Archive for the ‘Spot / International News Wire’ Category

Research: Adenosine deaminase may help activate immune system against HIV

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

News Medical

New research findings published in the February 2016 issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, suggest that a new therapeutic strategy for HIV may already be available by repurposing an existing prescription drug. The drug, an enzyme called adenosine deaminase, or ADA, ultimately may be able to activate the immune system against HIV and to help the immune system “remember” the virus to prevent or quickly eliminate future infection.

“We hope this study puts ADA in the spotlight as a powerful immune modulator in vaccine strategies enhancing anti-HIV immune responses and limiting the need for life-lasting treatments,” said Núria Climent, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Retrovirology and Viral Immunopathology Laboratory, at AIDS Research Group from IDIBAPS in Barcelona, Spain.

To make their discovery, scientists studied the effects of ADA in cells from HIV patients and non-infected individuals. Dendritic cells derived from blood cells were exposed to HIV-1 proteins or whole inactivated HIV-1 virus in the presence or absence of ADA. The degree of lymphocyte proliferation, regulatory T-cell generation and cytokine secretion were measured. ADA addition resulted in adenosine degradation leading to a reduction of regulatory T-cell mediated suppression. Notably, the presence of ADA produced an increase in CD4+ responder T cells, in CD8+ T cell proliferation and in T cell memory generation. An increase in the secretion of immunologically relevant Th1 cytokines was also seen.

“We need to find new strategies that will empower the immune system towards long-term control of HIV infection,” said Luis J. Montaner, D.V.M., M.Sc., D.Phil., Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology. “The availability of an approved drug that already targets the mechanisms described here ensures the quick translation of this work from the bench to the clinical.”

Tourist BANNED from visiting Australia because he has HIV

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

Pink News

A tourist was shocked to be told he could not visit Australia, because he is living with HIV.

Australia continues to operate a controversial system requiring HIV tests for permanent migrants – but the law does not usually does not usually apply to visiting tourists.

However, one 60-year-old Scandinavian tourist has spoken out in an interview with the Star Observer, after he was denied entry.

The man, who does not wish to be identified for professional reasons, has been living with HIV since 1994 – and has visited Australia every year for 22 years.

However, after he applied for a tourist visa for a three-month holiday in the country, he was shocked to be told he had failed a medical test because he has HIV.

According to the news site, the Medical Officer of the Commonwealth concluded that the man “did not satisfy” regulations because he is “likely to require health care or community services… [at] significant cost to the Australian community”.

The man was taken aback by the claim, given he simply takes a daily pill – and takes his medication with him when he travels.

The traveller, who has never required hospital treatment in Australia in any of his past visits, said: “Even though I have HIV, I am a healthy person…. someone’s saying: ‘you’ve got HIV, we don’t want you here’.

“I had a doctor in Sydney assess my health and she said for someone with HIV my health couldn’t be any better.

“I don’t understand how you can’t standardise someone who has HIV but can with something like rheumatoid arthritis: they can be basically healthy, and that person is totally different to someone crippled in a wheelchair.”

After the case was raised by the Star Observer, Australian officials insisted the incident was an “administrative error” and that people with HIV are able to visit as tourists.

A spokesperson said the man would be contacted to “apologise and explain the details of the initial error made” – but he remained unconvinced by the excuse.

He said: “If it’s an error, well, then it feels a lot better. But of course who can guarantee that the same mistake won’t be made again?

Charlie Sheen’s doctor claims he cured his HIV with goat’s milk

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

Global News

Last month, Charlie Sheen announced he had temporarily stopped taking his HIV medication because he was headed to Mexico for alternative treatments. Sheen only did that for a brief time, and is now back on his “regular” medication. He never disclosed what the alternative options he investigated were.

Now, the doctor who tried to treat him is speaking out.

In appearances on Real Time With Bill Maher and Dr. Oz, Dr. Samir Chachoua claimed he not only injected himself with Sheen’s HIV-positive blood, but also eradicated the virus with another one called Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis Virus (CAEV), which he says he got from the milk of arthritic goats.

“This virus destroys HIV and protects people who drink it for life,” he told Maher.

Dr. Chachoua, who isn’t licensed to practice in Canada or the U.S., was adamant his method works, and insisted he cured an entire country of HIV.

“I’ve cured countries!” he exclaimed, referring to Comoros, a small archipelago off the eastern coast of Africa, which he allegedly “cured” in 2006.

That conflicts with his statement to Dr. Oz: he claimed that Sheen was the “first adult in history to go HIV-negative.”

If Sheen is truly cured of HIV, then it’s unclear why he’s still taking his antiviral medication in the United States. The actor revealed he was HIV-positive in November 2015.


Russian LGBT Activist Fined for ‘Propaganda of Homosexuality’ Online

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016


A Murmansk magistrate court has found activist Sergey Alekseenko guilty of distributing “propaganda of homosexuality among minors” on the Internet. He must now pay a fine of 100,000 rubles (approximately USD $1,260).

In December 2015 Alekseenko, the former head of the LGBT friendly non-profit organization Maximum in the north western province of Murmansk, was charged with violating Russia’s law against propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships among minors. The charges against Alekseenko were based on a post on the organization’s VKontakte page. The Russian LGBT Network reports that the plaintiffs in the case against Alekseenko were parents of minors who had allegedly visited the VKontakte page and were exposed to the post.

The offending sentence in the VKontakte post read: “Being gay means being a brave and confident person who has dignity and self-esteem.”

The offending sentence read: “Being gay means being a brave and confident person who has dignity and self-esteem.”

Interestingly, this so-called “propaganda” came from a report by Roscomnadzor, Russia’s state media regulator, on Elena Klimova, the founder of “Children-404″ LGBT youth support group. Klimova faced the same charges as Alekseenko, and under similar circumstances.

In the report on Klimova’s case, Roscomnadzor asserted that the materials shared by the group “may lead children to believe that being gay means being brave, strong, confident, determined, having self-esteem and self-worth…”

Since the verdict was issued, Alekseenko has criticized the decision, saying authorities violated procedural rules during the court case, since neither the minors nor their parents had been questioned.

Alekseenko also pointed out that the initial administrative charges were filed against him as the head of an organization which no longer exists. In October 2015, after being labeled as a “foreign agent” by Russia’s justice ministry, Maximum ceased its activities as an organization. Additionally, Maximum’s page on VKontakte is marked “18+” which means visitors to the page must confirm they are over 18 years old before they can view its content.

Russia’s law banning “distribution of propaganda that promotes non-traditional sexual relationships to minors” was adopted in June 2013. The Federal law arrived soon after several Russian regions had adopted local administrative sanctions against the promotion of homosexuality.

In September 2015, Roscomnadzor added five LGBT-related VKontakte communities to Russia’s banned websites registry for allegedly promoting non-traditional sexual relationships—with the “Children-404″ group among them.

In November 2015, two Russian Duma deputies from the Communist Party proposed an amendment to the Code of Administrative Offenses, which would place a ban on “public expression of non-traditional sexual relationships” such as holding hands or kissing—the most overt legislative attack on homosexuality in Russia to date. A number of Duma deputies spoke out against the bill, and on January 18, 2016 the Duma’s committee on constitutional legislation ruled to drop the bill in first reading.

Embracing homosexuality is America’s future, Obama says in State of the Union

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016


WASHINGTON, D.C., January 13, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – President Obama hailed gay “marriage” as one of his proudest accomplishments and looked forward to the day when Americans would shed traditional sexual morality to embrace homosexuals in his final State of the Union address last night.

The president told a combined chamber of Congress, Cabinet members, and most of the Supreme Court that upholding our “unique strengths as a nation” and heeding the “spirit of progress” made our national celebration of sexual minorities possible.

“That’s how we secured the freedom in every state to marry the person you love,” Obama said early in his rather short national address.

The reference to a highly contested, 5-4 Supreme Court decision infuriated pro-family advocates.

“The Republican leadership ought to set aside an empty chair in the front of the chamber to represent the more than 50 million Americans whose votes in support of traditional marriage were stolen by…an anti-constitutional, illegitimate ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage. “It’s a national insult that President Obama would celebrate such an affront to democracy.”

To underscore his commitment to the issue, First Lady Michelle Obama invited James Obergefell, the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case, as one of her special guests. Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan gave a spare ticket to the Family Research Council, which in turn invited county clerk Kim Davis, who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on religious liberty grounds. Obergefell said if he confronted Davis, he would tell her that her stance “isn’t right, it isn’t fair, and isn’t what America is about,” but there is no indication that the two met. For her part, Davis said she hoped her presence helped “encourage” Christians who “want to make a difference” in our nation.

The president, who gave his final State of the Union address, returned to the subject of homosexuality later in the hour-long speech.

“I have such incredible confidence in our future, because I see your quiet, sturdy citizenship all the time,” he said.

He said he found hope in “the son who finds the courage to come out as who he is, and the father whose love for that son overrides everything he’s been taught” about homosexual behavior.

Once again, Obama made no reference to abortion in the national address, although he praised ObamaCare, saying that premium hikes caused by “health insurance inflation” were now increasing at a lower rate than in previous years.

He once again advanced federal intervention in education policy, calling the No Child Left Behind bill “an important start” to offering universal, publicly funded preschool.

“In the coming years, we should build on that progress, by providing Pre-K for all,” he said.

Obama has advocated federally funded daycare since his first presidential campaign in 2008, mentioning it in previous State of the Union addresses, and even including a reference in the nation’s first-ever report to the UN Human Rights Council.

Policy experts warn that the new entitlement would not be helpful, and that most Americans do not want that kind of government tinkering with traditional family roles.

“Families seem to prefer caring for their children at home in their early years,” said Lindsey Burke, a scholar at the Heritage Foundation.

Multiple studies show that any educational benefit the child received by attending Head Start disappears by the spring of first grade, but well-documented “negative effects of preschool on children’s behavior” – such as increased aggression and arrested emotional development – “remain.”

Obama took several swipes at Republican presidential hopefuls Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio, although not by name.

He warned that, without heeding his advice, America may descend into a virtual civil war fueled by xenophobic religious fanatics bitterly clinging to their guns, religion, and antipathy to those who are different.

Unnamed forces may soon “roll back the equal rights and voting rights that generations of Americans have fought, even died, to secure,” he warned darkly. “As frustration grows, there will be voices urging us to fall back into tribes, to scapegoat fellow citizens who don’t look like us, or pray like us, or vote like we do, or share the same background.”

During past epochs, he said, “there have been those who told us to fear the future; who claimed we could slam the brakes on change, promising to restore past glory if we just got some group or idea that was threatening America under control. And each time, we overcame those fears.”

In one of the more remarked upon passages of his speech, Obama lamented the fractious nature of American political discourse – something his rivals said he has done more than anyone to create.

“It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency ,” he said, “ that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better.”

Actions that lead to this outcome include questioning the other side’s motives, he said.

However, the Obama administration has released multiple reports accusing Christians and members of the pro-life movement of being incipient domestic terrorists and held a joint training session on terrorism led by Planned Parenthood. The rhetorical gambit has been picked up by Hillary Clinton.

Obama promised to “keep trying to be better so long as I hold this office.”

Sen. Marco Rubio found the remark surreal. “This president has been the single most divisive political figure this country has had over the last decade,” he said after the annual event.

Overall, conservatives dismissed the speech. Kim Davis proved to be underwhelmed by the oration. When asked for her reaction, she replied curtly, “It was a speech.”

Will the Anglican Church split over homosexuality?

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

The week UK

Church leaders from six African countries threaten to walk out if ‘godly order is not restored’

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is to meet with all 38 national Primates of the Anglican Church this week in a “last throw of the dice” to avoid a permanent split in the Church of England.

What is the disagreement?

The church faces a de facto split in the worldwide Anglican Communion over the issue of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, says The Guardian.

Church leaders from six African countries are expected to walk out of the talks if, in the words of Ugandan Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, “discipline and godly order is not restored”.

Archbishops from Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, South Sudan, Rwanda and Congo are incensed by the move to consecrate gay bishops and are insisting on sanctions against the US Episcopal Church after it consecrated gay priest Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire in 2003.

Welby has called the meeting, the first in over a decade, in a last-ditch effort to move the global church – which claims 85 million followers worldwide – beyond the issue of homosexuality, in the hope of focusing on matters such as climate change and religious violence.

What is the likelihood of a split?

Church sources have said there is a “90 per cent chance the six will walk out”, which would effectively lead to a permanent divide between conservative and liberal wings.

Anglican Leader Hopes Meeting Can Avoid Homosexuality Split

Welby is proposing that, in the face of intractable differences, the communion should restructure as a loose confederation of churches rather than adherents to a common doctrine.

The BBC‘s religious affairs correspondent Caroline Wyatt said the rift over sexuality was even greater than that over women bishops, with those who oppose homosexuality on biblical grounds openly calling for the liberal wing of the church to repent for consecrating gay bishops and clergy.

Many liberal Anglicans are “horrified” by the “deeply homophobic and retrograde” stance of the conservative churches in sub-Saharan Africa and believe that a split is “inevitable and preferable to continued infighting and paralysis”, says the Guardian.

Liberal members last week threatened a walk-out of their own, after Welby invited the leader of the conservative breakaway Anglican Church in North America to participate in the meeting.

Where does the UK’s Anglican community stand?

In a separate letter to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York on the eve of the conference, more than 100 senior British Anglicans urged the Church of England to repent for “discriminating” against lesbian and gay Christians.

In it, they say the Church must acknowledge LGBT members around the world have been “vilified” and treated as “second-class citizens” and argue that the church must embrace 21st-century values if it wishes to appeal to more people.

However, some have argued that the scriptures are unambiguous on the question of sexuality and questioned those who seek to offer an alternative interpretation of the holy texts.

Victoria to apologise for ‘shameful’ historic homosexuality laws

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016


The Victorian government will apologise for “shameful” historic laws that criminalised homosexuality.

Before 1980, when homosexuality was decriminalised, men could be handed up to 15 years’ jail for consensual sex with other men.

A state apology will take place in parliament in May, Premier Daniel Andrews said on Sunday.

“Sending the strongest message that we are sorry,” he told reporters, while attending the Midsumma Pride March in Melbourne.

“That that was a dark chapter in our state’s history and that we are better than that.”

The government last year moved to expunge criminal convictions for consensual sex and fraternisation.

“It was shameful that our laws prohibited and turned those activities into crimes,” he said.

“Many men have had to live with the difficulties of those criminal records for a very long period of time.”

The apology will take place on May 24.

SC to hear curative plea on homosexuality today

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

The Supreme Court will hear in open court today a curative petition of gay activists challenging its verdict criminalising homosexuality in the country.

A bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur agreed to hear the curative petition filed by gay rights activists and NGO Naz Foundation against the apex court’s December 11, 2013 judgement upholding validity of section 377 (unnatural sexual offences) of IPC and the January 2014 order, by which it had dismissed a bunch of review petitions.

A curative petition is the last judicial resort available for redressal of grievances in court which is normally decided by judges in-chamber. In rare cases, such petitions are given an open court hearing.

The petitioners, including the NGO, which has been spearheading the legal battle on behalf of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community, contended that there was an error in the judgement delivered on December 11 last year as it was based on an old law.

“The judgement was reserved on March 27, 2012 but the verdict was delivered after around 21 months and during this period lots of changes took place including amendment in laws which were not considered by the bench which delivered the judgement,” the plea had said.

The gay rights activists had said thousands from the LGBT community became open about their sexual identity during the past four years after high court decriminalised gay sex and they were now facing the threat of being prosecuted.

They had submitted that criminalising gay sex amounts to violation of fundamental rights of the LGBT community.

The apex court had earlier dismissed a batch of review petitions filed by the Centre and gay rights activists against its December 2013 verdict declaring gay sex an offence punishable upto life imprisonment.

The apex court had said it did not see any reason to interfere with the December 11, 2013 verdict and had also rejected the plea for oral hearing on the review petitions which are normally decided by judges in chamber without giving an opportunity to parties to present their views.

It revived the penal provision making gay sex an offence punishable with life imprisonment, in a setback to people fighting a battle for recognition of their sexual preferences.

While setting aside the July 2, 2009 verdict of Delhi High Court, the apex court had held that Section 377 of IPC does not suffer from the vice of unconstitutionality and that the declaration made by the high court was legally unsustainable.

Amid huge outrage against the judgement, the Centre had also filed a review petition in the apex court seeking a relook to “avoid grave miscarriage of justice to thousands of LGBT” persons who have been aggrieved by the apex court judgement, contending it is “unsustainable” as it “suffers from errors”.

Goat and tiger accused of ‘promoting homosexuality’ in Russia

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016


A Russian lawmaker has accused the pair of breaking the country’s ‘anti-gay propaganda’ law.

When Timur the goat was placed in the pen of Siberian tiger Cupid, zookeepers were shocked by the big cat’s reaction.

Timur was originally meant as lunch for the feline, but Cupid shocked his carers by befriending the goat instead of tearing him limb from limb.

Their blossoming relationship struck a cord with the Russian public and a video of their antics soon went viral.

One man, however, remained unmoved by the heartwarming story – insisting the duo were in fact breaking the law.

Russian lawyer Alexei Krestianov claims media coverage of the unlikely friendship could turn Russian kids gay by “generating interest in non-traditional sexual relationships.”

He added that their “non-traditional co-habitation” is “an intrusion into the private lives of underage citizens and covert gay propaganda, as well as an active imposition of homosexuality.”

“I believe the positive coverage of this topic is nothing but an intrusion in the private lives of underage citizens and covert propaganda is an active imposition of homosexuality,” he ranted on Facebook.

“This information about non-traditional relationships may have a negative impact on a child’s development, rousing their interest in non-traditional sexual relations, purely because they are unable to understand natural and proper sexual relations between healthy adults.”

And although it seems his bizarre protest has fallen on deaf ears, Krestianov may be happy to learn that the four-legged BFFs have now been separated – but not for the reason he thinks.

Timur had to be removed from Cupid’s cage in order to undergo a medical procedure – with the zoo unsure when he will return.

Get well son Timur!

Tim Farron again dodges questions on homosexuality, but says he became a Liberal to support LGBT rights

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

Tim Farron, the evangelical Christian leader of the Liberal Democrats, has again avoided answering whether he believes homosexuality is a sin.

Tim Farron became Lib Dem leader after a disastrous election campaign which left the Lib Dems which only 8 MPs

In a wide-ranging interview with GQ magazine, where Farron admitted he would not be remembered, he dodged questions on homosexuality. However he insisted one of the reasons he became a Liberal MP was to support LGBT rights.

“I’m not a religious leader; I’m a political leader,” he said.

“I think that everybody is utterly equal. People should be free to love who they want and marry who they want. But I don’t go making theological pronouncements.

“One of the reasons I joined the Liberals was because of lesbian and gay rights. Friends of mine were gay and I saw how they were treated and bullied. I want a society where people are valued for who they are.”

The 45-year-old was previously asked three times whether he thought gay sex was sinful by Channel 4 News’ Cathy Newman, shortly after he became leader following the Lib Dem’s disastrous election result.

The full interview in GQ’s March edition, which is available from February 4, covered his legacy as leader and his opinions on Boris Johnson, whom he labelled “the Donald Trump of the United Kingdom”.

Farron, who is MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, also admitted he would not be remembered in the future.

“There’s no point in worrying about how you’d like to be remembered at all,” he said.

“I would like to have made sure I did things that made a difference to people’s lives. The whole point of winning elections is to make a difference. I see a whole bunch of people in this place who, whether they say it or not, are trying to leave a legacy – they like the idea of holding office, not making a difference.”

India’s Supreme Court to Review Law Criminalizing Homosexuality

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

Voice of America

India’s top court has decided to review a 2013 judgment that reinstated a colonial era law criminalizing gay sex. The review is raising hopes among gay rights activists who have been fighting to overturn the law.

Tuesday’s decision came in response to a petition asking the Supreme Court to re-examine whether a 165-year-old law that penalizes same sex relationships as an “unnatural offense” is constitutional.

The battle for gay rights has taken a tortuous route in India. In 2009, the country took a huge step forward when, in a landmark verdict, the Delhi High Court scrapped the controversial law. But in a surprise decision two years ago, the Supreme Court reversed that ruling, which had been challenged by mostly religious groups. The judges said it was up to parliament to legislate on the section.

Fighting for rights

It was a major setback for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community, which has been fighting to win acceptance in a country where large sections are still conservative and frown upon homosexuality.

A group of Indian activists hold a banner against section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalizes homosexuality during a protest in Mumbai, India, Dec. 11, 2013.

A group of Indian activists hold a banner against section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalizes homosexuality during a protest in Mumbai, India, Dec. 11, 2013.

As the Supreme Court reopened the doors for legal redress, a wave of optimism swept through gay activists.

Anjali Gopalan, executive director of the Naz Foundation, which has spearheaded the legal battle on behalf of the gay community, expressed great relief. Pointing out that it would have been the end of the legal road for homosexuals if the Supreme Court had dismissed their “curative” petition, she said, “It shows there has been some shift in the way this issue is being viewed, publicly as well as in the mind of the state. So hopefully, we look forward to better times.”

Last resort procedure

A curative petition to the five-judge bench is the last resort for legal remedy and is admitted only in extremely rare cases.

Until today’s ruling, the gay community’s only hope in overturning the law lay in persuading lawmakers to change it. But those hopes had faded after the right wing, Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014. In December, efforts to move a private members bill to scrap the law were stonewalled by the BJP.

FILE - Participants holding a rainbow flag pass through a junction during a gay pride parade, which is promoting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights, in Mumbai, Jan. 31, 2015.

FILE – Participants holding a rainbow flag pass through a junction during a gay pride parade, which is promoting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights, in Mumbai, Jan. 31, 2015.

A gay rights activist and fashion designer in the southern city of Chennai, Sunil Menon, says the world is watching what India will do on the issue.

“We are under the global spotlight right now because this is a very regressive stance that the country has taken over the years, nobody has even tried to make an effort to change it,” says Menon.

India is one of about 75 countries that outlaws homosexuality. Section 377 imposes a 10-year sentence for gay sex. Although that is seldom enforced, the homosexual community has long complained of harassment by law enforcement authorities.

While the law may be archaic, in recent years the gay community has fought more openly and vocally for their rights, organizing gay pride marches in big cities such as Delhi and Bangalore. On Tuesday, many said that irrespective of the final outcome in the Supreme Court, they are determined to “live with pride and not go back into the closet.”

James Bond: Diamonds are forever (1971)

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

Diamonds Are Forever (1971) is the seventh spy film in the James Bond series by Eon Productions, and the sixth and final Eon film to star Sean Connery as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond.

The film is based on Ian Fleming‘s 1956 novel of the same name, and is the second of four James Bond films directed by Guy Hamilton. The story has Bond impersonating a diamond smuggler to infiltrate a smuggling ring, and soon uncovering a plot by his old nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld to use the diamonds to build a giant laser. Bond has to battle his nemesis for one last time, in order to stop the smuggling and stall Blofeld’s plan of destroying Washington, D.C., and extorting the world with nuclear supremacy.

After George Lazenby left the series, producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli tested other actors, but studio United Artists wanted Sean Connery back, paying a then-record $1.25 million salary for him to return. The producers were inspired by Goldfinger, eventually hiring that film’s director, Guy Hamilton, as well as Shirley Bassey performing vocals on the title theme song. Locations included Las Vegas, California, Amsterdam and Lufthansa‘s hangar in Germany. Diamonds Are Forever was a commercial success, but received criticism for its humorous camp tone.



James Bond—agent 007—pursues Ernst Stavro Blofeld and eventually finds him at a facility where Blofeld look-alikes are being created through surgery. Bond kills a test subject, and later the “real” Blofeld, by drowning him in a pool of superheated mud.

While assassins Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd systematically kill several diamond smugglers, M suspects that South African diamonds are being stockpiled to depress prices by dumping, and orders Bond to uncover the smuggling ring. Disguised as professional smuggler and assassin Peter Franks, Bond travels to Amsterdam to meet contact Tiffany Case. The real Franks shows up on the way, but Bond intercepts and kills him, then switches IDs to make it seem like Franks is Bond. Case and Bond then go to Los Angeles, smuggling the diamonds inside Franks’ corpse.

At the airport Bond meets his CIA ally Felix Leiter, then travels to Las Vegas. At a funeral home, Franks’ body is cremated and the diamonds are passed on to another smuggler, Shady Tree. Bond is nearly killed by Wint and Kidd when they put him into a coffin and send to a cremation oven, but Tree stops the process when he discovers that the diamonds in Franks’ body were fakes planted by Bond and the CIA.

Bond tells Leiter to ship him the real diamonds. Bond then goes to the Whyte House, a casino-hotel owned by the reclusive billionaire Willard Whyte, where Tree works as a stand-up comedian. Bond discovers there that Tree has been killed by Wint and Kidd, who did not know that the diamonds were fake.

At the craps table Bond meets the opportunistic Plenty O’Toole, and after gambling, brings her to his room. Gang members ambush them, throwing O’Toole out the window and into the pool. Bond spends the rest of the night with Tiffany Case, instructing her to retrieve the real diamonds at the Circus Circus casino.

Tiffany reneges on her deal to meet back with Bond and instead flees, passing off the diamonds to the next smuggler. However, seeing that O’Toole was killed after being mistaken for her, Tiffany changes her mind. She drives Bond to the airport, where the diamonds are given to Whyte’s casino manager, Bert Saxby, who is followed to a remote facility. Bond enters the apparent destination of the diamonds; a research laboratory owned by Whyte, where a satellite is being built by Professor Metz, a laser refraction specialist. When Bond’s cover is blown, he escapes by stealing a moon buggy and reunites with Tiffany.

Bond scales the walls to the Whyte House’s top floor to confront Whyte. He is instead met by two identical Blofelds, who use an electronic device to sound like Whyte. Bond kills one of the Blofelds, which turns out to be a look-alike. He is then knocked out by gas, picked up by Wint and Kidd, and taken out to Las Vegas Valley, where he is placed in a pipeline and left to die.

Bond escapes, then calls Blofeld, using a similar electronic device to pose as Saxby. He finds out Whyte’s location and rescues him, Saxby being killed in the gunfight. In the meantime, Blofeld abducts Case. With the help of Whyte, Bond raids the lab and uncovers Blofeld’s plot to create a laser satellite using the diamonds, which by now has already been sent into orbit. With the satellite, Blofeld destroys nuclear weapons in China, the Soviet Union and the United States, then proposes an international auction for global nuclear supremacy.

Whyte identifies an oil platform off the coast of Baja California as Blofeld’s likely base of operations. After Bond’s attempt to change the cassette containing the satellite control codes fails due to a mistake by Tiffany, a helicopter attack on the oil rig is launched by Leiter and the CIA.

Blofeld tries to escape in a midget submarine, but Bond gains control of the submarine’s launch crane and crashes the sub into the control room, causing both the satellite control and the base to be destroyed. Bond and Tiffany then head for Britain on a cruise ship, where Wint and Kidd pose as room-service stewards and attempt to kill them with a hidden bomb. Bond kills them instead.



The producers originally intended to have Diamonds Are Forever re-create commercially successful aspects of Goldfinger, including hiring its director, Guy Hamilton.[1] Peter R. Hunt, who had directed On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and worked in all previous Bond films as editor, was invited before Hamilton, but due to involvement with another project could only work on the film if the production date was postponed, which the producers declined to do.[2]


While On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was within its post-production stages, Richard Maibaum wrote initial treatments and a script for Diamonds Are Forever as a revenge-themed sequel with Irma Bunt and Marc-Ange Draco returning, and Bond mourning his deceased wife Tracy while Louis Armstrong‘s “We Have All the Time in the World” played in the background. When George Lazenby departed from the role prior to the film’s release, a complete rewrite was requested, in addition to Maibaum’s script failing to impress Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman.[3] Following this, an original plot had as a villain Auric Goldfinger‘s twin, seeking revenge for the death of his brother. The plot was later changed after Albert R. Broccoli had a dream, where his close friend Howard Hughes was replaced by an imposter. So the character of Willard Whyte was created, and Tom Mankiewicz was chosen to rework the script.[4] Mankiewicz says he was hired because Cubby Broccoli wanted an American writer to work on the script, since so much of it was set in Las Vegas “and the Brits write really lousy American gangsters” — but it had to be someone who also understood the British idiom, since it had British characters.[5] David Picker from United Artists had seen the stage musical Georgy! written by Mankiewicz, and recommended him; he who was hired on a two week trial and kept on for the rest of the movie. Mankiewicz later estimated the novel provided around 45 minutes of the film’s final running time.[6]

The adaptation eliminated the main villains from the source Ian Fleming novel, mobsters called Jack and Seraffimo Spang, but used the henchmen Shady Tree, Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd.[4]

Richard Maibaum’s original idea for the ending was a giant boat chase across Lake Mead with Blofeld being pursued by Bond and all the Las Vegas casino owners who would be sailing in their private yachts. Bond would rouse the allies into action with a spoof of Lord Nelson’s famous cry, “Las Vegas expects every man to do his duty.” Maibaum was misinformed; there were no Roman galleys or Chinese junks in Las Vegas, and the idea was too expensive to replicate, so it was dropped.[7]

Maibaum may have thought the eventual oil rig finale a poor substitute, but it was originally intended to be much more spectacular. Armed frogmen would jump from the helicopters into the sea and attach limpet mines to the rig’s legs (this explains why frogmen appear on the movie’s poster). Blofeld would have escaped in his BathoSub and Bond would have pursued him hanging from a weather balloon.[8] The chase would have then continued across a salt mine with the two mortal enemies scrambling over the pure white hills of salt before Blofeld would fall to his death in a salt granulator. Permission was not granted by the owners of the salt mine. It also made the sequence too long. Further problems followed when the explosives set up for the finale were set off too early; fortunately, a handful of cameras were ready and able to capture the footage.[7]


George Lazenby originally was offered a contract for seven Bond films, but declined and left after just one, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, on the advice of his agent.[9] Producers contemplated replacing him with John Gavin (though Batman star Adam West was also considered),[1] as well as Michael Gambon, who rejected the offer telling Broccoli that he was “in terrible shape.”[10] United Artists’ chief David Picker was unhappy with this decision and made it clear that Connery was to be enticed back to the role and that money was no object. When approached about resuming the role of Bond, Connery demanded the fee of £1.25 million and to entice the actor to play Bond one more time United Artists offered to back two films of his choice.[11] After both sides agreed to the deal, Connery used the fee to establish the Scottish International Education Trust, where Scottish artists could apply for funding without having to leave their country to pursue their careers. Since John Gavin was no longer in the running for the role, his contract was paid in full by United Artists. The first film made under Connery’s deal was The Offence directed by his friend Sidney Lumet.[1] The second was to be an adaptation of Macbeth by William Shakespeare using only Scottish actors and in which Connery himself would play the title role. This project was abandoned because another production of Macbeth (the Roman Polanski version) was already in production.

Charles Gray was cast as villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld, after playing a Bond ally named Dikko Henderson in You Only Live Twice (1967).[1] David Bauer, who plays Morton Slumber, previously appeared uncredited as an American diplomat also in You Only Live Twice.

Jazz musician Putter Smith was invited by Harry Saltzman to play Mr. Kidd after a Thelonious Monk Band show. Musician Paul Williams was originally cast as Mr. Wint. When he couldn’t agree with the producers on compensation, Bruce Glover replaced him. Glover said he was surprised at being chosen, because at first producers said he was too normal and that they wanted a deformed, Peter Lorre-like actor.[1]

Film star Bruce Cabot, who played the part of Bert Saxby, died the following year and this turned out to be his final film role. Jimmy Dean was cast as Willard Whyte after Saltzman saw a presentation of him. Dean was very worried about playing a Howard Hughes pastiche, because he was an employee of Hughes at the Desert Inn.[1]

Actresses considered for the role of Tiffany Case included: Raquel Welch, Jane Fonda and Faye Dunaway. Jill St. John had originally been offered the part of Plenty O’Toole but landed the female lead after Sidney Korshak who assisted the producers in filming in Las Vegas locations recommended his client St. John,[12] who became the first American Bond girl.[13] Lana Wood was cast as Plenty O’Toole following a suggestion of screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz.[1] The woman in the bikini named “Marie”, who in the beginning of the film is convinced by Bond to give up the location of Blofeld, was Denise Perrier, Miss World 1953.[4]

A cameo appearance by Sammy Davis, Jr. playing on the roulette table was filmed, but his scene was eventually deleted.[14]


Sean Connery during the filming in Amsterdam, 31 July 1971.

Filming began on 5 April 1971, with the South African scenes actually shot in the desert near Las Vegas, and finished on 13 August 1971.[1] The film was shot primarily in the US, with locations including the Los Angeles International Airport,[15] Universal City Studios and eight hotels of Las Vegas.[16] Besides the Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, other places in England were Dover and Southampton. The climactic oil rig sequence was shot off the shore of Oceanside, California. Other filming locations included Cap D’Antibes in France for the opening scenes, Amsterdam and Lufthansa‘s hangar at Frankfurt Airport, Germany.[17]

Filming in Las Vegas took place mostly in hotels owned by Howard Hughes, since he was a friend of Cubby Broccoli.[13] Getting the streets empty in order to shoot was achieved through the collaboration of Hughes, the Las Vegas police and shopkeepers association.[7] The Las Vegas Hilton doubled for the Whyte House, and since the owner of the Circus Circus was a Bond fan, he allowed the Circus to be used on film and even made a cameo.[4][7] The cinematographers said filming in Las Vegas at night had an advantage: no additional illumination was required due to the high number of neon lights.[18] Sean Connery made the most of his time on location in Las Vegas. “I didn’t get any sleep at all. We shot every night, I caught all the shows and played golf all day. On the weekend I collapsed – boy, did I collapse. Like a skull with legs.” He also played the slot machines, and once delayed a scene because he was collecting his winnings.[19]

The site used for the Willard Whyte Space Labs (where Bond gets away in the Moon Buggy) was actually, at that time, a Johns-Manville gypsum plant located just outside Las Vegas. The home of Kirk Douglas was used for the scene in Tiffany’s house, while the Elrod House in Palm Springs, designed by John Lautner, became Willard Whyte’s house.[20] The exterior shots of the Slumber mortuary were of the Palm Mortuary in Henderson, NV. The interiors were a set constructed at Pinewood Studios, where Ken Adam imitated the real building’s lozenge-shaped stained glass window in its nave. During location filming, Adam visited several funeral homes in the Las Vegas area, the inspiration behind the gaudy design of the Slumber mortuary (the use of tasteless Art Deco furniture and Tiffany lamps) came from these experiences.[17] Production wrapped with the crematorium sequence, on 13 August 1971.[4]

Since the car chase in Las Vegas would have many car crashes, the filmmakers had an arrangement with Ford to use their vehicles. Ford’s only demand was that Sean Connery had to drive the 1971 Mustang Mach 1 which serves as Tiffany Case’s car.[7] The Moon Buggy was inspired by the actual NASA vehicle, but with additions such as flailing arms since the producers didn’t find the design “outrageous” enough. Built by custom car fabricator Dean Jeffries on a rear-engined Corvair chassis, it was capable of road speeds. The fibreglass tires had to be replaced during the chase sequence because the heat and irregular desert soil ruined them.[21]

Hamilton had the idea of making a fight scene inside a lift, which was choreographed and done by Sean Connery and stuntman Joe Robinson.[22] The car chase where the red Mustang comes outside of the narrow street on the opposite side in which it was rolled, was filmed over three nights on Fremont Street in Las Vegas. The alleyway car roll sequence is actually filmed in two locations. The entrance was at the car park at Universal Studios and the exit was at Fremont Street, Las Vegas. It eventually inspired a continuity mistake, as the car enters the alley on the right side tires and exits the street driving on the left side.[1][23] While filming the scene of finding Plenty O’Toole drowned in Tiffany’s swimming pool, Lana Wood actually had her feet loosely tied to a cement block on the bottom. Film crew members held a rope across the pool for her, with which she could lift her face out of the water to breathe between takes. The pool’s sloping bottom made the block slip into deeper water with each take. Eventually, Wood was submerged but was noticed by on-lookers and rescued before actually drowning. Wood, being a certified diver, took some water but remained calm during the ordeal, although she later admitted to a few “very uncomfortable moments and quite some struggling until they pulled me out.”[24]


“Diamonds Are Forever”, the title song, was the second James Bond theme to be performed by Shirley Bassey, after “Goldfinger” in 1964. Producer Harry Saltzman reportedly hated the song, and only the insistence of co-producer Cubby Broccoli kept it in the film. Saltzman’s major objection was to the sexual innuendo of the lyrics. Indeed, in an interview for the television programme James Bond’s Greatest Hits composer John Barry revealed that he told Bassey to imagine she was singing about a penis. Bassey would later return for a third performance for 1979’s Moonraker.

The original soundtrack was once again composed by John Barry, his sixth time composing for a Bond film.

With Connery back in the lead role, the “James Bond Theme” was played by an electric guitar in the somewhat unusual, blued gunbarrel sequence accompanied with prismatic ripples of light, and pre-credits sequence, and in a full orchestral version during a hovercraft sequence in Amsterdam.

Release and reception

Diamonds are Forever premiered at the Odeon Leicester Square. It was released on 14 December 1971. It grossed $116 million worldwide,[25] of which $43 million was from the United States.[26]

Reviews were mixed, and the camp tone had a mostly negative reaction. The film currently has a 67% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[27] Connery was applauded by Kevin A. Ranson of MovieCrypt and Michael A. Smith of Nolan’s Pop Culture. Critic Roger Ebert criticised the complexity of the plot and “moments of silliness” such as Bond finding himself driving a moon buggy with antennae revolving and robot arms flapping. He praised the Las Vegas car chase scene, particularly the segment when Bond drives the Mustang on two wheels.[28] Twenty-five years after its release, James Berardinelli criticised the concept of a laser-shooting satellite and the performances of Jill St. John, Norman Burton and Jimmy Dean.[29] Christopher Null called St. John “one of the least effective Bond girls – beautiful, but shrill and helpless”.[30] Steve Rhodes said, “looking and acting like a couple of pseudo-country bumpkins, they (Putter Smith and Bruce Glover) seem to have wandered by accident from the adjoining sound stage into the filming of this movie.” But he also extolled the car chase as “classic”.[31] According to Danny Peary, Diamonds are Forever is “one of the most forgettable movies of the entire Bond series” and that “until Blofeld’s reappearance we must watch what is no better than a mundane diamond-smuggling melodrama, without the spectacle we associate with James Bond: the Las Vegas setting isn’t exotic enough, there’s little humour, assassins Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint are similar to characters you’d find on The Avengers, but not nearly as amusing – and the trouble Bond gets into, even Maxwell Smart could escape.”[32] IGN chose it as the third worst James Bond film, behind only The Man with the Golden Gun and Die Another Day.[33] Total Film listed Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd, and Bambi and Thumper, as the first and second worst villains in the Bond series (respectively).[34]

The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Sound (Gordon McCallum, John W. Mitchell and Al Overton)[35] but lost to Fiddler on the Roof.[36

Editorial 109 Gay Globe Magazine

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

By Roger-Luc Chayer, translated by Robert Frank

By now, everyone must be asking “Why does the cover of Issue 109 of our magazine feature the Pope?” With sublime ambiguity and subtlety, the Pope at once embodies both the world’s most outworn religious doctrine (Islamic State doesn’t count—it’s not a religion) and, at his best, more openness than has ever been on offer—albeit merely words, for the time being at least.

The Pope heads a church that baptizes millions of men and women without their consent as infants and thence imposes its own rules, morality and lifestyle without any consultation whatsoever.

It’s a paradox with which the Pope must now grapple in terms of frontline issues like gay rights, marriage, abortion and adoption. Will he succeed in his lifetime in fully admitting LGBT members to the Church, or will old-guard views prevail? That’s the challenge that he faces.

SPECIAL EDITION: Parsing fact from fiction on trans issues

Saturday, June 20th, 2015

By Roger-Luc Chayer / Translation by Robert Frank

On the heels of the Caitlyn Jenner debacle and his highly publicized sex-change that resonated around the world, and following some extremely violent attacks on transgendered people in the United States, expert psychiatrist Paul R. McHugh, of Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University hospital welcomed the opportunity to clarify the issue while debunking some popular misconceptions about transsexuality.

The former Johns Hopkins hospital chief psychiatrist and emeritus professor of psychology stated in a June 2 interview that transsexuality is a mental illness that requires medical treatment; that sex change is “biologically impossible” and that those who promote or encourage the trans lifestyle by advocating gender reassignment surgery are making a big mistake.

It goes without saying that, in the midst of the current furor, the professor’s position is highly controversial, but it’s still worth giving pause to reflect on the topic in order to promote better understanding and to learn some of the facts. For example, it’s helpful to know that less than 0.5 per cent of people who say that they’re trans are affected by a rare physical disorder that can lead them to have sexual organs that don’t match their sex chromosomes: XX for men; and XY for women.

Dr. McHugh, who has authored six books and 125 medical reports, stated that sex change operations aren’t the solution for people who suffer from a “perceptual disorder”, a disorder that leads a man or a woman to feel sexually different from what nature determined.

On top of that, a new study shows that the suicide rate for people who have undergone sex change operations is 20 times the rate of the unoperated trans population. Other studies show that people who exhibit a “gender disorder” spontaneously stop feeling that way in 70-80 per cent of cases.

