Media Matters: SF Giants Are Champions Beyond The Field

Oct. 30, 2014 Update The Giants have won the World Series THREE out of the last FIVE years, and though I’ve seen a few “NoH8” tweets along with celebratory congratulations, it seems that today’s essay by Apple CEO Tim Cook has once again given me a shoulder shake as to why his declaration is important for civil rights and human rights activists everywhere.

Living in the Bay area “bubble” we all too often take for granted with an almost nonplussed yawn that people’s sexuality, privacy, and preferences are a ‘non-issue’ from a newsworthiness perspective…but his essay and others like this one from The Verge are poignant, personal bracers, reminding that this is simply “not so” for everyone, whether it’s race, gender, or sexual orientation.

There’s been a lot of talk about “privilege” lately in the media, so it seems apropos to take this World Series timing to once again “go to bat” for a much larger civil rights conversation.

THANK YOU GIANTS for your NoH8 stance in the sports world and for all of us in the “Straight Against Hate” movements, you were the first sports team ever to step up to the plate against homophobia. Tim Cook and countless others salute you!

May 18, 2011 Unbeknownst to me, yesterday was International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, or IDAHO for short.

Mind you, I live in the SF Bay Area and did not find one mention of “Idaho” in the San Francisco Chronicle  (I’ll leave that media literacy thought in your head as to why) and furthermore, most of the  youth I queried about the meaning of “Idaho” shrugged with “I dunno” responses.

What I DID find on the front page of the Chronicle for May 17, in a related capacity was this article by staff writer Rachel Gordon, S.F. Giants: “Team Going to Bat Against Homophobia” yet still no mention of an ‘official day’ to combat homophobia. Interesting.

I’d heard about the “Idaho” designation of May 17 on Twitter, when someone quoted the powerful USA stance of this anti-homophobia statement released by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (screenshot after the jump) which I found quite impressive.

Those of us in the Straight Against Hate movement surely would’ve known about such a designated day, right? Asked around. Nope. Nada.

My own curiosity about the selection of the date made me probe media reports explaining why it’s designated such because that’s the same day in 1990 that the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. Wow. 1990? That means over two decades have passed and awareness is still nil? Clearly “Idaho” needs better PR pros. Enter the S.F. Giants…They may be just the power hitters to do it.

The S.F. Giants have become the first professional sports team EVER to step up to the plate and publicly pitch against homophobia.

They’ve agreed to create one of the popular “It Gets Better” videos giving hope and a much needed outstretched hand to young people identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender as clear, loud voices against intolerance.

S.F. Giants? Homerun. Sports rhetoric and incivility has reached epic levels of bullying on the pro circuit AND in school athletics…even WITHOUT factoring in anti-gay, homophobic slurs prevalent in media news as of late. This is a bold and beautiful move… Consider:

The World Champion S.F. Giants are using their celebrity to champion change in the worldview arena far beyond sports as role models for human rights and decency.

Professional sports is one of the last bastions of homophobia run rampant and the actions of the S.F. Giants have far reaching implications for modeling diversity and teaching tolerance just because “it’s the right thing to do,” they can literally role model it…walk the walk versus lip-service.

Bravo Giants! Loud applause. Cue the organ music and the JumboTron…

Teaming up to fight oppression is worthy enough to be in our ‘positive picks in media and marketing’ series undoubtedly, but I want to highlight the massive power of media for lobbing some global outreach into the mix in terms of mindshifting toxic fear and aggression, by giving ‘props and fistbumps’ as the youth crowd might say  to the US State Department too.

With the barbaric anti-LGBT law under consideration in Uganda, (take action here) it’s imperative that the term “United Nations” is taken literally with interlocked hands banded together in protecting the rights of oppression in all its various forms with steadfast conviction.

In breaking the cycle of violence and contempt against LGBT citizens, Clinton expressed,

“We are committed to our friends and allies in every region of the world who are fighting for equality and justice. These are not Western concepts; these are universal human rights.”

Further, her anti-homophobia soundbite sums it all nicely, not just for May 17/IDAHO, but for everyday evolution of human beings,

“…We must work together to improve education and support those who stand up against laws that criminalize love and promote hate.”

