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Our first-ever LGBT-inspired flash mob – Sept. 16 in LA

By Ana Beatriz Cholo

We’re trying something new next Friday and we’re pretty excited. If you live in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, we hope you’ll join us for a – da-dum – politically oriented, LGBT-inspired flash mob!

In a “casting call” email we sent out to Courage Campaign members, we said, ”if you believe in equal rights and think we should accept one another for who we are, this is the event for you! We’re looking for dancers, singers, actors, drama queens, drag queens, theatre majors, and just plain regular folk who are motivated and comfortable being in front of cameras.”

The response has been amazing. Who knew we had such talented members?

As for the flash mob, we can’t divulge the exact location or details – yet. If you’ve watched these choreographed performances on You Tube or in person, you know the surprise factor is part of the fun. Suffice to say that we’ll be peacefully and creatively dancing and singing for equal rights.

Here’s a piece in Beyond Chron that describes how flash mobs are the direct action of the future. An excerpt:

“In Taking on the System, Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas argues that political activists must adapt to the technology of their era. Gandhi used newsreels shown in movie theaters, Sixties protesters used the mass street protest — which was effective at the time, because everyone only watched 3 channels and getting Walter Cronkite on your side could move the country. Today, with our decentralized media and more people online, YouTube flash-mobs are the direct action of the future.”

So, are you motivated now to get your flash mob on? If so, sign up here. We’ll send you more information, including the instructional dance video. We’ve got a rehearsal in Sherman Oaks and another in Long Beach tomorrow.

Leotards are optional.

Hope to see you soon!


57 Comments September 9, 2011

The votes are in: the new “Stop SB48” video gets a resounding “thumbs down”

By Ana Beatriz Cholo

When I watched the new Stop SB48 video ad yesterday, I noticed it had five likes, seven dislikes and about 100 views. I became the eighth person to give it a “thumbs down.” I posted it on Courage’s Facebook page and tweeted about it.

For obvious reasons, it touched a nerve.  After all, this is an offensive video that’s chock full of lies. Some people, disturbed after watching it, made the comment that perhaps we should ignore it and not publicize it.

Wrong answer.

We need to do all we can to expose the likes of Pastor Jack Hibbs of Calvary Chapel in Chino Hills. He and his ilk are not shying away from what they are doing. Hibbs’ role is clear:  he’s the shepherd tending to his sheeple. His job is to scare his flock into believing that the world might just end if schoolchildren get an inkling that – shudder – Walt Whitman was, in fact, gay, or that for the first time in history, gay individuals fought back against discriminatory, government-sponsored raids in 1969. This, of course, sparked the gay rights movement globally during the Stonewall Riots.

In turn, our job is to educate our friends and neighbors on how the FAIR Education Act is not about indoctrinating kids to a gay “lifestyle” or teaching kids to “become” gay. And isn’t it so bizarre that the bigots are, in ways subtle and not, always obsessing about sex?

Anyway, what the new law does is free up teachers to teach history in an accurate and comprehensive manner. For example, under the new law, they would now be able to include a lesson on Harvey Milk in the civil rights unit without getting any backlash like they have in the past.

Ignoring the haters won’t make them magically go away. We need to expose them for who and what they are. Let’s not let them get away with this stuff.

Oh, and while you’re here, can you go ahead and give this hateful little video a thumbs down? Thanks!

Here’s the email we sent out to our members this morning:



It’s like Prop 8 all over again. The Stop SB48 campaign — the folks trying to erase LGBT people from California’s history books — are up with their first online ad, which you can see on the right. Just as we expected, it’s filled with the same misleading lies that our opponents used to pass Prop 8. We can’t let this stand.

We need your help to respond ASAP. Can you chip in NOW to help us fight back?

It’s an understatement to say that the ad about SB 48 — the FAIR Education Act — is offensive. Pastor Jack Hibbs of Calvary Chapel in Chino Hills (where I grew up) does a spectacular job of twisting the law’s true intent — to be respectful and inclusive of LGBT contributions throughout history. Here are just a few choice quotes from the ad:

“The indoctrination of our children regarding gay and lesbian, transgender lifestyles and practices as it relates to state history, as it relates to US history, and as it relates to our own economy…This new teaching, frankly, comes against the very ministry of Jesus Christ, the word of God, and you and I.”

“If we don’t stop it, this will be the indoctrination of our children, on our watch…There’s no opting out for your student, they must take this course, there’s no getting away from it.”

You and I know better. Folks like Equality California and the Gay-Straight Alliance Network worked hard to pass the FAIR Education Act to make the curriculum more inclusive — inclusive of movements like the push to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Stonewall Riots. Inclusive of gay and lesbian figures like Billie Jean King, Walt Whitman, Bayard Rustin and Harvey Milk. But if we don’t get that word out, their lies will seem like truth.

