Thursday, July 14, 2016

Race, America, and Canadian Patriotism: Reflections on a Chosen Country

I've been struggling with what to write about in this post. I planned to write a sweet little post about my Canada Day outfit, and why I love Canada. But then all the news of the last few weeks hit me in the gut -- hard. I felt that it would be disrespectful to write a post about my love of Canada, without addressing our track record on racism, especially in relation to Canada's Indigenous people. 

So this post is a bit of a mish-mash, about my Canada Day outfit, about why I love Canada, and about the ways in which Canada is failing many of its citizens. After all, true patriotism is not blind. If we love our nation, and I do, we must face its flaws and work to change them -- for the good of all.

Dress: Mytlewood; Headband: Stylize; Shoes: Ecco; Brooch and earrings: vintage from my great-aunt
I am American. I don't hide that. I was born in the United States and lived there for the first six years of my life. I moved here in 1976 when my step-father got an academic job here. My entire family is American, from New York state and New York City. I spent all my summers and many other holidays in the United States. I lived in New York city for a short time in 1999.

I long ago pledged allegiance to Canada (including, yes, the queen!) thus gaining Canadian citizenship, and I have the sometimes euphoric love of Canada that only an immigrant can have. Still I have never felt the need to revoke my American citizenship.

We have some pretty negative stereotypes about Americans up here in Canada and I know, first hand, that they are not based in universal fact. Some of my favourite people are or were Americans. But I'm still very happy to be in Canada. I still choose Canada.

For about a year now, I've been watching events unfolding in the States with horror and disbelief. As much as some of us want to think of Trump as a bad joke, I can't do that. He has far too many followers for us to safely dismiss him as the loser that he obviously is. Once upon a recent time, there was another absurd, racist, jingoistic wanna-be leader in the world. People thought of him as a harmless joke too and that was a huge mistake. His name was Hitler. I do not draw that parallel lightly.

I'm Jewish. I've heard rhetoric like Trump's before. So this time, the target is Muslims, not Jews. It makes little difference. I'm not one to dismiss racism and religious intolerance just because it's not directed at me. The story is essentially the same: blame the "others" for all your problems, work the public up into a racist frenzy of fear and loathing, and rise to power. It's extremely dangerous.

At the same time, I've been watching mass shootings in America become like the bad weather that has come with climate change: expected and quickly forgotten, its warnings and solutions entirely ignored. Up here, we watch all this and cannot begin to fathom why some Americans cling so tightly to the "right to bear arms." It makes no sense to us, any more than Trump's popularity, the political power of the religious right, or people's aversion to universal health care.

I was still reeling from the homophobic massacre in Orlando, and the xenophobic reactions to it, when Alton Sterling was executed by the police in Baton Rouge. I was still grappling with that, when Philando Castille was executed by the police in Minnesota. I was still in horrified shock over that, when a sniper killed five police officers in Dallas. I couldn't catch my breath as horror after horror punched me in the gut. 

Throughout this, I've been overwhelmingly relieved to be living in Canada. I feel safer here, saner, and I feel that my adolescent step-sons are safer too.

Canadians are pretty quiet and subtle about our patriotism, but we can get pretty smug and obvious about it when we compare ourselves to Americans. Whatever our faults, we tell each other, at least we're not like Americans. Our citizens have a global reputation for being Not Like Americans, and we're proud of it. We're proud of the image we project to the outside world -- and to ourselves: peaceful, polite, respectful, and not plagued by aggression, jingoism, ignorance of other cultures, unchecked capitalism, religious zealotry, and the legacy of slavery.

But is our smugness unfounded? Are we telling ourselves some pretty lies about ourselves? What's the truth behind the picture we have painted of ourselves?

Well, for one thing, we sure as hell aren't free of racism. I know this in part because, as a white person, I hear other white people say the most awful things here, particularly about Asians and Aboriginal people. Yes, we have racism but we pretend we don't.

I once heard a joke: In the States, if a racist man spits on a black man, he says, "I spit on you!" In Canada, if a racist man spits on a black man, he says, "It's raining." 

Yeah. That's pretty much it. (Though the "It's raining" approach seems to be getting more popular in the States these days).

Any white person with half a heart has to ask herself what she can do in the face of all this overt and covert racism. Perhaps because I'm a writer, my first answer to the question is to speak out and never to remain silent when these issues come up. 

