Saturday, August 17, 2019

First-ever permanent rainbow crossing unveiled in London

For the first time, a permanent rainbow crossing in solidarity with the LGBT community has been installed on a street in London.

The crossing, which is actually four separate rainbow crossings, has been installed in Herne Hill, on two crossings outside the entrance to Brockwell Park; on the junctions of Dulwich Road with Railton Road, and Norwood Road with Dulwich Road, in Lambeth, a south London borough. 

Councillor Sonia Winifred, Lambeth cabinet member for Equalities and Culture, said: “This is a colourful and fun symbol of Lambeth’s inclusivity. We’re proud of our LGBT community and have a tradition of championing equality and LGBT rights. This crossing celebrates that and is a physical example of our bold and progressive thinking. 

The Mayor of Lambeth, councillor Ibrahim Dogus, said: “Lambeth’s diversity has always been our strength, and we have never been afraid to show it! This crossing is a symbol of the pride we have in our flourishing LGBT community and will light up Herne Hill with its message of inclusivity." 

“Walk the Rainbow” messaging is planned to appear across Lambeth, guiding people to the Herne Hill gate at Brockwell Park to check out the crossing, with people being invited to share images on social media with the hashtags #WeAreLambeth and #HerneHillRainbow.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

A gay love story that echoes across time

Out gay Argentine writer/director Lucio Castro’s wistful, seductive bromance End of the Century is one of the year’s best queer films. Opens Aug 16 at IFC Center in NYC and Sept 20 at the Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles.

This elegant drama opens with Ocho (Juan Barberini) arriving in Barcelona. He is lonely and horny. Castro allows viewers to fall into Ocho’s rhythms as he settles into his Airbnb and wanders around town, acclimating to his new environment.

Castro explained his deliberate approach to the storytelling: “The structure came about organically. I started with an archetypal beginning of a novel: a man arrives in town. Then I wrote it unplanned. I have this character in the city alone for 12 minutes with no dialogue. I wanted him and viewers to become aware of the city, the architecture, other people chatting, the sound and smells of the city. Once the characters start speaking, the movie has a lot of dialogue and the city becomes a background.”

Castro continued: “When Ocho goes to the beach one afternoon, he eyes Javi (Ramon Pujol) but they fail to connect. Later, on his balcony, Ocho sees Javi and invites him up for a drink and sex. Their intimacy is erotic, but it also involves a discussion of PrEP and condoms. Castro, who is part of the generation devastated by AIDS and had friends die of it, wanted to emphasize the importance of safe sex and establishing trust with a partner".

In explaining how he chose to present sex, Castro quipped, “Straight couples have cheese and wine and then have sex. Gay couples first they have sex and then they have cheese and wine.”

The movie then flashes back 20 years earlier to show how the men first met. In this episode, Ocho arrives at his friend Sonia’s (Mía Maestro) apartment. She is dating Javi, but the guys connect when Sonia is out of town. These scenes depict the guys’ previous romantic encounter, in a time before cell phones and social media. They spend the day together, wandering through a museum, posing in front of a painting, walking around statues as they reflect on the past and how memory records it. These moments echo the present-day interactions we’ve already seen.

Both vignettes show the men falling in love. An episode of the guys dancing to “Space Age Love Song,” which segues into their first kiss, is perhaps the film’s most extraordinary scene, and not just because it is one of the only two sequences shot with a hand-held camera. It conveys the urgency and intensity of their passions and creates a connection that ripples through the years.

Castro also includes a third encounter between the guys, late in the film, that is deliberately ambiguous but also brilliant. It lets the audience decide what is real and what is imagined. This is what makes “End of the Century” so beguiling.

Watch the trailer below:

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Tunisia has its first openly gay presidential candidate

Just months after a Tunisian presidential commission recommended the decriminalization of homosexuality, the North African nation has its first openly gay candidate for president: Mounir Baatour.

Baatour, 48, is a lawyer and president of both the Tunisian Liberal Party and Association Shams, Tunisia’s main LGBT rights organization. Baatour’s candidacy is noteworthy because in Tunisia homosexuality is still a crime that is punishable by up to three years in prison. 

Baatour himself was jailed in 2013 for an accusation of “homosexuality,” and he said prison was “very hard, and the psychological impact is very sad, and after that I was in depression for one year.”