He added that politicians, Hollywood and most mass media outlets that promote transsexuality and make it fashionable are doing a disservice to transgendered people and the public by treating an illness as though it was a social issue like homosexuality, when it’s really a medical condition that requires understanding, treatment and prevention.

“The intense feeling that you’re transgender constitutes a mental illness in two ways,” the professor stated. “First, the idea that it’s a sexual imbalance is plainly wrong, it simply doesn’t match the physical reality. Then there’s this belief that it could lead to major psychological problems.”

Trans people’s “disorder” rests on their own perception that they are somehow different from their physical reality, from the masculinity or the femininity that nature assigned them. According to Dr. McHugh, it’s a disorder similar to skin-and-bones people who suffer from anorexia, look in the mirror and believe that they’re seeing someone who’s obese.

This perception, to the extent that it’s a psychological issue, notwithstanding the anatomical reality, drives some transgender people to seek social acceptance by asserting their own subjective “personal truth”, something which has led some American states like California, New Jersey and Massachusetts to ban psychiatrists from treating unoperated individuals for these sexual misperceptions.

“That’s the reason why at Johns Hopkins has halted all sexual reassignment surgery, because producing a satisfied but still-troubled patient seemed to be insufficient grounds to surgically amputate healthy sexual organs,” added the professor, who has devoted most of his career to the study and treatment of hundreds of patients.

The former Johns Hopkins hospital chief psychiatrist also cautioned the public against encouraging transgender subgroups like young children and teens, who are highly vulnerable and easy to manipulate, pointing the finger at certain community activist groups that urge these youth to distance themselves from their families in order to get their reassignment surgery. He advises against ignoring this fact and instead urges these youth to consult a doctor who will know how to treat the patient, the same way that intervtion and treatment can help anorexics who haven’t yet reached the point of no return.

At that point, Professor McHugh interjected that there are poorly trained and misinformed doctors who treat youth who mimic the opposite sex by prescribing hormones that suppress the natural sexual development of their patients to mitigate the cost and drawbacks of future surgery. They’re making a grave mistake, because those medicines can influence normal childhood development and even cause sterility. Given that nearly 80 per cent of these youth will, in time, spontaneously recover from this ailment, emerge from their confusion and develop normally if left untreated, such action constitutes child abuse.

“Sex change is biologically impossible,” concluded the psychiatrist. “Patents who undergo sex reassignment surgery are not turning themselves from men into women or vice versa. Rather, they’re becoming feminized men or masculinized women. To thing that this constitutes social justice and to encourage surgical intervention is, in truth, an incitement to let a mental illness go untreated,” Dr. McHugh wrapped up his interview, published at

The famous doctor’s comments and analysis of transsexuality clearly stirred the pot anew in the media. Much of the buzz has centered on the social angle for trans people, their civil rights and their “coming out” while remaining mute about some of the realities that are nonetheless important to know about and understand.

It’s not the purpose of this writer to endorse Dr. McHugh’s analysis but, as for many controversial issues, media worthy of their name have a duty to give voice to dissenting opinions to ensure that the public debate remains as well informed as possible. Clearly, not all psychiatrists and health care professionals agree with Dr. McHugh’s assessment of the trans issue. Even here in Quebec, a parliamentary committee grappled recently with trans identity and serious questions about the militant trans ethos and access to surgery via a network of professionals who perhaps might be a bit too much on the militant side and out-of-step with medical reality. To that point, we shall return.

Here’s a short glossary that might be useful:


Transidentity, transsexuality or transgender, is when an individual has a gender identity that doesn’t conform to their birth sex. Sometimes we refer more generally to someone as transgender to indicate their status as an individual whose gender identity is different from their appearance and sexual attributes (beards, breasts) or to talk about transsexuals who are not interested in having surgery. Transidentity is the feeling of having been born in the wrong body.

It’s not a choice, can arise at any age and often triggers inner conflict, deep hurt and, above all, anxiety, as the individual affected can’t adopt the roles and social conventions associated with men or with women, as the case may be. The usual adjective to refer to a person who has a gender identity opposite to their birth sex is ‘transsexual’.

Sometime gender identity can instead be ambivalent or neutral. In addition, the term ‘transsexual woman’ can refer to a male of female gender; likewise, a ‘male transsexual’ has a masculine identity, despite being female.

Jacques Parizeau

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015


Jacques Parizeau, GOQ, (French pronunciation: ​[ʒɑk parizo]; August 9, 1930 – June 1, 2015) was an economist and noted Quebec sovereigntist who was the 26th Premier of the Canadian province of Quebec from September 26, 1994, to January 29, 1996.

Early life and career

Parizeau was born in Montreal, Quebec, the son of Germaine (née Biron) and Gérard Parizeau. He attended Collège Stanislas, a Roman Catholic private school. He went on to graduate with a PhD from the London School of Economics in London, England, as well as degrees at HEC Montréal, Paris Institute of Political Studies and Faculté de droit de Paris. A believer in economic interventionism, he was one of the most important advisors to the provincial government during the 1960s, playing an important behind-the-scenes role in the Quiet Revolution. He was especially instrumental in the nationalization of Hydro-Québec (a hydro-electric utility), the nationalization of the Asbestos Corporation Limited mines, and worked with Eric Kierans to create the Quebec Pension Plan.[1]

Parizeau gradually became a committed sovereigntist, and officially joined the Parti Québécois (PQ) on September 19, 1969.

After the PQ was elected to office in the 1976 provincial election, the new premier, René Lévesque, appointed Parizeau as Minister of Finance. Parizeau played an important role in the 1980 Quebec referendum campaign in favour of the government’s proposals for sovereignty-association.

As Minister of Finance in Quebec, he was responsible for a number of innovative economic proposals, including the Quebec Stock Savings Plan (“QSSP”).

Married to Polish immigrant Alice Poznanska (1930–1990), Jacques Parizeau was criticized for supporting the Charter of the French Language. This law limits access to English-language public schools to children whose parents didn’t receive their education in English in Canada, and was generally opposed by the English-speaking minority.

In 1984, he had a falling out with Lévesque. Lévesque had moved away from pursuing sovereignty to accept a negotiation with the Federal Government, called Beau Risque. Parizeau opposed this shift, resigned from Cabinet along with many other members, and temporarily retired from politics. Lévesque was taken by surprise with all these retirements and retired soon after. He was replaced by Pierre-Marc Johnson.

In 1987, Johnson also left the PQ leadership after losing the 1985 election. Parizeau, still a widely liked figure, was elected to replace him as party leader on March 19, 1988.

It was revealed in 2013 that federal Prime Minister Brian Mulroney offered in 1987 to appoint Parizeau as an independent Senator in his attempt to secure passage of the Canada–United States Free Trade Agreement through the upper house as well as part of his strategy to achieve reconciliation with Quebec sovereigntists which led to the Meech Lake Accord.[2][3] Parizeau rejected the offer and went on to become PQ leader and premier.

Elections, 1995 referendum and aftermath

In the 1989 election, Parizeau’s first as PQ leader, his party did not fare well. But five years later, in the 1994 election, it won a majority government. Parizeau promised to hold a referendum on Quebec sovereignty within a year of his election, and despite many objections, he followed through on this promise. In the beginning, support for sovereignty was only about 40% in the public opinion polls. As the campaign wore on, however, support for the “Yes” side grew larger. This growth halted, however, and Parizeau came under pressure to hand more of the campaign over to the more moderate and conservative Lucien Bouchard, the popular leader of the federal Bloc Québécois party. Parizeau agreed and as the campaign progressed he lost his leadership role to Bouchard.[4]

During the 1995 referendum he caused an uproar when it was reported by columnist Chantal Hébert in the La Presse newspaper that despite the guarantee of an offer of partnership with the rest of Canada before declaring sovereignty following a “Yes” vote, Parizeau had told a group of foreign diplomats that what mattered most was to get a majority vote from Quebec citizens for the proposal to secede from Canada because with that, Quebecers would be trapped “lobsters thrown into boiling water.[5] On the night of the referendum, Quebec came within only a few thousands of votes of separation, but the Yes side still lost. In his concession speech, Parizeau said sovereignty had been defeated by “money and ethnic votes“, and referred to the Francophones who voted Yes in the referendum as “nous” (us) when he said that this majority group was, for the first time, no longer afraid of political independence. 60% of Quebec Francophones voted Yes. However, the sovereigntist side accepted the results of the vote.

Parizeau was widely criticized for the remarks, which he later characterized as unfortunate and as meriting the disapproval they received. Many suspected he may have been drinking.[6][7] He resigned as PQ leader and Quebec premier the next day. The English-language media, as well as non-sovereigntist newspapers such as La Presse and Le Soleil, associated Parizeau’s resignation only with these remarks, against which the sovereigntist-friendly media (notably the newspaper Le Devoir) argued that he had made the decision beforehand, drawing attention to a television interview conducted on the eve of the vote with the Groupe TVA channel in which Parizeau spoke of his intentions to step down in the event of defeat. (This interview had previously been held under “embargo”, which is to say that the station agreed not to broadcast it until the referendum was over.)

Parizeau was replaced by Lucien Bouchard as PQ leader and Quebec premier on January 29, 1996.

Parizeau retired to private life, but continued to make comments critical of Bouchard’s new government and its failure to press the cause of Quebec independence. He owns an estate at his vineyard in France, a farm in the Eastern Townships of Quebec and a home in Montreal. His biographer is Pierre Duchesne.

His wife and former secretary during his premiership, Lisette Lapointe won a seat in the National Assembly as a candidate for the PQ in the provincial riding of Crémazie in the 2007 Quebec general election.

In June 2008, along with the other four living former Premiers of Quebec, Parizeau was named a Grand Officer of the National Order of Quebec by Premier Jean Charest.[8]

At a 2013 meeting of Option nationale, Parizeau stated to the room that the target of sovereignty for Quebec is still realizable, and that the PQ should make the maximum effort to attain it, including using public funds.[9]

In October 2013, to the surprise of many Quebecers, Parizeau nuanced his earlier infamous “money and the ethnic vote” statement to come out against the wholesale adoption of the Quebec Charter of Values, which would have banned most religious symbols and clothing in the public sector (but not the crucifix over the National Assembly President’s chair).[10]



  • “Les post-keynésiens et la politique économique contemporaine”, in Angers, François-Albert (ed.) Essai sur la centralisation. Analyse des principes et perspectives canadiennes, 1960 (online)
  • La solution. Le programme du Parti québécois présenté par René Lévesque, 1970 (online)
  • Cours initiation à l’économie du Québec, 2 volumes, 1975


  • Pour un Québec souverain (in French). Montreal: VLB. 1997. ISBN 2-89005-655-4. (online version)
  • Une bouteille à la mer? : le Québec et la mondialisation (in French). Montreal: VLB. 1997. ISBN 2-89005-688-0.
  • La souveraineté du Québec : hier, aujourd’hui et demain (in French). Montreal: Michel Brûlé. 2009. ISBN 978-2-89485-455-6.
    • An Independent Quebec, The Past, the Present and the Future. Translated by Robin Philpot. Montreal: Barakat Books. 2010. ISBN 978-0-9812405-6-5.

Letters, articles

  • “Qui sommes-nous? Où allons-nous?”, in Le Devoir, October 30, 1996
  • “Lettre ouverte aux souverainistes”, in Le Devoir, December 19, 1996
  • “La déclaration unilatérale est indispensable”, in Le Devoir, September 16, 1997
  • “Lettre ouverte aux juges de la Cour suprême”, in Le Devoir, September 4 and 5, 1998
  • “L’AMI menace-t-il à la souveraineté des États?”, in L’Action nationale, November 4, 1998
  • “Le libre-échange, les droits des multinationales et le dilemme de l’État”, in L’Action nationale, May 5, 2001 (en)


  • Report of the Study Committee on Financial Institutions, 1969
  • Brief submitted to the Committee on Institutions, responsible for conducting a broad consultation on Bill 99, 2000(online)
  • Entre l’innovation et le déclin : l’économie québécoise à la croisée des chemins, 2007 (conference at HEC)

Elections as party leader

He lost the 1989 election, and won the 1994 election. He announced his resignation the day after the “Yes” side in the 1995 Quebec referendum was defeated.

See also

Further reading

In English

In French

  • Duchesne, Pierre (2004). Jacques Parizeau. Tome III: Le Régent – 1985-1995 Montréal: Éditions Québec Amérique, 578 p.
  • Duchesne, Pierre (2002). Jacques Parizeau. Tome II: Le Baron – 1970-1985 Montréal: Éditions Québec Amérique, 544 p.
  • Duchesne, Pierre (2001). Jacques Parizeau. Tome I: Le Croisé – 1930-1970 Montréal: Éditions Québec Amérique, 624 p.
  • Richard, Laurence (1992). Jacques Parizeau, un bâtisseur, Montreal: Éditions de l’Homme, 249 p.
  • Jacques Parizeau“, dossier at, 2008
  • Jacques Parizeau“, dossier at L’Encyclopédie de l’Agora, updated May 25, 2006
  • Jacques Parizeau. « Je vous parle de l’homme »“, interview by Michaëlle Jean, research by Florence Meny at, January 2003 (requires Flash)
  • Pelletier, Francine (2003). Monsieur, Montreal : Macumba International, 52 min.
  • McKenzie, Robert (1972). Comment se fera l’indépendance. Entrevues de: René Lévesque, Jacques Parizeau, Jacques-Yvan Morin et Camille Laurin, Montreal, : Editions du Parti québécois, 56 p.
  • Lacombe, Pierre and Lacoursière, Jacques (2005). Jacques Parizeau, Montreal : CinéFête, 47 min.
  • Lepage, Marquise (2005). Jacques Parizeau, l’homme derrière le complet trois pièces, Productions Pixcom, 120 min. (broadcast on Société Radio-Canada and RDI)

Judy Garland

Thursday, May 14th, 2015


Judy Garland (born Frances Ethel Gumm; June 10, 1922 – June 22, 1969) was an American singer, actress and vaudevillian. She was renowned for her vocals[1] and attained international stardom which continued throughout a career that spanned more than 40 years as an actress in musical and dramatic roles, as a recording artist and on concert stages.[2] Respected for her versatility, she received a Juvenile Academy Award and won a Golden Globe Award as well as Grammy Awards and a Special Tony Award.

She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in the remake of A Star Is Born and for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the 1961 film Judgment at Nuremberg. She remains the youngest recipient (at 39 years of age) of the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in the motion picture industry.

After appearing in vaudeville with her two older sisters, Garland was signed to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as a teenager. There, she made more than two dozen films, including nine with Mickey Rooney, and the 1939 film with which she would be most identified, The Wizard of Oz. After 15 years, she was released from the studio but gained renewed success through record-breaking concert appearances, including a return to acting, beginning with critically acclaimed performances.

Despite her professional triumphs, Garland struggled immensely in her personal life, starting when she was a child. Her self-image was strongly influenced by film executives, who said she was unattractive and constantly manipulated her onscreen physical appearance. She was plagued by financial instability, often owing hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes. She married five times, with her first four marriages ending in divorce. She also had a long battle with drugs and alcohol, which ultimately led to her death at the age of 47.

In 1997, Garland was posthumously awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Several of her recordings have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 1999, the American Film Institute placed her among the ten greatest female stars in the history of American cinema.[3]

Early life

Garland’s birthplace in Grand Rapids, Minnesota

Born Frances Ethel Gumm in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, Garland was the youngest child of Ethel Marion (née Milne; November 17, 1893 – January 5, 1953) and Francis Avent “Frank” Gumm (March 20, 1886 – November 17, 1935). Her parents were vaudevillians who settled in Grand Rapids to run a movie theatre that featured vaudeville acts. Garland was of English, Scottish, and Irish ancestry.[4][5]

Named after both her parents and baptized at a local Episcopal church, “Baby” (as she was called by her parents and sisters) shared her family’s flair for song and dance. Her first appearance came at the age of two-and-a-half when she joined her two older sisters, Mary Jane “Suzy/Suzanne” Gumm (1915–1964) and Dorothy Virginia “Jimmie” Gumm (1917–1977), on the stage of her father’s movie theater during a Christmas show and sang a chorus of “Jingle Bells“.[6] Accompanied by their mother on piano, The Gumm Sisters performed there for the next few years.

Following rumors that Frank Gumm had made sexual advances towards male ushers, the family relocated to Lancaster, California in June 1926.[7] Frank purchased and operated another theater in Lancaster, and Ethel, acting as their manager, began working to get her daughters into motion pictures. Garland attended Hollywood High School and later graduated from University High School.[8]

Early career

The Gumm Sisters

The Gumm Sisters, a.k.a. The Garland Sisters, circa 1935. From left to right: Mary Jane, Frances Ethel (Judy Garland) and Dorothy Virginia Gumm.

In 1928, The Gumm Sisters enrolled in a dance school run by Ethel Meglin, proprietress of the Meglin Kiddies dance troupe. They appeared with the troupe at its annual Christmas show.[9] It was through the Meglin Kiddies that they made their film debut in a 1929 short-subject called The Big Revue, where they performed a song-and-dance number called That’s the good old sunny south. This was followed by appearances in two Vitaphone shorts the following year, A Holiday in Storyland (featuring Garland’s first on-screen solo) and The Wedding of Jack and Jill. They next appeared together in Bubbles. Their final on-screen appearance came in 1935, in another short entitled La Fiesta de Santa Barbara.[10]

In 1934, the trio, who by then had been touring the vaudeville circuit as “The Gumm Sisters” for many years, performed in Chicago at the Oriental Theater with George Jessel. He encouraged the group to choose a more appealing name after “Gumm” was met with laughter from the audience. According to theatrical legend, their act was once erroneously billed at a Chicago theater as “The Glum Sisters.”[11]

Several stories persist regarding the origin of the name “Garland.” One is that it was originated by Jessel after Carole Lombard‘s character Lily Garland in the film Twentieth Century, which was then playing at the Oriental; another is that the girls chose the surname after drama-critic Robert Garland.[12] Garland’s daughter, Lorna Luft, stated that her mother selected the name when Jessel announced that the trio “looked prettier than a garland of flowers.”[13] Another variation surfaced when he was a guest on Garland’s television show in 1963. He claimed that he had sent actress Judith Anderson a telegram containing the word “garland” and it stuck in his mind.[14]

By late 1934, the Gumm Sisters had changed their name to the Garland Sisters.[15] Frances changed her name to “Judy” soon after, inspired by a popular Hoagy Carmichael song.[16] By August 1935 they were broken up when Suzanne Garland flew to Reno, Nevada, and married musician Lee Kahn, a member of the Jimmy Davis orchestra playing at Cal-Neva Lodge, Lake Tahoe.[17]

Signed at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Garland with Mickey Rooney in Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938).

Busby Berkeley was asked by Louis B. Mayer to go downtown to the Orpheum Theater, to watch the Gumm Sisters’ vaudeville act, and to report back to him. Afterward, Judy and her mother were brought into the studio for an interview with Louis B. Mayer and Busby Berkeley. In 1935, Garland was signed to a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), supposedly without a screen test, though she had made a test for the studio several months earlier. The studio did not know what to do with her, as at age 13 she was older than the traditional child-star but too young for adult roles.

Her physical appearance created a dilemma for MGM. At only 4 feet 11.5 inches (151.1 cm), her “cute” or “girl-next-door” looks did not exemplify the more glamorous persona required of leading ladies of the time. She was self-conscious and anxious about her appearance. “Judy went to school at Metro with Ava Gardner, Lana Turner, Elizabeth Taylor, real beauties,” said Charles Walters, who directed her in a number of films. “Judy was the big money-maker at the time, a big success, but she was the ugly duckling  … I think it had a very damaging effect on her emotionally for a long time. I think it lasted forever, really.”[18] Her insecurity was exacerbated by the attitude of studio chief Louis B. Mayer, who referred to her as his “little hunchback.”[19]

During her early years at the studio, she was photographed and dressed in plain garments or frilly juvenile gowns and costumes to match the “girl-next-door” image that was created for her. She was made to wear removable caps on her teeth and rubberized disks to reshape her nose.[20]

Garland performed at various studio functions and was eventually cast opposite Deanna Durbin in the musical-short Every Sunday. The film contrasted her vocal range and swing style with Durbin’s operatic soprano and served as an extended screen test for the pair, as studio executives were questioning the wisdom of having two girl singers on the roster.[21] Mayer finally decided to keep both actresses, but by that time Durbin’s option had lapsed and she was signed by Universal Studios.

On November 16, 1935, in the midst of preparing for a radio performance on the Shell Chateau Hour, Garland learned that her father, who had been hospitalized with meningitis, had taken a turn for the worse. Frank Gumm died the following morning, on November 17, leaving her devastated. Her song for the Shell Chateau Hour was her first professional rendition of “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart,” a song which would become a standard in many of her concerts.[22]

Garland next came to the attention of studio executives by singing a special arrangement of “You Made Me Love You (I Didn’t Want to Do It)” to Clark Gable at a birthday party held by the studio for the actor. Her rendition was so well regarded that she performed the song in the all-star extravaganza Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937), singing to a photograph of him.[23]

MGM hit on a winning formula when it paired Garland with Mickey Rooney in a string of what were known as “backyard musicals.”[24] The duo first appeared together in the 1937 B movie Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry as supporting characters. Garland was then put in the cast of the fourth of the Hardy Family movies as a literal girl-next-door to Rooney’s character, Andy Hardy in Love Finds Andy Hardy, although Hardy’s love interest was played by Lana Turner. They teamed as lead characters for the first time in Babes in Arms, ultimately appearing in five additional films, including two more of Hardy films.

To keep up with the frantic pace of making one film after another, Garland, Rooney, and other young performers were constantly given amphetamines to stay awake, as well as barbiturates to take before going to bed so they could sleep.[25] For Garland, this regular dose of drugs led to addiction and a lifelong struggle, and contributed to her eventual demise. She later resented the hectic schedule and felt that her youth had been stolen from her by MGM. Despite successful film and recording careers, awards, critical praise and her ability to fill concert halls worldwide, she was plagued throughout her life with self-doubt and required constant reassurance that she was talented and attractive.[26] Rooney denied that their childhood studio was responsible for her addiction: “Judy Garland was never given any drugs by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Mr. Mayer didn’t sanction anything for Judy. No one on that lot was responsible for Judy Garland’s death. Unfortunately, Judy chose that path”.[27]

The Wizard of Oz

Garland as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz (1939)

In 1938, she was cast in the main role as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz (1939), a film based on the children’s book by L. Frank Baum. In this film, she sang the song with which she would forever be identified, “Over the Rainbow.” Although producers Arthur Freed and Mervyn LeRoy had wanted her from the start, studio chief Mayer tried first to borrow Shirley Temple from 20th Century Fox, but they declined. Deanna Durbin was then asked but was unavailable, resulting in Garland being cast.[28]

Garland was initially outfitted in a blonde wig for the part, but Freed and LeRoy decided against it shortly into filming. Her blue gingham dress was chosen for its blurring effect on her figure, which made her look younger.[29]

Shooting commenced on October 13, 1938,[30] and was completed on March 16, 1939,[31] with a final cost of more than US$2 million.[32] With the conclusion of filming, MGM kept Garland busy with promotional tours and the shooting of Babes in Arms, directed by Busby Berkeley. She and Rooney were sent on a cross-country promotional tour, culminating in August 17 New York City premiere at the Capitol Theater, which included a five-show-a-day appearance schedule for the two stars.[33]

The Wizard of Oz was a tremendous critical success, though its high budget and promotions costs of an estimated US$4 million (equivalent to $67.8 million in 2015), coupled with the lower revenue generated by children’s tickets, meant that the film did not make a profit until it was rereleased in the 1940s.[34] At the 1940 Academy Awards ceremony, Garland received an Academy Juvenile Award for her performances in 1939, including The Wizard of Oz and Babes in Arms.[35] Following this recognition, she became one of MGM’s most bankable stars.

Adult stardom

Garland performing “The Trolley Song” in Meet Me in St. Louis (1944). This was one of the first films in her career which gave her the opportunity to be the attractive leading lady, rather than the dowdy girl next door.

In 1940, she starred in three films: Andy Hardy Meets Debutante, Strike Up the Band, and Little Nellie Kelly. In the latter, she played her first adult role, a dual role of both mother and daughter. Little Nellie Kelly was purchased from George M. Cohan as a vehicle for her to display both her audience-appeal and her physical appearance. The role was a challenge for her, requiring the use of an accent, her first adult kiss, and the only death-scene of her career.[36] The success of these three films and a further three films in 1941, secured her position at MGM as a major property.

During this time, Garland experienced her first serious adult romances. The first was with bandleader Artie Shaw. She was deeply devoted to him and was devastated in early 1940 when he eloped with Lana Turner.[37] Garland began a relationship with musician David Rose, and on her 18th birthday he gave her an engagement ring. The studio intervened because he was still married at the time to actress and singer Martha Raye. They agreed to wait a year to allow for his divorce to become final and were wed on July 27, 1941.[38] Garland, who had aborted her pregnancy by him in 1942, agreed to a trial separation in January 1943 and divorced in 1944.[39] She was noticeably thinner in her next film, For Me and My Gal, alongside Gene Kelly in his first screen appearance. She was top billed in the credits for the first time and effectively made the transition from teenage-star to adult actress.

Promotional image for Presenting Lily Mars (1943).

At age 21, she was given the “glamour treatment” in Presenting Lily Mars, in which she was dressed in “grown-up” gowns. Her lightened hair was also pulled up in a stylish fashion. However, no matter how glamorous or beautiful she appeared onscreen or in photographs, she was never confident in her appearance and never escaped the “girl-next-door” image which had been created for her.[40]

One of Garland’s most successful films for MGM was Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), in which she introduced three standards: “The Trolley Song“, “The Boy Next Door“, and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas“. Vincente Minnelli was assigned to direct, and he requested that makeup artist Dorothy Ponedel be assigned to Garland. Ponedel refined her appearance in several ways, including extending and reshaping her eyebrows, changing her hairline, modifying her lip line and removing her nose discs and dental caps. She appreciated the results so much that Ponedel was written into her contract for all her remaining pictures at MGM.

At this time, Garland had a brief affair with legendary film director Orson Welles, who was then married to Rita Hayworth. The affair ended in early 1945, although they remained on good terms afterwards.[41]

During the filming of Meet Me in St. Louis, after some initial conflict between them, Garland and Minnelli entered into a relationship. They were married June 15, 1945,[42] and on March 12, 1946, daughter Liza was born.[43] They were divorced by 1951.[44]

The Clock (1945) was Garland’s first straight dramatic film, opposite Robert Walker. Though the film was critically praised and earned a profit, most movie fans expected her to sing. It would be many years before she acted again in a nonsinging dramatic role. Garland’s other films of the 1940s include The Harvey Girls (1946), in which she introduced the Academy Award-winning song “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe“, and Till the Clouds Roll By (1946).

Leaving MGM

During filming for The Pirate in April 1947, Garland suffered a nervous breakdown and was placed in a private sanitarium.[45] She was able to complete filming, but in July she undertook her first suicide attempt, making minor cuts to her wrist with a broken glass.[46] During this period, she spent two weeks in treatment at the Austen Riggs Center, a psychiatric hospital in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.[47] The Pirate was released in 1948 and was the first film Garland had starred in since The Wizard of Oz to not be profitable. The main reasons for its failure was not only its expense, but also the increasing cost of the shooting delays while Garland was ill, as well as the fact that the general public was not yet willing to accept her in a sophisticated vehicle. Following her work on The Pirate, she co-starred for the first and only time with Fred Astaire (who replaced Gene Kelly after Kelly had broken his ankle) in Easter Parade, which became her top grossing film at MGM and quickly re-established her as one of Metro’s primary assets.

A pregnant Garland in Till the Clouds Roll By (1946)

Thrilled by the huge box-office receipts of Easter Parade, MGM immediately teamed Garland and Astaire in The Barkleys of Broadway. During the initial filming, Garland was taking prescription sleeping medication along with illicitly obtained pills containing morphine. It was around this time that she also developed a serious problem with alcohol. These, in combination with migraine headaches, led her to miss several shooting days in a row. After being advised by her doctor that she would only be able to work in four-to-five-day increments with extended rest periods between, MGM executive Arthur Freed made the decision to suspend her on July 18, 1948. She was replaced by Ginger Rogers.[48] When her suspension was over, she was summoned back to work and ultimately performed two songs as a guest in the Rodgers and Hart biopic Words and Music which was her last appearance with Mickey Rooney. Despite the all-star cast, Words and Music barely broke even at the box office. Having regained her strength as well as some needed weight during her suspension, Garland felt much better and in the fall of 1948, she returned to MGM to replace a pregnant June Allyson for the musical film In the Good Old Summertime co-starring Van Johnson. Although she was sometimes late arriving at the studio during the making of this picture, she managed to complete it five days ahead of schedule. Her daughter Liza Minnelli made her film debut at the age of two and a half at the end of the film. In The Good Old Summertime was enormously successful at the box office.

Garland was then cast in the film-adaptation of Annie Get Your Gun in the title role of Annie Oakley. She was nervous at the prospect of taking on a role strongly identified with Ethel Merman, anxious about appearing in an unglamorous part after breaking from juvenile parts for several years, and disturbed by her treatment at the hands of director Busby Berkeley. Berkeley was staging all the musical numbers, and was severe with Garland’s lack of effort, attitude and enthusiasm. She complained to Mayer, trying to have Berkeley fired from the feature. She began arriving late to the set and sometimes failed to appear. She was suspended from the picture on May 10, 1949, and was replaced by Betty Hutton, who stepped in performing all the musical routines as staged by Berkeley.[49]

Garland underwent an extensive hospital stay at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts in which she was weaned off her medication and, after a while, was able to eat and sleep normally. Garland returned to Los Angeles heavier and in the fall of 1949, was cast opposite Gene Kelly in Summer Stock. The film took six months to complete. In order to lose weight, Garland went back on the pills and the familiar pattern resurfaced. She began showing up late or not at all. When principal photography on Summer Stock was completed in spring 1950, it was decided that Garland needed an additional musical number. She agreed to do it provided that the song should be Get Happy. In addition, she insisted that director Charles Walters choreograph and stage the number. By that time, Garland had lost fifteen pounds and looked more slender. Get Happy was the last segment of Summer Stock to be filmed. It would be her last picture for MGM. When it was released in the fall of 1950, Summer Stock drew big crowds and racked up very respectable box office receipts, but because of the costly shooting delays caused by Garland, the film posted a loss of $80,000 to the studio.

Garland was next cast in the film Royal Wedding with Fred Astaire after June Allyson became pregnant in 1950. She failed to report to the set on multiple occasions, and the studio suspended her contract on June 17, 1950. She was replaced by Jane Powell.[50] Reputable biographies following her death stated that after this latest dismissal, she slightly grazed her neck with a broken glass, requiring only a band-aid, but at the time, the public was informed that a despondent Garland had slashed her throat.[51] “All I could see ahead was more confusion,” Garland later said of this suicide attempt. “I wanted to black out the future as well as the past. I wanted to hurt myself and everyone who had hurt me.”[52] In September 1950, after fifteen years with the studio, Garland and M-G-M parted company.

Later career

Renewed stardom on the stage

In 1951, Garland began four-month concert tour of the United Kingdom, where she played to sold-out audiences throughout England, Scotland, and Ireland.[53] The successful concert tour was the first of her many comebacks, with performances centered around songs by Al Jolson and revival of vaudevillian “tradition.” Garland performed complete shows as tributes to Jolson in her concerts at the London Palladium in April and at New York’s Palace Theater later that year. Garland said after the Palladium show: “I suddenly knew that this was the beginning of a new life. . . . Hollywood thought I was through; then came the wonderful opportunity to appear at the London Palladium, where I can truthfully say Judy Garland was reborn.”[54]

Her appearances at the Palladium lasted for four weeks, where she received rave reviews and an ovation described by the Palladium manager as the loudest he had ever heard.[55][56] In October 1951, Garland’s engagement at the Palace Theatre exceeded all previous records for the theater and for Garland, was called “one of the greatest personal triumphs in show business history.”[57] Garland was honored for her contribution to the revival of vaudeville with a Special Tony Award.[58]

That same year she divorced Minnelli,[59] and in 1952 she married Sid Luft, her tour manager and arranger. Garland and Luft were married on June 8, 1952, in Hollister, California.[60] Garland gave birth to Lorna Luft, herself a future actress and singer, on November 21, 1952, and to Joey Luft on March 29, 1955.[61]

Hollywood comeback

Garland in A Star Is Born (1954)

Garland filmed a musical remake of the film A Star is Born for Warner Bros. in 1954. Garland and Sidney Luft, her then-husband, produced the film through their production company, Transcona Enterprises, while Warner Bros. supplied the funds, production facilities, and crew.[62] Directed by George Cukor and co-starring James Mason, it was a large undertaking to which she initially fully dedicated herself.

As shooting progressed, however, she began making the same pleas of illness which she had so often made during her final films at MGM. Production delays led to cost overruns and angry confrontations with Warner Bros. head Jack Warner. Principal photography wrapped on March 17, 1954. At Luft’s suggestion, the “Born in a Trunk” medley was filmed as a showcase for her and inserted over director Cukor’s objections, who feared the additional length would lead to cuts in other areas. It was completed on July 29.[63]

Upon its September 29, 1954 world-premiere, the film was met with tremendous critical and popular acclaim. Before its release, it was edited at the instruction of Jack Warner; theater operators, concerned that they were losing money because they were only able to run the film for three or four shows per day instead of five or six, pressured the studio to make additional reductions. About 30 minutes of footage was cut, sparking outrage among critics and filmgoers. Although it was still popular drawing huge crowds and grossing over $6,000,000 in its first release, A Star is Born did not make back its cost and ended up losing money, As a result, the secure financial position Garland had expected from the profits did not materialize.[64] Transcona made no more films with Warner.[65]

Garland was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress and in the run-up to the 27th Academy Awards, was generally expected to win. She could not attend the ceremony because she had just given birth to her son, Joseph Luft, so a television crew was in her hospital room with cameras and wires to broadcast her anticipated acceptance speech. The Oscar was won, however, by Grace Kelly for The Country Girl (1954). The camera crew was packing up before Kelly could even reach the stage. Groucho Marx sent her a telegram after the awards ceremony, declaring her loss “the biggest robbery since Brinks.” TIME magazine labeled her performance as “just about the greatest one-woman show in modern movie history.”[66] Garland won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Musical for the role.[67]

Garland’s films after A Star Is Born included Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) (for which she was Oscar- and Golden Globe-nominated for Best Supporting Actress), the animated feature Gay Purr-ee (1962), and A Child Is Waiting (1963) with Burt Lancaster. Her final film was I Could Go on Singing (1963), co-starring Dirk Bogarde.

Television, concerts, and Carnegie Hall

Garland before a concert, circa 1957

Beginning in 1955, Garland appeared in a number of television specials. The first, the 1955 debut episode of Ford Star Jubilee, was the first full-scale color broadcast ever on CBS and was a ratings triumph, scoring a 34.8 Nielsen rating. She signed a three-year, $300,000 contract with the network. Only one additional special, a live concert-edition of General Electric Theater, was broadcast in 1956 before the relationship between the Lufts and CBS broke down in a dispute over the planned format of upcoming specials.[68]

In 1956, Garland performed for four weeks at the New Frontier Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip for a salary of $55,000 per week, making her the highest-paid entertainer to work in Las Vegas.[69] Despite a brief bout of laryngitis, her performances there were so successful that her run was extended an extra week.[70] Later that year she returned to the Palace Theatre, site of her two-a-day triumph. She opened in September, once again to rave reviews and popular acclaim.[71]

In November 1959, Garland was hospitalized, diagnosed with acute hepatitis.[72] Over the next few weeks several quarts of fluid were drained from her body until, still weak, she was released from the hospital in January 1960. She was told by doctors that she likely had five years or less to live, and that even if she did survive she would be a semi-invalid and would never sing again.[73] She initially felt “greatly relieved” at the diagnosis. “The pressure was off me for the first time in my life.”[51] However, she recovered over the next several months and, in August of that year, returned to the stage of the Palladium. She felt so warmly embraced by the British that she announced her intention to move permanently to England.[74]

Her concert appearance at Carnegie Hall on April 23, 1961, was a considerable highlight, called by many “the greatest night in show business history”.[75] The two-record Judy at Carnegie Hall was certified gold, charting for 95 weeks on Billboard, including 13 weeks at number one. The album won four Grammy Awards including Album of the Year and Best Female Vocal of the Year.[76] The album has never been out of print.

In 1961, Garland and CBS settled their contract disputes with the help of her new agent, Freddie Fields, and negotiated a new round of specials. The first, entitled The Judy Garland Show, aired in 1962 and featured guests Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.[77] Following this success, CBS made a $24 million offer to her for a weekly television series of her own, also to be called The Judy Garland Show, which was deemed at the time in the press to be “the biggest talent deal in TV history.” Although she had said as early as 1955 that she would never do a weekly television series,[78] in the early 1960s she was in a financially precarious situation. She was several hundred thousand dollars in debt to the Internal Revenue Service, having failed to pay taxes in 1951 and 1952, and the failure of A Star is Born meant that she received nothing from that investment.[79] A successful run on television was intended to secure her financial future.

Following a third special, Judy Garland and Her Guests Phil Silvers and Robert Goulet, Garland’s weekly series debuted September 29, 1963.[80] The Judy Garland Show was critically praised,[81][82] but for a variety of reasons (including being placed in the time slot opposite Bonanza on NBC) the show lasted only one season and was canceled in 1964 after 26 episodes. Despite its short run, the series was nominated for four Emmy Awards, including Best Variety Series.[83] The demise of the program was personally and financially devastating for Garland.

Garland sued Luft for divorce in 1963, claiming “cruelty” as the grounds. She also asserted that he had repeatedly struck her while he was drinking and that he had attempted to take their children from her by force.[84] She had filed for divorce from Luft more than once previously, including as early as 1956, but had reconciled.[85]

Final years

Mickey Deans and Garland, at their wedding in March 1969, three months before her death.

With the demise of her television series, Garland returned to the stage. Most notably, she performed at the London Palladium with her then 18-year-old daughter Liza Minnelli in November 1964. The concert, which was also shown on the British television network ITV, was one of her final appearances at the venue. She made guest appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show. Garland guest-hosted an episode of The Hollywood Palace with Vic Damone. She was invited back for a second episode in 1966 with Van Johnson as her guest. Issues with Garland’s behavior ended her Hollywood Palace guest appearances.[86]

A 1964 tour of Australia was largely disastrous. Garland’s first concert in Sydney, held in the Sydney Stadium because no concert hall could accommodate the crowds who wanted to see her, went well and received positive reviews. Her second performance, in Melbourne, started an hour late. The crowd of 7,000, angered by her tardiness and believing her to be drunk, booed and heckled her, and she fled the stage after just 45 minutes.[87] She later characterized the Melbourne crowd as “brutish.”[88] A second concert in Sydney was uneventful but the Melbourne appearance garnered her significant bad press.[89] Some of that bad press was deflected by the announcement of a near fatal episode of pleurisy.

Garland’s tour promoter Mark Herron announced that they had married aboard a freighter off the coast of Hong Kong; however, she was not legally divorced from Luft at the time the ceremony was performed.[90] The divorce became final on May 19, 1965,[84] and she and Herron did not legally marry until November 14, 1965; they separated six months later.[91]

In February 1967, Garland was cast as Helen Lawson in Valley of the Dolls for 20th Century Fox.[92] During the filming, she missed rehearsals and was fired in April, replaced by Susan Hayward.[93] Her prerecording of the song “I’ll Plant My Own Tree” survived, along with her wardrobe tests.

Returning to the stage, Garland made her last appearances at New York’s Palace Theatre in July, a 16-show stand, performing with her children Lorna and Joey Luft. She wore a sequined pantsuit on stage for this tour, which was part of the original wardrobe for her character in Valley of the Dolls.[94]

By early 1969, Garland’s health had deteriorated. She performed in London at the Talk of the Town nightclub for a five-week run[95] and made her last concert appearance in Copenhagen during March 1969.[96] She married her fifth and final husband, musician Mickey Deans, at Chelsea Register Office, London, on March 15, 1969,[97] her divorce from Herron having been finalized on February 11.[98]


Garland’s crypt at the Ferncliff Mausoleum

On June 22, 1969, Garland was found dead by Deans in the bathroom of their rented Chelsea, London house. The coroner, Gavin Thursdon, stated at the inquest that the cause of death was “an incautious self-overdosage” of barbiturates; her blood contained the equivalent of ten 1.5-grain (97 mg) Seconal capsules.[99] Thursdon stressed that the overdose had been unintentional and that there was no evidence to suggest she had committed suicide. Garland’s autopsy showed that there was no inflammation of her stomach lining and no drug residue in her stomach, which indicated that the drug had been ingested over a long period of time, rather than in one dose. Her death certificate stated that her death had been “accidental”.[100] Supporting the accidental cause, her doctor noted that a prescription of 25 barbiturate pills was found by her bedside half empty and another bottle of 100 was still unopened.[101]

A British specialist who had attended her autopsy said she had nevertheless been living on borrowed time owing to cirrhosis.[102] She had turned 47 just twelve days before her death. Her Wizard of Oz costar Ray Bolger commented at her funeral, “She just plain wore out.”

