Kevin Hart and the Oscars Conundrum

If you’ve spent any amount of time on social media in the past month, you’ve probably heard about the Kevin-Hart-Oscars-Situation. Essentially, after it was announced that Kevin Hart would be hosting the 2019 Oscars, some journalists noticed he deleted homophobic tweets he made back in 2009-2010. Tweets were not the only documentation of Hart’s homophobic past, he also included homophobic “jokes” about not wanting his son to be gay in one of his stand-up sets.

When all of this began to blow up in his face, the Oscars asked Hart to apologize, and if he didn’t they were going to replace him as host. Kevin Hart then refused to apologize, stating he already had and would not do it again, and then stepped down from hosting the Oscars. Before I unpack this whole mess, let me just say that I believe people can change. I want to see people change, and I think even those with the hardest of hearts can be different if they chose to be. I also think we should forgive people, if and when they make a sincere apology and show changed behavior. I do not believe this is the case with Kevin Hart.

Many journalists have looked for this elusive apology Hart claims to have made, but it has yet to be found. The fact that he was not willing to simply apologize and move on in the first place is very telling to me. The incredibly dismissive and defensive nature of Kevin Harts interviews since the backlash shows me, that not only is his half-assed apology, that only came after stepping down from the Oscars and continuing to receive backlash afterwards, is insincere but Hart also does not see the serious repercussions that the LGBTQIA+ community faces when people like him promote homophobia.

Ellen DeGenerous had Kevin Hart on her show for him to tell his story. On the show he did technically apologize, but not without excuses and continuing to bring up that he had already apologized. She then forgave him and said she believed he should still host the Oscars. Ellen does not speak for the whole community, she doesn’t even speak on behalf of all white lesbians, because I definitely disagree with her. On her show, he said he just wanted it all to go away and to stop being talked about. That only continues to show his lack of remorse. He also painted himself as victim, with a sob story to follow, feeling very much like he thinks the blow back from the LGBTQA+ community took the Oscars from him. When you are the perpetrator you don’t get to decide when the conversation is over.

CNN reporter Don Lemon did an amazing segment on this situation that I think everyone should watch, if you haven’t already. In a follow up, Lemon talks about how Kevin Hart has behaved in other “apology” interviews he has done. To be honest it blows my mind that Hart can’t give a genuine apology. Every single apology is followed with, “…but I didn’t say these things to ACTUAL gay people,” “… but the times were different,” “… but I already apologized,” “… anyone who refuses to accept my apology is a hater and that’s their problem.” He also said that “It’s not his life dream to be an LGBTQA+ ally” in response to Don Lemon suggesting he uses his platform to help end homophobia in the black community. Guess what Kevin? It’s not my life dream to constantly be bombarded with homophobia but here we are.

So, what’s the answer to this situation? I don’t need Kevin Hart to apologize again nor to I need him to be a champion for LGBTQA+ rights. We clearly aren’t going to get a better apology, and I can accept that. I hope we can see his apology through changed behavior instead. I also hope this sets a precedent to show that homophobia is not okay, and our community will hold you accountable for it. Honestly, at the end of the day this could have been a simple situation. One genuine apology would have changed everything. Homophobia comes in all different shades, every homophobic person is not holding a “I hate fags” sign, sometimes it comes out in jokes and comments. While this whole situation may seem silly to some, the reality of living as a minority teaches you even the most palatable bigotry and hate is deadly.

 

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Why I Won’t Agree to Disagree

“You can be friends with people who have different views than you. If you don’t, you’re part of the problem. Just agree to disagree.”

This is a popular sentiment I see on social media, typically coming from republican/ conservative individuals. Partially they’re right, it’s important to have a diverse group of friends who have different life experiences from you. You should have friends of different ethnicities, religions, genders, sexualities, abilities and upbringings in order to learn more about the world and how those who are different from you experience it.  Except that isn’t what people actually mean when they talk about having friends with different views from you. They are talking about political affiliations specifically, and how liberal and conservative people should be able to be friends despite the others belief system.

I try my best not to completely write someone off due to their political beliefs, however I do not want to surround myself with people who think it’s okay to believe in bigoted things. I will not agree to disagree when someone else’s life, rights, or quality of life is at stake. I will not agree to disagree when you want to strip someone of their rights due to their minority status. That is not the kind of person I want in my life. Living in a fairly conservative suburb in Texas, I’ve lived with these kinds of people my entire life. That means many of my friends over the years have held some disgusting and inexcusable beliefs. After being in many friendships with those who have polar opposite beliefs from my own, I have learned that there becomes a huge divide between the two of you and the relationships often lack honesty. It’s hard to go to that friend for advice or to talk through a problem when their solution is not something you believe is morally right, or you feel judgement from them because of your own views on the situation.

The people who you allow to get close to you effect the way you think and behave. If you surround yourself with people who are homophobic, transphobic, racist, sexist, ableist, etc. after time you begin to become numb to their ignorance, and may even pick up on some of their tendencies.

