Category Archives: Indiana

The Issue of Homelessness for our LGBT Youth

I am not an expert, nor am I well-educated on LGBT Homeless Youth issues, but I do know about the statistics, and it breaks my heart.  Currently, it is estimated that 40% of homeless youth are from the LGBT Community from either being thrown out of their homes by homophobic parents, running away due to fear of reprisal at home, and sometimes just lack of judgement as a teenager.

I was homeless for about a week when I was 19, but I had enough money to survive on for that week and it didn’t have to do with being LGBT, just too prideful to go from where I was living, to moving back in with family.  The worst part of it, was basically living in my car.  After the week ran out, I wasn’t strong enough to stay on the streets without money and asked my parents to borrow a room for three months.  I can’t imagine not having a choice in the matter.

I’ve written about the pizza debacle that happened in Indiana, and I found a fund set-up, trying to capitalize on the $842,000 windfall, the naive or bigoted pizza shop owners received.  Cyndi Lauper set one up as well through her “True Colors” foundation, but the one I am supporting has pledged to house 100 LGBT homeless youth for a full year.  The fundraising goal is $100,000, far below what the pizza owners lucked into.  The fund is being run by “Planting Peace,” a global humanitarian organization, who bought and painted a house in rainbow colors, across from the Westboro Baptist Church, famous for their “God Hates Fags” mission.  They are very reputable.

peace house

I have become part of this campaign to help raise the $100,000 needed.  I am asking for friends, readers, and followers to please donate at least the price of a slice of pizza or a coffee at Starbucks.  $2 to $5 helps, and more if you can afford it, is appreciated.  This is the only weekend I am promoting this, I just wanted to do a small part if possible with all of you, who have been so kind in supporting my writing in the past.  If you can donate, please go to the website, Linked Here.

Thank you all for being part of my online life, and Have a great week….Scott

Dang Dude, Do You Live On The Computer? The LeftofStr8 Story

So that question was posed to me recently, and yes, I have a tiny little apartment next to the TAB key.  HA!  I thought it’s time to peel back maybe just a layer of what I am doing in this great big cyber world.  If you didn’t know already, my name is Scott.  I live in Northeast Ohio.  I am over 29 years old, (that’s when I stopped counting, I just have anniversaries now of my 29th birthday, and frankly I don’t want to do the math).  I am single and gay, and not always in that order.  I’m a chubby man who enjoys movies/concerts/plays, television, comics, food, writing, and occasional naps.  (I know what you are thinking, ‘he is into comics and all of that stuff and he is still single?’ sad but currently true).

I grew up in Southern California, have lived in six states, and traveled through 43 states and two other countries.  I have worked too many jobs to count, but I am a hard worker and vagabond by nature, so I love to travel around and try new things.  I have owned two businesses, but just finished doing a job I hated for 5 years.  I am currently unemployed by choice. ( I know, another reason to wonder why I am currently single).  Unemployed does not mean I am not working.  My father has had two heart attacks and two strokes, and was recently hospitalized for a month and a half.  I have quit work to help him and my mother out, as he is basically been given 5 months to 5 years, for the second time.  The new wrinkle is he can barely walk around the house, but thank goodness he is still mobile.

While my mother is still quite capable, her old bones have begun to creek a bit as well, so I am currently doing most of the cooking, most of the cleaning, most of the laundry, and all outside errands for banking, groceries, prescriptions and odds and ends.  To do this, I have moved back home into the fully finished and furnished basement, while my parents are as I call them, “The Strangers Above.”  Honestly this basement is bigger than a lot of apartments, yes I am talking to you New York friends, and it has its own entrance.  It has enabled me to not live off of the government since my only bills now are for my car and clothes, and I was able to save up a nice pile of cash in my many years of working.  My parents pay for all the food and a small salary for me.  (Live with your parents?  C’mon seriously, you can’t be single.)

Basically I work at home for a total of 2-4 hours a day, freedom to go out almost anytime but meals and doctors, so it’s really not as bad as it sounds.  To that end, I have A LOT of time on my hands and a lot of creativity and energy to burn off throughout the day and evening, so here I am, on the Internet.  My forte in all of my working years was restaurant management and marketing.  Those are the two businesses I owned as well; my own restaurant and my own marketing company.  The nice thing about the Internet is you can now build a business almost entirely from online.  That’s my goal and current passion.  I am starting a Restaurant Consulting business, where I will actually go out to the restaurants, and an Internet hub through writing, blogging, posting, and eventually podcasting about issues I am passionate about.  The LGBT Community, Entertainment, and Food.

