This news is all over the nerd internet. Here's Rob Bricken's summary at io9:
J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman have announced they'll be leaving as the [creative] team on Batwoman, citing DC's editorial interference and in particular, the publisher's refusal to allow characters Kate Kane/Batwoman and her partner Gotham City police officer Maggie Sawyer marry each other.
When this iteration of Batwoman was created, the media went crazy over the fact that she was a lesbian. Except for the typically loud (but proportionally very small) right-wing blog response, the feedback was almost entirely positive. (The character even won a GLAAD Award.) The comic has bobbed along on mostly positive reviews for years now, but this will probably mark the end of that good will. In a post titled "Heartbroken," Blackman explains the situation in a little more detail:
Unfortunately, in recent months, DC has asked us to alter or completely discard many long-standing storylines in ways that we feel compromise the character and the series. We were told to ditch plans for Killer Croc’s origins; forced to drastically alter the original ending of our current arc, which would have defined Batwoman’s heroic future in bold new ways; and, most crushingly, prohibited from ever showing Kate and Maggie actually getting married. All of these editorial decisions came at the last minute, and always after a year or more of planning and plotting on our end.
DC Comics has been in editorial turmoil for years now, and that turmoil has been made public most often in the form of upset creators leaving titles with very little warning. There's even an internet clock called hasdcdonesomethingstupidtoday.com, and it's updated with alarming regularity. But maybe DC's biggest mistake in recent years was soliciting a Superman story written by hateful homophobe Orson Scott Card, and the lesson DC seems to have learned from that controversy is: Don't make any waves on LGBT issues at all. Don't be pro-gay. Don't be anti-gay. Just don't make waves.
Good luck with that.
I stopped reading DC's superhero comics soon after they relaunched the entire line. It was too stupid, too creatively void. I liked Williams and Blackman's Batwoman comic, but I quit reading it because I knew it wouldn't be long before editorial bumped the two from the book. I figured they would get bounced over their refusal to take part in some stupid crossover or something, but this is even more disappointing. Fuck DC Comics and their repeated lack of support for the gay community. It's now officially a trend.
UPDATE 2:54 PM: DC Comics released a statement saying they are against marriage for these characters, not just gay marriage:
As acknowledged by the creators involved, the editorial differences with the writers of BATWOMAN had nothing to do with the sexual orientation of the character.
This video was all over the gay blogs last weekend and now it's everywhere: A Christian minister confronts the Prime Minister of Australia—who is running for reelection—about his position on gay marriage. The PM used to oppose marriage equality, but he now supports it. The PM's response was all sorts of awesome. Watch.
Yesterday Vladimir Putin told the AP that Russia doesn't discriminate against "these people"—against gays and lesbians—heck, he sometimes gives "state prizes or decorations" to them. Today we find out that Russian lawmakers are moving to take something from gays and lesbians: their children:
Lawmaker Alexei Zhuravlev has proposed a bill that will would deny gay parents custody over their own children. If passed it would make “non traditional sexual orientation” a basis for the deprivation of parental rights. It places same-sex sexual orientation in the same category as alcohol and drug abuse. If passed the law would follow on from a piece of legislation signed into law by President Putin in July that banned gay and lesbian couples from foreign countries from adopting children.
Zhuravlev told the Associated Press that "homosexual 'propaganda' had to be banned not only in the public space 'but also in the family.'"
And where would children taken from their gay and lesbian parents go? There isn't a culture of adoption in Russia and Russia doesn't have a functioning foster-care system. So children taken from their gay and lesbian parents would wind up in state institutions. And Russian orphanages are notoriously dangerous places.
Journalist Masha Gessen was right to flee Russia with her partner and their children. But not everyone can get out.
Maybe now we can talk seriously about moving the Olympics?
Not long after the launch of the It Gets Better Project, Dan Savage got a letter from a reader asking, "What is the biggest barrier to the acceptance of gay marriage in the U.S.?" Dan's answer:
[The problem is] all those quiet, timid, and cowardly NALT Christians out there who support marriage equality but have allowed their conservative co-religionists to hijack Christianity. (“NALT” stands for “not all like that,” the phrase you hear from liberal Christians whenever you [complain] about conservative Christians, i.e., “We’re not all like that!” Yes, yes, NALTs—we know. You’re not all like that. Don’t tell us. Tell Tony Perkins, tell the pope, tell Maggie Gallagher, et al.)
Today I am thrilled to report that a bunch of Christians have stepped up to accept Dan's challenge, via the NALT Christian Project. The mission statement:
The purpose of the NALT Christians Project is to give LGBT-affirming Christians a means of proclaiming to the world—and especially to young gay people—their belief and conviction that there is nothing anti-biblical or at all inherently sinful about being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
Here is the website, which holds a growing number of NALT video submissions and a ton of great info, such as this section devoted to Christians talking about what the Bible does and does not say about homosexuality (and if it does or does not matter).
