discrimination

A Gay Dad’s Letter to His Younger Self

December 2, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF

Dear Younger Gay Self
Dear Younger Me,

Well, it looks like same-sex marriage is about to be legal in the entire U.S. And although it seems like it’s taken an eternity for all 50 states to come around, it’s pretty amazing when I stop and think about it. But you probably have no idea what I’m even talking about, do you? That’s why I’m writing you — to let you know how things will be when you’re an adult, so you can be encouraged and have hope and just hang in there. I’m also writing to remind myself how lucky I am and how far I’ve come.

Remember when you were about seven years old, and you started having thoughts that made you think you were different, not quite right, broken? And how you inherently knew you were doing something wrong, even though you weren’t doing anything but being yourself? And then you started looking in the index of every Bible you ever came across for mention of the word “homosexual” — hoping above all hope for an answer to what was going on inside your head and heart. I’m sorry you had to go through all that.

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Dear Supporters of Same-Sex Marriage: Please Stop Raining On Our Parade*

August 11, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF

*LGBT community, I’m talking to you, too.
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Same-Sex Marriage In The United States

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I’ve been remiss in my duties as a same-sex marriage magnetic merry-maker.
I decided at some point (probably during the whole Utah kerfuffle, or perhaps Indiana flip-flopping) that I wasn’t going to fully celebrate a state legalizing same-sex marriage (with a magnet and blog post) UNTIL IT HAD FULLY LEGALIZED SAME-SEX MARRIAGE. The majority of recent court cases on marriage equality haven’t resulted in immediate (or lasting) positive results. I’m the kind of person that likes to wait to celebrate until the contract has been signed, the keys are in my hand, or the baby is in my arms. I’ve been burned a couple of times from premature revelry, so I’m particularly cautiously optimistic when it comes to this subject.

And it’s admittedly been confusing to keep track. Here’s the tally,** as of this writing:

  • 18 states and DC have legalized same-sex marriage
  • 2 states are in progress, with marriages set to start (or restart) later this month
  • 9 states are in flux or on pause. In most instances, a court ruling was made declaring a same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional… resulting in marriages being performed… and then a stay being put on the ruling while the opposition got out their red tape to cause some clusterf*ckery.

There are scads of people (my husband included) with more legal knowledge than me, that could use more official terms and offer more detailed explanations. But this is how I explain it to keep my brain from imploding from all the minutia and two-steps-forward-three-steps-backwardness of it all.

One important thing to be gleaned from the current state of same-sex marriage in the United States is that momentum is clearly in our favor. Every single case that has gone before a state court in 2014 has ruled for legalizing marriage equality. Our team’s win column is filled to overflowing.

But I have a bone to pick with “our team” — the LGBT community and our ever-increasing number of hetero allies: Please stop raining on the same-sex marriage parade.

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Help Johnson & Johnson Promote Equality and Safety for LGBT Families

August 6, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF

Johnson & Johnson - care with pride

“No more tears”

Since 1954, this has been the promise of Johnson’s baby shampoo — a brand and a phrase synonymous with childhood. Johnson & Johnson is committed to that same promise when it comes to bullying and its prevalence towards LGBT youth.

Long known for supplying the staples of parenting and family life, Johnson & Johnson extends this support to LGBT families with their CARE WITH PRIDE campaign. For the third year, J&J has partnered with charities to promote, support and protect LGBT parents and students. This year the beneficiaries include PFLAG, The Trevor Project and Family Equality Council, and by the end of 2014, it’s projected that CARE WITH PRIDE will have raised more than $500K since the program began in 2012.

Central to the campaign is the issue of bullying. Nearly one in three students report being bullied during the school year. For LGBT youth (or those believed to be), the figure rises to eight out of 10 who are verbally harassed, and four out of 10 are physically harassed at school. This doesn’t account for abuse that takes place outside the school, or the countless occurrences that go unreported. And it probably goes without saying (but it won’t) that bullied students are at higher risk of depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties and poor school adjustment. And most tragically, LGB youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide as their straight peers. One quarter of transgendered youth attempt to take their lives. And each episode of LGBT bullying or abuse increases the likelihood of self-harming behavior by 2.5 times on average.

PFLAG, The Trevor Project and Family Equality Council play a vital role in the fight against bullying by providing education, raising awareness and promoting equality for LGBT families.

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Fridge Wisdom: Same-Sex Marriage Legal in Indiana

June 26, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF

same-sex marriage in Indiana
Indiana: Same-sex marriage legalized June 25, 2014. Folks gettin’ married the very same day.

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The birthplace of Letterman, Lincoln and Larry Bird — and now home to a whole lot more little pink houses* — Indiana joins 18 states and the District of Columbia in legalizing same-sex marriage! Just over a month after gay marriage became legal in Pennsylvania, equality wins out two states over as U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Young declared Indiana’s ban on marriage equality unconstitutional.