After her body had been embalmed by Desmond Henley,[103] Deans took Garland’s remains to New York City on June 26, where an estimated 20,000 people lined up for hours at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel in Manhattan to pay their respects. On June 27, James Mason gave a eulogy at the funeral, an Episcopal service led by the Rev. Peter A. Delaney of St Marylebone Parish Church, London, who had officiated at her marriage to Deans.[104] The public and press were barred. She was interred in a crypt in the community mausoleum at Ferncliff Cemetery, in Hartsdale, New York.[105]


Mickey Rooney watches Garland put her handprint into cement at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, 1939.

Star for recognition of film work at 1715 Vine Street on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She has another for recording at 6764 Hollywood Boulevard.

Garland’s legacy as a performer and a personality has endured long after her death. The American Film Institute named her eighth among the Greatest Female Stars of All Time.[106] She has been the subject of over two dozen biographies since her death, including the well-received Me and My Shadows: A Family Memoir by her daughter, Lorna Luft, whose memoir was later adapted into the television miniseries Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows, which won Emmy Awards for the two actresses portraying her (Tammy Blanchard and Judy Davis).[107]

Garland was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.[108] Several of her recordings have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[109] These include “Over the Rainbow“, which was ranked as the number one movie song of all time in the American Film Institute’s “100 Years…100 Songs” list. Four more Garland songs are featured on the list: “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (#76), “Get Happy” (#61), “The Trolley Song” (#26), and “The Man That Got Away” (#11).[110] She has twice been honored on U.S. postage stamps, in 1989 (as Dorothy)[111] and again in 2006 (as Vicki Lester from A Star Is Born).[112]

In popular culture

Gay icon

Garland had a large fan base in the gay community and became a gay icon.[113] Reasons given for her standing, especially among gay men, are admiration of her ability as a performer, the way her personal struggles mirrored those of gay men in America during the height of her fame and her value as a camp figure.[114] In the 1960s, a reporter asked how she felt about having a large gay following. She replied, “I couldn’t care less. I sing to people.”[115]

Portrayals in fiction

Garland has been portrayed on television by Andrea McArdle in Rainbow (1978),[116] Tammy Blanchard (young Judy) and Judy Davis (older Judy) in Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows (2001).[117]

On stage, Garland is a character in the musical The Boy from Oz (1998), portrayed by Chrissy Amphlett in the original Australian production[118] and by Isabel Keating on Broadway in 2003.[119] End of the Rainbow (2005) featured Caroline O’Connor as Garland and Paul Goddard as Garland’s pianist.[120] Adrienne Barbeau played Garland in The Property Known as Garland (2006)[121] and The Judy Monologues (2010) initially featured male actors reciting Garland’s words before it was re-vamped as a one-woman show.[122]

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Thursday, May 14th, 2015


The Wizard of Oz is a 1939 American musical fantasy film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and the most well-known and commercially successful adaptation based on the 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.[2] The film stars Judy Garland; Terry the dog, billed as Toto; Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Frank Morgan, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, with Charley Grapewin and Clara Blandick, and the Singer Midgets as the Munchkins, with Pat Walshe as leader of the flying monkeys.[3] Notable for its use of Technicolor, fantasy storytelling, musical score and unusual characters, over the years it has become one of the best-known films and part of American popular culture. It was a box office disappointment on its initial release, earning only $3,017,000 on a $2,777,000 budget, despite receiving largely positive reviews.[1][4] The film was MGM’s most expensive production at that time, and did not recoup much of the studio’s investment until subsequent re-releases.[5] It was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture but lost to Gone with the Wind. It did win in two other categories including Best Original Song for “Over the Rainbow.” The song was ranked first in two lists: the AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs and the Recording Industry Association of America‘s “365 Songs of the Century“.

The 1956 television broadcast of the film re-introduced the film to the public that eventually made it an annual tradition and one of the most known films in cinema history.[2] The film was named the most-viewed motion picture on television syndication by the Library of Congress who also included the film in its National Film Registry in its inaugural year in 1989. Designation on the registry calls for efforts to preserve it for being “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant”.[6] It is often ranked on best-movie lists in critics’ and public polls. It is the source of many quotes referenced in modern popular culture. It was directed primarily by Victor Fleming (who left production to take over direction on the troubled Gone with the Wind production). Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf received credit for the screenplay, but there were uncredited contributions by others. The songs were written by Edgar “Yip” Harburg (lyrics) and Harold Arlen (music). The incidental music, based largely on the songs, was composed by Herbert Stothart, with interspersed renderings from classical composers.


The film starts in sepia-tinted Kansas in the early 1900s. Dorothy Gale lives with her dog Toto on the farm of her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry. Dorothy and Toto get in trouble with a cruel neighbor, Miss Almira Gulch, when Toto bites her. However, Dorothy’s family and the farmhands are all too busy to pay attention to her. Miss Gulch arrives with permission from the sheriff to have Toto euthanized. He is taken away, but escapes and returns to Dorothy; she then decides to run away from home with Toto to escape Miss Gulch. They meet Professor Marvel, a phony fortune teller, who realizes Dorothy has run away and tricks her via his crystal ball into believing that her aunt is ill so that she may return home. She races home as a powerful tornado develops. Unable to get into the storm cellar, she seeks safety in her bedroom. A wind-blown window sash hits her head and she falls unconscious on her bed. She wakes to find the house spinning in the air, held aloft by the twister. In the storm outside the window she sees an elderly lady in a chair, several farm animals, two men rowing a boat, as well as Miss Gulch (pedaling her bicycle), who transforms into a cackling witch flying on a broomstick.

Dorothy (Judy Garland, right) with Glinda, the Good Witch of the North (Billie Burke).

The farm house crashes in Munchkinland in the world of Oz, where the film changes to Technicolor. Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, and the Munchkins, welcome her as a heroine because the house has landed on and killed the Wicked Witch of the East, leaving only her feet exposed. Her sister, the Wicked Witch of the West, arrives to claim the magic ruby slippers worn on her sister’s feet. Glinda transfers them off her feet to Dorothy’s feet instead. The Witch of the West swears revenge on Dorothy and Toto for her sister’s death. Glinda tells Dorothy to follow the yellow brick road to the Emerald City, where the Wizard of Oz might be able to help her get back home.

On her way to the Emerald City, Dorothy meets and befriends the Scarecrow who wants a brain, the Tin Woodman who desires a heart, and the Cowardly Lion who is in need of courage. Dorothy invites each of them to accompany her. After encountering the Witch, who attempts to deter them from their destination, they finally reach the Emerald City. Inside, after being initially rejected, they are permitted to see the Wizard (appearing to them in the form of a large head surrounded by fire) who agrees to grant their wishes when they bring him the Witch of the West’s broom.

On their quest to the Witch’s castle, the group pass through the Haunted Forest while the Witch views their progress through a crystal ball. She then sends her flying monkeys to ambush the four and capture Dorothy and Toto. At the castle, the Witch fails to get the slippers off Dorothy due to a magical barrier, remembering that Dorothy must first be killed. Toto escapes and leads her friends to the castle. After defeating three Winkie Guards and stealing their uniforms, they march inside and free her, but the Witch and her guards trap them. The Scarecrow drops a chandelier onto the Winkies, and the group is chased across the battlements, before being trapped on both sides. The Witch sets fire to the Scarecrow and Dorothy splashes a bucket of water onto the flames; the Witch, also hit by it, melts. The guards rejoice that she is dead and give Dorothy the charred broom in gratitude.

Back at the Emerald City, the Wizard refuses to grant their wishes. Toto exposes the “Wizard” as a normal middle-aged man who has been operating and controlling the wizard; he admits to being a humbug and a bad wizard. Nonetheless, he grants their wishes by giving the Scarecrow a diploma, the Lion a medal, and the Tin Man a heart-shaped watch, enough to convince them that what they sought had been achieved. He then prepares to get Dorothy home in his hot air balloon but Toto chases a cat, Dorothy follows, and it leaves without her. Glinda arrives and tells her that she can still return home by tapping her heels together three times and repeating, “There’s no place like home”.[7] After bidding a tearful goodbye to her friends, Dorothy returns home, coming to consciousness on her bed surrounded by her family, the farmhands, Professor Marvel, and Toto.


The film’s main characters: Cowardly Lion, Dorothy, Scarecrow, and Tin Man
Notable Munchkins


Development and pre-production

Development of the film started when Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs showed that films adapted from popular children’s stories and fairytale folklore could be successful.[2][8] In January 1938, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer bought the rights to the hugely popular novel from Samuel Goldwyn, who had toyed with the idea of making the film as a vehicle for Eddie Cantor, who was under contract to the Goldwyn studios and whom Goldwyn wanted to cast as the Scarecrow.[8]

The script went through a number of writers and revisions before the final shooting.[9] Originally, Mervyn LeRoy‘s assistant William H. Cannon submitted a brief four-page outline.[9] Because recent fantasy films had not fared well at the box office, he recommended that the magical elements of the story be toned down or eliminated. In his outline, the Scarecrow was a man so stupid that the only way he could get employment was to dress up as a scarecrow and scare away crows in a cornfield, and the Tin Woodman was a hardened criminal so heartless he was sentenced to be placed in a tin suit for eternity. The torture of being encased in the suit had softened him and made him gentle and kind.[9] His vision was similar to Larry Semon‘s 1925 film adaptation of the story, in which the magical element is absent.

After that, LeRoy hired screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz to work on a script. Despite Mankiewicz’s notorious reputation at that time for being an alcoholic, he soon delivered a 17-page draft of the Kansas scenes, and a few weeks later, he handed in a further 56 pages. Noel Langley and poet Ogden Nash were also hired to write separate versions of the story. None of the three writers involved knew anyone else was working on a script, but it was not an uncommon procedure. Nash soon delivered a four-page outline, Langley turned in a 43-page treatment and a full film script. He turned in three more, this time incorporating the songs that had been written by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg. No sooner had he completed it than Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf submitted a script and were brought on board to touch up the writing. They would be responsible for making sure the story stayed true to the Baum book. However, producer Arthur Freed was unhappy with their work and reassigned it back to Langley.[10] During filming, Victor Fleming and John Lee Mahin revised the script further, adding and cutting some scenes. In addition, Jack Haley and Bert Lahr are known to have written some of their own dialogue for the Kansas sequence.

The final draft of the script was completed on October 8, 1938, following numerous rewrites.[11] All in all, it was a mish-mash of many creative minds, but Langley, Ryerson and Woolf got the film credits. Along with the contributors already mentioned, others who assisted with the adaptation without receiving official credit include: Irving Brecher, Herbert Fields, Arthur Freed, Yip Harburg, Samuel Hoffenstein, Jack Mintz, Sid Silvers, Richard Thorpe, George Cukor and King Vidor.[8]

In addition, songwriter Harburg’s son (and biographer) Ernie Harburg reported:[12]

So anyhow, Yip also wrote all the dialogue in that time and the setup to the songs and he also wrote the part where they give out the heart, the brains and the nerve, because he was the final script editor. And he — there was eleven screenwriters on that — and he pulled the whole thing together, wrote his own lines and gave the thing a coherence and unity which made it a work of art. But he doesn’t get credit for that. He gets lyrics by E. Y. Harburg, you see. But nevertheless, he put his influence on the thing.

The original producers thought that a 1939 audience was too sophisticated to accept Oz as a straight-ahead fantasy; therefore, it was reconceived as a lengthy, elaborate dream. Because of a perceived need to attract a youthful audience through appealing to modern fads and styles, the score originally featured a song called “The Jitterbug,” and the script originally featured a scene with a series of musical contests. A spoiled, selfish princess in Oz had outlawed all forms of music except classical and operetta and went up against Dorothy in a singing contest in which her swing style enchanted listeners and won the grand prize. This part was initially written for Betty Jaynes.[13] The plan was later dropped.

Another scene, which was removed before final script approval and never filmed, was a concluding scene back in Kansas after Dorothy’s return. Hunk (the Kansan counterpart to the Scarecrow) is leaving for agricultural college and extracts a promise from Dorothy to write to him. The implication of the scene is that romance will eventually develop between the two, which also may have been intended as an explanation for Dorothy’s partiality for the Scarecrow over her other two companions. This plot idea was never totally dropped, however; it is especially noticeable in the final script when Dorothy, just before she is to leave Oz, tells the Scarecrow, “I think I’ll miss you most of all.”[14]

In his book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Baum describes Kansas as being ‘in shades of gray.’ Further, Dorothy lived inside a farmhouse which had its paint blistered and washed away by the weather, giving it an ‘air of grayness.’ The house and property were situated in the middle of a sweeping prairie where the grass was burnt gray by harsh sun. Aunt Em and Uncle Henry were ‘gray with age.’ Effectively, the use of monochrome sepia tones for the Kansas sequences was a stylistic choice that evoked the dull and gray countryside. Much attention was given to the use of color in the production, with the MGM production crew favoring some hues over others. Consequently, it took the studio’s art department almost a week to settle on the final shade of yellow used for the yellow brick road.[15]


Mervyn LeRoy had always insisted that he wanted to cast Judy Garland to play Dorothy from the start; however, evidence suggests that negotiations occurred early in pre-production for Shirley Temple to be cast as Dorothy, on loan out from 20th Century Fox. A persistent rumor also existed that Fox was in turn promised Clark Gable and Jean Harlow as a loan from MGM. The tale is almost certainly untrue, as Harlow died in 1937, before MGM had even purchased the rights to the story. Despite this, the story appears in many film biographies (including Temple’s own autobiography). The documentary The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: The Making of a Movie Classic states that Mervyn LeRoy was under pressure to cast Temple, then the most popular child star; but at an unofficial audition, MGM musical mainstay Roger Edens listened to her sing and felt that an actress with a different style was needed. Newsreel footage is included in which Temple wisecracks, “There’s no place like home,” suggesting that she was being considered for the part at that time.[16] A possibility is that this consideration did indeed take place, but that Gable and Harlow were not part of the proposed deal.

Actress Deanna Durbin, who was under contract to Universal, was also considered for the part of Dorothy. Durbin, at the time, far exceeded Garland in film experience and fan base and both had co-starred in a 1936 two-reeler titled Every Sunday. The film was most notable for exhibiting Durbin’s operatic style of singing against Garland’s jazzier style. Durbin was possibly passed over once it was decided to bring on Betty Jaynes, also an operatic singer, to rival Garland’s jazz in the aforementioned discarded subplot of the film.

Buddy Ebsen‘s first makeup test as the Tin Man.

Ray Bolger was originally cast as the Tin Man and Buddy Ebsen (later famous for his role as Jed Clampett on the popular 1960s TV show The Beverly Hillbillies) was to play the Scarecrow.[11] Bolger, however, longed to play the Scarecrow, as his childhood idol Fred Stone had done on stage in 1902; with that very performance, Stone had inspired him to become a vaudevillian in the first place. Now unhappy with his role as the Tin Man (reportedly claiming, “I’m not a tin performer; I’m fluid”), Bolger convinced producer Mervyn LeRoy to recast him in the part he so desired.[17] Ebsen did not object; after going over the basics of the Scarecrow’s distinctive gait with Bolger (as a professional dancer, Ebsen had been cast because the studio was confident he would be up to the task of replicating the famous “wobbly-walk” of Stone’s Scarecrow), he recorded all of his songs, went through all the rehearsals as the Tin Man, and began filming with the rest of the cast.[18]

Bert Lahr was signed for the Cowardly Lion on July 25, 1938; the next month, Charles Grapewin was cast as Uncle Henry on August 12.

W. C. Fields was originally chosen for the role of the Wizard, a role turned down by Ed Wynn as he thought the part was too small, but the studio ran out of patience after protracted haggling over Fields’ fee; instead, another contract player, Frank Morgan, was cast on September 22.

Gale Sondergaard was originally cast as the Wicked Witch. She became unhappy when the witch’s persona shifted from sly and glamorous (thought to emulate the wicked queen in Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs) into the familiar “ugly hag.” She turned down the role and was replaced on October 10, 1938, just three days before filming started, by MGM contract player Margaret Hamilton. Sondergaard said in an interview for a bonus feature on the DVD that she had no regrets about turning down the part, and would go on to play a glamorous villain in Fox’s version of Maurice Maeterlinck‘s The Blue Bird in 1940; that same year, Margaret Hamilton would play a role remarkably similar to the Wicked Witch in the Judy Garland film Babes in Arms.

According to Aljean Harmetz, when the wardrobe department was looking for a coat for Frank Morgan, they decided that they wanted a once elegant coat that had “gone to seed.” They went to a second-hand shop and purchased a whole rack of coats, from which Morgan, the head of the wardrobe department, and director Fleming chose one they thought had the perfect appearance of shabby gentility. One day, while he was on set wearing the coat, Morgan turned out one of the pockets and discovered a label indicating that the coat had once belonged to Oz author L. Frank Baum. Mary Mayer, a unit publicist for the film, contacted the tailor and Baum’s widow, who both verified that the coat had indeed once belonged to the writer. After filming was completed, the coat was presented to Mrs. Baum. Baum biographer Michael Patrick Hearn disbelieves the story, it having been refuted by members of the Baum family, who never saw the coat or knew of the story, as well as by Margaret Hamilton, who considered it a concocted studio rumor.[19]


Filming commenced October 13, 1938 on the MGM Studios lot in Culver City, California, under the direction of Richard Thorpe (replacing original director Norman Taurog, who only filmed a few early Technicolor tests and was then reassigned). Thorpe initially shot about two weeks of footage (nine days, total) involving Dorothy’s first encounter with the Scarecrow, as well as a number of sequences in the Wicked Witch’s castle, such as Dorothy’s rescue (which, though unreleased, comprises the only footage of Buddy Ebsen’s Tin Man).

According to most sources, ten days into the shoot, Ebsen suffered a reaction to the aluminum powder makeup he wore; the powder he breathed in daily as it was applied had coated his lungs. Ebsen was hospitalized in critical condition, and subsequently was forced to leave the project; in a later interview (included on the 2005 DVD release of The Wizard of Oz), Ebsen recalled the studio heads initially disbelieving that he was seriously ill, only realizing the extent of the actor’s condition when they showed up in the hospital as he was convalescing in an iron lung. Ebsen’s sudden medical departure caused the film to shut down while a new actor was found to fill the part. No full footage of Ebsen as the Tin Man has ever been released — only photographs taken during filming and test photos of different makeup styles remain. MGM did not publicize the reasons for Ebsen’s departure until decades later, in a promotional documentary about the film. His replacement, Jack Haley, simply assumed he had been fired.[20] Author and screen-writer George MacDonald Fraser offers an alternative story, told to him by Burt Lancaster‘s producing partner Jim Hill, saying Ebsen had refused to be painted silver and was fired.[21]

Producer Mervyn LeRoy, after reviewing the footage and feeling Thorpe was rushing the production, adversely affecting the actors’ performances, had Thorpe replaced. During reorganization on the production, George Cukor temporarily took over, under LeRoy’s guidance. Initially, the studio had made Garland wear a blond wig and heavy, “baby-doll” makeup, and she played Dorothy in an exaggerated fashion; now, Cukor changed Judy Garland’s and Margaret Hamilton’s makeup and costumes, and told Garland to “be herself.” This meant that all the scenes Garland and Hamilton had already completed had to be discarded and re-filmed. Cukor also suggested that the studio cast Jack Haley, on loan from 20th Century Fox, as the Tin Woodsman. To keep down on production costs, Haley only re-recorded “If I Only Had a Heart” and solo lines during “The Jitterbug” and “If I Only Had the Nerve;” as such, Ebsen’s voice can still be heard in the remaining songs featuring the Tin Man in group vocals. The makeup used for Haley was quietly changed to an aluminum paste, with a layer of clown white greasepaint underneath to protect his skin; although it did not have the same dire effect on Haley, he did at one point suffer an eye infection from it.

In addition, Ray Bolger‘s original recording of “If I Only Had a Brain” had been far more sedate compared to the version heard in the film; during this time, Cukor and LeRoy decided that a more energetic rendition would better suit Dorothy’s initial meeting with the Scarecrow (initially, it was to contrast with his lively manner in Thorpe’s footage), and was re-recorded as such. At first thought to be lost for over seven decades, a recording of this original version was rediscovered in 2009.[22]

Cukor did not actually shoot any scenes for the film, merely acting as something of a “creative advisor” to the troubled production, and, because of his prior commitment to direct Gone with the Wind, he left on November 3, 1938, at which time Victor Fleming assumed the directorial responsibility. As director, Fleming chose not to shift the film from Cukor’s creative realignment, as producer LeRoy had already pronounced his satisfaction with the new course the film was taking.

Production on the bulk of the Technicolor sequences was a long and cumbersome process that ran for over six months, from October 1938 to March 1939. Most of the actors worked six days a week and had to arrive at the studio as early as four or five in the morning, to be fitted with makeup and costumes, and would not leave until seven or eight at night. Cumbersome makeup and costumes were made even more uncomfortable by the daylight-bright lighting the early Technicolor process required, which could heat the set to over 100 °F. According to Ray Bolger, most of the Oz principals were banned from eating in the studio’s commissary due to their costumes. Margaret Hamilton’s witch makeup meant that she could not eat solid food, so she practically lived on a liquid diet during filming of the Oz sequences. Additionally, it took upwards of 12 takes to have Dorothy’s dog Toto run alongside the actors as they skipped down the yellow brick road.

All of the Oz sequences were filmed in three-strip Technicolor.[8][9] The opening and closing credits, as well as the Kansas sequences, were filmed in black and white and colored in a sepia tone process.[8] Sepia-toned film was also used in the scene where Aunt Em appears in the Wicked Witch’s crystal ball.

The massive shoot also proved to be somewhat chaotic. This was most evident when trying to put together the Munchkinland sequences. MGM talent scouts searched the country far and wide to come up with over a hundred little people who would make up the citizens of Munchkinland; this meant that most of the film’s Oz sequences would have to already be shot before work on the Munchkinland sequence could begin. According to Munchkin actor Jerry Maren, each little person was paid over $125 a week for their performances. Munchkin Meinhardt Raabe, who played the coroner, revealed in the 1990 documentary The Making of the Wizard of Oz that the MGM costume and wardrobe department, under the direction of designer Adrian, had to design over one hundred costumes for the Munchkin sequences. They then had to photograph and catalog each Munchkin in his or her costume so that they could correctly apply the same costume and makeup each day of production.

Filming even proved to be dangerous, at times. Margaret Hamilton was severely burned in the Munchkinland scene, and Hamilton provided context that was later included in the DVD commentary. Hamilton was required to ride an elevator that was supposed to take her down while a bit of fire and smoke erupted to dramatize and conceal her exit. The first take ran like clockwork; however, in the DVD commentary, Hamilton states “I had to stand on this dual elevator, that went down slowly or went down fast, and in this case it dropped out from under me, it left my feet and I followed it”. The fire and smoke then erupted. However, for the second take, the timing was off, and Hamilton was exposed to the flames. The grease in her copper-based makeup caught fire and had to be completely and quickly removed before the ensuing second-degree burns on her hands and face could be treated. After spending six weeks in the hospital convalescing, she returned to filming.

On February 12, 1939, Victor Fleming hastily replaced George Cukor in directing Gone with the Wind; the next day, King Vidor was assigned as director by the studio to finish the filming of The Wizard of Oz (mainly the sepia Kansas sequences, including Judy Garland’s singing of “Over the Rainbow” and the tornado). In later years, when the film became firmly established as a classic, Vidor chose not to take public credit for his contribution until after the death of his friend Fleming in 1949.


Principal photography concluded with the Kansas sequences on March 16, 1939; nonetheless re-shoots and pick-up shots were filmed throughout April, May and into June, under the direction of producer LeRoy. After the deletion of the “Over the Rainbow” reprise during subsequent test screenings in early June, Judy Garland had to be brought back one more time in order to reshoot the “Auntie Em, I’m frightened!” scene without the song; the footage of Clara Blandick’s Auntie Em, as shot by Vidor, had already been set aside for rear-projection work, and was simply reused. After Margaret Hamilton’s torturous experience with the Munchkinland elevator, she refused to do the pick-ups for the scene in which she flies on a broomstick that billows smoke, so LeRoy chose to have stand-in Betty Danko perform the scene instead; as a result, Danko was severely injured doing the scene due to a malfunction in the smoke mechanism.[23]

At this point, the film began a long arduous post-production. Herbert Stothart had to compose the film’s background score, while A. Arnold Gillespie had to perfect the various special effects that the film required, including many of the rear projection shots. The MGM art department also had to create the various matte paintings for the background of many of the scenes.

One significant innovation planned for the film was the use of stencil printing for the transition to Technicolor. Each frame was to be hand-tinted to maintain the sepia tone; however, because this was too expensive and labor-intensive, it was abandoned and MGM used a simpler and less expensive variation of the process. During the re-shoots in May, the inside of the farm house was painted sepia, and when Dorothy opens the door, it is not Garland but her stand-in, Bobbie Koshay, wearing a sepia gingham dress, who then backs out of frame; once the camera moves through the door, Garland steps back into frame in her bright blue gingham dress (as noted in DVD extras), and the sepia-painted door briefly tints her with the same color before she emerges from the house’s shadow, into the bright glare of the Technicolor lighting. This also meant that the re-shoots provided the first proper shot of Munchkinland; if one looks carefully, the brief cut to Dorothy looking around outside the house bisects a single long shot, from the inside of the doorway to the pan-around that finally ends in a reverse-angle as the ruins of the house are seen behind Dorothy as she comes to a stop at the foot of the small bridge.

Test screenings of the film began on June 5, 1939.[24] Oz initially was running nearly two hours long. LeRoy and Fleming knew that at least a quarter of an hour needed to be deleted to get the film down to a manageable running time, the average film in 1939 running just about 90 minutes. Three sneak previews in Santa Barbara, Pomona and San Luis Obispo, California helped guide LeRoy and Fleming in the cutting. Among the many cuts was “The Jitterbug” number, the Scarecrow’s elaborate dance sequence following “If I Only Had a Brain,” a reprise of “Over the Rainbow” and “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead,” and a number of smaller dialogue sequences. This left the final, mostly serious portion of the film with no songs, only the dramatic underscoring.

One song that was almost deleted was “Over the Rainbow”. MGM had felt that it made the Kansas sequence too long, as well as being far over the heads of the target audience of children. The studio also thought that it was degrading for Judy Garland to sing in a barnyard. Producer Mervyn LeRoy, uncredited associate producer Arthur Freed, and director Victor Fleming fought to keep it in, and they all eventually won. The song went on to win the Academy Award for Best Song of the Year, and came to be identified so strongly with Garland herself that she made it her theme song. In 2004, the song was ranked #1 by the American Film Institute on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs list.

After the preview in San Luis Obispo in early July, The Wizard of Oz was officially released in August 1939 at its current 101-minute running time.


A memorial commemorating the film’s world premiere at the Strand Theatre in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin on August 12, 1939

The film’s first sneak preview was held in San Bernardino, California.[25] The film was previewed in three test markets: on August 11, 1939, at Kenosha, Wisconsin and Cape Cod, Massachusetts,[26][27] and at the Strand Theatre in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin on August 12.[28]

The Hollywood premiere was on August 15, 1939,[27] at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.[29] The New York City premiere, held at Loew’s Capitol Theatre on August 17, 1939, was followed by a live performance with Judy Garland and her frequent film co-star Mickey Rooney. They would continue to perform there after each screening for a week, extended in Rooney’s case for a second week and in Garland’s to three (with Oz co-stars Ray Bolger and Bert Lahr replacing Rooney for the third and final week). The movie opened nationally on August 25, 1939.

Box office

According to MGM records, during the film’s initial release it earned $2,048,000 in the US and Canada and $969,000 in other countries throughout the world resulting total earnings of $3,017,000. While these were considerable earnings, the high production cost, in association with various distribution and other costs, meant the movie initially recorded a loss of $1,145,000 for the studio.[1] It did not show what MGM considered a profit until a 1949 re-release earned an additional $1.5 million (approximately $15 million today). However, for all the risks and cost that MGM undertook to produce The Wizard of Oz, the picture was considered at least more successful than anyone thought it would be. According to Christopher Finch, author of the Judy Garland biography Rainbow: The Stormy Life Of Judy Garland, “Fantasy is always a risk at the box office. The Wizard of Oz had been enormously successful as a book, and it had also been a major stage hit, but previous attempts to bring it the screen had been dismal failures.” Finch also writes that after the success of The Wizard of Oz, Garland signed a new contract with MGM giving her a substantial increase in salary, making her one of the top ten box office stars in the United States.[30]


The movie received critical acclaim upon release. Frank S. Nugent considered the film a “delightful piece of wonder-working which had the youngsters’ eyes shining and brought a quietly amused gleam to the wiser ones of the oldsters;” “not since Disney’s Snow White has anything quite so fantastic succeeded half so well.”[31] Nugent had issues with some of the film’s special effects, writing that “with the best of will and ingenuity, they cannot make a Munchkin or a Flying Monkey that will not still suggest, however vaguely, a Singer’s Midget in a Jack Dawn masquerade. Nor can they, without a few betraying jolts and split-screen overlappings, bring down from the sky the great soap bubble in which the Good Witch rides and roll it smoothly into place.” According to Nugent, “Judy Garland’s Dorothy is a pert and fresh-faced miss with the wonder-lit eyes of a believer in fairy tales, but the Baum fantasy is at its best when the Scarecrow, the Woodman and the Lion are on the move.”[31]

Roger Ebert chose it as one of his Great Films, writing that “‘The Wizard of Oz’ has a wonderful surface of comedy and music, special effects and excitement, but we still watch it six decades later because its underlying story penetrates straight to the deepest insecurities of childhood, stirs them and then reassures them.”[32]

Writer Salman Rushdie acknowledged “The Wizard of Oz was my very first literary influence” in his 2002 musings about the film.[33] He has written: “When I first saw The Wizard of Oz it made a writer of me.”[34] His first short story, written at the age of ten, was titled “Over the Rainbow.”[34]

In a 2009 retrospective article about The Wizard of Oz, San Francisco Chronicle film critic and author Mick LaSalle declared that the film’s “entire [Munchkinland] sequence, from Dorothy’s arrival in Oz to her departure on the yellow brick road, has to be one of the greatest in cinema history — a masterpiece of set design, costuming, choreography, music, lyrics, storytelling and sheer imagination.”[35]

On the film-critics aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 99% of 105 critics gave the film a positive review, with the critics consensus: “An absolute masterpiece whose groundbreaking visuals and deft storytelling are still every bit as resonant, The Wizard of Oz is a must-see film for young and old.”.[36] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the movie received the maximum score of 100, based on four reviews, indicating “Universal acclaim”.[37]

Differences from the novel

Many details within the plot are omitted or altered, while many of the perils that Dorothy encountered in the novel are not at all mentioned in the feature film. Oz, and Dorothy’s time there, is real in the book, not just a dream. The Good Witch of the North (who has no name in the book), Glinda the Good Witch of the South, and the Queen of the Field Mice are merged into one omniscient character, Glinda the Good Witch of the North. To take advantage of the new vivid Technicolor process, Dorothy’s Silver Shoes were changed to ruby slippers for the movie. Due to time constraints, a number of incidents from the book, including the Dainty China Country and the Hammerheads, were cut. Also in the novel, the four travelers were required to wear green spectacles before entering the Emerald City, whereas in the movie, they were not. The wizard also appears to each member of the group separately in different forms each day and asks them to kill the Wicked Witch of the West in the novel, whereas in the movie he appears to them all on the same day as a large floating head (one of his forms in the book) and asks them to bring them the Witch’s broom.[38] The role of the Witch herself was also enlarged for the movie. (In the book, although she is mentioned several times before, she is only present for one chapter in the exact middle of the book.) This was done both to provide more dramatic tension throughout the film and to unify what was otherwise a very episodic plot. The role and character of Dorothy were also transformed: in the film, she is depicted as a damsel in distress who needs to be rescued, while in the novel, she, a little girl, rescues her friends, in keeping with Baum’s feminist sympathies.

There are at least 44 identifiable major differences between the original book and this movie interpretation.[39][40] Nevertheless, the film was far more faithful to Baum’s original book than many earlier scripts (see below) or film versions. Two silent versions were produced in 1910 and 1925 and the seven-minute animated cartoon in 1933. (The 1925 version, with which Baum, who had died six years earlier, had no association, made Dorothy a Queen of Oz, rather like the later sci-fi TV miniseries Tin Man.) The 1939 movie interprets the Oz experience as a dream, in which many of the characters that Dorothy meets represent the people from her home life (such as Miss Gulch, Professor Marvel, and the farmhands, none of whom appear in the book). In L. Frank Baum‘s original novel, Oz is meant to be a real place, one that Dorothy would return to in his later Oz books and which would later provide a refuge for Aunt Em and Uncle Henry after being unable to pay the mortgage on the new house that was built after the old one really was carried away by the tornado.


Beginning with the 1949 reissue, and continuing until the film’s 50th anniversary VHS release in 1989, the opening Kansas sequences were shown in black and white instead of the sepia tone as originally filmed. (This includes television showings.)[41]

The MGM “Children’s Matinees” series re-released the film twice, in both 1970 and 1971.[42]

In 2002, the film had a very limited re-release in U.S. theaters.[43]

On September 23, 2009, The Wizard of Oz was re-released in select theaters for a one-night-only event in honor of the film’s 70th Anniversary and as a promotion for various new disc releases later in the month. An encore of this event was re-released in theaters on November 17, 2009.[44]

An IMAX 3D theatrical re-release played at three-hundred theaters in North America for one week only beginning September 20, 2013 as part of the film’s 75th Anniversary.[45] Warner Bros. spent $25 million on advertising. The studio hosted a premiere of the film’s first IMAX 3D release on September 15, 2013 from the newly remodeled TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the site of the Hollywood premiere of the original film) in Hollywood. The film was the first to play at the new theater and served as the grand opening of Hollywood’s first 3D IMAX screen. The film was also shown as a special presentation at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.[46]


The film was first shown on television on November 3, 1956, by CBS, as the last installment of the Ford Star Jubilee.[47]

Home media

The Wizard of Oz was among the first videocassettes (on both VHS and Betamax format for the 1980 release) by MGM/CBS Home Video in 1980;[48] all current home video releases are by Warner Home Video (via current rights holder Turner Entertainment). The first laserdisc release of The Wizard of Oz was in 1982, with two versions of a second (one from Turner and one from The Criterion Collection with a commentary track) for the 50th Anniversary release in 1989, a third in 1991, a fourth in 1993, a fifth in 1995 and a sixth and final laserdisc release on September 11, 1996.[49]

Prior to the wide-home-video release in 1980, The Wizard of Oz was also released multiple times for the home-video commercial market (on a limited scale) on the Super8 (8mm format) during the 1970s. These releases include an edited English version (roughly 10 minutes, and roughly 20 minutes), as well as edited Spanish versions of the classic. There is also a full commercial release of The Wizard of Oz released on Super8 (on multiple reels) that came out in the 1970s as well for the commercial market.[50]

In addition to VHS (and later, laserdisc), the classic has been released multiple times during the 1980s on the Betamax format, beginning in 1980 simultaneously with the VHS release.[51]

The movie was released for the first and only time on the CED format in 1982 by MGM/UA Home Video.[52]

Outside of the North American and European markets, The Wizard of Oz has also been released multiple times on the VCD format since the 1990s in Asia.[53]

The first DVD release of the film was on March 26, 1997, by MGM/Turner and contained no special features or supplements. It was re-released by Warner Bros. for its 60th Anniversary on October 19, 1999, with its soundtrack presented in a new 5.1 surround sound mix. The monochrome-to-color transition was more smoothly accomplished by digitally keeping the inside of the house in monochrome while Dorothy and the reveal of Munchkinland are in color. The DVD also contained a behind-the-scenes documentary, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: The Making of a Movie Classic, produced in 1990 and hosted by Angela Lansbury, which was originally shown on television immediately after the 1990 telecast of The Wizard of Oz; it had been featured in the 1993 “Ultimate Oz” laserdisc release. Outtakes, the deleted “Jitterbug” musical number, clips of pre-1939 Oz adaptations, trailers, newsreels, and a portrait gallery were also included, as well as two radio programs of the era publicizing the film.

In 2005, two DVD editions were released, both featuring a newly restored version of the film with audio commentary and an isolated music and effects track. One of the two DVD releases was a “Two-Disc Special Edition,” featuring production documentaries, trailers, various outtakes, newsreels, radio shows and still galleries. The other set, a “Three-Disc Collector’s Edition,” included these features as well as the digitally restored 80th anniversary edition of the 1925 feature-length silent film version of The Wizard of Oz, other silent Oz movies, and a 1933 animated short version.

The Wizard of Oz was released on Blu-ray Disc on September 29, 2009, for the film’s 70th anniversary in a four-disc “Ultimate Collector’s Edition,” including all the bonus features from the 2005 Collector’s Edition DVD, new bonus features about Victor Fleming and the surviving Munchkins, the telefilm The Dreamer of Oz: The L. Frank Baum Story, and the miniseries MGM: When the Lion Roars. For this edition, Warner commissioned a new transfer at 8K resolution from the original film negatives. This restored version also features a lossless 5.1 Dolby TrueHD audio track.[54] A DVD version was also released as a Two-Disc Special Edition and a Five-Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition.

On December 1, 2009, three discs of the Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-ray Disc were repackaged as a less expensive “Emerald Edition”, with an Emerald Edition four-disc DVD arriving the following week. A single-disc Blu-ray, containing the restored movie and all the extra features of the two-disc Special Edition DVD, also became available on March 16, 2010.

In 2013, the film was re-released on DVD, Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, and UltraViolet for the 90th anniversary of Warner Bros. and as part of the film’s 75th Anniversary.[45][55]

There were also multiple special editions released in celebration of the 75th Anniversary in 2013, exclusively by both Best Buy (a SteelBook of the 3D Blu-ray) and another version that came with a keepsake lunch bag released by Target stores.[56][57]


Music for The Wizard of Oz being recorded in 1939

The Wizard of Oz is widely noted for its musical selections and soundtrack. The music was composed by Harold Arlen, and the lyrics were written by Yip Harburg, both of whom won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Over the Rainbow.” In addition, Herbert Stothart, who composed the instrumental underscore, won the Academy Award for Best Original Music Score. Georgie Stoll was associate conductor and screen credit was given to George Bassman, Murray Cutter, Ken Darby and Paul Marquardt for orchestral and vocal arrangements. (As usual, Roger Edens was also heavily involved as an unbilled musical associate to Freed.)

The song “The Jitterbug”, written in a swing style, was intended for the sequence in which the four are journeying to the castle of the Wicked Witch. Due to time constraints, the song was cut from the final theatrical version. The film footage for the song has been lost, although silent home film footage of rehearsals for the number has survived. The sound recording for the song, however, is intact and was included in the 2-CD Rhino Records deluxe edition of the film soundtrack, as well as on the VHS and DVD editions of the film. A reference to “The Jitterbug” remains in the film: the Witch remarks to her flying monkeys that they should have no trouble apprehending Dorothy and her friends because “I’ve sent a little insect on ahead to take the fight out of them.”

Another musical number that was cut before release occurred right after the Wicked Witch of the West was melted and before Dorothy and her friends returned to the Wizard. This was a reprise of “Ding! Dong! The Witch is Dead” (blended with “We’re Off to See the Wizard” and “The Merry Old Land of Oz”) with the lyrics altered to “Hail! Hail! The Witch is Dead!” This started with the Witch’s guard saying “Hail to Dorothy! The Wicked Witch is dead!” and dissolved to a huge celebration of the citizens of Emerald City singing the song as they accompany Dorothy and her friends to see the Wizard. Today, the film of this scene is also lost and only a few stills survive along with a few seconds of footage used on several reissue trailers. The entire audio still exists and is included on the 2-CD Rhino Record deluxe edition of the film soundtrack.[58]

In addition, a brief reprise of “Over the Rainbow” was intended to be sung by Garland while Dorothy is trapped in the Witch’s castle, but it was cut because it was considered too emotionally intense. The original soundtrack recording still exists, however, and was included as an extra in all VHS and DVD releases from 1993-onwards.[59]

The songs were recorded in the studio’s scoring stage before filming. Several of the recordings were completed while Buddy Ebsen was still with the cast. Therefore, while Ebsen had to be dropped from the cast due to illness from the aluminum powder makeup, his singing voice remained in the soundtrack (as noted in the notes for the CD Deluxe Edition). In the group vocals of “We’re Off to See the Wizard,” his voice can be heard. Jack Haley spoke with a distinct Boston accent and thus did not pronounce the r in wizard. By contrast, Ebsen was a Midwesterner, like Judy Garland, and thus pronounced it. Haley rerecorded Ebsen’s solo parts later.