Thank you thank you thank you, NALT founders John Shore, Wayne Besen, and Evan Hurst.
And he lies, lies, lies. But what he said in that interview isn't nearly as important as the fact that he was forced to give that interview. John at Americablog:
I’ve been noting for the past month how interesting it is that Putin hasn’t spoken out about the building gay drama. Lots of other senior Russian officials have, but not Putin. Now he has. Anyone who’s run an effective activist campaign against a large corporation, or especially a politician, knows that they try to insulate the CEO, or the Senator or President—they refuse to let him or her comment on the matter—until they feel they absolutely have no choice. In Putin’s case, that’s clearly what’s happened. Things have gotten so bad that he no longer has a choice but to respond to international criticism.
And it’s clear why Putin feels so cornered. The international outrage following the launch of last month’s Russian vodka boycott, has been deafening. First it was gays and our allies around the world, then it was the international media, just hounding the Russians non-stop about this issue. Then the next shoe to drop, and it keeps dropping, was world leaders weighing in, like President Obama. And now we have the news that Obama will meet with NGO representatives, including gay and trans activists, during the G20 meeting in Russia this coming Thursday. And the additional news that British Prime Minister David Cameron will raise his concerns about the gay situation with Putin.
To call the last month a glaring success would be an understatement.
Putin has even now offered to meet with Russian LGBT activists, something he only offered because President Obama is doing the same. And President Obama likely only offered it because the issue exploded in the news over the past month following the Russian vodka boycott.
This wouldn't be happening—Putin wouldn't be forced to answer questions about the gays—if it weren't for the activism we've seen in New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Berlin, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and other cities around the world. And if we keep the pressure on in the run-up to the Winter Olympics next year, and if we continue to push even after the Olympics (next up: pressuring FIFA to move the 2018 World Cup out of Russia), Russian lawmakers will eventually conclude that the domestic political benefits of scapegoating and persecuting gay people are outweighed by this never-ending international political shitstorm. And there's really only one Russian lawmaker whose opinion matters: Putin. And he isn't happy about the protests taking place around the world.
And this story in the Guardian yesterday drives home the importance of getting these laws revoked:
"The latest laws against so-called gay propaganda, first in the regions and then on the federal level, have essentially legalized violence against LGBT people, because these groups of hooligans justify their actions with these laws," [said Igor Kochetkov, head of the Russian LGBT Network]. "With this legislation, the government said that, yes, gays and lesbians are not valued as a social group. It is an action to terrorise the entire LGBT community."
And to all who turned out yesterday to demonstrate at the Russian Consular Residence in Seattle and at other "To Russia With Love" demonstrations around the world yesterday: Russian LGBT people appreciate what you did for them. And they organized a photo campaign to show their appreciation:
We, Russian LGBT people and their allies, would like to thank all the people around the world who support us and express their concern about the events in our country in hope of making a difference and pulling Russia out of a tightening medieval darkness. To show that global support and solidarity are very important for all of us, we organized in response an acknowledgment action “From Russia with Love."
You may recognize the young man in that last photo from this now-iconic image of the violence LGBT people are being subjected to in Russia.
More "From Russia With Love" photos—heartbreaking photos—here.
Dmitry Isakov may become the first gay rights activist to be convicted under Russia’s controversial “gay propanda” laws, after he was attacked and arrested by his own parents at a solo campaign in July. On July 30, Mr Isakov staged a one-man protest in the centre of the town of Kazan, Russia, holding up a sign which read: “Being gay and loving gays is normal. Beating gays and killing gays is a crime!” According to Gay Russia, his mother and father helped authorities escort their son to the car where he was taken to a police station. His father assisted police by bringing him to the ground as his mother stole the poster from his hands. After his initial arrest, Mr Isakov was set free, although he was suffering from a number of injuries inflicted by police officers.
Last Tuesday, Nation publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel published an op-ed in the Washington Post raising concerns about the calls for a Sochi Boycott by many western LGBT activists. The piece brings up many now-familiar arguments about the need to understand how different Russian culture is and the potential “prize” western activists may be offering Putin by allowing him to raise his standing with the powerful, anti-west, traditionalist majority in Russia.... It strikes me as remarkable how many people seek to dismiss the efforts of westerners ( including activists such as Harvey Fierstein and Dan Savage and journalists such as John Aravosis and Richard Socarides) with the refrain that Russians need to deal with this issue internally, given that the propaganda ban effectively denies Russian LGBT citizens the right to protest freely....
Just yesterday, Dmitry Isakov became the first Russian activist to be arrested under the new gay propaganda [law.] Last week there were reports of Russian police raiding the homes of LGBTs activists as well as sightings of flyers encouraging people to report their LGBT neighbors to local authorities. This is the “political and social reality” that Russians are facing.
