Tag: bisexual

More good news on the LGBT front: HIV travel ban to be lifted soon

Last week I posted a diary about LGBT legislation before Congress, suggesting that all was not doom and gloom in the fight for LGBT rights.  Now there’s more good news coming down the pipeline: on Friday the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) posted on its website the words that activists have been waiting years to see:

Title: Medical Examination of Aliens: Removal of HIV Infection as a Communicable Disease of Public Health Significance

With this we move one significant step closer to getting rid of one of the worst and most discriminatory bits of immigration law currently on the books: the HIV travel ban.

Good News on the LGBT front! (and what you need to do to help)

Once more to the well.  

Without rehashing the last weeks’ debates over President Obama’s relationship with the LGBT rights movement, I wanted to outline a list of legislation that is currently in play, along with recommendations about what we can do to help speed the processes along.  There’s nothing worse than the feeling that we have no say in the political process, but here are four opportunities to get vocal in a concrete, direct way:

1. the Domestic Partner Benefits and Obligation Act

2. the Employment Non-Discrimination Act

3. the Matthew Shepard Act

4. the Military Readiness Enhancement Act

And the best part is, you really can help.  All four of these bills are before Congress (or about to be introduced), and your representatives are waiting to hear from you.

About tomorrow’s Prop 8 decision.

Whether tomorrow’s Prop 8 decision affects you directly or not, it’s likely to be a big moment for the LGBT movement, insofar as so many married and wanting-to-right-to-be-married couples are heavily invested in the outcome.  

I won’t waste words on the background of this issue since so much has been written already.  But if you value equality and want to be part of what happens next, I’ve put together a list of events and links that should be useful.

Teen Breakthroughs Around Gender and Sexuality

What follows is a pair of articles recently posted by an NYC public school social worker over at Fire on the Mountain, articles I hope will be of interest of interest to educators and parents and perhaps more broadly.

Teen Breakthrough, Part 1: “I’m Not Racist Against Gays”


In my workaday world in the NYC public school system, this year’s big news was the growing acceptance of and sympathy for gay guys. And because male homosexuality has been, in my experience, so deeply stigmatized among youth, I think this is a tremendous breakthrough. I still don’t hear many guys in high school saying flat out, “I am gay,” but there’s definitely less attempt to deny or repudiate or hide attributes that might brand a young man as gay.

Little things like young men casually mentioning, “My uncle is gay,” or an African-American senior who is into fashion design, tends toward the flaming in his manner and shows no romantic interest in girls being elected a class officer. Or a young man saying to a female classmate who called him “fa–ot”in an argument: “Well, I don’t appreciate that because you must not think too much of gay people, and my brother is gay.” In the past, the likely response would have been to hurl back an insult, and the main concern would have been to assert his own straightness in front of the peer audience. But now, he takes the offensive and critiques heterosexism!

Another example that impressed me occurred in the context of a school art project for which students chose the theme of taboos. There was a fair amount of art about gay/lesbian relationships, but one of the most intriguing paintings showed what looked like a man in his twenties and a man in his sixties embracing, The young Latino artist, who as far as I know is straight, definitely wanted to provoke reactions and sought out feedback. It really blew me away that he was challenging two stigmas by portraying, in a compassionate way, both gay male sexuality, and the need of older people to express their sexuality (which is often is often a big yuck factor for teens!).

in Other news…

Welcome to a weekly roundup of news related to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and otherwise “Other” community.

Lots of good reading this week!

  • December 1st was World AIDS Day, a reminder that the epidemic continues unabated through most of the world, new and expensive medicines notwithstanding.  Various activist groups, from the Stonewall Democrats and the National Black Justice Coalition used to the day to note the increasing lack of interest in AIDS activism, but the most stinging indictment came from Charles King, president and CEO of Housing Works (a group that targets HIV/AIDS and homelessness):

    The reality is that AIDS is no longer so much a gay disease in the United States as it is a disease of race and poverty.  And that brings to light a dirty secret about the organized and politically engaged gay community.  We are overwhelmingly white and reasonably well-off, and our movement is almost exclusively about rights for ourselves and people like us.

    Check out the whole speech if you get the chance. (h/t Doug Ireland)

  • Uruguay prepares to legalize civil unions for unmarried couples regardless of gender.  This makes Uruguay the first Latin American country to pass equitable legal protections for both straight and gay couples, which puts them ahead of most of the United States.
  • A gay Muslim activist outs himself at an international conference on HIV in Muslim countries… with surprising results:

    The following morning, the ulama [scholars] had a surprise.

