Louganis on the Wheaties Box

Greg Louganis was and is the World’s greatest Diver.  An Olympian that captured gold medals in both 1984 and 1988, Greg was one of the first openly gay athletes.  Because of his sexuality he was denied many of the perks that other Olympians received including many endorsements and perhaps one of the most coveted of American athletic triumph-appearing on the General Mills  Wheaties cereal Box.  It was good enough for decathlete, Bruce Jenner, Swimmers-Mark Spitz and Michael Phelps, Gymnasts Mary Lou Retton and Kari Strug, Golfer, Tiger Wood, and too many football, baseball and basketball athletes to name.  But not Greg Louganis.

I have had the honor of meeting and talking with Greg on many occasions.  He is active in the LA LGBT community and is always gracious, kind and thoughtful.  He truly is a champion.

Not all mistakes can be rectified. But this one can.  It’s not too late to put Greg Louganis on the Wheaties box.

If you are interested in signing a petition to get Greg on the Wheaties box then click here 

And let’s help fix a historical insult and error in judgement.  Louganis is a great Olympian. He deserves this honor!

What Does Judaism Say About LGBT People? | Advocate.com

Here is my interview in the Advocate.  Although they got some facts wrong.  My Ordination year is wrong—it is HUC-JIR 1988.  I came out publicly in 1988




What Does Judaism Say About LGBT People? | Advocate.com.

Reform Judaism won’t back down

Parshat Kedoshim

Leviticus 19:1 -20:27

This week’s Torah portion Kedoshim contains the second explicit verse that is often pointed out condemns gay male sex. Leviticus 20:13 prescribes the death penalty. Of course this entire section of Leviticus has a whole series of punishments for sexual transgressions and idolatry all of which are punishable by death in the Bible. Including verse 9 of chapter 20, “Anyone who insults his father or his mother, shall be put to death”. And any man who has sexual intercourse with a woman while she is menstruating is excommunicated from the people. In ancient times excommunication was certain death because it put you outside the camp and tribe and you no longer had the group’s protection. You were subject to brigands and the whims of warring tribes. When radical religious fundamentalists of any stripe use the Levitical verses to condemn homosexuality they often conveniently forget to read the rest of the nearby verses. Why aren’t they making an issue of those who insult their parents? Why aren’t they discriminating against those who commit elder abuse? In American society it is often these same Christian Fundamentalists who want to defund Planned Parenthood but they never harangue anyone about sex during menstruation. In fact I have never seen them try to take the civil rights of those who do so. They only wrongly focus on gay people. The Bible also says not to eat seafood but I haven’t seen Christian Fundamentalist preachers give up their Lobster Bisque. The ancient mindset did not understand the notion of sexual orientation. Gay sexuality was not the issue in Leviticus. Idolatry and rape were the issues. Leviticus isn’t commenting about same-gender loving relationships. It is only seeing a man who lays the laying of a woman as a male in a submissive position and something that the pagans engage in the worship of their gods. This isn’t what homosexuality is about-not today. The Reform Movement of Judaism has been clear in its resolution process of support for the civil rights of gay men and lesbians, bisexual and transgender people. Since the 1960’s Reform Judaism has been an advocate for equality. First the Women of Reform Judaism (Then Sisterhood) in the 1960’s called for the decriminalization of consensual adult relations. Later the Union for Reform Judaism (then the UAHC) called for full federal recognition of gay and lesbians relationships in the 1980’s. And in 1996 the Central Conference of American Rabbis called for marriage equality and in 2000 by a resounding resolution vote the Reform Rabbinate supported religious marriage equality as well! Reform Judaism is undergoing a significant leadership change in the next year. There will be a new head of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Rick Jacobs. But there will be no change in the historic supportive position of Reform Judaism for full civil equality including marriage equality for gay men, lesbians, and bisexual and transgender people. In fact the youth movement leaders of Reform Judaism and our Jewish educators have been doing extraordinary work to educate young people on the dangers of bullying and on learning to accept and welcome and make our camps and youth groups into safe places for gay youth. Our young people are increasingly involved in Gay –Straight Alliances at their schools and engage in advocacy on behalf of full civil equality for the GLBT community. So even as we read this week’s Torah portion, let us call out this verse in Leviticus and name it, confront it and answer those who mis-use the Bible for their own political gain. Perhaps they ought to read what comes before these verses as well in this Torah portion and which gives this portion its name, Be Holy for I am holy. Perhaps they would do better if they engaged in holy work rather than holy war. Our world would be a far better place.

