Cheryl Pappas


Archive for July, 2013

The Quiet, Powerful Courage of Lambda Legal

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

In the vast universe of humanitarian organizations, few are committed to creating a world where freedom reigns for all while side-stepping narcissistic fanfare, the way that Lambda Legal is.

For those who don’t know, Lambda Legal (Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund), as described on Wikipedia, is “an American civil rights organization that focuses on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) communities as well as people living with HIV/AIDS (PWAs) through impact litigation, education, and public policy work”.

Wikipedia further informs us that “Lambda’s founder William J. Thom, Esq. submitted incorporation papers for approval to the New York Courts in 1971, but his application was denied on the grounds that its proposed activities would be contrary to public policy. That decision was overturned in 1973 by the New York Court of Appeals, which is the highest court of New York State.[1] (In re Thom, 301 N.E.2d 542 (N.Y. 1973).)”

What a difference four little decades make, right?

While these are times where public policy against gay marriage is opening its tight fist and long-overdue freedom is suddenly more and more upon us, we can thank LAMBDA Legal for leading the charge against such archaic discrimination.

Lambda Legal celebrated its 40th Anniversary on June 13, 2013, at what was called the West Coast Liberty Awards, in West Hollywood. The event was expertly produced by Nadine Jolson and Roz Wolf of the Jolsen Creative PR Group.

The West Coast Liberty Awards Honoree of the evening was The New Normal’s Justin Bartha. The New Normal was a television sitcom (2012-2013) about a gay couple trying to have a family via surrogate.

The reason all of the above is anything but mundane, and is indeed worthy of notoriety and applause, is because equality and freedom for gay people has never been a main dish on the American buffet table.

Likewise, the June 13 celebration was down-to-business, focused, and energetically serious.

In other words, Lambda Legal means business and is legitimately committed to the painstaking work of changing the lives of LGBT people one freedom at a time.

I had the pleasure of speaking with the Host of the evening, Lance Bass, as well as notable presenters Dan Bucatinsky from Scandal; Olympic Gold Medalist (and soon to be married) Greg Luganis; Jai Rodriguez from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy; and the delightful Rex Lee, who famously played Ari Gold’s assistant, Lloyd, on Entourage.

Clearly, this was not a celebrity me-me-me fest. Everyone spoke from the heart and obviously knew from experience what it means to be gay in a gay-unfriendly world.

The very existence of Lambda Legal is cause for celebration.

Until every one of us is allowed to fully participate in life on the same playing field, the “game” of life will be about war, not love.

Lambda Legal is an organization to love, because it creates the possibility for love.

Paula Deen’s Damage Control

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

Paula Deen’s Today Show damage control appearance was, in my opinion, not successful.

As the interview wore on, her strategy was to assert her goodness and point to the bad behavior of others.

This is psychologically considered normal as a personal style of defense, but for as grand a venue as Today and as famous a brand as Paula Deen, the effort was akin to coaxing a dead dog to sit up and bark.

As Deen haltingly introduced an example of what she finds “distressing”, her repetition of this word, “distressing”, might have served to introduce a straight shot apology.

I personally was waiting for it.

(Not that an apology takes away vile behavior, but it’s a start).

It could have gone something like this: “I am distressed that this word ever came out of my mouth. I want to apologize. Period. I will be investigating who I am to ever have that word be a part of my language and my consciousness”.

Instead, as we all know, she launched into what sounded like a prepared talking point, about how “distressing” it is for black young people to use the n word with one another.

I say that if you are black and choose to use the n word it is a universe of difference from a white person using the same word.

Flipping the matter over in my mind as a Jewish person, I don’t believe we favor using anti-semitic slang with one another.

However, this does not mean that young black people are communicating self-denigration by using the n word.

That is for the black community to argue.

No white person can weigh in on this with any authority.

Therefore, the strategy of Paula Deen’s “distress” about it is cringe-worthy and transparently a wrong-headed defense.

We could discuss how members of minorities speak amongst themselves, and we can realize quickly that each culture is a separate case in this regard.

For instance, Jewish people, by and large, are uniformly finished with the hate that killed 6 million of us in the blitz of Nazi Germany and are on the lookout for wherever this might spring up again.

(Yes, I did notice the initial headlines regarding Paula Deen’s alleged racism that included the anti-semitism” accusation).

You will never hear a Jew use the phrase, “Jew me out of” something.

Because I have a Greek last name, I have heard my share of this casual hate talk that some people believe is a-ok.

Imagine their surprise when they are told they are talking to a “Jew”. And imagine the deepening shades of red that can quickly transform the human face.

It could be said that because the n word is used by black people themselves, the word therefore a-ok for all to partake in. Wrong.

Black people, and all people, are free to speak about and refer to themselves with one another using whatever terms they choose.

So, it was a bad tact, Paula Deen, to put yourself in the group with the young black people where the n word comes up, or to judge them for the way they speak.

Sadly, there is also a problem with the validity of her other main point.

She urged those who have never used a slur word against another race to throw a boulder at her head.

As Elton John told us, “Sorry seems to be the hardest word”.

No one is innocent. There will be no gashes or open wounds on Ms. Deen’s head.

It is just bad form to use other people at their worst in the defense of oneself.

Following Deen’s talk with Matt Lauer, Today anchor Savannah Guthrie noted that people were questioning whether Paula Deen shed actual tears during the interview.

I say the matter is not about missing tears; it is the absence of personal responsibility.

There is no doubt that if there was more leakage of behind-the-scenes words and actions of the highly promoted “experts” and hosts of major television shows, we would see how hollow these so-called role models are as real people.

Paula Deen does not stand alone as such; she is simply being revealed.

Here’s an interesting question.

On the heels of this event, it is now reported that her book sales are spiking wildly and the 2014 Paula Deen cruise tickets are selling like hotcakes.

What does this mean?

Is this support for a woman wronged or the opportunity for us to see and understand that racism is a living thing?

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