I am looking forward to looking after my dad as he needs me, until the day he doesn’t need anyone anymore, and interacting with my friends and confidants online and in my little community here in NE Ohio.  It may not be the most glamorous life, but it’s a good life for now, and hopefully the Internet will make it a little more fun and profitable as I go on.  I just wanted to take a second and open up about myself a bit, and say thank you for following me, and encouraging me on my journey here on the Internet and with my family.  (And no matter what you read above, I am still quite a catch, lol)……..Scott

When Our Quest For Gay Rights Goes Too Far!

Has our LGBT Rights Movement, “Jumped The Shark?”  I am old enough to remember the days of ACT UP and other LGBT organizations that were just fed up with government and people simply ignoring our Community, or actively working against it.  The idea was just to be so loud and in your face, that the public would have to at least notice and acknowledge our existence, and it was a strong tool in rallying, but also brought a lot of ammunition to those working against us.  The “Indiana Pizza Incident,” is an example of right thinking gone wrong.

If you aren’t familiar, as the Indiana legislature and Governor Mike Pence put through their Religious Freedom Bill, our LGBT Community and one of the biggest outpouring of Allies that I can remember, immediately called the Bill what it is, a bigoted response to the current same-sex marriage wave, allowing individually owned businesses to discriminate against us gays.  A small town Indiana pizza shop co-owner, along with her co-owner father, was interviewed by a local television station and said they were in support of the Bill.  They said that although they have no problem serving our Community in their restaurant, they would be unwilling to cater a same-sex wedding under the new law, as it goes against their Christian beliefs.  Adding more naive insult to the injury, they made it clear they thought that being gay was a choice, just as they thought being a heterosexual is.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way, most gays are not going to cater their wedding with pizza and beer.  (Not saying that’s a bad idea when you’ve lived together as any couple for quite a few years, and just want to have a party with your friends to celebrate gettin’ hitched, lol).  Also obvious to us, is that being LGBT is not a choice, just how we were born.  However, we had a good chance to use this as an example of what the Bill is really about.  A way to showcase that you wouldn’t ask if a couple was divorced, have a child out of wedlock, or any other of the sins of the Bible that Christians routinely don’t care as much about.  It is discrimination, pure and simple, but instead of illuminating it for what it is, we blew it.  Big Time!!

Backlash against the store owners started immediately.  Their YELP customer comments were deluged with many bad reviews, but it didn’t stop there.  Some of the Internet comments started to get just plain nasty.  There were threats to burn their business down, and even more brutal threats.  Their phone was blowing up off the hook with nasty comments.  Our LGBT Community and allies went from taking the high road and using these store owners as an example of how bad the Bill is, to instead, bringing national attention to how low we will go if you don’t support us.

The owners decided to close the pizza shop after all of the attention.  Is that really the victory we wanted?Did we want some naive at best, ignorant at worse, small town business owners to lose their lively hood for not catering pizza at our weddings?  Soon, religious Conservatives rallied to the pizza owners defense.  They began a GoFundMe Internet fundraising campaign to help the owners out as their doors are closed.  At last glance, and in less that two days, the owners are now sitting on a treasure chest of over $500,000 dollars that has been donated to them, and they plan on re-opening the shop in a few days.

Our LGBT Community and allies, by taking the low road of intimidation and threats, have made this stand against our rights, an example and rallying point for those trying to pass similar Religious Freedom Bills across the country.  Worse yet, the pizza shop owners are calling all of this money a certain blessing from God, for standing for their religious beliefs, and are creating a case for all Christians of the same belief to think that if they dig their heels in and spout ignorance, they will be rewarded as well.  I don’t think that is the outcome we were hoping for in making them a bad example.  They have turned it around completely.

I think this battle in Indiana and following in Arkansas and others, was starting to tip the war in our favor as an LGBT Community.  We have business leaders, allies, and individuals who stood up and noticed that this so-called Religious Freedom Bill, was just a smokescreen to promote bigotry and discrimination.  But as we charged forth, we lost another battle and might have taken us a step backward in the fray.

We should never remain silent in our call to demanding full equality for our Community.  We should never let anyone try to relegate us as second class.  However, in order to win the war, we must keep these battles at least civil.  Personal threats and physical force will make us as bad as those we are fighting against, and not do us any favors in the meantime.  Be Vocal, but offer the same respect we are trying to achieve.