LGBT Russians are not able to protest freely. It is illegal to be out. Russia's law criminalizing "gay propaganda" law makes it a crime for even straight people to speak out publicly against the law. Speak up for Russian queers today in Seattle. Take part in the global speak out.
TIME: 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. TODAY.
LOCATION: The sidewalk outside Russian Consular Residence, 3726 East Madison Street, Seattle, WA 98112
WHAT TO BRING: Pride Flags, Attitude, Signs.
"There's more aggression and it's becoming more dangerous on the streets," Andrei tells me. "Many gay people have changed how they dress, they've removed earrings, changed their hairstyles, to avoid having problems. Even back in the USSR, where homosexuality was a criminal offence, gays were treated better than they are now in Russia. Ordinary people see us as criminals. They hate us."
There is evidence of that attitude in a series of shocking videos posted online by a Russian vigilante group. In one, a man is being forced to drink urine to "cure him" of being a homosexual. Then a metal bucket is placed over the man's head and hit with what looks like a baseball bat and a police truncheon. Attacks like this, filmed and posted online, are being carried out across Russia by an ultra-nationalist group. It claims its objective is to name, shame and punish suspected paedophiles. But from the tone of the videos the encounters come across as homophobic attacks. In another online clip, a woman armed with a gun and dressed in camouflage jokes that she's "out on safari" hunting for paedophiles and gays. She starts shooting towards an imaginary "rainbow target." The woman's name is Yekaterina. We track her down in St Petersburg, where she heads the local branch of the vigilante group "Occupy Paedophilia."
"Our priority is uncovering cases of paedophilia," Yekaterina explains to me. "But we're also against the promotion of homosexuality. And if along the way we encounter people of non-traditional sexual orientation, we can kill two birds with one stone."
In Russia gay-rights activists believe such aggression is a direct result of the controversial new law signed by President Vladimir Putin. The legislation bans the spread of information about "untraditional sexual relations" to anyone under 18. It portrays homosexuality as a danger to children and the family. "The law itself is not a danger in terms of its application. But it's a great danger in terms of what kind of opinions it shapes," believes Anastasiya Smirnova of the human rights group Russian LGBT Network. "It entitles people to mob rule, to organised violence against those they perceive to be dangerous to society, to families and to children. People take over the role of the authorities to react against what they think is a violation."
The Guardian reports that various, independent anti-gay vigilante groups are coalescing into a national movement. Most of the people being kidnapped and assaulted—and outed—are teenagers.
Says one of the authors of Russia's anti-gay laws:
"Why should we respect all your traditions and you not respect ours?" asks St Petersburg MP Vitaly Milonov, one of the architects of the legislation. "Aggressive pushiness to accept your values is unfair. We don't tell the Queen of England not to sign a law on same-sex marriages in your country. We have no right to do that, because we respect your independence. Why do you not accept ours?"
This is the exact same argument made by the apartheid-era government of South Africa: How we treat "our" blacks is our own business, we don't tell you how to treat your minorities, we respect your independence and you should respect ours, these are our traditions. The world rejected those arguments and fought back against the South African government with boycotts, protests, sanctions, and divestment campaigns. And it worked.
Protest today at the Russian Consular Residence:
DATE: Tuesday, September 3, 2013
TIME: 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
LOCATION: The sidewalk outside Russian Consular Residence, 3726 East Madison Street, Seattle, WA 98112
WHAT TO BRING: Pride Flags, Attitude, Signs.
We don't have to tell you how bad it's gotten in Russia for gay people, but if you needed more confirmation, today we have news that Russia is raiding the homes of gay people as part of their crackdown on illegal gay activity. They're even asking folks to report suspected gays to the police. We can't do that much from Seattle. But we can boycott their products, and we can take our message directly to the consulate.
Dan Savage is going to this event—he's been rallying folks around it this week—and I'm going to it. I've put this on Facebook, lots of people I know have are going, and lots of people I don't know know are going. Please join us:
DATE: Tuesday, September 3, 2013
TIME: 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
LOCATION: The sidewalk outside Russian Consular Residence, 3726 East Madison Street, Seattle, WA 98112
WHAT TO BRING: Pride Flags, Attitude, Signs.
Dr. Sherman Leis bills himself as "one of the world's leading transgender surgeons." Also, when I was a kid, he once put a couple plastic stitches in the bridge of my nose (freak golfing accident), and he did a lovely job. So I was interested to read what he had to say about what Chelsea Manning faces in her transitioning process.
Recently, many in the news media reported about Bradley Manning identifying as a transgender woman and wishing to be called Chelsea Manning. Many of the stories seemed to imply that a wish and a name change is all that’s needed for a transgender person to transition. This over simplification is likely to create a misleading impression among those unfamiliar with transgender people and the transitioning process, even trivializing the heart-rending journey that often begins with coming to terms with the fact that one is born of a gender in the wrong body and the search for balance.
