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Posts Tagged ‘Victor Gorin’

If I were the media, this is how I would have written the story. In fact, this is how I wrote the story for The Norman Queer Alliance’s Queer Zine. I submitted the copy today.

(Norman, Oklahoma) — On December 3rd, 2009 Sarah Palin rolled into the Hastings in Norman in her big blue bus to sign copies of her book “Going Rouge”. Complete with a DJ playing a variety of music from rock to country, the event had a rock concert type of atmosphere. With temperatures below freezing and a brisk north by northwest wind of 6 to 15 MPH, it was a an event for those committed to a viewpoint. Estimates of the crowd size vary wildly depending on who you talk to, but most peg the number of supporters present as being more than a thousand and possibly as many as two thousand.

David White, a Palin supporter from Stillwater, Okla. told NewsOK’s Damon Fontenot “…shes done so much for the party, rejuvenating the base, and its been one of the greatest things we have had since Regan”. Many of the other supporters interviewed in various media seemed to echo White’s sentiments. At one point, supporters unveiled a large tarp that had messages written on it that encouraged Palin to run for the presidency in 2012. It was signed by several people. Some supporters held signs saying “We Love Sarah Palin” with red lipstick kiss.

Sarah Palin was expected to speak at the event, and at one point there was a small platform erected for her to speak from, but upon arrival she shook a few hands and went inside without a word. NewsOK stated that the several protesters holding signs may be to blame for Palin’s decision to dispense with the speech. Most estimates as to the number of protesters put the number somewhere between several dozen and as high as seventy-five. The protest received coverage from a number of news outlets across the state including News 9, KOCO-TV, Tulsa World, The Oklahoma Daily, The Oklahoman, News OK, Gossip-Boy and an iReport on CNN. Also present were documentary film makers producing an upcoming documentary called The Reddest State about the status of politics in Oklahoma.

The Oklahoman reported “A group of about 12 protesters lined up on the west side of Hastings and held signs in the air…” in a December 4 piece entitled For Sarah Palin fans, a signing bonus”. In a memo on his Facebook account, protest organizer and Norman Queer Alliance member Keith Kimmel pointed out that there were far more than a dozen protesters shown in NewsOK’s own footage and accused the paper of “…continuing old traditions of marginalizing homosexuals.”. Kimmel stated that he and other attendees are drafting a letter to the Daily Oklahoman to call them on the inaccurate reporting.

Victor Gorin, reporter and ad sales rep for publisher StarNews, Ltd. which publishers the regional queer newspaper MetroStar News was interviewed by KOCO-TV’s Mark Opgrande. Gorin was quoted as saying “Well, the mood is pretty upbeat on both sides…” and added “…overall, I’m glad to see people being involved.” Gorin held a sign “Lesbians United Against Hate” with a picture of Palin. Catlin Frazier was interviewed by News OK and said “Well, its not nearly as cold as the inauguration, so I am happy to stand out here. And represent that even though I live in Oklahoma, and every county here went for McCain/Palin, that there is still liberals in this state, and our voices have been outshouted frequently and I’m here to represent those people.”

The protesters included everyone from a group of guys from Norman High School to college students to older folks. Signs held include “Don’t Palin My Norman”, “Gay is OK”, “Palin – Limbaugh’s Favorite Parrot”, “Shame on Sally KKKern”, “Go Home, Take Sally With You”, “Palin Hates Equality”, “Ignorance is Bliss” and “Gay Pride”. References to Sally Kern were made because the Oklahoma representative from House District 84 was among those in line to get a book signed by Palin. Kern, well known for her publicly made homophobic remarks, is almost universally disliked in the gay community and some media coverage suggested that the protest was as much about protesting Sally Kern as it was Sarah Palin.

The event resulted in no arrests or citations and except for a couple of incidents of name calling, it was a peaceful event that ended without incident. It is, however, likely that more than one attendee succumbed to frostbite.

Update: A version of this post appeared in the January, 2010 edition of Metro Star News as a story. I was credited as the author.

