More required reading from Nancy Goldstein:
There’s certainly no point—I’m looking at you, President Obama and British Prime Minister Cameron—in not boycotting the games because we don’t want to penalize the athletes who have trained so long and hard. That legitimate concern could be addressed by simply pressing the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to follow its own charter, which calls for removing the Olympic Games from any nation that does not satisfy its own requirements for equal rights and tolerance. Start working with the one senior IOC member from Norway who already shares this view to help bring others around to it. I’m sure Vancouver’s snowboarding ramps are still in fine repair.
Think long and hard before you evoke the spectacle of Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin—thus far the model for the West’s approach to Putin—or argue that winning LGBT athletes will “show 'em” in Sochi. In 1935—as in 2013—the International Olympics Committee was keen to pretend that sporting events could wash a clearly politicized setting of its politics, or wipe a dirty city clean. IOC chair Count Henri Baillet-Latour was content with Chancellor Adolf Hitler’s promise that anti-Semitic placards would be taken down during the Olympic games the next year.
In this Faustian bargain, Hitler hid the most obvious signs of what would later become his Final Solution. Jesse Owens, the allegedly “inferior” Negro, kicked Aryan butt on the track and came home with four gold medals (to a country where FDR refused to host him at the White House for fear of losing the Southern vote in the upcoming election). And then, once the international community had left, Hitler and his willing minions invaded neighboring countries and incinerated every fucking Jew, queer, or dissenter they could get their hands on.
Go read the whole thing. And if you think Russian authorities and anti-gay mobs aren't heading in the direction of incinerating every queer they can get their hands on, you're not paying attention.
But hang on...
Olympic flag waving gave a stamp of approval to Nazi atrocities in 1936. Please don’t use the Rainbow Flag to cover up Russian atrocities in 2014. The Rainbow Flag is the international symbol of LGBT freedom — it is not an endorsement of repression.
And Blogtown says?
Russia's Interior Ministry, which controls the police force, confirmed Monday that the country's controversial anti-gay law will be enforced during the Sochi 2014 Olympics. Confusion has reigned over how the country intends to act during the February 7-23 Winter Games after President Vladimir Putin signed legislation in June that bans the promotion of homosexuality to minors. The International Olympic Committee first claimed it had received assurances from top government officials that Sochi 2014 athletes and guests will not be affected, prompting Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko to insist no one is exempt from the law. "The law enforcement agencies can have no qualms with people who harbor a nontraditional sexual orientation and do not commit such acts [to promote homosexuality to minors], do not conduct any kind of provocation and take part in the Olympics peacefully," said an Interior Ministry statement issued on Monday.
The head of Russia's National Olympic Committee Alexander Zhukov stated it plainly. "If a person does not put across his views in the presence of children, no measures against him can be taken," Zhukov said. "People of nontraditional sexual orientations can take part in the competitions and all other events at the Games unhindered, without any fear for their safety whatsoever."
Okay. So, what about, say, an entire
rowing ICE JAVELIN team wearing rainbow flag pins during a ceremony attended by and broadcast to millions of people, including children? Does the ice javelin team get arrested? Are the cameramen and ceremony producers, who disseminated and promoted the rainbow pins arrested? Are adults who explain what a rainbow flag means to a Russian kid arrested? Can we just arrest everyone now and get it over with?
The 2014 Winter Olympics: Whatever happens, it will be an amazing thing to behold(TM).
This blog post from George Takei will probably start a whole new round of conversation:
It’s been bubbling for some time, but the controversy over Russia’s draconian “gay propaganda” law has now boiled over.Last week, Russia’s Sports Minister confirmed that the country intends to enforce its laws against visiting LGBT athletes, trainers and fans, meaning anyone even so much as waving a rainbow flag (and I presume many men enthusiastically watching and dramatically commenting on figure skating) would be arrested, held for weeks and then deported. Given this position, the IOC must do the right thing, protect its athletes and the fans, and move the 2014 Winter Olympics out of Russia.