Baatour said he expected to make the ballot for the September 15 election, which was moved up because President Beji Caid El Sebsi died unexpectedly in July. Baatour vowed to go to court to challenge any effort to bar his candidacy, though he said he collected double the 
number of signatures required to run.

I really hope he get it!

Monday, August 12, 2019

A new Pride Parade in Poland protected by a strong police presence

Over 2,500 people took part in a pride parade in the central Polish city of Plock protected by a cordon of armed police, as LGBT rights became a big issue in Catholic Poland ahead of a parliamentary election in October.

Marchers walked through the streets of Plock waving rainbow flags while surrounded by police in riot gear. Politicians, including Robert Biedron, one of Poland’s first openly gay politicians who launched the leftist Wiosna party earlier this year, attended the march.

Hundreds of counter-protesters gathered at the Plock parade and chanted homophobic insults but were blocked from interacting with parade participants by the heavy police presence.

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has made hostility to gays a central focus of its campaign, depicting LGBT rights as a dangerous foreign idea that undermines traditional values. Critics say PiS has fomented anti-gay sentiment and helped lead the violence against the LGBT community in Poland.

Poland's opposition is divided on whether to address the increased marginalization of the country's LGBTQ community, or to cater to socially conservative voters.

The Polish Catholic Church has also described gay people as a threat, with a top church official recently denouncing what he called a "rainbow plague."

Last month, a pride parade in the city of Bialystok was marred by violence after anti-gay protesters chased people through the streets and beat them.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Japan elects its first gay lawmaker who ensures same-sex marriage will be legal

Taiga Ishikawa has become Japan’s first openly gay male lawmaker in the National Diet, and he has said that he is “sure” same-sex marriage will be legalised in the country.

The National Diet is Japan’s legislature and is comprised of the lower house, or house of representatives, and the upper house, or house of councillors.

Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP), the party that has almost always been in power since its creation in 1955, is opposed to same-sex marriage. But Ishikawa is a member of the left of centre Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ), which Japan’s first trans assemblywoman is also a member of.

The politician told: “Since the early 2000s, the issue of same-sex marriage has progressed leaps and bounds. It will happen within the six years of my term, I am sure.”

And he added: “It has been incredibly empowering to the Japanese LGBT community to see the growing acceptance overseas of same-sex marriage. I think we’ve got a breakthrough now and I plan to move the conversation [on same-sex marriage] forward.”

It's time Japan!

Four districts recognize same-sex couples in Japan

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Pro soccer lesbian couple donate 1% of salaries to help LGBT youth

The photo of Magdalena Eriksson kissing Pernille Harder, after helping Sweden defeat Canada in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, went viral and their newfound fame made them realize they could serve as role models to help make their sport more inclusive to LGBT players.

Now, both Magdalena and Pernille are also two of roughly 100 professional sports athletes donating 1% of their annual salaries to Play Proud, an initiative of Common Goal, that aims to equip coaches and mentors with the skills and knowledge to establish safe spaces for LGBT adolescents to participate in sports at the youth-level with confidence.

While soccer is arguably the most popular and internationally played sport, queerphobia still undoubtedly leaves some players feeling left out of the game. The couple are encouraging other pro sports athletes to donate 1% of their salaries as well. Their contribution could help reduce anti-LGBT stigma, at least in one field.


Watch an interview to the couple below:

Magdalena and Pernille met in a match between 
Sweden and Denmark, their own national teams

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Romeo and Juliet: a gay reinvention

Curious Pheasant Theatre present Romeo and Juliet, an LGBT male led production, directed by Becky Mills. 

This bold re-imagining of William Shakespeare's classic love story uses physical theatre to portray two opposing rugby teams, grounding the piece in the 21st century. 

When the two men meet, the integrity of both teams is compromised and the unyielding pride of man threatens to destroy all that they know.

The heart of this piece is the two leads, who mutually give an incredibly beautiful and moving performance. The chemistry between Troy Chessman’s Romeo and  Bevan Thomson’s Juliet is palpable and feels so authentic that it instantly has you fully believing in their love.


Check more information here and watch the trailer here.

