September 27, 2011

That Society I Heard About

I wonder if I would have been part of that society.

The society I read about in college.

The one the kids in California may learn about someday,
If the bigots and politicians and religious folk just stop.

If they just stop already.

Just because one does not like the color green,

Or agree with it's place on the color wheel,
Does that mean it's not to be taught?

I wonder if I would have had meetings in my apartment.

And if so, I wonder if that's where I would have met my partner.
Even in a different era,
I would of still went for the smart ones,
The movers,
The shakers.

Cause I need that.

I look for that.

And I said, "my partner."

Not my husband,
Because even when I do quick math,
It's not enough.

It's not enough time for equality to come.

I'd be waiting a long time.

Fuck, man, I'm already tired of waiting.

And we only just started.

1950.

1951.
1952.

Is it here yet?

It takes time,

they said.
It takes time,
they say.
It takes time,
they will say.

1983.

1984.
How about now?

Maybe if I was a part of that society,

Maybe I would have goals for those in the future.
A kid, like me, with dreams propelled by fears.
A goal for that kid who would have a different life than me.

A different path,

a different struggle.

1999.

2000.
2001.
Are we getting closer?

I would scream at him,

Well, all of them.
But, I would scream at that one kid who I know would change things.

He, or she, would not be the loudest.

Or the natural born leader.
Or the one calling the shots.
But, he,
or she,
would be the one to change things.

2010.

2011.
2012.
Wait, where are we going?

We've passed 2011. But, I'm still here.

We're still here.
Don't go on, please, cause it's real now.

2017.

2018.
2019.

Stop, I'd say, slow down.

Please, enough.

This is my life, now, not those of activists in the past.

They devoted their lives to me,
To those of my generation,
And my fate is not going to be crammed into four pages,
Those pages in a back of a fucking history book.

It's easy to read.

"Rights denied. Marriage Banned. Unequal Treatment."
But, what does it mean for the millions of people,
Whose lives are summed up in a few words?

The one in the waiting room,

waiting.
For equality,
For change,
For her partner to die.

And I said, "her partner."

Not her wife.
But when she does the math in her head,
It does not come out right.
And she does not understand.

It takes time,

they said to her.
It takes time,
they say to her.
It takes time,
they will say to her.

I wonder if I would have been part of that society.

I wonder if I would have had meetings in my apartment.

Welcome, all, welcome to the first meeting of the society.

Excuse me, I would say, I meant to say,
The Mattachine Society.

Thank you for coming.

Sometimes, I wonder.

About the past.
Sometimes, I wonder.
About the future, but then, I think about the past again.

1952.

1951.
1950.

Thanks everyone for coming,

I think I would say.
Or I think I would hear.
Something along those lines.

And then something that would change America.

And the world.
Not right away, but over time.

Now, everyone, settle down.

Let's get started.

DRUNK PAINTING : BLOSSOM

Each week, I will have four to six glasses of wine and paint a celebrity from the 1990's.  This week : BLOSSOM. Enjoy!


The Big Bang Theory Explained

Once upon a time, for those of us who don't believe that the entire human race is the result of two individuals -- Walle and Eve -- the real story of humanity began. Wait, was it Adam and Eve? Well, whatever. So, this may be the shortest and simplest post ever on Generation : (WH)Y?

This theory can be summed up in one sentence : Our ancestors BANGED, and now we are here.

Thanks for taking my advice.  Don't forget to site my findings in any college level papers and make sure to check out next week when I tackle "Christianty Explained."


Gen Yers Making A Difference : Interview with Caitlin Koch

Generation : (WH)Y ? is a website for our generation, so of course, a main component of our mission is to feature Gen Yers who are making a difference in the world; from social change to business endevors to creative expression.  This week, Jeffrey Hartinger spoke with Caitlin Koch, a singer from Buffalo, New York. A rugby coach, Caitlin is taking the nation by storm with her recent appearance on the popular television show X Factor.  She spoke about her motivations, personal matters that she holds close to her heart, and how her hometown made her the person she is today.


Jeffrey Hartinger: What impact did your hometown have on your aspiring singing career?
Caitlin Koch: My hometown of Buffalo has made a great impact on my singing career. Buffalo is full of great music, great food, but most importantly great, supportive and loving people. Throughout my career my family, friends, and even friends of friends have consistently supported me. It's one thing for my family and close friends to come to gigs multiple times a week, but it's another when acquaintances I've made are coming out to gigs multiple times a week with their families. It's beyond flattering. I shouldn't be at all surprised though. I mean, we're all Buffalo Bills fans, so clearly we never give up.

How has your experience been so far on X Factor?
My experience on X Factor thus far has been incredible. There's no other way to put it. This show has given me a chance to truly follow my dream, and for that, I am eternally grateful. Aside from that, the people -- contestants, judges, and the production team at Fremantle Media- are down-to-earth, kind people. Having been given the honor of meeting such people makes the experience that much better.


