All posts by Brandon Ross

Brandon grew up in a small town as part of a semi-conservative family. He was quick to enjoy spending most of his time alone from an early age; writing, pondering, and existing. Upon moving to Seattle five years ago, he discovered that his ideas and personality type were more common than he was led to believe. He has been in (mostly) inactive pursuit of an English degree for the past eight years, instead spending his time working, playing music, and evolving into quite a snarky dissident. He enjoys exchanging opinions and thoughts that are well formed and respects any person who questions the status quo.

Trump Supporters: This guy is walking away with love

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I’ve spent the day alone reflecting and emoting and trying to work through my bitterness about this historically stupid election. While I think it is important to be humble and gracious in defeat, this one is a little different. We could say that the “people have spoken” and in a sense, they have. Donald Trump won the electoral college. He lost the popular vote by a narrow margin. So… it is arguable exactly how the people have spoken. Regardless, the fact remains that half of America voted for a man who is unbelievably discriminatory and the ramifications of his victory will likely have significant effects for decades.

I won’t speculate on his economic, environmental, and foreign policies (The proof will be in the proverbial pudding on those, and we will now see, once again, what effect unintelligent policy will have in those areas)… Instead, I will focus on why this loss has devastated me personally, and what I intend to do with it…

My entire life I have watched and listened as my rights as a gay American citizen have been flippantly bandied about, as though my rights, my opportunities, my protections under the law are somehow secondary in importance to others. I have smiled uncomfortably during casual conversations wherein members of my own family laughed and gloated about the fact that they started a bar fight by randomly calling fellow patrons “faggots.” I have been gracious and laughed ala courtesy as off-color, unfunny jokes were made that are reductive and perpetuate harmful stereotypes. I have tried tirelessly to be likable and agreeable, often being overly kind, so as to win love and approval, and aspects of that I will never change.

You see, while it may be surprising to some, there is nothing inherently different about me. I like to think I am strong, but if you cause harm it will hurt. I like to think I am confident in my abilities, but my self-doubt and insecurity is oftentimes crippling. I go through life searching for happiness and fulfillment with my own unique set of strengths, weaknesses, and adversities, and I do the best I can with it. Just like everyone does. And I’ve had some pretty awesome victories, some pretty devastating defeats, and I’ve done the only thing I know to do throughout it all: The best I possibly can. Does this sound familiar? It should. It should sound familiar to every single person who will ever read this, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, political affiliation, etc. This is part of the elusive human condition that we are all trying to understand.

One thing, however, that will always separate me from others is when I see them engage in bigotry, violence, and destruction. Supporting a candidate who has made endless statements that are undeniably hateful, homophobic, transphobic, racist, sexist, xenophobic, cacomorphobic, is exactly that – bigoted, violent, and destructive. And I will no longer surround myself with those who find any of these things justifiable. Instead, I will be out in the world, offering as much love and support as I can, trying to make a good life for myself, and paying more taxes than Donald Trump.

I want to offer my sincerest condolences to all of those who were directly impacted by this mistake of an election, specifically my LGBTQIA family. Just remember, we are strong and we will get through this and make things right with love, not with fear. When they go low, we go high.

Four words Destroyed Trump’s electability; Others Destroyed His Integrity

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While it is too early to forecast how polls will be affected, it is universally accepted that Clinton was victorious in Monday night’s debate. And despite Donald Trump’s countless gaffes, what I find most fascinating is that the man is standing behind his words and his performance.

“I thought it went really well,” he told Fox News Tuesday morning. “I mean, I had some hostile questions, but that was ok. I thought it went really well.”

He did, however, suggest that in the following debates he may “hit her harder” and suggested that he may raise the subject of her husband’s previous infidelities.

“When she hit me at the end with the women, I was going to hit her with her husband’s women, and I decided I shouldn’t do it.. I didn’t feel comfortable doing it with Chelsea in the room, I think Chelsea is a fine young lady.”

CNN’s sole Trump supporter, Scottie Nell Hughes, had an interesting perspective on this, and the following exchange is… Well, just watch.