Love is love!!!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Hundreds of thousands line the streets for Brighton Pride Parade

Over 300,000 people celebrated LGBT rights in Brighton during the city’s annual Pride parade, the UK's largest parade. The annual parade first started in 1972 with a gay demonstration and then in 1973 with the first official gay Pride march.

This year's event commemorated the 50-year anniversary of the Stonewall Inn uprising in New York, which ignited the Pride movement, while also recognising the ongoing campaigning work for equal rights. 

This year's theme celebrated "Generations of Love", to put campaigning for global LGBT rights at the front of parade highlighting diversity and inclusion with representatives of BAME and trans communities and the fabulous Prancing Elites, a black male dance troupe from Alabama. O

Kylie Minogue was headlining the festival with her end-of-tour finale, at Preston Park. The Brighton & Hove Pride Festival in Preston Park is described as “the country’s most popular LGBT event.” 

Tens of thousands of partygoers came out to see a host of performances from international superstars Britney Spears, Nile Rodgers & Chic, Jess Glynne, Ella Eyre, Raye, Gabrielle, Sister Sledge, Carly Rae Jepsen, Pet Shop Boys, Years & Years, Fatboy Slim, Paloma Faith, Katy B, Ruby Rose, The Human League, Fleur East, Alesha Dixon, Ella Henderson, Boy George amongst others.

Don't forget, Pride is always a protest!

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Love is Love, also in Hungary

A new advertising campaign from Coca-Cola Hungary is causing controversy for showing same-sex love, and a Hungarian MP is encouraging people to boycott the drinks.

The ads show several couples lovingly sharing bottles of Coke. One of the ads shows a mixed-sex couple, another shows two women, and the other shows two men.

Boldog István, an MP from Hungary’s conservative, right-wing party Fidesz which has held majority power in the country since 2010, has said he is boycotting the brand and is encouraging others to do the same. He wrote on Facebook: “Until they remove their provocative posters from Hungary, I will not consume their products! I’m asking everyone!”

But Coke is standing by the ads. The soft drink company said in a press release:“The three different posters feature both hetero- and homosexual couples drinking Coca-Cola. We believe that both heterosexuals and homosexuals have the right to love a person the best they can. In our advertisements, posts, and messages, we express the principles we represent, and thus our belief in equality between people. We believe that in a world based on these values, everyone can live freely, happily. The right to love and be loved belongs to everyone.”



Monday, August 5, 2019

Russian Police prevents St Petersburg Pride again

В Петербурге задержаны 11 ЛГБТ-активистов. Петербургский Прайд проходит уже десятый раз, и власти опять не согласовали активистам шествие. Поэтому на Дворцовой площади собрались люди с ЛГБТиК-символикой для проведения последовательных одиночных пикетов, не требующих согласования. Полицейские задерживали активистов просто за наличие плакатов и флагов, без объяснения причин. Многие были избиты в автозаке, а Даниила Максименко оставили в камере отдела полиции до утра.

On the eve of August 3, about 50 LGBT activists gathered at Palace Square in St Petersburg. The annual Petersburg Pride was usually held in the format of a series of single pickets and, unfortunately, was traditionally accompanied by detentions. As a result, the LGBT flags fluttered on the square for only half an hour.

It was not the police who prevented the start of the action on time, a shower did not allow LGBT activists to unfold their posters at a pre-arranged time at 17:00. As a result, with a slight delay, the activists began to take turns opening their posters, replacing each other, so as not to violate the rules for conducting a single picket.

The police warned people with posters and rainbow flags that “their actions violate the conduct of a single picket” (in fact, the rainbow flag itself is not prohibited in the Russian Federation, it is not a banner with a slogan and its deployment shouldnot be equated with a picket). In any case, after about half an hour the arrests began.

Within minutes, there were a dozen people in the police wagon. Not only those holding posters or rainbow flags were detained, but also, for example, an activist of the Heterosexuals Alliance and LGBT for Equality, Aleksey Nazarov, who has deployed the Russian tricolor. He tried to explain to the police that it was not an offense to unfold the Russian flag, but still found himself in the paddy wagon.

As a result, the police detained 12 people. Many were beaten in the paddy wagon. This time is much tougher than in previous LGBT protests. Thus, one of the detainees, Daniil Maksimenko, was handcuffed and injured his wrists, which began to bleed. In addition, someone sprayed gas from a pepper spray on the police wagon. 

