Yesterday, I gave Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James a big, gay Valentine.
It seems silly now, but I kept thinking he would try to talk me out of the idea that GAY IS OK, as our giant card read, and that I’d crumble under the pressure. But once I got up to speak, it was easy. It was easy to assert that being gay is OK; that if you’re so unused to referring to gay people in polite company, you go with “homo,” that gay is a far better choice. It was easy to announce that CRANE is happy to engage Bill James in respectful dialogue. Because it was the right thing to do.
When I first heard that Bill James used the slur “homo” to refer to a fellow commissioner’s dead son, I was shocked, and before long, just sad. What would make anyone think that’s OK?
But finally, if a public figure says just the most recent awful thing in a long history of awful things, why not go ahead and say, ENOUGH?
Thanks to everyone who signed our card and added their comments. I am glad there are those of us who expect more from our elected officials, and aren’t afraid to say so. Even in pink, sparkly letters — they definitely seemed to make Commissioner James a bit uncomfortable.
Here’s my statement:
Good evening, commissioners, in particular Commissioner James.
I’m here tonight to present a Valentine to Commissioner Bill James on behalf of gay and gay-friendly Charlotteans. As you can see, our “conversation heart” lets you know that Gay … Is OK.
From your inflammatory statements over the past few months, including the use of the slurs “homo” and “tranny,” we know that you have some work to do to better support all of your constituents. That’s why CRANE — Charlotte Rainbow Action Network for Equality — is offering our support in beginning that process. The first step would be to embrace respect, even for those with whom you disagree, and stop using anti-gay slurs. If you need a descriptor, we’re fine with the word “gay.” Like the card says, it’s OK!
But more importantly, as the inside of the card reads, we believe that all of us — gay or straight — can and should feel loved, no matter whom we love. We’ll be checking in with you this year in hopes that you can turn your attitude around and treat us as fellow Charlotteans worthy of respect.
If you’d like to speak with us further in a spirit of openness and respect, we’re happy to arrange that. You can get in touch with us via rainbowaction.org. Thank you.
Hope to see everyone out on Friday, February 26 in downtown Charlotte in support of repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell!
We were able to snag a couple photos of our special, heart-shaped Valentine’s Day card to Bill James before presenting it to him at the Mecklenburg County Commission meeting on Feb. 16.
In the photo at right, CRANE organizer and card maker extraordinaire Laura Maschal holds the card open. The message reads, “Commissioner James, May you always feel loved no matter who you may love.” The front of the card read, “Gay is OK.”
CRANE organizer Lacey Williams and I had the chance to chat with Keith Larson during his show on WBT News-Talk 1110 AM on Wednesday. Larson’s invite to us was extended after CRANE presented Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James a special Valentine’s Day card saying “Gay is OK” and imploring James to lay aside his anti-gay rhetoric and begin treating all Mecklenburg County citizens with the respect and dignity they deserve.
On Larson’s show, we got into a great conversation about words, slurs and labels. Where did they come from? What do they mean? Do they matter? How confusing is all this?
It was a great educational moment for our community, Charlotte’s straight community and Larson’s listeners. Continue reading
Don’t miss CRANE organizers Lacey Williams and Matt Comer on today’s Keith Larson Show, shortly after 10 a.m.
Catch it on WBT News-Talk 1110 AM or listen live online.
Yesterday, Lacey and CRANE organizer Laura Maschal presented anti-gay Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James with a Valentine’s Day card from the gay community. The message was simple enough: “Gay is OK.”
“We’d like to present Commissioner James with a Valentine’s card from the gay and gay-friendly community in Charlotte with the hope that with loving support, and maybe some tough love, he can turn his attitudes around in 2010,” Laura said in our press release yesterday morning. “We’ll keep on checking in with him throughout the year to make sure he stops using anti-gay slurs and begins to open his eyes to the power of love in our community.”
CRANE organizer Laura Maschal had the chance to speak with WFAE 90.7 FM reporter Lisa Miller this morning, concerning CRANE’s Valentine’s card gift to anti-gay Mecklenburg Commissioner Bill James at tonight’s meeting of the County Commissioners.
Miller’s report aired at the bottom of the 5:00 hour on Feb. 16, 2010, during the station’s broadcast of “All Things Considered.”
You can tune into WFAE at 90.7 FM or listen live online anytime.
Be sure to check out this morning’s media advisory for the details.
News of CRANE’s Valentine’s card gift to anti-gay Mecklenburg Commissioner Bill James made the front page of CharlotteObserver.com today.
Observer staffer Doug Miller took to the paper’s Paper Trail blog with a note about tonight’s presentation to James. CRANE organizers Lacey Williams and Laura Maschal will be present with other community members to remind James of the “power of love in our community.”
February 16, 2010
Gay community members to Bill James: We love you
Grassroots activist to present anti-gay commissioner with Valentine’s present
CHARLOTTE — Feb. 16, 2010 — Grassroots activists with Charlotte Rainbow Action Network for Equality (CRANE) will present conservative, anti-gay Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James a special Valentine’s card at the County Commissioners meeting. Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community were at the receiving end of James’ anti-gay comments and slurs in December.
On Tuesday, CRANE organizers Laura Maschal and Lacey Williams hope James will open up and reconsider his stances on LGBT equality. Maschal’s and Williams’ Valentine’s card will contain signatures and thoughts from local LGBT community members.
“We’d like to present Commissioner James with a Valentine’s card from the gay and gay-friendly community in Charlotte with the hope that with loving support, and maybe some tough love, he can turn his attitudes around in 2010,” Maschal says. “We’ll keep on checking in with him throughout the year to make sure he stops using anti-gay slurs and begins to open his eyes to the power of love in our community.”
At the County Commissioners meeting on Dec. 15, 2009, during debate on proposed domestic partner benefits for LGBT city employees and their partners, James leaned over to fellow Commissioner Vilma Leake and said, “Your son was a homo, really?” His comments in response to Leake’s emotional story of her son and his death were outrageous and inappropriate, yet James offered no apology. In fact, he continued to make outrageous statements to local media outlets in the days following the meeting. James’ latest comments are but a few in a long history of abusive rhetoric directed at LGBT citizens and residents in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.
The Charlotte Rainbow Action Network for Equality (CRANE), www.rainbowaction.org, is a grassroots coalition of activists and community members working toward civil and social equality for Charlotte’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community.
More detailed information on CRANE and its list of upcoming events, including a public demonstration on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” can be found online at www.rainbowaction.org.