America is made stronger by telling the story of all Americans: black, Latino, gay, straight, Jewish, Christian, Muslim. We are all part of the powerful fabric that builds our nation. Pretending that some of us don’t exist is not the American way.

Click here to watch their video, and chip in to respond today… before their lies start to stick.

Thanks for all you’re doing,

— Arisha Hatch, National Field Director, Courage Campaign



87 Comments August 19, 2011

Long Beach Unity Rally – LGBT People as 1st Class Citizens

Hey Prop8TrialTrackers — please welcome Ana, Courage Campaign’s Communications Manager, to P8TT for her first post. Ana has been working to amplify efforts in the media to repeal DOMA and support SB48, among many other projects. She comes to us from the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, The Associated Press and Long Beach Press-Telegram.

Ana spoke at yesterday’s rally and penned this piece afterwards. For video of the rally, Towleroad has footage. -Adam

By Ana Beatriz Cholo

Last night, gay and straight allies attended a Unity Rally at a popular Long Beach park to denounce three recent attacks on five gay men.

The crimes, surprisingly, occurred in the Broadway Corridor of the city, a gay-friendly area where it’s typically safe for two men or women to walk down the street, holding hands or arms linked together.

Martin Sanchez and his friends were leaving a gay bar when a man who asked if they were gay approached them. When Sanchez answered in the affirmative, he ended up paying for his answer. Sanchez had a front tooth knocked out and five others cracked. He is in need of expensive dental work and the community has rallied to his cause with a fundraiser planned for tomorrow night.

A number of elected officials spoke eloquently about how hate has no place here, or anywhere, in fact. The rally was organized by the Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Greater Long Beach and Dr. Robert Garcia, an openly gay Councilman in Long Beach.

Newly-elected Congresswoman Janice Hahn said hate crimes are a form of domestic terrorism and that an injury to one is an injury to all. Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal said that all of us have a responsibility to call out that kid who’s a bully and nip it in the bud.

I agree. I’ve dealt with bullying as a child, and most recently, as a mother. When my daughter, now 18, was in middle school, she was bullied mercilessly. I’ll never forget her bravery for choosing to dress as she pleased and standing up to those who constantly taunted her, but I was also right there as her biggest advocate. A short time later, she came out as pansexual and yes, that made me proud.

Now, with a 3-year-old with autism, I wonder if more bullying is in store for me.

As for Long Beach, a city of about 500,000, we have the second-largest gay population in the state. The LGBT presence and foothold is strong here, and to the city’s credit, the police department and its Human Dignity Commission take an aggressive stance when it comes to hate crimes. As we’ve seen, however, that’s still not enough to keep all the hate out.

In early June, a lesbian couple with two teenagers became victims of a hate crime in Long Beach, but this incident did not make the news. It happened in the neighborhood of Bixby Knolls, an oasis among some of the grittier areas of North Long Beach. Many LGBT families live here and feel safe.

This couple woke up to the word “FAGS!!’ spray-painted on the sidewalk in front of their home in big letters. The couple called police and it was cleaned up quickly. I won’t pretend to speak for them but I have no doubt the scar from that hateful incident remains.

I didn’t expect to speak at the rally last night, but I ended up doing so. I started off by saying that the violence and hate against the LGBT community must stop – whether it’s happening in the classroom, right outside a gay bar or it’s just been written into the law.

I mentioned how we at the Courage Campaign are working diligently to bring marriage equality to all 50 states. That brought a lot of applause and cheers. Then I motioned to a lesbian couple wearing T-shirts that said “2ND CLASS CITIZEN.”

“They are not second-class citizens,” I said. Someone in the crowd quickly yelled out, “first-class citizens!”

Yes, the two women are first-class citizens who have been relegated to second-class status, through no fault of their own. Rather, it’s due to a powerful, conservative bloc in our country intent on diminishing and denying equal rights to others.

We need to be vigilant about the physical, obvious attacks and the more subtle ones, like the three Republican presidential nominees who signed an anti-gay marriage pledge from the National Organization for Marriage yesterday. If elected as president, they promise to take away our rights and establish a presidential commission to investigate harassment of traditional marriage supporters.

Really? What about our kids who are dying at their own hands because they are suffering harassment from their classmates, teachers and churches? Do they not matter? What message are these candidates sending out to their followers? That it’s OK to disparage and mistreat the LGBT community because the Bible allegedly tells them so?

They may think they can get away with it because they’ve been getting away with it for so long. The mainstream media, unfortunately, often gives them a pass because in trying to create a balanced story they need the other side. You know, the Christian, moral, superior, straight viewpoint. I know this for a fact. I was a mainstream reporter.

Well, I think we should call their bluff and fight harder. As first-class citizens, we deserve better.

12 Comments August 5, 2011