Observed Dr. Sherman Leis, one of the world’s leading transgender surgeons and founder of The Philadelphia Center for Transgender Surgery, “If only saying so could make transitioning happen. Gender dysphoria is a serious human condition. If more people could understand the heartache endured by so many pre-surgery transgender people, we might dramatically reduce the extraordinarily high suicide rate among this group. So powerful a fix is transgender surgery that once it happens, this rate drops to near normal and most transgender people become relatively happy, normal people. If only we could make transitioning available to all who need it.”
I've posted Dr. Leis's whole press release after the jump, in which he outlines the process his patients go through. It's not particularly detailed from a surgical perspective, but it's a good starting point for those who want to understand the various steps.
Also, too, calls for my death:
I've never heard of this Stan Solomon guy. But apparently he's a thing. Right Wing Watch:
Conservative talk show host Stan Solomon is obsessed with the idea that President Obama is fomenting a race war in order to murder white, Christian heterosexuals, so when we noticed he was hosting a special “Race In America” program to commemorate the March on Washington, we knew we had to watch. Solomon—who regularly interviews conservative figures including Phyllis Schlafly, E.W. Jackson, Larry Pratt and Alan Keyes—used the occasion to deliver an epic rant accusing Jews, gays, African Americans and Muslims of being pawns of the Satanic left, hailing the murder of Trayvon Martin and announcing that he hopes “that faggot” Dan Savage dies.
Transcript here. This upstanding Christian man also calls Trayvon Martin a "thug" and says he's "glad he's dead." Because Jesus.
...and the artist has fled the county:
A museum director says an artist whose paintings depicted Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in women's undergarments has fled the country. The director of St. Petersburg's Museum of Power, Tatiana Titova, said Wednesday that Konstantin Altunin left for France and was planning to request asylum there. Authorities removed four of Altunin's satirical depictions of Russian politicians on Monday and shut down the exhibition. A police statement did not specify which laws may have been violated by the provocative works. A Russian law prohibits insulting state authorities.
That's a settled question. The only outstanding question is how long CBN is going to let this man run his mouth on television.
Today on the 700 Club, Pat Robertson told co-host Terry Meeuwsen that gay men in cities like San Francisco attempt to spread HIV/AIDS to others by cutting them with a special ring when shaking hands.... While responding to a question from a woman who wondered if it was wrong for the church not to inform her that a man she was driving to worship services is “dying of AIDS,” Robertson admitted that he “used to think it was transmitted by saliva and other things, now they say it may be sexual contact.”
“What to say if you’re driving an elderly man whose got AIDS? Don’t have sex with them,” Robertson said, “unless there’s a cut or some bodily fluid transmission, I think you’re not going to catch it.”
But Robertson didn’t stop there.... Despite Meeuwsen’s best attempts to steer the conversation away from Robertson’s anti-gay paranoia, Robertson insisted that gay people use special rings to transmit the virus. “You know what they do in San Francisco, some in the gay community there they want to get people so if they got the stuff they’ll have a ring, you shake hands, and the ring’s got a little thing where you cut your finger,” Robertson said. “Really. It’s that kind of vicious stuff.”
Feel free to tweet CBN (@CBNproducers) and demand a public apology and a retraction of Pat Robertson's disgusting lie. Also you can call: CBN Main Switchboard (757) 226-7000.
All of that is happening to queer people in Russia right now—and the religious right wants to see all of that to happen here:
On his radio broadcast this afternoon, Bryan Fischer delivered a vigorous defense of Russia's anti-gay "propaganda" law, saying that, if anything, it doesn't go far enough. Fischer commended Russia for trying to reestablish their Christian heritage and for understanding that "homosexual behavior is a moral evil." Fischer lamented that, for now the law only bans the spread of homosexual propaganda to teenagers, but remains hopeful that Russia will eventually realize that homosexuality is a "moral evil" for everyone. Even still, Fischer said, "at least they're ahead of us on recognizing that it's a moral evil to propagandize this lifestyle among teenagers."
This comes from Slog tipper Danny:
(Salt Lake City)—Sweetwater Books, a division of Cedar Fort Publishing & Media, has cancelled the publication of Woven, a highly anticipated young adult fantasy novel, because the biographical blurb of one of Woven’s two authors referenced the author’s “partner.”
Authors David Powers King and Michael Jensen signed a publishing agreement with Sweetwater Books on January 15, 2013. They submitted their manuscript materials—including their bios—shortly after and worked with Cedar Fort for several months on editing and designing the book. Originally scheduled for an October 8, 2013, release date, the final manuscript was slated to go to press on August 1.
Rob Beschizza at BoingBoing says that attempts to talk with publisher Lyle Mortimer only resulted in lectures about the proper use of penises, according to God's law. Why are Christians always talking about genitals?
