Category Archives: Chapter News

Update on NA’s Stop African Homophobia

In a previous blog* the NA has denounced the rampant homophobia
and formed an adhoc committee to follow this. Meanwhile, in the New York Times there has been numerous letters** expanding support for this, and noting some backlash.

All very well, but actions speak louuder than words as the Southern California Chapter of the NA has shown recently. They have invited a gay man from Nigeria to stay and share his experiences with us. His anticipated arrival will be heralded in the noted “Gabfest” series of multimedia events (see http://bwmtsc.org). We anticipate a great attendance and will keep you all posted.

Meanwhile, some history of this issue.

It is a repeating concern that many African countries have an overt or covert attidude towards LGBTQ relationships and rights. in Uganda, the Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2014 (previously called the “Kill the Gays bill” in the western mainstream media due to death penalty clauses proposed in the original version) was passed by the Parliament of Uganda with life in prison substituted for the death penalty. The bill was signed into law by the President of Uganda, however, the Constitutional Court of Uganda ruled the Act invalid on procedural grounds.

The US has spent more than $700 million to support “gay rights groups and causes” globally. That figure mostly encompasses public health programs that aid a broad range of individuals, including but not limited to L.G.B.T.I. persons.

It has been conjectured that the discriminatory laws adopted in recent years are a reaction to American government pressure. However, since these attitudes existed prior to that, it is unlikely. We wish that all countries assert that people should not be subject to violence or discrimination simply because of who they are. At the same time we must be aware that we should not implement policies that cas harm, directly or indirectly.

It is also true that our interest in this was heightened when American evangelicals like Scott Lively, Rick Warren and Lou Engle preached vitriol against gays, so we must be vigilent in monitoring world wide events and domestic events in LGBTQ atrocities. And the NABWMT should be well equipped to do this based on over 30 years fighting racism and homophobia.
There will always be backlash to activism and we should always be there to counter this.

Sources:
*http://www.nabwmt.org/na-denounces-african-homophobia/

**http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/12/29/opinion/support-for-gay-rights-in-africa.html?ref=topics&_r=0&referer=http://topics.nytimes.com/top/opinion/editorialsandoped/letters/index.html
***https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uganda_Anti-Homosexuality_Act,_2014

Cultural Update from Jeff

(This is a contribution from the BWMTSC Co Chair, an opera buff)
opera

I just want to share a bit about the wonderful music I heard this weekend (even though I have a mountain of papers to grade by Thursday). It started off with an encore presentation of Mozart’s Magic Flute, the Met Live in HD first broadcast 10 years ago. This is the abbreviated English language production by Julie Taymore of Lion King fame. It is fabulous! Mozart’s sublime music and masonic tinged plot is filled out with extravagant puppets, masks, and many other brilliant stage effects. We all loved it!

Then Saturday night I went to a concert at the opera house by the Uruguayan baritone Erwin Schrott. He was backed up by 9 Latin jazz musicians for a selection of Latin American music including tangos, sambas, and others. Schrott was fantastic: a beautiful, sensuous voice and a charming manner with the audience. The back up musicians were all very hot and the whole concert was irresistible. Then the icing on the cake was his special guest, Jose Feliciano! He sang a couple of songs in a strong voice, played incredible guitar riffs, talked charmingly about the past, and closed with Feliz Navidad! The whole concert was a new revelation about Schrott and Latin music and a great memory of an artist we all loved years ago.

Then today I saw the opera Norma again. I had seen the opening night on my birthday and loved it. Today was if anything even better after a few performances to mellow everything. This is one of my favorite operas and I’ve heard many singers essay the very demanding title role. Angela Meade in this production was splendid with a strong, expressive voice that commanded the stage without belting. She was joined by an equally impressive soprano as Adalgisa, a very good tenor as Pollione and bass as Oroveso (both Black by the way, surely a first!). It was bel canto singing of the highest order cascading from the stage in wave after wave as Bellini’s ravishing score unfolded the tragic story. I was speechless with delight by the end and so glad I heard it twice. Good Norma’s are rare because it’s such difficult part emotionally and vocally. It was Callas’s most often performed role; other notable Norma’s were Rosa Ponselle, Joan Sutherland, and Montserrat Caballe. Today Sandra Radvanovsky sings Norma. She and Angela Meade from this production are almost the only two successfully performing this masterpiece. And I heard her twice!

So, cari amici, that was my excellent operaful weekend! Now for those papers….
Jeff Horton

Transgender Health Discrimination

trans

This is an abstract of a recently published article[*] by the St. John’s Well Child and Family Center of South Los Angeles. Direct quotes are shown as italics.

The Well Child and Family Center is a pioneer in serving and hiring transgender people. This article was made available during a BWMTSC [†]chapter meeting.

During this moment in time heralded as the transgender1 tipping point, discussion about transgender people is entering mainstream discourse, now more than ever. Despite the surge in media attention regarding the transgender community and growing acceptance of transgender identities, systemic and societal barriers remain, such as lack of access to health insurance, stigma, lack of sensitivity and cultural competency, that contribute to persistent, unmet health needs for transgender individuals.