Song list

  • Over the Rainbow” – Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale
  • Munchkinland Sequence:
    • “Come Out,…” – Billie Burke as Glinda, and the Munchkins
    • “It Really Was No Miracle” – Judy Garland as Dorothy, Billy Bletcher, and the Munchkins
    • “We Thank You Very Sweetly” – Frank Cucksey and Joseph Koziel
    • Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead” – Billie Burke as Glinda (speaking) and the Munchkins
    • “As Mayor of the Munchkin City”
    • “As Coroner, I Must Aver”
    • Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead” (Reprise) – The Munchkins
    • “The Lullaby League”
    • “The Lollipop Guild”
    • “We Welcome You to Munchkinland” – The Munchkins
  • “Follow the Yellow Brick Road/You’re Off to See the Wizard” – Judy Garland as Dorothy, and the Munchkins
  • If I Only Had a Brain” – Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow, and Judy Garland as Dorothy
  • We’re Off to See the Wizard” – Judy Garland as Dorothy, and Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow
  • If I Only Had a Heart” – Jack Haley as the Tin Man
  • We’re Off to See the Wizard” (Reprise 1) – Judy Garland as Dorothy, Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow, and Jack Haley as the Tin Man
  • If I Only Had the Nerve” – Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion, Jack Haley as the Tin Man, Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow, and Judy Garland as Dorothy
  • We’re Off to See the Wizard” (Reprise 2) – Judy Garland as Dorothy, Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow, Jack Haley as the Tin Man, and Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion
  • Optimistic Voices” – MGM Studio Chorus
  • The Merry Old Land of Oz” – Frank Morgan as Cabby, Judy Garland as Dorothy, Ray Bolger as Scarecrow, Jack Haley as the Tin Man, Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion, and the Emerald City townspeople
  • If I Were King of the Forest” – Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion, Judy Garland as Dorothy, Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow, and Jack Haley as the Tin Man
  • The Jitterbug” – Although this song was removed from the final film, it is still available on some extended edition CDs.[60]

An arranged version of “Night on Bald Mountain” is played during the scene where the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman, and the Cowardly Lion rescue Dorothy from the Wicked Witch of the West’s castle.

Excerpts from Schumann’s “The Happy Farmer” are heard at several points in the film; the first being when Toto runs away from Miss Gulch.

Awards and honors

Academy Awards

American Film Institute lists

The American Film Institute (AFI) has compiled various lists which include this film or elements thereof.

Other honors

Sequels and reinterpretations

The Wizard of Oz was dramatized as a one-hour radio play on Lux Radio Theater, which was broadcast on December 25, 1950, with Judy Garland reprising her earlier role. An official sequel, the animated Journey Back to Oz, starring Liza Minnelli, daughter of Judy Garland, as Dorothy, was produced, beginning in 1964, to commemorate the original film’s 25th anniversary.[71]

In 1964, a one-hour animated cartoon, also called Return to Oz, was shown as an afternoon weekend special on NBC.

In 1975, the stage show The Wiz premiered on Broadway. It was an African American version of The Wizard of Oz reworked for the Broadway stage. It starred Stephanie Mills and other Broadway stars and earned Tony awards. The play’s financing was handled by actor Geoffrey Holder. The play inspired revivals after it left the stage and an unsuccessful motion picture made in 1978, starring Diana Ross as Dorothy and Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow.

Walt Disney Pictures made a film called Return to Oz, which starred (and introduced) Fairuza Balk as Dorothy Gale, in 1985.[72] Based mostly on the books Ozma of Oz and The Marvelous Land of Oz, it fared poorly with critics and in the box office, although it has since become a cult film, with many considering it a more faithful adaptation of the Oz series.[73][74]

In 1995, Gregory Maguire published the novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, which was adapted into the Broadway musical Wicked. The story describes the life of the Wicked Witch and other events prior to Dorothy’s arrival.

For the film’s 56th anniversary, a stage show also titled The Wizard of Oz was based upon the 1939 film and the book by L. Frank Baum. It toured from 1995 to 2012, except for 2004 (see The Wizard of Oz (1987 stage play)).

In 2005, The Jim Henson Company produced The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz for television, starring Ashanti as Dorothy, Jeffrey Tambor as the Wizard, David Alan Grier as Uncle Henry, and Queen Latifah as Aunt Em. Kermit the Frog portrayed the Scarecrow, Gonzo portrayed the Tin Thing (Tin Man), Fozzie Bear portrayed the Lion, and Miss Piggy portrayed all the Witches of the West, East, North, and South.

In 2007, Syfy released the miniseries Tin Man, a science fiction continuation starring Zooey Deschanel as DG.

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice wrote a musical based on the film, which is also titled The Wizard of Oz. The musical opened in 2011 at the West End‍ ’​s London Palladium. It features all of the songs from the film plus new songs written by Lloyd Webber and Rice. Lloyd Webber also found Danielle Hope to play Dorothy on the reality show, Over the Rainbow. Another production of the musical opened in December 2012 at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto.[75] A reality TV show, also titled Over the Rainbow, found a Canadian girl, Danielle Wade, to play the role of Dorothy.[76][77] The Canadian production then began a North American tour in September 2013.[78]

An animated film called Tom and Jerry and the Wizard of Oz was released in 2011 by Warner Home Video, incorporating Tom and Jerry into the story as Dorothy’s “protectors”.

Writer-director Hugh Gross’s independent film After the Wizard, produced in 2010, relates events after those of the film. It was released to DVD on August 7, 2012.

Another Oz film, Oz the Great and Powerful, was released on March 8, 2013. It was directed by Sam Raimi, stars James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, and Michelle Williams, and produced and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the second film based on Baum’s Oz series to be produced by Disney, and unlike Return to Oz, it was a largely commercial success and more warmly receptive among people, grossing over $493 million worldwide, though it received a mixed critical reception.

A musical animated film, Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return was released on May 9, 2014.[79]

Cultural impact

Regarding the original Baum storybook, it has been said that “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is America’s greatest and best-loved home grown fairytale. The first totally American fantasy for children, it is one of the most-read children’s books … and despite its many particularly American attributes, including a wizard from Omaha, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has universal appeal.”[80]

The film also has been deemed “culturally significant” by the United States Library of Congress, which selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry in 1989. In June 2007, the film was listed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register.[81] The film placed at number 86 on Bravo‘s 100 Scariest Movie Moments.[82] In 1977, Aljean Harmetz wrote The Making of The Wizard of Oz, a detailed description of the creation of the film based on interviews and research; it was updated in 1989.[83]

Quotes from the film such as, “I’m melting! I’m melting!”, “We’re not in Kansas anymore”, “I’ll get you, my pretty. And your little dog too” and “There’s no place like home” can be heard in numerous films such as Field of Dreams, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Spaceballs, The Matrix, Terminator Salvation, Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Titanic, Avatar, and Twister, as well as in numerous television shows, and have become common phrases.

In 2010, Fremantle Media produced a Wizard of Oz-themed Halloween episode of The Price Is Right. The show aired on October 29 (a Friday) since Halloween fell on a Sunday that year.[84]

When Ray Bolger, the last survivor of the major players, died in 1987, Chicago Tribune artist Dick Locher portrayed the Scarecrow running over the rainbow to catch up with the other characters.[85][86]

The band Twisted Sister featured a robotic voice singing “The Lollipop Guild” as a hidden track on the bonus disc on the 25th anniversary reissue of their 1984 album, Stay Hungry.[87]

The second stanza of the 2013 single by Bridgit Mendler titled Hurricane contains the lines, “That’s what Dorothy was afraid of. The sneaky tornado” and “There’s no place like home” in reference to The Wizard of Oz.[88]

Ruby slippers

Because of their iconic stature,[89] the ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz are now among the most treasured and valuable film memorabilia in movie history.[90] The silver slippers that Dorothy wore in the book series were changed to ruby to take advantage of the new Technicolor process. Gilbert Adrian, MGM’s chief costume designer, was responsible for the final design. A number of pairs were made, though no one knows exactly how many.

After filming, the shoes were stored among the studio’s extensive collection of costumes and faded from attention. They were found in the basement of MGM’s wardrobe department during preparations for a mammoth auction in 1970. One pair was the highlight of the auction, going for a then unheard of $15,000 to an anonymous buyer, who apparently donated them to the Smithsonian in 1979. Four other pairs are known to exist; one sold for $666,000 at auction in 2000. A pair was stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota and remains missing.[91]

Another, differently styled pair not used in the film was sold at auction with the rest of her collections by owner actress Debbie Reynolds for $510,000 (not including the buyer’s premium) in June 2011.[92]

Urban legend

An urban legend claimed that, in the film, a Munchkin could be seen committing suicide by hanging by the neck from behind a prop tree and swinging back and forth in the left background, while Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man are singing “We’re Off to See the Wizard” and skipping down the yellow brick road into the distance. The object in question is actually a bird borrowed from the Los Angeles Zoo, most likely a crane or an emu, one of several placed on the indoor set to give it a more realistic feel.[93][94][95][96][97][98]

Impact upon LGBT culture

The Wizard of Oz has been identified as being of importance to the LGBT community, in part due to Judy Garland’s starring role.[99]

Attempts have been made to determine the film’s impact on LGBT-identified persons: Editors Corey K. Creekmur and Alexander Doty, in their introduction to Out in Culture: Gay, Lesbian and Queer Essays on Popular Culture (1995, Duke University Press), write that the film’s gay resonance and interpretations depends entirely upon camp.[100] Some have attempted a more serious interpretation of the film: for example, Cassell’s Encyclopedia of Queer Myth, Symbol and Spirit: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Lore quotes therapist Robert Hopcke as saying that the dreary reality of Kansas implies the presence of homophobia and is contrasted with the colorful and accepting land of Oz;”[99] they state that when shown in gay venues, the film is “transformed into a rite celebrating acceptance and community.”[99] Queer theorists have drawn parallels between LGBT people and characters in the film, specifically pointing to the characters’ double lives and Dorothy’s longing “for a world in which her inner desires can be expressed freely and fully.”[99]

Gone With the Wind

Sunday, April 5th, 2015


Gone with the Wind is a 1939 American epic historical romance film adapted from Margaret Mitchell‘s Pulitzer-winning 1936 novel. It was produced by David O. Selznick of Selznick International Pictures and directed by Victor Fleming. Set in the 19th-century American South, the film tells the story of Scarlett O’Hara, the strong-willed daughter of a Georgia plantation owner, from her romantic pursuit of Ashley Wilkes, who is married to his cousin, Melanie Hamilton, to her marriage to Rhett Butler. Set against the backdrop of the American Civil War and Reconstruction era, the story is told from the perspective of white Southerners. The leading roles are portrayed by Vivien Leigh (Scarlett), Clark Gable (Rhett), Leslie Howard (Ashley), and Olivia de Havilland (Melanie).

The production of the film was troubled from the start. Filming was delayed for two years due to Selznick’s determination to secure Gable for the role of Rhett Butler, and the “search for Scarlett” led to 1,400 women being interviewed for the part. The original screenplay was written by Sidney Howard, but underwent many revisions by several writers in an attempt to get it down to a suitable length. The original director, George Cukor, was fired shortly after filming had begun and was replaced by Victor Fleming, who in turn was briefly replaced by Sam Wood while Fleming took some time off due to exhaustion.

The film received positive reviews upon its release in December 1939, although some reviewers found it dramatically lacking and bloated. The casting was widely praised and many reviewers found Vivien Leigh especially suited to her role as Scarlett. At the 12th Academy Awards held in 1940, it received ten Academy Awards (eight competitive, two honorary) from thirteen nominations, including wins for Best Picture, Best Director (Victor Fleming), Best Adapted Screenplay (posthumously awarded to Sidney Howard), Best Actress (Vivien Leigh) and Best Supporting Actress (Hattie McDaniel, becoming the first African-American to win an Academy Award). It set records for the total number of wins and nominations at the time. The film was immensely popular, becoming the highest-earning film made up to that point, and retained the record for over a quarter of a century. When adjusted for monetary inflation, it is still the most successful film in box-office history.

The film has been criticized as historical revisionism glorifying slavery, but nevertheless it has been credited for triggering changes to the way African-Americans are depicted on film. It was re-released periodically throughout the 20th century and became ingrained in popular culture. The film is regarded as one of the greatest films of all time; it has placed in the top ten of the American Film Institute‘s list of top 100 American films since the list’s inception in 1998, and in 1989, Gone with the Wind was selected to be preserved by the National Film Registry.


Part 1

On the eve of the American Civil War in 1861, Scarlett O’Hara lives at Tara, her family’s cotton plantation in Georgia, with her parents and two sisters. Scarlett learns that Ashley Wilkes—whom she secretly loves—is to be married to his cousin, Melanie Hamilton, and the engagement is to be announced the next day at a barbecue at Ashley’s home, the nearby plantation Twelve Oaks.

At the Twelve Oaks party, Scarlett notices that she is being admired by Rhett Butler, who has been disowned by his family. Rhett finds himself in further disfavor among the male guests when, during a discussion of the probability of war, he states that the South has no chance against the superior numbers and industrial might of the North. Scarlett secretly confesses to Ashley that she loves him, but he rebuffs her by responding that he and the sweet Melanie are more compatible. Rhett overhears their conversation, but promises Scarlett he will keep her secret. The barbecue is disrupted by the declaration of war and the men rush to enlist. As Scarlett watches Ashley kiss Melanie goodbye, Melanie’s younger brother Charles proposes to her. Although she does not love him Scarlett consents and they are married before he leaves to fight.

Scarlett is quickly widowed when Charles dies from a bout of pneumonia and measles while serving in the Confederate Army. Scarlett’s mother sends her to the Hamilton home in Atlanta to cheer her up, although the O’Haras’ outspoken housemaid Mammy tells Scarlett she knows she is going there only to wait for Ashley’s return. Scarlett, who should not attend a party while in deep mourning, attends a charity bazaar in Atlanta with Melanie. There, Scarlett is the object of shocked comments on the part of the elderly women who represent proper Atlanta society. Rhett, now a blockade runner for the Confederacy, makes a surprise appearance. To raise money for the Confederate war effort, gentlemen are invited to offer bids for ladies to dance with them. Rhett makes an inordinately large bid for Scarlett and, to the disapproval of the guests, Scarlett agrees to dance with him. As they dance, Rhett tells her he intends to win her, which she says will never happen.

The tide of war turns against the Confederacy after the Battle of Gettysburg in which many of the men of Scarlett’s town are killed. Scarlett makes another unsuccessful appeal to Ashley while he is visiting on Christmas furlough, although they do share a private and passionate kiss in the parlor on Christmas Day, just before he returns to war.

Eight months later, as the city is besieged by the Union Army in the Atlanta Campaign, Melanie goes into premature and difficult labor. Keeping her promise to Ashley to take care of Melanie, Scarlett and her young house servant Prissy must deliver the child without medical assistance. Scarlett calls upon Rhett to bring her home to Tara immediately with Melanie, Prissy, and the baby. He appears with a horse and wagon and takes them out of the city through the burning depot and warehouse district. Instead of accompanying her all the way to Tara, he sends her on her way with a nearly dead horse, helplessly frail Melanie, her baby, and tearful Prissy, and with a passionate kiss as he goes off to fight. On her journey home, Scarlett finds Twelve Oaks burned, ruined and deserted. She is relieved to find Tara still standing but deserted by all except her parents, her sisters, and two servants: Mammy and Pork. Scarlett learns that her mother has just died of typhoid fever and her father’s mind has begun to fail under the strain. With Tara pillaged by Union troops and the fields untended, Scarlett vows she will do anything for the survival of her family and herself.

Part 2

Scarlett sets her family and servants to work in the cotton fields, facing many hardships along the way, including the death of her father after he is thrown from his horse in an attempt to chase away a scalawag from his land. With the defeat of the Confederacy Ashley has also returned, but finds he is of little help at Tara. When Scarlett begs him to run away with her, he confesses his desire for her and kisses her passionately, but says he cannot leave Melanie. Unable to pay the taxes on Tara implemented by Reconstructionists, Scarlett dupes her sister’s fiancé, the middle-aged and wealthy Frank Kennedy, into marrying her, by saying Suellen got tired of waiting and married another beau.

Frank, Ashley, Rhett and several other accomplices make a night raid on a shanty town after Scarlett narrowly escapes an attempted gang rape while driving through it alone, resulting in Frank’s death. With Frank’s funeral barely over, Rhett visits Scarlett and proposes marriage, and she accepts. They have a daughter whom Rhett names Bonnie Blue, but Scarlett, still pining for Ashley and chagrined at the perceived ruin of her figure, lets Rhett know that she wants no more children and that they will no longer share a bed.

One day, Scarlett calls upon Ashley, who has taken over managing Frank’s lumber mill, and they are spied in an embrace by Ashley’s sister, India. Harboring an intense dislike of Scarlett she eagerly spreads rumors, and Scarlett’s reputation is again sullied. Later that evening, Rhett, having heard the rumors, forces Scarlett to attend a birthday party for Ashley; incapable of believing anything bad of her beloved sister-in-law, Melanie stands by Scarlett’s side so that all know that she believes the gossip to be false. After returning home from the party, Scarlett finds Rhett downstairs drunk, and they argue about Ashley. Seething with jealousy, Rhett grabs Scarlett’s head and threatens to smash in her skull. When she taunts him that he has no honor Rhett retaliates by forcing himself onto her, kissing Scarlett against her will, and states his intent to have sex with her that night. Frightened, she attempts to physically resist him, but Rhett overpowers her and carries the struggling Scarlett to the bedroom. The next day, Rhett apologizes for his behavior and offers Scarlett a divorce, which she rejects, saying that it would be a disgrace.

When Rhett returns from an extended trip to London, Scarlett’s attempts at reconciliation are rebuffed. She informs him that she is pregnant, but an argument ensues which results in Scarlett falling down a flight of stairs and suffering a miscarriage. As Scarlett is recovering, tragedy strikes when Bonnie dies while attempting to jump a fence with her pony. Melanie visits their home to comfort them, but collapses due to complications arising from her pregnancy.

After visiting Melanie on her deathbed, Scarlett consoles Ashley, resulting in Rhett returning home. Realizing that Ashley only ever truly loved Melanie, Scarlett dashes after Rhett to find him preparing to leave for good. She pleads with him, telling him she realizes now that she has loved him all along, and that she never really loved Ashley. However, he rebuffs her, saying that with Bonnie’s death went any chance of reconciliation. Scarlett begs him to stay but to no avail, and Rhett walks out the door and into the early morning fog, leaving her weeping on the staircase and vowing to one day win back his love.


Despite receiving top-billing in the opening credits, Gable—along with Leigh, Howard, and de Havilland who receive second, third and fourth billing respectively—have a relatively low placing in the cast list, due to its unusual structure. Rather than ordered by conventional billing, the cast is broken down into three sections: the Tara plantation, Twelve Oaks, and Atlanta. The cast’s names are ordered according to the social rank of the characters; therefore Thomas Mitchell, who plays Gerald O’Hara, leads the cast list as the head of the O’Hara family, while Barbara O’Neil as his wife receives the second credit and Vivien Leigh as the eldest daughter the third credit, despite having the most screen time. Similarly, Howard C. Hickman as John Wilkes is credited over Leslie Howard who plays his son, and Clark Gable, who plays only a visitor at Twelve Oaks, receives a relatively low credit in the cast list, despite being presented as the “star” of the film in all the promotional literature.[1] Following the death of Mary Anderson—who played Maybelle Merriwether—in April 2014, there are just two surviving credited cast members from the film: Olivia de Havilland who played Melanie Wilkes and Mickey Kuhn, who played her son Beau Wilkes.[2]

Clark Gable
Vivien Leigh
Leslie Howard
Olivia de Havilland
Tara plantation
At Twelve Oaks
In Atlanta
Minor supporting roles


Before publication of the novel, several Hollywood executives and studios declined to create a film based on it, including Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Pandro Berman at RKO Pictures, and David O. Selznick of Selznick International Pictures. Jack Warner liked the story, but Warner Bros.‘s biggest star Bette Davis was uninterested, and Darryl Zanuck of 20th Century-Fox did not offer enough money. Selznick changed his mind after his story editor Kay Brown and business partner John Hay Whitney urged him to buy the film rights. In July 1936—a month after it was published—Selznick bought the rights for $50,000.[3][4][5]


Publicity photo of Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh as Rhett and Scarlett

The casting of the two lead roles became a complex, two-year endeavor. For the role of Rhett Butler, Selznick wanted Clark Gable from the start, but Gable was under contract to MGM, who never loaned him to other studios.[3] Gary Cooper was considered, but Samuel Goldwyn—to whom Cooper was under contract—refused to loan him out.[6] Warner offered a package of Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, and Olivia de Havilland for lead roles in return for the distribution rights.[7] By this time, Selznick was determined to get Gable and eventually struck a deal with MGM. Selznick’s father-in-law, MGM chief Louis B. Mayer, offered in August 1938 to provide Gable and $1,250,000 for half of the film’s budget but for a high price: Selznick would have to pay Gable’s weekly salary, and half the profits would go to MGM while Loew’s, Inc—MGM’s parent company—would release the film.[3][6]

The arrangement to release through MGM meant delaying the start of production until the end of 1938, when Selznick’s distribution deal with United Artists concluded.[6] Selznick used the delay to continue to revise the script and, more importantly, build publicity for the film by searching for the role of Scarlett. Selznick began a nationwide casting call that interviewed 1,400 unknowns. The effort cost $100,000 and was useless for the film, but created “priceless” publicity.[3] Early frontrunners included Miriam Hopkins and Tallulah Bankhead, who were regarded as possibilities by Selznick prior to the purchase of the film rights; Joan Crawford, who was signed to MGM, was also considered as a potential pairing with Gable. After a deal was struck with MGM, Selznick held discussions with Norma Shearer—who was MGM’s top female star at the time—but she withdrew herself from consideration. Katharine Hepburn lobbied hard for the role with the support of her friend, George Cukor, who had been hired to direct, but she was vetoed by Selznick who felt she was not right for the part.[6][7][8]

Many famous—or soon-to-be-famous—actresses were considered, but only thirty-one women were actually screen-tested for Scarlett including Ardis Ankerson, Jean Arthur, Tallulah Bankhead, Diana Barrymore, Joan Bennett, Nancy Coleman, Frances Dee, Ellen Drew (as Terry Ray), Paulette Goddard, Susan Hayward (under her real name of Edythe Marrenner), Vivien Leigh, Anita Louise, Haila Stoddard, Margaret Tallichet, Lana Turner and Linda Watkins.[9] Although Margaret Mitchell refused to publicly name her choice, the actress who came closest to winning her approval was Miriam Hopkins, who Mitchell felt was just the right type of actress to play Scarlett as written in the book. However, Hopkins was in her mid-thirties at the time and was considered too old for the part.[6][7][8] Four actresses, including Jean Arthur and Joan Bennett, were still under consideration by December 1938; however, only two finalists, Paulette Goddard and Vivien Leigh, were tested in Technicolor, both on December 20.[10] Goddard almost won the role, but controversy over her marriage with Charlie Chaplin caused Selznick to change his mind.[3]

Selznick had been quietly considering Vivien Leigh, a young English actress who was still little known in America, for the role of Scarlett since February 1938 when Selznick saw her in Fire Over England and A Yank at Oxford. Leigh’s American agent was the London representative of the Myron Selznick talent agency (headed by David Selznick’s brother, one of the owners of Selznick International), and she had requested in February that her name be submitted for consideration as Scarlett. By the summer of 1938 the Selznicks were negotiating with Alexander Korda, to whom Leigh was under contract, for her services later that year.[11] Selznick’s brother arranged for them to meet for the first time on the night of December 10, 1938, when the burning of Atlanta was filmed. In a letter to his wife two days later, Selznick admitted that Leigh was “the Scarlett dark horse”, and after a series of screen tests, her casting was announced on January 13, 1939.[12] Just before the shooting of the film, Selznick informed newspaper columnist Ed Sullivan: “Scarlett O’Hara’s parents were French and Irish. Identically, Miss Leigh’s parents are French and Irish.”[13]


Of original screenplay writer Sidney Howard, film historian Joanne Yeck writes, “reducing the intricacies of Gone with the Wind’s epic dimensions was a herculean task … and Howard’s first submission was far too long, and would have required at least six hours of film; … [producer] Selznick wanted Howard to remain on the set to make revisions … but Howard refused to leave New England [and] as a result, revisions were handled by a host of local writers”.[14] Selznick dismissed director George Cukor three weeks into filming and sought out Victor Fleming, who was directing The Wizard of Oz at the time. Fleming was dissatisfied with the script, so Selznick brought in famed writer Ben Hecht to rewrite the entire screenplay within five days. Hecht returned to Howard’s original draft and by the end of the week had succeeded in revising the entire first half of the script. Selznick undertook rewriting the second half himself but fell behind schedule, so Howard returned to work on the script for one week, reworking several key scenes in part two.[15]

David O. Selznick in 1940

“By the time of the film’s release in 1939, there was some question as to who should receive screen credit,” writes Yeck. “But despite the number of writers and changes, the final script was remarkably close to Howard’s version. The fact that Howard’s name alone appears on the credits may have been as much a gesture to his memory as to his writing, for in 1939 Sidney Howard died at age 48 in a farm-tractor accident, and before the movie’s premiere.”[14] Selznick, in a memo written in October 1939, discussed the film’s writing credits: “[Y]ou can say frankly that of the comparatively small amount of material in the picture which is not from the book, most is my own personally, and the only original lines of dialog which are not my own are a few from Sidney Howard and a few from Ben Hecht and a couple more from John Van Druten. Offhand I doubt that there are ten original words of [Oliver] Garrett’s in the whole script. As to construction, this is about eighty per cent my own, and the rest divided between Jo Swerling and Sidney Howard, with Hecht having contributed materially to the construction of one sequence.”[16]

According to Hecht biographer, William MacAdams, “At dawn on Sunday, February 20, 1939, David Selznick … and director Victor Fleming shook Hecht awake to inform him he was on loan from MGM and must come with them immediately and go to work on Gone with the Wind, which Selznick had begun shooting five weeks before. It was costing Selznick $50,000 each day the film was on hold waiting for a final screenplay rewrite and time was of the essence. Hecht was in the middle of working on the film At the Circus for the Marx Brothers. Recalling the episode in a letter to screenwriter friend Gene Fowler, he said he hadn’t read the novel but Selznick and director Fleming could not wait for him to read it. They would act out scenes based on Sidney Howard’s original script which needed to be rewritten in a hurry. Hecht wrote, “After each scene had been performed and discussed, I sat down at the typewriter and wrote it out. Selznick and Fleming, eager to continue with their acting, kept hurrying me. We worked in this fashion for seven days, putting in eighteen to twenty hours a day. Selznick refused to let us eat lunch, arguing that food would slow us up. He provided bananas and salted peanuts … thus on the seventh day I had completed, unscathed, the first nine reels of the Civil War epic.”

MacAdams writes, “It is impossible to determine exactly how much Hecht scripted … In the official credits filed with the Screen Writers Guild, Sidney Howard was of course awarded the sole screen credit, but four other writers were appended … Jo Swerling for contributing to the treatment, Oliver H. P. Garrett and Barbara Keon to screenplay construction, and Hecht, to dialogue …”[17]


Principal photography began January 26, 1939, and ended on July 1, with post-production work continuing until November 11, 1939. Director George Cukor, with whom Selznick had a long working relationship, and who had spent almost two years in pre-production on Gone with the Wind, was replaced after less than three weeks of shooting.[7][nb 2] Selznick and Cukor had already disagreed over the pace of filming and the script,[7][18] but other explanations put Cukor’s departure down to Gable’s discomfort at working with him. Emanuel Levy, Cukor’s biographer, claimed that Clark Gable had worked Hollywood’s gay circuit as a hustler and that Cukor knew of his past, so Gable used his influence to have him discharged.[20] Vivien Leigh and Olivia de Havilland learned of Cukor’s firing on the day the Atlanta bazaar scene was filmed, and the pair went to Selznick’s office in full costume and implored him to change his mind. Victor Fleming, who was directing The Wizard of Oz, was called in from MGM to complete the picture, although Cukor continued privately to coach Leigh and De Havilland.[15] Another MGM director, Sam Wood, worked for two weeks in May when Fleming temporarily left the production due to exhaustion. Although some of Cukor’s scenes were later reshot, Selznick estimated that “three solid reels” of his work remained in the picture. As of the end of principal photography, Cukor had undertaken eighteen days of filming, Fleming ninety-three, and Wood twenty-four.[7]

The “burning” of Atlanta from the film trailer

Cinematographer Lee Garmes began the production, but on March 11, 1939—after a month of shooting footage that Selznick and his associates regarded as “too dark”—was replaced with Ernest Haller, working with Technicolor cinematographer Ray Rennahan. Garmes completed the first third of the film—mostly everything prior to Melanie having the baby—but did not receive a credit.[21] Most of the filming was done on “the back forty” of Selznick International with all the location scenes being photographed in California, mostly in Los Angeles County or neighboring Ventura County.[22] Tara, the fictional Southern plantation house, existed only as a plywood and papier-mâché facade built on the “back forty” California studio lot.[23] For the burning of Atlanta, other false facades were built in front of the “back forty”‘s many abandoned sets, and Selznick himself operated the controls for the explosives that burned them down.[3] Sources at the time put the estimated production costs at $3.85 million, making it the second most expensive film made up to that point, with only Ben-Hur (1925) having cost more.[24][nb 3]

Although legend persists that the Hays Office fined Selznick $5,000 for using the word “damn” in Butler’s exit line, in fact the Motion Picture Association board passed an amendment to the Production Code on November 1, 1939, that forbade use of the words “hell” or “damn” except when their use “shall be essential and required for portrayal, in proper historical context, of any scene or dialogue based upon historical fact or folklore … or a quotation from a literary work, provided that no such use shall be permitted which is intrinsically objectionable or offends good taste.” With that amendment, the Production Code Administration had no further objection to Rhett’s closing line.[26]


“Tara’s Theme” from the film trailer

To compose the score, Selznick chose Max Steiner, with whom he had worked at RKO Pictures in the early 1930s. Warner Bros.—who had contracted Steiner in 1936—agreed to lend him to Selznick. Steiner spent twelve weeks working on the score, the longest period that he had ever spent writing one, and at two hours and thirty-six minutes long it was also the longest that he had ever written. Five orchestrators were hired, including Hugo Friedhofer, Maurice de Packh, Bernard Kaun, Adolph Deutsch and Reginald Bassett. The score is characterized by two love themes, one for Ashley’s and Melanie’s sweet love and another that evokes Scarlett’s passion for Ashley, though notably there is no Scarlett and Rhett love theme. Steiner drew considerably on folk and patriotic music, which included Stephen Foster tunes such as “Louisiana Belle,” “Dolly Day,” “Ringo De Banjo,” “Beautiful Dreamer,” “Old Folks at Home,” and “Katie Belle,” which formed the basis of Scarlett’s theme; other tunes that feature prominently are: “Marching through Georgia” by Henry Clay Work, “Dixie,” “Garryowen” and “The Bonnie Blue Flag.” The theme that is most associated with the film today is the melody that accompanies Tara, the O’Hara plantation; in the early 1940s, “Tara’s Theme” formed the musical basis of the song “My Own True Love” by Mack David. In all, there are ninety-nine separate pieces of music featured in the score. Due to the pressure of completing on time, Steiner received some assistance in composing from Friedhofer, Deutsch and Heinz Roemheld, and in addition, two short cues—by Franz Waxman and William Axt—were taken from scores in the MGM library.[27]


Preview, premiere and initial release

On September 9, 1939, Selznick, his wife, Irene, investor John “Jock” Whitney and film editor Hal Kern drove out to Riverside, California to preview it at the Fox Theatre. The film was still a rough cut at this stage, missing completed titles and lacking special optical effects. It ran for four hours and twenty-five minutes, but would later be cut down to under four hours for its proper release. A double bill of Hawaiian Nights and Beau Geste was playing, and after the first feature it was announced that the theater would be screening a preview; the audience were informed they could leave but would not be readmitted once the film had begun, nor would phone calls be allowed once the theater had been sealed. When the title appeared on the screen the audience cheered, and after it had finished it received a standing ovation.[7][28] In his biography of Selznick, David Thomson wrote that the audience’s response before the film had even started “was the greatest moment of [Selznick’s] life, the greatest victory and redemption of all his failings”,[29] with Selznick describing the preview cards as “probably the most amazing any picture has ever had.”[30] When Selznick was asked by the press in early September how he felt about the film, he said: “At noon I think it’s divine, at midnight I think it’s lousy. Sometimes I think it’s the greatest picture ever made. But if it’s only a great picture, I’ll still be satisfied.”[24]

The premiere of the film at Loew’s Grand, Atlanta

One million people came to Atlanta for the film’s premiere at the Loew’s Grand Theatre on December 15, 1939. It was the climax of three days of festivities hosted by Mayor William B. Hartsfield, which included a parade of limousines featuring stars from the film, receptions, thousands of Confederate flags and a costume ball. Eurith D. Rivers, the governor of Georgia, declared December 15 a state holiday. An estimated three hundred thousand residents and visitors to Atlanta lined the streets for up to seven miles to watch a procession of limousines bring the stars from the airport. Only Leslie Howard and Victor Fleming chose not to attend: Howard had returned to England due to the outbreak of World War II, and Fleming had fallen out with Selznick and declined to attend any of the premieres.[24][30] Hattie McDaniel was also absent, as she and the other black actors from the film were prevented from attending the premiere due to Georgia’s Jim Crow laws, which would have kept them from sitting with the white members of the cast. Upon learning that McDaniel had been barred from the premiere, Clark Gable threatened to boycott the event, but McDaniel convinced him to attend.[31] President Jimmy Carter would later recall it as “the biggest event to happen in the South in my lifetime.”[32] Premieres in New York and Los Angeles followed, the latter attended by some of the actresses that had been considered for the part of Scarlett, among them Paulette Goddard, Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford.[30]

From December 1939 to July 1940, the film played only advance-ticket road show engagements at a limited number of theaters at prices upwards of $1—more than double the price of a regular first-run feature—with MGM collecting an unprecedented 70 percent of the box office receipts (as opposed to the typical 30–35 percent of the period). After reaching saturation as a roadshow, MGM revised its terms to a 50 percent cut and halved the prices, before it finally entered general release in 1941 at “popular” prices.[33] Along with its distribution and advertising costs, total expenditure on the film was as high as $7 million.[30][34]

Later releases

1967 re-release poster

In 1942, Selznick liquidated his company for tax reasons, and sold his share in Gone with the Wind to his business partner, John Whitney, for $500,000. In turn, Whitney sold it on to MGM for $2.8 million, so that the studio more or less owned the film outright.[34] MGM first re-released the film in 1947, and again in 1954;[7] the 1954 reissue was the first time the film was shown in widescreen, compromising the original Academy ratio and cropping the top and bottom to an aspect ratio of 1.75:1. In doing so, a number of shots were optically re-framed and cut into the three-strip camera negatives, forever altering five shots in the film.[35] A 1961 release commemorated the centennial anniversary of the start of the Civil War, and included a gala “premiere” at the Loew’s Grand Theater. It was attended by Selznick and many other stars of the film, including Vivien Leigh and Olivia de Havilland;[36] Clark Gable had died the previous year.[37] For its 1967 re-release, it was blown up to 70mm,[7] and issued with updated poster artwork featuring Gable—with his white shirt ripped open—holding Leigh against a backdrop of orange flames.[36] There were further re-releases in 1971, 1974 and 1989; for the fiftieth anniversary reissue in 1989, it was given a complete audio and video restoration. It was released theatrically one more time in the United States, in 1998.[38][39] In 2013, a 4K digital restoration was released in the United Kingdom to coincide with Vivien Leigh’s centenary.[40] In 2014, special screenings were scheduled over a two-day period at theaters across the United States to coincide with the film’s 75th anniversary.[41]

Television and home video

The film received its world television premiere on the HBO cable network on June 11, 1976, and played on the channel for a total of fourteen times throughout the rest of the month. It made its network television debut in November later that year: NBC paid $5 million for a one-off airing, and it was broadcast in two parts on successive evenings. It became at that time the highest-rated television program ever presented on a single network, watched by 47.5 percent of the households sampled in America, and 65 percent of television viewers, still the record for the highest rated film to ever air on television. In 1978, CBS signed a deal worth $35 million to broadcast the film twenty times over as many years.[15][39] Turner Entertainment acquired the MGM film library in 1986, but the deal did not include the television rights to Gone with the Wind, which were still held by CBS. A deal was struck in which the rights were returned to Turner Entertainment and CBS’s broadcast rights to The Wizard of Oz were extended.[15] It was used to launch two cable channels owned by Turner Broadcasting System: Turner Network Television (1988) and Turner Classic Movies (1994).[42][43] It debuted on videocassette in March 1985, where it placed second in the sales charts,[15] and has since been released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc formats.[36]


Critical response

Gone with the Wind was well received upon its release, with most consumer magazines and newspapers giving it generally excellent reviews.[7] However, while its production values, technical achievements and scale of ambition were universally recognized, some of the more notable reviewers of the time found the film to be dramatically lacking. Frank S. Nugent for The New York Times best summed up the general sentiment by acknowledging that while it was the most ambitious film production made up to that point, it probably was not the greatest film ever made, but nevertheless found it to be an “interesting story beautifully told”.[44] Franz Hoellering of The Nation was of the same opinion: “The result is a film which is a major event in the history of the industry but only a minor achievement in motion-picture art. There are moments when the two categories meet on good terms, but the long stretches between are filled with mere spectacular efficiency.”[45]

The result is a film which is a major event in the history of the industry but only a minor achievement in motion-picture art.
—Franz Hoellering, reviewer for The Nation

While the film was praised for its fidelity to the novel,[44] this aspect was also singled out as the main factor in contributing to the bloated running time, which many critics felt was to the detriment of the overall dramatic impact.[46] John C. Flinn wrote for Variety that Selznick had “left too much in”, and that as entertainment, the film would have benefitted if repetitious scenes and dialog from the latter part of the story had been trimmed.[46] The Manchester Guardian felt that the film’s one serious drawback was that the story lacked the epic quality to justify the outlay of time, and found the second half which focuses on Scarlett’s “irrelevant marriages” and “domestic squabbles” mostly superfluous, and the sole reason for their inclusion had been “simply because Margaret Mitchell wrote it that way”. The Guardian believed that if “the story had been cut short and tidied up at the point marked by the interval, and if the personal drama had been made subservient to a cinematic treatment of the central theme—the collapse and devastation of the Old South—then Gone With the Wind might have been a really great film.”[47] Likewise, Hoellering also found the second half of the film to be weaker than the first half: identifying the Civil War to be the driving force of the first part while the characters dominate in the second part, he concluded this is where the main fault of the picture lay, commenting that “the characters alone do not suffice”. Despite many excellent scenes, he considered the drama to be unconvincing and that the “psychological development” had been neglected.[45]

Much of the praise was reserved for the impeccable casting, with Vivien Leigh in particular being singled out for her performance as Scarlett. Nugent described her as the “pivot of the picture” and believed her to be “so perfectly designed for the part by art and nature that any other actress in the role would be inconceivable”.[44] Similarly, Hoellering found her “perfect” in “appearance and movements”; he felt her acting best when she was allowed to “accentuate the split personality she portrays”, and thought she was particularly effective in such moments of characterization like the morning after the marital rape scene.[45] Flinn also found Leigh suited to the role physically, and felt she was best in the scenes where she displays courage and determination, such as the escape from Atlanta, and when Scarlett kills a Yankee deserter.[46] Of Clark Gable’s performance as Rhett Butler, Flinn felt the characterization was “as close to Miss Mitchell’s conception—and the audience’s—as might be imagined”,[46] a view which Nugent concurred with,[44] although Hoellering felt that Gable didn’t quite convince in the closing scenes, as Rhett walks out on Scarlett in disgust.[45] Of the other principal cast members, both Hoellering and Flinn found Leslie Howard to be “convincing” as the weak-willed Ashley, with Flinn identifying Olivia de Havilland as a “standout” as Melanie;[45][46] Nugent was also especially taken with de Havilland’s performance, describing it as a “gracious, dignified, tender gem of characterization”.[44] Hattie McDaniel’s performance as Mammy was singled out for praise by many critics: Nugent believed she gave the best performance in the film after Vivien Leigh,[44] with Flinn placing it third after Leigh’s and Gable’s performances.[46]


Hattie McDaniel, the first African-American Oscar winner

At the 12th Academy Awards held in 1940, Gone with the Wind set a record for Academy Award wins and nominations, winning in eight of the competitive categories it was nominated in, from a total of thirteen nominations. It won for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Interior Decoration, and Best Editing, and received two further honorary awards for its use of equipment and color (it also became the first color film to win Best Picture).[48][49] Its record of eight competitive wins stood until Gigi (1958) won nine, and its overall record of ten was broken by Ben-Hur (1959) which won eleven.[50] Gone with the Wind also held the record for most nominations until All About Eve (1950) secured fourteen.[8] It was the longest American sound film made up to that point, and may still hold the record of the longest Best Picture winner depending on how it is interpreted.[51] The running time for Gone with the Wind is just under 221 minutes, while Lawrence of Arabia (1962) runs for just over 222 minutes; however, including the overture, intermission, entr’acte, and exit music, Gone with the Wind lasts for 234 minutes (although some sources put its full length at 238 minutes) while Lawrence of Arabia comes in slightly shorter at 232 minutes with its additional components.[52][53]

Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American to win an Academy Award—beating out her co-star Olivia de Havilland who was also nominated in the same category—but was racially segregated from her co-stars at the awards ceremony at the Coconut Grove; she and her escort were made to sit at a separate table at the back of the room.[54] Meanwhile, screenwriter Sidney Howard became the first posthumous Oscar winner, Selznick personally received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for his career achievements, and Vivien Leigh won the New York Film Critics Award for Best Actress.[8][48]

Academy Awards and nominations
Award Recipient(s) Result
Best Picture Selznick International Pictures Won
Best Director Victor Fleming Won
Best Actor Clark Gable
Winner was Robert Donat for Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Best Actress Vivien Leigh Won
Best Adapted Screenplay Sidney Howard Won
Best Supporting Actress Hattie McDaniel Won
Best Supporting Actress Olivia de Havilland Nominated
Best Cinematography, Color Ernest Haller and Ray Rennahan Won
Best Film Editing Hal C. Kern and James E. Newcom Won
Best Art Direction Lyle Wheeler Won
Best Visual Effects Jack Cosgrove, Fred Albin and Arthur Johns
Winners were Fred Sersen and E. H. Hansen for The Rains Came
Best Music, Original Score Max Steiner
Winner was Herbert Stothart for The Wizard of Oz
Best Sound Recording Thomas T. Moulton (Samuel Goldwyn Studio Sound Department)
Winner was Bernard B. Brown (Universal Studio Sound Department) for When Tomorrow Comes
Special Award William Cameron Menzies
For outstanding achievement in the use of color for the enhancement of dramatic mood in the production of Gone with the Wind.
Technical Achievement Award Don Musgrave and Selznick International Pictures
For pioneering in the use of coordinated equipment in the production Gone with the Wind.