After the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille last week, when people, white or otherwise, asked me how I was, I told them the truth: I'm extremely upset about the recent news in the States. I was appalled by the responses I got from white Canadians. They engaged in all kinds of logically flawed, mental contortions to maintain their false beliefs that black men are not the targets of police brutality in the States. One man I spoke to had been far more upset when that gorilla was killed in the zoo in the States than he was when two humans, black men, were killed by police. In fact, he didn't seem upset by that at all, despite the fact that he has black friends, despite the fact that he doesn't believe himself to be even a tiny bit racist.  

If I had doubted that racism is alive and well in Canada, and I guess I hadn't really, I couldn't doubt it after those conversations. I was literally trembling with impotent rage and sorrow.

And the thing is, I think these deniers know, deep in their hearts, that there is a problem. They say they've never seen it. They say it's not there. But they're lying. When I asked the man who was so upset about the gorilla if he'd like to be raising black boys in the States right now, his answer was swift, "God no!" Would he be worried about their safety, specifically in the presence of police? "Yes."

He knows. He knows there's a problem, not just in the United States, but in Canada too. Everyone knows it. Why won't they own up to it? Are they afraid that owning up to it would also mean owning up to the fact that it's up to them, to us, to you and me, to do something about it?

No matter how uncomfortable and sometimes even fearful it makes me to speak out when I hear people being racist, I'll never stop. It's my moral duty to speak. But I admit that I don't always raise the topic myself. I did the other day because a Native friend on Facebook had posted something asking white people to do just that: speak with our white friends about racism. So I did. And it was awful. I'm sure she, a Native woman, wouldn't be surprised by any of the things I heard.

Canada's track record with Aboriginal peoples is appalling. I might have been able to tell myself that our racism against black people wasn't all that bad, but I'd have to be a fool to say the same of Canadians' racism against Native people. I have heard it all (and not just from white Canadians). I've heard about "drunk Indians," "Indians sleeping on the street," "lazy Indians," "Squaw whores," "freeloading Indians"... and worse.

When I've taught Aboriginal short stories in classes, my students have felt perfectly within their rights to use these disgusting racial slurs in academic discussion. They believe these slurs not to be racist epithets, but to be irrefutable truths. I admit that part of why I've taught, say, Louise Erdrich's short story, American Horse, is precisely because I know it will raise this racist bile to my students' lips, giving me the chance to refute it with truth, as best I can.

When I hear this bile, I talk about literal and cultural genocide. I talk about colonialism and stolen land. I talk about institutionalized racism. I talk about residential schools and PTSD. In the face of all this, the "best" argument I get, from students and the general population is a snide, "They should just get over it," and, my all time least favourite, "I didn't do these things to them. It has nothing to do with me."

Really? That's when I talk about white privilege. If you're still benefiting from the institutional racism that keeps oppressed groups down -- and, if you're white, you are -- it has everything to do with you. If you're blaming those groups for their own oppression -- by saying they're lazy, drunk, rude, whatever -- it has everything to do with you. And if you're denying there's a problem, you are the problem.

Sometimes I feel like I'm spitting into a tidal wave. But I won't stop.

I have a habit of drawing parallels between various forms of oppression and I can tell you this for sure: silence and denial about racism have intense parallels to the wall of silence and denial I face about child sexual abuse. I know how badly that can hurt. It's not something I care to do to others.

Oppression is not just abstract. It is about bodies.

In part because my skin is white (and therefore highly marketable to paedophiles), my body has been beaten, drugged, tortured, sold, and raped, by the very people who were supposed to protect me: adult care-takers. I am physically disabled for life because of it but I did make it out alive. Not all trafficked children do. When I was a young child, I witnessed the depraved murder of a little white girl my age. I got the message. My body was disposable. My life didn't matter. I felt grief and impotent rage. I know what it is to be turned into an object, to be dehumanized and degraded.

Because their skin is black, African-American men and boys are beaten and tortured by the very people who are supposed to protect them: the police. Many make it out alive but most know someone who didn't. They get the message. Their bodies are disposable. Their lives don't matter. Is it any wonder their grief turns to impotent rage? They know what it is to be dehumanized and degraded.