I realize the weather isn't ideal for this sort of thing, and maybe you deplore show tunes and their ilk. But here's one unassailable reason why you might want to show up at Washington Park tonight for a free concert by the Portland Gay Men's Chorus:
The group leading next year's fight for same-sex marriage, Oregon Says I Do, is going to be on hand at the event, gathering signatures for the petitions that will help put the marriage equality on the 2014 ballot and then, hopefully, into Oregon's constitution. Where it belongs.
I'm also told some local politicos will be on hand giving some speeches, too—maybe, just maybe offering some kind of notable endorsements?
Oregon Says I Do got started on its work last Friday, circulating petitions in hopes of getting 116,284 signatures. And a little bit of momentum, even if you think this is a no-brainer, definitely can't hurt. Because remember, not everyone you know is as convinced as you are. So get out and help.
The show starts at 6 pm in the amphitheater. Even if you don't want to come for the music, come and sign a petition.
They're still arresting men for having sex with each other even though the U.S. Supreme Court said a while ago—a decade ago—that that is not cool. From the Baton Rouge Advocate:
An undercover East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputy was staking out Manchac Park about 10 a.m. one day this month when a slow-moving sedan pulling into the parking lot caught his attention. The deputy parked alongside the 65-year-old driver and, after denying being a cop, began a casual conversation that was electronically monitored by a backup team nearby.
As the two men moved their chat to a picnic table, the deputy propositioned his target with “some drinks and some fun” back at his place, later inquiring whether the man had any condoms, according to court records. After following the deputy to a nearby apartment, the man was handcuffed and booked into Parish Prison on a single count of attempted crime against nature.
The Advocate has found "at least a dozen cases since 2011" like this—not men arresting for having sex, not men arrested for wanting to pay for sex, but men arrested for talking about going home and having sex. "It's perfectly legal," says Bruce Parker of Equality Louisiana, "and we would have to close down every bar in Baton Rouge if that weren’t the case." Nevertheless, undercover officers apparently have nothing better to do in Baton Rouge than hang out near park bathrooms and try to hit on closeted men. The district attorney is not prosecuting these cases, saying they do not see this as criminal activity, but an arrest is still an arrest—a very public humiliation. The police report with your name in it is public information, your mug shot is public information, and being arrested in front of your apartment and your neighbors is pretty public, too. Fucking Louisiana.
UPDATE: As of today, the sheriff's office says they are not doing this anymore.
On his television show, a viewer asked Pat Robertson how he should treat two men in his workplace who "have decided that they are females." You'll want to start this video at 2:28, or if you can't handle Pat Robertson's smug, quavering voice, I've transcribed his response:
I think there are men who are in a woman's body. It's very rare but it's true—or women that are in men's bodies—and they want a sex change and that is a very permanent thing. Believe me, when you have certain body parts amputated and you have shot up with various kinds of hormones, it's a radical procedure. I don't think there's any sin associated with that. I don't condemn somebody for doing that. But somebody who just says "I'm really a woman," I question the validity of that statement. They say that they're counted as female—you don't count somebody as female unless they really are, or male unless they really are...It's not for you to decide or to judge.
This isn't a victory for transgender rights. Robertson's answer is still wrong and weirdly genital-focused. Your genitals are nobody's business, and people should respect your gender identification without your having to prove anything. But this answer is still a subtle shift that wouldn't have happened twenty years ago, and so it's worth noting. Also worth noting: If Robertson actually followed his own directive at the end of that transcript—"It's not for you to decide or to judge"—the world would be a better place.
While the straight community may see Jamaica as a more relaxed, easygoing nation, yet another anti-gay hate crime has helped cement the country's status as "the most homophobic place on Earth." 17-year-old Dwayne Jones was attending a party while dressed as a woman. When someone recognized Jones and revealed that he was actually a male, the ensuing mob searched and exposed the teen, "chopped and stabbed him to death" before leaving his body in some bushes, according to the radio station Irie FM. Jones had been dancing with another man at the party that evening.