What is your advice for others who are trying to pusue a career in the entertainment industry?
My advice to others is to never give up. I'm not shy. I'm not afraid to say that I've tried out for American Idol three times. Season ten was the only season I made it through to Hollywood Week. And although I did have good solo performances, the only performance they aired of mine was the group audition where I forgot my words and danced on stage like an idiot. It is true what they say - the setbacks in life make the successes that much sweeter. So therefore my only advice is if you believe in yourself, never give up.



A native of Buffalo, New York, your hometown was just shocked with the recent suicide of a LGBT 14-year-old named Jamey Rodemeyer. What would you say to youth who are struggling with this aspect of their life?
Jamey Rodemeyer's death is nothing short of a tragedy. For a 14-year-old to feel so trapped, so much so that he considers taking his own life is horrific. My heart goes out to his family that now have to continue on despite his passing.


What is one cause or organization that you hold close to your heart?
One organization that I hold close to my heart is UNYTS Donate Life - my niece, Jillian Williams, died in March of this year at the age of 14 due to a sinus infection that traveled to her brain. She donated all that she could; her organs went to many people in need of them. Hence I really, really would love to give back to this organization if given the opportunity.


How are the readers able to support you on the show?
At this stage of the competition, I urge readers to go to thexfactorusa.com, click on "Videos," find my video and comment on it. Also, please make sure to share the video with friends who haven't seen it. The more hits and comments I receive, the better I'll be perceived by the judges going forward in the competition. Understand also that I am extremely appreciative of all support.


If you are a Gen Yer who is making a difference or know someone who is, make sure to contact Generation : (WH)Y ?.  Jeffrey Hartinger can be contacted at Jeffrey.Hartinger@gmail.com.


September 26, 2011

Picturesque

Submission : Caitlin Krull
Austin, Texas

Yet, the most vivid image I have
is you just lying there so freely.
And I like to think that your comfort in doing so
has come from me.


The way you just lie there
with your skin surrendering itself
to the naked air.


The air so thinned with care,
not even a thought to spare.
Your hand settles on your chest
and rides the wave of each breath.


You look on like there is nothing left
except the numbness of your body,
its stillness like death.


So peacefully at rest,
your arms limp and outstretched.
They gesture to me a silent plea,

come to me, my missing puzzle piece.

The taste in the air surrounds me.
And for a moment I lose all sense of reality.
The only thought that I have repeats,

I never want to leave.

September 23, 2011

Five Signs I No Longer Live In Buffalo

Sign One ( 1 ) - Manners.  Contrary to popular belief, Los Angeles is actually a moderately friendly place. Well, I also spend a lot of time in West Hollywood, wear tight jeans, and have nice hair, so that may have something to do with it -- but nonetheless -- some things are just done differently in Buffalo.

My hometown is unique because: you say hello to strangers on the street, hold the door open for everyone (even if they are about ten steps behind you), and more than once, have probably been caught in a friendly "waveathon" at a 4-way stop intersection ... "No, you go! No, you! Ok, thanks." In LA, or for that matter, most places in the United States : If you say hi to a stranger on the street, they think you're crazy. If you hold open a door, people think you want something in return. And interesections? You're lucky if people even stop.

Sign Two ( 2 ) - Government. My mayor can now read. And write. I think in Spanish, too.

Sign Three ( 3 ) - Soda. I can no longer get by saying, " I would like a pop, please." But, when you think about it, what sounds better? I want to soda your cherry or I want to pop your cherry. Exactly.

Sign Four ( 4 ) - Money. In Buffalo, one could go out with 40 bucks and : go out to dinner with friends, pay for parking, buy half a dozen drinks, get fast food at 4AM, and then split a cab home. In Los Angeles, $40.00 will pay for parking and half a drink. Insider tip : Boxed Wine + Public Transportation = LOVE. I think I got roofied the other night, but if you are bound to black out, sometimes it's just better to cut out the middle man. And cheaper.

Sign Five ( 5 ) -Beauty. OK, most people will say that I am crazy, but Buffalo honestly, for the most part, has one of the most attractive populations of people I've ever seen. Yeah, in New York City or Los Angeles, there are more "drop dead gorgeous" people, but my little rust belt city back east has a great looking bunch of folks!  Also, it ain't no coincidence that Bills were just ranked the BEST LOOKING NFL TEAM! And it ain't no coincidence that I kissed three players.


Now -- Find out the Reasons Why You Should Have Sex With Someone From Buffalo.

September 22, 2011

What Religion?

I suppose it's funny,
Or sad,
Or ironic.

I'm not sure what it is,
But it's something,
That's for sure.

Maybe it's all three?
Maybe even more.

I'm not scared of religion.
Or "God."
I'm scared of the people.

They oppress,
belittle,
and push an agenda.
One, quite simply, that is made up.

I could give two shits.
Maybe even more.

But, when you push someone,
When you push a child,
To end their life,
Over your beliefs,
What have you done?

