Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Archbishop Tutu Says No to Hate

“Hate has no place in the house of God,” writes Archbishop Desmond Tutu in today’s Washington Post.

“No one should be excluded from our love, our compassion or our concern because of race or gender, faith or ethnicity — or because of their sexual orientation.”

A rising hatred of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered Africans has led to increased violence in communities across Uganda, Kenya, and Senegal (to name only a few). Tutu, the legendary peacemaker from South Africa and recipient of the Nobel Prize, affirms the humanity of all people:

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people are part of so many families. They are part of the human family. They are part of God’s family. And of course they are part of the African family.

And what does Tutu say to those who live by dogma, who deny homosexuality because it goes against God’s will?

Show me where Christ said “Love thy fellow man, except for the gay ones.” Gay people, too, are made in my God’s image. I would never worship a homophobic God.

Such a loving and necessary statement from a man of great faith.

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Filed under: global justice, religion, , , , , , , ,

At Least Bill O’Reilly Can Be Reasonable

…in comparison to that loony Glenn Beck.

In this brief interview O’Reilly conducted with Father Jonathan Morris, the conservative host chides the priest for his wrong-headed views on a case involving the expulsion of two children from a Catholic school because the parents are lesbians. The kids were enrolled as a preschooler and kindergartener.

It’s fascinating to watch as Father Morris tries–somewhat feebly and didactically–to defend the church’s decision. But as O’Reilly points out, why punish the children?

Bill O’Reilly is most definitely not an advocate of lesbian rights, but at least his intelligence does not override his fundamentalism (like Glenn Beck or, worst of all, Rush Limbaugh). Even O’Reilly doesn’t understand the Archbishop of Denver’s decision to turn away the schoolchildren. He questions all of the other parents living in sin: those who are divorced, committed adultery, married to people of non-Catholic faiths. Will their children be expelled too?

Dignity USA released a statement opposing the Catholic church’s decision:

“Until every student’s parents are tested on Catholic teaching, this action by Catholic officials cannot be understood as anything other than discrimination on the back of a child. At a tender age, this child has learned that Catholic officials are willing to inflict pain on children and families.”

Double standards, anyone?

Unhappiness with the Catholic church’s unwelcoming stand against GLBT families is not limited to the usual suspects. Even conservatives and Catholic organizations see the issue as unjust.

Filed under: education, gay life, religion, , , , , , ,

Denying Two Girls a Prom

Constance McMillen asked her girlfriend to the prom. Her Mississippi high school balked at McMillen’s request (she petitioned administrators in advance) and cancelled the prom for the entire school.

Outrageous.

Now, McMillen finds herself harassed by her peers. The ACLU is filing a lawsuit on her behalf. CBS’ Erica Hill interviews the openly lesbian student to discuss her school’s actions.

How do our institutions work-around discrimination in our liberal democracy? Instead of denying rights to a few, we eliminate opportunities for an entire community? I’m dismayed by the behavior of McMillen’s school administrators, but more than that–the outcome produced by the school’s sweeping action seems a nightmare.

What if the school engaged in dialogue rather than authoritarian decision-making?


Filed under: education, gay rights, , , ,

Kimberly Reed’s Amazing MTF Story

So I first heard about the amazing story of Kimberly Reed from one of my mentors in grad school. Rick Moody wrote about Reed’s amazing journey from male to female for Details magazine back in January.

Michael Musto recently did a Q&A with Reed, whose film Prodigal Sons–about her teen years as a high school quarterback in Montana and her affirming adult life as a transsexual–has been making the Hollywood rounds. Some of the interesting details that Reed shares:

“Montana defies a lot of expectations. It’s one of those purple states. In 2008, they voted in a Democratic House, Senate, and governor, but they voted for McCain. More than anything else, it’s a spot where people don’t want to be told what to do.”

In Prodigal Sons, Reed’s brother spews some hateful, homophobic words at a family reunion:

“When people have a frontal-lobe injury, they lose impulse control, and he certainly did. But while I think his head injury is taking a lid off his inhibitions, I don’t think it created any of that.”

I’m awaiting the release of this documentary in Boston. Last fall, I remember attending a screening at the MFA of possibly my favorite film of the year–a small, odd documentary called Trinidad. The film brought attention to a small Colorado town of 9.000 residents who receive the economic benefits of “The Sex-Change Capital of the World” but have a whole mess of personal feelings about trans issues. Trinidad was timely, visually engrossing, and surprisingly–quiet and meditative.

Deflating stereotypes about transgendered and transsexual folks seems like an undercovered topic in mainstream media outlets. As acceptance for gays and lesbians grows, how can we bring more attention to transgender equality?

Filed under: transgender, , , , , , , , ,

Heavy Metal in Baghdad?

As the cliche goes, everyone’s got a dream. But what’s the importance of dreaming if you’re living under a brutal regime in Iraq?

From 2003 to 2006, Vice TV journalists Eddy Moretti and Suroosh Alvi travel to Iraq to follow the nation’s only heavy metal band, Acrassicauda (Latin for a deadly black scorpion native to Iraq). This is no ordinary band. Their challenges extend beyond finding rehearsal space; they must weather death threats from extremist groups in a predominantly Muslim country.

According to the filmmakers of “Heavy Metal in Baghdad”:

Playing heavy metal in a Muslim country has always been a difficult (if not impossible) proposition but after Saddam’s regime was toppled, there was a brief moment for the band in which real freedom seemed possible. That hope was quickly dashed as their country fell into a bloody insurgency.

You can to stream Heavy Metal in Baghdad online at VBS.TV. Fascinating, alternative journalism.

Filed under: iraq, music, , , , , , ,

Publications

BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
March 2010
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About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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