African-American reaction

Black commentators criticised the film for its depiction of black people and as a glorification of slavery. Carlton Moss, a black dramatist, complained in an open letter that whereas The Birth of a Nation was a “frontal attack on American history and the Negro people”, Gone with the Wind was a “rear attack on the same”. He went on to dismiss it as a “nostalgic plea for sympathy for a still living cause of Southern reaction”. Moss further criticized the stereotypical black characterizations, such as the “shiftless and dull-witted Pork”, the “indolent and thoroughly irresponsible Prissy”, Big Sam’s “radiant acceptance of slavery”, and Mammy with her “constant haranguing and doting on every wish of Scarlett”.[55] Following Hattie McDaniel’s Oscar win, Walter Francis White, leader of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, accused her of being an Uncle Tom. McDaniel responded that she would “rather make seven hundred dollars a week playing a maid than seven dollars being one”; she further questioned White’s qualification to speak on behalf of blacks, since he was light-skinned and only one-eighth black.[54]

Opinion in the black community was generally divided upon release, with the film being called by some a “weapon of terror against black America” and an insult to black audiences, and demonstrations were held in various cities.[54] Even so, some sections of the black community recognized McDaniel’s achievements to be representative of progression: some African-Americans crossed picket lines and praised McDaniel’s warm and witty characterization, while others hoped that the industry’s recognition of her work would lead to increased visibility on screen for other black actors. In its editorial congratulation to McDaniel on winning her Academy Award, Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life used the film as reminder of the “limit” put on black aspiration by old prejudices.[54][55] Malcolm X would later recall that “when Butterfly McQueen went into her act, I felt like crawling under the rug”.[56]

Box office

A long line of people in Japan waiting to buy a ticket for Gone With the Wind in 1952.

Upon its release, Gone with the Wind broke attendance records everywhere. At the Capitol Theatre in New York alone, it was averaging eleven thousand admissions per day in late December,[33] and within four years of its release had sold an estimated sixty million tickets across the United States—sales equivalent to just under half the population at the time.[57][58] It repeated its success overseas, and was a sensational hit during the Blitz in London, opening in April 1940 and playing for four years.[59] Its worldwide distribution returned a gross rental (the studio’s share of the box office gross) of $32 million during its initial release, making it the most profitable film ever made up to that point.[8]

Even though it earned its investors roughly twice as much as the previous record-holder, The Birth of a Nation,[60][61] the box-office performances of the two films were likely much closer. The bulk of the earnings from Gone with the Wind came from its roadshow and first-run engagements, which represented 70 percent and 50 percent of the box-office gross respectively, before entering general release (which at the time typically saw the distributor’s share set at 30–35 percent of the gross).[33] In the case of The Birth of a Nation, its distributor, Epoch, sold off many of its distribution territories on a “states rights” basis—which typically amounted to 10 percent of the box-office gross—and Epoch’s accounts are only indicative of its own profits from the film, and not the local distributors. Carl E. Milliken, secretary of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors Association, estimated that The Birth of a Nation had been seen by fifty million people by 1930.[62][63]

Line up to see Gone with the Wind in Pensacola, Florida (1947)

When it was re-released in 1947, it earned an impressive $5 million rental in the United States and Canada, and was one of the top ten releases of the year.[34][60] Successful re-releases in 1954 and 1961 enabled it to retain its position as the industry’s top earner, despite strong challenges from more recent films such as Ben-Hur,[64] but it was finally overtaken by The Sound of Music in 1966.[65] The 1967 reissue was unusual in that MGM opted to roadshow it, a decision that turned it into the most successful re-release in the history of the industry. It generated a box-office gross of $68 million, making it MGM’s most lucrative picture after Doctor Zhivago from the latter half of the decade.[66] MGM earned a rental of $41 million from the release,[67] with the U.S. and Canadian share amounting to over $30 million, placing it second only to The Graduate for that year.[60][67] Including its $6.7 million rental from the 1961 reissue,[68] it was the fourth highest-earner of the decade in the North American market, with only The Sound of Music, The Graduate and Doctor Zhivago making more for their distributors.[60] A further re-release in 1971 allowed it to briefly recapture the record from The Sound of Music, bringing its total worldwide gross rental to about $116 million by the end of 1971—more than trebling its earnings from its initial release—before losing the record again the following year to The Godfather.[39][69]

Across all releases, it is estimated that Gone with the Wind has sold over 200 million tickets in the United States and Canada,[57] and 35 million tickets in the United Kingdom,[70] generating more theater admissions in those territories than any other film.[71][72] In total, Gone with the Wind has grossed over $390 million globally at the box office;[73] in 2007 Turner Entertainment estimated the gross to be equivalent to approximately $3.3 billion when adjusted for inflation to current prices,[8] while Guinness World Records arrived at a figure of $3.44 billion in 2014, making it the most successful film in cinema history.[74]


Critical re-evaluation

First Archivist of the United States R. D. W. Connor receiving the film Gone with the Wind from Senator Walter F. George of Georgia (on the left) and Loew’s Eastern Division Manager Carter Barron, 1941

In revisiting the film in the 1970s, Arthur Schlesinger noted that Hollywood films generally age well, revealing an unexpected depth or integrity, but in the case of Gone with the Wind time has not treated it kindly.[75] Richard Schickel posits that one measure of a film’s quality is to ask what you can remember of it, and the film falls down in this regard: unforgettable imagery and dialogue is simply not present.[76] Stanley Kauffmann, likewise, also found the film to be a largely forgettable experience, claiming he could only remember two scenes vividly.[77] Both Schickel and Schlesinger put this down to it being “badly written”, in turn describing the dialogue as “flowery” and possessing a “picture postcard” sensibility.[75][76] Schickel also believes the film fails as popular art, in that it has limited rewatch value—a sentiment that Kauffmann also concurs with, stating that having watched it twice he hopes “never to see it again: twice is twice as much as any lifetime needs”.[76][77] Both Schickel and Andrew Sarris identify the film’s main failing is in possessing a producer’s sensibility rather than an artistic one: having gone through so many directors and writers the film does not carry a sense of being “created” or “directed”, but rather having emerged “steaming from the crowded kitchen”, where the main creative force was a producer’s obsession in making the film as literally faithful to the novel as possible.[76][78]

Sarris concedes that despite its artistic failings, the film does hold a mandate around the world as the “single most beloved entertainment ever produced”.[78] Judith Crist observes that kitsch aside, the film is “undoubtedly still the best and most durable piece of popular entertainment to have come off the Hollywood assembly lines”, the product of a showman with “taste and intelligence”.[79] Schlesinger notes that the first half of the film does have a “sweep and vigor” that aspires to its epic theme, but—finding agreement with the film’s contemporary criticisms—the personal lives take over in the second half, and it ends up losing its theme in unconvincing sentimentality.[75] Kauffmann also finds interesting parallels with The Godfather, which had just replaced Gone with the Wind as the highest-grosser at the time: both were produced from “ultra-American” best-selling novels, both live within codes of honor that are romanticized, and both in essence offer cultural fabrication or revisionism.[77]

Racial criticism

Gone with the Wind has been criticized as having perpetuated Civil War myths and black stereotypes.[80] David Reynolds writes that “The white women are elegant, their menfolk noble or at least dashing. And, in the background, the black slaves are mostly dutiful and content, clearly incapable of an independent existence.” Reynolds likened Gone with the Wind to The Birth of a Nation and other re-imaginings of the South during the era of segregation, in which white Southerners are portrayed as defending traditional values and the issue of slavery is largely ignored.[56] The film has been described as a “regression” that promotes the myth of the black rapist and the honourable and defensive role of the Ku Klux Klan during Reconstruction,[81] and as a “social propaganda” film offering a “white supremacist” view of the past.[80] From 1972 to 1996, the Atlanta Historical Society held a number of Gone with the Wind exhibits, among them a 1994 exhibit titled, “Disputed Territories: Gone with the Wind and Southern Myths”. One of the questions explored by the exhibit was “How True to Life Were the Slaves in GWTW?” This section showed slave experiences were diverse and concluded that the “happy darky” was a myth, as was the belief that all slaves experienced violence and brutality.[82]

Despite factual inaccuracies in its depiction of the Reconstruction period, it nevertheless reflects contemporary interpretations common throughout the early twentieth century. One pervasive viewpoint argued by academics is reflected in a brief scene in which Mammy fends off a leering freedman: a government official can be heard offering bribes to the emancipated slaves for their votes. The clear inference is that freedmen are ignorant about politics and unprepared for freedom, unwittingly becoming the tools of corrupt Reconstruction officials. While perpetuating some Lost Cause myths, the film makes concessions in regards to others. After the attack on Scarlett in the shanty town, a group of men including Scarlett’s husband Frank, Rhett Butler and Ashley raid the town; in the novel they belong to the Ku Klux Klan, representing the common trope of protecting the white woman’s virtue, but the filmmakers consciously neutralize the presence of the Klan in the film by referring to it only as a “political meeting”.[83]

Thomas Cripps has argued that the film in some respects undercuts racial stereotypes;[84] in particular, the film created greater engagement between Hollywood and black audiences,[84] with dozens of movies making small gestures in recognition of the emerging trend.[55] Only a few weeks after its initial run, a story editor at Warner wrote a memo to Walter Wanger about Mississippi Belle, a script that contained the worst excesses of plantation films, suggesting that Gone with the Wind had made the film “unproducible”. More than any film since The Birth of a Nation, it unleashed a variety of social forces that foreshadowed an alliance of white liberals and blacks who encouraged the expectation that blacks would one day achieve equality. According to Cripps, the film eventually became a template for measuring social change.[55]

Depiction of marital rape

One of the most notorious and widely condemned scenes in Gone with the Wind is what the law today defines as “marital rape“.[85][86] The scene begins with Scarlett and Rhett at the bottom of the staircase, where he begins to kiss her, refusing to be told ‘no’ by the struggling and frightened Scarlett;[87][88] Rhett overcomes her resistance and carries her up the stairs to the bedroom,[87][88] where the audience is left in no doubt that she will “get what’s coming to her”.[89] The next scene, the following morning, shows Scarlett glowing with barely suppressed sexual satisfaction;[87][88][89] Rhett apologizes for his behavior, blaming it on his drinking.[87] The scene has been accused of combining romance and rape by making them indistinguishable from each other,[87] and of reinforcing a notion about forced sex: that women secretly enjoy it, and it is an acceptable way for a man to treat his wife.[89]

Molly Haskell has argued that nevertheless women are mostly uncritical of the scene, and that by and large it is consistent with what women have in mind when they fantasize about being raped. Their fantasies revolve around love and romance rather than forced sex; they assume that Scarlett was not an unwilling sexual partner and wanted Rhett to take the initiative and insist on having sexual intercourse.[90]


In popular culture

Gone with the Wind and its production have been explicitly referenced, satirized, dramatized and analyzed on numerous occasions across a range of media, from contemporaneous works such as Second Fiddle—a 1939 film spoofing the “search for Scarlett”—to current television shows, such as The Simpsons.[80][91][92] The Scarlett O’Hara War (a 1980 television dramatization of the casting of Scarlett),[93] Moonlight and Magnolias (a 2007 play by Ron Hutchinson that dramatizes Ben Hecht’s five-day re-write of the script),[94] and “Went with the Wind!” (a sketch on The Carol Burnett Show that parodied the film in the aftermath of its television debut in 1976) are among the more noteworthy examples of its enduring presence in popular culture.[15] It was also the subject of a 1988 documentary, The Making of a Legend: Gone with the Wind, detailing the film’s difficult production history.[95] In 1990, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp depicting Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh embracing in a scene from the film.[96]

American Film Institute[97]


Following publication of her novel, Margaret Mitchell was inundated with requests for a sequel but claimed to not have a notion of what happened to Scarlett and Rhett, and that she had “left them to their ultimate fate”. Mitchell continued to resist pressure from Selznick and MGM to write a sequel until her death in 1949. In 1975, her brother, Stephens Mitchell (who assumed control of her estate), authorized a sequel to be jointly produced by MGM and Universal Studios on a budget of $12 million. Anne Edwards was commissioned to write the sequel as a novel which would then be adapted into a screenplay, and published in conjunction with the film’s release. Edwards submitted a 775-page manuscript entitled Tara, The Continuation of Gone with the Wind, set between 1872 and 1882 focusing on Scarlett’s divorce from Rhett; MGM was not satisfied with the story and the deal collapsed.[15]

The idea was revived in the 1990s, when a sequel was finally produced in 1994, in the form of a television miniseries. Scarlett was based upon the novel by Alexandra Ripley, itself a sequel to Mitchell’s book. British actors Joanne Whalley and Timothy Dalton were cast as Scarlett and Rhett, and the series follows Scarlett’s relocation to Ireland after again becoming pregnant by Rhett.[98]


In a nationwide poll of Americans undertaken by Harris Interactive Gone with the Wind was voted the most popular film in 2008, and again in 2014. The market research firm surveyed over two thousand U.S. adults, with the results weighted by age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income so their proportions matched those of the population.[99][100] The film has also featured in several high-profile industry polls: in 1977 it was voted the most popular film by the American Film Institute (AFI), in a poll of the organization’s membership;[7] the AFI also ranked the film fourth on its “100 Greatest Movies” list in 1998,[101] with it slipping down to sixth place in the tenth anniversary edition in 2007;[102] in 2012, Sight & Sound ranked it 235th in their prestigious decennial critics poll, and 322nd in their directors poll;[103] in 2014, it placed fifteenth in a poll undertaken by The Hollywood Reporter, which ballotted every studio, agency, publicity firm and production house in the Hollywood region.[104] Gone with the Wind was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry in 1989.[8]

Dark Passage (1947)

Monday, March 30th, 2015


Dark Passage (1947) is a Warner Bros. film noir directed by Delmer Daves and starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.[1][2] The film is based on the novel of the same name by David Goodis. It was the third of four films real-life couple Bacall and Bogart made together.[3]

The film is notable for employing cinematography that avoided showing the face of Bogart’s character, Vincent Parry, prior to the point in the story at which Vincent undergoes plastic surgery to change his appearance. The majority of the pre-surgery scenes are shot from Vincent’s point of view. In those scenes shot from other perspectives, the camera is always positioned so that its field of view does not include his face. The story follows Vincent’s attempts to hide from the law and clear his name of murder.



Vincent Parry, a man convicted of killing his wife, escapes from San Quentin prison by stowing away in a supply truck. He evades police and hitches a ride with a passing motorist named Baker. Parry’s odd clothes and a news report on the radio about an escaped convict make Baker suspicious. When questioned, Parry beats him unconscious. Irene Jansen, who had been painting nearby, picks up Parry and smuggles him past a police roadblock into San Francisco, offering him shelter in her apartment.

An acquaintance of Jansen, Madge, comes by Irene’s apartment. Parry, without opening the door, tells her to go away. Madge was a former romantic interest of Parry’s whom he had spurned. Out of spite she testified at his trial, providing a motive as to why he would have killed his wife. When she returns, Irene explains that she had followed Parry’s case with interest. Her own father had been falsely convicted of murder and ever since she had taken an interest in miscarriages of justice. She believes that Parry is innocent.

Parry leaves but is recognized by a cab driver, Sam. The man turns out to be sympathetic and gives Parry the name of a plastic surgeon who can change his appearance. Before the operation, Parry goes to the apartment of a friend, George Fellsinger, for help in proving his innocence and arranges to stay with him during the recuperation from surgery. Dr. Coley performs the operation. Parry, unable to speak, his face wrapped in bandages, returns to George’s apartment only to find him murdered. He stumbles back to Irene’s house, collapsing at her doorstep. Irene nurses him back to health.

Madge and her ex-husband Bob, who is romantically interested in Irene, come by. Madge is worried that Parry will kill her for testifying against him and asks to stay with Irene for protection. Irene gets rid of Madge and deflects Bob by saying that she has already met someone to whom she is attracted, “Vincent Parry.” She feigns that she is lying, but actually she is telling the truth, as Parry hides in a bedroom. Bob takes Irene’s statement as a joke but accepts that Irene is interested in another man.

As he recuperates, Parry learns that he is now wanted for the murder of his friend George, his fingerprints having been found on the murder weapon, George’s trumpet. After his bandages are removed, Parry reluctantly parts from Irene, declaring that she will be better off if she is not part of his life.

Parry decides to flee the city before trying to find out who really killed his wife. At a diner, an undercover policeman becomes suspicious because of Parry’s behavior. The policeman asks for identification but Parry claims to have left it at his hotel, and leaves. On the street, Parry darts in front of a moving car to escape.

At the hotel, Parry is surprised by Baker, who holds him at gunpoint. Baker has been following Parry since they first met. He now demands that Irene pay him $60,000 or he will turn Parry over to the law. Parry agrees, and Baker obliges him to drive the two of them to Irene’s apartment. Claiming to take a shortcut, Parry drives to a secluded spot underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. There he succeeds in disarming Baker and questions him, becoming convinced that Madge is behind the deaths of his wife and friend. The two men fight with Baker eventually falling to his death.

Parry goes to Madge’s apartment. Knowing that she doesn’t recognize him with this face, he pretends to be a friend of Bob’s interested in courting her. Parry eventually reveals his true identity and accuses Madge of having killed both his wife and George. He shows her that he has all the evidence written down and attempts to coerce her into making a confession. She points out that that is nothing without her signature and that the accusations will then be worthless. While turning away from him, she accidentally falls through a window to her death.

Knowing he cannot prove his innocence, and that he will likely be accused of Madge’s murder as well, Parry has no choice but to flee. He intends to get to Mexico and then South America. He phones Irene, revealing his plans. The next time he is seen, Parry is having a drink in a nightclub in Peru when he spots Irene across the dance floor. They embrace.



Warner Bros. paid author David Goodis $25,000 for the rights to the story, which had originally been serialized in the Saturday Evening Post from July 20 to September 7, 1946, before being published in book form.[4] At the time that Dark Passage was shot, Bogart was the best-paid actor in Hollywood, averaging $450,000 a year.[5]

Robert Montgomery had made the film Lady in the Lake a year earlier, among the first major films to use a “subjective camera” technique, in which the viewer sees the action through the protagonist’s eyes. This technique was used in 1927 in France by Abel Gance for Napoléon[6] and in 1931 by the director Rouben Mamoulian for the first five minutes of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Film critic Hal Erikson believes Dark Passage does a better job at using this point-of-view technique, writing, “The first hour or so of Dark Passage does the same thing — and the results are far more successful than anything seen in Montgomery’s film.”[7]

According to Bacall, in her autobiography By Myself, during the filming of Dark Passage, Bogart’s hair began to fall out in clumps, the result of alopecia areata, caused by vitamin deficiencies. By the end of filming he wore a full wig. Bogart would need B-12 shots and other treatments to counteract the effects, but was helped by the fact that his next film, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre required a full wig in any case.[5]

Filming locations

Parts of the movie were filmed on location in San Francisco, California, including the Filbert Steps and the cable car system. The elegant Streamline Moderne Malloch Building on Telegraph Hill was used for the apartment of Irene Jansen where Parry hides out and recuperates from his surgery.[8][9][10] Apartment Number 10 was Jansen’s. The current residents of that apartment occasionally place a cutout of Bogart in the window.[11] The diner was “Harry’s Wagon” at 1921 Post Street, a long-closed diner in the Fillmore District of San Francisco.

Critical reception

Film critic Bosley Crowther gave the film a mixed review and was not impressed by Bogart’s performance but was by Bacall’s work. He wrote,

When [Bogart] finally does come before the camera, he seems uncommonly chastened and reserved, a state in which Mr. Bogart does not appear at his theatrical best. However, the mood of his performance is compensated somewhat by that of Miss Bacall, who generates quite a lot of pressure as a sharp-eyed, knows-what-she-wants girl.

He made the case that the best part of the film is:

[t]he city of San Francisco, which is liberally and vividly employed as the realistic setting for the Warners’ Dark Passage…For Writer-Director Delmar Daves has very smartly and effectively used the picturesque streets of that city and its stunning panoramas from the hills to give a dramatic backdrop to his rather incredible yarn. So, even though bored by the story—which, because of its sag, you may be—you can usually enjoy the scenery, which is as good as a travelogue[12]

Currently, the film has a 91% “Fresh” rating at Rotten Tomatoes, based on 23 reviews.[13]

Gay Globe Magazine editorial (103)

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

By Roger-Luc Chayer / Translation Robert Frank

Editoral 103: Queen Elizabeth II

Surprised? We suppose that you would be, to discover that Gay Globe is featuring Canada’s Queen without taking sides politically—a potential minefield that I have nonetheless decided to navigate, and for good reason. Elizabeth II is the Queen of many countries including Canada, England, Australia and New Zealand.

She is also head of the world’s largest trade body, the Commonwealth. In this capacity, the Sovereign decided a few years ago to press member-countries to adopt a new approach to homosexuality by linking future membership in the organization to legislative reforms that would decriminalize homosexuality and stop stigmatizating members of this community.

Some of the smallest countries resisted at first. They shouted loud and long that the Queen held no sway over any local parliament but, following a great deal of diplomacy—admittedly her strong point—she made history by signing a new Commonwealth Charter in 2013, which prohibited discrimination against women, ethnic minorities and gays.

That was a first for most Commonwealth countries, some of which are Muslim states that practice Sharia.

For this reason, in recognition of her unique political accomplishment, Queen Elizabeth II of Canada had earned pride of place on our cover.

Our country is unified—or, at least, nearly so—on the gay issue. For that reason, we must honour her on our cover like the other world greats who have contributed to improving our collective well-being.

Lady in Cement (1968) Frank Sinatra and Raquel Welch

Sunday, March 15th, 2015


Lady in Cement is a 1968 detective film, directed by Gordon Douglas and starring Frank Sinatra, Raquel Welch, Dan Blocker, Martin Gabel and Richard Conte.

A sequel to the 1967 film Tony Rome, and based on the novel by Marvin H. Albert, Lady In Cement was released on November 20, 1968.


While diving off the Miami coast seeking one of the eleven fabled Spanish Galleons sunk in 1591, private investigator Tony Rome (Frank Sinatra) discovers a dead blonde, her feet encased in cement, at the bottom of the ocean.

Rome reports this to Lieutenant Dave Santini (Richard Conte) and thinks little more of the incident, until Waldo Gronski (Dan Blocker) hires him to find a missing woman, Sandra Lomax.

Gronski has little in the way of affluence, so he allows Rome to pawn his watch to retain his services.

After investigating the local hot-spots and picking up on a few names, Rome soon comes across Kit Forrester, whose party Sandra Lomax was supposed to have attended.

Rome’s talking to Forrester raises the ire of racketeer Al Mungar, a supposedly reformed gangster who looks after Kit’s interests.

Thinking there may be a connection between Lomax, Forrester and Mungar, Rome starts probing into their backgrounds and begins a romantic relationship with Kit.

With both cops and crooks chasing him and the omnipresent Gronski breathing down his neck, Rome finds himself deep in a case which provides few answers.


Critical reception

Opening to mixed reviews, Lady in Cement is generally considered to be a middling sequel to Tony Rome. Critic Roger Ebert gave faint praise in a generally scathing review by commenting: “In the movie’s few good scenes, Sinatra once again painfully reminds us what a controlled, effective actor he is.” Variety noted that “Dan Blocker is excellent as a sympathetic heavy,” whilst John Maloney liked the “fresher script” and “sharp direction.”


In Lady in Cement, director Gordon Douglas, and star Frank Sinatra dropped a few inside references, including an instrumental of the Sinatra song “You Make Me Feel So Young” during one scene. A clip of the TV series Bonanza was used in one scene, on which co-star Dan Blocker played Hoss Cartwright. There is also a reference to Sinatra’s ex-wife Ava Gardner during a scene in which Rome comments on knowing a girl who used to date bullfighters. . Rome rides in a taxi which bears an advertisement for Dean Martin‘s Restaurant & Lounge on its rear fender.

DVD release

Lady on Cement was released on DVD on May 24, 2005 as part of a boxed set along with Tony Rome and The Detective, both also directed by Douglas. No bonus features were included.

The Vatican’s Gay Art Goes on Display

Monday, January 19th, 2015


As Pope Francis leads a softening of homophobic attitudes from within the Vatican, tour groups will soon see the gay-themed art on display there.
It’s no secret that certain Renaissance artists never led a straight-and-narrow lifestyle. Their sensual masterpieces reveal a laundry list of prostitution, sex scandals and death by overindulgence.

Raphael supposedly died of sexual excess. Leonardo da Vinci and Caravaggio were both accused of sodomy with their muse and models (young male prostitutes). And Michelangelo professed his love and desires for men through passionate love poems to Tommaso dei Cavalieri, an Italian nobleman.

Yet, until recently, the religious institutions that hold their glorified works of art most dear refused to acknowledge it. After all, sexual tolerance isn’t something historically associated with the Catholic Church or Vatican’s core principles.

But, with the dawning of a new leader, everything has changed. Pope Francis has, among other things (premarital sex, divorce), given a symbolic wink to the LGBT community—maybe he’s okay with it, maybe he’s not. But he’s definitely not passing judgment. Because let’s be honest: who did they think were snatching up all of those “Hot Priests” calendars anyway?

And nowQuiiky, an LGBT-oriented travel group, is looking to capitalize on the Vatican’s newfound tolerance. Their guided tours discuss the Vatican’s art collection through the gay lens in which they were most likely created.

“[Visitors] discover new ways to look at [the] paintings and sculptures they [are] supposed to know well,” Quiiky’s CEO Alessio Virgili told the Daily Beast. “Intelligent people like to look at the world from a new point of view. It is not [just] a question of homosexuality.”

Virgili, who has worked in LGBT tourism for years, formed the tours after realizing a large interest in Italian history from the tourism community and their openness to new intellectual avenues.

“They certainly [knew] Michelangelo and Leonardo were gay,” Virgili told The Daily Beast. So he began setting up guided tours exploring queer history within the Vatican, using these famous artists as his inspiration. “For a young boy or a man, they could be an icon…nobody thinks [of them as] a person to discriminate.”

The Sistine Chapel, for instance, is one of theworld’s most visited sacred sites. And Michelangelo, who painted its awe-inducing ceiling in a handful of years, left many traces of his lustful desires for the male form—women that look like “beautiful men with their muscles” and men in sexually charged positions or locking lips. But, they’re never pointed out on formal tours.

“We have always had a guide telling this history,” Virgili said, “but now [we’ve found] many guides, and many places, and many histories to tell. [We] don’t want to hide it anymore.” He wants the LGBT community to have a better identifying connection with the Catholic faith.

“Pope Francis and his step forward on gay rights has brought back many gay people to the Church,” Virgili said in a press release. “His open mind is almost revolutionary and gay people seem to have appreciated it. Even the Vatican Museums has registered a high presence of LGBT audience in the recent period.”

That’s not to say that the Vatican hasn’t always been frequented by high numbers of LGBT members. Or, that they haven’t existed inside its holy walls for centuries.

In 2013, and article in La Repubblica, the largest Italian daily newspaper, hinted at the existence of an underground gay network amongst the Vatican’s top-ranking officials. The accusation came on the heels of former Pope Benedict XVI’s retirement—a step he took to avoid the fallout from a secret investigation into a previous leak of papal documents, aptly titled “VatiLeaks,” which revealed such a network.

Later that year, Vanity Fair’s Michael Joseph Gross tracked down cardinals, monks and clergymen who lived in Rome and identified as gay (mostly in secret) to understand the ways in which they navigate their dual lives.

It recounts a vast history of gay accusations amongst top officials. Popes John XII (955-964), Boniface VIII (1924-1303), Paul II (1464-1471) and his successor, Sixtus IV (1471-1484), have all faced rumors of sexual romps with fellow men.

And while the Vatican continues to deny the existence of a “gay lobby,” there’s no escaping the homosexual desires laden within artworks and statues throughout the papal city. Michelangelo’s fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is just one example. It is important not to omit the artist’s personal life, Virgili says, in order to completely understand the heroes of antiquity.

Leonardo da Vinci’s same-sex desires can be interpreted in works at the Vatican and in Quiiky’s similar tours throughout Italy. In Milan, they retrace Leonardo’s affair with one of his disciples, Salai, who may have also inspired St. John the Baptist in multiple paintings, including The Last Supper. Similar works, like St. Jerome in Wilderness, reside at the Vatican Museum. As does Caravaggio’sEntoumbment.

It’s a brave attempt. Sure, the supreme ruler of the Catholic faith has persuaded his followers to accept the LGBT community, but that hasn’t stopped the Vatican from shutting down art exhibitions that mix queer identity and religion.

Just over a year ago, an exhibition by Spanish photographer Gonzalo Orquin featuring photos of same-sex couples kissing in various Roman churches, was swiftly threatened by the Vatican and was cancelled before it opened at Galleria l’Opera in Rome.

While the Quiiky tour has yet to receive any feedback (or official recognition) from the papal palace, Virgili hopes to continue spreading the real history that runs throughout its art collection, making more visitors aware of its gay identity and perusing tolerance amongst the masses.

The Blunt Reason Kevin Hart Won’t Play A Gay Character On Screen

Monday, January 19th, 2015


Sean Penn won an Oscar for portraying gay icon and activist Harvey Milk, Matthew McConaughey received the same honor in portraying an icon of the AIDS movement, and Benedict Cumberbatch is looking to join the ranks through his performance in The Imitation Game. Kevin Hart, however, will not be joining the club of straight actors playing gay characters. But before you start attacking the comedian, you should hear him out.

Hart hit up New York’s Power 105.1 radio station to promote his new film The Wedding Ringer, during which time he was asked whether he would ever play a gay character.

I can’t. Not because I have any ill will or disrespect. It’s because I don’t think I’m really going to dive into that role 100 percent because of insecurities about myself trying to play that part. Does that make sense?

Given the context, it doesn’t seem as though the actor has any sort of anti-gay sentiments in taking this stance. He also followed up his response by saying, “as people, I love you.” The question came up after Kevin Hart revealed that he was up for the role of Alpha Chino in Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder. After reading a draft of the script, he told the radio show hosts that he just couldn’t do the part, describing it as “real flagrant.”

In Tropic Thunder, which starred the likes of Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black and Ben Stiller, a group of actors filming a war movie are forced to become the soldiers they are portraying. Percy Jackson star Brandon T. Jackson ended up playing Alpha Chino, a closeted gay man known for his Booty Sweat energy drink and his over-the-top sexual lifestyle.

Though the LGBT community is more accepted in mainstream society than ever, Hart’s comments come at a time when homosexuality is still a stigma in the African-American community. The openly gay Lee Daniels knows this all too well, and he’s trying to break down this hostility with his hip-hop industry drama Empire. As he said during a recent Television Critics Association panel, he wants to “blow the lid off of homophobia” in the African-American community. In his show, the lead character, played by Terrence Howard, is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and is trying to decide which of his children should take over his music empire. He’s particularly aggressive with his gay son, as depicted during a scene in which the father stuffs him in a trash can after he catches him trying on his mom’s high heels. As quoted byThe Associated Press, Daniels said:

I’m glad that I can show the African-American community that this is what you’re doing to your son, this is what you’re doing to your nephew, this is what you’re doing to the kid down the street.

Kevin Hart’s statements, though arguably difficult to swallow, are at least admirable. There are plenty of actors out there who refuse to tackle such roles and tell these stories because of homophobia, but Hart’s candidness is appreciated and respectable. You can watch his entire interview below.

As he says, he might change his mind years from now, but he’ll need more acting experience before doing so.

Varadkar coming out as gay is a gust of fresh air in Irish life

Monday, January 19th, 2015


Role models such as the Minister for Health show being gay is not a hindrance in Irish society

Leo Varadkar is nothing if not frank. “I am a gay man, it’s not a secret, but not something that everyone would necessarily know, but isn’t something I’ve spoken publicly about before,” the Minister for Health said on Miriam O’Callaghan’s Sunday morning programme on RTÉ Radio 1.

Radio volume dials were turned up, journalists’ necks got whiplash, Twitter was flooded. So, why does it matter? This is a question many (mostly straight) people ask about gay people coming out, with a sort of misdirected liberalism. Well, it matters hugely. You cannot underestimate the power of someone as high profile as Varadkar coming out, especially considering the insidious pressure many people feel not to.

Why does it matter? I’m sure there were mothers and fathers listening to RTE Radio 1 yesterday morning who worry about their gay children. They worry about them because we live in a society that still discriminates against gay people. They worry about them because gay people still have to deal with homophobic slurs.

Billy Crystal says graphic gay sex on TV has gone ‘too far’ and that the industry mustn’t ‘shove it in our face’

Monday, January 19th, 2015


  • Actor didn’t say which shows offend him but said many are ‘pushing it’
  • Crystal played one of network TV’s first openly gay characters in the 1970s
  • Shared opinion with audience at showbiz event in Pasadena, California
  • Criticized the show while plugging his own new series, The Comedian’

Actor Billy Crystal has said graphic scenes of gay sex on TV have gone too far, and the industry must take care not to ‘shove it in our face’.

Crystal, who became one of network television’s first gay characters on comedy show Soap in the 1970s, said contemporary programs are ‘pushing it a little too far’.

He declined to cite any examples, but implied that intolerant attitudes he struggled with while playing Jodie Dallas from 1977 to 1981 have now swung the other way.

According to The Wrap, he told an audience at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, California: ‘Sometimes, it’s just pushing it a little too far for my taste and I’m not going to reveal to you which ones they are.

‘I hope people don’t abuse it and shove it in our face… to the point where it feels like an every day kind of thing.’

He had earlier described how audiences were slow to accept openly gay moments in Soap while it was being aired on ABC – particularly when he was interacting with on-screen boyfriend Bob Seagren, who played Dennis Phillips.

He told the audience: ‘It was very difficult at the time – Jodie was really the first recurring [gay] character on network television and it was a different time, it was 1977.

‘So, yeah, it was awkward. It was tough.’

‘I did it in front of a live audience and there were times when I would say to Bob, “I love you,” and the audience would laugh nervously.

‘I wanted to stop the taping and go, “What is your problem?”‘

However, Crystal later rowed back on his comments and said: ‘Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything today’.

In a discussion reported in a blog on Xfinity, Crystal first blasted the today’s culture of taking offense, then expressed his regret over speaking out at all.

He said: ‘We live in a very scary time in many ways. You can’t say this, you can’t say that, you can’t offend this group, that group.

‘People come up to you and ask if you were offended. I don’t understand that. I understand it why everyone is watching out for the other person. That’s offensive to me.’

He also said that his comments apply to heterosexual sex scenes as well as gay ones.

He said: ‘When it gets too far either visually…now, that world exists because it does for the hetero world, it exists, and I don’t want to see that either.’

He and fellow star Josh Gad later referenced HBO’s Girls as a show which features large amounts of gratuitous sex scenes.

Religious freedom and LGBT rights, a year of decision

Monday, January 19th, 2015


How to uphold religious freedom and protect the rights of LGBT people?

The New Year begins much like the old year ended with bitter, emotional clashes between proponents of LGBT rights and religious objectors to same-sex marriage.

When same-sex weddings commenced in Florida on Jan. 6, several county clerks immediately announced that although required by law to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, they will no longer perform marriages for anyone — gay or straight — to avoid participating in same-sex ceremonies.

On the same day, the mayor of Atlanta fired the chief of the city’s Fire Rescue Department, Kelvin Cochran, for distributing to fellow workers a religious book Cochran wrote that includes harsh language condemning homosexuality.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in many states are gearing up to introduce legislation carving out accommodations for religious objectors to gay marriage. That’s because more than 70 percent of Americans now live in places where gay marriage is legal. And with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage on the near horizon, that number could soon be 100 percent.

In many red statehouses, gay marriage opponents have the votes to pass religious accommodations — everything from conscience clauses for government workers to exemptions for religiously affiliated charities and for-profit wedding vendors.

And in many blue states, gay marriage proponents have the votes to deny any religious accommodations beyond exemptions for clergy (who are already protected by the First Amendment).

Now is the time — perhaps the last real opportunity — to seek common ground. Rather than a patchwork of state laws — some that go too far and some that don’t go far enough — it would better serve the common good to agree on reasonable, targeted religious accommodations that strive to uphold religious freedom while simultaneously protecting LGBT rights.

A good starting point would be for advocates on all sides to acknowledge that both liberty of conscience and equality are core American values deserving the highest possible level of protection.

Protecting both values should mean, at the very least, ensuring that religious individuals and groups are fully protected to define religious marriage rites according to the doctrines of their faith. And it should also mean that LGBT people are fully protected from discrimination in the public square of America, including when same-sex couples seek legal protections that come with civil marriage.

Within these guiding principles, it may be possible to find areas of agreement that strike a balance between religious freedom and non-discrimination in order to resolve conflicts and, as far as possible, protect both values on questions such as the following:

As part of their effort to end discrimination against LGBT students, a growing number of college and university campuses deny recognition to student religious groups with faith-based criteria for selecting their leaders. Should student religious groups be allowed to elect leaders based on eligibility requirements consistent with their beliefs, as long as their meetings are open to all?

In recent years, a number of wedding vendors have refused to serve same-sex weddings on religious grounds. Would it be possible to craft a narrowly tailored law that would provide accommodation for the religious convictions of small business owners with fewer than 15 employees — a law that would have the support of both sides?

Some religiously affiliated charities that receive government funds are ceasing to offer adoption services because they cannot in good conscience endorse same-sex marriage. Can we explore ways to accommodate these charities, at least in places where other service providers are readily available to same-sex couples?

In states without civil rights laws covering sexual orientation, can agreement be reached to enact legislation protecting LGBT people from discrimination while simultaneously passing limited accommodations for religious objectors to gay marriage?These are difficult questions that will require patient, thoughtful and, above all, civil dialogue by people of goodwill. Finding common ground won’t be easy — and may not be possible. But for the sake of both upholding religious freedom and expanding equality, it’s worth a try.

After all, gay marriage is here to stay. Opponents of same-sex marriage — still over a third of the population — aren’t going anywhere and neither are LGBT people. Beyond our differences, we are bound together as citizens of one nation committed to liberty and equality for all.

Goa minister takes a U-turn on ‘curing’ LGBT remark, UN flays India’s intolerance towards homosexuals

Monday, January 19th, 2015


New Delhi: Discouraging the “discrimination” and “intolerance” towards homosexuals in India, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said that he stood firm for equality for everyone in the society.

“I am proud to stand for the equality of all people, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. I speak out because laws criminalising consensual, adult same-sex relationships violate basic rights to privacy and to freedom from discrimination. Even if they are not enforced, these laws breed intolerance,” the UN Secretary General said.

Advocating for the abolition of the controversial Article 377 in the Constitution that criminalizes homosexuality, he said, “Indian government should really promote the human rights of those people with different sexual orientation, homosexuality. This penal code should be decriminalized for those people of homosexuality.”

His comments came after Goa Sports Minister Ramesh Tawadkar on Monday sparked a row by saying that government is contemplating setting up centres to make LGBT youth ‘normal’. Tawadkar said that the LGBT youth will be trained and administered medicine in order to make them ‘normal’.

After facing flak for his comments, the Goa minister took a U turn and said that he was misunderstood and misquoted on the issue. “I was not talking about the LGBT (youths) but about drug addicted and sexually abused youths,” Tawadkar said.

“Youth policy speaks about drug addicted youths and sexually abused youths as a focused group. There are provisions in the central government sponsored Social Justice Scheme for such youths which can be implemented in Goa,” the minister said while clarifying his remarks.

The minister had refused to acknowledge LGBT as a focused group, though the youth policy document which is currently in public domain has mentioned them as one. “We will make them normal. We will have a centre for them. Like Alcoholic Anonymous centres, we will have centres. We will train them and give them medicines too,” the minister had said.

“Like in the case of other target groups such as juvenile offenders, drug afflicted youth, marginalised or migrant youth, geographically disadvantaged youth, a detailed survey would be carried out among state LGBT community, so that their problems could be specifically addressed,” he had added.

LGBT desires, attractions evolve with age

Monday, January 19th, 2015


Couples often come to sex therapy and say to us, “We just want to get our sex life back to where it was when we met.” Our sad but simple reply to them is, “You can’t.” Why aim for something that worked back then? You are a different person, so aspire to something that will work for you right now.