Now I care.

And if you do get to those pearly gates one day.
If, if, if, if, if.
If you do,
I hope you have someone holding the door for you.

The door of the elevator,
Cause it's a long way down to hell, buddy.
And I hope you enjoy the ride.

Dear Society

Submission : Caitlin Krull
Austin, Texas

Go ahead.
Give it a nice twist.
Twist that knife.
That knife you have already stabbed in my back.

Back up what you believe
But believe
that I won’t have your back.

Perhaps, if you did not ask
or demand
an answer that you cannot handle
we would not be caught up
in such a scandal.

Because frankly,
I am running out of PG phrases,
and different ways to not say this.

Maybe somebody could read between the lines,
or flip the pages.
Maybe turn the tables?
Is that a more suitable language? 

Since our country,
              “United We Stand”
cannot hold hands with the reality
that there is, actually, homosexuality
we are forced back to secrecy.

With liberty and justice for all?
Right.
How about you just twist that knife.
Watch me fall.

Reflections on the Troy Davis Execution

Submission : Nick Wiltsie
Buffalo, New York
Wednesday night at approximately 11:08 pm Troy Davis was pronounced dead by a Georgia Department of Corrections official.  Davis’s execution marked the end of a twelve year struggle.  In 1991, Davis was convicted of the murder of police officer Mark MacPhail.  There was no physical evidence linking Davis to the murder.  Instead, the conviction was based on the testimony of nine eye-witnesses.  Since their original testimony, seven of the nine witnesses have recanted, saying they no long believe what they testified.  Of the seven, some have claimed police coercion while others have identified another suspect as the man they actually saw kill MacPhail.  One of the two witnesses who has not recanted his testimony was a suspect himself in the case.
Despite these essential changes in circumstance, Davis’s numerous legal pleas for help fell through one by one.  Request after request for a new trial were denied, eventually culminating in the United States Supreme Court denying a request for a stay of execution.  In the waning hours of Wednesday, September 21, Troy Davis’s life was ended by lethal injection, a somber end to the international day of peace.
Tanner Gelatt, Canisius College Undergraduate Student Association J.U.S.T.I.C.E. chair and Vice President of Canisius’s chapter of Amnesty International, described the International Day of Peace as “a day to rise above the conflicts in the world and step back and have hope for a bright future.”  He further asked: “how is death a way to a bright future? This act was a disgrace to this day, the country, and humanity.”  Without doubt, the state execution of a man who so many see as potentially innocent sheds darkness on the rays of hope that the Day of Peace hopes to create. 
I have long been a critic of the death penalty.  I do not believe that taking a second life will do anything to rectify the loss of a first.  Most research suggests that the death penalty does little, if anything at all, to deter crime.  The very act of making someone sit on death row, with nothing to do but contemplate his own death, is considered by many, myself included, to be cruel and unusual punishment.  However, Wednesday night’s tragedy sheds light on an often overlooked problem of the death penalty: its finality.  We may never know whether or not Troy Davis killed Mark MacPhail.  However, even if we do one day discover Davis’s innocence, the situation can no longer be rectified.  You can release a man from prison, but you cannot bring him back from the grave.  Troy Davis’s death is final; no evidence can save him now.
This execution is a particularly tough pill to swallow for those, like myself, who aspire to a career in the Justice System.  Those who work in the Justice System are supposed to pledge their allegiance to it.  They are supposed to believe that if all forces are acting as they should the end result will be a revelation of truth.  However, cases like this shed doubt on the Justice System’s practical success.  How can one put their complete faith in the courts to yield the correct results when they see justice being served in this manner?
In the end, this case will not change much.  Those who stand behind the death penalty will continue to support and defend its legality.  Those who oppose the death penalty will see this as another heinous injustice and continue to argue against it.  What has changed, however, are the lives of Troy Davis and his family.  Troy’s time on this earth has passed on, leaving behind a loving family who will mourn him dearly.  Another death: another statistic.  In high-profile stories such as this one, what so often gets lost in the media arguments and political pandering: we are dealing with real human lives.  The life of Troy Davis is over and can never be brought back.  Innocent or guilty, Troy Davis was a real, breathing, feeling human being, whose life has been ended by the State of Georgia.

September 20, 2011

Gen Y Artwork : Kurt Cobain


Why are the most talented usually the most tormented?

Nirvana is one of the most iconic bands of not only the 90’s, but of all time.  Kurt Cobain, lead singer and writer of the majority of their songs, will live on despite his suicide in 1994.

He left behind a plethora of beautiful music such as “All Apologies,” “About a Girl,” “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and “Come As You Are,” just to name a few.  An outcast growing up, his songs are, ironically, about trying to fit in while simultaneously attempting to fight conformity.

As a huge Kurt Cobain fan, I decided to take a break from writing and try my hand at painting -- while of course, listening to my favorite song by the band, "Dumb."

