Thursday, November 08, 2007

MassResistance Hits New Low

Who knew the story of Ms. Massresistance's daughter, who came out as lesbian, could get any more interesting. Sadly, it did. Soon after her school's production of "the Laramie Project," Claudia Contrada finds herself the target of her homophobic mother. I hate to provide the link, but here's the newest example of MassResistance homophobia - essentially calling one of their very own family members a student who has such special needs that she couldn't be responsible for her own decision to come out. She very well could have some learning disabilities, but none that have precluded her from memorizing line after line and performing in a very difficult and important play, such as the Laramie Project. I somehow doubt Claudia Contrada isn't perfectly capable of doing a simple thing like an interview. Laughably, Massresistance was saying they couldn't even make Claudia sit out of the play, because she needed it somehow in a capacity related to special education. Huh?

Yet, it gets worse. While the Contradas couldn't see fit to demand her daughter sit out from a play they didn't want her in - because they say it somehow helped with her special needs - they've now seen fit to remove her from the school, the very place she was in to help her with her whatever her needs happen to be. The Contradas have pulled their daughter from her school, her friends, her drama club and clearly a lot of the things Claudia finds important. They've pulled her from the few hours of escape she had. According to Queer Today, they've even "hacked" into Claudia's Facebook account. They've made their very own daughter a target in their unending homophobic spree. I can't imagine the damage they're doing to someone who's obviously a bright, courageous, young girl. Though I doubt it'll stop Claudia. Thankfully, the next generation is going to be better than the one it replaces. If anything, the Contradas are a clear example of that.

H/T to Mark from Queer Today.

Update: For whatever crazy reason, I read more from that Massresistance link. It only gets crazier and crazier, as so many of their posts do. I don't know how the GLBT community can help Claudia other than by giving her all the moral support in the world, but it's clear that Claudia should almost be viewed as a heroine for all the courage it took to come out despite having Amy Contrada as a mother. Seriously, it's one of the bravest things I've ever seen anyone do. However we can help Claudia, we should.

26 comments:

Mass Marrier said...

Wowsers, the lingo in that MR tirade is so delusional. Check for how many "forced" references it uses. Being around supportive faculty and classmates "forced" this or that behavior. She was even forced to sign a paper saying she wouldn't (horror) use anti-gay slurs. At the bottom, she was "forced to leave school."

Of course, her parents forced her to leave school. Why can't they ever take responsibility for their personal decisions?

I don't know the daughter. I sat in the front row of the play and got a vague sense of her though. For the better part of three hours, she was alert, attentive, looked the audience and fellow actors in the eye, and in general, seemed quite mature and together for a high-school student.

Re-scanning the MR piece, I see dozens of examples of people other than her family supporting her in many ways. On the other hand, the parents, without using these terms, hassled and criticized her actions, decisions and activities.

I'm sorry that they felt compelled to act in those ways, doubly sorry they decided to take her out of her familiar and supportive environment. I know many parents do such things when their kids develop their own thoughts and feelings, but this passive aggression of being "forced" is so sad.

Laurel said...

I find this troubling and worrisome. It is really awful to pull kids from their support mechanisms. But I suppose if she has survived this long, she will find a way to stick it out until she is emancipated at age 18.

Besides the things you mentioned, there was something else in the page you linked to that left me wondering. Did you notice that Amy is referred to as Claudia's parent, and that Amy has a husband (who remains nameless). But never do they refer to Amy & Husband collectively as Claudia's parents. I find that odd, and don't know quite what to make of it.

Mark D. Snyder said...

I am very sad and worried for Claudia at this point. Very concerned. I know how resiliant 17 year olds can be, I know I was when I came to boston at that age. But now she is possible in lock down at her home.

Ryan Adams said...

It's a scary thought, Mark - and certainly I'm hoping she'll be alright.

Rieux said...

I don't know how much difference this makes, but the run of "The Laramie Project" at Acton-Boxborough Regional High School is NOT over. There are still two more performances left on November 9 (tonight) and 10.

I can only imagine that Claudia's fellow cast members are scrambling--amid plenty of shock and pain, no doubt--to cover her roles with an understudy. Or other cast members taking on additional roles, etc.

The very actions that Amy Contrada has taken are uncomfortably relevant to the subject matter of "The Laramie Project." Claudia's not dead (we all hope!), but she certainly appears to be suffering the consequences of some very virulent homophobia.

