“It’s National Coming Out Day! I am coming out for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.”

If you, like myself, were among millions who shared their facebook or twitter status to the Human Rights Campaign’s National Coming Out Day, you are not unfamiliar to the message.

Many people who see this yearly message simply roll their eyes and move on.  These are the people who cannot even begin to understand what coming out as gay, lesbian, bixsexual or transgender truly signifies.  Some of these people even see coming out as a joke.

The bottom line is this:  there’s no easy way to come out of the closet. Many gays and lesbians even say it’s the most difficult thing they have ever done in their lives. It most of the time it’s met with judgment, rejection and, in many cases, hatred.

This is why so many homosexuals remain closeted throughout the majority of their lives. They are simply afraid of what kinds of reactions they might get from family, friends and co-workers. But, how could you live a normal, healthy life if you were lying to these people every day? The fear of coming out causes many homosexuals to cut themselves from the rest of the world and deny themselves for who they truly are just because some of society tells us that it’s not acceptable.

This is why coming out is important. Whether you’re gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, gender-queer, or even if you’re just a straight ally. National Coming Out Day is not about annoying people who see homosexuality as wrong…it’s about letting those who are afraid to come know know their not alone and about giving them the courage to stand up for who they are and what they believe.

So for those people, I’m saying this:

My name is Kyle Shane Woosley and I am coming out for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. I’m not afraid to stand up or speak out for who I am and what I believe in. My goal is advocate equality for all people and provide comfort to those who need it.

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Last week marked the 13th anniversary of the brutal attack on 21-year-old Matthew Shepard.  He was beaten, robbed and pistol-whipped by two men, who then tied him to a fence and left him for dead.  As if this pathetic display of humanity’s moral compass wasn’t enough, a preacher from Topeka, Kansas brought his message of hate to Shepard’s funeral.  The  narrow-minded flock of Bible thumpers were protesting the funeral, carrying signs with phrases such as “No Tears for Queers” and “Fag Matt in Hell”.

This is the kind of ignorance and intolerance that makes the world a dangerous and scary place for homosexuals.  The idea that someone would commit a crime so violent and discriminatory makes me sick.  But to have a church, a place supposedly to give sanctuary and comfort to those in need, completely disrespect the loss of Shepard’s young life…that’s a whole new level of immoral.  It was a funeral; a time for people to pay their respects and remember the lost life of a loved one.  There is absolutely no justified excuse for it.

Last week brought back memories and issues that have long-since haunted the minds of all minorities across the country.  Even though we live in the land of the free, some people choose not to see it that way.  Whether it comes in the form of racists, sexists or narrow-minded Christians, there are some people in our society who feel they are superior or worth more than others.

Fortunately, in October 2009, President Barak Obama passed the Matthew Shepard Act.  The law expands on the U.S. federal hate crime law to include sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability.

Hate crimes and bullying towards minorities are not uncommon.  Anniversaries, such as Matthew Shepard’s, remind us there are still people in the world who choose to fill their hearts and minds with hate, rather than love and tolerance.  As we remember the lives of those lost due to the hatred of others, focus on what us, as the future generation, can do to make the world a better place for all with love, peace and equality.

After 17 years, the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Act has been officially repealed!  The discriminatory law, which banned gays and lesbians from serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, forced thousands of soldiers to be discharged from the military.  Fortunately, these soldiers will be permitted to re-enlist in the military and current soldiers will no longer have to hide their sexual orientation from their comrades.

All I can think to say after 20 years is:  It’s About Time!  This law has been into effect for most of my life, but it’s about time that the U.S. finally came to it’s senses to end this discrimination.  Why does it matter what the sexual orientation of someone in the military is?  The gay and lesbian soldiers in our Armed Forces are fighting for freedom.  They are going overseas to defend our nation.  They are giving up time with their families and friends.  They are risking their lives, just like every other soldier.

Organizations, such as the Human Rights Campaign, have been advocating their disapproval of this law ever since it was put into effect.  They have sent thousands of emails and letters to repeal this act, and finally their hard work has paid off.

President Barack Obama could not have said any better, “Today, every American can be proud that we have taken another great step towards keeping our military the finest in the world and toward fulfilling our nation’s founding ideals.”

LGBT members of the community can finally rip the metaphorical tape away from their mouths and smile as they serve our country proud!

Chaz Bono, the transgender child of iconic pop duo Sonny and Cher, was recently announced as a contestant on the upcoming season of “Dancing With The Stars” and has been met with controversery ever since.

Chaz Bono, who was born Chasity Bono,  has been largerly active in LGBT community since 1995 when she announced that she was a lesbian and began undergoing a sex-change operation in 2008.  The DWTS message boards have been booming with controversial talk about Bono’s appearance on the reality show, with the largest concern focusing on family values.