Do you have some creative work you would like the world to see? Send it along to Generation : (WH)Y? for consideration. If you are a fan of 90's music, make sure to check out my review of the 14 Best Bands Of The 90's.

September 19, 2011

Rest In Peace : Jamey Rodemeyer

Just before bed, it hit me that in the morning, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" would no longer be in effect. I thought sarcastically, "Hm, I can now kill another man from another country, but I can't marry one from my own?" I put the negative emotions out of my mind and considered the huge improvement for LGBT Americans -- once step closer to equality. Then I came across some news that made me sick to my stomach.

Another LGBT teen. Another suicide. Another Statistic.

But, this time, it was not just another town or city. It was my hometown : Buffalo, New York.

Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14-year-old freshman at Williamsville North High School, was found dead by his parents this past Sunday.

What is there to say? How many more times do we need to plead with people that enough is enough? Could that have been me nine years ago?

I reflected upon the very liberal nature of Buffalo, a place that I recently spent four years living as a Canisius College student. However, the suburbs of the city are, for the most part, an opressive and close-minded atmosphere and a place I strived to escape as soon as possible; and I was a student who had a generally accepting and upbeat high school experience.

Generation Y -- let's make life on this earth worthwhile for all kids, cause in the end, we are all struggling in one way or another. Let's end the hate, let's never vote for a closed-minded or homophobic politican, and let's make the world a place where youth suicide is not an epidemic.

Here is my personal reflection on being gay in Buffalo.

If you would like to talk, or are having issues with your LGBT identity, feel free to send me a direct email at Jeffrey.Hartinger@gmail.com

I also recommend the following resources for questioning or LGBT youth : Unity, the gay-straight alliance at Canisius College, my alma mater, which is a very accepting and inclusive school in the Western New York area, Gay and Lesbian Youth Services of Western New York can be contacted for those in the Buffalo Metropolitan Area who need an outlet and an additional support system. Additionally, national support groups include The Trevor Project and the Suicide Hotline, which can be reached at 1-800-784-8433



September 18, 2011

Photo Journalism : El Salvador

My favorite picture I have ever taken.
While walking down the street in a small
village, I spoke with a local and she
wanted me to take her picture. She
had never seen a digital camera before.
During the summer of 2009, I had the amazing opportunity to spend two weeks traveling around the third world country of El Salvador. As a college sophomore who had been to Jamaica the year before doing similar service work, I have to say that this two week trip changed me. 

It was the trip where I started to question humanity, question religion, and simply, question the motives of those in the United States and abroad. 

I often flash back to one day in specific -- sitting in a field near a small village while listening to the lone survivor of a massacre. His family, friends, and neighbors were raped, tortured, mutilated, and all were killed. I will write in the future about my experiences in El Salvador and what I learned about the Salvadoran Civil War, but for now, I would like to share some beautiful pictures from my trip to a country with an ugly past.


A flower at a massacre site in San Salvador.
My transportation for the day.
Heading down to the lake.
Where I stayed in Suchitoto.

The Village of Suchitoto.
Followed this butterfly around for a bit
and finally got a good shot.
The land that was flooded by the government.

The oldest church in El Salvador.


A sign for the birds to stay away
from a fish farm in the mountains.
Horseback riding. The craziest horse
also happened to be the coolest looking.

September 15, 2011

Still I Wonder

Submission : Emma Fabian
Baltimore, Maryland

Life should be,
at least partially,
about enjoyment.
Or so I have been told.

I have my crisp copy of The Times
almost every Sunday
with copious cups of coffee
and cigarettes too.

My early morning bike rides
along the trail by the river
are for nothing if not enjoying,
especially now that I’ve learned to steer with no hands.

I have poems to fill my heart,
letters from friends to ease my mind
and a glass of wine waiting for me
when I decide to come home.

There are times when I call my mother
and sit in silence on the phone
and honestly, each moment of that is enjoyable too.

Each day I go to work
with an opportunity to change the world.
This, also, is a gift to enjoy. 

I have to take stock of these things
one by one
again and again
as I lie down tonight-

the moon casts its pleasant light,
a cool wind drifts through the room


and still, I wonder,
Is this all there is?


----
Emma also submitted a great poem a few weeks ago entitled Listening To Dylan -- make sure to check it out!

I Lived With Illegal Immigrants In Anaheim

A few days after graduation from college in Buffalo, New York, I packed up my car, drove across the country to Los Angeles, and started to pursue a career as a writer. During the first few weeks that I spent interning at The Advocate, the oldest running LGBT publication in the United States, much talk was surrounding Jose Antonio Vargas -- a prominent gay journalist who "came out" again in June 2011 as an undocumented immigrant. I sat at my desk and thought about my white, upper-middle class hometown, the diverse city I spent four years during college, and the week I spent living with illegal immigrants on the outskirts of Los Angeles for a couple days.