I really wonder what the play will look like tonight. I'm sure everyone involved in the production will be thinking about Claudia throughout.

Lynne said...

It's hard to believe that you can do this to someone your purport to love.

Claudia's being portrayed by her own mother as someone who's not capable of knowing herself. How much does this undermine this young girl's self esteem? Hopefully, she has some access to the web and understanding the sympathy and respect she's getting outside her prison.

I read through that MR post *shudder*. They apparently got a hold of her emails from reporters and posted them with "isn't sick?" commentary. WHEN EVERY ONE OF THOSE EMAILS WAS RESPECTFUL OF HER SITUATION, and CERTAINLY NOT SICK. Claudia has a compelling story and they want to all give her a platform for it.

God, the email from Mark says, "Lots of people want to talk to you. I'm going to protect your information and they'll have to find you their own way." I found that so respectful - Mark wasn't being sleazy at all! Do these idiots know what a parody of themselves they are?

There's so much in the world to be sad about right now...but this one broke my heart. Thanks for posting about it.

Lynne said...

Goodness, I was so upset I couldn't even check my grammar. First sentence "your" is supposed to be "you." The "isn't sick" part is supposed to be "isn't this sick" instead.

I wish there were something anyone could do for this girl.

It's likely her mother is looking into some of those terrible "ex-gay" camps. :(

Ryan Adams said...

Let's hope not, Lynne, because that would pretty much be the worst case scenario.

Thanks for the update, Rieux, it's really unfortunate that this is happening to Claudia and her school. Neither of them deserve it. Given all the different productions I've been in, I know exactly how much work and dedication goes into making them happen - so it's a shame that at the very least Claudia won't be able to finish her run (and maybe even the entire cast; it's not easy to replace anyone in a drama and often times not possible, unless there were understudies - and at the high school level, there rarely are).

Marcie said...

I have a very good source that said that the part that Claudia played was understudied because of the family's history.

Anonymous said...

To report possible child abuse or neglect in Massachusetts, you must first file an oral report by calling the Child-at-Risk Hotline at 1-800-792-5200

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind that this is a 17-year-old kid. People should find a way to de-escalate the situation.

Ryan Adams said...

People? I'd love to 'de-escalate' the position, but it's pretty hard to do that when her parents are the ones doing this to her. Save from calling DSS (and I'm honestly not sure if this situation calls for that - I doubt she's in amu physical danger), I don't know how it's possible for outsiders to bring things down a notch. Hell, I'm sure many of us would be very willing to tolerate a discussion with Amy Contrada and have a little chat, but what are the chances she'd ever be willing to do that with heathens like us?

Amy Contrada and her husband are the only ones who can make the situation better for their daughter, likely by allowing her to go back to school and just try to be a normal 17 year old senior in high school. There's nothing anyone in the GLBT community can do, save from offering Claudia our moral support, at least until she's of legal age and can move from that situation.

Anonymous said...

Would you really like to de-escalate the situation, or are you trying to make this a cause celebre?

I used to live in Massachusetts. I am familiar with Mass Resistance and have no love lost for them. That said, there's a real human being involved in this one. A 17-year-old kid who, according to the parents, is a special-needs student.

Now, don't get me wrong. A special-needs kid can be just as gay as anyone else. But it's also plausible that she isn't gay, as the parents claim, and has gone along for an exciting ride. It's not something I want to believe, and I'm definitely not buying into Mass Resistance's characterization of the gay groups as being exploitive, etc.

What I'm saying is that there ought to be room for mediation here, for a good-faith attempt to see if a way can be found to ratchet down the rhetoric on both sides.

After all, this young woman will soon be 18 years old and of legal age. Time will go by, and then you can see what you can see. Someone should try to get this whole thing moved to neutral ground.

I don't know if this will do any good, because I sense your heels are dug in just as hard as theirs are, and therefore anyone who's not standing with you at the barricades is a potential traitor.

All I can tell you on that score is that I'm the 50-year-old gay uncle of a bunch of kids being raised by my gay brother and his partner, some of whom are special needs kids. I really think you should at least try to take a different tack here. I'm not saying that the parents ought to be allowed to send that young woman off to some electric shock parlor, okay?

