Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Trump's ban on transgender troops should lift

A full-page advertisement in USA Today features quotes from both Republican and Democratic U.S. senators speaking out against the Trump's ban on transgender Americans serving in the armed forces. 

The piece highlights statements from Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Richard Shelby (R-AL). Quotes are also included from a number of  military leaders: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, former Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning. former Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, and Gen. Martin Dempsey.

Centered in bold is the following text:  

Military leaders, national security officials, bipartisan lawmakers in Congress and a majority of Americans oppose the Trump-Pence ban on transgender troops, which would hurt military readiness. Tell Donald Trump and Mike Pence not to put their politics ahead of our troops. Call the White House: 202-456-1414.

"When less than one percent of Americans are volunteering to join the military, we should welcome all those who are willing and able to serve our country," reads text under and image of Sen. John McCain. 

Another veteran, Deborah Lee James, was quoted speaking out more explicitly against Donald Trump. "I am not aware of any evidence to support Trump's stated rationales for reversing the policy permitting open service," her quote reads, "The Working Group did not find that permitting transgender soldiers to serve would impose any significant costs or have a negative impact on military effectiveness or readiness."

It's long past time the White House should abandon this reckless, unconstitutional ban and give these brave individuals the dignity, respect and honor they deserve.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Pride and medals at the Winter Olympics

There are a record 15 out LGBT athletes at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. With less than a week to go, four athletes have won a combined seven medals.

Team LGBT medals are:

Ireen Wüst (Netherlands, speed skating) won a gold in the 1,500 meters, and two silver in the 3,000 and team pursuit.

Eric Radford (Canada, pairs figure skating) won a bronze in pairs and helped Canada win a gold in the team event.

Brittany Bowe (U.S., speedskating) won a bronze medal with her U.S. teammates in team pursuit.

Adam Rippon (U.S., figure skating) helped the U.S. win a bronze in the team event.


Saturday, February 24, 2018

God's Own Country

God's Own Country is a 2017 British coming-out drama film about a sheep farmer in Yorkshire, whose life is turned upside down by the arrival of a migrant worker. The film is partly based on writer and director Francis Lee's own life, where he also had to make a decision to either stay and work on his family's farm, or whether to go off to drama school.

The film focuses on Johnny Saxby (Josh O'Connor), a young Yorkshire sheep farmer who is emotionally shut off through drink and the necessity to keep his family's farm going after his father is partly paralysed with a stroke and his grandmother is too old to work.

When lambing season comes around, his father (Ian Hart) and grandmother (Gemma Jones) organize help in the form of Romanian migrant worker Gheorghe Ionescu (Alec Secareanu). Gheorghe's arrival makes Johnny confront his feelings of love and being loved for the first time. As they work together, early hostility gives way to something physical.

Remembering the acclaimed Brokeback Mountain, Lee's movie does double service in a xenophobic age, finding renewal in the tenacity and vigour of immigrant aspiration. The film normalizes its characters’ love without a hint of sentimentality or sanctimony. Likewise, the film rousingly stands for the status and contributions of immigrants in the U.K. without recourse to political rhetoric.

The film received awards at Sundance Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival and Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Indispensable movie.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Trial begins on gay sex ban in Kenia

Kenya’s High Court started hearing arguments towards a case that challenges parts of its controversial ban on homosexuality.

The law, which came into effect in 1897, is seen as targeting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans communities. Dating back to British Empire colonial times, gay sex is banned in the East African country.

The National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) argues that sections of the law are in breach of Kenya’s constitution. They said it wishes to prove to the court that the law denies basic rights by criminalizing consensual same-sex relations between adults.

The authorities use the ban to justify violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the East African nation, the commission’s Executive Director said. It is not immediately clear when a ruling is to be expected.

Many countries across Africa have laws against homosexuality, with people facing punishment alongside severe harassment and physical threats.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras celebrates 40 years!

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is one of Australia’s most famous and well-loved events, bringing thousands of visitors to Sydney to join in the celebrations. LGBT people taking over the city for weeks and culminating in the world-famous Parade.

So how did Mardi Gras reach this iconic status? The ironic thing is that the key reason for its success was the opposition it faced when it began. The first march took place on Saturday 24th June 1978 and it was met with unexpected police violence.

Mardi Gras in 1978 was Sydney’s contribution to the international Gay Solidarity Celebrations, an event that had grown up as a result of the Stonewall riots in New York. 