Because they are Native, Aboriginal women and girls are statistically much more likely to be beaten, tortured, drugged, sold, and raped. They are more likely to die violent deaths. Their deaths and disappearances are seldom taken seriously by the police or by the general population. Even if they survive, they probably know someone who didn't. The message is clear. Their bodies are disposable. Their lives don't matter. Their grief can sometimes swallow their rage, replacing it with a self-loathing and shame that should be directed at their attackers, not themselves. These women and girls know what it is to be degraded and dehumanized.

My affinity with the oppressed is not just abstract. It's about bodies, my body, their bodies: tortured, discarded. It's about real lives and real, individual suffering. It's about hell. How could I not fight to end it, wherever I see it?

Here in Canada, I have learned so much from Native communities. Their stories, their culture, their realities have been kept in shadows and lies for centuries. They've learned new ways to move into the light without denying the darkness. In their learning, I find some powerful lessons as I grapple with my own truth of having been a sex trafficked little girl. For one thing, I've learned that living in denial is never a good thing. While most white people become wilfully blind and deaf when I try to tell them my story, most Native people do not. That in itself is a gift.

And I've learned that virtually everything I was taught in school about Natives was not true. I can't even begin to go into all the lies I was taught. That is the subject of many books. But here's a start: I was actually taught that Native people are all gone. Can you believe that? They're not. Despite all attempts to erase them, culturally and literally, they're still here, in every walk of life. The tenacity of the human spirit is a beautiful thing.

I live on unceded Aboriginal territory. In other words, my entire city is built on stolen land, never sold or signed over to the white people. When I first moved to Canada as a little girl, I lived less than a block away from the Musqueam reserve. I was told that they'd been given a special plot of land that was all their own, but I was not taught that the rest of the land, our land, had been stolen from them. I fell madly, deeply, and completely in love with this land long before I understood all this. It was my white privilege that made it possible for me live here.

This is a small portion of just one of Aaron Carapella's fabulous maps of the Americas' First Nations. If you'd like to buy them, go to Tribal Nations Maps.
Another lie I was taught is that "Indians," as they were then called, were and had always been one big, unified group, sharing one culture, one identity, and one set of beliefs. If someone said this about Europe, we'd know it is absurd. It's equally absurd to say it about the First Nations of the Americas. The Americas were lands of many nations, many identities, many cultures, many languages, and many beliefs. 

I had to learn this on my own. My deep connection to the lush land I've chosen naturally leads me to become interested in the history and cultures of the people whose roots are here. As a white North American, I've often wondered what it feels like to live on your indigenous land. The connection to that land must be amazing. 

Cultures, religions, and spiritualties are not just abstract. They are rooted in the geographies of their birth. Jewish prayer, for instance, is filled with references to "ha eretz," the land, its seasons, and the fruits it bears for its people. I practise Judaism, after a fashion, but I've never even been to the Middle East. I'm here. Is it any wonder, then, that my love of this land has led me to learn more and more about the cultures and belief systems of the people who were here first?

This love of our chosen home is a big part of why Beau and I chose to get married in a Native longhouse. It is an unspeakably beautiful space, filled with images that resonate with anyone who lives here: salmon, ravens, bears. And it's cedar. We were enveloped in the reddish gold and beautiful scent of cedar. Given how much we love this land, that just seemed right. We worried about being yet another white couple appropriating Indigenous cultures. That's why it was so special when my Musqueam friend, Mary, surprised us with a song her great uncle had written. I told her it felt like a welcome, and she told me that had been her intention.

But this isn't all just about my feelings about Native cultures. It's not just about my gaining something from them. If I'm going to live on their land, if I'm going to be treated better than they are simply because I'm white, don't I at least owe them the respect of knowing who they are, of seeing them? Don't I owe them the respect of listening to them, hearing what they have endured, and standing up for them when I can?

Isn't this part of being a good Canadian citizen?

So back to Canada Day. Absolutely none of the above withstanding, I do love Canada. I feel incredibly fortunate to live here. Many people feel as I do and, yes, this does include people within the very minorities that Canada has oppressed. Life and patriotism are like that: complicated.

But even those of us who are proudly Canadian are pretty quiet about it. The only "large" flag I saw on Canada Day was this one, and I know for a fact that it's up there all the time, just a convenient curtain to keep this porch shady. Canada is not a country that drapes itself in its own flag. I like that.

Instead, on Canada Day, most people's patriotism manifests itself in quietly wearing a red and white t-shirts. 

And then going about a casual ...