Growing up in Western New York, I went to the largest school in Erie County, yet in a high school of over 2,000 students, I honestly can't recall one student or teacher that was Hispanic. I can count the number of African-American students on one hand. Things changed when I went to college in Buffalo, which is a very ethnically diverse city, in addition to being one of the most segregated in the nation. Still, living on the East Coast, the immigration debate seemed to go over my head and did not appear to affect me.

Then I moved to Southern California.

When I arrived, I met a friend of a family member who used to live in Anahiem.  "Hey, Jeffrey, he's a great guy, and he lives just outside of Los Angeles. He said you can stay with him until you get on your feet and find a place of your own in the city. No problem!" said my uncle a few days before I made my journey westward.

Spending a few days in Anaheim did not remind me of an American city, but seemed to be very similiar to San Salvador, El Salvador -- a place a spent traveling for two weeks during my sophomore year of college. Many of the places I went, the people did not speak English, and I was able to get by since I speak conversational Spanish.

But, I still thought, "Really? In America?" I did not think this in a bad way or a way that looked down upon anyone. It just opened my eyes that overall, America is far from the "American Dream" sterotype that most like to portray to the world.

Staying a few days with Juan helped me realize that illegal immigration extends much further than popular beliefs and myths.  He had a successful business, he rented a house to other illegal immigrants, he paid taxes, he had pain and regret, he had happiness and joy, he had struggles and triumphs; he may not be a member of America, but he was for sure a member of the human race.

He told my friend and I stories that I will forever keep with me, and stories that had me question the humanity of both Americans and Mexicans.

Maybe I'm naive, but for me, it's not about money. It's not about language. It's not about status. It's about making strides to a better America. It is often said that putting fences up don't keep others out, it keeps yourself in.

It's sort of funny when you think about it.

Los Angeles is the American city that is known to be the most selfish and coldhearted and the person that opened his home to me was an illegal immigrant; he asked for nothing in return. And for that, I will never forget.

I am an advocate of The Dream Act and an advocate of immigration reform. Also, make sure to check out my Reasons To Have Sex With Illegal Immigrants.

September 14, 2011

How The Stoop Kid From Hey Arnold Got Me Kicked Out Of A Party

The night started innocently enough -- three bottles of wine split between my good friend and I, a little bit of 90's music, and some good conversation. While it was one of our final weeks at Canisius College before graduation, we figured we would venture out into the neighborhood and see what was going on with the party scene. 

Being seniors with fake IDs since the middle of freshmen year, the house parties were few and far between for us, so we figured we would have one last adventure before the end of college; which ironically, is also the start of limited job prospects and when you realize that binge drinking is called alcoholism, not fun.


We had fun, but after a few hours, we were ready to go.  While waiting for our friend from another college to pick us up, we waited outside a "rager" -- 60 sweaty kids with no other place to go crammed into a shitty, overpriced apartment --and started talking to the kid that was sitting on the porch alone.


"Hey bud, do you remember Stoop Kid from Hey Arnold? You made me think of him." I said nonchalantly.


"Did you ... just say ... STOOP KID?" he said in a low whisper, as if it was the most important thing he has ever heard in his life.


We locked eyes. He took a swig of his Colt 44. 


My friend Holly came to my side. 

Her and I may have locked hands; I can't remember.

Were we all closet Stoop Kid fans? Had fate brought us together?


I'm not sure who started it, but we all ended it, that's for sure. Slowly, but surely, we started the chant that will forever be ingraved in the hearts and minds of all those in Generation Y (well, at least those who were able to afford cable growing up).



"STOOP KIDS AFRAID TO LEAVE HIS STOOP! STOOP KIDS AFRAID TO LEAVE HIS STOOP! STOOP KIDS AFRAID TO LEAVE HIS STOOP!"

We got louder and louder, and kids going to and fro stopped to chant with us. That moment was one of the most beautiful parts of being at a college house party that I could remember. Soon enough, our little love fest was over when the owner of the house came out. 


The bitch was NOT IMPRESSED.

"Um. Are you guys fucking kidding me? You're serious? Leave. NOW!" she screamed.


"Yes, we are serious. Don't you miss stoop kid, too?" I responded.


"Get the hell out of here you losers," she said as she slammed the door.


From that moment on, I felt pain not only for Stoop Kid, but all the Closet Stoop Kid fans throughout the United States of America and the world.


He may not be the most popular cartoon character, or the one with the most swagger, and to be honest, he may get you asked to leave a party, but for some of us -- he gives us hope, strength, and the courage to carry on and face the struggles of life.


Thanks Stoop Kid.


I Love You.



70% of LGBT Homicide Victims Are People Of Color

Last June, San Francisco firefighters discovered the body of Freddy Canul-Arguello, 23, burned beyond recognition alongside a trash bin. The gay man had moved from Mexico with his brother Ivan about four years ago after learning of the city’s gay-friendly reputation. He was by all accounts a happy man who loved life and often performed in drag at local venues.

According to a recent report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 70% of anti-LGBT murder victims in 2010 were people of color. The study documented 27 anti-LGBT- motivated killings in 2010, the second highest annual total in the past decade.