Change is inevitable

Life is impermanent as everything always changes. Molecules are in motion, the clock keeps ticking, and gravity sets in. Sexualities change as well. Not just our body’s ability to function, but our conceptions of what makes sex meaningful may change as we experience new stages of life.

Keep in mind that these are all generalizations of what happens to most people, not necessarily what happens to you. Most men at 45 do not have the erectile capability they did at 18, and most men at 70 don’t have what they had at 45. It’s natural for erections to become less reliable as men age. Similarly, after menopause, most women find that they lubricate less and their vaginal wall may begin to atrophy a bit. Without the application of additional lubricant, a woman in her 60s might find vaginal penetration uncomfortable or even painful. These are not signs of pathology, just side effects of our body’s maturing process.

As we age, our knees might not be able to tolerate as much and certain favored positions may become problematic. Our endurance to swing from chandeliers may diminish, we may have acquired a disability over the years, or we may not be as flexible as we were in our teens. Body changes and variations to our sexual preferences are a normal part of aging. To adjust in the most positive way, we need to be strategically flexible to adapt to our new status.

We may also encounter relational changes as we age. Men tend to become more interested in having an emotional connection with their partners in mid-life than they did in their early 20s. Women tend to become more sexually secure, orgasmic, and adventurous in their late 30s. Many gay men who went into relationships in their 20s with expectations of monogamy forever, now in their 50s might be less concerned about sexual exclusivity and more attached to honor and fidelity. Our sex lives are affected by having a partner, not having a partner, losing a partner, looking for a partner, and ultimately, finding another partner.

New exposure

Our sexualities are affected by environment. Some people moving from all-white areas of Michigan or Wisconsin come to southern California and for the first time find themselves turned on by Latinos, as we have so many hot Latinos everywhere here — thank God. Or moving to a warm climate stimulates outdoor sex as a new eroticism. For others, seeing all the hunky daddies in the desert can stimulate new sexual thoughts. Some people are sexually energized by vigorous workouts, new jobs, retirement, or financial windfalls. Exposure and new experiences that come with aging can reveal interests that bring new sexual heights.

Good ole reliability

As we age, most peoples’ attractions change, they don’t remain static. Yes, there may be core erotic themes, which remain as consistent as same-sex attraction. Examples of persistent interests include a lifetime of interest in certain body types or a specific race or sexual types and positions. But how we feel about these attractions may transform to include variations of our themes. For most, sexuality craves novelty. In that respect, change is a good thing and aging can bring on new and better things.

Grumpy isn’t sexy

No one benefits from your being angry with your body for aging — least of all, you. As we age, most of us struggle with performance concerns, self-esteem changes related to body image issues, and a diminished libido. This is what most people go through. It’s normal. It’s natural. You don’t have to feel bad as your body and sexuality evolve. Embrace change and have fun discovering the new you.

Hope in the sack

Instead of wondering how you and your partner can return to that old sex life, stay positive and remain present. Identify how your body and sexuality have changed, and own it. Then take advantage of this opportunity and learn about your partner’s sexual interest all over again. Create new standards and have fun with the new experiences.

Winston Wilde (marriage and family therapist, MFC39060), Nina Grace Ruedas (marriage and family therapist registered intern, IMF67572), Desert Center for Sexuality Awareness, (760) 773-3463,

Got a question?

Dr. Winston Wilde and Nina Ruedas can help provide clarity on matters of relationships and sex. Wilde is a licensed marriage and family therapist, sexologist and founder of the Desert Center for Sexuality Awareness in Rancho Mirage. Ruedas is a marriage and family therapist registered intern. Email your question, with “Private Parts” in the subject line, to

Billy Crystal’s Homophobic Comments Enrage LGBT Community

Monday, January 19th, 2015


Frequent Academy Award host and ‘City Slickers’ actor, Billy Crystal, has ruffled some feathers online with recent homophobic comments made at the Television Critics Association winter press event.

Crystal, who portrayed one of the first openly gay characters on TV’s popular 70’s series ‘Soap’, believes that gay sex scenes in the 21st century are “too much”.Speaking during an interview panel, Crystal begins by stating “Sometimes I think: ‘Ah that’s too much for me’.”“Sometimes, it’s just pushing it a little too far for my taste and I’m not going to reveal to you which ones they are. I hope people don’t abuse it and shove it in our face to the point where it feels like an every-day kind of thing,” he continued.As expected, the LGBT community and beyond were not pleased with Crystal’s comments, with many taking to Twitter to vent.“Hey @BillyCrystal… I hope your shitty new show isn’t “shoved in our face like an everyday thing” you ignorant homophobe,” said one user, referring to Crystal’s upcoming comedy ‘The Comedians’.“@BillyCrystal Sorry Billy but “gay scenes” on TV aren’t pushing it. Wanna know what is pushing it? It’s subtle bigotry in 2014. #StopBigotry,” another user wrote.What do you think of Crystal’s comments?

Local LGBT advocates react to pending decision on same-sex marriage

Monday, January 19th, 2015


JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) –Same-sex marriage is an issue many states have taken on in recent months, but now the hot-button issue will be taken up in the highest court in the land.

It was just announced Friday the Supreme Court will be deciding whether same-sex couples have the right to marry everywhere in the U.S. under the constitution.

Just days after that announcement, we found Kenn Lyon and John Baker were still letting that news sink in.

“Isn’t that exciting, by June, by the time Blue Plum happens, we could have same sex legislation in place for the United States,” said Lyon.

Both are associated with a local organization called Pride Community Center of the Tri-Cities, which in part works to raise awareness about same-sex equality.

Lyon tells us bottom line, the issue of fair and equal marriage is about just that, being fair and equal to all.

“Yes, if I do, I would want to be able to marry in the state that I’m living in, so ya, I would get married here in Tennessee,” said Lyon.

Even though we are months away from a decision, Kenn and John say the announcement alone is progress.

“This is one big step, and like John was saying, it allows us to open doors and move forward as far as addressing discrimination that still exists,” said Lyon.

We also spoke to Beth Sluder, a spokesperson for PFLAG Tri-Cities. It is another organization in the area that looks to bring support and advocacy for the LGBT community.

“I think its time,” said Sluder.

As we were talking, Sluder reflected back to her own wedding day, and says it’s a moment she wants everyone to be able to experience for themselves.

“I want them to experience that friends and family, and everyone around them that feeling of warmth and happiness, that they are accepted,” said Sluder.

It is a day both organizations are sure is right around the corner.

“Were going to focus on having it happen and manifesting that, and believing that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of marriage equality of the entire country,” said Lyon.

A decision from the Supreme Court is expected in June.

At this time Tennessee continues to uphold a ban on gay and lesbian marriages in accordance with a 2006 amendment to the state constitution which defines marriage as a marital contract between one man and one woman.

Va. lawmakers introduce LGBT workplace protections bills for public employees

Monday, January 19th, 2015


RICHMOND, Va. — It is still legal to fire someone in Virginia because they are gay, but two state lawmakers have introduced legislation hoping to change that for state and municipal workers.

The bills, authored by State Sens. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) and Don McEachin (D-Richmond), would expand workplace protections in all public jobs to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

The bills would apply to all public jobs, from teachers to city and state employees, but not the private sector.

Currently, state law only prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color,religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.

“It is past time for the legislature to enact protections against discrimination for all state and local workers, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers,” said the Virginia ACLU in a statement on their RichmondSunlight page.

Equality Virginia (EV) echoed this sentiment saying workplace protections for LGBTQ Virginians was the organization’s number one priority this GA session.

“People shouldn’t be fired, not hired, or threatened at work for their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity,” said James Parish on EV’s GA website. “Seventy five percent of Virginians favor a law that would protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination, and it’s time for our laws to catch up.”

Virginia’s LGBTQ state employees are currently protected by Gov. McAuliffe’s Executive Order 1 which expanded protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Executive Order 1 was signed the first day McAuliffe took office and was part of his campaign promise to support sexual minorities in the Commonwealth.

This is not the first time elected officials have hoped to expand protections.

Last year, two bills were submitted, but both were killed in Republican-dominated committees.

In 2013, a similar workplace protection bill passed the Senate subcommittee and made it out of the Senate floor, but failed to make it out of the House subcommittee.

Why now is the time for world and business leaders to talk LGBT at Davos

Monday, January 19th, 2015


Setting the agenda on LGBTs at the powerful World Economic

Around 2,600 world leaders, CEOs, heads of NGOs, top academics and journalists are on their way to Davos – and this year LGBT issues will be firmly on the agenda.

The annual World Economic Forum summit in Davos, Switzerland brings together many of the world’s most powerful figures.

The fact lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans people are now on the radar shows how far we’ve come.

Global professional and tech services company Accenture is leading the way by hosting a groundbreaking conversation with three of the most senior gay and lesbian corporate executives on the panel.

So why is now the right time to make a breakthrough on global business and political thinking about diversity, inclusion and business development for our community?

Here’s what the experts will be saying:

Top execs are out
Senior leaders in business (the ‘c-suite’) are coming out as openly gay, lesbian – and even trans or bi – in increasing numbers.

That’s creating an environment where it’s safer to come out and you can be praised for showing leadership by doing so. It’s also creating large numbers of out role models, and potential mentors, so inspiration and support is on hand for those who follow them.

It’s time to stand up.

Authentic leadership
Business leaders have realized their teams and peers trust them more if they know who they are. Being honest and showing leadership about being openly LGBTI makes them better.

Studies and personal testimonies prove that being able to be yourself at work, rather than having to hide part of your life, makes staff happier and more productive.

The global economic downturn of 2008 created a drive for new thinking. Diverse and inclusive teams are more creative, challenging assumptions and producing better results.

A new generation of workers, including many of the top university graduates and the most sought-after professionals, are already out as LGBT in their daily life.

They are simply not prepared to hide themselves at work. And their peers don’t think it’s an issue.

Businesses work hard to attract the best talent and know these people will check out their LGBT credentials before they join the firm.

Vital for business
Diversity, including LGBT, is good for business and organizations are recognizing this on a macro scale.

If the workforce is right, they can reach customers, including LGBT customers, far better. For business to business firms, the shared values of being diverse and inclusive builds trust. And networking between people who are able to be themselves is often more honest and effective.

LGBT is not just an inclusion issue in the workplace but a business development opportunity in the wider world.

Last chance
So why now? Quite simply, it’s time to get on board – the train is leaving the station.

Companies who want to be the best in the future will have the right values, the right systems and structures to back those values and lead from the front.
The panel, chaired by CNN anchor Richard Quest, is made up of people already living these messages.

Beth Brooke-Marciniak is the openly lesbian global vice chair for public policy at professional services firm EY and one of the world’s most influential women.

Antonio Simoes is chief executive officer of HSBC in the UK and one of the most senior openly gay people in British business.

And the Accenture-backed event may well not have happened if it wasn’t for the passion of another openly gay exec and the last Davos panel member – Sander Noordende, Group CEO in charge of the firm’s products division.

As he puts it in his blog: ‘I believe that corporate leaders have an opportunity – indeed, an obligation – to create a more diverse workforce that helps fuel a strong sense of belonging and pride… and ultimately helps companies to understand and serve a diverse customer base.

‘The number of companies supporting LGBT equality in the workplace internationally has grown tremendously in the past decade, and is now on the radar in c-suites around the globe. To that end, this is the perfect time to host this discussion in Davos.’

You can watch the Accenture LGBT panel at Davos live on Thursday (22 January) from 4pm CET on Gay Star News or via this link, where it will also be available for replay afterwards.

You can read Sander Noordende’s full blog post about this event here.

Accenture has sponsored Gay Star News to raise the profile of the LGBT discussions at Davos and help more people engage in the conversation.

– See more at:

Bakery Battles: Colorado Cake Shop Refuses to Make Anti-LGBT Cake

Monday, January 19th, 2015


A bakery is facing a discrimination complaint after refusing to make a cake with anti-LGBT words and images.

Out of the courtroom and into the … bakery?

The fight for marriage equality, so often fought in the legal system or at the ballot box, has picked up a curious side battle: the quest for equality at the bakery.

The latest battleground: a Colorado bakery whose staff wouldn’t write “God hates homosexuality” and other anti-LGBT text and imagery on a cake. The prospective customer retaliated by filing a discrimination complaint, reports Out Front Colorado.

“I would like to make it clear that we never refused service. We only refused to write and draw what we felt was discriminatory against gays. In the same manner we would not … make a discriminatory cake against Christians, we will not make one that discriminates against gays,” Marjorie Silva, owner of Azucar Bakery in Denver, said in a statement submitted to the state’s Department of Regulatory Agencies in connection with the complaint. (The bakery reportedly offered to sell the cake without the anti-LGBT decoration and to sell the customer the supplies to add the text himself.)

The Colorado clash follows last year’s efforts by anti-LGBT activist Theodore Shoebatattempting to paint bakeries as hypocritical for refusing to put the words “gay marriage is wrong” on a cake.

Shoebat — and presumably the unnamed Colorado man — seek to create a false equivalency between bakeries that have come under legal fire for refusing to make cakes for same-sex weddings with those that won’t produce blatantly anti-LGBT messaging. Of course, refusing to create a cake for an opposite-sex couple’s wedding would be analogous discrimination, and it’s doubtful that many bakeries would be eager to make “straight marriage is wrong” or “God hates heterosexuality” pastries.

Wedding expo at Solas Raleigh held specifically for the LGBT community

Monday, January 19th, 2015


— The exhibitors were typical of those at any other wedding expo, from florists to photographers, alongside food vendors and event planners ready to do business.

What made Sunday’s expo at Solas Raleigh unique was that it was held specifically for the LGBT community – perhaps the first of its kind since same-sex marriage became legal in North Carolina in October.

“The great thing about our event is the couples are so grateful to be able to meet face-to-face with professionals who are LGBT-friendly, respectful and ready to help them prepare the ceremony they’ve been dreaming of for years,” said Marianne Puechl, co-founder of the organizing Rainbow Wedding Network.

“On the other side, we have the exhibitors who are grateful to be able to meet this niche.”

Sexual orientation was irrelevant to some vendors. For others, it was the reason to be there.

Lia Sanchez and her fiance Derek McManaman, co-owners of Durham-based Lez Get Married, offer event planning specifically to the LGBT and LGBT-friendly community. Sanchez said the couple gambled when starting the company last May.

“We’re gay ourselves and knew people were going other places or getting married in other states, or having commitment ceremonies whether or not it was legal (in North Carolina),” Sanchez said.

A vast majority of her clientele once got married in Washington, D.C., and returned to the local area to hold their banquets. But that arrangement was a thing of the past as Lez Get Married participated in its first gay wedding expo.

“People are really excited, especially the couples who have been together 20-plus years and had the thought to go get married in another state, but didn’t see the point if it wasn’t going to be recognized in their own state,” Sanchez said.

For Emily Vardell and Brenda Linares of Chapel Hill, the expo was a long time coming even though their wedding date is September 2016. Engaged in 2009, the couple’s wedding date will mark the nine-year anniversary of their meeting.

“We were waiting for it to become legal in North Carolina and making sure our parents had time to come around to the idea,” Vardell said.

After making a round at the expo, what stood out to Linares was a sense of acceptance. She said other, non-LGBT wedding expos have come across as intimidating.

“Just because it’s people of the same sex, it’s no different,” Linares said. “We want to have a celebration with friends and family the same as any other couple.”

The Rainbow Wedding Network, based outside Asheville, has held 125 such expos in 27 states. Another event is planned for the Sheraton Hotel in Charlotte on Feb. 15.

LGBT equality doesn’t guarantee happiness, says Doctor Who revival mastermind Russell T Davies

Monday, January 19th, 2015


Equality for gay people does not guarantee them happiness, television writer Russell T Davies has said.

The scriptwriter, best known for heading the revival of the BBC’sDoctor Who after its 16-year hiatus, told the Guardiannewspaper he had dwelled on the theme in his latest drama,Banana.

“Just because your parents are happy with your gayness doesn’t mean your life’s fine,” he said.

“Making the mass generalisation that it’s OK, or easier, to be out at 18 now, with that comes a presumption that your life is happy.

“No 18-year-old is happy! You will have problems. You will make your life a problem, or find problems. I wanted to explore that, to say, equality doesn’t mean happiness.”

Despite focusing on LBGT characters, Banana deliberately has no ‘coming out’ story, a usual feature of such dramas.

Mr Davies, who is himself gay, said that he was exploring new territory with the storylines of the programme and noted that soap operas were now covering previously novel LGBT storylines as a matter of course.

Bananas is one of three new series released by Mr Davies for Channel 4, the other two being Cumber, and Tofu, the latter of which is only available online.

The channel says the programmes “explore the heartbreak and joy of modern sex lives – from gay to straight, and anything in between”.

Mr Davies had previously written the drama Queer As Folk, which chronicles the lives of three gay men living in Manchester.


LGBT calendar to raise funds to help kids with cancer

Monday, January 19th, 2015


When members of the Born2Win social welfare trust were designing their calendar for 2015, they decided to go for something different.

Rather than scenery shots or pictures of mainstream models, the group decided to use pictures of achievers from the LGBT community.

The calendar, which the group is bringing out for the second year, has become a means to showcase the success stories of the LGBT community. “When people think of transgenders, they automatically picture us as beggars on trains, or even sex workers. We are trying to break that stereotype,” said C. Swetha, founder of Born2Win.

The group is donating the money generated from the proceeds of the calendar sale to children affected by cancer.

“We would like to help someone in dire need, and not just those from the LGBT community,” said A. Malaika, secretary of Born2Win.

The 12 personalities featured on the calendar have had an impact on society at large. “We have included people who have had achievements in different fields, from social work, art and dance to the government sector,” said Ms. Swetha. “We would like people to proudly display the calendar in their offices and homes,” she said.

B. Sekar, who has helped a number of transgender women cope with their situations, is the face of January.

For more information, mail born2


Filmmaker Shanker in soup! LGBT files complaint against ‘I’

Monday, January 19th, 2015
Filmmaker Shanker is in a soup over his indecent portal of a LGBT’s lust over the film’s protagonist Vikram in his latest Tamil magnum opus ‘I’.
According to reports pouring the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and LGBT community (LGBT) community is injured by the scene where a LGBT, played by actor, Ojas M. Rajani, seduces the hero Vikram but the hero discards his sexual approaches. Angry at the hero’s disapproval the LGBT joins the gang of villains.
The LGBT community is so much disturbed by this lewd scene that they have gheroed Shanker’s residence and held protest demanding deletion of this objectionable scene from the movie. In addition the communities both in Chennai and Hyderabad have field cases against Shankar and producers of ‘I’ for defaming their community
Aggravated by the menace of the LGBT community Shanker has sought police protection and is in a tight corner. A source close to Shanker confirmed the news.
The issue has got momentum with the popular transgender TV personality Rose Venkatesan condemning Shanker for belittling the LGBT community.
Rose has sought the support of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and LGBT community (LGBT) and plans to exploit the issue. Rose added, “The way Shankar has portrayed Ojas’s character makes us look like some sex-starved individuals. We are in talks with the members of LGBT community to decide the next course of action.”
Interestingly while the LGBT community is making hue and cry over the scene readers would be surprised to know that Ojas M. Rajani, the actor who has played the LGBT character in the film, himself is a LGBT and has no complaints about the portrayal.
Briefing media, Rajani said, “Though I have not seen the movie but I am sure Shankar sir would have not done anything that would hurt the sentiments of the LGBT community.”
It may be noted that both Shankar and Ojas M. Rajani, who is a make-up artist, share a healthy relation. They have worked together in six films and Shaker has great trust in his abilities as a potential makeup artist.

2015’s Anti-LGBT Law Proposals Are Already Stacking Up

Monday, January 19th, 2015


Seven days. That’s how long it took a Missouri lawmaker to propose 2015’s first anti-LGBT bill.

On January 7, Missouri State Rep. Elijah Haahr introduced HB 104, lovingly titled the “Student Freedom of Association Act” in an attempt to mask its true intention: To allow student groups at public universities to deny access to LGBT students based on the group’s religious beliefs. Haahr’s bill is a response to last year’s weird panic over the pretty standard set of rules regarding student groups, which basically say that any group that wants to be recognized and receive funding or meeting space must be open to all students on campus. This new bill aims to solve that “problem” that — let’s be honest — probably doesn’t exist, by demanding religious groups get access to the same resources as all other student groups, even if they violate the conditions of receiving those resources.

“Religious freedom” seems to be discriminatory groups’ flavor-of-the-month excuse for these measures, which are popping up at both state and local levels throughout the country. Some towns are even rolling back previously approved LGBT protections, as Starkville, Mississippi, did in a closed-door meeting earlier this month.

A recently passed anti-discrimination ordinance in Plano, Texas, has inspired lawmakers in that state to take their objections to a higher level. They’vebegun organizing a measure that would prevent municipalities from formalizing any protections to a group not protected by the state government. So, unless the Texas legislature says LGBT people are a protected minority, no local government would be allowed to include them in anti-discrimination measures. The passing of that bill would settle the matter of Houston’s currently disputed ordinance, which was challenged by a petition whose suspiciously similar signatures have come under harsh scrutiny.

All of these measures are part of a statewide attempt to curtail LGBT rights through any means necessary.

Also in the Texas legislature, Rep. Cecil Bell Jr. has introduced a bill that would bar county clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the event that an ongoing federal case about the state’s marriage ban rules in favor of same-sex marriage advocates.

All of these measures are part of a statewide attempt to curtail LGBT rights through any means necessary, using whatever loopholes politicians can find. Lawmakers in other states, however, are looking for blanket measures that would keep them from having to nitpick at civil liberties.

Take Virginia, for example, where last week notorious anti-gay legislator Del. Bob Marshall introduced that state’s — and possibly the nation’s — most extreme “right to discriminate” bill to date. His HB 1414 creates a “conscience clause” that bars any organization that requires a “license, registration, or certificate” — so, literally any public or private enterprise — from requiring its workers to do anything that would “violate the religious or moral conviction with respect to same-sex ‘marriage’ or homosexual behavior.” If you put aside how horrific his proposal is, Marshall’s clever phrasing is almost impressive: It’s a blatant attempt to attack the state’s LGBT population at every level, by giving any person who finds someone’s sexuality offensive the ability to simply cry “morality!” and stop doing their job without a single consequence.

That’s the hope for proponents of laws modeled on the federal “Religious Freedom and Restoration Act” that passed under President Bill Clinton but was ruled to not apply to states in 1997. Michigan’s attempt to pass an RFRAfloundered in December, but there’s already talk of reviving the effort this year, and those watching anti-LGBT groups across the nation suspect that’s where their efforts will fall throughout 2015. If you’re watching the news in your state, keep an ear out for talk of “sincerely held religious beliefs” and “substantially burdened” religious exercise. If you hear those phrases flying around, it’s likely your state is considering a “religious freedom” bill targeted at protecting anti-LGBT beliefs.

If you’re watching the news in your state, keep an ear out for talk of “sincerely held religious beliefs” and “substantially burdened” religious exercise.

Lastly, because let’s not forget trans people can be targeted outright without hiding behind religious convictions, a state senator in Kentucky has proposed a bill that would give students the right to sue for up to $2,500 if they encounter a trans person using the “wrong” restroom, locker room or shower at school. Sen. C.B. Embry Jr.‘s “Kentucky Student Privacy Act” relies heavily on that “biological sex” idea that we know is never so cut-and-dry as the term might suggest. It’s unclear if Embry’s bill will gain the necessary support to pass, but he’s doing everything he can to frame it as an “emergency” measure, so we should at least see some result soon.

We’re only one month into 2015, but legislators across the country are making it clear that LGBT rights are on trial this year. Whether they’re claiming religious freedom or personal safety, conservatives are being ruthless in their attempts to carve out legal space for discrimination. And if we don’t call them out at every opportunity, we risk losing even the moderate rights LGBT people have secured through decades of advocacy.

Out at Work: The top 50 list of LGBT executives

Monday, January 19th, 2015


Amid thousands of entries, the following 50 executives are officially commended for their active role in making a difference for LGBT people in business.

1 Antonio Simões

Chief executive officer, HSBC UK
Simões has increased the visibility of LGBT issues at HSBC, works with its Pride networks and chairs the UK Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Committee. Lord John Browne dubbed him “a poster child for diversity” in his book The Glass Closet.

2 Claudia Brind-Woody

Vice-president and managing director, global intellectual property licensing, IBM
Brind-Woody is one of the most senior out executives at IBM and co-chairs its Global LGBT Executive Taskforce, taking the lead in revolutionising training on LGBT visibility and rights. She serves on LGBT boards and is an active speaker at LGBT events worldwide.

Integration not segregation: How all schools can be LGBT-friendly

Monday, January 19th, 2015


It was announced last week that England’s first ‘gay school’, aimed primarily at LGBT pupils, is due to be launched in Manchester. Elly Barnes, CEO and Founder of Educate & Celebrate, explains why she would instead prefer to see all schools adopt LGBT-friendly practices

How do children learn about difference? They learn from their experiences and by who surrounds them.

Through our teacher training and resource program we recognize that those students in multi-cultural areas have a much greater understanding of difference as they are surrounded by people of different cultures, faiths, disabilities, genders, sexual orientations and gender identities.

Creating visibility around these differences increases understanding, acceptance and ‘usualizes’ diversity as a whole in our communities.

Young people understand oppression. We educate our young people about human rights and discrimination using examples of the Black Civil Rights movement and women’s suffrage.

It is utterly ludicrous to young people now that black and white people were segregated and women were not able to vote.

Education is key to eradicating all forms of discrimination including those of different gender and sexual diversities.

The proposed Manchester LGBT school has good intentions of creating a safe-space for LGBT people and community groups, this is a necessary response to the growing need for LGBT youth provision in light of council cuts.

However, a proposed ‘school’ for LGBT students is not the solution to decreasing the high levels of HBT bullying in our schools, as segregating students who are perceived to be different only serves to make them the victim and does not allow mainstream schools to effectively implement their inclusion policies.

Making ALL schools LGBT-Friendly is the solution. Giving all teachers, staff and parents the confidence, training and resources to change ingrained attitudes and make positive institutional change; this is the way forward to achieving social justice in the education system.

The root of the problem is lack of education around LGBT law, people and history in our schools. When schools adopt an LGBT-Inclusive curriculum, then the bullying is eradicated. Bullying is the end product of ignorance and invisibility.

The key is to make LGBT-Friendly schools though delivering training to all staff, updating policies, creating resources for an LGBT-Inclusive curriculum, increasing visibility in the environment and engaging the community in events.

This strategy has been proven to equip teachers to deal effectively with HBT [homophobic, biphobic, transphobic] bullying in line with Ofsted criteria and fully advocates for all in our school communities to be treated equally and fairly according to the Equality Act 2010.

All our schools can be safe-spaces for everyone through adopting an LGBT-Inclusive curriculum. We know the answer is integration when after receiving training a teacher delegate reports from their school, ‘A real sense of solidarity, a mutual goal and being part of something bigger.’

The state of LGBT equality in America

Monday, January 19th, 2015


This column is part of “The State of America,” an series leading up to President Barack Obama’s 2015 State of the Union Address on Tuesday, Jan. 20. This is the state of the issues you care about, as told by organizations promoting social change and other policy experts.

If you want to understand the state of the union for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans, you should begin with the new faces in Congress. It’s undeniable President Obama continues to be a true champion of equality—and he’s joined by a bipartisan coalition in both the House and the Senate in fighting for pro-equality measures. But no matter what President Obama says in his remarks about LGBT equality on Tuesday night, you can be sure that many of these new members will have other ideas in mind.

Take Represenative Jody Hice of Georgia for instance, freshly elected in 2014. Represenative Hice has compared marriage equality to bestiality and incest. He’s compared being LGBT to alcoholism and drug addiction—and has suggested that we, as a community, are “enslave[ed]” by our lifestyle.

That’s just the beginning. Fellow newbie Represenative Glenn Grothman has said loving gay and lesbian couples shouldn’t have access to family and medical leave to care for their loved ones. Representative Cresent Hardy wants to re-instate Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. And of course, Senator Ted Cruz wants to introduce every bill he can to dismiss and defame LGBT people and their families.

So when you think about how the LGBT community is doing in this country, it’s important to read beyond the headlines of progress for marriage equality in courtrooms from Mississippi to Montana. It’s not sufficient to be satisfied with representations of LGBT characters in television and media. The truth is that the equality LGBT people have won in this country is incomplete, new, brittle, and it faces a blistering counterattack on all fronts.

Related: Supreme Court to rule on same-sex marriage

Today, more than 200 million Americans live in a state with marriage equality for committed and loving gay and lesbian couples. But fully half of those people live in a state where there is no statewide non-discrimination law on the books. That means LGBT people in these states risk being fired, evicted, or denied service on the basis of their identity. There’s no state law that says that can’t happen, and too often, it does happen. For transgender Americans in particular, living openly and honestly as their true self also means that they are denied opportunity, fairness, even basic dignity. Equality has not yet been achieved.

That’s why, despite the Jody Hices and Ted Cruzes of the world, the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, will fight for a sweeping new federal non-discrimination bill in this session of Congress. We’ve got to guarantee that the federal non-discrimination standards we set apply to everyone—and that the LGBT community from Mississippi to Montana can be certain that the law has their back.

But that’s only one piece of the puzzle.

Today, the bigoted anti-LGBT activists that are losing the fight here in the United States are taking their hate overseas. From Russia, to Uganda, to Brunei, HRC has documented and exposed how these radical provocateurs are seeding hateful global laws that target LGBT people with arrest, jail time, or worse. In 2011, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared in a speech in Geneva that LGBT rights are human rights around the globe. In the coming years, it should be a national imperative to make that vision become a reality.

Today, the state of the union for LGBT people is deeply imperfect, but progress is being made. LGBT people face big challenges, but at the root of all these challenges is a simple truth. LGBT people have the same hopes, dreams and aspirations as anyone else. Legal discrimination makes achieving these dreams much harder. Harassment, even violence, sometimes makes these aspirations seem out of reach. But LGBT people still seek fairness and opportunity, safety and security for our families, hope and optimism for the future, and the freedom that comes from knowing that the founding documents of this nation belong to us, too.

Representative Jody Hice may not care about all that, but President Barack Obama does. So do many in both parties in both Houses of Congress. Most importantly, so do the vast majority of the American people. And in 2015 the LGBT movement will keep fighting until equality is a reality in all 50 states – and no LGBT person has to suffer in second class citizenship.

Adam Talbot is a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization.

English School For LGBT Students Provokes Opposition, But It Could Be A Good Idea

Monday, January 19th, 2015


Manchester, England may be opening a school for LGBT youth that would serve as a safe educational space for queer students. The group LGBT Youth North West has proposed to open a school with 40 spots reserved for queer students in an attempt to create an environment where LGBT youths can find support systems and not face the isolation caused by non-LGBT friendly environments at other schools. While the purpose of this is to decrease bullying and suicide rates in the LGBT community, some are concerned that this would actually create segregation. Tim Loughton, a member of Britain’s parliament, says it is a step in the wrong direction. He told The Telegraph

“I cannot see how segregating a group of young people identified by their sexuality can aid better engagement and understanding.The way to achieve more integration, understanding and empathy is not by segregating members of one group, and this would seem to me to be a step backwards from achieving tolerance.”

Of course, Mr. Loughton, straight, white, male extraordinaire wouldn’t understand that a queer friendly space has a lot more to do with people identifying a certain way because of their sexuality, but with every single experience that comes with that identity and the cultures that emerge from that identity’s nuances that aren’t experienced by anyone else. It’s also important to note that the group isn’t suggesting a segregation or even an entire LGBT school, but is suggesting the creation of a space for a certain community to find comfort and safety WITHIN what Loughton would call an “integrated” space. If approved, this could be a really important initiative in paving the way for different iterations of safe spaces for LGBT students, and set examples all over the world on the importance of creating these spaces, whether it’s with reserved spots for LGBT youth or something different.

American Idol contestant comes out as trans

Thursday, January 8th, 2015


Season 12 American Idol consetant Jaidah Christina Davila has come out as a trans woman.

Ms Davila reached the Las Vegas semi-finals in 2013 as JDA. She is now a singer at a trans-friendly nightclub in Chicago.

She spoke about her transition in an interview withThe TV Page.

She said: “I am not just crossdressing anymore. I am not this gay, feminine boy. I am actually now on hormone replacement therapy. I have been for a year and a half.

“I don’t even recognize the person that I used to be on IDOL.”

She also spoke about coming out to her family: “[My mother] just thought that I was cross dressing and being happy. So I had to hide a little bit from her. I told everyone but her and that suddenly hit me that that wasn’t fair for her to be left out.

“I have a gay uncle, who I am not going to name. When he started seeing on my Facebook that I was wanting to be called “her” and “she” instead of “him,” he stopped hitting me up and that really hurt my feelings.”

London preacher who called for gays to be killed defends Paris Charlie Hebdo shootings

Thursday, January 8th, 2015


A London preacher who previously called for gay people to be stoned to death has written an article defending the murder of 12 people in Paris yesterday at the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Yesterday, gunmen killed twelve people, after attacking the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical French magazine that famously published a cartoon of a gay Muslim kiss.

Responding today, USA Today published an opinion article by London preacher Anjem Choudary who defends the murder, and appears to blame the French Government for “allowing” the magazine to publish them images, “thereby placing the sanctity of its citizens at risk?”

He writes: “Muslims consider the honor of the Prophet Muhammad to be dearer to them than that of their parents or even themselves. To defend it is considered to be an obligation upon them. The strict punishment if found guilty of this crime under sharia (Islamic law) is capital punishment implementable by an Islamic State. This is because the Messenger Muhammad said, “Whoever insults a Prophet kill him.”

“However, because the honor of the Prophet is something which all Muslims want to defend, many will take the law into their own hands, as we often see.”

He continues: “Why in this case did the French government allow the magazine Charlie Hebdo to continue to provoke Muslims, thereby placing the sanctity of its citizens at risk?”

Speaking in an interview with Fox News, Choudhary was challenged on his views, and asked whether he still thinks gay people should be put to death, as well as adulterers.

He responded to say he thought those found guilty of “sodomy”, and where there are four witnesses, should be stoned to death under Shariah law, which he said should be implemented worldwide.

The preacher is known for his extreme anti-gay views.

The 47-year-old is the former UK head of the Islamist group al-Muhajiroun or Islam4UK, banned in the UK in 2010.


Anti-gay group co-founder: Only God can stop same-sex marriage now

Thursday, January 8th, 2015


The former head of the National Organisation for Marriage has claimed that it is up to God to stop the spread of marriage equality.

Maggie Gallagher headed the anti-gay group until 2011, but has repeatedly claimed that it is now too late to stop equal marriage.

Speaking to the Daily Beast this week, she said when asked whether equality was now inevitable: “Nothing is inevitable. ‘Inevitability’ is the progressive substitute for the idea of Divine Providence.

“Either God is in charge, or the future hasn’t yet happened and is freely determined. Or God leaves us free.”

The cryptic message is less direct than the group’s current President, Brian Brown, who warned last year that “our resources are nearly exhausted”.

NOM’s tax filings from 2013 show that donations have plummeted, and increased spending left the group with $2.5 million of debt at the end of the tax year.

Gallagher forecast last March that equal marriage was likely to happen in all 50 states within 18 months “whether we like it or not”.

She later claimed that same-sex marriage opponents must shift to trying to sustain a sub-culture of ‘traditional marriage’.

Ms Gallagher claimed last year: “I believe that with the Windsor decision, we now clearly have five votes in the Supreme Court for gay marriage in all 50 states, so I think that’s going to happen very shortly.

“Our big challenge is going to be how do we sustain a culture or sub-culture of marriage when our government defines and teaches that marriage is something rather different than what we believe.”

Italy: leaflet warns patients to “take precautions” over gay dentist

Thursday, January 8th, 2015


Leaflets were posted outside the office of a gay dentist in Massa, Tuscany, telling patients to take “due precautions”.

According to ANSA, one of the leaflets read: “Notice to patients, a gay dentist works here, you are kindly asked to be careful and take the due precautions.”

It urged patients to “take the necessary precautions so as to protect their health” and was signed by an “organism for the protection of patients against illnesses contracted in dentists’ environment”.

It named the allegedly gay dentist, and has been widely condemned by equal rights groups.

Alessandro Bordoni, president of the local equal opportunities commission, said: “We will hunt those responsible and take legal action.”


Thursday, January 8th, 2015


After a 2-mile walk, Paul Guerrant was just a few hundred yards from home on the evening of Dec. 22 — a cold, rainy night in Dalton, Georgia.

Guerrant, 43, had been talking to a friend from out of state on his cell phone as he walked alone across the Northwest Georgia town, 90 miles north of Atlanta near Chattanooga, Tenn.

At 9:28 p.m., the call ended, cell phone records indicate. Nine minutes later, a passerby called 911 to report Guerrant lying in the street unresponsive. Guerrant was rushed to a hospital, where he died from blunt force trauma to the head, having been struck multiple times with a hammer-like object.

Now, police are offering a $10,000 reward as they search for clues about what happened during those nine minutes, in a case that has some telltale signs of an anti-gay hate crime.

Project Q Atlanta reports:

The severity of the attack indicates that Guerrant knew his killer, Dalton police spokesperson Bruce Frazier told Project Q Atlanta on Tuesday.

“When you see this kind of violence, typically the attacker and the victim know each other,” Frazier says. “That level of violence can occur in a random encounter but it is much more likely that it is somebody that knew the victim and that there was a personal motivation behind it. We don’t know that for sure, but that is the assumption you would make from this level of attack.”

Frazier says detectives have ruled out any of Guerrant’s known associates such as friends or ex-boyfriends as suspects in the homicide. But whether Guerrant’s sexual orientation was a factor in his murder isn’t clear, he says.

“Whether the victim being gay is motivation for the attack, we really don’t know the answer to that. At this point, we have not identified a suspect or motive for the attack. It’s possible but it’s not something that we’re ready to identify as the reason for the attack,” Frazier says.

According to The Times Free Press of Chattanooga, Guerrant had struggled with alcoholism and homelessness, but had recently celebrated 17 years of sobriety and been baptized in a local church.

Guerrant’s Facebook page shows signs of a recent relapse, as well as intense anger about an ex-boyfriend’s plans to marry another man. But on the night of his murder, Gerrant was walking home from an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

From The Times Free Press:

Guerrant, 43, had grown up in Dalton but left some time after graduating high school in 1991, longtime family friend Sally Higgins said. She said he recently returned to Dalton but wasn’t in contact with local family members.

“He was trying to get on the right path,” Higgins said. “He’d made big strides over the past year.” …

At Rock Bridge Community Church, Guerrant had grown involved in several small group ministries, the pastor said. And he served on a technology team to help with the church’s productions. Turley remembers him always being full of joy and enthusiasm.

“We were excited about the journey he was taking with God,” Turley said. “This has just been a terrible tragedy for us as a church. We’re heartbroken. We would love to see justice. But we’re also very grateful to have been a part of a process in his life to where now we know where he is. For that part we’re relieved.”

Anyone with information about Guerrant’s murder is asked to contact Detective Brian Shirley at 706-278-9085, dial 9 and then enter extension 189.


Will gay art tour of the Vatican get the Pope’s seal of approval?

Thursday, January 8th, 2015


A new art tour celebrating the sexuality of some of the Catholic church’s most revered artists provides exciting new perspectives on the world’s best-known art

Visitors to Rome used to be told by tour guides that Michelangelo was “married to his art”. At least that was less shameless than the 1961 biopic that gives him a made-up girlfriend. It is a welcome sign of changing attitudes that an Italian tour company is now offering art tours of the Vatican that focus on the sexualities of Michelangelo and other great 16th and 17th-century masters.

Michelangelo was gay. Even very recently this was a controversial statement – in spite of copious visual and written evidence about his unconcealed sexual identity. Centuries of prudery and prejudice covered up the obvious, just as polite draperies added after Michelangelo’s death still cover the genitals and buttocks of some of his most potent nudes.

Quiiky, the gay travel company that is starting sexuality-themed tours of the Vatican, sees its venture as in line with the current pope’s liberal teaching … but it’s still a long way from the official Vatican perspective on art and God.

Michelangelo filled the Sistine Chapel with nudes that embody his passion for male beauty. Meanwhile, in the Vatican Museums that adjoin this Catholic holiest of holies, you can see paintings by Leonardo da Vinci – renowned during the Renaissance for his love of young men with long hair in ringlets and his relationships with his assistants – and Caravaggio, satirised in his own lifetime as a notorious “sodomite”.

The Catholic church and art historians besotted with religion have for a long time chosen to ignore or deny the sensual side of these artists, in spite of ample contemporary evidence that it was never a secret. Caravaggio is, today, the most contentious. Church-addled scholars insist that his homosexuality is a modern invention, the more sophisticated citing the French theorist Michel Foucault who saw gay identity and sexuality itself as modern constructs (Renaissance Italy however had a very modern notion of gay people). You can argue forever about Caravaggio because the surviving documents of his life are so slim.

This is where Michelangelo Buonarroti, so famous he gets taken for granted, suddenly takes on an exciting new character. Michelangelo left more evidence of his sexual and emotional life than almost anyone else in his age. His intense art is itself a massive document of a life torn between flesh and spirit, mind and matter. Michelangelo’s nudes are about a lot more than sex. But they make no sense without it.

