During my fall semester, I wrote an article for a class, and eventually a published story, about reparative therapy on homosexuals. I found a girl in one of my classes who had experienced therapies from her family, peers and church. Equally as surprising was when I discovered that the former presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann’s husband owned a therapy center where he practiced this on homosexuals. And then, the icing on top of the cake, was when I found various churches across my home state of Kentucky that have centers just like that.

Fortunately, at least one state is in the right direction. California just passed Senate Bill 1172, which will make the practice of attempting to “change” ones sexuality illegal for those under the age of 18. The bill describes how these types of therapies have harmful mental and emotional effects.

Sadly, this is only for California, not for the entire country. Even with these therapies being discredited by the American Psychological Association, American Medical Association and just about every other medical venue in the world, there are still several areas of the world that practice them.

Those who undergo these therapies are eight times more likely to attempt suicide, nearly six times more likely to report high levels of depression and more than three times more likely to use illegal drugs, according the Human Rights Campaign’s website.

Reparative therapies are obviously harmful. And as I said previously, there are still being openly practiced every single day. Just because California is cracking down on them, does not mean everywhere else in the world is. Send a letter, phone call or email to your state legislators and let them know that we aren’t going to stand for this kind of mistreatment in our communities. Simply go to http://www.usa.gov to search your state’s contact information. Let them know you want equality for all, not just some!

During the holiday season we need to keep in mind those less fortunate than us. And Dec. 1 is a day to wear red ribbons with pride as you bring awareness to HIV prevention on World AIDS Day!

World AIDS Day was started in 1988 and is held every year to unite the world in supporting those living with the disease. According to the World AIDS Day website, there are more than 33.3 million people living with HIV globally and, between 1981 and 2007, an estimated 25 million have died from it.

More often than not, when we hear about someone who has HIV/AIDS, we assume the worst. But, as a previously mentioned, millions of people are living perfectly normal lives with the disease.

And that’s part what World AIDS Day is all about: Educating. According to the Center for Disease Control, approximately 250,000 people in the U.S. are living with HIV/AIDS  and don’t even know it!

Something else people don’t know is homosexual men do NOT have the highest risk of contracting the disease. In fact, straight African-American men are the most likely to get the disease.

The point of World AIDS Day is to raise awareness and show support. And what else are the holidays about? This year, keep in mind the millions of people living with this disease, urge those you know who are showing symptoms to get tested and treated, and get yourself tested as well. With the right treatments, it is possible to live a healthy life like anybody.

Wear your red ribbons with pride.

~Happy Holidays~

Recently, the FBI released their annual Hate Crime Statistics for 2010 and, once again, the number of hate crime victims attacked because of their sexual orientation has increased.

According to the report, 1,528 victims were the target of a hate crime due to their sexual orientation. This means 19.3 percent of all hate crimes in 2010 were because of a person’s sexual orientation. This number is up from 2009 report, which said 18.5 percent of hate crimes were because of a person’s sexual orientation.

Of the victims this year, nearly 900 were the attacked specifically because of anti-male homosexuality. The next highest statistics (anti-female homosexuality) claimed approximately 700 less victims than male homosexuals, with bisexuality and heterosexuality remain in the double digits.

We can only expect these numbers to increase. The Human Rights Campaign’s statement regarding hate crimes is as follows:

Every hour, a crime motivated by the perpetrator’s bias against the victim occurs in the United States. These hate crimes terrorize whole communities by making members of certain classes – whether racial minorities, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, religious minorities or people who are perceived to be members of these groups – afraid to live in certain places and be free to move about in their community and across the country.

Despite campaigns, such as “It Gets Better” and a huge support group from people with a huge fan-base (President Obama, Lady GaGa, Sean Avery, etc.), hate crimes targeted toward sexual orientation is still increasing.

Perhaps by attempting to create equality for the homosexual community, we’re causing more friction between groups that already have hatred toward LGBT.

This is just more of a reason for supporters of LGBT to keep fighting and preventing these types of crimes. If someone is being bullied or harmed because of their sexual orientation, religious viewpoints or race, they need to seek help.

For more information about the 2010 Hate Crime Statistics, please click the following link: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/hate-crime/2010/tables/table-1-incidents-offenses-victims-and-known-offenders-by-bias-motivation-2010.xls

It is the commonly statement amendment in the United States Consitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The problem is, even though our country allows the freedom of religion, they do not protect those who attempt to practice their religious beliefs freely.

The perfect example of this occurred last year, when Pastor Terry Jones decided to have a public burning of the Quran to protest the building of a Mosque near Ground Zero in New York City. Believe me, I can see where the controversary with this idea arises, but to go to the extreme of burning the Islamic holy book is too far. This barbaric protest is not different than a Muslim burning the Holy Bible. You can’t tell someone what they believe is wrong, and, supposedly in our country, you are not allowed to torture someone just for believing something other than the majority.