Several hundred gays, lesbians and straight supporters gathered at Taylor Square and followed a truck with a small music and sound system down Oxford Street to Hyde Park. As revellers joined in along Oxford St, the police harassed the lead float along the route and when the march stopped in Hyde Park, where telegrams of support were to be read, police confiscated the lead float truck and arrested the driver.

Over the months that followed, more protests and arrests took place, and the actions of the authorities came to be seen as heavy handed.

By April 1979 the Parliament of New South Wales repealed the NSW Summary Offences Act legislation that had allowed the arrests to be made and created a new Public Assemblies Act which meant that Sydneysiders no longer had to apply for a permit to have a demonstration. They simply needed to inform the police. 

As such that first Mardi Gras march was a major civil rights milestone beyond the gay community. Up to 3,000 people marched in an incident-free parade in 1979.

Throughout the 1980s, Mardi Gras faced considerable challenges but the rate of growth for both parade and party was considerable. The estimates for the parade audiences show it doubling every year.

Throughout the 1990s and early part of this century, Mardi Gras continued to grow in tourist and spectator numbers along with an increase in the quality of the events and the scope of the festival.

More than 200,000 people flocked to Oxford St for the 2017 annual parade. Next March 4th, Sydney will host 2018 edition, after 40 years from the first one. Congratulations!!!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Football v Homophobia Campaign

February is the international campaign month of Football v Homophobia (FvH), a campaign uniting fans, players, communities, grassroots teams, professional clubs and the Football Authorities in opposing homophobia and prejudice against LGBT people in football.

Year round, FvH enables people to take action against prejudice and discrimination based on sexuality or gender identity in football, and to celebrate and welcome diversity in the game. 

Homophobia and LGBT discrimination has long been an issue in football. In 1990 the first professional football player in the UK to come out as gay, Justin Fashanu, had an intense struggle with his sexuality and how it was received in the game.

The Justin Campaign was founded to demonstrate that years after Justin Fashanu’s tragic suicide in 1998, homophobia is still hugely prevalent in the world of professional football.

The aim of this international day opposing homophobia in football is to unite clubs, players and fans across the UK, Europe and America by using the game of football to bring communities together in opposing hate and discrimination in the world’s favourite sport.

Community football teams throughout Europe and America will be showing their support for the cause by holding a series of football matches and fun events throughout the day under the banner of Football v Homophobia.

Stop homophobia in football!!!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Gay kiss on TV at the Winter Olympics

Gus Kenworthy proudly announced that his boyfriend, actor Matt Wilkas, is in Pyeongyang cheering him as he competes in the slopestyle at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Also in a sign of change from NBC in dealing with gay athletes, the network showed the couple kissing before Gus competed and the commentators referred to Matt as Kenworthy’s boyfriend. 

“It’s something I was too scared to do for myself,” Gus said after his competition. “To be able to do that, to give him a kiss, to have that affection broadcast to the world, is incredible. The only way to really change perceptions, to break down barriers, break down homophobia, is through representation. That’s definitely not something I had as a kid. I never saw a gay athlete kissing their boyfriend at the Olympics. I think if I had, it would’ve made it easier for me.”

Gus wrote in Twitter: "My Seoul mate! So happy to have my bf, my family and some amazing friends here in Korea to cheer me on! Tomorrow's the big day (tonight for y'all in the US) and win or lose I just wanna thank you all SO much for your support and encouragement. I wouldn't be here without you."

Unfortunately, Gus ended with him struggling with two injuries and missing a medal in the men’s freestyle slopestyle. He competed despite a broken thumb and a hematoma (blood clotting) of his hip that he said made it difficult to even walk. 

Proud of you Gus!!!

Gus with his partner Matt Wilkas

Friday, February 16, 2018

Same-sex parents, you have nothing to worry about

Multiple studies have been conducted over the years, countless research has been carried out and endless debates have been had, all to show one thing: the children of gay parents do just as well as the children of straight parents. 

The myth that kids need a mum and a dad to have a fulfilled childhood has been repeatedly, conclusively disproved, so why is it still so pervasive?

In many cases, objection to LGBT families is motivated by homophobia as well a belief that there is something different, and therefore undesirable or lacking, about same-sex parenting. 

But researchers looked into more than three decades worth of peer-reviewed research into how the children in same-sex-parented families did in comparison to their peers from opposite-sex-parented families. The multiples studies found that the kids do just as well

On most health measures, including emotional behaviour and physical functioning, there was no difference between same-sex and opposite-sex parented kids.

