Connect with us

From Over The Pond: LGBT Reflections On A Recent Visit To America

Published

on

UK psychologist and professor Ian Rivers discusses his recent trip to America’s Heartland and how, as an anti-gay bullying researcher, he was received.

Editor’s note: This is Ian Rivers’ first column at The New Civil Rights Movement. We welcome him and are very grateful to have such an esteemed advocate for the LGBT community on board as a regular contributor.


This year I have visited America three times – once to Washington, D.C., once to Atlanta, Georgia, and, most recently, I visited Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska. In Washington, D.C., and Georgia, my sexual orientation was not a problem. No one noticed. Why would they? Occasionally the odd server noticed I was British, but that was about it. To all intents and purposes I was, on those occasions, a private citizen and not someone who is going to have a significant effect upon anyone else’s life or family.

However in Nebraska it was a different story; I was there in a different context. Now, before I begin to describe my experience let me be clear on one point, I was never subjected to homophobia of any description. I was met with warmth and respect, and for this I am truly grateful. The people I met in Nebraska were giving, supportive and willing to listen. Why were they listening to me? Well, I was an invited speaker at conference on bullying behavior and later I was an attendee at a think tank held at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

For those of you who have no idea who Ian Rivers is, I am a psychologist. I am also professor of human development at Brunel University London, and a visiting professor of education at Anglia Ruskin University. I was one of the very first people to study the phenomenon that we now call “homophobic bullying.” My research was neither profound nor ground-breaking, but it did unravel some of the dynamics of this phenomenon which is now seen in many of our schools.

In Omaha, I spoke about the lessons we have learned from two decades of research on homophobic bullying, and also on understanding bystanders’ experiences when they observe bullying taking place.

However, it was the first topic, homophobic bullying, that had clearly caused some consternation. I learned just before I was about to give my speech that at least one Roman Catholic organisation had felt it necessary to withdraw its support for the conference because the line-up of speeches included those that dealt with “sensitive issues.” This was an important lesson for me, and indeed for another colleague, also gay, who was presenting his research. Sensitive issues are those for which, seemingly, there is a desire to ignore or, at the very least, leave unacknowledged.

In the case of homophobic bullying, the organisation clearly felt that by supporting the conference, it would support my standpoint. And what was my standpoint? In a state with the motto “Equality before the Law,” my point was simple: all children and young people should be safe at school.

As a researcher on this issue, I had also taken solace from the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s pronouncement in 1986 that, “It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church’s pastors wherever it occurs.” This statement, which was contained within a letter to all bishops and authorised by the then pope, John Paul II, made it clear that while the Church considered homosexuality to be “instrinsically disordered” (a term that is, in itself, instrinically challenging), the persecution of those who are or are perceived to be gay, lesbian or bisexual, should be condemned “wherever it occurs.” Doctrine suggests that good and faithful followers should condemn such discrimination, but practice seems to infer that the message from 1986 has yet to filter down to many local congregations.

At the end of the day, I spoke, I was listened to, and even a local news channel thought I had something to say, and I was happy to oblige. My visit to Omaha and then to Lincoln was a remarkable experience. I met some wonderful researchers, but I also met some very interesting Nebraskans. Along with other keynote speakers, we spoke at a local Masonic lodge and while one of my more adventurous colleagues asked members of the lodge if they would accept gay initiates (the answer was a definitive “no,” by the way), there was never any disrespect shown to me personally.

Back in the U.K., I am surrounded by Nebraska memorabilia, a book bag with a huge white “N” in a sea of scarlet, t-shirts that I hope my personal trainer will one day sculpt me into, and finally the memory of my visit to Memorial Stadium and the great sense of pride Nebraskans have in football.

(image: Ian Rivers’ Nebraska baseball cap and coffee mug, and his books.)


 

Ian Rivers is Professor of Human Development at Brunel University, London. He is the author of ‘Homophobic Bullying: Research and Theoretical Perspectives’ (Oxford, 2011), and has researched issues of discrimination in LGBT communities, particularly among children and young people, for nearly two decades.

Continue Reading
Click to comment
 
 

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.

NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

News

Fox News Host Suggests Trump ‘Force’ Court to Throw Him in Jail – by Quoting Him

Published

on

The Fox News host who targeted a juror serving on Donald Trump’s criminal New York trial is now suggesting the ex-president should violate his gag order and “force” the court to throw him in jail, by quoting the Fox News host.

Jesse Watters came under fire earlier this week for profiling juror number two, sharing possibly identifying information published by a myriad of reporters but then using that information to pass judgment on her ability to serve.

“I’m not so sure about juror number two,” Watters concluded on Fox News.

Jurors, at the judge’s direction, were to remain anonymous, for their protection and the protection of the trial.

The judge excused her, after she said she felt she was not able to be impartial because friends and family were calling her asking if she had been chosen to serve on the Trump trial, after the media blitz.

New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan admonished the press for reporting the information, but some news outlets appeared to ignore his warning.

Watters on Wednesday “did a segment with a jury consultant, revealing details about people who had been seated on the jury and questioning whether some were ‘stealth liberals’ who would be out to convict Trump,” the Associated Press reported.

READ MORE: Gaetz: ‘Corrupt’ Republicans Could ‘Take a Bribe’ and Throw House to Dems, Blocking Trump Run

Trump later posted Watters’ quote on his Truth Social platform, leading some, including New York prosecutors, to ask the judge to cite him for allegedly breaking his gag order.

