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Being an Ally in the Wake of Orlando



Being a good ally is challenging. Here are some thoughts on how to do it better.

For me, the word “ally” is sacred. 

An ally, to me, is someone I can trust and turn to when I need help. It’s someone who’s not like me, but who “gets” me. Someone who does their best to understand, learn, and act.

There’s been a lot of talk this week about who is an ally and how to be an ally, especially on social media. But the thing is, there’s good action and there’s bad action, and this week, some folks have had a really hard time figuring out the difference between the two. 

Here are some tips I’ve got based on the social media interactions I’ve had recently: 

  • Don’t go to gay bars just to “show solidarity.” 

I know that in the wake of Orlando people all across the country are looking for ways to be supportive. For many, that seems to mean invading our sacred spaces. I can’t believe I have to say it, but, don’t do this. You’ve seen article after article describing how gay bars are our places of refuge, our sanctuaries, and some of the only places many of us felt like we were “home.” Please, let us have them to ourselves. If you’re invited to go to a gay bar with a queer friend, go and enjoy, but remember, this place isn’t for you, and you’re a guest. Be respectful. 

  • Don’t be self-congratulatory just for doing the right thing.

Being an ally is awesome, it really is, so let your work speak for itself. if you’re doing it truly selflessly and because you believe in the cause, you’ll get noticed, I promise. We still live in a world where being an ally isn’t the default. We notice when straight people are stepping up for us. There’s no need write an article or op/ed to tell the world just how fantastic you are becuase you’re treating a marginalized group with respect. Think of “ally” like a college nickname. You can’t declare it for yourself. You have to earn it through action. 

  • Listen to your LGBTQ family and friends. Seriously, listen.

The number of people who’ve told me this week that I’m wrong about how to be an ally to my own community is astounding. LGBTQ people aren’t shy about telling you what we need. Seriously, we’re not afraid to let everyone know what we want. Listen to us, and then act on that. If you’re not ready to put aside your own desires, you’re probably not ready to be an ally.

  • Ask good questions and respect our answers.

If you want to be there for LGBTQ people but you’re not sure what the best way for you to do that is, ask. Say: “I want to be there for you the best way I can, but I’m not sure what you need right now. What would you like from me?” From there, do what’s needed. It’s not glamorous to be the person who brings over a pint of ice cream and a bag of chips to a friend in need, but at that moment, it might be exactly the right thing to do. Every situation is different, but being a person we can count on and trust is universal.

  • Look inward, both personally and communally.

In my book, an ally looks inward – both at themselves and at their own communities. They are reflective and pensive and make changes internally. An ally’s job is to speak to the people who are like them. If you’re an active member of your church and you want to be an ally to LGBTQ people, start by looking at what systems of oppression your church is complicit in and work to take those down. Listen to the language your pastors and congregants use – is it inclusive or exclusive? Challenge the people who are like yourself before going out into the broader community.  

And if you’ve got a past full of anti-LGBTQ work and action? Before you can even think of becoming an ally you’ll have to overcome all of the damage you’ve done. Apologizing is just the first step. You’ll also need to actively work to reverse the policies and climate you’ve helped create.

  • Don’t confuse being a decent person with being an ally. 

Many people have said to me, “I can disagree with someone’s lifestyle and still respect them and not want to see them suffer from violence.” Yes, you can. And I would hope you wouldn’t want to see anyone suffer from violence, but that doesn’t make you an ally. That just makes you a decent person. A decent person values tolerance. An ally values affirmation and celebration. 

 (Also, you’re gross for continuing to use the word “lifestyle” when it’s not 1998.)

A decent person says, “I’m going to be nice to you even when the system says I shouldn’t,” while an ally says, “I’m going to help you change the system.”

  • When you’re called out, accept the criticism and change your behavior. 

If someone says to you, “I know that you’re trying to help, but what you’re doing actually hurts me,” don’t argue. If you’re not sure why, ask and listen to what they say. Too many times this week people have argued back when their so-called allyship was challenged. If you want to be an ally to a certain community, you must accept that community’s criticisms and take them seriously.

