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Posts Tagged ‘Brittany Novotny’

Well, I expected that the local Oklahoma City-based media would pay attention to the lawsuit I filed against The Oklahoma Tax Commission. I figured some outlets from around Oklahoma would also pay attention. I even thought that I might get a few “Attaboy!”s from a few concerned homos across state lines. But I did not expect CNN to call me about Nancy Grace possibly being interested in the case nor did I expect celebrity gossip blog Dlisted to turn the case into a referendum on my fashion choices by naming me “Hot Slut of the Day”. But all of those things have happened today, and many others.

Something else has happened as well. I have received dozens of communications from folks telling me what kinds of plates they have seen around or had issued to them. Its become a discussion about license plates and the phenomenon. I am convinced now – more than at any other point in this whole fiasco – that the OTC has lost this case. They may as well tape all applications up on the wall and throw darts at them to decide who gets a plate and who doesn’t. Its all based on, well, who knows what its based on. I don’t even think they know.

Here are two observations from those communications:

  • A fellow Norman resident called to tell me they granted his tag “ATHEIST”. Odd, since they have denied “GODLESS” and others. So not only do they engage in viewpoint-based discrimination, they are not even consistent in their discrimination within a single topic.
  • From a comment on the News 9 Story: “I don’t see anything wrong with the tag. There is a guy in Norman that has a tag that reads NOFTCHX. Which means NO FAT CHICKS, he can have that but an outwardly gay man can’t have an IM GAY tag. Get real people whatever happened to freedom of speech???”

Oh, and last – but certainly not least – there is this:

Media coverage in the case has apparently reached a nationwide level already, as I have some lonely, single (presumably, gay) guy who thinks I am cute and wants to get to know me in a really hurry. He is 22 years old, works at Sams Club and is from some town I have never heard of in New York. He found my cell number somewhere (probably the damned press release) and started texting me telling me he wanted to be friends on Facebook. I approved the friend request he sent and he immediately started chatting me up.

I was on the phone with a reporter when all this happened, so I had to ask him to stop messaging me on my Facebook chat like a dozen times so I could concentrate on my call and not sound like a stuttering idiot to the reporter on the other end who was trying to get me to come on his radio show (which I will be appearing on this Friday from 7 to 10 PM, I am sitting on the entire show). He would stop for about a minute and then start back in and ask me if I am still there and such. He was half groveling and half worshiping me, while asking what I thought of him looks wise.

It was a bit over the top and I finally snapped and swore at him out of frustration (and immediately felt bad for doing it, how was he supposed to know I am not a patient person) and told him I was looking for the block button on Facebook. He asked why and I told him, point blank: he was annoying the hell out of me. He then freaked out and begged for forgiveness and for me not to block him. It was at this point that I realized a measure of humility was needed here.

Honestly, I felt sorry for the guy. Clearly, he was happy to have found a friend. He doesn’t have many on Facebook and I wonder if I am the only gay guy he knows or who will talk to him. The world is a cruel place for a homosexual when you are all alone. Even when you are around folks who understand and support you, its not much less cruel. Some of the things being said about me in the comments sections of various news sites are completely uncalled for. There are areas of New York that are every bit as conservative as Oklahoma, so I can understand and appreciate some of what he is facing. Hell, I was there not so long ago.

I don’t know his situation, but I’ll try to find out and help if I can. He’s offline now and the reporter is off the phone. I just hope he doesn’t kill himself or something. He did strike me as perhaps a little unbalanced and/or desperate for human contact and he said something about him having ADHD. The way society treats gay people, its a wonder that they manage to survive at all, much less some of them become truly awesome. Bigot Sally Kern once made light of how gay kids have high suicide rates. I wonder if it ever occurred to her that maybe thats the case because society – led by people like her – so often treat these people like utter trash to the point that they as human beings just shut down and lose all desire and reason for living.

Overall, I feel very good about where this case is headed. The media is covering this story fairly and accurately, which surprises me a little bit. I figured we’d have some outlet come out with a hatchet job of a story, spun around to fit some biased viewpoint. But they don’t seem to be doing that. The Oklahoman ran a factual story, followed closely by The Associated Press’s take on it. I take that in and of itself as a sign of progress. We’re going to open some doors in Oklahoma with this one. Now, some folks are not going to want them opened, but they will be opened none the less.

