Excellent timing! Brian Boitano, the Olympic figure skater who won gold in 1988, came out today. This is right after it was announced that he'll go to the Sochi Olympics as part of a US delegation that includes Billie Jean King and Caitlin Cahow (and does not include any Obamas or Bidens, as I mentioned yesterday). Certainly seems like Washington's trying to say something here, if subtly and diplomatically.
The 1988 gold medalist had always kept his personal life private, saying in a statement that "being gay is just one part of who I am." But President Barack Obama's decision to include openly gay athletes in the delegation for the opening and closing ceremonies—and not send high-ranking officials—was widely seen as a message to Russia about its treatment of gays and lesbians.
"First and foremost I am an American athlete and I am proud to live in a country that encourages diversity, openness and tolerance," Boitano said in his statement. "As an athlete, I hope we can remain focused on the Olympic spirit which celebrates achievement in sport by peoples of all nations."
Russia has come under fierce criticism for passing national laws banning "gay propaganda," and some suggested the United States should boycott the Sochi Olympics in protest. Obama rejected that idea earlier this year, saying a stronger statement could be made by "gay and lesbian athletes bringing home the gold or silver or bronze."
Just as in previous Olympics, celebrated athletes who just so happen to belong to a persecuted minority can be the best propaganda ever, when it comes to showing up old bigots for what they really are.
Thanks, Slog Tipper Brooklyn Reader!
Charles is on the Duck Dynasty beat. But I'm on the Rob Delaney beat. So it's a beat-off! Or something. Anyway, here's Rob Delaney talking about the Duck Dynasty guy using the word "logic" to describe his bigotry. I enjoyed this video very much:
Apparently the White House has finally announced their Olympic delegations. From John Aravosis last night:
In what is definitely being perceived as a slap at the Russians, neither President Obama, Mrs. Obama, Vice President Biden, nor Mrs. Biden will be attending the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Instead, former Secretary of Homeland Security, but now-private-citizen, Janet Napolitano will lead the US delegation, and the delegation will include former tennis star Billie Jean King, who is openly-gay.
That means no top administration officials will be going to Sochi, a dramatic departure from previous Olympic Games.
The German and French presidents have also said they will not be attending.
The US delegation, listed below, includes at least two gay people. Both Billie Jean King and Caitlin Cahow, who was an Olympic silver medalist and bronze medalist in women’s ice hockey, are openly gay...
Why is this a slap at the Russians? Because, as Chris Geidner at Buzzfeed notes, not only was the decision announcing the delegation significantly delayed—suggesting something was up—but an Obama or Biden have attended every other Olympics during President Obama’s tenure in the White House.
Well, then. Read the rest here.
My son got a letter in the mail from a private Christian university asking him to apply — remind me who recruits whose children again?— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) December 14, 2013
@fakedansavage Was he targeted or was it just sent to him because he's about the right age?— Deborah Fisher (@DeborahFisher16) December 14, 2013
@DeborahFisher16 Hm... if the gays sent recruitment letters to all 15 year olds, not targeting anyone in particular, how would that go over?— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) December 14, 2013
Seriously... imagine if gay groups or militantly secular organizations sent unsolicited snail mail to homeschooled Christian kids inviting them to come give sodomy and/or reality a try. How would that go over? Every June fundy Christians complain about how bible-beating, sign-waving Christian protesters who show up at gay pride parades wind up getting booed and flipped off. Look at the intolerant gay people booing that man holding up the "SODOMITES REPENT! GAYS BURN IN HELL! GOD CONDEMNS HOMO SIN!" sign at their parade! But imagine the flip side: gay protesters start showing up outside churches on Easter Sunday waving signs that say "SODOMY IS WAY MORE FUN THAN CHURCH! THERE IS NO HELL! THERE IS NO GOD! JOIN US!" How would they be received?
