs that protested Anchorage's anti-discrimination ordinance this summer.

Also on Tuesday evening, the Fort Worth City Council voted 6-3 to add transgender protections to its anti-discrimination ordinance, which already includes gays. The mayor supports the measure.

More than 200 people packed the council chambers and overflow rooms. Three transgender people spoke in favor of the ordinance. One man protested against the ordinance by standing on top of his Bible in front of City Hall to symbolize that he was "standing on the word of God."

Despite a crowd of opponents, the council passed the ordinance one week after introducing it.

So Anchorage fell behind two more cities, in Utah and Texas, in our efforts to become a world class city. Even the Mormon church is more progressive than Anchorage on gay rights.

Queer, Christian, and raised in a Yupik Village

Julia McCarthy grew up Catholic in a Yupik village. She graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, worked in Anchorage for a few years, and now lives in Maine with her partner. She wrote this essay about her journey as a queer person of faith on October 30, a few days before the religious conservatives of Maine voted to repeal the state's new same-sex marriage law.

How does that slogan go? I'm queer and I go to church - get used to it

I am a person who tries to practice my faith daily. I am a queer person who believes that we can experience mysteries that defy explanation in our daily life. I am a person who regularly attends church and believes that there are many, many paths to understanding ourselves and our relationship with the unknown. I am a person who loves math and science and logic and believes that we gain wisdom from knowledge.

My relationship with religion may seem complex to some. It is not a relationship which I choose to be very vocal about, for a variety of reasons. I've been inspired to try to share something of my path by the aggression I have seen directed toward a number of young people in our community and by the powerful words of our housemate, who chose to share his perspective. Thank you for reminding me that it's important to come out in lots and lots of ways.

Spirituality and religion have played transformative roles in my life since I was born. The village culture I grew up in practiced both Catholicism (in Yupik) and a variety of ways of celebrating the worldview of Yupik peoples – dance, singing, mask making, storytelling, honoring the cycles of life. Fellowship with your community and with God was a part of my daily life in the village and imbued almost every task in some way or another. It's how I learned to respect life, the natural world, responsibility to others, and more. These traditions are not without their challenges – most GLBTQ Yupik people I know have had both cultural and religious barriers to coming out. It was through the lessons I learned in the village that I developed a relationship with god, though, and it's important to note that the lens through which that relationship developed was guided by the elders I loved and respected.

Throughout the rest of my childhood and into my teens I was a devout Catholic. I attended St. Nicholas Church in my hometown and, as I got older, found as many reasons to be at church as I could. My devotion to my faith set me apart from many of my peers and it was sometimes difficult for me to find community that was accepting of who I aspired to be. For a long time, I thought about becoming a nun – I felt my path to being a helping person was to be found next to God. I was confirmed as an adult in the tradition of that faith, and shortly thereafter chose to leave the Church. When I left Catholicism, I lost many of my friends. More importantly for me at the time, I lost my faith. There were a number of reasons that my relationship with God was damaged and the one reason that created a huge barrier for me in finding another community of faith was my queerness.

I was taught through declamations of supposedly loving people that the god that I had developed a relationship with throughout my life HATED me because I was queer. I learned through the behavior of my community and my peers that to be queer was to be without faith, without support, without dignity. I learned through conversations with other queer people that to adhere to a path of faith was scary and wrong, especially after understanding the damage inflicted upon queer people by communities of faith. I learned to create an armor to deflect the painful phrase "Love the sinner, hate the sin." I learned to avoid conversations with people that had to do with any kind of spiritual belief system. I learned to hide my questions and to reject my beliefs and to keep my mouth shut so as not to offend anyone. I have watched people be shunned by their communities or live closeted in fear that they will be rejected and ridiculed if they come out. I have lost so many friends to suicide that I cannot keep track any longer. I decided that if there was any kind of higher purpose to life, it completely escaped me.

Then I met Jamez and with him I remembered what a joy it is to explore my faith. To lift up my voice in praise. To listen to a sermon and feel inspired to disagree with my faith leader and thereby learn more about who I am in the process. In this community of faith, I don't need to make up my mind about anything to know that I have value.

When I think about the people who have been with me to explore my faith, I feel lucky to count among them people from all walks of life and all belief systems. It is not my intention to change your mind about your particular system of belief or non-belief.

I'll tell you what I do think needs to change though:

I think more queer people need to feel safe coming out as people of faith.

I think people who are queer allies and practice any kind of religion need to feel like they can express dissent without becoming isolated.

I think people of faith who are NOT allies to GLBTQ people need to stop choosing to abuse their fellow humans with words and looks and actions.

We are complex beings, with beautiful multi-faceted identities. I want to see more love in the world, and if I can't see that, I want to see more respect for one another.

Copyright © 2008 by Bent Alaska.