So, basically, in response to Clinton’s very accurate statements about demeaning and demoralizing words Trump uses repeatedly against women, he was then going to further demean and demoralize Clinton for her husband’s infidelities? When it is also a fact that Trump himself has committed adultery multiple times? No, instead he does what a class act would do: Refrains from this attack when Clinton could easily turn the tables and instead brags to the press about not going there the following day. Ugh.

Backlash and media circus aside, I think it is truly the content of the debate that was most shocking.. In particular, a very simple four-word interruption from Trump when pressed about his obvious tax evasion:

“That makes me smart.”

Yes. I, too, choked on my scotch and soda. And said to my friends: “He just lost the election.” Take a look at the context Hillary offered that provoked such a response:

“You’ve got to ask yourself, why won’t he release his tax returns? And I think there may be a couple of reasons. First, maybe he’s not as rich as he says he is. Second, maybe he’s not as charitable as he claims to be. Third, we don’t know all of his business dealings, but we have been told through investigative reporting that he owes about $650 million to Wall Street and foreign banks. Or maybe he doesn’t want the American people, all of you watching to night, to know that he’s paid nothing in federal taxes, because the only years that anybody’s ever seen were a couple of years when he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license, and they showed he didn’t pay any federal income tax.”

She is absolutely right. The IRS has come forward and stated that Trump is in no way forbidden from offering his tax returns despite being under audit. Given this, he deflects and suggests that he will release his tax returns when “she releases her emails.” He also states his lawyers have advised him against it. Ok. Why? Why should you be the only candidate in over 40 years that hasn’t released his tax returns? Is it maybe because they are consistent with the tax returns we do have of yours, which prove you paid zero in taxes?

And you think that makes you smart!?

Your integrity has been completely lost on so many things throughout the years, not the least of which was your statement the following day attacking Hillary for her husband’s transgressions. But paying zero in federal taxes and claiming that makes you “smart?” That should deem you unelectable.

Clinton summarized it best at a rally in Raleigh, NC on Tuesday. “Now, if not paying taxes makes Donald Trump smart, what does that make the rest of us?” she offered.

Exactly.

Hillary Clinton Shimmy

Bruce Springsteen is Not a “bully.” In fact, he is a hero

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It has been well reported that singer/songwriter Bruce Springsteen cancelled his Greensboro, NC show, scheduled Sunday, April 10th, due to the transphobic legislation recently signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory. Known as the “bathroom bill,” the measure blocks any further protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Supporters have argued that this will improve the “safety” of women and children in public bathrooms and showers, despite this not being an issue in the 18 states and over 100 cities where LGBT protections do exist.

Since his cancellation, republican congressman Mark Walker has called Springsteen a “bully” and has vocalized support for other acts soon to come to the area, including Def Leppard and Justin Bieber. “I’ve never been a Bieber fan, but I might have to go,” he stated. “Maybe artists who weren’t ‘born to run’ deserve a little bit more support.”

Walker went on to state that Springsteen is “known to be radical left” and called the cancellation a “bully tactic.”

This is where I believe Walker has gone too far. We continue to see examples of conservative politics bullying and marginalizing the LGBT community, only to then turn it around and claim that those of us who support equality are “discriminating” against their religious freedom. It is a claim that is fundamentally false, and it has become so blatantly obvious that it is almost appalling that people actually believe this.

This measure is a sordid, calculated move (by state legislators comprised of 103 republicans and 11 democrats) to deny rights to LGBT citizens. It is absurd to label Springsteen a “bully,” when he is simply using his celebrity to lend support to the very people you continue to bully.

Springsteen isn’t alone in his “bully tactic.” Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia recently struck down a religious freedom law under increasing pressure from the business community who threatened to pull jobs from Georgia. “I do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia,” he stated. He went on to state that he was not responding to the amounting pressure from businesses, but instead stating his decision was “about the character of our state and the character of our people. Georgia is a welcoming state. It is full of loving, kind, and generous people.”

It is a sad reality that certain elected officials are so hellbent on denying liberties to the LGBT community that it comes to this. That celebrities have to cancel shows in protest, and businesses have to threaten to relocate jobs, in order to end this type of discrimination.