I say all this is all a good thing. We’re moving forward. Attitudes are changing here.

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On February 10, 2010, I – through my attorney Brittany M. Novotnyfiled a civil lawsuit against The Oklahoma Tax Commission in The Oklahoma County District Court. The case seeks to have certain sections The Oklahoma Administrative Code (specifically, sections of O.A.C 710:60-3-150) dealing with the content and issuance of personalized license plates declared unconstitutional. You can follow the case on it’s Facebook page.

The press release issued upon filing was as follows:

For Immediate Release
Contact: Keith Kimmel, 405.886.5095, http://tinyurl.com/otcplatecase

Oklahoma City, OK – An Oklahoma taxpayer has filed a civil lawsuit in Oklahoma County District Court against the Oklahoma Tax Commission, continuing a battle for freedom of speech on vanity license plates. The suit seeks to have part of the Commission’s rules regarding the issuance of personalized license plates declared unconstitutional.

Keith Kimmel, who filed the suit through his attorney, provided the following statement: “The Oklahoma Tax Commission is continuing to subject Oklahomans to a subjective decision making process in issuing personalized vanity license plates. Under our state Constitution, all Oklahomans enjoy the right to freedom of speech and an equal opportunity to express their viewpoints. Previous testimony in the administrative proceedings held on this matter have shown that the Commission is selectively granting and denying applications based on Commission employees’ own personal prejudices and viewpoints. The Constitution requires that state rules are viewpoint neutral, with an objective standard that puts the taxpayer on notice of what is legal and what is not. This suit is intended to put an end to the Tax Commission’s unconstitutional practice of subjecting taxpayers to the whim of individual employees.”

The case is Keith Kimmel v. State of Oklahoma, ex rel, Oklahoma Tax Commission, Oklahoma County Case No. CJ-2010-1072.

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Three Cheers for Lazy, Good for Nothing People

These are the kind of blog posts that make my phone ring right after they are posted. Usually, the person calling me tells me I am alienating support, dividing the community and so on. Well, anyone who knows me a little bit knows that if I think something needs said, I’m gonna say it and I don’t really care who it pisses off. Its pretty much become my trademark. It keeps me from getting invited to alot of fancy shindigs and keeps me off a good many holiday card mailing lists. Oh well, less holiday cards means trees saved anyway.

But I am not here to be Mr. Popular. I’m not running for Man of the Year. And I haven’t been nominated for Mr. Nice Guy, the last time I checked. I am a 27-year old gay man who lives in a state where too many of its inhabitants would rather see me dead, which routinely elects officials to office who feel I am not even human and have a government that on all levels wants to deny my rights at every turn.

So it may come as a massive earth-shattering surprise to some people that I don’t quantify my existence by a measure other than how many people like me – or if Mr. High and Mighty who sits on the Board (or owns) of whatever Gay, Inc. establishment happens to be most revered at the moment – likes me or thinks I am a great guy or whatever.

Could it be that maybe, just maybe, I am the way I am because I think its whats going to get my desired results? Maybe I have a different idea about how things should be done. And since we’ve tried it their way for what, the last 2,000 or so years, maybe we could try something new and see if it works better that way? Yeah, maybe thats it.

A Kick in the Ass

The other night, I had a wonderful conversation with a man from Jackson, Mississippi. Every once in a while I have an interaction with someone who makes me think that what I do is worthwhile. That perhaps, despite the mental and emotional toll it takes on me (and yes, it is taxing) maybe what I do actually accomplishes something and is somehow worthwhile. So who is this person? Well, his name is James Paul Johnson. He is a transgendered man. He and I share a few things, one of them is the fact that we firmly believe in moving gay rights in our respective geographical areas forward. We talked extensively about the topics and ideals covered in this post.

While Mississippi and Oklahoma are hundreds of miles apart from each other, there are many commonalities. If you’re sitting in someplace like Chicago or San Francisco or New York City this post may not resonate with you that much. It might be hard to see things from my vantage point. In such areas, when something needs to be organized or gotten done, its relatively easy to make it happen. You get people together, you talk about it, make a plan of attack and put it into play. Cities built in days, mountains moved in minutes. No sweat.