Morgan Bassichis, the organizing director at San Francisco’s Community United Against Violence, notes that those in this group are affected by layers of discrimination. “If you are both LGBT and a person of color,” says Bassichis, “that means you are less likely to have a job, a place to live, or health care, which means you’re more likely to be homeless, incarcerated, and sick. All this means that LGBT people of color’s lives are cut short, either by violence or poverty.”

In the case of Canul-Arguello, the attorney for suspect David M. Diaz says the young man’s death was not a hate crime but a “terrible accident.” Public defender Alex Lilien told reporters the death was due to “some form of erotic asphyxiation” during consensual sex gone awry. Prosecutors have charged Diaz with second-degree murder, arson, and willful mutilation of a corpse, and he has pleaded not guilty.

Regardless of the outcome of Diaz’s trial, Bassichis wants to put an end to this wave of violence, something that’s more than just a terrible statistic. “The first step in ending the violent death of so many LGBT people of color is to put their issues at the center of the LGBT agenda: affordable housing, health care, employment, public benefits, and education,” he says. “When people have a safety net, they are less vulnerable to violence, plain and simple.” 

Gen Y Insight : I Had To Go Back In The Closet For Medical School

The mission of Generation : (WH)Y ? is to present the views of the world from those aged 18 to 29 - Generation Y - no matter how liberal or conservative; the website wants a sample of what it's like to be young in modern America.

In this edition of Gen Y Insight series, this post is from James Shea from Buffalo, New York.

Every pre-med comes to the point in their life where they have tackle the obstacle that is the “personal statement.” You have done all of the grueling things that a pre-med does: volunteering for countless hours, taking boring classes, and missing out on parties in order to study for exams. In some ways the personal statement is the hardest thing you will ever write. The application service gives you no directions; just write about yourself in 5,000 characters. I started out describing all of the experiences that ultimately formed my decision to become a physician: the Down Syndrome children I’ve worked with, the several surgeries I have had, and my natural curiosity about everything. I then decided to write about my greatest obstacle: coming out of the closet.

This experience has forever transformed me. I changed from a person who sat on the sidelines to a person that went after life’s opportunities. I also felt that writing about coming out was appropriate because it made me want to become a physician even more. I felt that I had a duty to become a role model for those who wanted to go into the medical field, but felt that they couldn’t because of their sexuality.

 It was when I sent my out my personal statement to be edited that I realized that I was in for a reality check. My one professor loved my statement and said that it was moving and she walked away learning about the struggles LGBT youth have to face. My pre-med advisor had a different story to tell. She told me that I had to delete my section about being gay because it was basically application suicide.

She personally did not have a problem with it, but she was worried about the repercussions about stating that I was openly gay. I had imagined a world in which I wouldn’t be judged on the basis of my sexuality, but on the quality of my skills. The medical school admission committee was not made up of young, open-minded people but was instead composed of old people with their beliefs set in stone.

It was an extremely emotional time for me. I have worked so hard to get to this point and now I faced a difficult choice: hide my sexuality to get into medical school or quit altogether. I knew that I had worked too long and hard to quit, so I redid my personal statement and submitted it, leaving out all traces of my sexuality.

I thought to myself, why would I want to place myself in an environment that wouldn’t accept me for me? Just leaving out my sexuality on my application made me feel as if I was “selling out,” and I knew that I did not want to do that for my whole life. I did not want to go back into the closet again. But unfortunately, for that moment, I had to compromise my principles and do what was “smart” in order to get ahead. The guilt I felt afterward was terrible because it felt as if I wasn’t being true to myself. It was like the rug was ripped out from under me; going from a state of liberation after coming out to a state of oppression.      

When I started to receive my secondary applications, I decided that I would not hide my sexuality if the school I was applying to had LGBT support centers. Schools like Cornell, Boston University, and UCLA all had such resources, so I was open about my sexuality if it was relevant to the questions being asked. I had to leave out my sexuality at those schools that had religious affiliations for fear of being discriminated against. I have interviews at most of the schools I have applied to so far and I know at some I can be open about my sexuality and that I must be more conservative at others.

Regardless, I know that once I am in medical school and finally become a physician that I can be open about my sexuality and become a model for LGBT youth. I think that the problem with our society today is visibility. If we don’t see something, then we assume it simply doesn’t exist. If we don’t see doctors that identify with the LGBT community, then we think that none must exist.

A lesbian girl might want to give her dream of becoming a physician because she fears that her sexuality will prevent her in becoming a physician, I know I almost did. I know that I will only piece of the puzzle when it comes to making the LGBT community more visible in medicine; it will take others to speak up and become more visible. That way, LGBT individuals in medicine will transform from the exception into the norm. Change is often hard, but all it takes is one individual with a voice to change the world.

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Do you have a similar situation?  Contact Generation : (WH)Y ? to tell your story.