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For those unaware, The Daily Oklahoman was named America’s Worst Daily Newspaper by the Columbia Journalism Review in 1999. I believe I recall hearing that they have won this distinction more than once. Read the article for a laundry list of reasons why this is the case. You’ll read the history of how the paper has fought to be led into the ground by its ownership and the manner in which the Gaylord family smears its name all over the front page regularly for non-newsworthy events like a child smears feces on a wall. In fact, the newspaper is often refereed to locally as The Daily Disappointment.

Well, I have one more reason to add to the pile of why The Daily Oklahoman sucks: they lie their asses off in news coverage. In recent coverage of Sarah Palin’s visit to Norman to sign her book, they said:

A group of about 12 protesters lined up on the west side of Hastings and held signs in the air saying “Winners never quit, quitters never win” and “Gay is OK.”

Now – as those who were there know – there were about seventy-five protesters at the Sarah Palin picket that I recently organized. Did I count them? No, I did not. It could have been sixty-five, or even fifty-five. But hell, you can count more than twelve faces and signs in the Oklahoman’s very own news video coverage which they published! It wasn’t about a dozen. Not even close. Hell, every other photo of this event I have seen shows far more than a dozen people present.

This has to be one of the best examples I can find of coverage that was purposefully skewed by this paper. I forgave KOCO-TV for their story, so why is it different with the Daily Oklahoman? Because TV news is made on the fly and once you run a story, you can’t update it and you can’t go back and redo it to present a better angle. But in the newspaper business, you have all night to get the story right until newsroom deadline anyway. And obviously, they weren’t at deadline when there were clearly more than a dozen folks there as evidenced by their other conflicting coverage. This story wasn’t published until the day after the protest.

I think this is just another example of how the Daily Bigot (as I call it) is continuing old traditions of marginalizing homosexuals. If none of the other media had mentioned that gays were picketing, they wouldn’t have either. But since every other outlet ran with the story, they had to say something. So they just minimized it to the greatest possible extent, by saying that only about a dozen homos came out. If you can’t ignore it, then minimize it. I and other event attendees will be writing a joint letter to the editors of The Daily Oklahoman calling them on their mistake in the near future.

But not to worry, folks. Today, The Daily Disappointment ran a story which began as follows: “New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas L. Friedman was awarded Monday the Gaylord Prize for Excellence in Journalism and Mass Communication.” Oh, boy. I’d really be worried if that was me. I think thats Mr. Friedman’s career dissipation light flashing.

P.S. – Special thanks to Victor Gorin for bringing this matter to my attention.

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So on December 3rd, 2009 – at about 6:30 PM CST – it happened. She arrived, big blue tour bus and all. She would be Sarah Palin. Sally Kern also came, but for once, Sally was not the topic of the day and no one really seemed to notice or care that she was there. She had about 1,000 supporters there to welcome her, and about 75 of us. Us would be the protesters. Some of those present that I know of included Floyd Martin, Caitlin Frazier, John Cloud and Hunter Phillips. If I missed anyone and you are on facebook, friend me, then message me and I will tag you.

Many of the media interviewed us before the bulk of the protesters showed up. So be sure to take a look at photos taken by our folks which provide an in-depth look at the event and closeups of alot of signs.

There have been rumors (started by NewsOK) circulating that Palin planned to speak but canceled the speech because we decided to picket the event. So for those of you who claimed that our protest would be pointless, take this proof and shove it. Not sure if this is true or not, but if it is, its safe to say she heard our message. Here is the news coverage of the event. I will update this as I locate more coverage, if you know of something that’s not on here, please send me a message with a link. Newest coverage will be added to the top of the list.