We are tired of the absurd claim that your religious freedom is under persecution. It would almost be more respectable to just state “we hate queers” instead of playing the victim card. There is no threat to your religious liberty – you simply have a responsibility to serve the people in your community, including the LGBT members you so love to marginalize.

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I, on behalf of GWOG, would like to declare today, Sunday, April 10th, as Bruce Springsteen day. We have the utmost respect for any celebrity who would lend their influence to such a worthy cause. Bruce has been a vocal supporter of gay rights since the mid-90’s, and even featured a man struggling with AIDS in his video for the song “Streets of Philadelphia.”

I Was Wrong. Bernie Sanders Deserves Your Gay Vote

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At the risk of being branded a “Bernie Bro,” and being banished to internet troll damnation for all eternity, I feel we must take a second to acknowledge that Senator Bernie Sanders deserves the gay vote. Yes, I know. Having made that statement, I must now be a reckless leftist who would rather see a reptile like Trump or Cruz in the White House than cast my vote for Hillary Clinton, right? Wrong.

In a previous piece, I championed both candidates, and applauded their rhetoric as a far cry from the hateful, bigoted, violent tone we’ve seen throughout Republican rallies and debates. The truth is, we would ALL be remiss to not cast our vote for the democratic nominee in the upcoming election, whether it ends up being Sanders or Clinton. But since we are still in the primaries, and political discussion is far more worthy of internet time than food porn or Throwback Thursdays (which I love, don’t get me wrong), I see no harm in examining the political differences between our two democratic candidates.

Take a look at this clip of Sanders defending LGBT citizens in the military, dated back to 1995.

Years before LGBT issues would hit the mainstream, we see Sanders passionately defending gay soldiers who have served in the US military. Keep in mind, this was only one year after Bill Clinton signed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” into law, a move that only allowed gays in the military if they were closeted. The policy prohibited people who “demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts” because their presence “would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.” Senator Sanders voted against this policy.

Some argue that Sanders isn’t a true ally, as he supported civil unions in 2006. Interesting to note, however, is that he opposed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Perhaps his support of civil unions was simply in alignment with his “before-it-was-cool” stance of passionate support for the LGBT community? Perhaps he simply wanted to extend whatever opportunity was available to us at the time?

On the other hand, we have seen some serious missteps from Hillary Clinton in regard to the LGBT community. It is often said that her reversal on gay marriage came too late, and was done only for political gain. Also, who could forget last month when she spoke incorrectly about the Regan’s involvement with the HIV/AIDS crisis? In fairness, she did offer any apology, one that seemed highly disingenuous, if you ask me:

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Hillary’s comment was clearly deliberate and intentioned. That is not what misspeaking is. That’s called misinformation.

In fairness, once Hillary turned the corner on the issue of gay marriage, she became a very vocal and prominent supporter. What we cannot forget, however, is how vastly different her stance was in 2004:

The best broadcast I have discovered, which gives a fair and in-depth look at Clinton’s LGBT history, can be found here:

http://www.wnyc.org/story/tale-tape-hillary-clintons-gay-evolution/

So, again, let me be clear. I am not trashing Hillary. I am also clearly stating that if she does receive the nomination, we need to vote for her. What I am saying, however, is that as it stands, Bernie Sanders deserves the gay vote. And with his recent victories, and vastly rising support, he may not have a “delegate problem” when it comes time to select our candidate. We support Bernie Sanders and we thank him for his lifelong support for the LGBT community.

#manintree – Cody Miller and our Unfortunate Limits to feeling empathy

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I write this particular entry as the proudest possible version of myself. Bernie Sanders has won the caucus in my home-state of Washington by a landslide, offering him precisely the momentum that he needs. That is how we do it in the northwest. You stay classy, nation. 😉

It has been an eventful and newsworthy week for my sweet state, as earlier this week a man climbed to the top of an 80-foot tree and refused to cooperate with negotiators. Twitter lit up with the now infamous #manintree hashtag, and the news spread nationwide, as the man refused to come down for 25 hours.

