Thursday, August 21, 2008

Now on the Hallmark aisle: Gay marriage cards

I have been waiting what seems like my whole life for this! Hallmark if finally offering cards for lesbians and gays. Read this:

Hallmark, seeing a new market after California ruling, rolls out gay marriage greeting cards

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Most states don't recognize gay marriage -- but now Hallmark does.
The nation's largest greeting card company is rolling out same-sex wedding cards -- featuring two tuxedos, overlapping hearts or intertwined flowers, with best wishes inside. "Two hearts. One promise," one says.

Hallmark added the cards after California joined Massachusetts as the only U.S. states with legal gay marriage. A handful of other states have recognized same-sex civil unions.

The language inside the cards is neutral, with no mention of wedding or marriage, making them also suitable for a commitment ceremony. Hallmark says the move is a response to consumer demand, not any political pressure.

"It's our goal to be as relevant as possible to as many people as we can," Hallmark spokeswoman Sarah Gronberg Kolell said.

Hallmark's largest competitor, American Greetings Corp., has no plans to enter the market, saying its current offerings are general enough to speak to a lot of different relationships.
Hallmark started offering "coming out" cards last year, and the four designs of same-sex marriage cards are being gradually released this summer and will be widely available by next year. No sales figures were available yet.

"When I have shopped for situations like babies or weddings for gay friends I have good luck in quirky stores," said Kathryn Hamm, president of the Web site
"But if you are just in a generic store ... the bride and groom symbol or words are in most cards," she said. "It becomes difficult to find some that are neutral but have some style."

The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law estimates that more than 85,000 same-sex couples in the United States have entered into a legal relationship since 1997, when Hawaii started offering some legal benefits to same-sex partners.

It estimates nearly 120,000 more couples will marry in California during the next three years -- and that means millions of potential dollars for all sorts of wedding-industry businesses.

Hallmark, known more for its Midwest mores than progressive greetings, has added a wider variety lately. It now offers cards for difficulty getting pregnant or going through rehab.
It pulled a controversial card that featured the word "queer" in the punch line after it was criticized by some customers and gay magazine The Advocate last year. At any given time, Hallmark has 200 different wedding cards on the market, including some catering to interracial or inter-religious marriages and blended families.

The Greeting Card Association, a trade group, says it does not track how many companies provide same-sex cards but believes the number is expanding.
"The fact that you have someone like Hallmark going into that niche shows it's growing and signals a trend," said Barbara Miller, a spokeswoman for the association.

Rob Fortier, an independent card maker who runs his company, Paper Words, out of New York, added same-sex wedding cards to his mix after thinking about what he would want to receive.
"A lot of people think a gay greeting card needs a rainbow on it," Fortier said. "I don't want that."

But for some time, it was difficult to even find the words for what anyone wanted to say, he said.
His first card poked fun at the challenge.

On the outside it featured lines that had been scratched out: "Congratulations on being committed!", "Congratulations on being unionized!" and, finally, "Congratulations on being domestically partnered!" The inside wished the couple congratulations on choosing to be together forever.

"It really comes down to language," he said.

John Stark, one of the three founders of Three Way Design in Boston, which makes gay-themed cards for occasions from adoption to weddings, has several new designs sketched out and ready.
But he has hesitated adding more wedding cards to his mix until after the November election, when California voters will decide a constitutional amendment that would again limit marriage to a man and a woman in the state.

"What is scary is to produce a marriage line and then November comes and it's recalled, then we have thousands of dollars of inventory waiting," he said.

The gay-friendly business can be challenging, companies said.

Hamm said although she has found many vendors willing to work with her company, some have asked to be removed from the Web site because of hate mail or some other backlash.

Hallmark says all of its stores can choose whether they want to add the latest offerings.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Joe is now on Facebook.

I am now on Facebook and loving it!

Joe Kort's Facebook profile

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Are You Two Guys Brothers? by Brian McNaught

Author and sex educator Brian McNaught has been someone to whom I have looked up to throughout my gay adulthood. He is a man with integrity, passion for what he does, and a mission to teach the world about gay issues making it safer to be gay and lesbian. I have also admired his openness, honesty and genuineness as a person and gay man.

This book adds another level to all of this.

We all need someone to turn to who has been there before us to give us guidance. That is the role often of parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles. However in the gay culture we often don't have that and with this book you now do! McNaught talks about his life with his partner, his suicide attempt, his sexual life including some childhood sexual abuse, and how he managed his successes as a gay men in the 1970's and how he feels about gay life today.

We need more men like Brian McNaught who are willing to talk openly, freely and frankly about being a gay man. I first heard of Brian McNaught in 1993 when PBS was regularly running his talk, Homophobia in the Workplace.

I was mesmerized by the casual way he talked about being gay and the way he taught his beliefs to his audience. I was particularly interested in the guided imagery he used in his presentation in which he asks people to imagine the entire world to be gay but that you are straight. He walks the listener through what it would be like to be a child and for the world around you to be gay when you are straight. He takes you into your first day of high school, your first date, kiss and sexual experience with someone of the same gender.

After the guided imagery he asks people what it was like to go through the visualization to which people say, “scary”, “lonely”, “frightening”, and more. He then points out how lesbians and gays go through this very thing while growing up and calls it a form of sexual abuse. He asks folks to consider the profound trauma and abuse that would be inflicted on heterosexual young people if there were forced to date, have their first kiss and sexual experience with someone of the same gender.

This guided imagery is highly sought after particularly after I use it in my gay affirmative talks so I published it in my latest book, “Gay Affirmative Therapy for the Straight Clinician”. It can also be found in Brian McNaught’s book, Gays in the Workplace.

In his current book he admits that he was sexually abused by his father but had not been public about this lest others think he was gay because of it. On page 52 of, Are You Guys Brothers? He writes:
“As a gay man raised Catholic, I would argue that I have been sexually abused
far more effectively by Pope Benedict XVI, also known as Cardinal Joseph
Ratzinger, than I ever was by my father, and that the impact of his carefully
chosen, gratuitously hostile, erroneous, and dehumanizing words about my
sexuality have left far deeper and more significant scars than the inappropriate
touch engaged in by my father. I’d suggest that this is true for gay men and
women throughout the world. But who would dare charge the Pope with the crime of
sexual abuse?
I take McNaught’s thinking further and call it “covert cultural sexual abuse” which you can view here as well as address it throughout Gay Affirmative Therapy for the Straight Clinician.

Thank you Brian!