STP: Same Ten People

Paul Thompson, the former co-chair of OKC Pride, Inc. did not see eye to eye with me on a great many things. He is an older man from a different time and a bygone era. But he is intelligent and while somewhat annoying at times, there are some things that he gets that few others manage to. One such thing was a philosophy he shared with me one time which he called “STP”. It stands for Same Ten People.

He was basically saying that everything that needed to be done in our area – if it got done – was done by the same ten people. It was the same ten people who sit on all the boards, make all the efforts, show up to all the meetings and by and large do everything. What we did not talk about is the fact that the STP also get very set in their ways and sometimes tend to exclude when they should include. For obvious reasons, this is undesirable when you are trying to advocate for civil rights. Because ten people simply cannot do it all. It takes far more than ten, or twenty or fifty or a hundred folks. It takes everyone, working together at the same time and from the same page to make some things happen.

The Sarah Palin Connection

So I recently decided to picket Sarah Palin’s book signing in Norman. I did it not because I disagree with her right to sell her book or even out of a personal hatred for her. I do not like the woman, that much I do admit. I did it because I know she is getting ready to run for the White House in 2012 and I don’t want to see that. Her views on homosexuality offend me and I have every confidence that she would use her office to represent her right-wing wacko constituents exclusively.

Almost immediately, I start getting messages and phone calls and “encouragement” from folks to not do this event. I was informed that “the community” (whoever the fuck that is – oh I’ll get to this little gem in a minute) had decided that it would be best if we did not respond to Palin and give her attention. Some Democrats want to let her think she has a clear shot at the oval office so that she runs and loses, allowing a re-election of Barack Obama to be a slam dunk. They are afraid that my little rally may discourage her from running.

I’m not going to get into whether or not another four years of Obama would be a good thing or a bad thing here. But what I am going to ask is this: so fucking what? Sarah Palin is a snake in the grass. She is a terrible person with terrible morals. She is a homophobe and she has shown by her speech and actions that she is incapable of representing all of her constituents fairly and equally. Its imperative that every elected official represent all of their constituents – yes, even the ones who are gay – equally. I don’t want her in my White House and I think I have good reason not to.

The bottom line is that these are my civil rights that they either want to play political football with or are too lazy to defend, depending on whether we are talking about the do nothing and good for nothing crowd or the let Obama have a cake walk crowd. Its inappropriate and its insulting to think that I should just sit down, shut up and go along with it. Rather than support me in potentially sparing our nation from having a Sally Kern clone in the White House, they’d rather shout me down.

Déjà Vu

Of course, this would not be the first time I have had to deal with headaches created by those who should be helping organize rather than being an obstruction. My very first experiences with rocking the boat in Oklahoma City gay politics was when I heard that the creeps at Westboro Baptist Church were going to picket Moore High School. I started calling around to see who was going to counter-protest and I was shocked to hear that there was no protest, it had been decided it would be best to ignore WBC and not give them attention.

Well, thankfully the order to stay home – which was originally issued by people connected to Cimmaron Alliance Foundation on information and belief – was ignored and there was a HUGE counter protest. While my video does not do it justice, there were about 2,000 people there from all walks of life to condemn it. I was elated. I talked to all of the media there – including the state newspaper – The Daily Oklahoman. Which is why I was shocked that there was no coverage in the Daily Oklahoman about the issue. Not a single item. The rest of the media was silent on the subject as well. I attributed that to the fact that its a bigot-owned newspaper and at an Oklahoma Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus (OGLPC) meeting I was at, I brought this up and demanded that we as a group write a letter chastising the Oklahoman for not covering what was obviously a newsworthy event. OGLPC voted to approve the letter and send it.

When it wasn’t printed as well, I started asking around. I found out that the chair of that organization – Paul Thompson, ordered the Secretary – Victor Gorin (who is a reporter for Metro Star – the regional gay newspaper) – not to send the letter. The reason? Because The Daily Oklahoman was in on the media blackout with the Cimmaron Alliance assholes and they didn’t want to upset the apple cart. I was livid and resigned my membership in that organization, but not before I had choice words for all involved. Victor and I are still friends as I realize he was in a tough position and made a call to follow an order from a chair and he did report his actions voluntarily so its not like he was hiding it.

Shortly after the Moore High School diabolical, I decided it was time for some changes to be made at OKC Pride, Inc. To make a long story short (you can read the only version of the story over on Gossip Boy – here, here, here, here, here and here.), I found myself being cannibalized by my own gay community and hung out to dry. I eventually resigned that organization as well and wrote it off its prospects for reform and being made useful as hopeless.