... mellow day off, sometimes followed by a nice little barbeque and some fireworks. That's all. That's enough. Strong feelings need not always be loud.

We're not ones for chest puffing about our nation, not much anyway.

My chest puffing in some of these photos was ham acting, pretending at a variety of patriotism that is frowned upon up here. Indeed, my Canada Day outfit was really over the top, more of a camp gesture than one of pride.

But the dress (which you've seen before here) was so perfect for the day, I thought I'd go for it anyway.

Beau kept exclaiming about how nice it looks on my figure and, even I, with all my self-loathing about my body, can actually see what he means. It is pretty figure flattering. It makes me quite pleased to be so curvy.

The dress' style is unmistakably 1960s so I had fun posing in front of this little garage which looks like a tiny house, 1960s house, in red and white for Canada Day, naturally.

A wide headband is a no-brainer with virtually any 1960s inspired outfit, but making it white was definitely in homage to the day.

So were my two bangles, red and white together.

If I owned white shoes, I'd have worn them too. Instead, I wore my black mary-janes (mary-janes also being a staple of the 1960s), but made sure to carry my black cane ...

... and wear black sunglasses to carry black through the whole outfit.

And then there were my great-aunt's daisies! My aunt, who died at 97 last year, was my grandmother's baby sister, and much loved by everyone who knew her. She and I shared a passion for jewelry, including costume jewelry, so, when she died, I asked if I could have her costume pieces. Nobody else wanted them but I sure did! 

Daisies were a staple of 1960s fashion and I'd been thinking that I should own some, when the box of my aunt's jewellery finally arrived, complete with many daisies!

The 60s daisy trend was very much a part of the youth scene of the time so my aunt's love of them is quite entertaining to me, given that she was well into middle age when she bought them. Good for her! Like me, she never cared much what other people thought of her, and she had no problem expressing her opinions, no matter how unpopular they might be. So 60s daisies it was, for her and for me.

I was born in 1970 so never even experienced the 1960s, but I had great fun with this all over 60s, Canada Day look. It seemed particularly appropriate given that I've been lamenting the loss of my city's earlier, less populated version of itself.

There is some irony in my wearing my aunt's jewellery in a post so critical of America, and British colonialism. You see, though my entire maternal family, including my great aunt, were left wing and pacifist, my aunt married a right wing, government man. Looking back, my guess is that he was in the CIA. There were a lot of rumours about him going to foreign countries for work and leaving just before coups. The assumption was that he had a hand in fomenting them.

A few years before she died, I asked my aunt how she and her husband made their marriage work, given that she had remained left wing all her life. She said simply, "We loved each other." To her, that was answer enough. That answer would probably suffice for most people, but it wouldn't for me. I respected my aunt's love for her husband, but I know that a similar love would not work for me.

Politics is not, for me, something separate from my daily life and my ethical views. My politics are deeply informed by my ethics, what I feel is right and just, not just for me and those I love, but for the people of my country and even the world. These ethics are a direct product of my deeply held faith, one that I feel requires me to act with compassion, not just for my family and friends, but for all people, especially the oppressed.

How then, could I possibly marry someone whose political views were not similar to my own? 

My politics, my ethics, my faith, are a big part of my choice to live in Canada -- for many reasons, some of which I've explained in this post. It's a good fit for me.

In my choice to live here, I have made some sacrifices. If I had moved back to the States, especially New York, I might have been able to tap into the more established intellectual and artistic cultures there, and I probably could have built a more lucrative career than I did here. But it just wasn't worth it.

I breathe easier up here. It's my home.

But I'm not wilfully blind to my nation's failings. I hope my eyes are wide open and my vision clear. Where it is not, I hope I will be humble enough to listen when people tell me what I'm missing.

As with all of life, I appreciate and try to preserve the good ... 

... but I should never deny or turn away from the bad. We must recognize the bad and try to change it. Isn't this what it means to love your country fiercely? Isn't that what patriotism is all about?

(I'm sharing this with Fashion Should Be FunRachel the Hat, Happiness at Midlife, High Altitude StyleTina's Pink Friday, Not Dead Yet Style, Sydney Fashion HunterNot Dressed As Lamb, and Adri Lately.)

Monday, June 13, 2016

Moving Targets: Homophobia and the Orlando Massacre

On Sunday morning, I woke up to terrible news: a homophobic man had opened fire in a gay club and killed 49 people. He happened to Muslim. 