A whole lot of people, especially online, are missing the point of that Colorado baker who was sued for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. Slog tipper Heidi wants you to see this ThinkProgress article which refutes every single idiotic argument that's being tossed around about the case. The bullet points are:
It Doesn’t Matter If The Bakery Otherwise Serves Gay People
This Case Has Nothing To Do With Whether Same-Sex Marriage Is Legal
Cakes Do Not Constitute “Speech”
The Act Of Selling Cakes Also Does Not Constitute “Speech”
Baking Cakes Is Not Religious Conduct
You should go and read the supporting evidence for each of these claims. It's been dismaying to see otherwise level-headed people completely miss the point of this case. This article goes a long way toward articulating why this case is so important and what it stands for.
India's law minister said Thursday that the government has not abandoned efforts to make homosexuality legal, and that the country must take swift action to challenge a Supreme Court decision banning same-sex relations.
The minister, Kapil Sibal, said he was for decriminalizing homosexuality, hinting that the government could seek a judicial review of Wednesday's Supreme Court decision or that Parliament could enact a new law.
It's true that when your goal is to decriminalize gay sex, you've got a long way to go as a society. But the United States just technically legalized sodomy ten years ago, and look how far we've come in that time.
It's a beautiful statement, brave and necessary. I hope our Olympic athletes—and athletes from Canada and France and Germany and the UK and Australia and Norway and New Zealand and everywhere else—show similar bravery in Sochi. Thank you, Elton, for speaking out.
A Colorado judge today determined that the Masterpiece CakeShop unlawfully discriminated against [Charlie Craig and David Mullins] by refusing to sell them a wedding cake.
Hooray for the good guys winning! Cake for everyone!
...therefore no gay couples should be allowed to marry because monogamy is a defining characteristic of marriage and if some of you people aren't monogamous then none of you people should be allowed to marry.
That's one of the religious right's chief arguments—one of it's chief failing, flailing arguments—against marriage equality. Never mind that lesbian couples are better at monogamy than male couples and opposite-sex couples. (Or maybe they're worse at non-monogamy?) Lots of gay couples aren't monogamous so gay people shouldn't be able to marry. Period. The End. Bless your heart!
So, yeah, somehow I missed this story about a website for Christian swingers published earlier this year at the Christian Post:
A new dating website called CHRISTIANSwingers is sending ripples throughout the Christian community for offering "faithful couples" the opportunity to "hookup" with each other. One mental health professional warns the practice will lead to nothing but "pain." The oxymoronic website brazenly declares that it was "designed to cater to the needs of those like you: devout Christian couples who still want to have an active love life and share it with another, in good faith!"
My first reaction: a site for Christian swingers really ought to be called "Christian Swingle." My second reaction: What a one-sided hit piece! Christian swingers are outside what passes for the conservative Christian "mainstream," of course, and I wouldn't expect the Christian Post to enthuse about the site or Christian swingers. But the author of the piece didn't bother to get a quote from anyone at the CHRISTIANSwingers and only negative comments left on the site's Facebook page were used in the story. And what else was missing? Any suggestion that Christian swingers aren't really married or that all Christians everywhere should be prevented from marrying because some Christians somewhere aren't monogamous. That logic only applies to same-sex couples.
And, hey, good to know that only open relationships end in "pain." Monogamy is apparently the morphine drip of relationship models—no pain ever!
The bisexual community gains a high-profile, doe-eyed spokesmodel. Via JMG.
"Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, told NBC News that the church has been 'out-marketed' on [gay rights] by an array of people."
In a November email obtained by the Sun-Sentinel, [prominent Fort Lauderdale Teabagger] Danita Kilcullen said the Employment Non-Discrimination Act would force employers to “hire someone with orange hair, body/neck/face covered with tattoos, multiple piercings, or a man in a dress … or for that matter, a demonstrative effeminate male or purposeful butch-looking female.” The Log Cabin Republicans, in supporting this legislation, “is a thug organization with only their own ‘special interests’ in play.”