September 13, 2011

What Your Favorite Characters Would Say If They Were Gay : Horror Edition

Dracula : " I Came .... To Suck ... Your Dick ...

The Loch Ness Monster : " Even though Sea men have been trying to get on me for ages, I've escaped that mess each time "

Chuckie : " I swear, officer, I was not playing with the young boys ... they were playing with me "

Big Foot : " Well, yeah ... you know what they say "

Candy Man : " Fine, buy whatever you want. But, call me Candy Man -- I AM NOT your Sugar Daddy "

September 9, 2011

Three Perks Of Being Gay

Three ( 3 ) - Style.  Ok-- now stereotypes, good or bad, are not good for society.  However, a popular myth about gay men is that they all have style and thus, are in demand for giving style advice, especially in college dorms before going out.

This is where the perk comes in : straight girls trump straight guys, but gay guys trump all in regard to fashion advice. After your friend has a few glasses of wine, just say, "Oh honey, you would look GREAT in this," dress her like a clown, and no questions will be asked. Good shit. The looks she gets when out on the town is beyond priceless, believe me.

Two ( 2 ) - Money.  Once again, straight guys finish last. If you are moderately cute, or in the case that you are unattractive - if the lights are dimmed enough, gay guys love buying drinks. Put on your tightest, cutest Hollister Co. shirt, compliment the drunkest dude in the bar, and that bitch is goona make it rain!  If you are paying $35,000.00 a year for college ( who would do something crazy like that ... oh fuck, I did ), you need all the free drinks you can get.

One ( 1 ) - Wing ManWell, this is a perk for your straight guy friends.  If you are out and about with your college friends, and one of them is about to get the hook-up, one of two things is going to happen. 1)  she's going to bang him regardless or 2 ) she's going to corner you and ask you to "Tell Me How He Really Is." Do you violate guy code or gay code? -- the decision is up to you, but the fate of your bro is in your hands.  And you know what they say in the gay world, "Bros before Hoes Unless The Hoe Has A Hot Gay Friend, Too." Well, I made that up, but it's what I live by.

September 11, 2001 : Ten Years Later

" They just blew up the White House! "

I heard someone in the grade above me scream this as the bell rang for lunch.  7th Grade, 11-years-old --I was at an age to know what was going on, but too young to grasp it. But, no matter the age, was anyone able to grasp it -- even ten years later?

I wondered why he would yell that out, and further, why he did so in an almost happy demeanor - like one of those people we all know that enjoys giving bad news.  Of course, the White House was not harmed in the attacks and it's easy to understand how rumors would spread in a suburban middle school outside of Buffalo.

I suppose I was always analytical. As the kids would chatter about what limited information we were given, I would look to the teachers or administration; my chatty science teacher was silent, the gym teachers let us have a free day and took turns coming and going out of their office.  There were watching the news.

As a member of the current youth culture, I recently wrote how our generation is one that has been deeply transformed not only by September 11, 2001, but from the carange we were raised with; one may not have noticed it growing up, but by looking back and reflecting, it seems to make sense.

Ten years later.

Twenty, Forty, One Hundred Years Later.  Time will go on, and those lost will not be forgotten.  In order to honor those souls we lost - those that were taken from us - we must live our lives to the fullest, and as cliche as it sounds, make every second count. 

You know, people say that anything could happen at any possible time. As in, who would of thought two planes would slam into an office building in downtown New York City?

However - don't symbolize September 11th as a day to live your live your life in fear.  Symbolize it as a day to simply LIVE YOUR LIFE.

You can click HERE to read my reflection on terrorism on those in Generation Y and HERE to read my creative writing entry regarding September 11, 2oo1.  In addition, please click HERE to read an op-ed from The Advocate.

September 8, 2011

Wrong Turn

The wind brings you in,
Although not heard,
Bones are brittle and skin thin,
Mouth moving with a whispered word.

The empty emotion of guilt,
No longer presides,
Evident once but forced to wilt,
Easier when I cut the ties.

You are not really here,
This is a symbol of time,
A twisted type of mirror,
Which is yours -- not mine.

The weakness I used to feel,
Was strength in disguise,
You had control of the wheel,
An aspect I now despise.

I believe that things would not get better,
Then I did something quite simple,
Yet hard at the same time.

And I opened my eyes to the world.

Interview with Robear Chinosi of NY INK

Robear Chinosi, the colorful floor manager from the popular TLC show NY Ink, was born and raised in New York City. In the stereotypical world of the tattoo industry, Chinosi adds an element of surprise in being an out gay employee in a popular New York tattoo parlor. With the first season over and the second set to begin soon, I spoke with Chinosi and he reflected on his experience on the show, homophobia in the workplace, and his favorite LGBT tattoos.
Jeffrey Hartinger: Tattoo parlors are predominately masculine and heteronormative. How was it being openly gay in such an environment?
Robear Chinosi: I am so proud to be a gay man immersed in such a manly and straight world. This just reinforces how strong we are as men, and being gay doesn’t mean you are less than, weaker than, or can’t hold your own among other guys. First and foremost, I am at NY Ink to be a manager. There is a lot of masculinity, testosterone, and a lot of egos in the tattoo parlors that I have to deal with each and every day, but I have my fair share of masculine qualities. If I am facing adversity because I am gay, I simply let my aggressive, strong business sense kick in to get the job done.