I laid in my apartment listening to the incessant sound of helicopters hovering over the man, wondering if I should go check out the spectacle for myself. I decided against it. I was so afraid the man was going to fall and I didn’t want to witness that. My mirror neurons were going crazy and I couldn’t keep from pacing with that sweaty-palm feeling you get when you have a debilitating fear of heights…

I was touched by immediate concerns for the man’s safety and mental condition. It seemed, however, that those concerns were all too quickly replaced with admonishments and calls for “chainsaws,” which would have ended both the life of the tree and the man inside it. There were calls to burn him out of the tree and amounting complaints of disruptions to people’s commutes.

It is sad to me how limited we are in our ability to feel empathy or compassion. Something as mundane and petty as a disruption to our commute to work could actually see us calling for the tragic death of a mentally ill man. That the alleged “wastage” of our tax-payer resources is somehow unjustified in the wake of such a tragedy that could have very easily become dangerous.

I also heard claims that we should ignore him and that it isn’t newsworthy. Another dismissal I find incredibly inappropriate. A mentally ill man is having a very public mental/emotional meltdown and has created a situation that could be dangerous for himself and others. To claim that is not newsworthy is entirely questionable. I suppose we should focus our attention on things that matter? Like “Keeping up with the Kardashians” or J. Law’s latest haircut. The truth is – the man’s life is important, public safety is important, and mental health is absolutely important.

People consider themselves champions of mental illness, but they forget that it isn’t only expressed in a pretty Adele song. Sometimes it is ugly. Sometimes it is disruptive. Sometimes it uses the resources that we as tax payers have in place for that very reason. My hope is that this incident will serve as a reminder to always indulge our ability to feel empathy. I am also so pleased that Cody Miller wasn’t injured, nor was anyone else. Finally, I am proud of SPD’s handling of Miller, though I wish they would have held to their word of not pursuing charges against him. Either way, what with the Sanders victory and our beloved #manintree, Seattle is looking like such a lovely city right now, and I couldn’t be more proud.

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LGBT Rights: Hillary Clinton vs Bernie Sanders

Sanders-vs-Clinton1In case some of you missed the first democratic debate last Tuesday, allow me to bring you up to speed. It was not the moronic shit-show we are used to with the Republican debates, and instead was an engaging, interesting discussion between mostly intelligent people. While I would encourage everyone to watch the entire debate, if you are pressed for time, I recommend at least catching up on the greatest moments below.

I don’t know about anyone else, but in the past, I’ve loathed the presence of LGBT questions at many different debates, as it seemingly always results in at least one candidate’s homophobia being put on display. This debate was different, however. There was very little mention of the LGBT community at all. I believe the reason for this is that it is understood that each democratic candidate is a champion of LGBT rights, at this point.

Who can forget Hillary’s infamous 2011 speech in Geneva, when she called for global support for the LGBT community. Still, Clinton is often criticized for being “late to the game” on supporting same-sex marriage. The Economist called her move a “belated conversion” and deemed it “cautious to the point of cowardice.” Still, Hillary has since offered her full support, and I stand with many in the LGBT community who have watched our own family and friends evolve over time, understanding that doesn’t always happen overnight.

Representative Bernie Sanders, however, has been a longtime, fervent supporter, long before LGBT rights were even a hot-button issue. Check out a letter he published in the early 1970’s where he called for further LGBT support:
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So, with Hillary’s initial lack of support and change of heart, naturally people begin to question her authenticity. “You know, somebody is always first,” Clinton told NPR in 2013. “Somebody’s always out front and thank goodness they are. But that doesn’t mean that those who joined later in being publicly supportive or even privately accepting that there needs to be change are any less committed. You could not be having the sweep of marriage equality across our country if nobody changed their mind. And thank goodness so many of us have.”

Currently, on both candidate’s websites, you can check out where they stand on LGBT issues, and it seems they are both aligned. Now that gay marriage has been voted a constitutional right, it is now a focus to end discrimination with housing and employment. It is true that Sanders was lightyears ahead of Hillary on that issue, but they have both certainly ended up in the same place, and they are running for president now, not in previous decades.