  •  Don’t threaten to revoke your allyship if you get called out.

More than a few times this week someone has said to me, “Good luck getting more allies with that attitude!” or “You better be nice to me – you NEED us!” In short? No. No we don’t. If your allyship is contingent on one person being nice you to you, you’re not really an ally. If your feelings are more important than the safety of the group you’re trying to help? Not even a little bit of an ally. 

Look, I get it. Being an ally is hard, it is. It’s hard to speak up for someone else when you have everything you need. It’s hard to put yourself into harm’s way when you could just as easily roll over and go back to sleep, safe and sound.  But that’s what allies do – they put themselves into challenging situations so that LGBTQ people don’t have to. They make themselves uncomfortable in order to make others comfortable. You’re probably not going to get kicked out of your house or fired for speaking up. We very well might be. 

Being an ally can be a thankless job – no one does it for the fame. But the great thing is? When it’s done right? We all get to enjoy the better world we’ve created, together.


Robbie Medwed is an Atlanta-based LGBTQ activist and educator. His column appears here weekly. Follow him on Twitter: @rjmedwed.

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Double Bombshell: Mark Meadows and Trump’s Secret Service Agents Have Testified, NYT Reports



The New York Times late Tuesday afternoon published two separate reports revealing previously unknown details from Special Counsel Jack Smith’s double-pronged investigation into Donald Trump’s likely unlawful actions, including that investigators have interviewed or subpoenaed approximately two dozen people who are among those who know the ex-president best: Mark Meadows, Trump’s final White House Chief of Staff, and “more than 20” of the ex-president’s Secret Service agents.

The Times, pointing to the “surprise revelation” that a federal grand jury has been convened in Florida, reports Meadows has testified before the grand jury, presumably in Washington, D.C. The 20 or more members of the ex-president’s Secret Service detail have either testified before the D.C. grand jury or been subpoenaed to do so.

Meadows is a “key witness” who allegedly was intimately aware or involved in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, and he is believed to also have knowledge of the ex-president’s likely unlawful handling of classified and top secret documents.

Suggesting there could be “unknown complexities” with the revelation of a Florida grand jury, The Times reports Special Counsel Jack Smith’s D.C. grand jury appears to have stopped hearing testimony recently from witnesses, while the one in the Sunshine State “began hearing evidence last month,” but has seen “only a handful of witnesses.”

READ MORE: Jim Jordan Demands Merrick Garland Hand Over Documents Authorizing Special Counsel’s Trump Investigation

Based on “people familiar with the matter,” The Times explains, “if both grand juries are in operation, it suggests that prosecutors are considering bringing charges in both Washington and Florida. It is possible that Mr. Trump could be charged in one jurisdiction while other people involved in the case are charged in the other.”

“But if only the Florida grand jury is currently hearing testimony, it suggests two possibilities,” The Times explains. “One is that the investigation in Washington is largely complete and that prosecutors are now poised to make a decision about bringing charges there while still weighing other potential indictments in Florida.”

Other possibilities are that the Special Counsel believes Florida is the proper venue to file charges against Trump, in the documents probe, or even that the Florida grand jury was convened to accommodate “local witnesses.”

But former Deputy Asst. Attorney General Harry Litman told MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace Tuesday that if the Special Counsel files charges in the wrong venue, the entire case “can go away” and cannot be retried.

READ MORE: Buttigieg: Republicans Are Targeting LGBTQ People Because They ‘Don’t Want to Talk About’ Their Own ‘Radical Positions’

“I think Smith has made all his decisions,” Litman added. “The fact that there was this meeting yesterday, only happens when everything’s final. I think there’s a draft indictment and everything, but a very important strategic decision is venue, and I think that they’re pursuing something separate in the Southern District of Florida.”