Now, this is where I need to point out the usual  disclaimer that Shaping Youth is a non-partisan, non-religious-based, nonprofit.

Our only “agenda” is analysis of media and marketing’s impact on the mental and physical health and well-being of children.

I say this in preparation for the usual slew of trolling I receive when I take a strong, emphatic position with zero wiggle room.

So “hear ye, hear ye”…I’ll emphatically state the obvious:

This org is comprised of anti-homophobic, anti-bullying, pro-human beings as staunch childrens’ rights advocates.  In short, the main thing I won’t tolerate is intolerance.

Just as the S.F. Giants have gone to bat against homophobia knowing some of their fans might complain, the boldness required to “change the channel of influence” needs to take hold with firm footing when stepping up to the plate. Have you? Has your organization?

It’s up to business leaders and the larger public to accept, create, and inspire cultures of dignity and diversity with seamless, universal expectations at the onset if we truly want change. With that in mind…

Today’s guest post is by new business startup entrepreneur Kalimah Priforce of the new career spotting startup for youth called Qeyno.

In Kalimah’s post “Qeyno is so gay! LGBT Youth Need Heroes (like Don Lemmon) he uses his site “Hackademia” as a social media advocacy tool to exemplify that type of anti-homophobia educational outreach placing his startup front and center in the media conversation.

Kalimah states, “I am happy to announce that Qeyno is being designed with the journey of LGBT youth in mind. From Don Lemmon to Ellen DeGeneres and others, LGBT youth need heroes that remind them that the greatest hero in their life lies within them.  That is the nature of Qykno, Careerspotting 4 Kids, and that is the work that I have commissioned my life to.”

Admirably, he takes a gloves off, no mamby-pamby approach to human rights and boldly leaps into the venture capital business arena to cut through the muck and gives us a glimpse of who he is in that one strong statement of integrity.

It’s like rolling up his sleeves and saying, “Yeah, my new Qeyno Careerspotting 4 Kids venture will prominently feature LGBT professionals who are public about their identity and can demonstrate that to youth, whether it be law, medicine, engineering, culinary, or any profession…AND…”

…Then eye-locking with those volatile VC sharpshooters and their uber-competitive pitch deck posses to emote, “And if you have a problem with that? I’m not your guy. I won’t take your money and I don’t need your business.” (yes, that’s MY brazen projection and perception of the VC sharktank not his, but I sure like the scrappiness of a vision of fairness and equity set forth from the get go!)

We need more of this attitude instead of the squishy, jellyfish compromises put forth by ‘please everyone’ startups that water down their vision to morph into fitting the agenda of the player with the biggest pot of finance dough. So without further ado…here’s Kalimah’s post exemplifying what ‘could be’ if companies stepped up early on to embrace diversity as a given, and actually PROMOTE it as a profitable, smart, inclusive way of doing business in the 21st century.

“Qeyno is so gay!” LGBT Youth Need Heroes (like Don Lemmon)

By Kalimah Priforce

LGBT youth deserve their heroes – queer and straight.  Today, Don Lemmon just became one of them.

Multiple Emmy award winner Don Lemmon is CNN’s Weekend Anchor, and like many Americans, we welcome him into our lives as a well-regarded journalist that loves the work he does.

In his new memoir, “Transparent” (scheduled to be released in June), he talks about the sexual abuse that haunted his childhood and the self-isolation he fought to become one of America’s most familiar faces for quality news reporting.

Don-lemon-cnn

When you are young and thoughts about your sexuality surface, the world can be very cruel.

Easily you become flooded with images and stories from adults that shape how you feel about your innermost feelings.

It can take a lifetime to accept being gay and it could take another lifetime to decide how it’s expressed and communicated.  Being gay can be like shoving two lifetimes into one human experience.

A boy named Joseph taught me that. While we were both staying at the Miami Bridge group in Miami, Florida, he was beaten while he was asleep, and just before he was transferred out for his own safety, he told me he would never share his sexuality with anyone again.

That was 15 years ago and I don’t know if he held fast to his personal conviction to keep his sexuality “in the closet”, or felt self-assured enough to choose a life of freedom and full expression.

