This lawmaker wanted a 'Straight Pride Month.' But it backfired — big time.

In late June, folks in Dixon, California, woke to an eye-opening op-ed in their local newspaper.

It was a "Ted Talk" (so to speak) that few residents were asking for.

In an edition of his column "That's Life," Vice Mayor Ted Hickman penned an essay calling for July to be celebrated as "SPAM" — Straight Pride American Month.

Seriously.



And yes, his essay — a rebuke to the LGBTQ Pride Month recognized every June — was as homophobic as you'd expect.


"Now hundreds of millions of the rest of us can celebrate our month, peaking on July 4th, as healthy, heterosexual, fairly monogamous, keep our kinky stuff to ourselves, Americans," Hickman wrote in the nonsensical essay, which, as of writing, can still be read on his website. "We do it with our parades in every state and county in this country with families celebrating together" [emphasis in original].

Also, LGBTQ people are "fairies" who only march in Pride parades for the attention, according to the vice mayor.

He continued, saying that "we honor our country and our veterans who have made all of this possible (including for the tinker bells) and we can do it with actual real pride, not some put on show just to help our inferior complex 'show we are different' type of crap."

So ... where to begin?

Hickman's op-ed clearly displays an abhorrent amount of homophobia. But "Straight Pride" wasn't his creation. The slogan has been used by some social conservatives since at least the 1980s.  

Many Twitter users have rallied around #HeterosexualPrideDay the past few years, causing the hashtag to trend on social media and setting off a debate around its relevance.

In June, some irked Red Sox fans questioned why the team didn't celebrate a "Straight Night" after the club's logo was painted in rainbow colors in honor of LGBTQ Pride. Pop over to Facebook, and you may even be able to find a (totally unironic) "Straight Pride" event in your neck of the woods.

Just to say it: We don't celebrate "Straight Pride Month" for the same reasons we don't celebrate "White Heritage Month" or "Men's History Month."

Privileged groups don't need a day (or week or month) to reflect on their humanity and history because our culture celebrates their humanity and history every day.

If you're straight (or cisgender, or male, or white, or abled, or Christian), that's great! But those parts of your identity haven't been systemically oppressed, like the identities of those — and many other — marginalized groups.

LGBTQ people, for instance, still face discrimination in housing, education, employment, and other aspects of life. So it's not surprising that they report higher rates of mental illness and attempt suicide more frequently. Family rejection helps explains why up to 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ.

When alarming figures like that no longer exist, maybe "Straight Pride" can be on the table. (But probably not.)

Photo by George Frey/Getty Images.

The good news is, many residents in Dixon — and across the state — are not impressed with Hickman's antics.

And the backlash has been swift and furious.

Dixon City Councilman Devon Minnema posted a statement on Facebook shortly after Hickman's essay was published by The Independent Voice, calling the op-ed "deeply disturbing" and encouraging the council to act.

OFFICIAL STATEMENT: The positions of Councilman Hickman published in yesterday’s Independent Voice are deeply...

Posted by City Councilman Devon Minnema on Saturday, June 30, 2018

Rick Zbur, the executive director of LGBTQ advocacy group Equality California, is urging Hickman to resign.

"Despite all the progress we've made, hate and intolerance are alive and well in fringe politicians like Mr. Hickman who spew hateful rhetoric in an attempt to dehumanize members of our LGBTQ community," Zbur said in a statement. "Mr. Hickman's words have no place in our society — especially at a time when our nation is already so divided and studies show hate crimes are on the rise."

A "Recall Ted Hickman" Facebook group has been launched, and as of this writing, has attracted over 1,500 supporters. It's also organizing a city council protest demanding Hickman step down.

"As a straight person I certainly feel no pride in having anything in common with unfunny Hickman," one supporter wrote. "Shame on him."

You may be proud to be straight, vice mayor — but it sounds like many people in Dixon aren't very proud to call you their own.

Courtesy of Verizon
True

If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

via CNN / Twitter

Eviction seemed imminent for Dasha Kelly, 32, and her three young daughters Sharron, 8; Kia, 6; and Imani, 5, on Monday. The eviction moratorium expired over the weekend and it looked like there was no way for them to avoid becoming homeless.

The former Las Vegas card dealer lost her job due to casino closures during the pandemic and needed $2,000 to cover her back rent. The mother of three couldn't bear the thought of being put out of her apartment with three children in the scorching Nevada desert.

"I had no idea what we were going to do," Kelly said, according to KOAT.

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