    Conference spokesperson and IRW head of policy Willem van Eekelen read their collective statement, saying that although Islam does not accept homosexuality, Islamic leaders would try to help create an environment in which gay people could approach social workers and find help against AIDS without feeling unsafe.

    “This first time ever that a high-level religious forum has talked, acknowledged and accepted gays,” said AbualSameed.

    “This will open the door to talks with the Muslim gay community and help other gay Muslims to come out in a safer space.”

    Suhail AbualSameed, a Jordanian living in Canada, decided to out himself to counter the harsh language his colleagues used to describe homosexuals: including the old standbys “pervert” and “rapist”.

  • The bureaucratic hell faced by immigrants gets an uglier twist in the case of Hassan Parhizkar, a middle-aged gay Iranian who faces deportation for being the victim of a scam artist.  Worse, Parhizkar’s sexuality guarantees him a hellish return to the country he fled in 1990 specifically because he was outed while a member of the Revolutionary Guard.  Gay City News has the entire story, from Parhizkar’s noncompliance with immigration law due to a con-man posing as an immigration lawyer to the practice of gay witch hunts in the Iranian military.  

    You can also sign an online petition protesting Parhizkar’s impending deportation or contribute to his legal fund (see link above for full details).

More below…

in Other news

Welcome to a weekly roundup of news related to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and otherwise ‘Other’ community.

Quickie roundup this week since I’m out of town for Turkey Day:

That’s all from me, folks: have a safe and happy holiday tomorrow, and I’ll see everyone when I get back!

in Other news…

Welcome to a weekly roundup of news related to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and otherwise “other” community.

  • Civil Unions are not equal to Marriage.  That’s the finding of a recent commission on New Jersey’s attempt to give same-sex couples full and equal partnership under the law while appeasing those who cringe at the expansion of the word “marriage”.  From a New York Times editorial:

    It is hardly a surprise that New Jersey’s civil union law is not working very well. During the past several weeks, dozens of same-sex couples have testified that the law has not provided the equal benefits that were promised when it passed.

    Now, the special commission that heard the testimony has made it official: the civil union law has been a “failure.” Frank Vespa-Papaleo, who is chairman of the commission as well as the state’s director of civil rights, said the law is not as effective “as if the word ‘marriage’ were used.”

    I don’t know if I’d call it a resounding “failure” if only a few private employers are dodging the law (most couples will still get benefits, and the state recognizes them as full and equal), but there’s no doubt that separate-but-equal status will always encourage dissenters to focus on the “separate” instead of the “equal”.

  • Speaking of which, laws that specifically invoke “married couples” are often cynical ways of passing anti-gay legislation without having to wear one’s bigotry on one’s sleeve.  Throw in an extra phrase like “for the good of the children”, and you have toxic legislation like the Arkansas ballot initiative to outlaw adoption and foster parenting … except for married couples.  It’s for the good of the children, of course.  (n/t Mombian)  A nice touch: the Arkansas News Bureau calls it what it is: a gay adoption ban.
  • Terrance at the Republic of T has dedicated this round of installments of his excellent Hate Crimes Project to anti-trans violence.  Today’s focuses on the murder of Thalia Mosqueda, a trans woman whose murderer argued that he was disgusted by her alleged advances because “he wasn’t gay”:

    Panic is a strange thing. We know all about “gay panic,” but what about “trans panic,” which seems to be at the root of so many anti-trans hate crimes like the murders of Bella Evangelista, Emonie Spaulding, Ukea Davis & Stephanie Thomas, and Nireah Johnson, just to name a few?

    Well-worth reading the whole series.

in Other news…

Welcome to a weekly roundup of news related to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and otherwise ‘Other’ community.

  • In yesterday’s elections across the country, over 30 openly gay candidates won seats ranging from board of education and city council to mayor and state legislator.  A number of candidates are also tied in elections whose margin is still too close to call.
  • Gay-baiting during elections isn’t just about scaring people with the specter of marriage: as dogemperor reported (first on dailykos, then updated at Pam’s), the American Family Association of Kentucky was behind robocalls that ranged from viciously anti-gay to subtly anti-gay.  You almost have to admire the backhanded sneakiness of this kind of message:

    For the first time in 20 years the homosexual lobby proudly endorses a Kentucky candidate for governor, Steve Beshear. Beshear is receiving major support from out-of-state gay activists and has publicly committed to same-gender relationships, employment of more homosexuals in state government including teachers, and support for homosexual adoption of children.