I do think it is important to listen with an open mind to others beliefs, but that does not mean you have to surround yourself with people whose opinions you condemn. I am not the first person to say this, but agreeing to disagree works when you’re disagreeing about whether or not a certain film is good or if mayonnaise is disgusting (it totally is by the way 🙂 ) Issues like disability rights, reproductive rights, queer rights, immigration, and many others are not something to shrug off as if it isn’t a big deal. So yes, you can and should be friends with people who have different views than you, but that does not include people who have toxic views rooted in ignorance and hatred.

 

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Homophobic Bakery

The Supreme Court ruling in the Masterpiece Bakery vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case is deeply upsetting to me both as a gay person and as a Christian. Seeing our government side with homophobia and hate is disgusting, and a huge step backwards. It makes we wonder what else might happen to the LGBTQIA+ community under the Trump administration. This is not the first attack on queer rights during his Presidency – trans rights have been attacked multiple times before, and clear messages from his administration, like refusing to acknowledge Pride Month speak volumes.

The bakery won the case off of the claim that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission was hostile towards religion. I’m so tired of seeing people constantly try to use their religion as a justification of their bigotry, the fact that they won this case is mind-boggling. Christians are very rarely the victims, no matter how big their victim complex is. As a Christian, one of the most saddening things about this case is that it continues to perpetuate the lies that God hates gay people, and that God would condone ostracizing someone for any reason. This are not the messages the Bible teaches, no matter how many hateful white people tell you otherwise.

In the United States, you have the right to believe and say what you want to. However, you do not have the right to discriminate against other people. We also are supposed to have a separation of Church and State. You cannot impose your religious beliefs onto other people or make laws based on religious ideologies. Religion is never an excuse for bigotry and discrimination, and there is not place for religion in our government. The actions of people like the owners of the Masterpiece bakery are the reason so many LGBTQIA+ people feel unwelcome in Churches.

The LGBTQIA+ community is resilient and has continuously fought back against discrimination and inequality, this isn’t a new fight. We should be able to live in a world where you don’t have to question whether or not someone will deny you service based on your sexuality or gender, but unfortunately we aren’t there yet.

Unrest Documentary: Millions Missing

Unrest is a documentary, made by Jennifer Brea, who is a woman that has Myalgic Encephalomyelitis or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. In her documentary she shares what her experience with M.E. is like, as well as others experiences within the community. Unrest is a though provoking and heartbreaking film. Jennifer Brea shows the good, the bad, and the ugly, but more important she gives the viewer an honest and raw look at what it is like to live with a severe chronic illness.

 

This was definitely not an easy film to watch for many reasons, one being how it drew on my own experiences, and another being how well is shows the injustice disabled people face. Brea started an event called, “Millions Missing,” to raise awareness for myalgic encephalomyelitis. Tomorrow, May 12th, is the third annual Millions Missing protest, that aims to reach “increased government funding for research, clinical trials, medical education and public awareness.” You can become involved in the protest by going to a location near you and protesting or by letting them know you will be protesting virtually.

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I am impressed with how accessible they have made this protest. Activism in general can be incredibly inaccessible, and seeing steps like these made in order to let anyone who wants to participate be a part of the event is truly amazing. Of course this is on their minds due to the whole event being about disability, but I hope to see others follow in their footsteps when it comes to making protests accessible. Jennifer Brea is a great example of what we need the leaders of disability activism to look like. She is disabled, unapologetic, and keeps others needs in mind when planning events. She also is dedicated to sharing more voices than her own, which is so so important. The disability experience is vast, and differs from person to person even when they have the same illnesses.

Millions Missing is the perfect name for this protest. It really shakes me up to think about all of the wonderful people who are “missing” from a regular life due to illness. I personally have dealt with this, being “missing” due to being mainly homebound. It’s incredibly isolating and lonely but events like this really help. Our stories are worth sharing and people should be aware of our lives. Thank you Jennifer Brea for contributing much an amazing movement!

 

 

 

March for Our Lives 2018

*Reposted because it accidentally got removed*

On March 24th, I had the privilege in participating in the March for Our Lives. I was originally planning to march here in Texas, where I live, but since I ended up being at the Mayo Clinic on the 24th, I Marched in Rochester, MN.

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“Our Youth are Our hope”

The high schoolers who put on the March did an incredible job! They gave fiery passionate speeches, and were able to organize around 2,000 people to march with them. For a town the size of Rochester, it was pretty amazing. This was my first ever march, and I’m glad I started with one on the relatively small side. Luckily, the March itself was very short, so it wasn’t too much walking.

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” I thought you were pro-life”

I hope we see real political change come from these marches. Even though I have no connection to Emma Gonzales, I feel so proud of her (as weird as that may sound). She is so unapologetically herself, and has stood strong even with all of the hate from republican politicians, while grieving her friends and processing an incredibly traumatic event.