Have you had any negative experiences in past work environments due to your sexual orientation?

Yes, I have been teased and made fun of since I was a child. I’ve heard every single negative gay name known to man. To be honest, I used to cry and get very upset when I would be verbally attacked for my sexual preference. But now I can truly laugh it off. I feel bad for people who are still not accepting. Closed-minded people haven’t made the full evolution into becoming adults and decent human beings.

How did the first season of NY Ink go?
I think the first season went pretty well. There were many ups and downs, like a roller coaster, because you are spending 10, 12, sometimes even 14 hours with your coworkers and cast members. They are bound to get on your nerves, get in your business and personal life, test you on how much you can handle, and directly disobey orders given by an authority figure. I attempted to deal with this in different ways: Sometimes I lost my temper, sometimes I simply walked out, and sometimes I ignored them until they were ready to work and get the job done. I do not mix business and pleasure. Working on NY Ink was a job I took very seriously. I do not hang out with anyone outside of work. I am there to be the manager.

Did you feel comfortable about being open with your sexuality on national television?

I do feel comfortable being an openly gay man on TV because this is simply who I am. I will never act or do things that I don’t believe in. I will always stay true to my fellow gays and myself. We are a force to be reckoned with, and NY Ink is my platform to showcase this strength that is constantly still being questioned.

Which tattoos on LGBT celebrities are your favorites?
I do like Lady Gaga’s “little monsters.” My next tattoo is going to be “Born This Way.” I’ve been thinking about doing it for years, not necessarily because of Gaga. If someone asks me if I think being gay is a choice, I will simply show the person the tattoo.

Do you have any LGBT-themed tattoos?

Yes. I have “Silence Equals Death” tattooed on my stomach. It’s my belly rocker and I love it. I am proud to be out and not have to hide who I am. I grew up in the ’80s and early ’90s, and being gay and tattooed wasn’t as accepted as it is now. I am especially proud of the leaps and bounds we have made in the acceptance of being gay.

Growing up, is there a particular gay male that you looked up to?
I didn’t have any huge gay role models in life on TV, but I do remember watching Torch Song Trilogy with Harvey Fierstein and Matthew Broderick. Watching that movie was one of the first times that I saw a gay couple together, and it was a positive outlook for me on gay men and their relationships. As for family, I grew up with a father right off the boat from Italy. Let’s just say that back in the day, he didn’t like the idea that I was gay. He is an old-fashioned European man who wasn’t exposed to much of anything because he grew up on a farm in Italy in the 1940s. My mom has three brothers and three sons. Everyone in my family teased and poked fun at me at one time or another. It was sometimes a gay slur, only because they didn’t know better at the time; unconditional love can be challenged when you’re ignorant. Now everyone is so loving and we are closer than ever. I don’t think they can ever truly understand and comprehend what it is to be gay, but their love and acceptance is all that really matters to me.
In what environment do you believe that homophobia is still pretty prevalent?
I’ve had many different jobs in my life — ranging from blue-collar to white-collar — and I have faced homophobia in every industry. That was part of the past, but I choose to live in the present. Homophobia continues to exist in sports because of the whole masculinity thing. In reality, being gay makes us stronger because of all the adversity and negativity we have gone through. Overall, I tend to ignore the hatred and disconnect from the people who are closed-minded and uneducated.


What would be your advice for those who want to help alleviate the tension in these places?

Be professional, get your job done, and focus on the tasks and goals at hand. It’s also not wise to get too personal with coworkers. People in our lives must earn and deserve to know who we are. If someone is facing hatred, go directly to human resources, lodge a complaint, remove yourself from the negative situation, and stand your ground. Allow your work to speak for yourself — it will show that being gay has nothing to do with your performance. Luckily, things are very different in this day and age. I feel like we all have gay friends and family members.


Which LGBT organizations or charities do you support?

I support Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, Gay Rights Media, and the Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center in New York City, an organization where I met my best friend, Natascha, 19 years ago. It was in a gay youth group called BIGLNY that I joined when I was 16. She named me Robear back then and it stuck. Natascha is not only solely responsible for my nickname, but she also played a huge role in my life and got me through some of the toughest times in my childhood. She faced some of the same things I did.


What’s next for you?

I plan on doing some freelance interior design work and some fashion styling — these have been my passions for many years now. Television was an amazing experience, so I’d love to do some entertainment reporting. Additionally, I’m always interested in charity work. My interests have no boundaries or limits. We’ll see where things take me.

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Robear is a cool dude that defies many LGBT stereotypes. Now, find out if YOU are a Real Gay Guy.

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