Facebook Says: No Christian Cross Emoji

On June 9, in honor of Pride Month and not long after the death of the man who created the original LGBTQ Rainbow Flag (Gilbert Baker), Facebook introduced a rainbow flag emoji, available alongside the usual icons that appear for responses to posts and messages. I used it many times, myself.

Before the month was out, a Facebook user began a movement to add another emoji to the list: a Christian cross.

Hate Will Out

My first response was, “How silly. As if Christians need new ways to express themselves.” Then I read a Huffpost article about it and saw how much hatred was behind this request, which became more of a demand. And my second response was outrage.

To be sure, it seemed as though some people wanted the cross for well-intentioned reasons, but this small voice was completely overwhelmed by statements like this one:

 “People took a symbol like the rainbow which means beauty and a non-destructive action and turned it into a destructive sinful symbol.

And then there was this one, ranted by someone who misunderstands nature and thinks they can limit what their own god is capable of doing:

“You can’t cheat nature. God cannot create people of the same sex to ever fall in love with one another. He can’t.”

There is a term for these people: CINO. It stands for Christians In Name Only.  

The New Testament (Matthew, 22:36-40) quotes Jesus as saying that the two most important commandments are “Love God with everything you are,” and “Love everyone as much as you love yourself.” He adds that all other laws—all other commandments—must bow to these.

CINOs Fail At Their Own Religion

CINOs fail the test implicit in these verses. The Christian test is to love everyone, no matter how uncomfortable someone else’s characteristics make that Christian. And the test of everyone else is to love that Christian, even when he fails his test. CINOS fail the test almost every time they speak.

The absurd demand for a cross emoji puts me in mind of a response to another effort: Black Lives Matter. Do you remember? Within weeks—maybe days—of the birth of that movement was this response: All Lives Matter. But this response was absurd, too; all you have to do is examine how black individuals have been (and are being) treated, and you can see the need to remind everyone that black people are just that: people. No reminder about “all lives” is necessary, because “all lives” have not been dismissed, discounted, denigrated, denied.

Dismissed. Discounted. Denigrated. Denied. Being treated like this applies just as well to LGBTQ individuals. They know exactly how this feels. They have been shamed for no reason other than misunderstanding for millennia. And the response to Pride is often, “Straight Lives Matter.” Well… straight people should just be glad they aren’t constantly told otherwise.

Pride Month Is Over. Pride Lives On.

Stonewall started a change, a revolt, a counter to shame. And the only way to counter shame is with pride. So June is Pride Month because it was June 28, 1969 when LGBTQ people began to fight back against the hatred. Gilbert Baker’s rainbow flag is a call to action, and it’s an expression of pride and solidarity. It’s a rallying beacon of hope for people whose lives are just as valid and matter every bit as much as the CINOs who condemn them.

The rainbow flag emoji fell off the list of Facebook icons at the end of June. I’m not aware yet of a response from Facebook to the request to restore it permanently. But given the attitudes and hatred from so many CINOs who want the cross added, I am very, very glad Facebook has not agreed to do so. 

Thank you, Facebook!

Thank you, Facebook!

Throwing Shade on the Women's Marches?

Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer, likes to teach dog owners that preventing their dogs from focusing on trouble (a letter carrier, another dog, a trash truck) is to give her a sudden, physical distraction as soon as that focus seems likely. This might be a gentle push on her backside, or it might be a sharp tug-and-release on her leash.

After reading the January 24 New York Times article by Jenna Wortham, I think what I got was a less-than-gentle push on my backside. For sure, the tone of this article distracted me from the enthusiasm I have felt since leaving the Boston Women’s March.

This is war.

For over a decade, I've written novels about gay teens. I'm a cisgender, straight advocate, and I write these stories because I hate injustice, I hate fear-driven paranoia, and I'm distressed at the vulnerability of LGBTQ teens.

When I began writing, I was certain that I would not see marriage equality in my lifetime. I knew very little of the hell that trans individuals go through. I knew nothing at all about what intersex means.

And since I began writing, I have celebrated win after win after win for LGBTQ people.

Then came Trump.

Electoral College Needs an Appendectomy

Every day since the November 8, 2016 election, we’ve seen the number of citizens who cast their presidential vote for Hillary Clinton rather than Donald Trump increase. That lead is now roughly TWO AND A HALF MILLION VOTES.

Dear Governor McCrory...

I know you're suffering. And I have some information that I hope will help you and your family out of your current troubles.