One statement on the message board stated:

“YOUR choice to bring Chaz Bono into the mix goes too far. I am not about to risk the potential for on screen dialogue about sex changes and gender confusion while my 7 and 9 year old are watching. If you want the ‘anything goes’ hippy culture, then soon that is all you will get. You’ve lost us. In case any of you are wondering … no, we are NOT tolerant. We are not tolerant to allow any and all influences to come unfiltered into our home and especially to our children. This is truly a sad farewell.”

Though the star’s iconic mother, Cher, will not be not be making an appearance to support her child live, she has made her voice about the situation heard through social networking media, such as Twitter and Facebook.

Cher has made several infuriating comments regarding the controversary and continues to speak out for not only her child’s rights, but the rights of all LGBT members of the community.  One of the stars tweets stated, “I’m So f–kng Sick of these PEOPLE! A person doesn’t Wake up one Morn & say’I’m Bored, Think I’ll Change My Sex & Expose Myself 2 Ridicule & Hate.'”

Chaz Bono released a statement to Entertainment Weekly regarding the subject, saying:

“I’ve been into activism since ’95. I’m really used to this. I  debated Jerry Falwell and I’ve had people picket events I’ve been at, so it’s not that big of a deal. I have a very thick skin … otherwise you’d be upset all the time.  I look at it as a chess game.  These people have an agenda.  And I have one as well.”

“Dancing With The Stars” 13th season premiers Sept. 19 on ABC.  Tune in to see if  America can move past their criticisms and judge Chaz Bono strictly on his dancing ability.

While casually walking around campus today I encountered one of the things I despise most:  Religious Soliciters.  Though I am a huge advocator for the rights of ALL humans to be equal, I do not believe in publicly forcing your religious beliefs down others throats.  Religion is something that should be used to better your mind, body and soul, not a tactic to force fear down the throats of others.

As I walked past this standoff between a overwhelming “preacher” and a mob of college students, I overhear the words, “God hates…”  Need I say anything else?  I’m taking back my previous statement.  If there’s one thing I despise more than religious soliciters, it’s IGNORANT religious soliciters.  I don’t claim to be someone who is overly religious, but if there’s one thing I know, it’s that those two words should never exist simultaneously when referring to religion.  Especially when the words to follow are “homosexuals”.  He then goes on to explain how women should always be submissive to their men and that our troops are going to Hell.  Suddenly, I began to understand why this man was surrounded by police officers.

Religion is something people should take comfort in, not something to frighten them.  Why would someone preaching about a God who loves ALL people, also preach about hatred?  Religion should be a personal discovery for a human being.  Your beliefs should be something that define YOU, not Richmond’s resident looney toon.

The part that upsets me the most about this concept is the practice of it on college campuses.  College is supposed to be that time of self-discovery and finding your own comfort zone.  How can you be expected to do so, when you have a man preaching about you going to Hell?  There’s a reason some college students don’t continue to live at home, and that’s to make their own decisions.

I understand that religion is a touchy subject for a lot of people, and a lot of people take comfort in believing in a higher power.  But, that does not given you any reason to force it down everybody else’s throats.  Let us discover our own beliefs.  Regardless of what they may be.  If I decide to be a Buddhist, then I’ll be a Buddhist.  If I decide to be a Muslim, then I’ll be a Muslim!  And if I decide to be an Atheist, well then, that’s alright too!

No matter what a person’s beliefs tell them, it doesn’t give them the right to discriminate against any type of person.  First and most importantly, we are ALL humans and we were ALL created equal!

On Tuesday, Aug. 30, Amnesty International’s Anti-Torture Protestors appeared on an episode of “Today Show” featuring Dick Cheney.

The group is protesting the former Vice President’s memoir, titled “In My Time”.   The anti-torture protest is demanding Cheney be held accountable for war crimes committed during the former President George W. Bush Administration’s “War on Terror” against Muslims.  The protest was captured live on NBC during the airing of the show, which can be viewed below:

Later in the day, the same group went on to make a protest at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.  At the rally, the protesters presented the Department of Justice spokesman with a copy of Cheney’s memoir and a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder with a letter demanding they investigate the alleged war crimes.

In an interview with Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday”, Cheney, when asked about the liberal bias of the protesters, responded to the allegations in the following statement:

“I think those of us right-thinking conservatives find that there are a lot of outlets out there now on the media, on the Internet that give us ample opportunity for our points of view to get across and to be heard. It’s the kind of situation with respect to my own circumstance, there is a lot of people who don’t like me, don’t like what I did in public life and disagree fundamentally with my views. It’s okay. It’s a democracy. I don’t need or I didn’t need 100 percent to prevail. I only needed 50% plus one. And I am not trying to impress anybody what a great candidate I make because running I don’t plan to be a candidate.” – Dick Cheney

Only time will tell if Cheney will be held accountable for his actions.