Of course they express his passion for male bodies; he left written evidence to confirm it.

Michelangelo wrote hundreds of love poems that survive. The greatest areaddressed to Tommaso dei Cavalieri, a young Roman nobleman for whom he conceived an unrequited passion. Other men are also commemorated in these verses hewn from a language of stone.

Renaissance neo-Platonism, a revival of ancient philosophy that saw love as the link between heaven and earth, offered Michelangelo a way of at once proclaiming and neutralising his desire. He presents himself in his poems as a lover of men, but also as pure spirit.

That didn’t stop religious zealots accusing him in his lifetime of filling the Sistine Chapel with gay art. When Michelangelo painted the Last Judgement on its altar wall, pious critics claimed his pictures were more suitable for a bathhouse than God’s house – which probably reveals a lot about Renaissance bathhouses. Soon after his death the Vatican got to work bowdlerising these nudes.

Art history added its own layers of denial, turning Michelangelo into a remote bore. Only now is the heroism of his sexuality becoming well known. Modern books about Michelangelo no longer try to claim he was married to his art. He was gay. And the Vatican should be proud.

HIV Positive Kenny Badmus Comes Out As Gay On Facebook

Thursday, January 8th, 2015


Brand expert, Kenny Badmus who took to his Facebook page to reveal he was HIV positive on Dec. 1st, this morning took to his wall again to reveal that he is gay. He wrote about how he got married and led a false life just to satisfy society and how he told his ex-wife before they got married that he’s gay and how she didn’t care hoping he would, with time, stop being gay.He also talked about how she allegedly victimized him when he eventually got fed up and asked for a divorce 6 years after they got married and had a child together. Kenny said he decided to share his experience to mark the one year anniversary of the Anti gay law which was passed on Jan 7th 2014. Read what he wrote after the cut.

When I first told my ex-wife that I was gay, we were far from being married. I wanted her to find other men honorably, who had a thing for women. I never did. I ‘swear down.’ I was only obeying the popular demand of traditions. Now, this was my terrible mistake. No one should live their life based on dogmas and other people’s expectations. As far as I could remember, even though I was always dating girls, I had always preferred being with a man. I had fought it with every fiber of spirituality in me as a Pentecostal preacher boy (find details and journeys in my book ‘THE EXODUS.’) The more I fought my s*xual preference for men, the more I became more miserable. Unfortunately, as erroneously believed, s*x wasn’t the problem. I had been having s*x with women as far back as a twelve-year-old. se*uality is whom we are emotionally present with, not whom we are sleeping with. And oh boy, she really tried to make me a heterosexual. But I’m still not, sadly.

One of those pre-marriage days, while we were with our marriage counseling team, I brought up the issue again – that I had always had a preference for men. I wanted the Ministers to dissuade her from the marriage. I just couldn’t put a ring on a fat big lie. My father taught me one principle: DIE FOR YOUR OWN TRUTH, EVEN IF IT’S UNPOPULAR, BUT DON’T HARM OTHERS WITH IT. She was so happy to tell the ministers, as quickly as she could, that my feelings for men would all be gone, because she believed it was a childhood disorder. I guess she meant she was going to f**k my brains into heterosexuality. This is a mistake a lot of us make. We all want to change people to conform to our preferences. We find it easier to play god in the lives of people we did not make.
After six years together, I knew I was not getting any better. I STILL LOVED MEN. And one day, because I didn’t want to cheat on her, I humbly asked her that we should go our separate ways. That was when all hell broke loose. She suddenly forgot about how it all started. In court, she told the Judge how she suddenly found out that I was gay, and how it’s against the Law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In other words, she wanted me sentenced to the new 14 years jail term served by the Nigerian government. Luckily, I was in a civil court. Sadly, that day, I had to duck my face in shame as the crowd jeered at me for being whom I had always been. ‘You faggot’ ‘Oh what a shameful man!’ ‘homo!’ ‘Na wa o ‘ I still don’t know how I walked out of the court premises that day. ( this case is still ongoing) What about my business.? Tell any client in Nigeria that you are gay, and you lose their business. That’s exactly what happened. I lost friends, businesses, sponsorships and family members. I had to start my life all again. Applied for a new job. Get back to school. Although my ex-wife is one of the most faithful and beautiful women in Nigeria, she is a victim of institutionalized homophobia. Just like many people who are reading this.

It will be exactly a year today, when Nigeria instituted a law to jail people like me. What’s our offense? Because we are simply wired differently. There are only about 5 to 10% of homosexuals in every population as cited by popular findings and documents. Why is a 90% dominant population afraid of its 10%? Shouldn’t you care about us? Don’t you think it’s a lot easier to be seen as part of the 90%? And before you throw those religious verses on us for being wired differently, I want to leave you with my favorite Bible verses from Romans 8:Italics mine:
That Nothing Can Separate Us from ( the universal narrative of ) God’s Love
31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son ( in the popular narratives according to the Christian Faith ) but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one…

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in ( in the narrative of ) Christ Jesus our Lord

Is this the most comically bad, anti-gay poem ever written?

Thursday, January 8th, 2015


‘I saw the kiss by Michael Sam.. It made me mad–he kissed a man!’ – See more at:

This is not going to win any poetry prizes, unless it’s for ‘Most Bigoted Entry’.

Evangelist and apparent amateur poet Peter LaBarbera has released a new work attacking gay athlete Michael Sam.

It is titled ‘I Saw the Kiss by Michael Sam. It Made Me Mad. He Kissed a Man!’ (Hardly ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’ is it?).

It is in ‘tribute’ to the gay athlete when he learned he would become the first openly LGBTI player to be drafted into the NFL.

When he learned the news he was in the St. Louis Rams, the kiss he gave his boyfriend Vito Cammisano went viral around the world.

Having spent months, clearly, working on the poem, LaBarbera has finally released his full rhyming thoughts on the subject on his website.

Note the couplet in which ‘gayness’ is rhymed with ‘anus’. Beautiful.

I saw the kiss by Michael Sam..
It made me mad–he kissed a man!

That’s something I don’t want to see
It’s wrong, unnatural, and it’s not just me.

Many now say, ‘Homosexuality is OK.’
But God says there’s a better way.

He made men for women, and women for men.
So why are ‘gays’ so prideful then?

Please, no public same-sex kisses, Michael Sam.
We don’t want to see this man-on-man!

Not in a boat, not in a car
This public perversion goes too far!

Not in the store or on a bus
This same-sex stuff, it brings disgust.

Not at the movies or on TV
It’s wrong, unnatural, can’t you see?!

I don’t want my kids to think it’s right
So please, please, keep it out of sight!

Why is it always in our faces?
This sin–celebrated in so many places?

Even at football and baseball games
We have to pretend homosexuality’s the same.

Young kids exposed to same-sex acts,
When parents just wanna’ have fun and relax.

‘Well,’ said Michael Sam, ‘let me ask you this:
‘Do you get mad when men and women kiss?!’

Man and woman, that’s Nature’s way.
As long as there’s not too much PDA.

‘But can’t you see, it’s who I am?!
‘I’m gay, accept me!’ begged Michael Sam.

I disagree–it’s not who you are, it’s what you do.
Hey, haven’t you had a girlfriend or two?

Yes, but this is now and that was then.
My ‘sexual orientation’…hey, it’s towards men!

No, Michael Sam insisted, I’m gay.
Can’t you see I was born that way?

Why must you hate gays like me?
‘Hate?’ I said. ‘I don’t hate you, I just disagree!’

You already changed from straight to perverse.
Why can’t the process work in reverse?

Many like you once thought they were that way.
But they left homosexuality behind and are now EX-gay!

Men like DL Foster and Stephen Black
Who lived as ‘gay’ for years but then turned back.

And EX-lesbians, too, like Charlene Cothran.
Have left the ‘gay’ life to follow God’s plan.

Besides, homosexuality’s not safe; you should see…
The alarming stats on MSM [men who have sex with men] from the CDC.

Almost every case of young male HIV
Is linked to the practice of gay sodomy.

Sure, the PC sports writers will all say
They couldn’t be happier that you’re ‘gay’

Some have compared you with the great 42.
But he broke the color barrier;
Homosexuality’s just a sin people DO!

I do not mean to pick a fight
When I say most Blacks don’t think homosexuality’s a ‘civil right.’

Far from a ‘right,’ Michael. In fact, it’s wrong.
Must I put this in a song?

Michael shot back: ‘Not wrong at all, it’s who I am!
‘I’m gay. My name is Michael Sam.’

‘God made me black and blessed me with gayness.’
Blessed you?! Then why are so many diseases linked to ‘sex’ in the anus?

No, God made you black–not “gay,”‘ said I.
‘You’ve chosen to believe a lie!’

You can’t change your skin color, that’s a fact.
But homosexuality? That’s only an act.

And conduct we don’t want to see–at all!
Not on a train, or at the mall.

Not at the beach or in the gym.
Don’t be a poster boy for sexual sin!

We don’t want to see your ‘gay’ kisses.
God’s ideal for sex and love homosexuality misses.

But I will pray for you, Michael Sam.
I’ll pray to the One who told Moses, ‘I AM WHO AM.’

If you believe in Jesus and turn from your sin,
Behold God’s kingdom: He’ll welcome you in!

Just remember, it’s God, not man, we answer to.
And He’s prepared a virtuous path for you.

No, He can’t bless your same-sex behavior.
But He’ll give you an ‘abundant life’ with the Savior.

And no ‘hate’ here–just God’s people’s love for the lost.
A price was paid for my sins and yours, at great cost.

Thanks for the chat,
I hope you see…

That you and I can disagree
Without me hating you, or you hating me.

– See more at:

Rubio: Bondi should continue fight against gay marriage in Florida

Thursday, January 8th, 2015


WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, the top elected Republican in Florida, says state Attorney General Pam Bondi should appeal a court decision that paved the way for the same-sex marriages that began in the state this week.

In any event, Rubio said he thinks the U.S. Supreme Court will soon decide the issue, a growing possibility. States are rapidly allowing gay marriage while a federal court in Ohio recently upheld a ban. On Friday, the high court could begin deliberations on whether to decide the issue for the country.

“I do not believe that there is a U.S. Constitutional right to same-sex marriage,” Rubio said in an interview with Florida reporters on Wednesday afternoon. “Now as I’ve said before, states have a right to change their laws. I don’t believe it’s unconstitutional. I just don’t believe there’s a constitutional right to it.

“States have always defined marriage in the laws and if a state wants to change its marriage laws, it should do so by petitioning their elected representatives in the legislature, and in the case of Florida, by placing on the ballot a question on the issue,” he continued. “I’m against it. I don’t agree with it. But we’re in a democracy and people can debate those issues and ultimately it will be decided through that process.”

Rubio’s comments come as Bondi, who had pursued challenges to same-sex marriages, has been vague about what she will do now. Her office is reviewing options. Rubio’s comments also come as some other Florida Republicans, while not accepting gay marriage, have effectively said the courts have decided and it’s time to move on.

Rubio, who is considering a run for president, nonetheless has tried to find a softer way to talk about gay marriage. In his new book, out next week, he writes:

“Thousands of years of human history have taught us that the ideal setting for children to grow up in is with a mother and a father committed to each other, living together and sharing the responsibility of raising their children. It is for this reason and this reason alone that I continue to believe marriage should be defined as one man and one woman. It is neither my place nor my intention to dictate to anyone who they are allowed to love or live with.”

While acknowledging changing public opinion, he added: “The trend that I will not accept, however, is the growing attitude that belief in traditional marriage equates to bigotry and hatred. Just as California has a right to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples, Florida has a right to define it as one man and one woman.”

Same-sex marriage is now allowed in 36 states plus the District of Columbia.


Gay Guys React To Outrageous Grindr Messages (NSFW)

Thursday, January 8th, 2015


We all know that gay hookup apps can be outrageous. The Internet as a medium oftentimes allows queer men to articulate some of their less socially acceptable fantasies through an anonymous channel without judgement (and sometimes withjudgment, but we don’t condone that).

Cue this video in which gay guys react to some of the most over the top messages (allegedly) sent via the popular hookup app Grindr. Many of these messages are hilarious because of how unexpected or unusual or straightforward they may be but we also want to keep in mind that one person’s “whoa, that’s too much!” is another person’s “this makes me feel good” (and we do condone people feeling good without shame).

That being said, we probably won’t be looking at a pan of lasagna in quite the same way for the foreseeable future.


Fox’s Erickson Calls LGBT Community “Terrorists” Over Firing Of Anti-Gay Atlanta Fire Chief

Thursday, January 8th, 2015


Fox News contributor and radio talk show host Erick Erickson declared that “the terrorists won in Atlanta” after right-wing media falsely claimed that Atlanta’s anti-gay fire chief was terminated for his religious beliefs.

On January 6, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed dismantled conservatives’ claims that Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran was fired over a book that he wrote which contains anti-gay remarks, explaining that Cochran’s lack of judgment in distributing the book to his employees, and not following instructions regarding his month-long suspension over publishing the book without notice to the city, is what led to his termination.

On January 7, hours after a horrific terrorist attack against staffers of the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris that left 12 people dead, Erickson wrote a blog post that likened the LGBT community to terrorists for objecting to the former Atlanta fire chief’s book, and stated that “the terrorists won”:

A publisher published something that offended. It mocked, it offended, and it showed the fallacy of a religion. It angered.

So the terrorists decided they needed to publicly destroy and ruin the publisher in a way that would not only make that destruction a public spectacle, but do it so spectacularly that others would think twice before publishing or saying anything similar.

The terrorist wants to sow fear. The destruction of an individual is not just meant to be a tool of vengeance, but a tool of instruction. It shows others what will happen to them if they dare do the same. It is generates self-regulating peer pressure. Others, fearing the fall out, will being to self-police and self-regulate. They will silence others on behalf of the terrorists. Out of fear, they will drive the ideas from the public square and society will make them off limits.


So they demanded the Mayor of Atlanta fire the Chief of the Fire Department for daring to write that his first duty was to “glory God” and that any sex outside of heterosexual marriage was a sin.

And the terrorists won in Atlanta.

Gay banner removed from Pride DVD cover in US

Thursday, January 8th, 2015


CBS Films has said it will look into why references to homosexuality were removed from the DVD cover of the US release of British film Pride.

The film, about a group of gay and lesbian activists who supported striking miners in the 1980s, was released in the UK last year.

Pink News found the DVD cover wording had changed, removing a reference to “gay and lesbian activists”.

A lesbian and gay banner was also removed from the back cover.

The film’s synopsis on the back of the US DVD was also changed from referring to “a London-based group of gay and lesbian activists” to “a group of London-based activists”.

The banner which was removed had read “Lesbians & Gays Support The Miners”.

CBS Films, which released the DVD alongside Sony Pictures, told Pink News: “We’re looking into this now and our page for the film remains the same as it has for months.”

Ben Roberts, director of the BFI film fund, which backed Pride, said: “I’m not surprised that the US distributors have taken a decision to sell more copies by watering down the gay content. I’m not defending it, it’s wrong and outmoded, but I’m not surprised.

“It’s an unfortunate commercial reality both here and in the US that distributors have to deal with and consider in getting films onto the shop shelf. LGBT material is largely marginalised outside of rare hits like Brokeback Mountain.”

The DVD was released by the US on 23 December and is scheduled for release in the UK in March.

Pride was named best film at the British Independent Film Awards last month.

It collected three awards in total, with Andrew Scott and Imelda Staunton picking up the best supporting actor and actress prizes for their roles in the film.

Writer Stephen Beresford joked at the awards: “It took 20 years to convince anyone that a film about vegan lesbian activists was a sure-fire hit.”

The critically-acclaimed film received standing ovations at both its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May and at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

‘The Flash’ is about to get its first gay supervillain

Thursday, January 8th, 2015


Hit superhero television series ‘The Flash’ is to feature its first gay supervillain, and the actor playing him said it is a “huge step forward.”

Andy Mientus has joined CW network’s ‘The Flash’, as the Pied Piper.

The 28-year-old told Variety at the premiere of Into the Woods on Monday: “With the gay thing, I feel like I’m representing a whole community… People are excited to see this character, so it is a lot of pressure. But I’m glad they are introducing the character to the show. It’s a huge step forward, and I’m thrilled to help make that happen. It’s awesome.

“The universe of ‘The Flash’ has such an intense, passionate fanbase, which has existed since the ’60s, and this is the first time he’s been in a live-action, on-camera interpretation, so I hope I pulled it off.”

On his costume, he continued: “It’s badass. I can’t put it on and not feel powerful,” said Mientus, who originally auditioned to play Barry Allen, aka the Flash. “It tells you everything you need to know on how to move and feel like a superhero. It does a lot of the work for you.”

The Pied Piper will make his début on the show at the end of January.


Gunmen massacre staff at French magazine that published Islamic gay kiss

Thursday, January 8th, 2015


Gunmen have killed at least twelve people, after attacking the offices of a magazine that published a cartoon of a gay Muslim kiss.

Masked attackers stormed the Paris offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo this afternoon.

The gunmen opened fire with assault rifles while staff were in an editorial conference, killing at least twelve people, and injuring another seven.

The magazine has repeatedly mocked Islam, publishing an edition “guest edited” by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in 2011.

The magazine has previously been targeted with fire-bombs and cyber-terrorism for its controversial content.

An edition after a previous attack included a poignant picture of the magazine’s editor kissing a Muslim man, with the message: “Love is stronger than hate.”

The French President Francois Hollande has condemned the “exceptional barbarity” of the attack, which he labelled an affront to free speech.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “The murders in Paris are sickening. We stand with the French people in the fight against terror and defending the freedom of the press.”

A message previously left on their website after an attack said: “You keep abusing Islam’s almighty Prophet with disgusting and disgraceful cartoons using excuses of freedom of speech… Be God’s Curse On You! We Will be Your Curse on Cyber World!”

A New Virginia Bill Would Let Schools, Hotels, Restaurants, and Hospitals Turn Gays Away

Thursday, January 8th, 2015


Nearly a year ago, Kansas legislators quietly attempted to legalize anti-gay segregation, abandoning the effort only after a national wave of outrage arose. Now a Republican delegate in Virginia is attempting to replicate Kansas’ effort—with a bill so extreme, so radically and viciously anti-gay, that it makes Kansas’ measure look moderate by comparison.

The Virginia bill, introduced by Del. Bob Marshall, is actually quite ingenious in its complete degradation of gay citizens. Like every “religious liberty” measure introduced over the past year, its true intent is to legalize discrimination against gay people. But whereas most of those bills attempted to allow discrimination in the realm of gaymarriage—permitting, for instance, a florist to refuse to provide flowers for a gay couple’s wedding—the Virginia bill has no such limitation.

Instead, Marshall’s measure would attach a “conscience clause” to any “license, registration, or certificate” obtained from the commonwealth, whether by a private business or a government agency. This clause would allow all workers to refuse to “perform, assist, consent to, or participate in any action” that would “violate the religious or moral conviction of such person with respect to same-sex ‘marriage’ orhomosexual behavior.” (Emphasis mine—though the scare quotes around “marriage” are in the bill.) In other words, workers in the state of Virginia need only declare that interacting with people who partake in “homosexual behavior” violates their “moral conviction”—and they will be free to turn them away.

Because the bill applies to both private and public enterprises, and because these enterprises almost always need some kind of “license, registration, or certificate” from the government, its reach is essentially endless. University professors could refuse to teach gay students; doctors in state-run hospitals could refuse to treat gay patients. Hotels, restaurants, movie theaters, and bars could simply put up a sign reading “No gays allowed.” Police officers and ambulance drivers could refuse to aid not just gay couples, but also gay individuals. County clerks and DMVs could turn away gays at the door. Public school teachers could kick out gay students. Daycares could refuse to look after the children of gay couples.

Marshall, one of the more extreme anti-gay legislators in America, has a long track record with these kinds of bills. In 2006, he sponsored Virginia’s constitutional amendment barring state recognition of any same-sex relationship; the ban easily passed but was struck down in 2014. Marshall also proposed excluding gays from the Virginia National Guard after Congress repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell andsuccessfully blocked the appointment of a state judge on account of his homosexuality. (The judge has since been appointed.) The judiciary is, in fact, a favorite target of Marshall’s; the delegate has also called for the impeachment of judges who overturn gay marriage bans.

Clearly, then, Marshall is a fanatic, and it’s unclear if his new bill stands a chance of passing the heavily Republican House of Delegates. Still, Marshall’s measure is a useful reminder of the profound anti-gay animus that underlies every attempt to curtail gay rights in the name of religious freedom. No matter the rationalizationsfrom the far-right media, bills promoting “religious liberty” are almost always simply pretext, a ploy to permit the debasement of gay citizens under the guise of principled “dissent.”

The Marshall bill may be more extreme than most—but the same savage homophobia that underlies it can also be found between the lines of pretty much every “religious liberty” bill we’ve seen introduced over the past year. In one sense, then, we should be happy that Marshall is honest about his true intentions. Conservatives have spent decades attempting to disguise their hatred of gays in the camouflage of sincerely held religious beliefs. Marshall and his allies unintentionally blow their cover, revealing the rank animosity behind their ostensibly respectable views. I have long insisted that “religious liberty” is nothing but a euphemism for a special right to discriminate against gay people. Thanks to legislators like Marshall, that once-controversial proposition is becoming more undeniable with each passing day.

Snoop Dogg Called Out for Instagram Pic Guy Says He’s Being Gay Bashed

Thursday, January 8th, 2015


Snoop Dogg has put a big fat target on a guy who’s now being gay bashed, and the guy is now preparing a lawsuit against Mr. D.

Cortez Booze tells TMZ … 5 days ago the rapper posted a pic of him on Instagram with the caption, “Whose auntcle is this?” The pic triggered a torrent of hate … people calling him f*****, shemale, confused, ugly, punk and a host of other slurs.

Cortez went to the folks at Instagram and reported the pic as inappropriate, but it’s still up.

So now he’s pulling out the gunz … the legal variety. Cortez has hired a lawyer and plans to duke it out with the Dogg in court.

Snoop should definitely follow Shaquille O’Neal who was sued for something similar in July. Shaq posted a pic of a guy who has a rare genetic disorder which unleashed the hounds on social media. That suit is pending.

No word back from Snoop’s people.

Are You Aware of the Avalanche of Gay Programming Assaulting Your Home?

Thursday, January 8th, 2015


Recently my long time friend, Lee Grady, highlighted in print the deaths of notable Christians. Ann B. Davis, beloved actress, was one of them. Yet at the same time in a publication on newsstands is the headline that she was really a lesbian!

I don’t believe it.

In theaters across America right now is a movie called Foxcatcher dealing with the true story of multimillionaire John DuPont’s killing of Olympic wrestler Dave Schultz.

The movie also implies a homosexual relationship between John and Dave’s brother Mark. The latter categorically denies any such involvement.

NFL castaway, Michael Sam, who unashamedly kissed his “lover” on national TV, was interviewed recently by Oprah Winfrey and celebrated the fact that many NFL players call him and admit they’re gay but just haven’t come out yet.

Regularly on TV celebrities and “experts” celebrate the “fact” that probably 25-30% of Americans are really gay. Accurate statistics don’t bear this out as the actual figure is somewhere between 2-3%.

“American Idol” is launching its new season amidst declining viewership. Not long ago they featured a commercial to try and spice things up a bit. A handsome hunk was struggling with his electronic device until a hot babe told him about Amazon Kindle. Convinced she had the better product, he invited her to celebrate by joining him and his gay “husband” for a drink.

What’s going on? A lifestyle that Romans 1:24-27 labels as “immoral,” “indecent,” “shameful,” “unnatural” and a “perversion” bringing a “due penalty” is conveyed to tens of millions of unsuspecting children, teens and parents as normal, acceptable behavior.

The indoctrination and propaganda coming from those advocating a gay lifestyle in our country, classrooms and culture are increasing. All of us need to take note and take action to guard those we love.

We are Being Bombarded!

A while ago I was in New York’s Greenwich Village sharing a meal when I engaged my waiter with this question, “Are there a lot of gay people in the Village?” With a sly smile and twinkle in his eye he retorted, “Everybody in the Village is gay!”

Now I didn’t believe his hyperbole for one minute but I know what’s behind that statement. Convey the impression that the LGBTQ lifestyle is simply an alternative way of living that is beautiful, natural and acceptable. God calls it “abominable” and our mission is to convey love and gospel truth in a winsome way to rescue those in deception.

But first, are you really aware of this avalanche sweeping across our society today? It’s not a trickle it’s a Tsunami!

“Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible” (Eph. 5:11-13).

Focus on the Family ministry warns: “The people behind our nightly diet of network and cable programming have a gay agenda.”

Here’s how Hollywood is promoting homosexuality right now:

  • Super hyped “Empire” series starts with Oscar nominee Terrence Howard having a homosexual son – and he’s a hunk.
  • “Glee” features over five gay characters.
  • Home and remodeling reality shows regularly feature lesbians and gays in partnerships exploring homes.
  • “Modern Family” features a gay couple who married over two episodes
  • recently.
  • “Ellen DeGeneres” celebrates her lesbianism and “marriage” in between
  • appearances of guests like Taylor Swift to attract young girls.
  • “Dancing with the Stars” hosts a gay judge and gay couples.
  • “Biggest Loser” had lesbian Jillian Michaels as a role model coach.
  • “The Good Wife” now has a lesbian/bisexual investigator.
  • “Scandal” has two gays.
  • “2 1/2 Men” just added a lesbian daughter.
  • “Grey’s Anatomy” highlights a lesbian couple with their child.
  • “Survivor” and other reality shows regularly parade homosexuals as
  • contestants.
  • Anderson Cooper boasts openly on TV he’d rather “have sex” with a man
  • plus co-hosts New Year’s Eve festivities nationwide.

GLAAD (The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), GLSEN (The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network), PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays),

HRC (Human Rights Campaign) and a multitude of other LGBTQ advocacy groups have multimillion-dollar budgets and work aggressively to convince Americans that homosexuality is a beautiful way of life – maybe for your child or grandchild?

What Can We Do?

1. AWARENESS – The above overview is not exhaustive but intended to alert us to this bombardment hitting our homes.

2. ALTERNATIVES – Purchasing wholesome DVD series and streaming selected programs are great alternatives. The Fugitive, Gunsmoke, Little House on the Prairie, I Love Lucy and other award-winning shows are all available and cheap. My son has two adopted young boys who are growing up with Wally, Larry Mondello, Eddie Haskell and the Beaver and can’t wait till the next episode!

3. ALERTNESS – Stay engaged and alert to teaching opportunities when unseemly characters “pop up” on the screen. Whether pausing the program for a quick moment of instruction or following up later at bedtime, in the car or at the table, skillfully share on God’s design for a man and a woman and the sanctity of marriage.

Passivity is not an option. Check out how aggressive these well-funded and well-organized groups are in targeting innocent and impressionable children. In elementary schools, high schools, colleges and the media,

LGBTQ advocates are extremely deceptive, sophisticated and strategic in working to lead a generation over the cliff to destruction.

As “salt” and “light” Christians, we represent a bulwark against this tidal wave of unprecedented evil. May all of us be found faithful and vigilant at our posts.


Vietnam Abolishes Same-Sex Marriage Ban, Taking Lead in Gay Rights

Thursday, January 8th, 2015


Vietnam taking the lead in gay rights in Southeast Asia by abolishing a ban on same-sex marriage has medical doctor Thuan Nguyen planning a wedding ceremony with his boyfriend of two years.

“I am ready to have a wedding,” he said. “Many, many young people in love are optimistic about the acceptance of gay weddings.”

The revised law, while not officially recognizing same-sex marriage, places the communist country at the forefront of countries in Asia becoming more accepting of gay people. The National Assembly’s move is expected to attract more lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender travelers and boost Vietnam’s $9 billion tourism industry.

“This makes Vietnam a leader in Asia,” Jamie Gillen, a researcher of culture geography at National University of Singapore, said by phone. “Singapore just reaffirmed its ban on homosexual behaviors. Vietnam is trying to pitch itself as a tolerant and safe country.”

Abolished Fines

Vietnam’s new marriage law, which went into effect New Year’s Day, abolished regulations that “prohibit marriage between people of the same sex.”

Same-sex marriages can now take place, though the government does not recognize them or provide legal protections in cases of disputes. The government abolished fines that were imposed on homosexual weddings in 2013.

No other country in Southeast Asia has taken as big a step toward accepting same-sex marriage as Vietnam, Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said by phone.

In Thailand, efforts to address same-sex laws have stalled since the ascent of the military government in May, while Cambodia, Burma and Laos have not put the issue on its legislative agenda, he said. The Philippines is considering laws to ban same-sex marriage. Indonesia andMalaysia have “entrenched discriminatory views” against homosexuals and in Brunei, “the new penal code sets out that those seeking to be involved in gay marriage could face whippings and long prison sentences,” Robertson said.

Foreign Visitors

Vietnam, which looks to boost an economy that has expanded less than 7 percent annually for seven consecutive years, reduced visa requirements for seven Asian and European countries Jan. 1 to make the country more attractive to overseas tourists. Foreign visitors to Vietnam are estimated to have increased to 7.9 million last year from 7.6 million in 2013, according to government data.

“It is getting out that Vietnam is a more friendly place” toward gay people, John Goss, director ofUtopia Asia, a gay resources website based in Bangkok, said by phone. “Gays in Vietnam are certainly becoming more open. It has not ruffled any feathers as it might in some other countries inSoutheast Asia. It will have a positive effect on tourism.”

Vietnam is already seeing an influx of LGBT travelers from abroad, said Nguyen Anh Tuan, owner ofGay Hanoi Tours, which has seen bookings increase by as much as 50 percent in the past year.

The new law “indicates to everyone that Vietnam is opening up more and welcomes everyone,” he said. “Vietnam is changing very quickly. There are bigger gay communities and gay events.”

Tourism Impact

Twenty-nine percent of the LGBT community in the U.S. take at least five leisure trips a year, according to research by San Francisco-based Community Marketing Inc. The community generates $100 billion in tourism business in the U.S. alone and many make overseas trips, according to the company. Forty-eight percent of gay households have annual incomes of at least $75,000, it said in its 2014 tourism survey.

“Many of them have double incomes,” Goss said. “Gay travel tends to be recession-proof.”

Vietnam’s lawmakers, who initially considered recognizing same-sex marriage, believed the country wasn’t ready for it, said Luong The Huy, legal officer at the Institute for Studies of Society, Economy and Environment, known as ISEE, a Vietnamese non-governmental organization that advocates for minority rights.

“They say the society in Vietnam needs some time to accept gay and lesbians in general,” he said. The revision in the law signals to the country that “same-sex marriage is not harmful to society,” Huy said.

Vietnam, which has a population of about 90 million, has at least 1.65 million LGBT citizens ages 15 to 59, according to the Hanoi-based ISEE.

Vietnamese Perceptions

Vietnamese perceptions of gays may also change with the December arrival of U.S. ambassador to Vietnam, Ted Osius, along with his husband, Clayton Bond, and their son, Huy said.

“He promotes a very good image of a very successful person who is gay,” Huy said. “We could get more support from civil society in Vietnam because the American ambassador is gay.”

Vietnam’s leaders allow gay organizations to be established and last year permitted a gay pride bicycle ride with rainbow flags in Hanoi, even as the government cracks down on political dissent, Robertson said. More than 150 Vietnamese dissidents are in detention, according to Human Rights Watch.

Granting gays more freedoms is a way to blunt a bad human rights record, Joerg Wischermann, a researcher at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies, said in an e-mail.

Nonetheless, Vietnam’s marriage law revision “is something extraordinary in a region in which many countries have deeply conservative societies,” he said.

Nguyen, 43, the Hanoi doctor, said gay Vietnamese want to push for the legal rights marriage confers on citizens. When a gay couple ends their relationship, or if one were to die, there is no legal framework for how to split assets, he said.

“The government doesn’t have problems with equal marriage,” Nguyen said. “It doesn’t have to do with the political system. This is determined by public opinion.”

To contact the reporters on this story: John Boudreau in Hanoi at; Nguyen Dieu Tu Uyen in Hanoi at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: K. Oanh Ha at Lars Klemming


The dating app helping gay Chinese men banish the blues — and AIDS

Thursday, January 8th, 2015


Hua Ruobin started using Blued two years ago to meet other gay men in China, setting up weekend dinners or dates in karaoke bars.

The gay dating app has been a godsend for Hua, allowing the university student in the southern city of Guangzhou to privately contact Chinese men seeking same-sex companionship.

Homosexuality is not illegal in China, but remains a taboo subject in the world’s most populous country.

“I found nine (gay friends) through the app,” said Hua, 22, who felt he could never talk to his heterosexual friends about being gay. “Now I have a group of friends just like me to whom I can open my mind.”

Blued is the brainchild of Ma Baoli, 36, a former policeman who quit his job to play Cupid to millions of gay men in China.

The free Chinese-language app uses the GPS capability of users’ smartphones to identify nearby members. As with other dating apps, users can scan profiles, chat privately with the potential Mr Right or hang out in a group chatroom.

Blued quickly found favor with gay people, adding 15 million users in two years. There is scope for expansion, with Ma’s company raising $30 million last year from a U.S. venture capital firm. Its long-term goal is to list on the Nasdaq.

“That would be an even better way to show off China’s development than a big advertisement in Times Square,” said Ma, referring to New York’s most famous intersection.

Not just a dating app

LGBT activists in China say Blued has helped gay men develop a positive self-image and fight social prejudices that force homosexuals to stay anonymous.

“It is not only a hook-up app any more, but also spreading knowledge about the community,” said Raymond Phang, an organizer of the annual Shanghai Pride celebrations.

Ma’s efforts to prevent HIV/AIDS have found support from a government eager to promote safe sex among gay Chinese.

At the Beijing headquarters of Ma’s firm, app users can take free HIV tests, administered only by gay members of a staff of more than 50, so as to minimize any potential embarrassment.

A red ribbon icon on the app gives Blued users easy access to information on condom use and AIDS. It offers authorities a way to reach out to gay men, a group the World Health Organisation says is at high risk of catching the disease.

“On the street, it is difficult for researchers to find gay groups,” said Ma. “We could help the government to help the people that it can’t reach.”

Pastor on gay marriage: ‘To grant someone marriage, that goes too far’

Thursday, January 8th, 2015


Pastor Page Brooks says he’s an open-minded, if conservative, man. Brooks, 32, a graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, is brigade chaplain for the 139th Regional Support Group at Jackson Barracks and pastor to a growing congregation at Canal Street Church, just a few blocks from his home in Mid-City.

The church offers services in Spanish and its roughly 200 members are racially diverse. Several members are gay or identify themselves as “former gay,” Brooks said. If a gay couple moved in next door to his family’s shotgun house, his children would play with those of the neighbors’.

“We’d probably have them over for dinner,” said Brooks.

But he said he would not perform a marriage ceremony for a gay couple, and counts himself staunchly among the majority of Louisianians  who are opposed to the idea of legally recognized same-sex marriage.

“We would never say that someone should be discriminated against,” Brooks said. “But to grant someone marriage, that goes too far.”

Discrimination has been an important topic in the Brooks household since seven years ago, when the couple, who are white, adopted an African-American daughter. They had always intended to adopt children, and indicated no race preference to their adoption agency. Since finding out two years ago they would not be able to have children of their own, they have adopted another daughter and a son, both black.

“We did think long and hard about it, but we just thought race shouldn’t make a difference,” Brooks said.

Sexual orientation, on the other hand, does matter when it comes to raising children, he said.

“It always comes back to the natural order of things, even if you take God out of the picture,” Brooks said. “It comes back to a male and female coming together to create a child.”

If a couple cannot conceive children on their own, Brooks believes the “optimal” situation for children is to grow up in a household with married parents that are of the opposite sex.

“A male and a female parent is the healthiest for children in the long term, for stability, to provide role models,” Brooks said, noting that single parents who adopt also provide a less-than-ideal environment for raising children.

“Even for a male and a female (couple), I would hope they would be together in a marriage relationship to be able to adopt,” he said.

Brooks said he realizes his views, albeit reflecting a majority across the state, put him in a shrinking minority nationwide and in New Orleans, as attitudes on gay marriage have shown a rapid shift. He asked that his school-age daughters not be identified, saying he feared they might be taunted by children at their school because of his views on gay marriage.

Given the shifting national opinion and the trends in the courts, Brooks said he expects same-sex couples will be able to marry and adopt jointly in the future in Louisiana and likely across the country.

“I think it is a mistake,” he said. “And it won’t be some years until we know what the impact will be.

“There’s a faultiness to their argument,” he said of supporters of same-sex marriage. “Those are cases that are on the very sideline of how we keep our society together, how do we keep society going, and that’s a man and a woman together coming together to have children.”

In Empire, the Sissy Shines

Thursday, January 8th, 2015


Queer representation on mainstream television: We all want more of it, and better examples at that—but how to measure success? One approach is, in essence, quantitative. Under this rubric, the likes of which is used by GLAAD and other observers to judge the media, any professedly gay character (who is not problematically tragic or villainous) is a sign of progress, regardless of how much or little that gayness inflects the material of the show. The more of “us” there are in front of the camera, the logic goes, the more positive the state of LGBTQ representation can be said to be.

The numbers game is fine, as far as it goes; but there’s another approach we can apply now that the task of proving the existence of queer people to TV viewers is surely complete. What if we judged the gay bona fides of a show not only on whether queer people are present somewhere in its narrative universe, but also—and especially—on how creatively it uses that presence to color or enhance the story’s basic framework?

If you want an example of a show that does this exceedingly well, I recommendEmpire, the delightfully soapy new Fox melodrama from Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, which transposes a King Lear–esque tale of patrimony and the attendant familial infighting into the lucrative, high-stakes world of the modern hip-hop music business. My colleague Willa Paskin provides a good map of the show’s setup in her review; suffice it to say here that Jay Z–like mogul Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) is dying, and one of his three sons must inherit the throne. Will it be the suave businessman, the talented young hothead, or (least appealing to Lucious) the highly creative, introspective faggot?

I use that slur here because the show does, specifically in the mouth of Cookie (Taraji P. Henson), the boys’ mother, who, in the pilot episode, has just exited prison after 17 years and is ready to claim her piece of the titular empire that she helped found. Her path to that reclamation is through managing the gay one, Jamal (Jussie Smollett), of whom (despite her referring to him as a fag, sissy, and queen over the course of the episode) she is a devoted advocate and fan.

The juxtaposition of fierce love and decidedly un-PC rhetoric—upon meeting Jamal’s handsome boyfriend, Cookie remarks “You didn’t tell me you was dating a little Mexican! Look at her, she’s adorable!”—isn’t just for cheap thrills. A pair of moving flashback scenes from Jamal’s childhood, one of a prison visit and one of an early drag experiment severely punished by Dad, go to show that Cookie’s approach to her son’s sexuality is supportive, but also pragmatic. His gayness will mark him as threatening, weak, or merely alien in the musical culture in which she wants to make him a star; overcoming those prejudices is not the kind of thing with which sensitivity training can really help.

The complex relationship between Cookie and Jamal may be the most poignant manifestation of Empire’s engagement with gayness, but it’s hardly the only one. I had been told before seeing the pilot that the show had an “interesting gay character,” but these reports overstate Jamal’s still-thin characterization and understate the extent to which gayness (as it relates to family and perhaps the black community) appears to be the show’s central concern. Sometimes this concern is expressed in overly blunt writing, such as when Jamal’s boyfriend responds to his concerns about how black audiences will respond to a gay musician by saying: “It’s 2015; nobody cares. There’re football players coming out.” But more often it is impressively specific, familiar, and well-rendered, as in the way Jamal’s father and older brother uncomfortably refer to his partners as “friends” and in the early dress-up-in-mom’s-heels trauma, a sort of ur-scene (apparently based on Daniels’ own experience) that will be painfully familiar to many gay men. Even the passing exchange between Lucious’ assistant (Gabourey Sidibe) and Jamal about the over-ness of bathhouses added a note of veracity, however random.

The point is, I was thrilled to discover over the course of the pilot that I was not just watching a show that happened to offer up a gay character in an unlikely context, but rather a show that was largely about the fascinating friction between that context and gayness. We can debate whether it is fair (or desirable) to term Empire a “gay show,” but it’s inarguable that the sissy series—if it lives up to the promise of its pilot—has the potential to advance the gay representation conversation a considerable amount. I suspect many viewers will be surprised by all this when the show premieres on Wednesday night—but then, in my experience the power sissies wield always comes as a shock.

Why would people ‘choose’ to be gay?

Thursday, January 8th, 2015


Those opposed to homosexuality regularly describe being gay as a choice, despite all evidence to the contrary. But what is never explained is why people would make this choice in the first place

I work in the field of psychiatry. I don’t bring this up when meeting people unless specifically asked, because very often people get a bit nervous if I do. There are doubtless many reasons for this, but one recurring paranoia among many I’ve met (all of whom were men, out of interest) is that I’m going to tell them that they’re gay. Because being gay is bad, apparently.

I’m not sure how these guys think homosexuality works or how you end up being gay, but one thing I can confirm is that it’s not my decision. I can’t go around dictating people’s sexual orientations because I’ve got some knowledge of mental and neurological processes. That would be classed as a very sinister superpower.

Besides, even if I did think they were gay, it’s certainly not something I’m going to bring up when first meeting someone, given how it’s a) irrelevant, and b) none of my damn business.