Meanwhile, The Times notes that “Mr. Meadows has kept largely out of sight, and some of Mr. Trump’s advisers believe he could be a significant witness in the inquiries.” Apparently, even Trump has “at times asked aides questions about how Mr. Meadows is doing, according to a person familiar with the remarks.”

Meadows’ attorney, George Terwilliger, played coy when asked about his client’s possible grand jury testimony. Terwilliger told The Times, “Without commenting on whether or not Mr. Meadows has testified before the grand jury or in any other proceeding, Mr. Meadows has maintained a commitment to tell the truth where he has a legal obligation to do so.”

In addition to his knowledge, if not participation in efforts to overturn the election, and his knowledge of Trump’s mishandling and possible attempts to obstruct the Dept. of Justice’s investigation into the classified documents, Meadows “tangentially” is involved in a meeting that Special Counsel Smith now has recorded audio of. Although he was not present, that meeting was about Meadows’ book. In the audio, Trump allegedly made clear he knew the highly-classified Pentagon document had not been declassified, shattering his stated defense, and he allegedly said he wanted to share it, which could lead to more legal troubles for him.

Andrew Weissmann, a former top DOJ official, tweeted in response to the Times’ story on Meadows, “Did he plead or was he given immunity?”

Professor of law at NYU Law, Ryan Goodman, a former Special Counsel for the Dept. of Defense, served up this equation:

“Put these 2 things together and what do you have? 1) Meadows ‘has testified before a federal grand jury…in the investigations being led by the special counsel’s office’! 2) Meadow’s actions seem to be kept secret from Trump team! Answer: A cooperator?”


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Buttigieg: Republicans Are Targeting LGBTQ People Because They ‘Don’t Want to Talk About’ Their Own ‘Radical Positions’



U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg blasted Republicans attacking the LGBTQ community on Tuesday, saying the reason right-wing lawmakers have decided to target them is they don’t want to talk about their “radical positions,” including opposing President Joe Biden’s massive infrastructure law and other accomplishments, like $35 insulin.

Appearing on MSNBC, Secretary Buttigieg was asked to weigh in on the Human Rights Campaign’s declaration earlier in the day, of a national emergency in the U.S. for LGBTQ people.

“We have officially declared a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people in the United States for the first time following an unprecedented and dangerous spike in anti-LGBTQ+ legislative assaults sweeping state houses this year,” the organizations says on its website. “More than 75 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been signed into law this year alone, more than doubling last year’s number, which was previously the worst year on record.”

HRC also published a detailed chart by state on various issues, including bans on gender-affirming care, sports participation, drag, or support for forced student outing.

And while HRC points to the more than 75 bills that have been signed into law this year, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) says it’s currently tracking 491 anti-LGBTQ bills across the country.

READ MORE: Bill Barr Slams Trump: DOJ Not ‘Conducting a Witch Hunt’ – ‘He Jerked Them Around’ – ‘No Excuse for What He Did’

“Our country is at a very real risk of backsliding on freedom and equality but that is exactly why we continue to push. There has been extraordinary work that’s been done just in this presidency,” Buttigieg said, responding to HRC’s national emergency declaration. He specifically pointed to “the President being able to sign the Respect for Marriage Act.”

“And if you zoom out to the progress that’s been made in the last 10 or 15 years, including the ability of somebody like me to be standing here doing this job, it’s extraordinary, and yet, now you see the attacks on the LGBTQ community, especially on the trans community and what they’re going through,” Buttigieg, who is the first out gay U.S. Cabinet Secretary, told MSNBC’s Chris Jansing.

“And I think it’s being done out of the perception that it is politically convenient to target vulnerable groups. And honestly, I think where it largely comes from is folks who don’t want to talk about why they were against the infrastructure loans, building roads and bridges. They don’t want to talk about why they were against $35 insulin that the President delivered for Medicare recipients. They don’t want to explain why they were for these radical positions that speak to what those people are worried about their everyday lives.”

RELATED: ‘Can’t Take a Joke’: Mike Pence Doubles Down on His Homophobic Attack Against Pete Buttigieg (Video)

“So they’re focused on targeting some of the people who already do not have a very easy time going about everyday life,” he said.