The findings of these reviews reflects a broader consensus within the fields of family studies and psychology. It is family processes like parenting quality, parental wellbeing, and the quality of and satisfaction with relationships in the family rather than family structures that make a more meaningful difference to children’s wellbeing and positive development.

However, most studies did find that the greatest barrier to a happy healthy life that children of LGBT parents face more than their peers is discrimination and bullying from other children and their teachers. 

But, rather than preventing couples from adopting, the reports suggest that better representation of LGBT families in schools and open discussions of different types of families can help prevent discrimination early on.

Then, go ahead!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Enough is enough!

Nov. 2017, Trump said gun control shouldn't be discussed right now
It's time Mr. President!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine's Gay!

Why celebrate Valentine's Day when you can celebrate Valentine's Gay?

Have a little rainbow pride in your card choice this year and let's make it the campest most fabulous February 14th ever.

Happy Valentine's Gay!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Two out athletes win medals at the Winter Olympics

Eric Radford and Adam Rippon have made history when they each won a medal for their country in the figure skating team event. They were each the first two publicly out gay men to ever win a medal at the Winter Olympics. 

Eric took home gold in the Canadian team figure skating event, after he and his partner Meagan Duhamel skated magnificently to Adele’s Hometown Glory. While Adam made history for Team USA by taking a bronze medal after performing to Coldplay’s O and Arrival of the Birds by Cinematic Orchestra.

Eric posted on Twitter about breaking this huge barrier at the Pyeongchang Games: "This is amazing! I literally feel like I might explode with pride. #outandproud".

Eric will compete again in the pairs tournament, while Adam will perform another men’s single.


Eric with his partner Luis Fenero

Adam with Gus Kenworthy

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Japanese hotels can't refuse gay couples

Japan’s Ministry of Health has ordered hoteliers in the country to stop discriminating against LGBT guests.

A new directive reinforces existing anti-discrimination laws, reminding hotel owners not to refuse admission “on grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity and take proper care of them.”

The order bolsters the existing Hotel Business Law, which forbids Japanese hotels, traditional inns and so-called ‘love hotels’ from turning away same sex couples.

Making same-sex couples sleep in double beds or turning away from hotels were cited as examples of discriminatory behavior and practices which break the law.

While Japan has made progress in LGBT rights, only certain prefectures recognizing same-sex unions.

But some Japanese hotels are not for couples!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

'Kiss in' protest to stop queer purges in Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan

Next Sunday, February 11th, at 1 PM,​ Voices4 will gather in front of the Uzbekistan Consulate in New York City, in partnership with fellow advocacy group RUSA LGBT, for a good  old-fashioned “kiss in”. 

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the “kiss in” will serve as a defiant counterpoint to the oppression faced by the global queer community, especially in the wake of mounting hate crimes against LGBT people in Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan.

This particular form of protest isn’t just a way to plan an early date for V-Day, though. The “kiss-in” has been around for 45 years and served as potent form of protest used to highlight a wide range of gay rights issues, from basic freedom of expression to same-sex marriage equality.

“The actions against LGBT people taken by the Governments of these countries are violating all international human rights statutes, laws, and declarations, and the governments must be held accountable for their unjust and inhumane policies,” Voices4 explained.

If you can't go on Sunday, you can help by posting a kissing photo with the event details and directing your followers to the @Voices4_ social networks. 

Every kiss matters!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Meet the proud athletes at the next Winter Olympics

Only 0.4% of the athletes at the next Winter Olympics identify as gay or bisexual. Out of the 2,952 Olympians competing in PyeongChang, South Korea, there are only twelve whom will parade out and proud.

Four years ago, in homophobic Russia, there were six openly gay or bi athletes at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. In Rio 2016 Summer Olympics, there was a record 53 openly LGBT athletes, comprising of 11 men and 42 women. Of those 53, 19 of them won a medal solo or in a group.

Visibility is a powerful tool in the LGBT sports movement. The more people see examples of LGBT athletes competing and succeeding at a high level, the more others will be inspired to do the same. The Olympics is the largest global platform to discuss sports and social change and Pyeongchang 2018 is no exception.