Judge Merchan ordered Trump to not mention witnesses, jurors, prosecutors, court staff, or the family members of prosecutors and court staff, CNN has reported.

New York prosecutors told Juge Merchan Trump has violated the gag order at least ten times.

“Prosecutor Christopher Conroy described the ‘most disturbing’ example as a social media message Trump posted on Wednesday evening quoting a Fox News host as saying, ‘They are catching undercover Liberal Activists lying to the Judge in order to get on the Trump Jury,'” Politico reports.

That host was Jesse Watters.

RELATED: ‘Afraid and Intimidated’: Trump Trial Juror Targeted by Fox News Dismissed

Friday afternoon, Watters appeared to egg Trump on, urging the ex-president to violate the gag order.

“I would make them put me in jail,” Watters said on Fox News. “I would have a tweet about something perhaps I said on ‘The Five’ or ‘Jesse Watters Primetime,’ and I would force them to throw me in jail.”

Watch Watters’ remark below or at this link.

 

Continue Reading

News

Gaetz: ‘Corrupt’ Republicans Could ‘Take a Bribe’ and Throw House to Dems, Blocking Trump Run

Published

on

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) says some of his fellow House Republicans would “take a bribe” to throw the razor-thin GOP majority to the Democrats if a far-right faction calls up a motion to oust Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, allowing Democrats to hand the gavel to the Minority Leader, Hakeem Jeffries. he warned if that happens, Democrats would immediately declare Trump ineligible to be President, pack the U.S. Supreme Court, and pass numerous laws like the American Rescue Plan.

“I do believe in a one seat majority there could be one or two or three of my colleagues who would take a bribe in one form or another in order to deprive the Republicans of a majority at all,” Gaetz said Friday on his podcast (video below.)

He added, “the risk that one or two of my corrupt Republican colleagues might take a bribe, take a walk, feign an ailment and flip this thing to the Democrats is a risk that is too high for me at this time.”

Gaetz’s fellow far-right Florida Republican member of Congress, Anna Paulina Luna, told listeners, “I heard that when, if and when the motion vacate is introduced, that there will be immediate resignations of a couple of more moderate members of Congress. And in the event that that happens, that ultimately means it does go to a Democrat speaker.”

RELATED: Jeffries Vows Democrats Will Ensure Ukraine Aid Passes as Johnson Defectors Grow

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) last month filed a “motion to vacate,” which she can use at any time to force a vote to oust the GOP Speaker, Mike Johnson. U.S. Rep. Tim Massie (R-KY) and just today, U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) has signed on as co-sponsors.

Congressman Gaetz told listeners if Democrats do take the House through a force vote to remove Johnson, Democrats would “be declaring Donald Trump an insurrectionist and setting up a barrier to him being able to become the president United States.”

“That’ll be their leadoff hitter, and then the chaser to that shot will be a massive spending package that looks a lot more like the American Rescue Plan. They will blow past every concept of every cap ever imagined. You’ll be looking at Universal Basic Income, you could be looking at packing the Supreme Court.”

Watch a short clip of Gaetz’s remarks below or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Stop Bringing Up Nazis and Hitler’: Marjorie Taylor Greene Smacked Down by Democrats

Continue Reading

News

Jeffries Vows Democrats Will Ensure Ukraine Aid Passes as Johnson Defectors Grow

Published

on

Democratic House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries vowed Friday the majority of Democrats will support Republicans’ Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and Gaza foreign aid legislation as Republican Speaker Mike Johnson lost support of another member of his conference to a faction determined to oust him.

“Democrats will provide a majority of our majority as it relates to funding Israel, humanitarian assistance, Ukraine, and our allies in the Indo Pacific,” Minority Leader Jeffries said. “It remains to be seen what Republicans will do in terms of meeting the national security needs of the American people, but it was important for House Democrats to ensure that the national security bills are going to be considered.”

Despite Republicans having a one-vote majority, more Democrats on Friday voted to move the critical and long-awaited foreign aid bills forward than did Republicans.

READ MORE: ‘Stop Bringing Up Nazis and Hitler’: Marjorie Taylor Greene Smacked Down by Democrats

The 316-94 vote included 165 Democrats and 151 Republicans voting yes, and 55 Republicans and 39 Democrats voting no.

Axios’ Juliegrace Brufke posted the list of Republicans voting against their party’s legislation.

Calling it a “rare” moment in modern congressional history to have to rely on opposition party votes to pass legislation, BBC News reports Speaker Johnson’s “hold on power is tenuous, and the legislators who oppose him – and his bid to provide aid to Ukraine – occupy some key positions within the House’s power structure.”

Amid the procedural vote to move the foreign aid funding bills forward, U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, a far-right Republican of Arizona, announced he is joining Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), and Congressman Tim Massie (R-KY) in formally announcing their will vote to oust Speaker Johnson.

Gosar, like Greene, is reportedly a Christian nationalist. In 2022 CNN reported his “lengthy ties to White nationalists, [a] pro-Nazi blogger and far-right fringe received little pushback for years.”

RELATED: ‘Repercussions’: Democrats and Republicans Stand Against ‘Pro-Putin’ House GOP Faction

“We’ve been very honest in our assessment of the situation from the beginning,” Jeffries on Friday also declared. “At the appropriate time as House Democrats, we will have a conversation about how to deal with any hypothetical motion to vacate.”

“Moscow Marjorie Taylor Greene, Massie, and Gosar are quite a group. But central to our conversation is to make sure that the national security legislation in totality is passed by the House of Representatives.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

 

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2020 AlterNet Media.