The e-mail goes on to slam Chris Christie and Charlie Crist. You can read it here. Do you think Kilcullen is terrified of the world because she's an idiot, or do you think Kilcullen's fear makes her idiotic? I can't say for sure, but I suspect idiocy makes her fearful rather than the other way around.
Maggie Gallagher is wrong about almost everything—but she's right about Mary and Liz:
Sisters Liz and Mary Cheney have been having a very public feud over marriage equality, and some observers, even one of the leading opponents of equal marriage rights, are wondering if it’s maybe just a little bit staged.
“The Cheney family is a very close family, and I don’t believe they would have this spat in public, except for the fact that it’s good for both of the sisters,” marriage equality foe Maggie Gallagher said last week on The Diane Rehm Show, a talk show originating in Washington, D.C., and carried on public radio stations nationwide. “It gives Mary a chance to air her deeply held, passionate moral convictions and advance the ball for gay marriage. And it helps Liz Cheney get elected senator in the state of Wyoming.”
It may not actually help her that much; she’s running against incumbent Mike Enzi in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate from that state, and she trails him badly in polls.
I agree with Maggie here—and it feels weird to type that—but I wouldn't describe Mary's feelings on marriage equality as "deeply held, passionate moral convictions." Someone who felt passionately about marriage equality would not have given $2,500 to Mitt Romney. The GOP nominee in 2012 pledged to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage in all 50 states. Romney wanted to nullify the marriages of same-sex couples who lived—and had already married—in marriage equality states. That puts Mitt far to the right of Liz on this issue. Liz, after all, just wants states to make up their own minds on marriage equality, she's not promising to roll back marriage equality in other states. But Mary gave Mitt money and, presumably, her vote as well. So either Mary became passionate about marriage equality sometime since last November or this whole fight with her sister was staged to benefit both of them—Liz with haters in the GOP base and Mary with the LGBT community.
My money is on the latter.
Nike announced Tuesday it supports the Freedom to Marry and Religious Protection Initiative in Oregon, and that the company has created the Nike Equality PAC, a foundation to raise money in support of marriage equality.
The PAC begins with $280,000: A $100,000 contribution from Nike and another $180,000 from Nike executives.
Ikea has been accused of cowardice after removing a British lesbian couple from the Russian edition of its monthly magazine.
The December issue of the magazine, which will be distributed in most countries in which Ikea operates, contains a long feature about the lives of Clara and Kirsty, a Dorset-based lesbian couple and their Ikea-filled interiors. "We're two mums bringing up our baby boy in Clara's loft," says Kirsty in the story. "We're not your average family in your average home, but if my nan can raise two sons in a tiny caravan, we can make it work in our little loft."
Russian Ikea shoppers, however, will be shielded from information about the lives of the two British lesbians, in case it is deemed to fall foul of the country's controversial new law banning "homosexual propaganda".
(Via Slog tipper Greg.)
A description of what it is and what it means, from the International Transgender Day of Remembrance website:
The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people, an action that current media doesn’t perform. Day of Remembrance publicly mourns and honors the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through the vigil, we express love and respect for our people in the face of national indifference and hatred. Day of Remembrance reminds non-transgender people that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. Day of Remembrance gives our allies a chance to step forward with us and stand in vigil, memorializing those of us who’ve died by anti-transgender violence.
Here's TDOR founder Gwendolyn Ann Smith's new piece for the Huffington Post, Transgender Day of Remembrance: Rita Hester and Beyond.
And here is the Seattle band Your Heart Breaks playing their trans anthem "Could One Letter Save Your Life" at the Plan It X Fest in Indiana. (For a clearer experience of the lyrics, here's the studio version.)
UPDATE FOR SEATTLE: A Transgender Day of Remembrance ceremony will take place tonight at the Ravenna United Methodist Church, 5751 33rd Avenue NE, at 7 pm. All are welcome.