The twelve openly gay or bi winter athletes are:
  • Gus Kenworthy, from the United States, freestyle skiing.
  • Adam Rippon, from the United States, figure skating.
  • Nick Goepper, from the United States, slopestyle skiing.
  • Eric Radford, from Canada, figure skating.
  • John Fennell, from Canada, luge.
  • John Epping, from Canada, curling.
  • Daniela Iraschko-Stolz, from Austria, ski jump.
  • Cheryl Maas, from Netherlands, halfpipe snowboard.
  • Ireen Wüst, from Netherlands, speed skating.
  • Luis Fenero, from Spain, ice dance.
  • Belle Brockhoff, from Australia, snowboard cross.
  • Barbara Jezeršek, from Australia, cross-country skiing.

Good luck fellows and bring home a medal!

Monday, February 5, 2018

A prominent Turkish human rights activist arrested without charge

Ali Erol, a prominent Turkish human rights activist and a founder of Kaos GL Association, Turkey's first registered LGBT organization, has been arrested and detained in a home he shares with his partner without charge.

Clear indications of the purpose of his arrest are yet unknown, though Kaos GL has reported that Erol's social media posts were included in the authorities' detention warrant.

Yildiz Tar, Media and Communications Coordinator for Kaos GL, commented: "Us having such little information about the detention of a prominent figure of the LGBT movement and founder of Kaos GL is unlawful and worrying. If you recall, Ankara Governorship banned LGBT events for an indefinite period in November. This detention is an intervention in both freedom of expression and LGBTI rights. We hope this mistake will be corrected."

Turkey did not criminalize homosexuality but it is among several Muslim-majority nations that have led crackdowns on its LGBT citizens in recent years, with the governor of Ankara banning all LGBT-related events in the city, claiming that events like Istanbul Pride will only spark a backlash from conservative elements in the country, which could threaten public safety and security. Under Erol’s leadership, Kaos GL as challenged the ban, claiming it is unconstitutional.

Taner Kiliç, the chairman of Amnesty International Turkey’s board, was also detained after the failed coup attempt on July, 2016.

Friday, February 2, 2018

South Africa will host 10th edition of the Mr Gay World 2018

The Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival will make history by hosting the 10th edition of the Mr Gay World competition in Knysna, South Africa, in May 2018.

Mr Gay World is an annual global competition to find a spokesperson who best represents the finest qualities of the gay community and embodies the spirit of his nation. It is also an international platform where gay men from across the world come together to share their stories.

This will be the third time that South Africa has presented the prestigious event. It will also be the second time that the contest will be held during the Pink Loerie, Africa’s biggest LGBT+ cultural festival.

Eric Butter, President of Mr Gay World, explained: “The 10th Mr Gay World marks a milestone and is very important for our organisation. We have worked with the team in South Africa twice and it has always been a great pleasure; they have the very best work ethic and they always deliver a world class event.”

And he added: “We also decided on South Africa because we wanted the international community to support the rebuilding of Knysna after the devastating fires in June by incorporating it with the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival Knysna 2018.”

Since the blazes ravaged the region, the Pink Loerie organisers have played an active role in raising funds, sourcing material assistance and bringing awareness about the crisis in order to bolster the local community.

This was acknowledged by the Executive Mayor of Knysna, Eleanore Bouw-Spies, who thanked the festival for its efforts. She and the Knysna Municipality also enthusiastically welcomed the town’s hosting of Mr Gay World 2018 as a further boost to its recovery.

The last edition was in Maspalomas (Spain) and the winner was John Raspado from Philippines.

The last edition's candidates

The last edition's winner, John Raspado (center) from Philippines

Thursday, February 1, 2018

LGBT movie wins top prize at Sundance

A gay conversion drama, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, has won the grand jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival, the most influential award on the U.S. independent circuit.

Based on Emily Danforth’s acclaimed and controversial coming-of-age novel, the movie is directed by Desiree Akhavan who said she read the book in 2012 and loved it and her girlfriend at the time told here she had to adapt it into a film.

The film, which stars Chloë Grace Moretz (as Cameron Post) and American Honey's Sasha Lane, tells the story of teenagers in the 90s sent to a Christian gay conversion camp called "God's Promise."

“We want to dedicate this award to the LGBT survivors of sexual conversion therapy,” Moretz said in her acceptance speech. “We want this movie to shine a light on the fact that it is only illegal in nine states out of the 50 to practice sexual conversion therapy,” she added.

Unfortunately, the film has not been picked up for distribution, and there’s no confirmed release date.

Anyway, congrats to the crew!