LGBT Issues for Breakfast

gay malaysian boys_On Wednesday, April 20, some readers of the Los Angeles Times may have choked on their oatmeal after perusing the pages of the nation’s fourth largest newspaper.

Front page headlines trumpeted: “Inmate sues state for sex change,” “Gay marriage foes decry judge’s use of video clip” and “Porn firms faulted for not aiding HIV probe.” Slightly quieter inside headlines announced, “Malaysia: Camp for boys who may be gay,” and “L.A. County agrees to settle (sexual harassment) suit for $900,000.”

I’m sure some thought, “What in the world is going on in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (lgbt) community? Can’t they just go back into the closet where they’ve been for thousands of years?”

But, it does make for interesting reading if not breakfast conversation!

For instance, take Malaysia, “Malaysia authorities have sent 66 Muslim schoolboys identified by teachers as effeminate to a four-day camp where they will receive counseling on masculine behavior to discourage them from  being gay.” Hmm… Christian conservatives, I think you missed an opportunity here. End teenage suicides caused by bullying in America’s school systems by rounding up effeminate male students and forcing the into “Butch Camp”? I can see it now, a whole new “Compassionate Conservative” campaign to save young lgbt youths from being bullied by isolating them at behavior modification camps! A better idea? Send the bullies to the behavior modification camps!

The $900,000. settlement is over a gay sexual harassment suit. It seems married Deputy Robert Lyznick was being harassed for “over a year” by his supervisor Sgt. Charles Dery. Lyznick testified that Dery’s inappropriate comments included, “Come into the bathroom for a rectal probe” and “I could get you so drunk that I could get you to perform oral sex on me.” Dery met Lyznick as he patrolled the various Metro link trains that passed through the Chatsworth station. According to Lyznick, Dery made sexual comments, touched him inappropriately and discussed lewd sexual acts while on duty.  He also encountered Dery in the station locker room, dressed only in his underwear and dancing provocatively. Dery reached over and touched Lyznick’s nipple. Dery also threatened Lyznick when he learned he might tell authorities. Said Dery, “If someone rolls over on me, I’ll put a bullet in his head.”  Hey, Sgt. Dery, not cool.

And Prop 8, the California initiative which removed the right for same-sex couples to marry, continues to  grab headlines. This time the sponsors of that successful initiative have gone to court to stop retired Federal Judge Vaughn Walker, the jurist who ruled that Prop 8 was unconstitutional, from using video tape from the trial in his lectures. Despite the legalese used by Andrew Pugno, lawyer for the Prop 8 campaign, their lawsuit, according to UC Irvine Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, is “aimed at embarrassing Judge Walker, because of anger at his decision.” The Prop 8 case is now on a legal journey through the California Supreme Court and the 9th Circuit Federal Appeals Court. Final stop: U.S. Supreme Court.

Next to the Prop 8 article was the HIV/Porn article. Due to pressure from Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Los Angeles County has finally investigated safe-sex practices within the Southern California porn industry. At least three male porn stars, who appeared in both straight and gay films, were found to be HIV positive. The companies would not provide information and porn stars, who used aliases, were also uncooperative. A report issued after the investigation urged that companies comply fully with current laws. (It is illegal to employ minors.)  And,  also, that condoms be used during the filming of any sex act.

carl matthesAnd finally, on page one, section one, we learn that there are “more than 300 inmates in the state prison system diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder.” One of them, Lyralisa Stevens, has been receiving female hormones for eight years (she has 42 more years left in prison) and Lyralisa wants to have a sex change operation. Expert witnesses have testified that surgery is necessary to remove “her” penis and testicles so that she can be moved to a women’s prison. In the men’s prison she is targeted for abuse and rape.

Aren’t we all tired of looking to the Bible for condemnation of the human condition? Aren’t we ready to be adults and accept, that with all aspects of life, there is diversity? Let’s have suitable legislation built on sound legal principles. Stop harassment and abuse. Accept gay men, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered folk as deserving of full human rights. We have nothing to lose except ignorance, hate and discrimination.

Carl Matthes

Published by the LA Progressive on April 21, 2011
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About Carl Matthes

Carl Matthes is a native of Los Angeles and has lived in Eagle Rock for 45 years. He is the current president of UGLA, Uptown Gay and Lesbian Alliance, a grassroots organization in Northeast Los Angeles which provides a support system for gay men and lesbians and education for individuals and the community-at-large on the true nature of homosexuality. He is a former columnist and a current advisor to the Lesbian News, the oldest lesbian publication in America, which is owned and published by his sister, Ella. He was editor of the GLAAD/LA (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) newsletter, a former GLAAD National Board member and served as a GLAAD/LA representative on the LGBT/LAPD Advisory Board. Carl has also been a Board member of AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

In July, 2008, Carl was legally married to Carl Johnson, his partner of 45 years, by Los Angels City Councilmember Jose Huizar. It was a unique gay/lesbian double ceremony as Carl's sister Ella and her partner Gladi were also married by Jose.