WASHINGTON — The office of House Speaker John Boehner secured meeting space for the World Congress of Families after their original sponsor, Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk, canceled their space in a Senate office building following an outcry from LGBT activists, the group’s leader said.
World Congress of Families President Allan Carlson praised Boehner’s intervention at in opening remarks at the event, which is focusing on what “pro-family legislators” can learn from foreign laws like Russia’s ban on “promoting non-traditional sexual relationships to minors.”
There's much more in the story, including Carlson likening LGBT activists to the spread of fascism in Europe before World War II.
I had no idea there's a Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park—that's the actual name—in downtown Seattle. Usually things called national parks entail large expanses of wilderness. This one is a hole-in-the-wall exhibit in the corner of a brick building near Pioneer Square. But there I was this afternoon, because Rep. Dave Reichert (R-8) was holding a presser after receiving an award from the National Parks Conservation Association.
Parks are great, but I wanted to ask him how he'd vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The bill would ban workplace discrimination based on sexual preference or gender orientation, and it passed by a wide margin in the Senate on Thursday. But it's unclear whether House Republican leaders will allow a vote on it—and, if they do, whether it would pass.
President Obama's press secretary put it succinctly enough: "To oppose this legislation is to announce that you want to be left behind by history." (Meanwhile, Obama has refused to sign an executive order banning federal contractors from engaging in the same discrimination, although progressive LGBTQ groups are upping the pressure now.)
Reichert refused to commit to vote for ENDA, saying several times he has to read the bill before making a decision, even though the legislation has been repeatedly proposed since 1974, its Senate passage is historic, and you'd have to live under a rock to not know what it does. "I don't know what the argument would be for [House Speaker] John Boehner or others," Reichert explained. "My argument is sometimes there need to be special laws to protect individuals or groups because they're special targets. So sometimes we need to specially call that out, and put a bright light on it, and call attention to it."
It sounds like you're at least inclined to support ENDA, I suggested. "I think if you look at my past votes, you might be able to decipher that," he said. Then he flashed a big grin and laughed.
But who will break it to America's professional anti-gay haters that they're helping? Jonathan Rauch at The Atlantic:
Generational replacement doesn’t explain why people in all age groups, even the elderly, have grown more gay-friendly. Gay people have been coming out for years, but that has been a gradual process, while recent changes in public attitude have been dizzyingly fast. Something else, I believe, was decisive: we won in the realm of ideas. And our antagonists—people who spouted speech we believed was deeply offensive, from Anita Bryant to Jerry Falwell to, yes, Orson Scott Card—helped us win....
History shows that the more open the intellectual environment, the better minorities will do. We learn empirically that women are as intelligent and capable as men; this knowledge strengthens the moral claims of gender equality. We learn from social experience that laws permitting religious pluralism make societies more governable; this knowledge strengthens the moral claims of religious liberty. We learn from critical argument that the notion that some races are fit to be enslaved by others is impossible to defend without recourse to hypocrisy and mendacity; this knowledge strengthens the moral claims of inherent human dignity. To make social learning possible, we need to criticize our adversaries, of course. But no less do we need them to criticize us.
All of which brings me back to Orson Scott Card. Some of the things he has said are execrable. He wrote in 2004 that when gay marriage is allowed, “society will bend all its efforts to seize upon any hint of homosexuality in our young people and encourage it.” That was not quite a flat reiteration of the ancient lie that homosexuals seduce and recruit children—the homophobic equivalent of the anti-Semitic blood libel—but it is about as close as anyone dares to come today. Fortunately, Card’s claim is false. Better still, it is preposterous. Most fair-minded people who read his screeds will see that they are not proper arguments at all, but merely ill-tempered reflexes. When Card puts his stuff out there, he makes us look good by comparison. The more he talks, and the more we talk, the better we sound.
