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Why I Can’t Go Home Again: Young Activist Takes Stand Against Savage Antigay Policy

jdmjaylenoThere comes a point in every person’s life when their values are tested, when they are asked to stand up and act on their principles and convictions instead of just talking about them. In the last few weeks, I have arrived at that point. And although it has taken me some time to reflect and figure out exactly what I should do about it, I now feel that I have the answer to that question.Anybody who knows me will tell you that the Beverly Hills Hotel is my favorite place on the planet. Even those who don’t know me can see that from my posts on social media. While it’s true that the hotel is beautiful and glamorous, that’s not what it’s about for me. It’s about my family history there; the hotel holds a very special place in my heart.

My grandparents, the late actor James Mason and his wife Pamela, came to the U.S. in 1947 seeking a new beginning. They came to Hollywood from war-torn England seeking a fresh start, to have kids and pursue the American dream. Pamela said when deciding where to live in L.A. that she couldn’t be more than five minutes away from the Beverly Hills Hotel. Being close to it gave her a sense of comfort and safety, the security of knowing that whatever happened, the hotel was right around the corner.

JDMOver the last 70 years, my family’s connection to the hotel has only grown stronger. My grandfather died in 1984, my grandmother died in 1996, and my aunt died, at the way-too-young age of 55, in 2004. Throughout all of those traumatic experiences, the hotel has always been there for us. Whenever I go in, the staff members are always there to give me a hug, to give me a sense of belonging.

In truth, the hotel is the only place where I can go and feel truly happy, where I can feel close to my roots and to the grandfather I never met, the grandmother I was too young to know and the aunt that was gone too soon that I wish could hug and hold in my arms but will never have the chance to do so. It really is the only place on earth I truly consider home, which has made the last few weeks a very difficult period.

For you see, the owner of the Beverly Hills Hotel for the last 20 years has been the Sultan of Brunei, who has recently begun implementing sharia law in his nation. The law includes, among other outrageous provisions, the stoning and murder of gay people. It’s incredible that I’m even writing these words in this day in age, but alas that is the reality we are facing. And so in response, there has been a massive outcry and effort to boycott the hotel, one that as of today has already recruited celebrities such as Jay Leno, Richard Branson, Valentino Garavani, Ellen DeGeneres and Sharon Osbourne.

JDM1I admittedly was a little late to the game in terms of joining the boycott. Not that I went to the hotel at all since the news was announced; I haven’t been back from the moment that I heard about this disgusting law. But I guess I was hoping that there might be some kind of resolution before the first part of the new penal code was signed into effect at the end of April. After all, the last thing I want to do is hurt the hotel and the people who work there that I care so much about.

We have come to the moment, however, where it is clear action has to be taken, and I am committing myself 100 percent to the cause of doing whatever is necessary to boycott the Beverly Hills Hotel, as well as all Dorchester hotels, and get this draconian and evil law thrown in the dustbin of history as soon as possible. As Martin Luther King once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” We cannot stay silent.

I mentioned all the celebrities above who have come out in favor of the boycott, and I guarantee you that there are many more to come. It’s just the beginning; I intend to be a part of helping this movement grow and expand, and I hope that everyone, celebrity or not, uses their voice as well as their pocketbooks to show the Beverly Hills Hotel as well as the other Dorchester hotels around the world exactly how much we care about this issue.

Christopher Cowdray, the CEO of the Dorchester Collection, came out recently and said that the company will not be issuing an apology in response to the new law. I hope he looks in the mirror every morning and thinks about what that means, that he is essentially condoning the torture and death of every gay human being, including many of his own employees. I know that may sound harsh, but now is not the time to mince words when lives are hanging in the balance.

UPDATE:
Mason has launched a petition urging President Obama to take action against the Sultan of Brunei. Read and sign it here.

 

James Duke Mason, 22, is an actor and political activist. He is the son of Go-Go’s lead singer Belinda Carlisle and producer Morgan Mason, and the grandson of the late British actor James Mason.
By:           JAMES DUKE MASON
On:           May 6, 2014
Tagged: , ,

  • 30 Comments
    • BritAus
      BritAus

      Wow, new he was BCs son didn’t realise James Mason was his Grandaddy
      That’s some entertainment blood there

      May 6, 2014 at 7:18 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • AxelDC
      AxelDC

      A star is born.

      May 6, 2014 at 7:24 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • hotboyvb81
      hotboyvb81

      he’s been doing great things- activist wise for a couple years now- he seems like a very smart, together guy!

      May 6, 2014 at 11:16 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      Good for him, And good for Belinda for raising him.

      May 6, 2014 at 12:09 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BJ McFrisky
      BJ McFrisky

      This is suddenly news? That Sharia law wants to kill us, and always has? What the hell beach have you ostriches had your heads buried in?