I knew immediately what would happen. Despite the fact that homophobia is rampant in every culture and every religion, this hateful man's massacre of LGBT people would be used to fan the flames of anti-Muslim hatred. Sadly, I was right.

What I did not anticipate is that this flame would distract people from what is obviously the main issue in this horror -- homophobia -- and our own culture's role in perpetuating it.

I was stunned and numb, but, me being me, I acted on  my confused emotions by creating an outfit, an outfit dripping with rainbows that screamed: QUEER. I wanted to show solidarity with my community, with those injured and killed because they were queer, and with all their loved ones who will now suffer the after effects of this homophobic act. 

Suddenly, I was afraid of being visibly queer. I joked that my outfit made me a moving target for homophobes. It wasn't a funny joke. I felt vaguely guilty for dressing as I did, as if, were I to be gay-bashed, it would somehow be my fault for not slipping under the radar. I haven't felt that way about being visibly out for over 20 years. In the wake of Sunday's events, I've been remembering how terrifying it was to be out, and realizing that it still is.

Yesterday, I wanted to talk about homophobia. I wanted to shout about it to the skies. But very few people were doing so. 

I did not want to engage in ongoing discussions about whether or not Islam is inherently hateful and violent. I did not want to watch white, western newscasters repeatedly call on Muslims to defend their religion and assert that, no, it does not condone massacres of homosexuals. But many people were doing so. 

The real issues were rapidly being obscured. In focusing on Islam, people's attention was deflected from our own culture's homophobia. Straight, non-Muslim Americans got to feel sanctimonious and smug about their supposed enlightenment about queer issues, while their very act of deflection and silencing proved that their sanctimoniousness was unfounded.

Me in the early 90s
I've been out of the closet since 1989. Because I've been out for so long, I know for a fact that no single religion and no one culture can be blamed for homophobia. It is and has always been everywhere. I remember when it took almost impossible courage to wear this shirt. Right here, in my mostly Christian, mostly white, liberal neighbourhood, I would shake with fear when I wore it. 

Things have gotten better, but only in pockets of North American culture, not all of it. It is, after all, founded on homophobia as much as any other culture. 

I came out before the rainbow was the LGBT image (and before we used the term LGBT, for that matter). I came out when we wore pink triangles to signal to each other, "I'm one too." Why? Because the Nazis made homosexual men wear pink triangles when they threw them into the concentration camps. Don't gasp in horror at that evil regime's treatment of homosexuals till you hear the end of the story. Do you know what "our side" did when we won the war? We transferred the homosexual men to our own jails! They were not seen as worthy of liberation. 

Gay men were, among other things, widely assumed to prey on male children. In other words, most people had a very difficult time differentiating between homosexuality and paedophilia. There are many who still do, right here, in North America. As late as 1978, a successful campaign against homosexual rights was named Save Our Children, and, in the same year, a group in California fought to ban all homosexuals from working in public schools. Who do you think was behind these campaigns? I'll give you a hint: They were religious, but they were not Muslims.

This was American culture. In many ways, this still is American culture. 

I remember the time I first held a girlfriend's hand in public. We were really just girls, both 19, in a freezing cold winter in Montreal. We were both wearing mittens. I remember the mittens especially because it made me feel even younger, and not nearly as sophisticated as I wanted to be. 

There we were, late at night, shyly holding hands as we walked along a side street. A car swung around a corner and, as its lights hit us, we instinctively dropped each other's hands. We knew, without speaking, without planning, that we must do this. We knew that, if we did not, we were moving targets. The danger of violence, rape, and murder was real and intense. A few years later I dated a woman who had been gang raped at 18 by three men who just didn't like lesbians, especially butch lesbians -- and knew they could get away with it. 

It's not like we could go to the police if something did happen to us. Everyone had heard the stories about male cops taking lesbians into back allies and raping them. The cops called it "showing them what they were missing." "I'll turn you straight" rapes are still common in many places in the world. I've heard it's particularly bad in South Africa. But I don't doubt for a second that it still happens here too.

When it came to brutal violence, it may have been even worse for gay men. One night, I was in the gay area of town on fireworks night. All gay men feared fireworks night because it was when their neighbourhood was flooded with heterosexuals, many young and male, many drunk. 