I'm saying that if there was ever a situation that called for cooler heads to prevail, this is that situation. Please think about it.

Anonymous said...

I re-read what I wrote and need to follow up. I think some of the gay activists here seem to have set their heels in concrete, but precisely the same is true of Mass Resistance.

So, when I call for some mediation, I want to make is clear that BOTH sides should be willing to admit a mediator, and BOTH sides should agree that the interests of that 17-year-old girl come first.

Amy Contrada is the one who ought to count the most here. Not Mass Resistance, her parents and their egos, or the various gay bloggers who want to turn this girl into a national symbol.

Ryan Adams said...

Anon,

Obviously, MassResistance is trying to make her sound like she's completely incapable of making reasonable decisions for herself at the age of 17. I'm sorry, but if you're buying that from an organization like MassResistance, you're quickly losing your grasp on reality. She's someone who can memorize many complicated lines all at the same time, who has friends and advanced social relationships. Whatever special needs she may (or may not, for all we know) have, they certainly aren't of the variety that prevent her from making her own decisions at the age of 17.

And, as I've already said, I'd be more than willing to talk to the Amy Contrada types. I've talked to many, many people who thought homosexuality was wrong on an open and gracious front - in the end, for people who aren't bat shit crazy, that's the best way to convince them that they're homophobic ways are wrong. Unfortunately, Amy Contrada IS bat shit crazy. She stalks young gay and trans youth, posting pictures and discriptions of them online without asking permission. SHE USED HER FREAKING DAUGHTER in this capacity; this wouldn't have ever become a big story had Amy Contrada just let her daughter do the play and let things simmer down. That's just not what she did. She decided to make her daughter the "cause celebre", not any particular gay blogger, especially myself.

At this point, I'm purely interested in Claudia's well being. She's a lesbian daughter to a bit-shit crazy homophobic mother. That's never a good recipe and, as I've said in the post, we're going to need to give Claudia all the moral support that's possible. By advancing Amy Contrada's rationale and bigoted ways, you're doing no help for the gay community, but especially no help for Claudia Contrada.

Anonymous said...

"or the various gay bloggers who want to turn this girl into a national symbol."

Anon, that's ridiculous and irresponsible. 5 people in the US have heard of Amy Contrata. She's an unknown local kook. There are already zillions of nationally famous homophobes with gay kids, so how in the world who anyone be able to turn her daughter into a national symbol even if they were so inclined, which, btw, they're not. Talk about ratcheting down the rhetoric.

And yeah, coming out in high school is an exciting ride. Why, I can't think of anything more fun and happy! It's been a long, long time since you went to high school, innit? That makes total sense, all over America straight kids are coming out of teh closet for all those eprks and special rights.

Anonymous said...

The girl is a minor and, for all I know, has special needs. This situation is about one kid, and I think both sides should respect that.

No, I don't think you should be talking to the girl's mother. You've called her "bat shit crazy," and she's called you equally nasty things. What I suggest is that you make a good faith effort to pursue neutral mediation rather than fan the flames.

Yeah, it's been a while since I was in high school. That's a double-edged sword. On the one hand, I'm out of touch to some degree. On the other hand, I've been a gay high school student, with all that it entails, but now I have the added advantage of a different sense of time.

In less than one year, this kid will be of legal age. She will move on, her parents will move on, and you will move on. In the meantime, everyone who can influence that young life has a choice: Will they try to ease the way, or are they going to insist on making turning a vulnerable young woman into (pardon the pun) a stage prop?

That goes for Mass Resistance, and it goes for you. Both of you should be seeking mediation and accommodation. I see no evidence of it from either side.

ScaryFrank said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ryan Adams said...

You go send an email to Brian Carmaker and Amy Contrada and tell them you want to "reconcile" with them as a gay male, then get back to me. I'm sorry, but there's just no rationalizing with crazy people - and they're certainly crazy.

Being not far removed from 17, I'm not going to continue discussing this line of thought with you, Anon. She decided to be the strong one and come out. Unfortunately, you don't get that she's perfectly capable of making such rational decisions. To continue bickering with you over this point would be useless, since I strongly suspect you to be nothing but a troll.(There's no way a rational person can possibly think gay people can have a heart to heart with Amy Contrada, or trust anything that spews forth from her mouth.)