In his ruling, Judge Young states,
“In time, Americans will look at the marriage of couples such as [the plaintiffs], and refer to it simply as a marriage — not a same-sex marriage. These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat them as such.”

Until that time, congratulations to all the homo-Hoosiers who can finally get hitched! Indiana is the 11th state where a federal judge has struck down a marriage ban since SCOTUS overturned Prop8 and DOMA. We’re on a roll, baby!
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BUT WHAT ABOUT UTAH?
First it was legalized. Then it wasn’t. Then yesterday a judge overturned the ban. While I’m very glad for this step back in the right direction, the governor still plans on appealing the overturn of the denial of the freedom for the refusal of rights on the ban and… OH MY GOD I’M SO CONFUSED!!! So until same-sex marriage in Utah is a once-and-for-all done deal, signed in blood and toasted with Caffeine-Free Diet Coke, I’m holding off on putting their magnet up gain.

Since the next step my very well be the U.S. Supreme Court, when they do get around to appealing, the decision could be monumental — and hopefully turn my whole map green…
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SAME-SEX MARRIAGE IN THE UNITED STATES

as of 6.25.14

same-sex marriage map of the united states
Click to biggefy. Source: Wikipedia

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Every time a country or US state legalizes same-sex marriage, I post a photo of a magnet from either my fridge or that of a reader. Take a look at some of my previous magnet posts.

For more maps and magnets (not really, but for sure a lot of fun), stop by the Designer Daddy Facebook page, or follow along on Twitter!

*In 2010, the song “Pink Houses” was used by NOM (a leading opponent to same-sex marriage) in an anti-gay rally. Songwriter/performer and Indiana native John Mellencamp sent them a Cease and STFU. Thanks Johnny Cougar, you R.O.C.K.!

R.I.P. M.A.

May 28, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

RIP-MA Rest In Peace Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou 1928-2014  Rest In Peace

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I initially published this drawing without words. How is it possible to honor someone so eloquent with any language of my own? But as I thought about Maya Angelou, I recalled a special memory I wanted to share.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was published the year I was born, and from my earliest memories it sat on my parents’ vast bookshelves amongst my minister Father’s religious books, my English professor Mother’s literature, the World Book Encyclopedias. Long before I read Caged Bird, I remember asking my Mother about it, as the title (and cover) intrigued my young mind. She painted only the broadest strokes of the plot, but in the process I received my first lesson about racism.

The book is set in Arkansas, birthplace of Ms. Angelou, as well as both my parents, and home to nearly all my relatives. I lived there between the ages of 2 and 7, and one of my frequent playground pals was Felicia, a black girl. Racism was confusing when my Mother explained it then, and I dread the confused look on my son’s face when I explain it to him.

I’m thankful to Maya Angelou for finding beauty in the midst of horrible humanity, and for teaching generations (and generations to come) what it means to have hope.

Fridge Wisdom: Same-Sex Marriage Legal in Pennsylvania

May 20, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, LGBT STUFF

Same-sex marriage legal in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania:
Same-sex marriage legalized May 20, 2014. Marriages to commence posthaste!

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And then there were 19. Only a day after Oregon joined Team Gay (see infographic below), a Pennsylvania judge struck down the Keystone State’s marriage ban. If this were a game of Risk, the gays would have just overtaken Asia.

In addition to being the 18th state (plus DC) to legalize same-sex marriage, Pennsylvania is also the 10th state where a federal judge has struck down a marriage ban since SCOTUS overturned Prop8 and DOMA.

I’d been meaning to create a graphic mapping the progress of same-sex marriage in the US, but was busy getting married myself. As the states continue to join the cool kids’ table, I’ll update the map along with posting another magnet.
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SAME-SEX MARRIAGE IN THE UNITED STATES

as of 5.20.14

same-sex marriage in the united states

Click to biggefy. Source: Wikipedia

Although I have plenty I could write about Arkansas, Texas, Virginia and Colorado (all places I’ve lived), I’m holding off celebrating until marriage equality is a 100% done deal in those states. If you want to know the specific statuses and legislative nuances of all the yellow states, click the Wikipedia link above. It’s convoluted, complicated political crap — but hey, it’s progress!

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Every time a country or US state legalizes same-sex marriage, I post a photo of a magnet from either my fridge or that of a reader. Take a look at some of the previous magnet posts!
For more fun and conversation, stop by the Designer Daddy Facebook page, or follow along on Twitter!

 


 

Same-sex marriage legal in Oregon.

Fridge Wisdom: Same-Sex Marriage Legal in Oregon!

May 19, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, LGBT STUFF

same-sex marriage legal in Oregon

Oregon: Same-sex marriage legalized May 19, 2014. Weddings commenced immediately!