A U.S. figure skater who opposes speaking out against Russia's anti-gay laws because it might make him look like an ass... succeeds in making himself look like an ass by speaking out against speaking out.
I've made fun of the Seattle Times Editorial Board's Resident Idiot, Bruce Ramsay, before. I honestly have no idea how the man is still on the Times's payroll. He's an embarrassment. But his blog post today about Chelsea Manning is beyond the pale. Like all of Ramsay's writing, it's childlike and shallow, and it shows a dimwit's grasp of world affairs. But more importantly, it's a cruel personal attack on transgender rights, framed in the aw-shucks context of a "you've-gotta-laugh" story. It begins:
“Bradley Manning wants to live as a woman,” our story said. I burst out laughing.
Then there's a paragraph making fun of the photo of Chelsea Manning, which, "funniest of all," Ramsay notes, comes courtesy of the US Army. And then there's this:
“Be all you can be,” eh?
Now Manning wants the government to pay for conversion from M to F. The story quotes a Pentagon source saying that the United States Army does not provide sex-reassignment therapy. And the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality says, “In the United States it is illegal to deny health care to prisoners.”
Guess who wins.
Now correct me if I'm wrong—Ramsay's writing is so dumb that I might be misinterpreting what passes for his intent—but is Ramsay suggesting here that Manning is pulling some sort of a long con to get free gender-reassignment therapy? Is that really what Ramsay is insinuating? Is he trying to turn this conversation about whistleblowing and patriotism into a sniggering little hateful blog post appended with a lame argument against health care for prisoners? Does he really think that Chelsea Manning is "winning" this battle? Or is Ramsay just a doddering old fool who can't stand anyone who's not white, straight, and male? Is this drool on a napkin supposed to represent what the Times considers to be rational thought? (The Stranger has reached out to the Times for comment about this post, asking whether they'd condone this sort of writing about gay people, or African-Americans, or any other minority group.) Finally, and maybe most importantly, isn't it long past time to take this piece of shit "writer" out to the pasture for his retirement?
UPDATE 1:11 PM: On Twitter, Times writer Jonathan Martin distances himself from Ramsay's blog post:
@dominicholden An unfortunate post by colleague @BruceARamsey. Manning's transgender status no laughing matter.
— Jonathan Martin (@jmartin206) August 23, 2013
UPDATE 2:01 PM: Ramsay has posted a "clarification" that reads, in part:
Since posting this at 6:35 a.m., several readers have accused me of being a bigoted person, making fun of transgendered people. I did not intend that. I was not making fun of transgendered people as such.
Sorry, dumbass. I'm pretty sure that laughing at Chelsea Manning for identifying as a woman, which you do in the second sentence of the post and then continue to do throughout the piece, automatically qualifies as making fun of a transgendered person. Your "clarification" insinuates that there's some depth or subtlety to your piece, which is maybe the single most unbelievable thing I've heard all day.
National Public Radio will continue for now to refer to Private Manning as “he,” according to a spokeswoman, Anna Bross. “Until Bradley Manning’s desire to have his gender changed actually physically happens, we will be using male-related pronouns to identify him,” she said.
What the fuck, NPR? This is some draconian bullshit, right here. Gender is not just physical. And anyway, the content of Chelsea Manning's underwear is none of NPR's business. Is an editorial board going to demand photographs of her crotch before they agree to switch pronouns? I can understand some news organizations having some difficulty yesterday as they transitioned from using "he" to "she" with Chelsea Manning. An announcement of this scale has never happened before, and I don't think it's happened to these kinds of reporters—the ones covering breaking national and international news (thanks to Chaz Bono, entertainment and gossip reporters are actually ahead of the curve on this issue). But for a whole organization to demand proof of a physical change in gender before they respect someone's wishes is more than just institutional ignorance; it's outright aggression.
UPDATE 5 PM: Scott Simon on Twitter says NPR will refer to Chelsea Manning by her name. No word about the pronouns yet:
To those who have asked: NPR will now say #ChelseaManning, believing everyone has the right to be called by name they want.
— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) August 23, 2013
UPDATE 7:30 PM: Now NPR says their thinking has "evolved" on the issue, and they will use the proper pronouns when referring to Manning. Good for them for finally coming around to decency.
And here's what Gessen had to say a town hall meeting in New York City the night before:
Roughly 100 people, including many Russian and Eastern European emigres, gathered at The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center to hear author and journalist Masha Gessen, who described the dire circumstances for LGBT Russians in Russia.
“We’re kind of past the point where silence can ever protect,” Gessen told the crowd during the August 21 meeting. “At this point, the more Russians know and the Kremlin knows that the world is watching, the safer we feel on the ground.”