My Idea for the LGBT Response to Indiana, (and any other state’s), Religious Freedom Bill

Fair warning dear readers, this post will be a little tongue in cheek, but then again…….maybe not.  Regular readers know from my last two posts that I really don’t find boycotts effective, and I have been slowly converted into Agnostic/Atheism by the Conservative Christians.  However, with the recent passage of the so-called “Religious Freedom Law,” in my neighboring state, Indiana, I have come to a revelation.  It’s time for the  LGBT Community to create our own religion.

For the ten people on holiday in the wilds of Alaska who might not know, the “Religious Freedom Bill,” was drafted by the Republican majority Statehouse in Indiana, as a version of the Federal law of the same name but with much different intentions.  It basically allows public business owners to refuse service to anyone, based on their religious beliefs.  Republican Governor Mike Pence, who has been a potential Presidential candidate, signed the bill into law last week, saying at the time of signing, that the bill in no way allows discrimination.  Of course it does, and by the Governor’s appearance on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, he flat out refused to answer the question that it does not discriminate against the LGBT Community, and even added that he would never make the Community a protected class, exempted from such legislation as many other States have done.

Commendably, many national businesses and celebrities have come out against the law, with some even boycotting expansion or holding events in the Hoosier State.  Angie’s List, Sales Force, GenCon, Yelp, the NCAA, Audra McDonald, Ashton Kutcher, Charles Barkley, and more have voiced their disappointment in the new law.  As much as the law was intended to discriminate against the LGBT Community amid all the growing support for same-sex marriage and equal rights, the law lets anyone discriminate based on any religious beliefs.  So realistically, a Muslim shop owner can refuse service to a woman, because they refuse to wear a burka or some type of head covering.

Now back to forming our own LGBT Community religion.  I looked it up.  It doesn’t really take much to become ordained and to start your own ministry.  An online blessing and certification, along with a quick charter and tax paperwork filed and viola!, you are an official religion that has all the same rights and grievances afforded everyone else in Indiana’s new law.

Let’s start with a name and a Diety to worship.  Personally, I think we should call the religion, “Disciples of Star Fleet,” and worship to our God, Takei.  He will be a benevolent God, teaching in the ways of acceptance and non-discrimination.  I think we should take the shooting star logo from, NBC’s, “The More You Know,” campaign, layering it above the Starfleet symbol.  With the simple prime directive, ummm, I mean religious purpose statement of, “Accepting everyone from all the colors of the rainbow,” we will have just cause to not serve anyone who does not believe as we do.

Not to stereotype, (okay, just a little), what if our first “recruitment” drive to our religion was aimed at all the hair stylists of Indiana.  Most good hair stylists I know are either in our Community, or are strong allies of it.  Could you imagine what would happen if the, “bless your heart, little old blue haired ladies,” could not get their regular weekly or monthly stylings, and could be refused service without promising to accept the LGBT Community?  Heck, just the 15 Republican women in the Indiana State Legislature alone, (thank you google), would never vote for another discrimination bill.

What if just ten percent of the star forwards of all of Indiana’s high school, college, and professional basketball teams came out as gay and refused to play against the religious private schools, on our their religious grounds?  (Basketball is big in Indiana.  Didn’t you see the movie, “Hoosiers,” with Gene Hackman?  Shame on you!)  Or what if one of our stars of stage, screen, or behind the cameras, like Ryan Murphy, Jeremy Jordan, Mike Epps, Vivica A. Fox, and Brendan Frasier, decided you could not see their movie, play or television show because you support LGBT discrimination?

What if our religion really took one of the Bible verses to heart and agreed that the most important commandment is to, “Love one another as I so love you,” with the caveat that it’s only if you aren’t straight.  Wouldn’t that be a kick in the head to the Christian Right?  So in all silliness/seriousness, who wants to become ordained with me in the Disciples of Star Fleet?  Let’s go out and spread the good word in Indiana, and maybe in Arizona and Georgia soon, that our LGBT Community has a religion as well, and some of you all that discriminate against us, may find the shoe on the other foot sometime soon.

Purporting to run a business for the general public should mean the ENTIRE public.  There should not be a law that allows discrimination based on your religious beliefs to just one segment of the population.  It has been tried before with women, black people, Irish people and more, but it just doesn’t stand up.  Not only is it not good for business, it’s not good for your so-called spiritual health.  As I kneel down, all I am asking is that the great and mighty Takei, look down upon our people, and share his enlightened wisdom.