This is not the first anti-gay hate crime in the country's recent history. Maurice Tomlinson, an LGBT and HIV activist who fled Jamaica in 2012, told The Washington Blade that anti-gay hate crimes have claimed at least nine lives this year alone. He claimed that this is a "400 percent increase in the number of reported attacks against LGBT Jamaicans since 2009." Currently, homosexual acts are still illegal in Jamaica, a criminal offense that can carry up to a ten-year prison sentence.
TIME dubbed Jamaica "the most homophobic place on Earth" in 2006. I believe Russia—with its anti-gay, Nuremberg-esque laws—has since lapped Jamaica and is now the most homophobic country on the face of the planet. But if you care about LGBT people, or if you are queer yourself, Jamaica isn't someplace you should visit.
John Corvino has traveled all over the country presenting this talk—sometimes to hostile audiences at conservatives universities—for many years. But this is the first time his hearts-and-minds changing lecture has been made available on YouTube. Already convinced that there's nothing morally wrong with homosexuality? (Aesthetically? At times, yes. But morally? Nope.) Wonderful! But this is a great resource for anyone out there who has parents and/or friends and/or elected representatives who aren't convinced.
Survival strategies for twinks who wander into The Eagle bar during a bear party. (Via Gawker.)
The It Gets Better Project announced that today, July 9, is Kevin Keller Day and to celebrate they have released their own video starring the creator of the Archie Comics character, Dan Parent, talking about how Kevin came to be. For those of you not checking out the comic stands every Wednesday, Kevin Keller is the gay character who was introduced into the Archie universe back in 2010. The first issue in which he made an appearance, "Veronica" #202 (as a crush of Veronica's), went onto become the first Archie comic to sell out in the comic's 70-year history. Since then he has gone on to star in his own (GLAAD Media Award-winning) comic series, a young adult novel, and next month he will experience his first kiss in issue ten of "Kevin Keller."
Frothing homophobe Orson Scott Card is already being hidden in the promotions for Ender's Game, the film based on his beloved science-fiction novel. (An upcoming Comic-Con panel will feature every single person even remotely connected to the film... except Card.) That said, SkipEndersGame.com is already up and running, encouraging people—"however much you may have admired his books"—to not pay for the film, and thus not give any more money to Card.
When asked about the boycott, Card blithely managed to sidestep the issue, ignore the reasons for the controversy, and claim that gay marriage won't ever be an issue again anywhere! Here's what he grumpily told Entertainment Weekly:
Ender’s Game is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984.
With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot. The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state.
Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute. (Via.)
Ah, yes, the old "So... I know I'm not tolerant of you, but please be tolerant of me" line. ANYWAYS, the good news about Card declaring that the gay marriage issue is "moot" is that now—according to a 2008 piece he wrote for the Mormon-owned Deseret News—maybe he's going to DESTROY THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT?
Marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down. (Via.)
Godspeed, Orson. But before you try to take down America,maybe you should try getting in the door at Comic-Con.
Here's an oldie, but a goodie. Two of the sweetest kickboxers you'll ever see. (Can they add this to the rules, please?)
A church in a small town in Georgia kicked the scouts out after the scouts stopped kicking gay kids out. Jason Rains wrote an amazing editorial for the LaGrange Citizen in response. It's required reading:
The principles that the Scouts actively teach certainly seem in line with those of the church: honesty, integrity, dependability, self-reliance, religious devotion, and so forth. That would handily explain why so many churches host scout troops in the first place. The Scouts’ mission adds value to the community by building skills and promoting positive ideals, so of course the church adds value by providing a venue to facilitate that mission. For the church to stop sponsoring the scouts, one would have to surmise that the new policy undermines all that good in a profound and fundamental way.