One of the activist said it is important to pay attention to police inaction when it comes to crimes against LGBT people. He explained he and his partner faced threats in the network, physical violence, many times they turned to the police, but in the end there were no results.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Irish PM marches at Belfast Pride

Leo Varadkar, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland made an unannounced visit to Northern Ireland for Belfast’s annual Pride celebrations. The leader was loudly cheered by the crowd in the city.

It is the second time that Varadkar has paid a visit to Belfast Pride, which has never been attended by a UK head of government.

The visit comes at a key time for the country’s LGBT community, with equal marriage set to be extended to Northern Ireland in October, unless a new power-sharing executive is formed beforehand. Northern Ireland-born Labour MP Conor McGinn successfully pushed an amendment through the UK’s Parliament to extend same-sex marriage. 

Varadkar sent a non-sectarian message of solidarity to the LGBT community in the city. Addressing the crowd at the event, he said: “I’m glad to be in Belfast. I had a real honour today to walk with Lord Hayward, who along with Conor McGinn put legislation through the Commons and Lords to bring marriage equality here in a few months’ time. What we see today in Belfast is Northern Ireland at its very best. Open, inclusive, diverse, and for everyone. Thank you so much, and happy Pride.”

Saturday, August 3, 2019

A stunning traditional Indian gay wedding went viral

Amit Shah and Aditya Madiraju were already officially married at New York city hall earlier this year, but wanted to hold a special ceremony with their family and friends. Two grooms celebrated their marriage in a traditional Hindu wedding in New Jersey, and the amazing photos have gone viral on social media.

Amit is the owner and creative director of AATMA Performing Arts, a dance company based in New York and Los Angeles. Aditya works for a wealth management bank in New York. They met a mutual friends birthday party in 2016.

They wanted to hold a wonderful Desi, or South Asian-style, ceremony for their friends and families. And the stunning photos of the pair in complementing kurtas surrounded by family and friends have stunned people in India and around the world.

Aditya said about their wedding photos going viral: “The fact that the ceremony took place at a temple under religious observation is a huge thing for our community."

“I guess it is unheard of, and we didn’t realise the impact it would have. The response had been so overwhelming and we are honoured to share our story with the world. It seems like people need to hear our story to feel empowered and we are excited to provide people with some inspiration", he added.

And Amit said: "We do follow the developments overseas, but by the stories we have heard over the last week from people messaging us, the issue is much bigger than we thought. There are still too many gay men and women afraid of coming out not only because of their families or society, but because they fear the law. Aditya and I look forward to inspiring change and hope we can make a difference over time".

Congrats to the newlyweds!!!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

St Petersburg Pride will take place in August 3

The public march of the annual St Petersburg Pride will be held on August 3. LGBT activists informed the city administration to hold a procession in that date and suggested a route in the center of St Petersburg, around the Ostrovsky Square and the Alexandrinsky Theater.

The motto of the event will be “Live your future today!”, which embodies the desire of LGBT people to live with dignity and happiness nowadays, despite obstacles from the state, officials and public attitudes.

The main goals of St Petersburg Pride 2019 include the requirement to respect the right of assembly and the inadmissibility of the broad interpretation of the Administrative Code for the prohibition of public events in accordance with the last decision of the Russian Constitutional Court.

Despite the prohibitions of marches, since 2010, a public action took place in one way or another for St Petersburg Pride. In 2013, 2014 and 2017, the LGBT-Pride was held in a rally format on the Mars Field in St Petersburg without noticeable consequences for the “degeneration of humanity”, as one of the former governors of the city, Valentina Matvienko, said before.

Pride coordinators Yuri Gavrikov and Alexei Nazarov said the experience of holding the St Petersburg Pride since 2010, contrary to the criterion of the local administration, shows a systemic discrimination and the factual ban on the right of assembly.

“They want to deprive us of any act in the public space, many murders of LGBT people are being hushed up or not being investigated, and illegal dismissals occur. But many of us want to live our future today, building our lives without waiting. The fact is the country is being changed by people, not by officials”, activists said.

Last year, Russian police detained as many as 30 
gay rights activists who took part in Pride march