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Saying Gay: Help A 17-Year Old Make This Film – Or He Won’t Be Able To



Editor’s note: This guest post is by Devon Hicks, a 17-year old activist living in Knoxville, Tennessee.

For the past six years, Republican Senator Stacey Campfield has been working on a bill that would ban any mention of homosexuality in Tennessee Schools in grades K-8. The “Don’t Say Gay” bill, pitched as a way to keep discussions age appropriate and give parents the power to educate their children on social issues, has a seemingly reasonable foundation. Yet the “side-effects” of the bill are the main concern of many. First and foremost, it establishes homosexuality as a taboo subject — and things that we can’t talk about are normally bad, right? (This is a belief held especially among younger children.) This means that students who may themselves be part of the LGBTQ community, or who perhaps have gay relatives will most likely feel like even more like outsiders. The “Don’t Say Gay” bill also would make it hard for teachers and counselors to address the topic of LGBTQ bullying. And sadly, it almost appears that it is Senator Campfield’s belief that if you don’t talk about gays, maybe they will cease to exist. The bill in its current form bans “any discussion that deviates from normal human reproduction science.” Titled SB49, the “Don’t Say Gay” bill passed the Tennessee Senate 19 to 11 on May 20, and will now go to the House for a vote in January 2012.

Many of the young people who would be effected by SB49 find themselves in very delicate situations. They are at a point in their lives where they are figuring out who they are, and quite often aren’t sure where to turn. They are worried that their parents might not accept them, that their friends may disown them, and maybe even that there may be something wrong with them. Hopefully they’re lucky enough to have friends and family that are supportive, but those that don’t often have to “go back in the closet” and/or face constant bullying and harassment at the hands of relatives and their peers. As we’ve seen in the news, this leads to depression, self harm, and in some cases those affected choose to take their own lives. These young people need a voice, they need support, and more than anything, they need to feel safe.

Over the past three months I’ve been blessed enough to become part of the Tennessee Equality Project Foundation (TEPF). I started a campaign titled “It’s OK To Say Gay*,” which is an effort to raise awareness and provide ways to fight bullying and intolerance in Tennessee schools. TEPF folded it into their organization.

We held a rally to give people a view of our objectives and to identify volunteers, but the rally also was an effort to provide the voice that I spoke of to some of the immediate area’s LGBTQ teens. For this reason,we provided three high school students (all of which identified as homosexual) with the opportunity to share their experiences, and the result was inspirational. Their stories were met with thunderous applause, tears, and a roomful of supportive energy. Those three students “struck a cord,” and moved people more than anything else at the rally.

In the aftermath of the rally, we had a notable amount of media attention, and I had the pleasure of joining George Takei on a new online CBS show called, “What’s Trending.” As I sat waiting for my Skype video line to be pushed live, I received a view into the world of a live production room, and it spiked my nerdy interest. Over the next few days, I kept thinking back to the rally, and to the news interviews and realized that, if people could just see the pain caused by legislation like SB49, the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, maybe people would be more sympathetic.

It had been my goal from the start to stream most of our events live online, but I realized that was not enough. People didn’t need a collection of YouTube videos or a bit of media coverage, they needed a dedicated view into the lives of the Tennessee gay community and the effect SB49 will have on it. They need to see that our LGBTQ students are bullied heavily (and that it’s a problem for straight students too.) The LGBTQ community needs a voice, and with only six months until the House votes on SB49, they need it fast. With all of this in mind, I realized that the answer was a documentary.

I spent several days running over the logistics. What would we call it? What exactly would it contain? What kind of gear would be needed? I didn’t doubt my creative or technical abilities, and I came to discover a large filmmaking community ready to assist me. I then realized that I needed to be able to completely dedicate myself to working on the film, and that was going to be an expense as well.

On May 29 I launched a Kickstarter campaign for “Saying Gay: A documentary about SB49.” The goal is straightforward: provide a view into how SB49, the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, will affect our students and their families and raise awareness about bullying in schools. We will bring students, parents, teachers, lawyers, lawmakers, and therapists in front of the camera in order for them to share their experiences and their analysis. “Saying Gay” will not just be a documentary, it will be a living, breathing thing. As I travel across Tennessee, I’ll film hundreds of people explaing why they think “it’s okay to say gay,” and feature them on our website alongside other extended content. Public screenings will double as discussion forums, and in the process I will be forming “Equality Reel,” a video production company that will focus on developing content for the LGBT community.

In order to fund approximately $13,000 worth in equipment, plus travel, and the ability to work full-time on the film, I set the goal of raising $25,000; and now I’m turning to the community for help.

Every day, students around the country find themselves being verbally and physically assaulted because they are different, and the last thing we need is legislation that makes that even more possible. I want to give a voice to all of those who right now are afraid, and I hope you can help with that. For the cost of a cup of coffee, you can help make a difference and end intolerance.



*Saying Gay is in no way affiliated with the It’s OK To Say Gay Campaign or Tennessee Equality Project Foundation.