But it doesn’t. This is where my stomach begins to turn as I try and comprehend the thought process of the adults who made this decision at First Baptist. They’re not just saying that a kid who is gay—or more precisely, a kid who admits to being gay, since the Scouts have never prohibited closeted homosexuals from participating—doesn’t deserve to be exposed to that positive influence. They’re saying that there’s greater value in denying that influence to all boys than in tolerating the possibility of even one gay boy receiving the same. They’re saying that exclusion for exclusion’s sake is, to use Rev. Baxter’s own words, “an integral part of building character and integrity.”
I get it: the church believes homosexuality is wrong. They’re entitled to that belief. But you don’t have to think too long and hard to see the absurdity of drawing a line in the sand over this one issue.
You've heard about Equality House, the "symbol of equality, peace, and positive change and will serve as the resource center for all Planting Peace equality and anti-bullying initiatives" that's set up right across the street from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas:
But what you might not know, is that the organization's brand new web site, which just launched on Friday, was designed as a pro-bono project by Portland web design studio Needmore Designs, after they got inspired tracking Equality House's progress on social media—it was the obvious and crucial gift to an organization that is entirely run on donations.
If you ever make it out to Kansas to visit, you can take some hometown pride in the knowledge that your fellow Portlanders helped out the good guys on the right side of the street. Meanwhile, the Needmore team has posted a bunch of personal recollections of how queer issues and bullying have touched their lives over on their blog.
You're all ecstatic that the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8 have been kicked to the curb with this morning's Supreme Court decisions, so this is probably old news.
But just in case you've missed it, a rally to celebrate the decisions (and mobilize for Oregon's own push toward marriage equality) has been set for 5 pm at downtown's Terry Schrunk Plaza (SW 3rd and Madison). According to Oregon United for Marriage, here's who's lined up to speak:
WHO: Former Governor Barbara Roberts, Jeana Frazzini, Dave Fidanque, Se-ah-dom Edmo, Linda Campbell, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, Vanessa Usui, Mayor Charlie Hales, Barbara McCullough-Jones, Helena Huang Rev. Bill Sinkford, Chair Jeff Cogen, Commissioner Amanda Fritz, Gina Diaz and Regina Perata and family, Rev. Mark Knutson
The US Supreme Court will unleash its ruling in two monumental gay-rights cases within 24 hours. According to Chief Justice Roberts, SCOTUS Blog reports, "Tomorrow at 10 a.m. will be the last day and we will release all the remaining opinions."
The cases concern the Defense of Marriage Act (United States v. Windsor) and California's Prop 8 (Hollingsworth v. Perry). Here's an excellent flow chart from the New York Times on how the court could rule in those two cases. Tune into pretty much any website on earth—at 7 a.m. Pacific Time tomorrow for the decisions.
Featuring Rachel Maddow, George Takei, Alan Cumming, and Dan Savage.
Idaho Republican Party leaders are calling on the state Legislature to invalidate local city ordinances that ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation - like the one Coeur d’Alene passed after an emotional community debate just two weeks ago.
Six Idaho cities have passed such non-discrimination ordinances in the past year and a half, and a seventh, Idaho Falls, is looking into one now; the Idaho GOP wants them halted.
I'm trying to picture the kind of a person who wakes up in the morning and says to himself, "Today's the day! I'm finally gonna take a stand against those anti-discrimination laws!" How do you think that thought and not realize how monstrous your behavior is?
Professional attention-seeker and onstage ranter Michelle Shocked has announced she will return to San Francisco to play a free concert on Sunday, June 30th — the closing night of S.F. Pride festivities. Adding to the already bizzarre and controversial setup, Shocked's concert will coincide with a press blitz/egotrip coordinated across the SF Examiner and SF Weekly.
While many, including ourselves, hoped Shocked's dubious relevance would fade once her tour was cancelled and the retweets died out, the alt-folk singer thrust herself back into limelight late last week. She took to Twitter on Friday to announce the free concert, the SF Weekly exclusive, a treasured spot in the 2013 Pride Guide spread and a forthcoming opinion piece in the Examiner.
