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The 2006 Monette-Horwitz Trust Award

This came out of nowhere…I’ve received a Distinguished Achievement Award for 2006 from The Monette-Horwitz Trust for my work on Pam’s House Blend.

About the MoHo.

The Monette-Horwitz Trust provides annual awards to individuals of diverse cultural backgrounds, genders, and sexual orientations who are, through their work, making significant contributions to eradicating homophobia. The Trust acknowledges the accomplishments of organizations and persons working in arenas ranging from academic research and creative expression to activism and community organizing.

The award is named after Paul Monette, author and gay activist, and his partner Roger Horwitz. Monette wrote the acclaimed book, Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir (1998) which was a chronicle of Horwitz’s battle with AIDS (Horwitz died in 1986). Monette was the first openly gay writer to win the prestigious National Book Award for Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story, which was also the first gay/lesbian studies book to achieve that honor. Monette’s own battle with AIDS, was chronicled in the documentary The Brink of Summer’s End (1997).

“My dream is of a shelf of terrific books that the Monette-Horwitz Trust helps to bring into being, books which will help to counter the hatred and fear that destroy my people generation after generation. Books which challenge by truth the sickness of homophobia.”
— Paul Monette

I was contacted a few weeks ago by Lisa Powell, an L.A.-based activist and attorney who serves on the Trust’s advisory committee. She said that I had won an award, but didn’t tell me what it was for — but that I was to expect something in the mail; I just received it. The news is posted on  the Trust’s web site.

Considered one of the most important bloggers in America, Pam Spaulding issues incisive daily news and commentary on critical issues with a focus on LGBT equality and monitoring the anti-gay radical religious right. Her site, Pam’s House Blend, which draws more than 3,000 unique visitors per day, won Best LGBT Blog in the 2005 Weblog Awards. She is one of the few black lesbian bloggers in the country and her coverage of issues affecting the LGBT community, including rare reporting of homophobia in the Black Church, makes her blog a daily must read. She resides in Durham, North Carolina with her wife, Kate.

Past winners include: PFLAG, Soulforce, Inc., Arthur Dong, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Allan Bérubé, Lillian Faderman and many more.

Here are my fellow Monette-Horwitz Trust award recipients this year:

Ally Award: Vern Bullough, a life long heterosexual, was a pioneer of the gay American civil rights movement. He was an historian, sexologist, professor, activist, nurse, and family man. Vern renounced being a Mormon as a teenager, and dedicated his life to science and understanding the human condition. Upon learning that his wife’s mother was a lesbian, Vern’s studies shifted to sexuality and a lifetime of activism on behalf of what would become the GLBT community. He became a board member of the ACLU’s Southern California chapter on the condition that they acknowledge homosexuality as a civil rights issue. He worked side by side with most of the LA gay pioneers, and sat with his wife Bonnie in a convertible in LA’s first gay pride parade. He wrote numerous books and articles about contraception, prostitution, transgenderism, and the religious persecution of sexual minorities, and was responsible for having early gay texts by Karl Ulrichs and Magnus Hirschfeld translated into English. Vern was accused by anti-sex Americans of being a pedophile, but successfully refuted their campaign of phobia. Truly a gentle man, Vern Bullough will be remembered in every book of gay American history as an ally in our battle for equality.

Randy Burns has been an Indian activist, author, speaker and leader for over 35 years. He founded Gay American Indians (GAI) in 1975, the first multicultural gay organization in the United States. He was Grand Marshall for the 2005 Pride Parade in San Francisco, and continues to address the concerns of Two-Spirit people, including homophobia within native communities. Randy is on the board of directors of the Native American Cultural Center and the Native American AIDS Project.

Richard Schneider, Jr. received his Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard, and then taught at the University of Maryland’s European Division. Upon returning to Boston, he became the Director of Research for a consulting firm. He founded the Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review in 1994 and has remained its editor and de facto publisher ever since. Renamed the Gay & Lesbian Review / Worldwide, it is widely regarded as the leading LGBT cultural and intellectual journal in the U.S. The publication features articles and reviews on literature, history, politics, and homophobia.

I’m quite humbled to be included with such great voices out there, people who are doing work that really counts in the fight against homophobia and who make significant contributions to the movement for equality and justice.

One can view this award as an acknowledgment that the blogosphere can and should continue to play a role in eradicating homophobia by educating, stimulating, and activating people to make a difference. That I am a recipient this time around is an honor that I treasure, but I look forward to seeing more voices out there rewarded for affecting change in this medium.

Many, many thanks to Lisa Powell, the Monette-Horwitz Trust Advisory Committee Chair Winston Wilde, the rest of the advisory committee, and Robert L. Monette, Paul Monette’s appointed trustee.There is a great interview Paul Monette did in 1992 with Owen Keehnen upon the release of Becoming a Man. What is striking is that Monette’s comments about coming out, and the threats that we face in the struggle for equality still ring true today.

I expect in any family there’s still an amount of chaos and pain before parents can accept a child as lesbian or gay. But we know sexuality is a genetic business without very much to do with family, but the family has a HUGE effect on the closet and the amount of doors and the darkness of the closet. I feel an enormous amount of empathy for those in a coming-out situation, but it’s SO worth it. Not to be morally judgmental or anything, but being in the closet becomes such a twisted matter that you end up fighting against yourself…Maintaining the facade becomes a full-time job and once you come out you spend one-tenth of the energy finding out who you are for real.

…It’s important for us as gays and lesbians not to exclude our allies from whatever outreach we do. We’re lucky to have allies. There are people who have struggled with us and been close to us, evolved people who are straight and who we need. It’s not a simple black and white or gay vs. straight in the fight that we have with the patriarchy and all the stupid know-nothings. Our diversity as a community has helped a lot of straight people who didn’t understand or were too shy to ask. One of the most important organizations is P-FLAG [Parents and Friends of Lesbians And Gays]; think back on what most families were like fifteen or twenty years ago. In lots of those families the gay person knew he was gay and the family knew he was gay, but no one talked about it and everyone suffered from this sort of melancholy heartache or disappointment. That isn’t necessary anymore; there are resources for the family as well. Frankly anyone who wants to understand his or her gay and lesbian friends and family can. These people are allies and they are as offended as we are by the frightening sickness of homophobes.

…The biggest threat to the world is fundamentalism in all forms – Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim. It wants to kill off anyone’s who’s different and create a world run by a theocracy and not a democracy. Our country is very naïve in not understanding that the killing of a doctor in Florida outside an abortion clinic, the World Trade Center bombing, and the Waco incident are all parts of the same fundamentalist thing. Independent thinking and freedom are what’s at risk in the fundamentalist nightmare. They would love for all of us to be the first casualties.

Here are some Blend posts related to black pastors.

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