      PC liberals can throw around the word “Islamophobe” all they want, but when someone wants me dead—even passes laws to ensure my demise—you’re damned right I’m phobic of them.

      May 6, 2014 at 12:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Stefan
      Stefan

      He is wise beyond his years and a tireless advocate for GLBT issues. Belinda raised a great kid. Also brave to post that pic of himself when he was a kid : )

      May 6, 2014 at 12:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • odawg
      odawg

      Wouldn’t it be great if we all had a five star hotel to go to for comfort? Yawn!

      May 6, 2014 at 1:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chevelter
      Chevelter

      James, since you know The Beverly Hills Hotel so well – as do I, I’ve stayed there a dozen times or more over the years – you know that many gay people work at the hotel and you know that management has always been, and continues to be, very gay-supportive. They provided employee benefits for same sex couples even before marriage was legal, they have donated money and facilities to LGBT causes, they advertise openly that they welcome same sex weddings.

      The only people this boycott is hurting are our friends. The Sultan’s tens of billions of dollars of oil money is invested in hundreds of companies worldwide. BHH is but a speck. Maybe you can convince him to sell the hotel, if he even notices what is going on or cares. That would be good. But he is a religious fanatic. Do you think he’s really going to change his religious beliefs because Ellen DeGeneres says not to stay at this hotel he probably doesn’t even remember he owns?

      The people hurting are the employees. Our friends. You know, as do I, how wonderful they are. How sad you are willing to throw our friends under a bus.

      May 6, 2014 at 2:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • SteveDenver
      SteveDenver

      James Duke Mason is a heartthrob, a charmer and an example of grit.
      How easy would it have been for him to take a stand without cutting his ties at the hotel or calling out the chain’s CEO?

      Unlike some of the comments, I can’t fault him for whatever privilege comes with his pedigree. Knowing that he has chosen activism over ease and luxury impresses me.

      Why do I suspect he and Ronan Farrow are on each others’ speed dial?

      May 6, 2014 at 2:28 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DarkZephyr
      DarkZephyr

      @BJ McFrisky: So I take it that you support the boycott and are for once not cheering the guys who hate us?

      May 6, 2014 at 2:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • dannyboi2
      dannyboi2

      @Chevelter: You know as much as I’d like to agree with you and say let’s stand united and support all our fellow gays. No matter where they work, I have to disagree. What is the value of life that we would put our jobs first? If we save one life it’s better than saving millions of jobs. You can always get a new job but, a new life.

      May 6, 2014 at 2:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • yaletownman
      yaletownman

      Cheveltar-there are countless hotels that any staff can work for. There are countless other hotels that people can stay at. Boycotting is hardly as devistating a picture as you wish to paint and your belief in scarcity and lack is not rational in the bigger picture. You are just trying to pile on irrational fear upon rational fear.

      May 6, 2014 at 3:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • bl76km81
      bl76km81

      What is the value of life that we would put our jobs first? I have been a gay activist in Iowa, I spent the 1st years of living here, fighting for the rights of gays, to not be denied housing or employment. My wife and I were the go to people, whenever the local paper wanted every time anybody brought up the gay “agenda”.

      Didn’t anybody tell you jobs are hard to come by nowadays. Most of the jobs here pay minimum wage, even then when someplace is hiring, they get 50-75 applicants for that minimum wage job. Where are you, that you can afford to quit your job. I support the gay community by having a job, letting people know, there is no problem with being hired here, if you are willing to work.

      May 6, 2014 at 3:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Sansacro
      Sansacro

      @bl76km81: Sigh. This hotel is in Beverly Hills, not the Appalachia. If I worked for an overtly homophobic owner because I “had no other choice,” I would actively be looking for another job–anywhere. I would be doing everything in my power to increase my employability and contacts. We still live in America and if you are educated, skilled, and motivated, you have options, especially if you live in a metropolitan area. I would f*#*king rather die then sell my soul.

      May 6, 2014 at 5:20 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • hotboyvb81
      hotboyvb81

      friends call him Duke…such a strange background- recovering addict pop star mom, Reagan aide dad, movie star grandad…the ‘Duke’ is after Belinda’s step father.

      May 6, 2014 at 5:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • SteveWVNYC
      SteveWVNYC

      It is hard to give up things that are dear to our hearts or even just things that give up comfort (your favorite restaurant maybe?). But we have to take stands. I moved from Florida because of the laws there that denied my daughter and her wife rights to share their children equally. And, I refuse to even visit there for a vacation. We all need to take stands and be counted. Each in our own way, but take a stand!

      May 6, 2014 at 6:27 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • willji
      willji

      @BJ McFrisky: He is making the point regarding Dorchester Hotels…Why be so offensive?

      May 6, 2014 at 6:50 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chevelter
      Chevelter

      I’ve been an activist since the late 1970’s, named an early recipient of OUT 100, been partnered for 28 years and legally married to him for 4 years. I’ve donated a ton of time and money over the years.