“Think about how hard it is to be a teenager to begin with. But think about how hard it is to be a teenager when you realize that you are different when you’re coming to terms with your gender identity or you’re coming to terms with realizing that you’re gay or lesbian.”

“The last thing you need in your life are politicians trying to score political points by making things worse for you. We’re gonna stand together, whether it’s pride or just on any given day and say no, we’re going to expand, not withdraw, the freedoms and equalities we won in this country, and we’re going to build on them.”

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Bill Barr Slams Trump: DOJ Not ‘Conducting a Witch Hunt’ – ‘He Jerked Them Around’ – ‘No Excuse for What He Did’



Bill Barr, once Donald Trump‘s favorite attorney general and the one who was seen as his “faithful protector and personal henchman” for his “willingness to enable Trump’s darkest impulses,” came out swinging against his former boss Tuesday, refuting his “witch hunt” claims, and saying the ex-president “jerked” DOJ around over hundreds of classified and top secret documents he refused to return.

“I think if based on the facts, as the facts come out, I think over time, people will say that this is not a case of the Department of Justice, you know, conducting a ‘witch hunt,'” Barr told CBS News Tuesday, ahead of what many believe is an impending indictment on what experts say could include charges of obstruction of justice and charges under the Espionage Act.

“In fact,” Barr continued, praising his former agency, “they approached this very delicately, with deference to the President, and this would have gotten nowhere had the President just returned the documents.”

Instead, Barr said, Trump “jerked them around for a year and a half. And the question is, did he deceive them? And if there’s evidence of that, I think people will start to see that this says more about Trump than it does the Department of Justice.”

The ex-president who is once again running to retake the Oval Office, Barr says, is “so egotistical that he has this penchant for conducting risky, reckless acts to show that he can sort of get away with it.”

READ MORE: Will Santos Choose Jail? Judge Rules Names of Persons Who Provided His Half-Million Dollar Bond Must Be Made Public

“It’s part of asserting his his, his ego, and he’s done this repeatedly at the expense of all the people who depend on him to conduct the public’s business in an honorable way. And, you know, we saw that with both impeachments, and there’s no excuse for what he did here.”

Referring to what many believe is an impending indictment over the classified documents he removed from the White House and refused to return, Barr added, “I’ve said for a while that I think this is the most dangerous legal risk facing the former president. And if I had to bet I would bet that it’s near.”

He said DOJ would not try to indict “if there’s not enough evidence, but from what I’ve seen, there’s substantial evidence there.”

But true to form, Barr also defended his former boss.

Whether what Trump’s done is “a crime or not remains to be seen,” he said, while refusing to weigh in on whether or not he thinks Trump “deceived” DOJ.

Later in the interview, Barr went full-force on supporting Trump’s claims that the Russia investigation was a hoax.

“I went into the administration halfway through, and I did it at a time where I felt he was being treated unfairly on the Russia gate thing. I thought that was, you know, turned out to be I think a big lie,” Barr said.

“And I felt that he was the duly elected president and he deserved a chance to conduct his administration. And I went in because I thought I could help stabilize things and also have the administration conducted in an appropriate way. And as I felt the idea that the election was stolen was a big lie.”

READ MORE: ‘Isn’t There a Beach in Mexico Waiting for You?’: Cruz Mocked for Claiming Garland Will Indict Trump Over SCOTUS Seat Loss

And despite it all, despite everything that has come out about Trump’s actions and alleged actions, despite the looming indictment – on top of a current indictment – Barr says if Trump is the Republican party’s nominee for president he will still support him.

“I don’t see myself not supporting the Republican candidate,” Barr said.

Taking a swing at President Joe Biden, Barr said neither the current nor the former president are “fit for the office.”

“But if I’m confronted with that choice, I have to go with policy, who’s closest to me on policy,” regardless of who might be convicted of breaking the law, including on our national secrets.

Watch a clip from the interview below or at this link.


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