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“ENOUGH”

My one criticism of the conversation to come out of the march, is the lack of conversation around police brutality and gun violence. You cannot ignore police brutality when talking about gun violence, as they are a major perpetrator of gun violence. Black peoples voices have not been highlighted, when they have been advocating for gun control for so long without any one listening. I get them centering the voices of kids affected by school gun violence, particularly mass shootings, as this was the main reason for the march, but gun violence goes so much deeper than that. It would have been nearly impossible to include all of these conversations in one march, and I think it was smart of them to focus the march particularly on mass school shootings, but I do think there should be more discussion about different types of gun violence.

I really enjoyed being able to March… but my body did not. The actual march was only like 0.3 miles, but my body went crazy afterward. I was so incredibly fatigued and exhausted that I could barely move for six hours, and it took me two days to get significant relief. Sometimes with chronic illness you have to chose when it’s worth it to “overdo it.” I knew I wouldn’t do well after this, but it was so important to me. I may have felt like hell afterwards, but the experience of being there and standing up for what I believe in made it completely worth it.

 

What It’s Like Currently Being a Student in America

I’ve grown up in a post-Columbine world. The talk of school shootings is not something new to me, I’ve been taught how to prepare for one my whole life. I’ve spent hours siting in dark classrooms, huddled in the corner with my classmates praying it’s only a drill. As of February, there have been a total of 18 school shootings in 2018. The latest, taking place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a gunman killed 17 people.

As a current student, this terrifies me. Many days I wake up wondering if I could be next. I’ve made action plans for every classroom I go to, in case I find myself in an active shooter situation. When I see students walking with their hands in a hoodie, I wonder if they’re concealing a gun. When I hear screaming in the hallway, I immediately think “where should I hide?” The worst part about all of this is that it is a preventable issue, yet our government just won’t do anything to prevent it.

I don’t want to be the next victim of a school shooting. I don’t want to see my classmates be victims of a school shooting. I don’t want to see anymore children die in school a shooting. We’re required by law to go to school from the time we turn five until we graduate from high school, and yet we are not safe there. I may now be in college, and have made the decision to be in school, but I still deserve to be safe. No students will be safe until we have gun control, and no students will be safe until our government stops taking money from the NRA.

It is not too soon, now is the time to talk about this. April 20th, 1999 was the time to talk about gun control, December 14th, 2012 was the time to talk about gun control, February 14th, 2018 was the time to talk about gun control, and yet we didn’t. We’ve become so numb as a nation that we get over mass tragedy is a few weeks. We don’t even remember the details of all the recent shootings, because there have been so many. The victims of these horrific acts of violence deserve to be remembered. They deserve justice, and that can only come when we, as a nation, make sure this never happens again. People my age and younger, like Emma Gonzalez, are having to step up and lead a movement. Children, and people who are barely adults, should not have to constantly tell grown-ups that our lives are worth more than your right to own an automatic weapon.

 

Contemplating Societies Response to Murder Victims

David Sherrard, a Texas police officer, was killed last week after responding to a disturbance call, where he was shot. Later that week his funeral was held, and I just so happened to be driving on the highway that his funeral brigade was being led down. At first I didn’t realize what was going on. There were tons of people sitting on the grass next to the highway, and at least 75 cars pulled over on the shoulder. Finally, when I saw all of the first responder vehicles and tow trucks holding massive American flags, I understood what was happening.

It was tragic and beautiful at the same time. So many people came out to pay their respects to him. I may not be a fan of the way our justice system is run, and I 100% condemn the actions of the racist police officers who continue to target and kill people of color. However, in this situation an innocent man was murdered when trying to respond to a disturbance call and protect the neighborhood. He left behind a wife, two daughters, and countless other friends and family members. The response to his murder brought tears to my eyes and sent chills rushing down my body.

I in no way mean to down-play the severity of this situation or the massive loss his friends and family members are going through, but it made me think about how we respond to other murder victims. When police officers are the victims, hundreds of people gather and make donations. We hear news stories for weeks, and hold huge candle-lit services. However, when the victim is an unarmed black man, who was murdered by the police during a traffic stop, the majority of our society is silent. The victims community steps up, and black people continuously call out the injustice, but the world does not respond in nearly the same way. Where are the hundreds of people waiting to pay their respects to them? Why do we value some lives more than others?

I’m not saying that the response to Sherrard’s death is wrong or unwarranted, I just believe we should have a conversation about why we don’t respond to other victims the same way. We should be even more outraged when the victim is a civilian, let alone a civilian killed by police. It is a tragedy when anyone is murdered, and we should respond in the same way. First responders lives are not more valuable than civilians lives. Every human life has value, and the loss of anyone, especially when they’ve been murdered, should evoke a strong feeling in all of us to pay them respect, and make sure we can do everything in our power so it doesn’t happen again. I want to see hundreds of people gathered to pay their respects to victims of police brutality. Yes, some cases do make it in the news, especially in the last few years, but so many others go unknown. These people deserve the same response and respect that police officers get, and above all they deserve to be treated like their life had the same value.