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A proposed LGBTQ ally flag from a collection of public domain images at

Do you have friends or loved ones who identify somewhere on the LGBTQ spectrum? Are they lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, or genderqueer? Do you ever think about how marginalized people sometimes have to fight to breathe through a toxic fog of othering?

Maybe you’re marginalized too? Are you Black, Latinx, or disabled? Have you thought about how marginalized identities intersect? About how Black transgender women, for example, get hit from all sides? Think about how racism, sexism and transphobia focus in one spot against one person at the same time.

Advocating for justice and inclusion often means forming alliances based on recognition of shared oppression, probably an obvious thing to say, but possibly less obvious in practice. Allison Gaines, the publisher of Cultured on Medium, wants to get practical. …

A Prism & Pen Writing Prompt

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Image by Lisa Baird from Pixabay

Writers, it’s prompt time!

For those of you new to Prism & Pen, we set a new challenge every two weeks. We hope it’s fun and inspirational. Sometimes it’s serious, sometimes it can be taken many different ways, but this week it’s pure whimsy.

My cat and I built a snowman a couple weeks ago (yes, of course she helped), just to get some fresh air and sunshine. Ollie’s melted a bit since, and needs some patching, but I was staring out the window at him a few moments ago, so voila…

“The Frosty Wars: Snowmen Amok” is our new challenge prompt. My own snowman is weirdly shaped, vaguely phallic, and not traditional. So if you want your own story to be a bit warped, I’m sure Ollie would approve. …

Prism & Pen stories — January 17, 2021

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by James Finn

Childhood is an unplanned theme in this week’s Prism & Pen. From Abbie Drake’s story noting how Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos attacked trans kids right before departing the Trump administration, to theoaknotes’s memoir of childhood lost, to my own tale of a sports star teaching kids homophobia is ordinary, children feature big.

So do new writers! Let’s give a warm welcome to newcomers Laurence Best and Jeff Harvey, whose superb creative writing I’m featuring this week.

Won’t push for Equality Act in first 100 days

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Joe and Jill Biden at the Human Rights Campaign National Dinner, Washington, DC, September 2018. Cropped from photo by Ted Eytan. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

To help achieve our vision of equality, I will make enactment of the Equality Act a top legislative priority during my first 100 days — a priority that Donald Trump opposes. This is essential to ensuring that no future president can ever again roll back civil rights and protections for LGBTQ+ individuals, including when it comes to housing.Joseph Biden, October 28, 2020

The other shoe has dropped

President Elect Joseph Biden, before even being sworn into office, has broken a solemn campaign promise he made repeatedly and forcibly to LGBTQ people. …

Judgmental Moral Certainty and Perverse Religious Morality

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Protesters held up placards of the names of babies buried at Tuam during the Pope’s visit to Ireland in August 2018. (Niall Carson/PA via AP)

The Irish government just released a report detailing a century of horrific abuse of single mothers and their babies. Shocking infant mortality and abuse of women sprang from Roman Catholic teachings of sexual shame and scapegoating. The Irish people have largely abandoned the Catholic Church over its theologies, including its sexual shaming and condemnation of LGBTQ people. But in parts of the world where the Church remains powerful, it still flexes the same political muscles that led to the atrocities in Ireland. The time for fundamental change is now.

A judicial commission in Ireland just released shocking details of almost a century of cruelty that condemned thousands of unmarried mothers and their babies to extreme abuse in institutions run by the Catholic Church and funded in part by the Irish state. …

Only action can counter homophobia

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Justin Thomas after winning the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow. Photo by PGA of America. (CC BY 4.0)

I don’t remember the first time somebody called me a faggot

I was used to it by the time I was in 6th grade, which for you non-Americans means 11 years old. I’m 58 now, but I’ve never forgotten what it’s like to be branded that way. I stopped playing baseball, a sport I loved in school, because taunts of “faggot” destroyed the pleasure I took in the game.

I’ve never muttered “faggot” to myself to express frustration. Not once in my life. Why?

As a gay man, I directly experience the slur’s explosive emotional power. …

Prism & Pen stories — January 10, 2021

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by James Finn

The New Year brings fresh voices to Prism & Pen as we offer a nurturing space for queer artists.

Mary-Ellen Maynard offers a gorgeous piece of science fiction, Gaby Spadaro gives us a look at internalized homophobia in femme lesbians, Elena Joy Thurston urges queer elders to share their stories and look out for Gen Z, and Mina Krane shares her discovery of asexuality. Queer Australian Christian advocate Jason Masters anchors the week with his memories of an annus horribilis.

Our regulars are back, of course, theoaknotes featuring as they roar independence from the chains of binary gender and the Othering history of philosophy. …

Racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism rule DC even now

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January 6, 2021: Pro-Trump insurrectionist carries Christian cross moments before the mob breaks into the US Capitol. Photo: Shutterstock

Trump administration formalizes discrimination, targeting LGBTQ people, Jews, and others

As the nation’s gaze focuses with horror on President Donald Trump’s attempts to incite insurrection and attack U.S. democracy, the machinery of Trump’s administration grinds on — as it grinds down members of marginalized minorities.

On Thursday as Twitter considered de-platforming Trump, as Vice President Mike Pence thought about the 25th Amendment and as Congress pondered impeachment, the Department of Health and Human Services quietly finalized a rule that enshrines and legitimizes homophobia and anti-Semitism.

It’s not just about LGBTQ. Neither Jews, Catholics, Muslims, nor atheists need apply.

Conservative Christians, mostly Evangelicals and the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, have pushed hard for the new HHS rule for more than a year. It allows federal contractors and grant recipients — notably adoption and fostering agencies — to turn away LGBTQ people and people whose religion is different from the religion of the people who staff the agencies. …

As he pandered to Christian hatred

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1/6/21 insurrectionist with Christian flag waving in background. Photo tweeted by J. M. Giordano

Yesterday, a mob of thousands of people, incited by the outgoing president, descended on Washington DC in a shocking attempt at violent insurrection. I wasn’t going to write about the events because I have no particular political expertise. I’ve changed my mind because I just learned something that is not yet being widely shared, but needs to be.

The president’s son whipped up the mob yesterday with an anti-transgender rant so mean-spirited and violent that even Fox News cut him off mid-speech.

Donald Trump Junior appeared at a “Stop the Steal” rally in DC yesterday, addressing the crowd not long before it broke into the capitol building, resulting in 4 deaths and over 50 arrests so far.

He whipped the crowd up with the following…

German Church calls for genuine respect and sensitivity

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Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, head of the German Bishops Conference, in a YouTube video welcoming a new bishop to Augsburg.

The Roman Catholic Church in Germany is rumbling in discontent, lay worshippers and senior clergy speaking up forcefully for meaningful Church reform unprecedented since perhaps the time of Martin Luther.

Pope Francis and his Vatican hierarchy have so far batted down all demands to discuss genuine reform of sexist, homophobic teachings and practices, but the German Church isn’t backing down, insisting theological reform is not only possible but critically and fundamentally necessary.

The Catholic Church is rife with discrimination against LGBTQ people. But the clergy say such discrimination is not “unjust.”

Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, a self-described conservative, has been voicing the displeasure of the German church since he was appointed head of the German Bishops Conference last April. He joins a number of other senior clergy, including his immediate predecessor, who say they are increasingly frustrated with Church policies and teachings they say are out of step with modern theology and destructive to the spirituality of Catholic people and the institutional health of the Catholic Church. …


James Finn

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot.

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