And Russians and the Kremlin are watching and listening to the response that has swept around the globe since Russia enacted its anti-gay propaganda law in June. The law bans any pro-LGBT statement in public or private and on the Internet. With the law, Russia has effectively criminalized being out of the closet or supporting the LGBT community.
“One of the best moments of my time was when I was in my car 10 days ago in Moscow and I turned on the radio and they were talking about the vodka boycott on every radio station,” Gessen said. “That is getting media attention. It was really, really amazing, Suddenly we’d been granted visibility that we hadn’t had in years.”
In other developments: the day after declaring that Olympic athletes and visitors would face arrest for violating Russia's laws against "gay propaganda"—and that there was nothing discriminatory about these laws because gays and straights would arrested equally—today Vladamir Putin issued a "terror decree" banning public meetings, marches, rallies and protests during the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Says John at Americablog:
And there’s an even greater headache now for the International Olympic Committee: Any violation of Russia’s draconian anti-gay “propaganda” law during the Sochi Olympics is now a violation of a Russian anti-terrorism decree. That would seem to raise the crime of being openly gay to an entirely new and dangerous level: An act of terrorism. And what exactly is the price one pays for violating anti-terror decrees in Russia? Our Olympians may soon find out.
And another must-read piece in the Guardian by Nancy Goldstein:
This double standard, whereby the IAAF or the IOC awards major sporting events to nations with gross human rights violations in defiance of their own charters, and then mandates that athletes to shut up and behave like nothing's happening—so long as they don't see any LGBT people being beaten bloody, arrested, or tortured within the stadium walls—has begun to wear thin. There are simply too many athletes challenging it, too many public figures opposing it, and too many corporate sponsors and world leaders becoming increasingly anxious about the possibility of winding up on the wrong side of history.
People of good conscience have already begun turning down invitations to visit Russia. Earlier this week, Wentworth Miller, the star of Prison Break, came out while declining an invitation to the St Petersburg international film festival, saying he could not "participate in a celebratory occasion hosted by a country where people like myself are being systematically denied their basic right to live and love openly." The Miss Universe Pageant may be trying to pull an NBC and have it both ways—saying that they object to the laws, yet refusing to change their venue—but their equivocating is lost in the dust of co-host Andy Cohen's brave refusal to play the game. Cohen released a statement that he "didn't feel right stepping foot into Russia as a gay man."
Because Russia has promised us that they'll arrest straight athletes and visitors who support gay rights too—not just gay athletes and visitors—so it's all good:
In an astounding statement, the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Count Jacques Rogge, claimed today that Russia will not discriminate against gays at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, even though the Russians just said the exact opposite in a new letter released to the Associated Press.
In the letter, the Russians are now claiming that their draconian new anti-gay law is not anti-gay at all. Why? Because it threatens to jail heterosexual Olympians too.
The Russians are now claiming, incredibly, that their “gay propaganda” law doesn’t discriminate against gays because it will also lead the incarceration of straight Olympians who say or do anything perceived as pro-gay.
Well, thanks for the clarification, Boris.
By that olympian logic... there was nothing racist about this because the Klan didn't discriminate between black and white Freedom Riders. They murdered them equally.
Bradley Manning came out as trans this morning:
Pfc. Bradley Manning, the Army private who pleaded guilty to leaking government files to WikiLeaks and was sentenced on Wednesday to 35 years in military prison, said in a statement Thursday that “I am female” and wants to begin living life that way.
In a letter to supporters titled “The Next Stage of My Life,” Private Manning wrote, “I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition.”
The letter went on to request that Private Manning’s supporters “refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility).” It was signed, “Chelsea Manning.”
This is some really profoundly, willfully clueless stuff. I would respond personally... but I'm in LA today, I'm in meetings all fucking day long (meetings are what you do in LA—meetings and blow), and I'm literally running out the door here. So I'm just going to copy and paste this response by novelist and essayist John Weir:
It would be a pleasure to enroll in Professor Schrad's course in Russian politics at Villanova University, or to audit his lectures on introductory comparative politics, but no one who wanted results would ask him to spearhead a boycott. Professor Schrad's opinion piece is strong on history but clueless about effective political action in the face of an ongoing crisis like the one currently devastating the LGBT community in Russia. Like other critics of the Russian vodka boycott called for by Dan Savage and LGBT activists in the US and countries around the world, including Russia, Professor Schrad assumes that the boycott is the whole game, and that vodka boycotters have no goal but to ruin a vodka company, in a kind of tantrum of gay consumer annoyance.
Our goal has never been to destroy the global market of Stolichnaya or to dissolve the extensive Russian investments of its parent company SPI, as if that were possible. Rather, we have meant it as a first tactic to spread news of a human rights disaster, and we know that boycotts have proven historically to be highly effective in accomplishing this aim. Indeed, in the past three weeks, the Russian vodka boycott has focused more attention on the plight of Russia 's LGBT people than any other intervention in the past two years—and the war on Russian LGBT people has been ongoing for more than two years, starting first in the legislative bodies of provincial towns and growing into a national movement.