      This boycott has really opened my eyes. We have become the bullies and zealots we supposedly fight against. Nobody at this hotel has done anything wrong. To casually say to the employees, “just get a job somewhere else” is ludicrous and callous.

      NBC Nightly News aired a story about this tonight. Even Jay Leno said he had nothing against the hotel employees, who are wonderful and kind. Yet uninformed idiots are leaving comments calling the hotel homophobic and hateful. Nothing could be further from the truth. Idiots, all.

      NBC said that Brunei is smaller than Connecticut yet is the 5th richest nation in the world. Do you think this Muslim ruler is going to change his religious views because of a boycott of a speck of property that he owns? No, you will destroy the lives of our friends who work there. He could bulldoze the hotel down and sell off the land and it wouldn’t create the smallest dent in his wealth. Maybe he’ll just do that.

      If I sound livid, I am. Like I said, my eyes have been opened by this bullying. F you all. I will continue to stay at the hotel, and I am going to change my will to eliminate leaving anything to gay groups, including HRC. The stupidity you are all showing is breathtaking.

      May 6, 2014 at 8:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Lance Mullholland
      Lance Mullholland

      Strict sharia law and the hotel business in the Western world don’t mesh.

      Islam is not adapting or evolving as fast as Christianity did (despite what you may think – it’s historical fact).

      The Arabic culture gave so much to the West: math, science and medicine. Too bad parts of it are “stuck”.

      No amount of boycotting will sway the sultan – no more Dorchester hotels for me and mine, but he’s awash in $$$ and it won’t matter to him…

      May 6, 2014 at 8:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DCNimbus
      DCNimbus

      ‘Can’t go home again’? Really? This article is 95% “Look at how important and privileged I, James Duke Mason, am!” And 5% I-don’t-know-what. Sorry, James you do not live in The Beverly Hills Hotel. You grew up visiting the hotel because your privileged family is filthy rich and can afford to do so. You are sitting in the bedroom of your real home talking out of your rear end. Meanwhile the folks who have to work at the hotel to make a living are worried for their jobs because you have passed down an edict to boycott the hotel instead of doing something more meaningful like using your wealth to maybe go visit the Sultan of Brunei in HIS home to share your concern. In the age of social media people think they are ‘doing something’ by posting an article and maybe attending and taking a ‘selfie’ at a protest. But posting or writing something isn’t doing ANYTHING meaningful. I expect more from someone who has the means to take more bold actions than just write an article about his pedigree and how that pedigree made an expensive hotel feel like home growing up and now the owner of that hotel is doing something wrong and despoiling the rich boys’ memory of his visits there. Duke- please do more than this! It’s NOT about you…

      May 6, 2014 at 8:52 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DickieJohnson
      DickieJohnson

      BooHooHoo. This is all sad about the BHH nostalgia and all. The Sultan won’t be effected enough even to know or care about a boycott. It’s not as though all the gays working there, or at the Dorchesters, were going to be dragged into the streets and stoned to death! They have to make a living, a half-world away from backwards lunacy. Spend your energy and $$$ fighting the Mormons, and their version of backwards BS!

      May 6, 2014 at 9:28 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • loren_1955
      loren_1955

      My, my, the queens and bitches are out on this article. Personally, I am pleased to see a young person making a stand in support of gays. The argument of not doing anything because gays work there is ludicrous. Hmmm, shouldn’t boycott Cinemark because gays works there. Hmmm, shouldn’t boycott Target, gays work there. Hmmm, shouldn’t boycott Waffle House, gays work there, etc. etc. Well dang, gays work everywhere, duh!!! Does that mean we don’t take a stand??? Oh, let’s see we only take a stand at the right wing Christian bakery or flower shop because little fear that gays were there, right??? Thank you James Duke Mason for your support. From at least one gay man, you are doing good.

      May 6, 2014 at 9:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Faggot
      Faggot

      We’re all against Sharia law, but this boycott strategy is the wrong way to go about in order to engender change. Employees should all go on strike until all LGBTQI people have the same benefits at that hotel as their straight co-workers. Could you imagine a Muslim sultan endorsing such outrageous employment policy?

      Oh, wait. He already does.

      In that case, the citizens of Brunei and the rest of the Arab/Muslim world should be made fully aware of the fact that Hassanal Bolkiah is LGBTQI supportive. That kind of shame will bring him down and would make him sell his precious hotel. If that fact alone doesn’t work, outrageous parties and orgies should be thrown on the premises that spotlight alternative sexual desires and practices: photographed, taped, and sent for the world to see. It would best to get the local porn industry involved too: homo or tr@nny sex at the Beverly Hotel featuring the hotel’s logo and/or name in the titles of the videos with performers who might just look like the owner’s buddies. That, dear readers, is how to get Sharia craziness out of Beverly Hills.