Suffice it to say, the only thing I care about in this story is Claudia - and anyone who lives in a certain situation. No one should have to deal with parents that can't accept them for who they are; unfortunately, this one particular young, courageous woman has come out strong to advance her own rights. She's the one who decided to be brave and talk about it, as an emerging adult who is fully capable of making her own decisions. I only wrote this post because, hopefully, she'll be able to read it and know that there are hundreds of people out there rooting for her, giving her all the moral support she can possibly get. I'm sure it'll help her get through what her mother is putting her through.

Liat said...

"Special needs" can mean any number of things. Kids are classified as "special needs" for having AD/HD, dyslexia, depression, any number of conditions that don't affect intelligence or self-awareness in any way.

She may be classified as a special-needs student just because she's adopted into a family of a different race. Nobody's posted a diagnosis for her (and I most sincerely hope nobody does, as that's even a further invasion of privacy); we don't know what her special needs might be, but they don't have to be anything that prevents her from having the maturity and self-determination of any other 17-year-old.

(Apropos of nothing, the first letters of the verification word are "qeer". Really.)

bostonph said...

The part I don't get is Mr. Anon's call for a neutral mediator. What exactly is supposed to be mediated and to what outcome? Last I checked Amy Contrada was Claudia Contrada's guardian. The rest of us are just outraged citizens writing on blogs.

I'm reminded of the time when Attorney Edward Pawlick proposed a Valentine's Day Truce: he'd give up fighting gay marriage if we'd stop fighting for it and admit it was all a plot by the Lesbians (seriously).

Not coincidentally, Amy worked for Pawlick's MassNews for several years.

Since Edward is dead, I guess we all need to go hug Rob Wellington and Rob Eno or something.

Anonymous said...

"No, I don't think you should be talking to the girl's mother. You've called her "bat shit crazy," and she's called you equally nasty things. What I suggest is that you make a good faith effort to pursue neutral mediation rather than fan the flames."

Holy shit, what ARE you talking about? A mediator? This isn't a labor dispute or international crisis. This girl isn't being held hostage, and nobody's proposing an Elian Gonzales style commando raid to free her. This is a blog. We don't have any power to influence this person for good or ill, we don't actually know her. Basically what we're doing is discussing a news story about how much Mass Resistance sucks, how glad we are Amy Contrada isn't our mother, and how sad it is when someone's parent abuses her trust by trashing her kid. We, uh, can't really reach accomodation and mediation over a private parenting dispute involving strangers, but if you figure out a way, please let me know in detail by next Wednesday before midnight, kay?

Mark D. Snyder said...

As far as Amy Contrada only being local, I beg to differ. She has been mentioned on blogs around the world for several years, and MassResistance which really is only her and Brian has been spoofed on the daily show.

If Fred Phelps 17 year old daughter came out in an interview for a blog I think some of the critics of QueerToday's decision to post the interview might have a different take.

Anonymous said...

*shrugs* Regardless, she certainly isn't in the same league as Randall Terry, Phyllis Schlafley, Alan Keyes. Most people haven't heard of her, even in MA, there are far more famous crazy people with gay kids out there. And while Brian was on The Daily Show, how many viewers who watched that would even remember his name?

And frankly, mark, aren't you trivializiang the issue somewhat? For Claudia to come forward like that was very brave, but she's 17 years old. Yes, she has a better sense of her family situation than you, but you should also have a better sense of the difficulties she faces while she's in the custody of a seriously disturbed person than she. I'd feel exactly the same if it were Phelps' daughter, if she's living under his roof have the common sense to hold off on publishing the interview until she's out of that situation. A few months won't matter to you, but could to her, why take that risk? Has anyone heard from her yet?

Anonymous said...

Anon: you should take a closer look at QueerToday. Publicity and controversy is their sole reason for existing. To chide Mark for using this to increase their exposure is fruitless. He doesn't care as long you spell his name right.

Anonymous said...

I have called for a neutral mediator - the DSS! She is at high risk of suicide, being a gay special needs teen who has been intentionally isolated from her support system. Thanks to her warped father, she is also at risk of stalkers and creeps who might want to show a nice little asian girl what a real man is like.

Ewwww.

They had had enough calls on the situation that they didn't even want the paper. DSS understands that the girl has been cloistered and they have opened an investigation.

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