Is this really necessary? Does anyone care if she tries to explain herself? Especially at Gay Pride? Especially in San Francisco, the gayest city that ever gay-gayed? I really look forward to NOT reading her interview in the SF Weekly.
...courtesy of last Friday's Rachel Maddow Show.
Short version: The quietly but pervasively anti-gay GOP will very soon face a reckoning with an increasingly equality-friendly nation, and it's going to be something to see.
On a related note, I'm finding myself increasingly obsessed with the need for some sort of safe space/learning zone for those folks still working their way toward gay acceptance. It's tough, because once the "gay are just people!" light goes off in your brain, it's hard to imagine how you ever thought otherwise, and the urge to flex your new muscles by pointing at the less evolved and shouting "bigot!" is strong. But I've spent the past 20 years watching that light go off in people's brains (including my own), and it's not something that happens according to a timetable, or in response to demands. While we work to banish LGBTQI discrimination from the law of the land, we should leave some sort of welcome mat for those would-be "bigots" who are coming around to the idea of gay acceptance more slowly. Because no matter who you are, when it comes to homosexuality, your understanding of the issue is different today than what it was 10 or 20 years ago.
It's not one of President Obama's grand, sweeping speeches, but it's still nice to see a president addressing these issues in the White House:
There's a new Pew Research study out on attitudes about gay rights, and among all the usual trends—older Americans being less supportive of gay rights, everyone nevertheless conceding that gay marriage is inevitable—comes one unusual finding. As Michael Dimock, director of the Pew Research Center explained it to NPR:
Younger Americans are slightly more likely to say homosexuality is a choice.
But! What's even more striking about this trend is that it's not heralding some sort of return to the past. It's a result of the old, polarized language about homosexuality being a "choice" slowly becoming foreign to young Americans—so foreign that it now confuses them.
"They're not really engaged in the question of what it is," Dimock told NPR. "All they know is that it's OK with them." So, when a pollster asks them whether homosexuality is a choice, they don't hear a word laden with disapproval and political poison. They just say: "Yeah, it's a fine choice."
The entire internet is howling this morning about a "rude" and "boorish" lesbian protester who should run to her lesbian bedroom and bawl shameful lesbian tears after causing a ruckus while First Lady Michelle Obama was speaking at a fundraiser last night:
Ellen Sturtz, who paid to attend the Democratic fundraiser at a private home in western Washington state, interrupted the First Lady to demand that the President sign an executive order banning workplace discrimination. According to a press pool report, Michelle “left the lectern and moved over to the protester.” The pool report quoted Obama as saying: “Listen to me or you can take the mic, but I’m leaving. You all decide. You have one choice.”
The crowd cheered for their favorite! They preferred to listen to Michelle Obama—duh, it was Democratic Fundraiser, and she's Michelle Obama, so it's not a hard choice—instead of the impolite interloper. Security marched Sturtz out of the room while she hollered that she's “a lesbian looking for federal equality before I die.”
Praising the FLOTUS this morning, Mary Elizabeth Williams says that it was a "win" for the first lady and lamented that the "headline-grabbing outburst is a common ploy, one that, it depresses me to say, is far too often used by those of us here on the crunchy left."
I totally agree with her about the overused, crunchy tactic—and I think Michelle did win—but I think that gay-rights protester won too. And she has Michelle to thank for it.
If the first lady had just kept talking, hit the silent alarm (I like to imagine there's a red button under that lectern), or waited at the podium till security escorted Sturtz from the room, that kerfuffle would have been a media blip. But Michelle Obama was such an incredible bad-ass, a brassy diva about the whole thing that NOW WE CAN'T STOP TALKING ABOUT IT. America is talking about the president's authority to "issue an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Thanks to Michelle Obama's awesome smackdown, this wound up far more high-profile that than a typical, crunchy heckle. Everyone wins.
PS — Dear President Obama: Please "issue an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Well, then, today's your lucky day, I guess.
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