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  • Occupy Wall Street: What Just Happened?

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    Reflections on Occupy Wall Street, with photos, fun, and good wishes for the future. eBook, Occupy Wall Street: What Just Happened? (Only $.99 !) In the eBook, the Occupy movement is explored through original reporting, photographs, cartoons, poetry, essays, and reviews.The collection of essays and blog posts records the unfolding of Occupy into the culture from September 2011 to the present.  Authors Kimberly Wilder and Ian Wilder were early supporters of Occupy, using their internet platforms to communicate the changes being created by the American Autumn.

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CAConrad: OPEN LETTER to Rick Warren’s new friend Melissa Etheridge

Dear Melissa Etheridge, it seemed like good news that you had met with Pastor Rick Warren to confront him on his homophobic disinformation campaign.  It makes sense that many thoughtful, open-minded people are thinking that your meeting with Warren made for a good, productive meeting of the minds.  Many of these same people worked VERY HARD to get Mr. Obama elected, so the idea of him CHOOSING an openly homophobic anti-Semite like Warren to give “the blessing” at his inauguration to set the spiritual tone of his presidency is a very difficult thing to wrap our minds around.  Our feeling of betrayal is appropriate.

To be honest Melissa I have no idea how much experience you have with Fundamentalist Christians, but they’re called FUNDAMENTALIST for a reason.  When you say you are interested in peace I don’t doubt you for a minute.  But when you say we should volunteer to be more visible it’s nothing but weird to me.  Your direct quote is, “Maybe if they get to know us, they won’t fear us.”  But we queers don’t grow on trees on a faraway island.  Fundamentalist Christians deal with us all the time because we live in their towns.  They gave birth to us, we are in their families, and we don’t need to visit because we’re already there.  They know us and we know them, quite well.

From my own experience and understanding with Fundamentalist Christian relatives, there are some who will not allow me to use their towels or toilets because I’m queer.  You wouldn’t be allowed to either, no matter how many CDs you’ve sold.  Never mind gay marriage, you can’t take a shit!  And these are people who LOVED me dearly when I was a boy.  I FELT their love, and remember it well.  And I also remember how painful it was to let them know I was queer, having grown up hearing their sadistic vitriol.  My options were to hide or come out.  Hiding is an option only for the true masochist, and I am not one.  A relative said to me, “You were such a handsome boy, we had such hope for you.”  In an instant I became someone who was now ugly and without hope.

If I die tomorrow some members of my family will say, “We know where he’s headed!”  These are extremely unreasonable and uncompromising people, and their bible backs them up one hundred percent.  I’ve read these passages, I’ve had them read to me.  Queers are an abomination, period.  We can serve all the soup in the world to all the homeless of the world but we’re still going to Hell.  The bible says so, period.  And Rick Warren can say Jews and queers are going to Hell as gently as he can, but he still says it, and in doing so he makes Jews and queers subhuman animals not worthy of God’s love.  We are refuse, and THAT is the very kind of philosophy which encouraged Aaron McKinney to torture and murder Matthew Shepard.  THAT is the very philosophy which permitted Roland Button to run over Erika Keels four times with his car, and the very philosophy that made her so invisible and inhuman that Philadelphia police wrote her death down as an accident, which remains classified an accident to this day.  Despite the medical examiner’s report, despite witnesses, despite petitions and marching and demonstrating on behalf of this 20-year old African American transwoman, her murderer has never stood trial, see this:  http://www.petitiononline.com/ErikaK/

My boyfriend Earth was murdered in Tennessee.  His twin brother who still lives in Philadelphia told me his hands were tied behind his back, he was dowsed with gasoline and set on fire.  Over and over I asked, “HOW could they do this!!!!?  HOW could they do this!!!!?”  But we all know how, we know exactly how.  Whoever murdered him was able to find the necessary apathy from a legacy of hate, a legacy of PERMISSION, handed down from church to church, quoting verse to sanction and spur their actions.

In Adolf Hitler’s Germany the clergy who used the pulpit to spread hatred of Jews and Homosexuals were doing so to ease the troubled conscience, to act as a link to the voice of God to ORDAIN The Holocaust.  Ask yourself how guilty are these men who used their positions of respect and their aura of holiness to push their trusting congregations to commit such atrocities?

Rick Warren is the author of one of the best-selling hardcover books in publishing history.  And this is a country where he should be allowed to express himself freely, but so should we be allowed to counter it, to let the voice of reason break through.  Millions of people trust and absorb Warren’s message that Jews will burn in Hell, and that queers are not FIT to be treated the same as decent heterosexual Christians.  Melissa why do you ask US to volunteer in his church?  Why not ask these Fundamentalist Christians to volunteer at gay community centers and the queer suicide hotlines?  Instead of asking US to show how worthy we are, how about they be asked to prove their worthiness for a change?  It is WRONG to grovel up to them for acceptance, for these are the people who pushed US away in the first place, remember?  The compromises they demand of us are too expensive and would eat us alive.

We need to be LOUD and be LOUD NOW, not to get through to the people who have shunned us and discarded us, but for the young queer people growing up in these repressive, dangerous families.  We need to prevent yet more suicides.  And it would be nice to prevent gay bashing and murders, but that’s a whole long battle which involves centuries of permission to undo.  Did you see the movie Borat?  The people being interviewed in the film were not actors.  There’s a man at a rodeo scene who says without hesitation into the camera that “we’re working on” being able to hang queers here like they do in Borat’s country.  The man openly admires hanging queers elsewhere in the world.  Some days THE ONLY THING keeping these bloodthirsty people in check in America is their fear of prison and the electric chair, and some days that’s all we queers have between our lives and the grave.

In “Homosexuality and Marxism,” the great American poet Jack Spicer wrote:

Homosexuality is essentially being alone.  Which is a fight against the
capitalist bosses who do not want us to be alone.  Alone we are dangerous.
Our dissatisfaction could ruin America.  Our love could ruin the
universe if we let it.

Thank you Jack, for that!  This ruin to me is transformative, is the Phoenix, and feels nothing less than essential for love to DEMAND its increase.  Melissa please don’t ask us to prove that we’re good people, because if we have to prove it, then how good are the people asking us to prove it?  And frankly I’m VERY GLAD that Barak Obama won and not John McCain and Sarah Palin, but at the same time Obama is LUCKY I didn’t know he would CHOOSE Rick Warren’s blessing BEFORE election day.  You’ll see me at the inauguration, I’ll be the one with the sign that says, “YOU’RE LUCKY I CAN’T TAKE MY VOTE BACK!”

For all those who have suffered and continue to suffer, we must remember Dr. Martin Luther King’s words, “The time is always right to do what is right.”

Most sincerely,

poet CAConrad


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