The local speaker gave an overview of the difficulties she had as a trans women which mirrored many of the studies concern. As gay men our group was faintly aware of the difficulties of these people but was brought into focus more. This is of importance since people of color are in the majority in this cadre and have HIV issues too.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, transgender women have HIV prevalence rates 25 times higher than the general population.

What was not as well known by our group transgender individuals have higher rates of transient housing, lower rates of education, have difficulty finding steady employment. Some transgender people have to resort to sex work. The incarceration rate of transgender individuals is much higher than the general population, with 42% of transgender women of color reporting previous incarceration.

1 For purposes of the article, the word ‘transgender’ reflects the mission of inclusivity, non-judgment and affirmation of multiple transgender identities and includes but is not limited to the following identities: transgender, two-spirit, genderqueer, genderfluid, non-binary, agender, third gender, bigender, transfeminine, transwoman, transfemale, transmasculine, transman, transmale, masculine of center, gender non-conforming, gender questioning, et cetera. The University of California, Riverside recently hosted the First Asterisk Trans* Conference; February 27-28, 2015, where organizers provided their definition of a term now appearing Trans*, “Trans* affirms all people who transcend gender norms” (http://asteriskconference.blogspot.com/p/faq.html). St. John’s Transgender Health Program utilizes the term trans* in order to reflect our mission of inclusivity, non-judgment and affirmation of multiple transgender identities

What needs to be done?

Transgender people need acceptance, respect and preservation of dignity, Often patients cannot or dare not speak freely about their experience, health concerns and health-related behaviors without fear of inciting barriers to obtaining the transgender-related health care services they need. We need more providers to address this.

We need to remove the delay in approval for and receipt of transgender-specific care among patients who are insured through Medi-Cal managed care health plans.

They have failed to take a supportive stance on the delivery of time-sensitive and medically necessary care that they are obligated to provide to their transgender identified beneficiaries.

The California Department of Health Care Services requires them to cover gender surgery and hormone therapy. Likewise, insurance plans should add hormone therapy to a list of “life-

time approved” medications. However, the phrasing has allowed health plans to decide that a transgender person’s gender-affirming surgery may be considered “cosmetic” rather than “medically necessary,” and thus, would not be covered by insurance. Because gender-affirming surgeries for transgender patients are medically necessary and not “cosmetic in nature,” this language creates barriers to access to care and must be clarified. Gender identity should be protected from discrimination into the non-discriminatory hiring and employment.

Finally, a strong facilitation of legal name and gender change processes should be started. Too often when a transgender person changes name on forms and identity cards it very difficult for them to do so.

Legal name and gender change can increase an individuals’ comfort with accessing healthcare and employment as fears of discrimination, being called by the wrong name, and being confronted about gender identity are assuaged.

The National Association of Black and White Men has a proud record of supporting people at the margins and this should include the transgender community.

Note: St. John’s officially launched THP in January 2013 with 9 patients. Within 15 months, the program has close to 500 patients accessing care on a regular basis. Demand has been so high that St. John’s must expand its THP to additional days and health center site.

[*] http://www.wellchild.org/sjwcfcfinalthpwhitepaper.pdf

[†] http://bwmtsc.org

Podcast-BMISJ Program

podcast

Podcast on BMI Proposal for the West coast

Ken and Mack Scott Baron have always been a fan of the Bush Mallon Institute for Social Justice since it addresses our core hopes for the elimination of racism and homophobia. We were encouraged by the recent collaboration on the the ” Reflections of A Shattered Mirror Project” and anticipate further great work for the BMISJ

We would like to propose a few ideas that Mack and I develop programs under the auspices of the BMISJ. This should have no impact on the Committee budget and would strive to complement the work you are doing.

Our focus would be concentrated in the West and South West of the US and would use the talents of BWMTSC, MACT PHX and members at large in the area.

In brief, the directions we plan to take involve the communities of Los Angeles and Long Beach and perhaps Phoenix to network our chapters successes in the following areas:

1. The continued online exposure of the BMISJ past present and future work.

2. The “New Jim Crow” challenges to communities of color from the prison-industrial complex

3. The plight of undocumented workers fighting discrimination and racism using skills gained in the Long Beach Immigration Rights Coalition

Subsets of this are the “Undocuqueer” and binational LGBT partners needs

Current networks include (amongst others):

1. The Unitarian Universalist Church with a 100 years of Social Action and active programs related to the above
2. The partner group of MACT PHX: UGIMA (United Gay Informed Men of African Descent)
3. The Center Long Beach

Current resources include (but not limited to):

NA Podcasts
NA Videos
NA Video Histories
BWMTSC “Gabfests”

Mack and Ken Scott Baron
Founders, BWMTSC
Former NA Co Chairs
Developers, MACT PHX