As an advocate for personal truth, and in particular an advocate for the rights of LGBTQ citizens, I have read with interest a number of articles about you. In them, you describe the difficulties you and your wife have had to face as a result of North Carolina's HB2, the law you signed that requires people to use public facilities according to the gender on their birth certificates and limits the civil rights of LGBTQ people in general.

Black and White

It’s the end of a week full of horrible events.

The shooting death of African American Alton Sterling by police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana… The shooting death of African American Philando Castile by police officers in Falcon Heights, Minnesota… The shooting deaths of five white police officers by a single African American in Dallas, Texas, apparently as retribution for the week’s two previous events and for so many other shootings of African American men by police….

Orlando: Phoenix Rising

From the ashes of destruction, so the legend goes, rises the Phoenix, renewed and reborn. The horrible, burning agony—physical and emotional—of the tragedy in Orlando will give rise to a glorious spirit. We can see it appearing already.

Since the Stonewall riots of 1969, the spirit within LGBTQ people has been glowing brighter and stronger every year. The last few years have been the most remarkable yet, because the spirit has been spreading to people who are becoming advocates.

The chemistry of hatred

It’s a simple chemical reaction: Apply fear to ignorance and you get hatred. We’re seeing far, far too much of it lately.

Here in Massachusetts, the state legislature has been debating whether to pass a bill granting citizens the right to enter public bathrooms according to their true gender. I recently heard one misguided legislator insist that if the bill passed, women and girls would no longer be protected against assault. I understand what this guy and many other people who’ve said similar things are afraid of. What I think we need to get at is why they’re afraid.

Robin Reardon: Reading Aloud

When I have a chance to do a reading or a book signing event, I love connecting with readers. And after the events, they often ask me whether I’ve made recordings of the excerpts I read to them.

Well, now I have. There’s a new page on my website dedicated to excerpts I’ve recorded from my books. So far there are recordings from four books. If this feature is popular, I’d love to do more. This page is accessible from the Items of Interest, which you’ll see if you scroll down on my home page.

So… give it a try? And do let me know what you think, good or bad. Thanks!

Mistaken Identity?

Hello, little girl. My name is… well, it doesn’t matter. What matters is how much trouble I'm planning to go to just to get to a place where I can attack you. Let me tell you all about it.

 

See, I grew up twisted. Blame it on abuse, blame it on a mother who was domineering, blame it on whatever you like. The thing is, I hate females. And something inside me tells me I’ll feel better if I beat you up, rape you, maybe even kill you. And I just came up with the best friggin' idea for how to get you alone so I can do horrible things to you. BATHROOMS!

Fear the Gay!

Although the discriminatory laws passed in recent days in North Carolina and Mississippi (with a close call in Georgia) claim to be about religious freedom, there is no question that the primary target is members of the LGBTQ community.

 

These three laws have subtle differences; NC's law seems to focus sharply on transgender individuals and bathroom usage; GA's law would have focused largely on marriage; and MI's law shoots squarely at the heads of all LGBT individuals. But they, and all recent "religious protection" laws passed in the last several months (such as Indiana, Arkansas, the list goes on), have the same goal: Protect good Christians from ... from what, exactly?

Make your vote count... FOR THE NEXT 30 YEARS

If you identify with or support U.S. citizens who don’t fall into the “straight, cisgender” category, you have an opportunity that is not likely to come again in your lifetime. And the rest of your lifetime is about how long the outcome of this opportunity will matter.

With the death of Antonin Scalia, one of the least LGBT-friendly voices on the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) for the past thirty years is silenced. The question is what the next voice will say.

Devilish details keep minority groups isolated

Different in a threatening way. Disturbingly different; alien. To perceive a person or people as alien to oneself. Each of these phrases defines “other.” I confess that I hadn’t known the word could be used as a verb, but it exemplifies perfectly the way far too many of us treat “others” of us whom we don’t understand.

As the author of books and stories about gay teens, I tend to notice situations in which LGBTQ individuals are othered. Examples are all around us, from the notorious Kim Davis to state-based Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs, introduced because “the advance of LGBT rights has encroached upon religious liberty”) to fanatics like the Westborough Baptist Church to most of the current candidates vying for the GOP nomination to the wanton murders of trans individuals (more last year than ever before).

Help an old cisgender, hetero lady out

I’d like to say that my work has helped society move forward toward acceptance, and many people tell me it has. But as this progress continues, I’m beginning to feel a little left behind. I’d just about wrapped my mind around the concept of transgender and was getting really good at using “she” and “her” for trans women, and “he” and him” for trans men, when I started to see articles about the movement—largely on college campuses at first—for a whole host of other pronouns being insisted upon by people who don’t identify with the binary categories.