The point is this: where I come from, silence is consent. This is a principle of parliamentary law and I believe in it. It means that if you see something going on around you and you don’t speak up in oppositions, then you are deemed to be content with whats going on. Its a fair assumption to make. If you allow something to take place with your knowledge and you say nothing, then you may as well be apart of doing it yourself.

Well, there are some things I wont be a party to. Knowingly undermining gay rights is one of them.

I’ve Wanted to Run Away

At the time the Pride diabolical happened, I wanted to run away. I was scared, hurt and angry all at the same time. I seriously considered moving out of state and changing my name as well as a variety of other cowardly options. Thankfully, I did none of the above. I am a fighter and I don’t give up. I am not used to not having my way and I see no point being a quitter now. As I look back on that incident, I have decided that what does not kill me will make me stronger. I am more effective, more efficient and more useful to myself, others and my causes because of what I have been through.

Lets Clear This Up Right Now

In Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: there is no gay community. There never has been, there isn’t now and its fair to wonder if there ever will be. What we have instead are hundreds and maybe even thousands of gay people who refuse to do anything for their community that does not involve drinking alcohol. Its hard to get more than a handful to agree on anything and even harder to get more than the STP to show up to a meeting. Regardless of who the cause is or who called the meeting. One of the most respected leaders of this community once remarked to me how hard it was to get folks out even to meetings that are called by this person.

If Richard Ogden (he is the head of Cimmaron Alliance – which I have nothing but contempt for) came to me today and said “Keith, lets change the condition of things here. Real change. No buddies, no holds barred, lets make it happen.” my response would be “Richard, where do I sign on?”. But thats not the way it is here. There are a good number of folks here who simply wont work together no matter what the cause is because of petty disagreements and personal opinions.

Until we get people who are willing to work together for common goals and learn the art of compromise, then we don’t have a gay community. We have a bunch of gay folks who happen to leave somewhat close to each other who meet for drinks. Thats a drinking club, dinner club or social club. Its not a community by any stretch.

If You Don’t Want to Get Involved

If you are one of those people who never wants to get involved but always wants to complain, I’ve got two words for you: fuck you. Stay home. Bitch from your easy chair. Send messages to your friends and encourage them to take your non-researched position on the issue. Do whatever it is that you do that has not done a single god-damned thing for anyone, anywhere at anytime. While you are being a useless bump on a log, I will be out fighting for my rights and by extension yours too.

Quite frankly, I am tired to the traditional Gay, Inc. approach of slow and steady with my civil rights. I want them now, I want them all and I am willing to fight for them right here and right now. I personally don’t want to get married right now, hell, I don’t even have a boyfriend right now. But I would like to have that opinion open to me in the future should I wish to. So gay marriage is an issue that I am concerned about and I feel entitled to comment and take a position on it, which I have done in previous notes.

Yes, you bet I am young, dumb and full of hell fire. I’m impatient and I am demanding. People who wait for good things to come to them will likely be waiting a while. We make our own luck in life. If you’re not actively looking out for your interests, how can you expect others to do so?

I’m Not Always Right – I’ll Listen to Others

Lets be clear, I’m not always right. Not by a long shot. But at least I am doing something to try and make my corner of the world better. Even if its the wrong thing. And I’d rather do the wrong thing than do nothing at all.

Another important note to make is the fact that I will listen to opinions expressed by other folks who also put themselves out there. People like Brittany Novotny, who constantly give of themselves personally, professionally and politically to try and change. I wont always agree with their decision or position, but I will respect them for it and you can bet that when they have something to say about something I am doing, I am going to find the time to listen and carefully consider what they say.

The Bottom Line

I’m going to hold my events and I’m not going away anytime soon. And even if I do go to Boston as discussed, I’ll still be here on a regular basis. If you aren’t out there trying to make a contribution to our struggle, don’t come and yell at me about how I am doing it all wrong. If you have constructive criticism, then please offer it – constructively. If you want to help, then by all means get involved. If you don’t know how to help, then ask. If you respectfully disagree, then do so respectfully. But if you just want to bitch and moan, call someone who cares.

Because we as a species need to get our act together. Right here and right now.

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