      May 6, 2014 at 10:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Faggot
      Faggot

      We can write faggot on here but not tr@nny?!

      Interesting.

      May 6, 2014 at 10:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • odawg
      odawg

      @DCNimbus: LOL! It’s like you read my mind.

      May 6, 2014 at 11:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Billysees
      Billysees

      @dannyboi2:

      @Lance Mullholland:

      @DickieJohnson:

      Good, meaningful comments all of you.

      May 7, 2014 at 8:32 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jake3614
      jake3614

      I’m confused – so why can’t he go home? Did he use to live in the Beverly Hills Hotel or the country of Brunei? If the answer is “No”, then I can not think of a reason as to why this article has been written. Same goes if the answer is “Yes.”

      I don’t understand the boycott that the author is attempting, foreign oil money is literally in everything. Be it the gas in our cars, plastics (yes, plastic is a byproduct of oil), and Fortune 500 companies. So, some fancy young man with fancy connections decides to put on his Princess Crown and attempt to get another merit badger to pad out his resume’?

      And because someone uses spellcheck, and probably majored in communications, does not make them a smart and eloquent person. It makes them good at grammar. No one would care about this if he looked like Pepper on American Horror Story: Asylum and came from a “typical” family.

      May 7, 2014 at 5:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Scott Rose
      Scott Rose

      The post is terrific.

      I just wish that people wouldn’t limit their protests against Brunei’s Sharia law to the aspect that is monstrously anti-gay.

      Under Brunei’s Sharia, it is illegal for a person publicly to identify as a non-Musliim, or to “insult the prophet” (punishable by death).

      That is just lunacy, counter to what should be considered every human being’s right to free speech.

      May 8, 2014 at 12:07 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BigWoody
      BigWoody

      I don’t believe the boycott of the Sultan’s hotel chain is meant to harm him financially; it’s to make people aware of what is happening in Brunei. Would we have known about this issue without the boycott?

      Brunei gained its independence from Great Britain in 1984.
      The Sultan pays big bucks to keep a British military base with 1,000 men close to its oil fields.
      Brunei has had a long close history with the US Department of Defense and the CIA.
      The Sultanate is thought of as a corrupt puppet regime of the west by locals.
      See http://www.globalresearch.ca/brunei-is-americas-east-pacific-cash-cow-and-military-base/5353972

      Brunei is the fifth richest country in the world based on its oil and gas industry.
      Brunei Shell Petroleum (a monopoly) is a joint venture formed in 1922 with Royal Dutch Shell.
      Shell is the largest company in the world in terms of revenue.
      See http://royaldutchshellplc.com
      Shell has a high score of 85 out of 100 on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index.
      Shell’s two largest shareholders are; Capital Research Global Investors, headquartered in Los Angeles; and BlackRock, based in New York City (whose political contributions favor democrats).
      Maybe we should be pressuring others in addition to the Sultan’s hotel chain.

      I find it disturbing that the US, Great Britain, Royal Dutch Shell, etc. have blinders on regarding Brunei. It seems as though they were hoping that this would become a non-issue. Maybe they thought no one would care about that little country on the other side of the world. What we should be aware of is the possibility of radical Muslim factors pushing for sharia law within Brunei’s moderate neighbors of Indonesia and Malaysia.

      May 8, 2014 at 1:11 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BigWoody
      BigWoody

      I don’t believe the boycott of the Sultan’s hotel chain is meant to harm him financially; it’s to make people aware of what is happening in Brunei. Would we have known about this issue without the boycott?
      Brunei gained its independence from Great Britain in 1984.
      The Sultan pays big bucks to keep a British military base with 1,000 men close to its oil fields.
      Brunei has had a long close history with the US Department of Defense and the CIA.
      The Sultanate is thought of as a corrupt puppet regime of the west by locals.

      Brunei is the fifth richest country in the world based on its oil and gas industry.
      Brunei Shell Petroleum (a monopoly) is a joint venture formed in 1922 with Royal Dutch Shell.
      Shell is the largest company in the world in terms of revenue.
      Shell has a high score of 85 out of 100 on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index.
      Shell’s two largest shareholders are; Capital Research Global Investors, headquartered in Los Angeles; and BlackRock, based in New York City (whose political contributions favor democrats).
      Maybe we should be pressuring others in addition to the Sultan’s hotel chain.

      I find it disturbing that the US, Great Britain, Royal Dutch Shell, etc. have blinders on regarding Brunei. It seems as though they were hoping that this would become a non-issue. Maybe they thought no one would care about that little country on the other side of the world. What we should be aware of is the possibility of radical Muslim factors pushing for sharia law within Brunei’s moderate neighbors of Indonesia and Malaysia.

      May 8, 2014 at 4:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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