Archive for March 2016
As a diversity consultant, as a Christian, and as an overall positive upbeat person, I cannot understand why a huge segment of the American population needs “someone” or “some group” to “hate on.” It is a very sad fact that many people run for public office on platforms of what group we are going to punish or kick out. In the distant past, African-Americans were often demonized, as well as business-oriented women who wanted equality in the workplace. Then after that it was gays and lesbians, and in a way, they are still a target in many locations. But lately it seems the heat of hatred has been really turn up on undocumented immigrants (often referred to as illegal aliens – I thought all people were created and loved by God so how can they be “illegal?”), Muslims, and especially on transgender people.
Transgender people are indeed a very small segment of our population, but have been increasing in visibility as high profile celebrities such as Chas (formerly Charity) Bono and Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner have come out and undergone gender transition. Now over half of US Fortune 500 companies include nondiscrimination protection for transgender individuals, and many now include gender transition medical benefits. (link to my blog about the increasing visibility of transgender people.)
But now in many states, legislators are proposing new laws that would be very harmful to transgender people, including not allowing them to use the public restroom of their presenting gender, or not being able to change official records such as drivers licenses if their current gender does not match their gender assigned at birth. Some politicians are causing a frenzy of hate against transgender people by shamelessly scaring people with totally fabricated and non-factual statements such as transgender people going into restroom to molest children.
Recently, my letter to the editor (link) of our local newspaper (the Raleigh News and Observer) was published where I shared the true factual information. Namely:
1. Transgender women are truly women and transgender men are truly men, and the medical profession will support that.
2. Transgender women and men go into the restroom of their presenting gender to “relieve themselves”, period. Watch this fun video of a transgender woman singing about needing to pee.
3. There are never been a single recorded incident of a transgender person attempting to molest someone in a restroom. Never. Not one.
So what are these politicians afraid of? Sadly, they must feel the only way to get elected is to appeal to humanity’s base side and give them someone to hate. How sad!
ACTION: All people who want to stand up against hate need to reject all politicians who operate out of that mindset and elect officials who want to treat all people fairly and humanely.
FINAL NOTE: Blog author Stan C. Kimer provides corporate and organizational training on a wide range of diversity topics including transgender diversity. Check out “my speaking page” where you can see my upcoming schedule and request a copy of my speaking package.
UPDATE December 2016: Please take the time to listen to this outstanding and marvelous radio interview with 2016 US National champion Adam Rippon from WVIA Public Media of Northeastern Pennsylvania (24 minutes). Adam takes us on his journey of personal growth up to his inspiration for his musical choice for his 2017 program.
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Recently, Out Magazine came out with their list of “100 Hot Out Gay Men” which included people in entertainment, sports, politics, business, etc. WHAT – and not a single figure skater was on the list! Therefore, since the World Figure Skating championships are being held next week (March 30 – April 3) in Boston, first time in the USA in 8 years, I am publishing my own list of seven hot out gay men of Figure Skating.
And before going any further, I am going to quickly dismiss any discussion about figure skating not being a true sport. I challenge anyone to give it a try – figure skating requires a tremendous amount of balance, stamina and flexibility. In fact, check out this article on why figure skating is indeed one of the most difficult sports in the world. And figure skaters look calm, cool, collected and fabulous while competing.
My list of outstanding men include skaters from the past and present. In alphabetical order:
Brian Boitano. This 1988 Olympic Champion continues to be a perennial spokesperson for US Figure Skating and has hosted his own popular cooking show. President Obama appointed Brian, as an out proud gay man, as one our American delegates to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia in 2014 to counter some of the close-minded anti-gay rhetoric of Russian President Vladmir Putin (see my blog “Russia, LGBT Rights and the Psychology of Bullying”)
Rudy Galindo. This skater of Mexican descent overcame economic and personal hardship to win his senior US championship on his 8th try, in 1996, becoming the oldest men’s champion in 70 years. And he won the world bronze medal that year! He also was a pairs national champion with his skating partner Kristi Yamaguchi. Rudy is the first openly gay US champion and also later shared about being HIV+. He went on to a stellar professional career with his entertaining “YMCA” program, and was inducted into the US Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2013. Rudy and is now making his mark as a coach and choreographer, including working with current US Silver Medalist Polina Edmunds.
Randy Gardner. Randy Gardner was a 5-time US and one-time World Champion in the late 1970s with his skating partner Tai Babilonia. Randy had remained active in the skating world, continuing to skate in shows and coaching at Dorothy Hamill’s Adult Figure Skating Camp. Randy has now embarked on a new venture, starring in his one man show “Go Figure!” about his fascinating personal and skating life. (Link to a 3 minute Youtube video about the show.)
Brian Orser. Brian Orser of Canada finished second in the 1988 Olympics to Brian Boitano in the famous Olympic “Battle of the Brians.” Brian Orser has now gone on to be one of the most successful international coaches on the planet, having coached two Olympic champions (Yuna Kim of Korea and Yazuru Hanyu of Japan) and currently coaches the top two men in the world (Hanyu and Javier Fernandez of Spain.)
Eric Radford. In December 2014, Eric Radford of Canada publicly came out as gay in an interview with the LGBT publication Outsports, becaming the first competitive figure skater ever to come out at the height of his career while still a contender for championship titles. Then in March, 2015, Eric and his partner Megan Duhamel won the world pairs title, making him the first openly gay figure skater ever to win a gold medal at that competition. He is an ambassador for the Canadian Olympic Committee’s #OneTeam program to combat homophobia in sports.
Adam Rippon. Adam Rippon comes out as gay in a feature story if US Figure Skating Magazine a few months ago and how does he follow up the story? By going out in January and winning his first US Seniors title to go with his two silver medals! The current US Men’s Champion with his fashion-model stunning good looks is one of the hardest working yet kindest and most loved skaters in US figure skating today. Raised by a single mother, this oldest of six children also serves as fine supportive role model and loving older brother to his five siblings.
Johnny Weir. Sure, the flamboyant and outspoken 3 time US champion and 2 time Olympian Johnny Weir may have his critics, but three things cannot be denied about this fine young man.
1. He is now emerging as a superb figure skating broadcasting announcer who takes his work seriously and showcases his vast knowledge of figure skating and every single competitor.
2. He is an excellent spokesperson for diversity and individuality, and treating all humans with dignity and respect.
3. He always treats all his fans and especially children with kindness and personal attention. I have personally witnessed Johnny at arenas after events and even if there is a long line of adults and children wanting to say hi or take a photo, he stays until he gives some time to the very last person.
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Blog author Stan Kimer, in addition to training as an adult competitive figure skater himself, is a career development and diversity consultant with a deep expertise in corporate LGBT diversity strategy and training. Please explore the rest of my website and never hesitate to contact me to discuss diversity training for your organization, or pass my name onto your HR department.