How Christianity Converted Me To Be An Athiest (A Religious Freedom Parable)

I want to believe in a God.  I was baptized in the Episcopal Church at a young age, but my parents stopped going around my 4th birthday.  No reason really, just life and a baby brother on the way, and they have never returned still to this day.  In Junior and Senior High School, I loved reading about Greek and Roman mythology; their Gods of love and war, the sea and earth.  But something else happened around those same school-age years, I realized I was gay.  The how’s and the why’s of this revelation is really not important, I knew it was something ingrained in me, as i could not push these thoughts and feelings aside, and from what little remained of my brief religious teachings, God made me perfect, and in his image, so I was good to go, Right?  I was still afraid to admit it to anyone, but I only had the regular fears of family and friends not accepting me, since this was clearly not the norm I was surrounded with.  I didn’t even think about religious judgement.

Around my 15th birthday, after many years of selling butter toffee peanuts for a free ride to YMCA summer camps, I was able to become a camp counselor.  (Realizing you are gay and spending summers in a cabin full of boys, is a story for a different day).  If you only thought the Y was a big gym and daycare center, it actually stands for Young Men’s Christian Association.  At summer camp, the Y served what I will call, “Christianity Light.”  Every morning we would have “chapel,” that usually consisted of a few ‘Kum-By-Ya type songs, and a parable story about something like kindness, appreciation, and the like. There was also a “Rag” program, that was a voluntary experience about being a better person, and a little closer to God.

I liked the idea of being a better person and really took to the Rag program.  Because of these summer camps, I decided to see what going to church was all about and went with a couple of friends from camp to one of the local Baptist churches.  There was a band, and singing, and Sunday School, usually refreshments, and occasionally a little basketball or volleyball, so it was not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  It took almost 7 months of attending before I really got the opinion of the Church on homosexuality.  I guess I was naive enough, that I didn’t understand til then, that the reason family and friends didn’t accept gay people was because of religion.  I honestly can’t remember what I thought during that time before realizing this.  It was clear to me, that I was not cut out for a weekly church experience.

Although attending church wasn’t a good idea, I still felt the pull to be a better person, and liked the idea that there was a God or something, that has good intentions for us all.  I became the all-encompassing “Spiritual,” in my mind after I stopped going to church.  Let them believe in their God of wrath and persecution, my God wanted more for us, and was much more nurturing, than menacing.  This belief served me well.  I would try to be the best person I could be, still failing at things big and small like we all do, but there was still a grand-design for me to come out on top.

My “Spirituality,” was tested constantly, when I would have to hear stories about Jimmy Falwell, Pat Robertson, Ted Haggard, and of course Fred Phelps, et. al., and all of their fear and hate-based, anti-gay words and actions.  Maybe there was just good and bad people in the world, no matter what their religion or non-religion.  And there is no, “higher-power” who could really give a damn.  Maybe these Agnostics or Atheists, have a point.  I have long thought that the Bible is just a book, but it was becoming more and more propaganda to me, than just a good read.

I can no longer think of being a “Good Christian,” as a good thing.  Between the political religious right and the pastors, they have converted me.  I am now Agnostic at best, Atheist at worse.  And now I don’t consider either of those things bad.  I can not and will not idly sit by, while people speaking in the name of this religion promotes separation and hate.  The Bible cherry picking and total opposite of ‘love thy neighbor as thyself,’ has become the highest form of hypocrisy.  How can you speak out of one side of your mouth that we are all sinners, and from the other side, say that we must denounce homosexuality more than any other sin.  If all of us are sinners, and all sins are equal, why aren’t there more protests at other “Biblical Abominations,” like at farms growing two separate crops side by side; a clothing manufacturer mixing two fabrics, or protesting the lying lips of almost everyone in Congress?

My point of this entire blog is that we have come so far, that the “Good Christians” of Indiana, in their ivory towers of their House and Senate, have decided to enact a law that frees businesses and entities from serving the public, to those who they feel are opposed to their religious beliefs.  Everyone knows that this is truly a thinly veiled law, aiming to allow people to discriminate against mostly gay people.  Mike Pence, the Governor of Indiana, is said to be, “looking forward to signing the bill.”  I cannot in good faith, call myself a Christian if I supported such a bill.  As a business owner, I have decided to open a shop to serve the public, not just some of the public, but all of it, otherwise, I should not become a business owner.  It’s a truly sad day when a religion converts you to stop believing in God.