Devon Hicks is a 17-year old activist living in Knoxville, TN. He currently sits as the interim committee chair of the Tennessee Equality Project’s “Safe Schools Committee” and started the It’s OK To Say Gay Campaign, which has received national attention. After graduating and moving out at age 16, Devon began putting his love for design and technology to use, starting a small web design business which has now turned into a education and consulting firm for non-profits, showing them how they can use technology in their campaigns and daily management. Saying Gay, a documentary about SB49, will be Devon’s first film.

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‘Start the Kevin McCarthy Death-Clock’ After Biden Wins Debt Ceiling Battle: Rick Wilson



Appearing late Saturday night on MSNBC after it was announced that President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) had reached an agreement “in principle’ on a budget deal, former GOP strategist Rick Wilson claimed this could be the beginning of the end for McCathy’s speakership.

Sitting in on a panel with guest host Michael Steele, Wilson suggested that McCarthy’s decision to compromise with the president to avoid a default that would spin the economy into chaos will not go over well with far-right members of his House caucus who could make a motion to “vacate the chair” to express their displeasure.

Asked by host Steel about what comes next, Wilson stated it was a win for the White House which will not make conservatives happy.

RELATED: ‘Crazy cuckoo MAGA people’ could sink debt ceiling deal: Dem strategist

“Great night for Joe Biden, great night for the White House even though I think their messaging has been kind of tentative the past few weeks” the Lincoln Project founder began. “I think though we are now going to start the Kevin McCarthy death-clock. He has certainly got a very angry part of his caucus tonight who probably burning up his phone no matter how good it is for the country not to default.”

“It’s not going to please the chaos caucus in the GOP,” he added.

Watch below or at the link:


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Debt Ceiling: McCarthy Faces ‘Lingering Anger’ and a Possible Revolt as Far-Right House Members Start Issuing Threats



As House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) continues to negotiate a deal to avoid a debt crisis, members of the far-right Freedom Caucus are growing furious with him over broken promises he made to them.

According to MSNBC political analyst Steve Benen, with a slim GOP majority in the House, McCarthy is walking a tightrope to get a budget deal passed and may need help from House Democrats if members of his caucus refuse to go along with him.

As Benen points out, in order to win the speakership McCarthy agreed to an easier path for a motion to “vacate the chair” which could end his tenure as Speaker. That could come into play if the Freedom Caucus stages a revolt.

“… as the negotiations approach an apparent finish line, the House Republicans’ most radical faction is learning that it isn’t likely to get everything its members demanded — and for the Freedom Caucus, that’s not going to work,” he wrote in his MSNBC column.

ALSO IN THE NEWS: Trump in danger of heightened espionage charges after bombshell report: legal expert

Citing a Washington Times report that stated, “[Freedom Caucus members] want everything from the debt limit bill passed by the House last month plus several new concessions from the White House,” Benen suggested far-right House Republicans are now issuing veiled threats.

In an interview, Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) stated, “I am going to have to go have some blunt conversations with my colleagues and the leadership team. I don’t like the direction they are headed.”

With Politico reporting, “The [House Freedom Caucus] was already unlikely to support a final bipartisan deal, but lingering anger with Kevin McCarthy could have lasting implications on his speakership,” Benen added, “If this is simply a matter of lingering ill-will from members who come to believe that GOP leaders ‘caved,’ the practical consequences might be limited. But let’s also not forget that McCarthy, while begging his own members for their support during his protracted fight for the speaker’s gavel, agreed to tweak the motion-to-vacate-the-chair rules, which at least in theory, would make it easier for angry House Republicans to try to oust McCarthy from his leadership position.”

Adding the caveat that he is not predicting an imminent McCarthy ouster he added, “But if the scope of the Freedom Caucus’ discontent reaches a fever pitch, a hypothetical deal clears thanks to significant Democratic support, don’t be surprised if we all start hearing the phrase ‘vacate the chair” a lot more frequently.”

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Prosecutors Tell Trump They Have a Recording of Him and a Witness: Report



Prosecutors in Donald Trump’s Manhattan criminal trial have notified the ex-president’s attorneys they have a recording of him and a witness. The notification comes in the form of an automatic discovery form, CBS News reports, which “describes the nature of the charges against a defendant and a broad overview of the evidence that prosecutors will present at Trump’s preliminary hearing or at trial.”

CBS reports prosecutors have handed the recording over to Trump’s legal team.

It’s not known who the witness is, nor are any details known publicly about what the conversation entails, or even if it is just audio or if it includes video.

READ MORE: ‘Likely to Be Indicted Soon’: Trump Might Face Seven Different Felonies, Government Watchdog Says

According to the article’s author, CBS News’ Graham Kates, via Twitter, prosecutors say they also have recordings between two witnesses, a recording between a witness and a third party, and various recordings saved on a witness’s cell phones.

Trump is facing 34 felony counts in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s case related to his allegedly unlawful attempt to hide hush money payoffs to a well-known porn star by falsifying business records to protect his 2016 presidential campaign.

See the discovery form above or at this link.

Image via Shutterstock


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