When I think of the Josephs of the word, LGBT youth trapped by the truth of their own existence, I think about what the glimmers of hope they find when they can learn about an LGBT person that is successful at the work they do, the lives they lead, and proud to be openly queer.

Rocking against hostile waves of social bigotry,  it isn’t easy being a lighthouse guiding lost ships to safe shores…especially if those waters happen to be in places like Uganda.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill (Kill The Gays) criminalizes any same-sex activity with the death penalty and severe prison incarceration – which is the equivalent of a death sentence as inmates would have little protection from homophobic prisoners.  Recently , a local Ugandan newspaper printed the names of closeted gays forcing them to relocate as they live in constant fear of attacks.

In a country dehumanized by the vicious rule of Idi Amin Dada (as wonderfully portrayed by Forest Whitaker in The Last King of Scotland), learning to value the sanctity of all human life is still a lesson being learned by modern Ugandan people.

Today, the author and lead advocate of Uganda’s “Kill The Gays” bill, David Bahati, will become their Minister of Ethics.

Even back home in the United States, thousands rallied in The Bronx in opposition to same-sex marriage.  Organized by State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr., they shouted “Cristo vive!” while demonstrating their condemnation of the LGBT community.

His wife joins him for this May 15, 2011 anti-gay rally:

For LGBT youth, even popular phrases like “That’s so gay” can warp their feelings surrounding identity and expression.  In today’s Huffington Post article about the long-term effects of bullied LGBT youth are much more vulnerable to “young adult depression, suicidal thoughts, social adjustment issues, and risky sexual behavior“.

All young people encounter varying degrees of social challenges that come with growing pains, but youth from historically marginalized populations like women, minorities, and the LGBT community have very few social cues that life will get better for them if they don’t see it from those who have faced similar adversity.

When I set out to build a Careerspotting 4 Kids platform, it was on the premise that kids need pervasive exposure and interaction with career possibilities.  Kids in general need exposure to living breathing examples of positive role models that they can closely identify with.  It’s based on what we currently know about how overcoming adversity shapes our life paths.

The teenage girl that survives juvenile bulimia will more than likely pursue a health-related profession. The boy that argues for lunch counter wheel-chair access on behalf of his little brother stands a good chance on becoming a civil rights attorney.

I believe that young people have a compass that guides them towards their dream, but they get confused my the maps the adult world gives them.  Eventually, and with a little encouragement from someone that believes in them – friend, family or stranger, they make their own path…but it doesn’t have to be as difficult as it is with knowledge about career pathways scattered across the web and inaccessible to them.

Most young people follow the profession of their parents or guardians.  What happens when you’re gay and your parent is a religious figure who condemns homosexuality?  Vulnerable youth will more than likely lose a stable home environment by “coming out” to close loved ones.

For vulnerable populations like LGBT youth, they not only struggle against identify formation in a world that ostracizes and ridicules them, but they also likely to be derailed along their path but other LGBT youth who have given up by succumbing to society’s ill-conceived perceptions of them.  They are much more likely to engage in destructive behaviors that harm themselves.  That is why any web engagement tool that targets LGBT youth must not only point them to valuable resouces but have a social component that allows them to connect with other resilient youth.

That is why Qeyno will prominently feature LGBT professionals who are public about their identity and can demonstrate that whether it be law, medicine, engineering, culinary, or any profession – being LGBT doesn’t mean that their own self-expectation should be limited by their painful experiences.  To be LGBT is something to be celebrated and they are destined to lead industries and to changing the world.

We have to do more than tell or even showing them that it gets better.  We need to give them the tools for them to chart a course in their lives that will overcome life’s adversities and prepare them to be much more optimistic and ready to win the future.

That is why I am happy to announce that Qeyno is being designed with the journey of LGBT youth in mind.  From Don Lemmon to Ellen DeGeneres and others, LGBT youth need heroes that remind them that the greatest hero in their life lies within them.  That is the nature of Qeyno, Careerspotting 4 Kids, and that is the work that I have commissioned my life to.

Qeyno is SO gay – and proud of it! –by Kalimah Priforce

 

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