Professor Schrad's Op Ed piece is itself evidence that the boycott is working, because a piece about the abuse of LGBT people in Russia would not have been drafted, much less published, if the vodka boycott had not made the tragic situation significant news item. To say, as Professor Schrad does, that Stolichnaya is not a Russian product is not just to repeat a false claim, but to exhibit naive faith in the PR department of a multi-national corporation whose press releases must be understood as advertisements, not truth. To complain that the US has long interfered in Russian affairs is to demonstrate a keen grasp of the obvious. So what? SPI's website proclaims the Russian-ness of Stolichnaya; the US government has meddled in the affairs of every country on the planet, often for controversial reasons and with mixed results.
We are not the US government. We are a community of LGBT people who are determined to intervene against human rights abuses of our LGBT brothers and sisters around the world. To get out the news is the necessary first step.
John Weir is the author of The Irreversible Decline of Eddie Socket and What I Did Wrong. He's also a member of Queer Nation NY.
Because gay men and the opera, the opera and gay men, right? Gay men are the opera's most ardent fans and most vocal audience members. So... it seems just a little tone deaf for the Metropolitan Opera to open its season with an opera—an opera written by a gay man—that will be conducted by a vocal supporter of Vladamir Putin and that will star an equally vocal supporter of Vladamir Putin. NYT:
The long-planned new production of “Eugene Onegin,” which will open the Met season on Sept. 23, is to be conducted by Valery Gergiev, the artistic director of the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg and one of the foremost interpreters of the Russian repertory, and to star Anna Netrebko, the popular Russian diva, who will be opening the Met’s season for the third year in a row. Both were vocal supporters of the 2012 campaign of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, who in June signed the law banning “propaganda on nontraditional sexual relationships.”
An online petition, referring to what the organizer calls “Putin’s recent laws against homosexual people and those who support them” and to Tchaikovsky’s suffering because of his homosexuality, is calling on the Met to dedicate its Russian-theme opening night to the support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. “I’m not asking them to be against anybody,” said Andrew Rudin, the composer who started the petition. “I’m asking them to be for somebody.”
Right on, Bartlett Sher:
[The petition has] attracted the signature of Bartlett Sher, the director of several critically acclaimed recent productions for the Met, including Offenbach’s “Contes d’Hoffmann” and Donizetti’s “Elisir d’Amore,” both of which starred Ms. Netrebko. Mr. Sher said in an interview that he did not see the petition as anti-Met but rather as a chance to take a stand against Mr. Putin and the recent law. “I saw it as a chance for everyone who loves opera, and all of us who work in it, to stand up to a pig and a dictator, against a terrible position and a terrible man,” he said.
Some context: St. Petersburg is where Russia's anti-LGBT pogrom got started—it's "where laws banning 'propaganda' in support of the 'gay lifestyle,' including public signs and gay pride festivals, first took root." Gay pride parades are banned in St. Petersburg and LGBT people are attacked openly on the streets in St. Petersburg. Look at what happened to a gay man held up a rainbow banner in St. Petersburg that simply read, "This is propagating tolerance."
Valery Gergiev lives and works in St. Petersburg. He may not give a flying fuck about LGBT people in his home city and country, he may not give a flying fuck about the gay people in the audience at the Met, but the motherfucker is coming to New York City—along with Ms. Netrebko—and gay people in New York City give a fuck about what is happening on in Russia and St. Petersburg. So it seems to me that the Met has two options here: dedicate its season opener to LGBT people in Russia, which would put Gergiev and Netrebko in an awkward position, or refuse to take a stand in support of persecuted LGBT people in Russia and risk an much more awkward demonstration on opening night.
A must-read piece in the New Republic:
Few, if any, of the people demanding a boycott have argued that this would “end” LGBT discrimination in Russia. Most of us understand that Russian antipathy towards LGBT rights is deep seated. In an article I wrote for Salon a few days ago, I also made the case that, at least in the short term, Putin stands to gain from all the outrage because it reinforces Russians' ideas about how unique they are and further underscores the country's independence from the West. This does not mean the calls for boycotts are useless. Labeling justifiable outrage and calls for justice as useless and counterproductive smacks of blaming the victim. It's not our calls for boycotts that may cause an increase in violence against the LGBT community in Russia, but rather the law which Putin signed in July—a law that has, in effect, codified Russian homophobia and stripped the Russian citizens of the one way that they could ever expect to effectively combat it.