What I am most impressed by is what solid supporters and allies we have in these candidates. It was lovely to watch a debate and not have to worry that in some way, one of the candidates was going to decimate the LGBT community. Instead, we could go in knowing that each candidate will champion support, and ultimately our decisions can come down to other issues including race relations, gun control, environment, etc. Such a sweet relief from the homophobic, racist, sexist circuses that are the republican debates.

An open letter to Marissa Janae Johnson on her decision to interrupt Bernie Sanders


Dear Marissa Janae Johnson,

There is currently a ton of banter about your decision to interrupt a Bernie Sanders rally here in my hometown of Seattle, and I wanted to offer a more detailed analysis of why some are concerned about what happened. While some may be immediately opposed due to the fact that they are racist (which is unfortunate), I think the greater majority have legitimate concerns over how this could potentially harm the #blacklivesmatter movement.

You stormed the stage of a political candidate with a commendable history of support for all minorities (Click here to read.) The audience found this disrespectful. You scream at them and call them racists. Then, you turn around and demand they be respectful and offer 4 1/2 minutes of silence for Michael Brown? You knew this wasn’t going to happen. I think a simple study of sociology is what could offer you insight as to why the crowd reacted the way they did. I don’t think it was because they were all “white racist progressives,” I think it might be because of the glaring hypocrisy of demanding respect and cooperation while blatantly offering the opposite.

This is the trouble with your action and why it has been so divisive. The national debate that has been ignited has very little to do with black lives matter, and everything to do with an irrational, crazed woman storming the stage of a political candidate black people would be wise to support. The words you delivered were beautifully written, well-researched and factual, and passionately delivered, but the message was lost in the pandemonium you provoked.

The question I beg of you is what were you trying to accomplish? Were you trying to elicit further conversation about #blacklivesmatter? If so, I’m sorry to say you have failed. In the past couple of days, I have not seen much discourse at all about #blacklivesmatter. If that hashtag is being used, it is most commonly in comments about you. Comments questioning your tactics. Comments questioning your religious and political affiliation. Even some comments in support of you, but still very little about #blacklivesmatter. I doubt the goal was to make this about you, which is why so many, including myself, are questioning strategy.

What I am repeatedly hearing is that those who are looking at this from an intellectual perspective and questioning strategy, are being called liberal racists, white supremacists, etc. I have been accused of caring more about hearing a speech about Social Security and Medicare than I care about black children dying. These assertions are abhorrent. They are not helping anybody, and instead, they are hurting the very cause you champion. It seems that through your actions, #blacklivesmatter is starting to seem more extremist, which will ultimately result in the loss of public support.

This idea of extremism is further evidenced in certain parts of your interview. Throughout most of it, you sound poised and intelligent. Certain parts, however, make me think that #blacklivesmatter would be wise to separate from you. You state that you “don’t have faith in politicians” or the “electoral process,” and state that it is “well documented that it doesn’t work for us, no matter who you are.” “I refuse to believe the system that we’re in is the only option that we have,” you say. “If he (Bernie Sanders) is our best option, then I’m burning this down.”

So, what system of government would you propose? It seems you have not shared any thoughts outside of what sounds like total anarchy? The system you refer to is always changing, and it seems to be changing for the better as we evolve. For example, as a gay man, I could absolutely cite examples of injustices to LGBT citizens that are blatantly occurring all across the nation, but I would be remiss if I didn’t appreciate that we just progressed a great deal by legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states. Interestingly, this was all done under our first black president, who is currently serving his second term. And who do you think is responsible for those advancements? It seems to me that it is quite likely, in part, those “white liberals” you so flippantly call “racist.”

Do you see the problem here? You are alienating yourself from some of your biggest supporters, which is why your actions are being called into question. I think your intent was solid, but your methods are flawed. I understand your frustration, I respect your boldness and some of your stances, but I think you may have hurt the movement that you, me, and so many care so deeply about.

I’m glad we can at least agree that #blacklivesmatter.

Best of luck.

Love,
Brandon