    If you believe these rights are fair please vote for Steve Beshear for governor.  Visit Fairness.org.

    Sadly for the AFA-KY, they were pathetically unsuccessful.  Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Beshear defeated the Republican incumbent by almost 20 percentage points.

in Other news… International Edition! (with bonus Barack)

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.

    (h/t Towleroad)

  • 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!

in Other news…

Welcome to a weekly roundup of news related to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and otherwise “Other” community.

  • Starting with the good news… 2007 is a record year for the number of openly queer candidates running for political office in a year with no federal elections: a whopping 71, if you can believe that.  This includes people like Pam Bennett, a transgender politician running for city council in Colorado.  Only six states still have no openly gay or lesbian elected officials at any level…  including my home state.  Hoorah!
  • Now for more sobering news… In the course of the last 20 years, HIV/AIDS has gone from a mysterious “gay cancer” to an international crisis to a celebrity cause to background noise.  Most of what we hear in the news today involves skyrocketing rates in Africa and the debate over condoms, which is why the 2005 report by the Center for Disease Control is all the more sobering: among MSM (that’s “men who have sex with men”) in urban areas, 21% of whites and 46% of blacks have HIV.  If you live near D.C. and are interested, the NIH Office of AIDS Research Advisory will be holding an open meeting on October 24th, focusing specifically on the spread of HIV in minority communities.  More info here.
  • And some heartwarming news… counter to the largely negative story about living out in nursing homes that I posted last week, consider this: a 93 year old British man who recently came out in The Old Vicarage Nursing home has written a novel about forbidden love, The Heart Entrapped (h/t Towleroad).  Says author Mike Soper:

    “When all the old ladies heard about the book, they asked if they could read it. So I had to tell them I was gay and that it was a gay-themed novel.”

    Mr Soper, a former academic at Christ Church, Oxford, until 1981, said it had been nice to be honest about his sexuality after so many years.

in Other news…

Welcome to a weekly roundup of news related to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and otherwise “Other” community.

First, a friendly PSA: tomorrow is National Coming Out Day.  There are two very important things that members of the queer community can do: 1. come out to people who don’t already know, and 2. remind people who do.  As someone (I forget who) at the yearlykos LGBT caucus noted, even the friends and family who already know don’t intuitively realize that being queer is a 24/7, 365 day a year proposition: it helps to remind them that your difficulties didn’t end when they accepted you.  Good advice, as far as I’m concerned.

In the meantime, a more stylish PSA from GLAAD, featuring some actor dude:

News and stuff below the fold:

in Other news…

Welcome to a weekly roundup of news related to the gay, lesbian, bi, trans, and otherwise “Other” community.

  • First openly gay person to have a celestial body named after him?  The honor goes to George Takei, famous for his role as Star Trek‘s Hikaru Sulu, who came out in 2005 and has been working as an LGBT activist ever since – And now his name will grace the asteroid formerly known as 1994 GT9. (h/t Mombian, also mentioned in ek’s Morning News) By the way, if you’ve never seen Takei’s hilarious response to Tim Hardaway’s anti-gay comments, watch it now!
  • Senator Barack Obama has called on President Bush to reconsider his veto threat (yeah, right!) against the Hate Crimes Act, which recently passed in the Senate.  Obama was one of the bill’s co-sponsors.  In other candidate news: gaining some ground since his gaffes at the HRC-sponsored debate, Governor Bill Richardson has said he’d refuse an honorary chairmanship of the Boy Scouts of America, on the grounds of their discriminatory policies.
  • You know we’re achieving progress when we’re upgraded from comparisons to animal-lovers and murderers to comparisons to… kleptomaniacs!  The Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church made the comparison in a speech yesterday in front of the Council of Europe (h/t Towleroad):

    Attempts are made to justify homosexuality by calling it a disease, the patriarch said. Yet kleptomania can also be considered a disease, he argued. “Why then no one advertises kleptomania while homosexuality gets advertised via gay parades?” he said.
      “It is advertisement that is being forced on people who are a very long way from it,” Alexy said.

    Dear Alesha (can I call you Alesha?): Your anti-gay speech is also advertisement that is being forced on people who are a very long way from it.  But I suppose we shouldn’t expect better from former KGB, now should we?

More below…

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