Gay Golden Globes

It was a very gay night in Hollywood. Okay technically Beverly Hills.  The Golden Globes was a night to celebrate Gays and lesbians.  With a major win for best picture for “The Kids are All Right” and a best actress nod to Annette Benning in that very film, lesbian family life was highlighted.  So too in the win by openly lesbian actress Jane Lynch for her character in the hit Fox show, “Glee”.  Lynch acknowledged her wife Lara Embry in her thank you speech.     

Also winning for his role of Kurt  in “Glee” was Chris Colfer.  He gave a wonderful speech that encouraged any kid who is bullied for difference to fight back. He said, “Tell them Screw that!”   This was very important because the issue of teen suicide and bullying has been so prevalent in recent months. So many young people have killed themselves because they were harassed and bullied for being gay or perceived as gay.   

Ricky Gervais the British host of the Golden Globes should be ashamed of himself however. In his opening monologue he made a “gay” joke implying Tom Cruise and John Travolta were gay although he didn’t mentioned them by name.  Instead he talked about Scientology. Their brand of religion.  Was this necessary? Was it homophobic?  Gervais, in my opinion, did a poor job as a host and this opening monologue “joke” was an example of his poor taste.

Never the less gays and lesbians continue toward increasing visibility as more and more films and television address our lives.  Kudos to those producers and writers and directors and actor and actresses that are willing to address our lives.

A culture of anti-gay violence and National Coming Out Day

The descriptions are horrific.  The anti-gay gang that was arrested in New York for the brutal attacks on three people pushed homophobia and anti-gay violence to a new level.    Eight members of the “Latin King Goonies” have been arrested for their suspected brutal attack on three gay men in the Bronx.  They burned and beat and tortured their victims. They used a plunger handle and baseball bat to sodomize their victims.  They kidnapped and locked them in a vacant house.

This gang suspected that one of the 17 year olds who wanted to be part of the gang was gay.  According to news reports they took him to a vacant apartment and tortured him repeatedly until he admitted having sex with a 30-year-old man.  They invited the  30-year-old to a “party”   along with another 17-year-old they also suspected was gay and tortured them and sodomized them both.  They burned their victims with cigarettes.  Such cruelty and violence.

The suspects include:

Ildefonzo Mendez, 23; David Rivera, 21; four 17-year-olds, Steven Caraballo, Denis Peitars, Nelson Falu and Bryan Almonte; and Brian Cepeda, 16. All face charges including robbery, assault and unlawful imprisonment as hate crimes; Mendez, Rivera and Falu were additionally charged with committing a criminal sex act. The eighth suspect, Elmer Confresi, 23, of the Bronx, turned himself in Saturday. A ninth suspect was supposed to turn himself in on Sunday but didn’t show. Eight of the gang members were arraigned on Sunday.

The Associated Press reported that each man was asked “Are you a fag?” before their beating and torture.  ll.

New York officials were appropriately outraged.  Mayor Bloomberg, Police Chief Kelly, and other electeds.   Mayor Bloomberg said: “Like many New Yorkers, I was sickened by the brutal nature of these crimes and saddened by the anti-gay bias that contributed to them.”

But this is not enough.  This is the outcome of those who continue to dehumanize gay people. They hear it in church.  They hear it from politicians like Palladino who is running for governor of New York. A Republican Tea party candidate who made comments before a group of Orthodox Jews that homosexuality is wrong.  The New York Times quoted Palladino:
“That’s not how God created us,” he said, reading from a prepared address. “I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don’t want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option — it isn’t.”

It is this kind of talk that continues to give permission to torture gay people.

It is the result of a war on gay people being waged in this country. And around the world.

In this country, this violence is a result of the culture created by “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy of the military and “DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act.” It is the result of presidents both Democratic and Republican sacrificing doing what is right in regard to gay people because of politics.

It is the result of the work of organizations like the National Organization for Marriage that funds right-wing campaigns and recall initiatives against Judges and Justices who rule in favor of marriage for gay people.

This culture of violence is the result of preaching from primarily Christian churches who call homosexuality “immoral and unnatural” like recent comments by a Mormon elder.  Or the rantings of Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist church members who run around the country with “God Hates Fags” signs even at military funerals.”  It is the result of church who preach a message of “Hate the sin, love the sinner.”

It is the result of the Catholic church who preaches that very message.  How disingenuous that the Catholic Archbishop of New York, Timothy Doland at an event on Saturday said: “Nothing can justify that kind of mindless vicious violence.”  He helped to defeat a vote on gay marriage in New York state just this year.  His efforts dehumanize gay people.