The US Senate approved ENDA today—that's the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which will make it illegal to fire someone based on their sexual orientation or their gender identity. ENDA will totally do that—it will even make it illegal to fire someone for being straight—if ENDA can get through the House, which ENDA can't. But ENDA's passage in the Senate today makes it 1. highly likely to be approved by the Senate in the future and 2. much likelier to get through a future Democratic-controlled House. And the vote wasn't even close. MSNBC:
Ten Republicans joined 52 Democrats and two Independents in voting “yes,” signaling how far the gay rights movement has come in recent years. Many see support for ENDA as a stepping stone on the way to support for marriage equality, which only three Republican senators currently endorse.
The Supreme Court issued a pair of rulings on marriage equality last summer. They kinda declared same-sex marriage constitutional—they ordered the feds to recognize same-sex marriages that had been legally performed in marriage equality states—but they kicked the issue of whether to allow same-sex couples to marry back to the states, where we continue to rack up victories. So while Republican support for marriage equality in the US Senate is nice, and while it's important, and while it helps to build a national consensus that brings use closer to marriage equality in all 50 states, Republican support for marriage equality in the US Senate is not a necessary "stepping stone" toward achieving marriage equality in all 50 states. It's better to have GOP US senators on our side, of course, but the Supreme Court essentially de-federalized the issue of marriage equality. Winning the support of state senators and state reps is far more important than winning the support of US senators and US reps. Congress has no control over the fate of marriage equality in the 35 states where it remains illegal. But, hey, ten Republican senators voted for ENDA—including Orin Fucking Hatch. That's real progress.
But Michelangelo Signorile raises a red flag:
Well, this headline caught my attention:
The audio (via Right Wing Watch) of the conversation between Tea Party Unity leader Rick Scarborough and Americans for Truth president Peter LaBarbera is pretty amazing. You gotta listen to it for yourself.
Scarborough: Peter, the whole issue of a class action lawsuit, you and I have talked about this a little bit. I just wonder if you’ve explored that, talked to anyone about it. Obviously, statistically now even the Centers for Disease Control verifies that homosexuality much more likely leads to AIDS than smoking leads to cancer. And yet the entire nation has rejected smoking, billions of dollars are put into a trust fund to help cancer victims and the tobacco industry was held accountable for that. Any thoughts on that kind of an approach?
LaBarbera: Yeah I think that’s great. I would love to see it. We always wanted to see one of the kid in high school who was counseled by the official school counselor to just be gay, then he comes down with HIV. But we never really got the client for that.
Yeah, because homosexuality is just like cancer, and "we always wanted to see" a kid come down with HIV. America!
Stephen Fry sits down with—and shreds—Vitaly Milonov, the author of Russia's "Homosexual Propaganda" bill. It's required viewing:
Because they're not blowjobs when we give 'em. They're spunk heists.
This afternoon at the Harvard Exit brings Valencia, the experimental film adaptation of Michelle Tea's beloved autobiography, where each of the book's 20 chapters are brought to the screen by a different director (including Cheryl Dunye, Jill Soloway, and Silas Howard) working with a different cast. Screens at 4:30 pm, hull info here.
And tonight at the Northwest Film Forum brings Ian Bell's Reading Rainbow: "Flamingos Forever", a one-of-a-kind theatrical event I'll allow to describe itself. From the SLGFF program:
Ian Bell, creator of the Brown Derby Series and director of the Moore Theatre’s Hedwig & the Angry Inch (with Jerick Hoffer), presents an informal reading of John Waters’s screenplay “Flamingos Forever,” the never-produced sequel to PINK FLAMINGOS, wherein, after 15 years living in gas station lavatories in Boise, Divine comes out of hiding to claim the title of Filthiest Person Alive. Bell will blow this outrageous piece of smut off the page and into the dirty mouths of Seattle gay celebri-trash Jackie Hell, Marcus Wilson, Rebecca Davis, Scott Shoemaker, Freddy Molitch, and others. One night only—you’ve been warned!
Full info here.