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In addition to keeping George W. Bush in office, the 2004 U.S. election brought about an avalanche of same-sex marriage bans, in the form of amendments to 13 state constitutions. While overall depressing, most of these were not shocking, as they were in predominantly conservative Southern and Midwestern states.

However, one marriage ban took most by surprise — Oregon. Long considered on par with neighboring Washington’s live-and-let-live liberalism, this defeat sat atop a mountain of disappointment as the rottenest cherry on the worst dessert ever.

Fast-forward 10 years (on the tenth anniversary of the first same-sex weddings performed in the U.S., to be exact) and a federal judge has struck down Oregon’s same-sex marriage ban! With apparently no pending appeals or stays on the horizon, marriage licenses began being issued immediately following the announcement.

I grew up a nomadic military brat, never really having a solid answer to the question “Where are you from?” And while I may not remember being born or living in Illinois for the first year and-a-half of my life, I was deeply moved and even proud when my “home state” legalized same-sex marriage in 2013.

My son may have even fewer ties to the state of his birth, as he only “lived” in Oregon for 2 weeks before we brought him home. Yet I am glad to be able to tell him that daddies and papas (and mommies and mamas) can now get married in “Portyand,” just like his Daddy and Papa just did in Maryland! Same-sex marriage legal in Oregon

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Every time a country or US state legalizes same-sex marriage, I post a photo of a magnet from either my fridge or that of a reader. Take a look at some of the previous magnet posts!

Same-sex marriage legal in Oregon.

Honey Maid Combats Trash Talk with #WholesomeQuotes

May 12, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

The Internet isn’t known for its wholesomeness. Sure, there are bright spots here and there — but it’s also ground zero for crazy people to hurl their unfiltered opinions. These come in all flavors, with the most popular being racism, homophobia, misogyny and the always-popular hatred.

Recently I praised Honey Maid’s “This Is Wholesome” campaign for including same-sex parents in their TV ad. While I had many positive comments, I also received more negative, hateful and idiotic responses than any other time prior. Who knew graham crackers were such a hot button issue?

Here are just a few of the “greatest hits”…

honeymaid - comments - homophobia

honeymaid - comments - homophobia

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Barilla Wants to Share the Table, Even with Same-Sex Parents

April 14, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, LGBT STUFF

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Barilla, but opinions are my own.

In September of last year, the chairman of Barilla made the following statements in a radio interview:

“I would never do (a commercial) with a homosexual family, not for lack of respect
but because we don’t agree with them. Ours is a classic family where the woman plays
a fundamental role. … If [gays] don’t like it, they can go eat another brand.” 1

“I have no respect for adoption by gay families because this concerns a person who
is not able to choose.” 2

Like many others, I found Guido Barilla’s comments ignorant, insulting and infuriating. Our family is made up of two gay dads (one of whom is Italian) and an adopted son, all of us consumers of large amounts of pasta. I’m not sure there were any ways left to offend us. So like many others, our family made a conscious decision not to buy their products again.

While I’d heard of efforts on the part of Barilla to make amends, I paid them little mind. I was skeptical they could do anything to salvage a relationship with the LGBT community and our allies.

But then I was asked to take part in Barilla’s Share the Table campaign. And I was approached specifically because I’m a gay father. I learned they’d also enlisted other LGBT bloggers, including fellow parents Polly Pagenhart and Vikki Reich.

According to the materials I was given and my own research, Barilla has been making changes ever since the interview and subsequent boycott. They met with and received counsel from GLAAD; established a Diversity & Inclusion Board and appointed a Chief Diversity Officer; participated in HRC’s Corporate Equality Index; and as evidenced by this post, they want to partner with influencers in the LGBT community as part of Share the Table, to ensure families of all kinds are included.

We’ve all heard plenty of corporate apologies, yet this invitation resonated because it was made directly to me. And as I read more about Barilla’s inclusiveness in regards to the importance of family meal time, I was immediately reminded of our trip to Italy two years ago.

Barilla #ShareTheTable Italy family dinner

One of many long and wonderful meals around Nonna’s table

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A Gay Man’s Tribute to Fred Phelps

March 21, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

PHELPS2

My original idea for this illustration included a rough line drawing of an oft-seen photo of Fred Phelps. The intent was to depict the sheer evil of the man in pen and ink, superimposed over a collage of the disparate groups of people his hatred targeted. I scanned my drawing and began layering in images on the computer: Matthew Shepard and the iconic fence he was tied to; a scene from a production of The Laramie Project; the casket of an Iraq War veteran, draped in the American flag; paper angels representing the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and the interlocked bikers that protected their funerals; symbols representing Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Mormons and Catholics.

As I fine-tuned the design, I hid the layer that included Phelps’ face. I looked at all of these otherwise unconnected people and realized I’d been going about this all wrong.

Phelps is gone…and what is left behind?

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