Three menacing white men approached me and my friend. One had a glow stick protruding from his pants. He waved it around at my friend and, mere inches from his face, said, "You like that? Does that turn you on?" It was clear that his intent was violent. Idiot that I am, I threw myself between my friend and this homophobe and yelled, "Leave him alone!" He look down (waaay down, I'm short) at me and seemed confused. This gave his nicer friend a chance to pull him away and offer us an embarrassed apology. (I've always wondered what became of that nicer man.) 

Instinctively, without any words, my friend and I threw our arms around each other like a straight couple, and walked away, disguised as heterosexual, and trembling all over.

I come from a time when being openly, visibly gay was an act of defiance, and an act of courage. It was dangerous. Don't kid yourselves: it still is. If the massacre in Orlando teaches us anything, it teaches us that.  Gay-bashing is not a thing of the past.

In 1990, I briefly worked at the LGBT bookstore, Little Sisters, where we frequently received abusive and sexually graphic phone calls from homophobic straight men. Packages of books crossing the border addressed to us were regularly opened and stopped by censors, even when the same books were waved by if they were addressed to "normal" bookstores. The assumption was that anything being sent to LGBT people must be perverted, filthy, and illegal -- just like us.

Little Sisters was bombed in 1993 -- again. It had been bombed twice before, in 1987 and 1988. Sunday's shooter was not the first to attempt to murder masses of LGBT people; he was just one of the most successful. 

This is not ancient history. I'm only 45 and I remember it all.

Remember when all those people fought hard to prevent gay marriage from becoming legal in America? Ancient history? That was last year! Remember who was fighting the hardest to prevent it? I'll give you a hint: It wasn't Muslims.

My point in telling you all this is to tell you that homophobia is American. It is Canadian. It is global. It is not a problem restricted to Muslims. Regardless of who ends up pulling the trigger, homophobic acts would not occur if a culture of homophobia did not already exist.

Christianity cannot be let off the hook here. No religion can. No culture can. America cannot be let off the hook.

Anyone in the LGBT community can you tell your stories about people whose conservative Christian parents kicked them out of the home when they came out as queer. The streets are filled with homeless kids who are homeless for one reason only: they are queer and their families think this is an abomination against God. This is not just history. This is now. This is not just Islam. This is conservatives in all religions.

Just this year, Reverend Franklin Graham said that homosexuals cannot be Christian and cannot remain in the church

Reverend Graham's father, by the way, was one of the many Christians who said that AIDS was God's punishment on gay men for the sin of being gay. In other words, he said that God wanted all gay men dead.

This sentiment is also alive and well today. We saw its hideous outcome on Sunday.

Most of us know about the hateful, homophobic rants of the Westboro Baptist church. Predictably, they have already come out in praise of the shooter in this week's attack on gays in Orlando.

But they're not the only Christians to do so.  

As soon as the news of the shooting hit, the internet swarmed with those who condoned the attack. Many of them were Christian. Some of them were Muslim. Most were not.

This shooting was about homophobia, here, now, everywhere, always.

In a world so full of homophobia...

Me, on the right, with friends at a Gay Pride march, in the early 90s.
... is it any wonder LGBT people seek each other to form our own community? Is it any wonder we speak of each other as family? 

When I came out, it was all about the gay bars. We didn't have the internet then. If we wanted to find our community, our family, we had to go out, and most of the time, we went to the bars, bars just like Pulse.

Finally, we felt at home, loved, accepted. And we had fun! We were young. We danced (back when I could still dance) and flirted and lusted and fell in love. We told each other our coming out stories and found a way to laugh at homophobia. The clubs were our refuge, our playground, our safety.

Despite the internet, I don't think much has really changed. Gay bars are still much more than mere bars. And this is why the attack at Pulse is an ultimate act of homophobia. It's an attack on our home. It's an attack on all of us. 

Just when we were all feeling like things were changing and we could safely be ourselves even outside of LGBT bars, and the LGBT community, we find that we are wrong. This is something many around the world already knew all too well.

We suddenly again know what it feels like to be a moving target.

We know what it is to be afraid, just for being who we are, not just then, but here, now, everywhere. 

And it is not just an Muslim issue, or just an American one. It is a global issue. It is homophobia.

(I'm sharing this with Not Dressed as Lamb, Elegantly Dressed and Stylish, Honest Mum, High Latitude Style, Fashion Should Be Fun, Rachel the Hat, Adri Lately, Tina's Pink Friday, and Sydney Fashion Hunter.)