The 2013 Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival packs an extravagant array of films into ten days of queer filmy goodness, starting with tonight's opening-night feature I Am Divine. As I wrote in my SLGFF preview:
One of the many revelatory elements of I Am Divine—the new documentary about the legendary drag-queen performance artist and the opening-night film of SLGFF 2013—is the careful parsing of credit in Divine's creation. Makeup artist Van Smith is the one who shaved back Divine's hairline, creating a vast expanse for explosively dramatic eyebrow situations. Filmmaker John Waters is the one who urged his friend Glenn Milstead to channel his anger—over daily beatings in high school, over being a fat queer kid rotting in Baltimore—into the character of Divine. But beyond this, it was all Divine creating Divine, a fearless gender warrior who means as much to the history of punk as the history of drag, and one of America's great movie stars.
Directed by Jeffrey Schwarz, I Am Divine covers all its biopic bases well. Kicking off with the premiere of Hairspray—Divine and John Waters's 1988 mainstream breakthrough—the film tracks back to Milstead's privileged but lonely childhood in Baltimore, carries us through the birth and reign of Divine, and gathers voluminous evidence of Divine's star power to make his premature death land as it should. ("I still can't believe he's dead," says Waters, with love and light bafflement.) Beyond the basics, Schwarz shines plenty of light into less-investigated corners of the story: Divine's love life (robust!), pot habit (robust!), and career beyond the John Waters universe (from off-Broadway plays to international disco hits). Bookending the film are stories from Divine's high-drama family saga, which I won't spoil for you here, but which will muss much mascara among audiences. (Bring a tissue.)
Watch the I Am Divine trailer below, find full info on tonight's Cinerama screening here, and if you want to take your exposure to the world of John Waters and Divine to the next level (which you should), don't miss the Saturday extravaganza hosted by Ian Bell, mastermind behind the beloved Brown Derby readings, who'll here present a "ridiculously staged reading" of the screenplay to John Waters' forever-unproduced Pink Flamingos sequel Flamingos Forever.
...and has herself a little rethink:
"It made me question everything," said [Wendy] Montgomery, 37, of Bakersfield, Calif. "I'm looking at this 13-year-old boy who is totally innocent and pure and an amazing kid and I think, 'Either everything I know about homosexuality is wrong, or my son is not really gay. And, he's obviously gay.' I kind of had to unlearn everything I had learned."
This is good, of course, and lots of people come around on LGBT issues only after finding out that someone they know, love, or gave birth to—or all three—is gay, lesbian, bi, or trans. But wouldn't it be nice if social and religious conservatives were capable of making this leap for other peoples' children? Wendy had to reassess "everything [she] knew" about homosexuality when it turned out her own "innocent and pure and amazing" kid was gay. Somehow she was blind to the innocence, purity, and amazingness of other peoples' gay kids.
And what blinded her? Religion, of course. Check out the reaction of other people in at Wendy's church—people who do not have gay kids of their own—when she and her husband stopped believing that gay kids were guilty, impure, and the opposite of amazing:
They remain faithful Mormons, but have switched congregations after enduring ridicule from friends and fellow church members. One woman told Montgomery her children should be taken away from her and given to somebody who follows the teachings of the prophet. Montgomery and her husband had to step down from their church positions—he was the assistant bishop and she was a Sunday school teacher to teens—after parents flooded the bishop's office with complaints that they were teaching homosexual propaganda that would turn other kids gay.
Because Wendy Montgomery wouldn't reject her 13-year-old gay son—because she wouldn't double her son's already quadrupled risk for suicide—she was condemned and driven out of her church. Because too many Mormons would rather see gay kids die than admit that their prophet got the gay thing wrong just like he got the black thing wrong and the polygamy thing wrong.
"Sometimes it feels like we've moved to a different planet," says gay blogger JoeMyGod. Hateclowns Tony Perkins and Peter LaBarbera probably feel the same way.