I understand the harsh feelings our country has toward the Muslim nation, but you cannot blame what happened in 2001 on every single person who believes in the Islamic religion. Do African-Americans still blame whites in the south for their enslavement for hundreds of years?

Our country pressures us to stay with the majority to the point where anything else is considered blasphemy. Christians are no more entitled to practicing their religion than anybody else. The sooner our country opens their squinted eyes and embraces the diverse land we live in, the better off we will be.

Recently, I wrote an article for one of my classes about the current status of the healthcare system for homosexuals in Kentucky. It wasn’t until I began my research that I realized just how bad the situation is in the state I call home.

Healthcare has never been something I’ve found much interest in, but after doing a little bit of research on the subject, I could not wrap my mind around the situation.

Kentucky Law states that in order for a person to make decisions on behalf of their incompacitated same-sex partner, they have a written consent notarized with at least two witnesses present. I even found, in severe cases, a person may not even be able to visit their same-sex partner. And, bascially, a bunch of other narrow-minded, ridiculous rules that our government refuses to change.

Some of the things I read and found were quite disturbing. It’s bad enough to have someone you love with all of your heart and soul dying, but to not even be able to sit by the side…quite possibly one of the most disgusting, inhumane things you could possibly do to another human being.

Fortunately, the doctor’s office employees I interviewed for my article gave a little hope to society as a whole. They had a lot to say about the topic and seemed very passionate about equality. But this is just one in millions of offices across the country.

Some states do have LGBT-specific healthcare clinics. But there are only 13 of these across the entire country. How are the estimated 1 million people who identify as LGBT supposed to fit into 13 doctor’s offices?

What our country needs are leaders who will make equality happen. Not tomorrow, or in a few days…but NOW! In politics, in classrooms, and even in doctor’s offices.

Currently, there are six states that have legalized gay marriage. Some states even allow same-sex unions. But a large portion of the U.S. does not allow same-sex marriages or civil unions, and chooses not to recognize same-sex marriages performed out-of-state.

New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia are the only states that allow gay marriage.

Though the Human Rights Campaign and other organizations that support marriage equality are putting forth their best efforts toward the cause, many states, particularly in the southern and midwest regions of the country, completely ban same-sex commitment ceremonies.

Now that you have been informed on the current status, I’d like to continue by saying this: WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

Our country gone so far off track we cannot even allow people to show love toward one another. We are “supposedly” the country of freedom and liberty, but we still treat the people who live here with discrimination and hold them to standards that should have long-since died out.

We our in a fast-paced, constantly changing society. The fact is, some people need to accept that it’s no longer 1776. We have worked hard to get where we are as a country that others can look up to.

If two people that love each want to share that love with the rest of the world, who are we, as a country, to stop them?

Many people use the argument of maintaining the traditional values of marriage or the sanctity of the institution. The last time I checked, most people back in the “good ‘ole days” only married because they HAD to, not because they wanted to.

Marriage is the concept of a life-long commitment to another person, and if two people of the same sex want to spend the rest of their lives together, we have no right to deny them of that.

The bottom line is this: love is love. Whether it be the love between a mother and child, the love between two siblings or the love between a man and man…a woman and a woman…or a man and a woman.

“A young man committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate alledgly posted a video of the him online having sex with another man.”

“A 13-year-old boy hung himself after being bullied by other teenagers at school for being gay.”

“A middle school st udent shot himself after informing his parents he was gay and being bullied by at least four other kids at school.”

We’ve all seen this stories on the news, or read them in the newspaper, or even came across them while scrolling through the internet. And why did this have to happen? Bullying. These three homosexuals had to lose their lives because somebody else in their life was making them miserable enough to put a gun to their head, or jump off a bridge, or hang themselves.

Fortunately, a lot of foundations and awareness projects have been created recently to make younger people feel more comfortable with their sexuality. Projects such as the “It Gets Better” Project and Spirit Day were made to raise awareness of gay suicides and give people hope that it does, in fact, get better. Many media influences, such as Lady GaGa, Adam Lambert, Steve Jobs, Stephen Colbert and even President Barack Obama, have participated in these projects.

Does our country not see what it has done? We have allowed homosexuals to feel so alone and closed off that they see killing themselves as the only form of relief. It should never have gotten to the point where so many LGBT members had to lose their lives.

We can’t turn back the clock and give these people their lives back, but we can make sure nothing like it happens again. By simply posting a video on youtube to show support or wearing purple one day out of the year, you can make a difference. Be a positive influence that we need to see in the world.

Bullying is the silent killer…but, I hope that one day, our voice can make it not so silent.