Ioffe's assertions that American attitudes towards LGBT rights have only recently changed is true. In fact, the change has come at an astonishing pace. What she fails to mention, however, is that this change only happened because of gay visibility, starting with more and more gays and lesbians coming out to their friends and families. Prominent celebrities and politicians revealing their sexuality, along with LGBT characters in movies and on TV, helped de-stigmatize the gay community in the eyes of so many Americans, who began to see us less as predators and AIDS victims and more as neighbors, cousins, coworkers.
This is precisely what the Russian propaganda bill denies its citizens. By criminalizing speech advocating “non-traditional sexual lifestyles,” Russia has denied its LGBT citizens the same path toward progress that so many societies in the West have taken. Look no further than the many reported cases of Russians who spoke out against the ban before it was ratified and who were later fired from their jobs. This is the reality on the ground. And if the gays there cannot speak for themselves without fear of imprisonment, it is up to those of us outside to speak for them.
"Proceeds will go to the Russian LGBT Network," says Pony organizer Marcus Wilson. "We're asking a suggested $5-10 donation at the door and we will also be donating a portion of the REYKA Icelandic vodka drinks ordered that night."
A straight Catholic man met tons of screwed up gay priests and seminarians when he trained to be a priest—messy, self-hating gay men who confirmed the prejudices he held about gay people—reflects on the life experiences that helped him get over his homophobia:
Then, things changed for me. Well, two things changed actually. First, I started to meet happy gay people. They were happy to be gay, happy to be in relationships, happy with their lives. That made a powerful impression on me, and made me realize that there were possibilities other than the often tortured gay men I met in the context of the Catholic priesthood. You could be gay and be normal. And if you can be gay and be normal, why shouldn't they be allowed to be normal in society? And even in the church?
The other thing that happened was a simple thought experiment. In retrospect, it is insane that this didn't occur to me earlier, but it didn't until about a year ago. The thought experiment is a simple one: I have a son or daughter who comes to me and tells me that they are gay. Am I really willing to give the approved speech that I love them but hate the sin of being gay? Am I really willing to tell them that I expect them to be alone for the rest of their lives without a partner? It was unambiguously clear to me from the moment I thought about it that I would never be willing to give that speech to my children. Instead, I would love them as they are and want them to be happy. But, if I knew I couldn't give the speech to my children, why was I willing to give that speech to other people's children?
San Antonio Councilwoman Elisa Chan met with her staff in private to talk about how to address a nondiscrimination ordinance. She wanted to find a way to talk about gay people that would indicate her distaste for them without actually speaking against them, because, much to her consternation, gay people are for some reason considered human these days. She and her staff talked openly about how much they dislike gay people ("it's against nature!") and how much they wish homosexual sex was still illegal. They talked very freely about all this. After all, it was private, right?
Except, no. One of the staffers recorded the session and released it to the press. The recording is embedded below. I'm warning you, it's pretty disheartening to listen to idiots like this in 2013. But it's also enlightening to see what they're really saying when they think nobody's listening. Conservatives in this country still have a long way to go.
This Reuters story just offers a hint of the shitstorm to come in the Russian Olympics:
The face of the Moscow world championships, Yelena Isinbayeva, has condemned Swede Emma Green-Tregaro's gesture of support for the Russian gay community as disrespectful and said she supported the law banning the promotion of homosexuality.
Green-Tregaro competed in Thursday's qualifying round of the high jump at Luzhniki Stadium with her fingernails painted in the colors of the rainbow flag used by the gay movement.
Meanwhile, American 800 meters runner Nick Symmonds said he was shocked by Isinbayeva's comments and that he had been told he risked jail if he wore a rainbow badge.
Fingernails are causing a controversy. Fingernails. Does anyone doubt that Russia is going to come out of these Olympics as a villain in the eyes of the world? Go read the whole story.
God bless Stephen Colbert—and the good people of Vicco, Kentucky.
And next up for the city of Vicco... maybe an anti-smoking-during-city-council-meetings ordinance? (Via HuffPo.)
An anti-gay Mexican politician is arguing that marriage rights should be limited to couples who are capable of having sex face-to-face:
La diputada local por el Partido Acción Nacional en Puebla, Ana María Jiménez Ortiz, afirmó en un foro realizado en ese estado, la semana pasada, que "sólo debe considerarse como matrimonio aquellas relaciones en las que los integrantes sostienen relaciones sexuales mirándose a la cara", lo cual, según ella, "no ocurre entre las parejas homosexuales."
The local legislator for the National Action Party in Puebla, Ana Maria Jiménez Ortiz, said in a forum held in that state last week that "[you] only should consider as marriage those relationships in which the members have sexual relations looking at the face," which, according to her, "does not occur between homosexual partners."
Watching gay porn might give poor Ana Maria Jiménez Ortiz a heart attack. So maybe Hal Sparks should give her a call, take her out for a drink, and share with her what he learned playing a gay man on teevee...
"Before my role on Queer As Folk I didn't know gay men had sex facing each other. That was a big surprise."