Welcome to a weekly roundup of news related to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and otherwise “other” community.
- If you really need your heart broken today, check out the state of Iraqi LGBT, a group that has been running safe houses in Iraq for people who’d otherwise be targets for brutal anti-gay violence. Two of their shelters are scheduled to close due to lack of funds, and a recent attempt to raise money yielded relatively slim results. The situation in Iraq is dire:
Violence against all the gay community has intensified sharply since late 2005, when Iraq’s leading Shiite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, issued a fatwa (religious decree) which declared that gays and lesbians should be “killed in the worst, most severe way”.
Though there are many crises in Iraq, this is a rare one that we can have a direct impact on, since the houses provide shelter for victims under threat of violence. Read through the site if you have the stomach for it, and please consider making a donation to maintain the shelters.
- Congratulations to Singapore, which just decriminalized sodomy…. Whoops: only if you’re straight! The Singapore parliament finally released legal restrictions on oral and anal sex, provided the participants = one man + one woman. In a seriously bizarre statement, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the government could not allow decriminalization of anti-family homosexuality, but then delivered this nugget:
Gays “are free to lead their lives and pursue their social activities,” the Prime Minister said, citing the existence of gay websites and gay bars…
Lee said keeping the statute unchanged, while not aggressively enforcing it, remained the best option.
- In happier news, I’m sure you’ve heard that some character in some ludicrously popular series was apparently gay. Major props to author J. K. Rowling, who just assured that her novels will be burned in schools for many decades to come.
Seriously, major props to her: there’s no reason she had to go back and announce that a dead character in a completed series was gay, other than to stick it to the fundies. Maybe I’ll actually read her books now, in gratitude!
- The much anticipated (in a bad way) conference of Watchmen on the Walls, an international anti-gay group that has been making terrifying inroads into this country, apparently scored a low turnout at its first American conference. Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin reports little over a hundred attendees, far short of the anticipated 6-700 turnout.
If you are unfamiliar with the Watchmen, I highly recommend reading the SPLC article linked above. This is not a group to be taken lightly:
Vlad Kusakin, the host of a Russian-language anti-gay radio show in Sacramento and the publisher of a Russian-language newspaper in Seattle, told The Seattle Times in January that God has “made an injection” of high numbers of anti-gay Slavic evangelicals into traditionally liberal West Coast cities. “In those places where the disease is progressing, God made a divine penicillin,” Kusakin said.
- Ever wondered what it’s like to be LGBT in Kyrgyzstan? Then check out this article by Claire Wilkinson about the small but growing Labrys movement, which is fighting enormous odds to establish better treatment of the queer community in the conservative Eurasian nation. Labrys has published a 50+ page informational booklet to educate people about the facts of sex and gender otherness, available at the site – provided you read Russian or Kyrgyz (the sites linked above are all in English, however).
Incidentally, the best informational booklet of this sort I’ve ever found was published in the city of Brno, in the Czech Republic. I’ve never seen anything quite as helpful and informative in this country.
Of course the big news this past week has been the ill-advised inclusion of seriously confused gospel singer Donnie McClurkin in the Obama campaign’s gospel tour. Worst of all, the debate has highlighted some of the worst fissures between the queer and black communities, and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been seeing borderline racist and homophobic comments on liberal blogs discussing the issue. Something about controversy encourages people to make sweeping generalizations: if you need a good laugh, try to take Aravosis’ outrage seriously in light of his ENDA performance.
As far as I can tell, the queer black bloggers – who have the joy of putting up with b.s. from both sides of the divide – are pretty united on this one: McClurkin was a giant mistake. For commentary ranging from disappointed to raging, check out Terrance in DC, Pam’s House Blend, David E, Rev. Irene Monroe at Bilerco, or the National Black Justice Coalition. Angry but less overtly demanding of McClurkin’s removal are Michael Crawford at Bilerco and author Keith Boykin, the latter considering possible options for the campaign to save face: none of them are good.
In essence, the story isn’t so much about a gospel singer as it is about a tone-deaf campaign, at least on this particular issue. Rod 2.0 summed it up tersely:
There are no prominent nationally, known black gay men or lesbians advising the Obama campaign. If there were, this never would have happened. Everyone in our community is well aware of Walker’s gay-bashing and McClurkin’s dubious claims of a faith-based sexual conversion. Really. This should have been a no-brainer.