Homosexuality is no sin.  Nor is the way we love.  What is sinful is that a human being could torture another human being.  What is sinful is this kind of  permission to dehumanize gay people.

This culture is the result of Orthodox Jews funding organizations like Jonah that would try to “change the sexual orientation” of gay people as if there is something wrong with a person’s sexual orientation.  God created all “b’tzelem Elohim”, in the image of God.

And outside the U.S. only this weekend, right-wing gang members in Serbia through a Molotov cocktail in the midst of a gay pride parade.  More violence and hatred.

On this National Coming Out Day, a day created in 1988 to help gay and lesbian folks feel safer in speaking their truths;A day created to help straight family and friends be more honest about our gay and lesbian lives it is more important than ever to speak the truth.  It is more important than ever to come out.  Because each time we do-we fight this war against gay people.
It is time to be honest about the damage being done by this culture of dehumanizing gay people done by certain religious so-called leaders.

It is time to be honest about the damage being done by our government policies. It is time to be honest about the damage being done by right-wing organizations.

Today is National Coming Out Day.  Time to come out about a lot of things.

I pray for the three young people who were so brutally violated.

And I pray for the souls of the perpetrators. How pitiful and how pathetic.

A Con Man is About -BEWARE

Once a con man always a con man.  That motto describes Arthur Abba Goldberg, a convicted felon who bilked investors with a bond scam in the late 1980’s and who served time in prison.  He was  convicted in 1989 of mail fraud and defrauding the U.S. government!  Following his parole, Goldberg founded an organization that does tremendous harm and damage.  And continues to do so today. It is an organization that cons people into believing that they can change their sexual orientation from homosexuality to heterosexuality.  That organization is JONAH, Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality.   A former board member of NARTH, the Encino based organization that specializes in “reparative therapy” for gay people, Arthur Abba Goldberg never revealed his felonious past even to NARTH. A con man cons the conners! 

Reparative therapy is the biggest con of all.  One’s orientation cannot be changed. But a group of deeply homophobic individuals want to make gay people into ex-gays. The failure rate of these groups is tremendous.  Which tells you it can’t really be done. They simply play on the fears and homophobia and self-hatred of those struggling most often with hateful religious teachings that would demonize gay and lesbian people.  Goldberg has no expertise in psychology or in things gay and lesbian. But he does have a son who is openly gay.  This must pain him tremendously and he must not be able to come to grips with it.  He was a financer who bilked people of millions of dollars. Even though he was disbarred he holds out his Law degree–Juris Doctor as some kind of credential. And yet he set up JONAH and pretends to be an expert.   Far from it.  The Ex-gay industry regularly uses outdated and disproven research to base its “therapy” upon.  Goldberg and his ilk are the real frauds forcing their particular brand of lies upon desperate and sometimes very fragile people who desparately want love and acceptance while unable to embrace their full selves.

Wayne Besen and his amazing work of TRUTH WINS OUT along with the South Florida Gay News brought this story to light in a recent investigation.

“We have long considered Arthur Goldberg a con-artist, but our investigation shows he is also an ex-con,” said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out. ”His diabolical past mirrors his dishonest present-day work with the ex-gay industry. Whether it was shady deals on Wall Street or shading the truth on gay issues, Goldberg is someone who lacks credibility and can’t be trusted.”

Ace reporter Karen Ocamb also writes about Goldberg’s lies on her excellent blog LGBT POV.

For the most part the Ex-gay industry is filled with Christian fundamentalists who want to manipulate gay people to their twisted theories about homosexuality.  But Goldberg’s work with JONAH adds a Jewish dimension to this horror.  And this alone is reason to expose him.  Sadly Goldberg is also president of his shul in New Jersey, an orthodox synagogue, Mt. Sinai of Jersey City.  What kind of community puts a con man at the helm? Is this a leader?  I will tell you it is a “shanda” an embarrassment for the entire community, Would you elect Bernie Madoff as the president of a community? This community ought to be ashamed and he ought to step down.

The truth is that God made us who we are.  B’tzelem Elohim–we are made in the image of God.  That is the truth that should win out for everyone.  We in the Jewish community must expose such chicanery and lies  that are done in the name of our tradition.  And we must demand that con men like Goldberg that continue to practice their criminal behaviors of con jobs must be held accountable. 

Once a con man always a con man.  BEWARE!