Oklahoma Gazette: Sarah’s Circus – Mention of protesters towards the end. Print edition had two nice color photos of picketers.
Gossip-Boy: The Dumb One is in the Middle – Homepage Photo Gallery.
The Oklahoma Daily: Scores of Palin fans brave cold at event – OU Student Rachel Singley mentioned and quoted. The print edition had a picture of an unnamed protester next to the Palin photo. The story ran on the front page, above the fold.
CNN: Sara Palin in Norman Oklahoma – CNN iReport.
Tulsa World: Scores of Palin fans brave cold at event – Showed the AP photo of the picketers with a brief mention on page A18. Click Newspaper View to see how it looked on the printed page.
News 9: Photo Gallery – Several pictures of the protesters.
News 9: Palin Book Signing Draws Big Crowd – Interview with MetroStar’s Victor Gorin.
Associated Press: Photo – AP has a photo of our protesters.
News OK: NewsOK Video – Caitlin Frazier interviewed. Great pan shot of the protesters.
News OK: Photo Gallery – One early picture of us starting to mass.
Norman Transcript: Palin makes book tour stop in Norman – Paul Weider, a Norman High School senior mentioned and quoted.
News 9: Palin Welcomed by Hundreds of Fans in Norman – Brief mention of the picketers, coverage starts at about 1:40 in the video.
Channel 5: Protestor Talks About Palin Visit – Interview of me before the picketers got there (it was still light outside).

If you have photos, videos or whatever of the event, please send me links via message. You can e-mail photos to keithontap@gmail.com. Thanks to all of you who came our and made this event a success. While a number of folks would have rather you stayed home, you braved the absolutely frigid temperatures to come out and make a difference. I love you for it. I don’t care what anyone says, our gay community is beautiful and we should be proud of it. And we should show it off at every opportunity we have.

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Dear Editors, Owners, Investors, etc. of Star Media, Ltd. a/k/a MetroStar,

I am writing this open letter to you in response to a web poll that appears on your website. The question asked gives me great cause for concern that you may be about to embark on a course of action that could ultimately destroy the MetroStar newspaper.

As a regular monthly reader of your newspaper (as well as having been occasionally featured in same) who looks forward to each issue hitting the stands, I feel I have a stake in the viability of MetroStar and the outcome of your webpoll, which asks readers if they’d prefer to have a standalone paper covering Oklahoma City only. I presume this poll is in response to a quietly held opinion by a few disenchanted souls that MetroStar is too Tulsa-centric. I have never found any truth to this viewpoint. Rather, it would seem that Tulsa just has more going on most of the time, in large part due to the fact that Tulsa sports a well-organized gay community.

As you are likely aware, the newspaper industry has been going through a rough patch over the last few years. Printed publications focusing on gay life have been hit very hard. Just the last few days has seen over a dozen publications fold as Window Media closed its doors, taking with it top quality publications such as The Washington Blade and sister publications when Avalon Equity Partners was placed into receivership when the Small Business Administration called its loans. Regent Media recently scaled The Advocate back massively, reducing it to an insert to be included with another publication and laid off a substantial portion of its staff. Most feel that Regent is not long for this world, either.

While the industry scales back and consolidates, now is not the time to diversify and launch a paper for each city MetroStar currently serves. From a financial standpoint, its impractical in today’s business climate. I have regular contact with Star staffers (Chaz Ward on occasion, Victor Gorin far more often), who tell me they are stretched pretty thin as it is with regard to reporting duties. No one is faulting them for it or complaining, they are doing the best they can and the result is a quality publication thats free of charge to readers.

But putting out two papers with the same number of staff is twice the work and I fear that the quality of the publication will suffer. The task may even border on the impossible without hiring additional staff. While I am not privy to the financial details of StarNews, Ltd., I get the impression that its a low budget operation that works primarily on a combination of volunteer spirit and ad sales. Adding additional staff may be too much of a strain for the publication to take, this has certainly proved to be the case throughout the industry.

For these reasons, I ask that you please do not undermine and eventually destroy the only newspaper serving this five state area in an attempt to appease the complaints of a handful of ignorant people. There is no newspaper of record to replace the MetroStar should it fold and its unlikely that anyone would step in to resume publication. I feel confident that I speak for many when I say that we as a community value the MetroStar publication and the news it brings us. If it were to be lost, it would be a great loss to the entire community far beyond simply losing a printed document to read.

Thank you for considering my viewpoints as you receive the results of your poll.

Sincerely yours,

Keith Kimmel
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

(Revised and edited 11/19/2009 at 8:30 AM CST)

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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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