Others don’t feel the same though. Homosexual members of society can unfortunately expect to regularly be challenged, scrutinised and condemned by belligerent type who are seemingly convinced that homosexuality is a “lifestyle choice”.

This issue has come up again (for what is possibly the 12,456,987,332nd time) for several reasons. There was a recent study that suggests homosexuality is linked to the X chromosome, so is therefore genetic, ie inherent, not a choice. Also, UK prime minister David Cameron recently made comments that suggest heconsiders homosexuality the aforementioned “lifestyle choice” (although this could easily have been poorly chosen wording). On top of this, Stephen Fry hasrecently revealed his engagement to partner Elliot Spencer. A high-profile homosexual person doing this (or pretty much anything) is certain to get objections from those who “don’t approve”.

Debate around these things is inevitable, and so is the whole “being gay is a choice” accusation. But why is this so persistent? Those saying it seemingly believe it with all sincerity, but what’s the rationale? Basically, why would someone “choose” homosexuality, like you’d choose a new car or tattoo? As an aside, many point out that sexuality is actually a spectrum with many possible manifestations (eg bisexuality), but that doesn’t seem to be something considered in the “choice” argument.

Firstly, what makes people think homosexuality is a choice in the first place? Most cite religious beliefs, although the notion that religion is flat-out opposed to homosexuality is far from accurate, and getting more uncertain as time progresses. Old style prejudice and paranoia seem to be more involved here.

You could also blame the media, and there may be some validity in this. The mainstream media has always been somewhat blunt or ham-fisted in its portrayal of even heterosexual relationships (for evidence of this, see pretty much any married couple in an advert), so it was a long shot that they’d show homosexuals accurately. There’s far too much of this to go into here, but one blatant example is the media’s use of lesbianism (which straight men find arousing) to drum up attention. Normally heterosexual characters suddenly displaying homosexual leanings when a boost in viewing figures are needed is a common trope these days, so you can sort of see how this might make some people think it’s a “choice”, if they lack more realistic examples.

While saying that sexuality is set in stone from birth is also not quite right, the main emphasis of those using the choice argument is that homosexuals have weighed up their options and consciously decided “I am going to be gay from now on”. Assuming this is true (which it clearly isn’t), WHY would they do this?

If we’re being generous, we could say the choice claim assumes that people have no sexual orientation up to the point where they choose one. And some people choose homosexuality. Presumably this is some time during adolescence when sexual maturity really kicks in, and you know what teenagers are like. Is choosing homosexuality just another example of a desire to not conform, like shaving your head or wearing outlandish clothes?

The trouble with this claim is that teenage rebellion is largely temporary; hair grows back, outfits can be changed. But those who “choose” homosexuality reallyseem to stick with it. So maybe it’s a “lifestyle” thing, as many claim? This suggests that those who are about to choose their sexual orientation look at the consequences of homosexuality and think it’s a better option. They see the oppression, the suicide rates, the discrimination and harassment, the inequality, the increased risk of mental health issues, or abandonment from your family; they see all this and think “I gotta get me some of that”? This seems, to put it mildly, unlikely.

Also, as many have pointed out, if sexual orientation is a choice, then you should feasibly be able to choose to be straight again if being gay isn’t “working out”. And logically, a straight person could become gay too. Yet this doesn’t seem to happen nearly as often as you’d expect. Comedian Todd Glass makes a brilliant point inhis book (which is great, I got it for Christmas), which is that if you genuinely believe sexuality is a choice, then you’re not actually straight, you just haven’t met anyone persuasive enough yet.

But those who argue that homosexuality is a choice invariably assert that it is awrong choice. This suggests they believe that everyone is actually, at a fundamental level, heterosexual. So people who opt for homosexuality are consciously pursuing anything from intimate relationships to random sexual encounters with people they are not physically attracted to. Sex is a very powerful motivator, and it’s no doubt possible to have a sexual encounter with someone you’re not necessarily attracted to, but to such an extent as this? Constantly going against your most basic urges to stick to a choice you made at an unspecified point? The lifestyle would have to be very appealing to warrant this, and, as previously discussed, it doesn’t seem to be.

There’s undoubtedly a lot more to be considered that could be covered in a single post, so you could argue that this piece is a massive oversimplification of a very complex issue. And you’d be right, it is. But that’s true for the whole “choice” argument, so it’s oddly appropriate.

Overall, if homosexuality is chosen, the most logical reason people would make such a choice is that they’re attracted to people of the same gender. Hopefully you can see how this undermines the argument somewhat.

David Attenborough

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014


Sir David Frederick Attenborough /ˈætənbʌrə/ OM CH CVO CBE FRS FZS FSA (born 8 May 1926)[1] is an English broadcaster and naturalist.

He is best known for writing and presenting the nine Life series, in conjunction with the BBC Natural History Unit, which collectively form a comprehensive survey of all life on the planet. He is also a former senior manager at the BBC, having served as controller of BBC Two and director of programming for BBC Television in the 1960s and 1970s. He is the only person to have won BAFTAs for programmes in each of black and white, colour, HD, and 3D.

Attenborough is widely considered a national treasure in Britain, although he himself does not like the term.[2][3][4] In 2002 he was named among the 100 Greatest Britons following a UK-wide vote.[5] He is a younger brother of director, producer and actor, the late Richard Attenborough.[6]

Early life and family

Attenborough was born in Isleworth, west London, but grew up in College House on the campus of the University College, Leicester, where his father, Frederick, was principal.[7] He is the middle of three sons (his elder brother, Richard, became an actor and his younger brother, John, an executive at Italian car manufacturer Alfa Romeo).[8] During World War II, through a British charitable programme known as Kindertransport, his parents also fostered two Jewish refugee girls from Europe.[9]

Attenborough spent his childhood collecting fossils, stones and other natural specimens. He received encouragement in this pursuit at age seven, when a young Jacquetta Hawkes admired his “museum”. He also spent a considerable amount of his time in the grounds of the university and aged 11 he heard that the zoology department needed a large supply of newts which he offered via his father to supply for 3d a newt. The source, which wasn’t revealed at the time, was a pond less than 5 metres from the department.[10] A few years later, one of his adoptive sisters gave him a piece of amber filled with prehistoric creatures; some 50 years later, it would be the focus of his programme The Amber Time Machine.

In 1936, David and his brother Richard attended a lecture by Grey Owl (Archibald Belaney) at De Montfort Hall, Leicester, and were influenced by his advocacy of conservation. According to Richard, David was “bowled over by the man’s determination to save the beaver, by his profound knowledge of the flora and fauna of the Canadian wilderness and by his warnings of ecological disaster should the delicate balance between them be destroyed. The idea that mankind was endangering nature by recklessly despoiling and plundering its riches was unheard of at the time, but it is one that has remained part of Dave’s own credo to this day.”[11]

Attenborough was educated at Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys in Leicester and then won a scholarship to Clare College at Cambridge University in 1945, where he studied geology and zoology and obtained a degree in natural sciences.[12] In 1947 he was called up for national service in the Royal Navy and spent two years stationed in North Wales and the Firth of Forth.

In 1950 Attenborough married Jane Elizabeth Ebsworth Oriel; she died in 1997. The couple had two children, Robert and Susan.[13] Robert is a senior lecturer in bioanthropology for the School of Archaeology and Anthropology at the Australian National University in Canberra.[14]

First years at the BBC

After leaving the Navy, Attenborough took a position editing children’s science textbooks for a publishing company. He soon became disillusioned with the work and in 1950 applied for a job as a radio talk producer with the BBC. Although he was rejected for this job, his CV later attracted the interest of Mary Adams, head of the Talks (factual broadcasting) department of the BBC’s fledgling television service. Attenborough, like most Britons at that time, did not own a television, and he had seen only one programme in his life.[15] However, he accepted Adams’ offer of a three-month training course, and in 1952 he joined the BBC full-time. Initially discouraged from appearing on camera because Adams thought his teeth were too big,[16] he became a producer for the Talks department, which handled all non-fiction broadcasts. His early projects included the quiz show Animal, Vegetable, Mineral? and Song Hunter, a series about folk music presented by Alan Lomax.

Attenborough’s association with natural history programmes began when he produced and presented the three-part series The Pattern of Animals. The studio-bound programme featured animals from London Zoo, with the naturalist Julian Huxley discussing their use of camouflage, aposematism and courtship displays. Through this programme, Attenborough met Jack Lester, the curator of the zoo’s reptile house, and they decided to make a series about an animal-collecting expedition. The result was Zoo Quest, first broadcast in 1954, where Attenborough became the presenter at short notice due to Lester being taken ill.

In 1957 the BBC Natural History Unit was formally established in Bristol. Attenborough was asked to join it, but declined, not wishing to move from London where he and his young family were settled. Instead, he formed his own department, the Travel and Exploration Unit,[17] which allowed him to continue to front Zoo Quest as well as produce other documentaries, notably the Travellers’ Tales and Adventure series.

In the early 1960s, Attenborough resigned from the permanent staff of the BBC to study for a postgraduate degree in social anthropology at the London School of Economics, interweaving his study with further filming.[18] However, he accepted an invitation to return to the BBC as controller of BBC Two before he could finish the degree.

BBC administration

Attenborough became the controller of BBC Two in March 1965, but had a clause inserted in his contract that would allow him to continue making programmes on an occasional basis. Later the same year, he filmed elephants in Tanzania, and in 1969, he made a three-part series on the cultural history of the Indonesian island of Bali. For the 1971 film A Blank on the Map, he joined the first Western expedition to a remote highland valley in New Guinea to seek out a lost tribe.

BBC Two was launched in 1964, but had struggled to capture the public’s imagination. When Attenborough arrived as controller, he quickly abolished the channel’s quirky kangaroo mascot and shook up the schedule. With a mission to make BBC Two’s output diverse and different from that offered by other networks, he began to establish a portfolio of programmes that defined the channel’s identity for decades to come. Under his tenure, music, the arts, entertainment, archaeology, experimental comedy, travel, drama, sport, business, science and natural history all found a place in the weekly schedules. Often, an eclectic mix was offered within a single evening’s viewing. Programmes he commissioned included Man Alive, Call My Bluff, Chronicle, Life, One Pair of Eyes, The Old Grey Whistle Test, Monty Python’s Flying Circus and The Money Programme. When BBC Two became the first British channel to broadcast in colour in 1967, Attenborough took advantage by introducing televised snooker, as well as bringing rugby league to British television on a regular basis via the BBC2 Floodlit Trophy.

One of his most significant decisions was to order a 13-part series on the history of Western art, to show off the quality of the new UHF colour television service that BBC Two offered. Broadcast to universal acclaim in 1969, Civilisation set the blueprint for landmark authored documentaries, which were informally known as “tombstone” or “sledgehammer” projects. Others followed, including Jacob Bronowski‘s The Ascent of Man (also commissioned by Attenborough), and Alistair Cooke‘s America. Attenborough thought that the story of evolution would be a natural subject for such a series. He shared his idea with Chris Parsons, a producer at the Natural History Unit, who came up with the title Life on Earth and returned to Bristol to start planning the series. Attenborough harboured a strong desire to present the series himself, but this would not be possible so long as he remained in a management post.

In 1969 Attenborough was promoted to director of programmes, making him responsible for the output of both BBC channels. His tasks, which included agreeing budgets, attending board meetings and firing staff were now far removed from the business of filming programmes. When Attenborough’s name was being suggested as a candidate for the position of Director General of the BBC in 1972 he phoned his brother Richard to confess that he had no appetite for the job. Early the following year, he left his post to return to full-time programme-making, leaving him free to write and present the planned natural history epic.

Return to broadcasting

Attenborough filming commentary for a documentary at Kennedy Space Center

After his resignation, Attenborough became a freelance broadcaster and immediately started work on his next project, a pre-arranged trip to Indonesia with a crew from the Natural History Unit. It resulted in the 1973 series Eastwards with Attenborough, which was similar in tone to the earlier Zoo Quests but without the animal-collecting element.

After his return, he began to work on the scripts for Life on Earth. Due to the scale of his ambition, the BBC decided to partner with an American network to secure the necessary funding. While the negotiations were proceeding he worked on a number of other television projects. He presented a series on tribal art (The Tribal Eye, 1975) and another on the voyages of discovery (The Explorers, 1975). He also presented a BBC children’s series about cryptozoology entitled Fabulous Animals (1975), which featured mythical creatures such as the griffin and kraken.[19] Eventually, the BBC signed a co-production deal with Turner Broadcasting and Life on Earth moved into production in 1976.

Life series

Beginning with Life on Earth in 1979, Attenborough set about creating a body of work which became a benchmark of quality in wildlife film-making and influenced a generation of documentary film-makers. The series also established many of the hallmarks of the BBC’s natural history output. By treating his subject seriously and researching the latest discoveries, Attenborough and his production team gained the trust of scientists, who responded by allowing him to feature their subjects in his programmes. In Rwanda, for example, Attenborough and his crew were granted privileged access to film Dian Fossey‘s research group of mountain gorillas. Innovation was another factor in Life on Earth’s success: new film-making techniques were devised to get the shots Attenborough wanted, with a focus on events and animals that were hitherto unfilmed. Computerised airline schedules, which had only recently been introduced, enabled the series to be elaborately devised so that Attenborough visited several locations around the globe in each episode, sometimes even changing continents mid-sentence. Although appearing as the on-screen presenter, he consciously restricted his pieces to camera to give his subjects top billing.

The success of Life on Earth prompted the BBC to consider a follow-up, and five years later, The Living Planet was screened. This time, Attenborough built his series around the theme of ecology, the adaptations of living things to their environment. It was another critical and commercial success, generating huge international sales for the BBC. In 1990 The Trials of Life completed the original Life trilogy, looking at animal behaviour through the different stages of life. The series drew strong reactions from the viewing public for its sequences of killer whales hunting sea lions on a Patagonian beach and chimpanzees hunting and violently killing a colobus monkey.

In the 1990s, Attenborough continued to use the “Life” strand title for a succession of authored documentaries. In 1993 he presented Life in the Freezer, the first television series to survey the natural history of Antarctica. Although past normal retirement age, he then embarked on a number of more specialised surveys of the natural world, beginning with plants. They proved a difficult subject for his producers, who had to deliver five hours of television featuring what are essentially immobile objects. The result, The Private Life of Plants (1995), showed plants as dynamic organisms by using time-lapse photography to speed up their growth.

Prompted by an enthusiastic ornithologist at the BBC Natural History Unit, Attenborough then turned his attention to the animal kingdom and in particular, birds. As he was neither an obsessive twitcher, nor a bird expert, he decided he was better qualified to make The Life of Birds (1998) on the theme of behaviour, which won a Peabody Award.[20] The order of the remaining “Life” series was dictated by developments in camera technology. For The Life of Mammals (2002), low-light and infrared cameras were deployed to reveal the behaviour of nocturnal mammals. The series contains a number of memorable two shots of Attenborough and his subjects, which included chimpanzees, a blue whale and a grizzly bear. Advances in macro photography made it possible to capture natural behaviour of very small creatures for the first time, and in 2005, Life in the Undergrowth introduced audiences to the world of invertebrates.

At this point, Attenborough realised that he had spent 20 years unconsciously assembling a collection of programmes on all the major groups of terrestrial animals and plants – only reptiles and amphibians were missing. When Life in Cold Blood was broadcast in 2008, he had the satisfaction of completing the set, brought together in a DVD encyclopaedia called Life on Land. In an interview that year, Attenborough was asked to sum up his achievement, and responded:

The evolutionary history is finished. The endeavour is complete. If you’d asked me 20 years ago whether we’d be attempting such a mammoth task, I’d have said “Don’t be ridiculous!” These programmes tell a particular story and I’m sure others will come along and tell it much better than I did, but I do hope that if people watch it in 50 years’ time, it will still have something to say about the world we live in.[21]

However, in 2010 Attenborough asserted that his First Life – dealing with evolutionary history before Life on Earth – should also be included within the “Life” series. In the documentary Attenborough’s Journey he stated, “This series, to a degree which I really didn’t fully appreciate until I started working on it, really completes the set.”[22]

Other documentaries

Alongside the “Life” series, Attenborough has continued to work on other television documentaries, mainly in the natural history genre. He wrote and presented a series on man’s influence on the natural history of the Mediterranean basin, The First Eden, in 1987. Two years later, he demonstrated his passion for fossils in Lost Worlds Vanished Lives.

Attenborough narrated every episode of Wildlife on One, a BBC One wildlife series which ran for 253 episodes between 1977 and 2005. At its peak, it drew a weekly audience of eight to ten million, and the 1987 episode “Meerkats United” was voted the best wildlife documentary of all time by BBC viewers.[23] He has also narrated over 50 episodes of Natural World, BBC Two’s flagship wildlife series. (Its forerunner, The World About Us, was created by Attenborough in 1969, as a vehicle for colour television.[24]) In 1997 he narrated the BBC Wildlife Specials, each focussing on a charismatic species, and screened to mark the Natural History Unit’s 40th anniversary.

As a writer and narrator, he continued to collaborate with the BBC Natural History Unit in the new millennium. Alastair Fothergill, a senior producer with whom Attenborough had worked on The Trials of Life and Life in the Freezer, was making The Blue Planet (2001), the Unit’s first comprehensive series on marine life. He decided not to use an on-screen presenter due to difficulties in speaking to camera through diving apparatus, but asked Attenborough to narrate the films. The same team reunited for Planet Earth (2006), the biggest nature documentary ever made for television and the first BBC wildlife series to be shot in high definition. In 2011 Fothergill gave Attenborough a more prominent role in Frozen Planet, a major series on the natural history of the polar regions. Attenborough appeared on screen and authored the final episode, in addition to performing voiceover duties.

In 2009 he co-wrote and narrated Life, a ten-part series focussing on extraordinary animal behaviour,[25] and narrated Nature’s Great Events, which showed how seasonal changes trigger major natural spectacles.[26]

By the turn of the millennium, Attenborough’s authored documentaries were adopting a more overtly environmentalist stance. In State of the Planet (2000), he used the latest scientific evidence and interviews with leading scientists and conservationists to assess the impact of man’s activities on the natural world. He later turned to the issues of global warming (The Truth about Climate Change, 2006) and human population growth (How Many People Can Live on Planet Earth?, 2009). He also contributed a programme which highlighted the plight of endangered species to the BBC’s Saving Planet Earth project in 2007, the 50th anniversary of the Natural History Unit.

Attenborough is also forging a new partnership with Sky, working on documentaries for the broadcaster’s new 3D network, Sky 3D. Their first collaboration was Flying Monsters 3D, a film about pterosaurs which debuted on Christmas Day of 2010.[27] A second film, The Bachelor King 3D, followed a year later, and further collaborations are planned.

Current projects

Attenborough has several TV projects in development. He continues his long-running collaboration with the BBC Natural History Unit, introducing and narrating the Unit’s first 4K production Life Story, which debuts on BBC One in October 2014. After Life Story, the BBC have indicated that Attenborough is involved in another landmark natural history series “on the scale of Planet Earth and Frozen Planet“.[28]

In October 2014, the corporation announced a trio of new one-off Attenborough documentaries as part of a raft of new natural history programmes. “Attenborough’s Paradise Birds” and “Attenborough’s Big Birds” will be shown on BBC Two and “Waking Giants”, which follows the discovery of giant dinosaur bones in South America, will air on BBC One.[29] The BBC have also commissioned Atlantic Productions to make a three-part, Attenborough-fronted series on the Great Barrier Reef. The series marks the 10th project for Attenborough and Atlantic, and sees him returning to a location he first filmed at in 1957.[30][31]

Attenborough continues his recent partnerships with Sky and UKTV. His next 3D project is Conquest of the Skies, made by the team behind the BAFTA-winning David Attenborough’s Natural History Museum Alive and due to air on Sky 3D at Christmas 2014. A third series of David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities is in production and will be shown on UKTV channel Watch in 2015.

On radio, Attenborough has continued as one of the presenters of BBC Radio 4‘s “Tweet of the Day”, which began a second series in September 2014.[32]

Other work

From 1983 Attenborough worked on two environmentally themed musicals with the WWF and writers Peter Rose and Anne Conlon. Yanomamo was the first, about the Amazon rainforest, and the second, Ocean World, premiered at the Royal Festival Hall in 1991. They were both narrated by Attenborough on their national tour, and recorded on to audio cassette. Ocean World was also filmed for Channel 4 and later released.

In 1990 he highlighted the case of Mahjoub Sharif as part of the BBC’s Prisoners of Conscience series.[33]

In May 2005 Attenborough was appointed as patron of the UK’s Blood Pressure Association, which provides information and support to people with hypertension.[34]

In January 2009 the BBC commissioned Attenborough to provide a series of 20 ten-minute monologues covering the history of nature. Entitled David Attenborough’s Life Stories, they are broadcast on Radio 4 in the Friday night slot vacated by Alistair Cooke‘s Letter from America.[35] Part of Radio 4’s A Point of View strand, the talks are also available as podcasts.[36]

He appeared in the 2009 Children’s Prom at the BBC Promenade Concerts and in the Last Night of the Proms on 12 September 2009, playing a floor polisher in Sir Malcolm Arnold‘s “A Grand, Grand Overture” (after which he was “shot” by Rory Bremner, who was playing the gun).

In 2009 he also became a patron of Population Matters (formerly known as the Optimum Population Trust),[37] a UK charity advocating sustainable human populations.[38]

He is also a patron of the Friends of Richmond Park[39] and serves on the advisory board of BBC Wildlife magazine.

Attenborough is also an honorary member of BSES Expeditions, a youth development charity that operates challenging scientific research expeditions to remote wilderness environments.

In 2013, Attenborough joined Queen‘s guitarist and animal rights activist Brian May in opposing the cull of badgers in the UK by participating in a song dedicated to badgers.[40]

Achievements, awards and recognition

Styles and honours
  • David Attenborough CBE (1974–1983)
  • David Attenborough CBE FRS (1983–1985)
  • Sir David Attenborough CBE FRS (1985–1991)
  • Sir David Attenborough CVO CBE FRS (1991–1996)
  • Sir David Attenborough CH CVO CBE FRS (1996–2005)
  • Sir David Attenborough OM CH CVO CBE FRS (2005–2007)
  • Sir David Attenborough OM CH CVO CBE FRS FSA (2007–)

Attenborough’s contribution to broadcasting and wildlife film-making has brought him international recognition. He has been called “the great communicator, the peerless educator”[41] and “the greatest broadcaster of our time.”[42] His programmes are often cited as an example of what public service broadcasting should be, even by critics of the BBC, and have influenced a generation of wildlife film-makers.[43]

Honorary titles

By January 2013 Attenborough had collected 31 honorary degrees from British universities, more than any other person.[44] In 1980 he was honoured by the Open University with whom he has had a close association throughout his career. He also has honorary Doctor of Science awards from the University of Cambridge (1984) and University of Oxford (1988).[45] In 2006 the two eldest Attenborough brothers returned to their home city to receive the title of Distinguished Honorary Fellows of the University of Leicester, “in recognition of a record of continuing distinguished service to the University.”[46] David Attenborough was previously awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by the university in 1970, and was made an honorary Freeman of the City of Leicester in 1990. In 2010 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, his first in Africa.

Attenborough has received the title Honorary Fellow from Clare College, Cambridge (1980), the Zoological Society of London (1998), the Linnean Society (1999), the Institute of Biology (2000) and the Society of Antiquaries (2007). He is the Honorary Patron of the North American Native Plant Society.[47]


Attenborough has been featured as the subject of a number of BBC television programmes. Life on Air (2002) examined the legacy of his work and Attenborough the Controller (2002) focused on his time in charge of BBC Two. He was also featured prominently in The Way We Went Wild (2004), a series about natural history television presenters, and 100 Years of Wildlife Films (2007), a special programme marking the centenary of the nature documentary. In 2006 British television viewers were asked to vote for their Favourite Attenborough Moments for a UKTV poll to coincide with the broadcaster’s 80th birthday. The winning clip showed Attenborough observing the mimicry skills of the superb lyrebird.

Attenborough was named as the most trusted celebrity in Britain in a 2006 Reader’s Digest poll,.[48] and the following year he won The Culture Shows Living Icon Award.[49] He has also been named among the 100 Greatest Britons in a 2002 BBC poll and is one of the top ten “Heroes of Our Time” according to New Statesman magazine.[50]

He has the distinction of having a number of newly discovered species and fossils being named in his honour. In 1993 after discovering that the Mesozoic reptile Plesiosaurus conybeari had not, in fact, been a true plesiosaur, the palaeontologist Robert Bakker renamed the species Attenborosaurus conybeari.[51] A fossilised armoured fish discovered at the Gogo Formation in Western Australia in 2008 was given the name Materpiscis attenboroughi, after Attenborough had filmed at the site and highlighted its scientific importance in Life on Earth.[52] The Materpiscis fossil is believed to be the earliest organism capable of internal fertilisation.

He has also lent his name to a species of Ecuadorian flowering tree (Blakea attenboroughi), one of the world’s largest-pitchered carnivorous plants (Nepenthes attenboroughii), a Madagascan ghost shrimp (Ctenocheloides attenboroughi), the millimetre-long Attenborough’s goblin spider (Prethopalpus attenboroughi), the fossil grasshopper Electrotettix attenboroughi, and one of only four species of long-beaked echidna, the critically endangered Zaglossus attenboroughi, discovered by explorer and zoologist Tim Flannery in the Cyclops Mountains of New Guinea in 1998.[53]

In September 2009 London’s Natural History Museum opened the Attenborough Studio, part of its Darwin Centre development.[54] In December 2013, he was awarded the freedom of the city of Bristol.[55]



In 1973 he was invited to deliver the Royal Institution Christmas Lecture on The Language of Animals.

Views and advocacy


Attenborough’s programmes have often included references to the impact of human society on the natural world. The last episode of The Living Planet, for example, focuses almost entirely on humans’ destruction of the environment and ways that it could be stopped or reversed. Despite this, he has been criticised for not giving enough prominence to environmental messages. Some environmentalists feel that programmes like Attenborough’s give a false picture of idyllic wilderness and do not do enough to acknowledge that such areas are increasingly encroached upon by humans.[67]

However, his closing message from State of the Planet (2000) was forthright:

The future of life on earth depends on our ability to take action. Many individuals are doing what they can, but real success can only come if there’s a change in our societies and our economics and in our politics. I’ve been lucky in my lifetime to see some of the greatest spectacles that the natural world has to offer. Surely we have a responsibility to leave for future generations a planet that is healthy, inhabitable by all species.

His closing message from The Life of Mammals (2002) adopted the topic of human population:

Three and a half million years separate the individual who left these footprints in the sands of Africa from the one who left them on the moon. A mere blink in the eye of evolution. Using his burgeoning intelligence, this most successful of all mammals has exploited the environment to produce food for an ever-increasing population. In spite of disasters when civilisations have over-reached themselves, that process has continued, indeed accelerated, even today. Now mankind is looking for food, not just on this planet but on others. Perhaps the time has now come to put that process into reverse. Instead of controlling the environment for the benefit of the population, perhaps it’s time we control the population to allow the survival of the environment.”

Attenborough has subsequently become more vocal in his support of environmental causes. In 2005 and 2006 he backed a BirdLife International project to stop the killing of albatross by longline fishing boats.[68] He gave public support to WWF‘s campaign to have 220,000 square kilometres of Borneo’s rainforest designated a protected area.[69] He also serves as a vice-president of BTCV, vice-president of Fauna and Flora International, president of Butterfly Conservation and president of Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust. In 2003 he launched an appeal on behalf of the World Land Trust to create a rainforest reserve in Ecuador in memory of Christopher Parsons, the producer of Life on Earth and a personal friend, who had died the previous year. The same year, he helped to launch ARKive,[70] a global project instigated by Parsons to gather together natural history media into a digital library. ARKive is an initiative of Wildscreen, of which Attenborough is a patron.[71] He later became patron of the World Land Trust, and an active supporter. He supported Glyndebourne in their successful application to obtain planning permission for a wind turbine in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and gave evidence at the planning inquiry arguing in favour of the proposal.

In a 2005 interview with BBC Wildlife magazine, Attenborough said he considered George W. Bush to be the era’s top “environmental villain”. In 2007 he further elaborated on the USA’s consumption of energy in relation to its population. When asked if he thought America to be “the villain of the piece”, he responded:

I don’t think whole populations are villainous, but Americans are just extraordinarily unaware of all kinds of things. If you live in the middle of that vast continent, with apparently everything your heart could wish for just because you were born there, then why worry? […] If people lose knowledge, sympathy and understanding of the natural world, they’re going to mistreat it and will not ask their politicians to care for it.[72]

In 2009, on becoming patron of UK population concern charity, Population Matters, he commented:

The growth in human numbers is frightening. I’ve seen wildlife under mounting human ­pressure all over the world, and it’s not just from human economy or technology. Behind every threat is the frightening ­explosion in ­human numbers. I’ve never seen a problem that wouldn’t be easier to solve with fewer people – or harder, and ­ultimately impossible, with more.[37][38]

Attenborough again took up the topic of population in an episode of Horizon entitled, How Many People Can Live on Planet Earth?
See wikiquote for a selection of quotes from the programme.

He has written and spoken publicly about the fact that, despite past scepticism, he believes the Earth’s climate is warming in a way that is cause for concern, and that this can likely be attributed to human activity.[73] He summed up his thoughts at the end of his 2006 documentary “Can We Save Planet Earth?” as follows:

In the past, we didn’t understand the effect of our actions. Unknowingly, we sowed the wind and now, literally, we are reaping the whirlwind. But we no longer have that excuse: now we do recognise the consequences of our behaviour. Now surely, we must act to reform it — individually and collectively, nationally and internationally — or we doom future generations to catastrophe.

In 2012 Attenborough was quoted as saying that the planet has always and will always look after itself but:

what worries him most about the future of the natural world is that people are out of touch with it … over half the world is urbanised; some people don’t see any real thing except a rat or a pigeon … ecosystems are incredibly complex and you fiddle with them at your peril.”[74]

When David Attenborough began his career, in 1950, Earth’s human population was measured at just 2.5 billion people … in 2012 he said:

“We cannot continue to deny the problem. People have pushed aside the question of population sustainability and not considered it because it is too awkward, embarrassing and difficult. But we have to talk about it.″[75]

In January 2013, while being interviewed by Radio Times, he said:

“We are a plague on the Earth. It’s coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so. It’s not just climate change; it’s sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde. Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now,”,[76][77]

In a Daily Telegraph interview in September 2013 he said:

“What are all these famines in Ethiopia? What are they about?” / “They’re about too many people for too little land. That’s what it’s about. And we are blinding ourselves. We say, get the United Nations to send them bags of flour. That’s barmy.”[78][79]

Attitude to religion and creationism

In a December 2005 interview with Simon Mayo on BBC Radio Five Live, Attenborough stated that he considers himself an agnostic.[80] When asked whether his observation of the natural world has given him faith in a creator, he generally responds with some version of this story, making reference to the Onchocerca volvulus parasitic worm:

My response is that when Creationists talk about God creating every individual species as a separate act, they always instance hummingbirds, or orchids, sunflowers and beautiful things. But I tend to think instead of a parasitic worm that is boring through the eye of a boy sitting on the bank of a river in West Africa, [a worm] that’s going to make him blind. And [I ask them], ‘Are you telling me that the God you believe in, who you also say is an all-merciful God, who cares for each one of us individually, are you saying that God created this worm that can live in no other way than in an innocent child’s eyeball? Because that doesn’t seem to me to coincide with a God who’s full of mercy’.[81]

He has explained that he feels the evidence all over the planet clearly shows evolution to be the best way to explain the diversity of life, and that “as far as [he’s] concerned, if there is a supreme being then he chose organic evolution as a way of bringing into existence the natural world.” In a BBC Four interview with Mark Lawson, he was asked if he at any time had any religious faith. He replied simply, “No.”[82] He has also said “It never really occurred to me to believe in God”.[83]

In 2002 Attenborough joined an effort by leading clerics and scientists to oppose the inclusion of creationism in the curriculum of UK state-funded independent schools which receive private sponsorship, such as the Emmanuel Schools Foundation.[84] In 2009 he stated that the Book of Genesis, by saying that the world was there for people to dominate, had taught generations that they can “dominate” the environment, and that this has resulted in the devastation of vast areas of the environment.[85] He further explained to the science journal Nature, “That’s why Darwinism, and the fact of evolution, is of great importance, because it is that attitude which has led to the devastation of so much, and we are in the situation that we are in.”[86]

Also in early 2009, the BBC broadcast an Attenborough one-hour special, Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life. In reference to the programme, Attenborough stated that “People write to me that evolution is only a theory. Well, it is not a theory. Evolution is as solid a historical fact as you could conceive. Evidence from every quarter. What is a theory is whether natural selection is the mechanism and the only mechanism. That is a theory. But the historical reality that dinosaurs led to birds and mammals produced whales, that’s not theory.”[42] He strongly opposes creationism and its offshoot “intelligent design“, saying that a survey that found a quarter of science teachers in state schools believe that creationism should be taught alongside evolution in science lessons was “really terrible”.[42]

In March 2009 Attenborough appeared on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. Attenborough stated that he felt evolution did not rule out the existence of a God and accepted the title of agnostic saying, “My view is: I don’t know one way or the other but I don’t think that evolution is against a belief in God.”[87]

Attenborough has joined the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and other top scientists in signing a campaign statement coordinated by the British Humanist Association (BHA). The statement calls for “creationism to be banned from the school science curriculum and for evolution to be taught more widely in schools.”[88]

BBC and public service broadcasting

Attenborough is a lifelong supporter of the BBC, public broadcasting and the television licence. He has said:

PSB, to me, is not about selecting individual programme strands here or there, financing them from some outside source and then foisting them upon commercial networks. Public Service Broadcasting, watched by a healthy number of viewers, with programmes financed in proportion to their intrinsic needs and not the size of the audience, can only effectively operate as a network — a network whose aim is to cater for the broadest possible range of interests, popular as well as less popular, a network that measures its success not only by its audience size but by the range of its schedule.[89]

Public service broadcasting is one of the things that distinguishes this country and makes me want to live here. I have spent all my life in it. I would be very distressed if public service broadcasting was weakened. I have been at the BBC since 1952, and know the BBC is constantly being battered. It is today.[90]

If you could demonstrate that the BBC was grossly extravagant there might be a case for saying OK take it away. But in fact the BBC per minute in almost every category is as cheap as you can find anywhere in the world and produces the best quality. If you take the money away, which part of the BBC will you remove? The BBC has gone through swingeing staff cuts. It has been cut to the bone, if you divert licence fee money elsewhere, you cut quality and services. There is always that threat from politicians who will say your licence fee is up for grabs. We will take it. There is a lot of people who want to see the BBC weakened. They talk of this terrible tax of the licence fee. Yet it is the best bargain that is going. Four radio channels and god knows how many TV channels. It is piffling.[90]

There have always been politicians or business people who have wanted to cut the BBC back or stop it saying the sort of things it says. There’s always been trouble about the licence and if you dropped your guard you could bet our bottom dollar there’d be plenty of people who’d want to take it away. The licence fee is the basis on which the BBC is based and if you destroy it, broadcasting… becomes a wasteland.[91]

Attenborough expressed regret at some of the changes made to the BBC in the 1990s by its Director-General, John Birt, who introduced an internal market at the corporation, slimmed and even closed some departments and outsourced much of the corporation’s output to private production companies, in line with the Broadcasting Act 1990. He has said:

There is no question but that Birtism… has had some terrible results. On the other hand, the BBC had to change. Now it has to produce programmes no one else can do. Otherwise, forget the licence fee.[92]

The Bristol Unit has suffered along with the rest of the BBC from recent staff cuts. Yet it remains confident in the belief that the BBC will maintain it, in spite of the vagaries of fashion, because the Corporation believes that such programmes deserve a place in the schedules of any broadcaster with pretensions of providing a Public Service. In due course, similar specialist Units were also established in London, in order to produce programmes on archaeology and history, on the arts, on music and on science. They too, at one time, had their successes. But they have not survived as well as the Unit in Bristol. The statutory requirement that a certain percentage of programmes must come from independent producers has reduced in-house production and the Units necessarily shrank proportionately in size. As they dwindled, so the critical mass of their production expertise has diminished. The continuity of their archives has been broken, they have lost the close touch they once had worldwide with their subjects and they are no longer regarded internationally as the centres of innovation and expertise that they once were.[93]

When Birt gets up and says the whole of the BBC was a creative mess and it was wasteful, I never saw any evidence of that. I absolutely know it wasn’t so in my time. Producers now spend all their time worrying about money, and the thing has suffered for it.[94]

In 2008 he criticised the BBC’s television schedules:

I have to say that there are moments when I wonder — moments when its two senior networks, first set up as a partnership, schedule simultaneously programmes of identical character, thereby contradicting the very reason that the BBC was given a second network. Then there are times when both BBC One and BBC Two, intoxicated by the sudden popularity of a programme genre, allow that genre to proliferate and run rampant through the schedules. The result is that other kinds of programmes are not placed, simply because of a lack of space. Do we really require so many gardening programmes, make-over programmes or celebrity chefs? Is it not a scandal in this day and age, that there seems to be no place for continuing series of programmes about science or serious music or thoughtful in-depth interviews with people other than politicians?[89]

In 2009 Attenborough commented on the general state of British television, describing the newly introduced product placement on commercial television as something he considered an “appalling” idea 20 years earlier:

I think it’s in great trouble. The whole system on which it was built — a limited number of networks, with adequate funding — is under threat. That funding is no longer there. As stations proliferate, so audiences are reduced. The struggle for audiences becomes ever greater, while money diminishes. I think that’s a fair recipe for trouble. Inevitably, this has an impact on the BBC … Fortunately, the BBC doesn’t think natural history programmes must compete with Strictly Come Dancing in terms of audience. The BBC says, ‘Make proper, responsible natural history programmes.’[95]

Scottish independence

In August 2014, Attenborough was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September’s referendum on that issue.[96]

Health and future plans

Attenborough had a pacemaker fitted in June 2013 … yet in Sept 2013 he commented:

“If I was earning my money by hewing coal I would be very glad indeed to stop. But I’m not. I’m swanning round the world looking at the most fabulously interesting things. Such good fortune.”[97]


David Attenborough’s television credits span seven decades and his association with natural history programmes dates back to The Pattern of Animals and Zoo Quest in the early 1950s. His most influential work, 1979’s Life on Earth, launched a strand of nine authored documentaries with the BBC Natural History Unit which shared the Life strand name and spanned 30 years. He narrated every episode of the long-running BBC series Wildlife on One and in his later career has voiced several high-profile BBC wildlife documentaries, among them The Blue Planet and Planet Earth. He became a pioneer in the 3D documentary format with Flying Monsters in 2010.


David Attenborough’s work as an author has strong parallels with his broadcasting career. In the 1950s and 1960s his published work included accounts of his animal collecting expeditions around the world, which became the Zoo Quest series. He wrote an accompanying volume to each of his nine Life documentaries, along with books on tribal art and birds of paradise. His autobiography, Life on Air, was published in 2002, revised in 2009 and is one of a number of his works which is available as a self-narrated audiobook. Attenborough has also contributed forewords and introductions to many other works, notably those accompanying Planet Earth, Frozen Planet, Africa and other BBC series he has narrated.

What This Gay Atheist Learned From Being an Evangelical Christian

Sunday, December 14th, 2014


I was raised as a devout Evangelical Christian. My readers know I discarded that identity as an adult and don’t mince words whenever the subject of religion arises. But what many probably don’t realize is that religion continues to impact my life in profound ways. Sociologists say that even American atheists are often “cultural Christians,” as the roots of our identities come from the experiences of both our pasts and current surroundings. And most U.S. citizens were raised in and around Christianity.

Evangelical Christianity, which, like all religious systems, has a host of well-documented problems. But I won’t be discussing those here, as it’s something I do often. This is about the way communities shape our identities, and how good can be drawn even from the experiences of identities we later reject.

These five concepts exist in many other forms around the world, but I discovered them through being a Christian. After a few years outside the isolation of an Evangelical community, these are values I find most lacking in the mainstream and would pass on to others who are still building their own identities.

Intimacy is not just for romantic partners. Those who have spent a lot of time around Evangelicals will notice that they tend to have uniquely personal relationships with each other. Platonic male friendships are the most noticeable, as they veer outside the emotional boundaries of masculinity in mainstream culture. They’re often physically affectionate, talk openly about subjects that make most people feel vulnerable and routinely say “I love you.”

Caring for the needs of others leads to a happier life. When someone was without food, clothing, shelter or other necessities, the church would step in to help. And by “the church,” I mean the people within it would often individually offer their assistance. Caring for others wasn’t just a duty, it was viewed as a privilege. Through that service, people formed bonds that remained throughout their lifetimes and, as a bonus, ensured that goodwill existed for themselves if they fell onto hard times.

Using polite language averts hostility. This easy lifestyle choice is a valuable one for both professional and private interaction. Cursing and overt disrespect almost never lead to a better result, because displays of anger show a lack of self-control and stability while putting the other person on the defense. People have trust for individuals whose behavior isn’t abusive, even when having a disagreement.

Music is an essential component of community. Evangelicals sing all the time. And despite what “Footloose” would have you believe, Christian usually love to dance. Music forms a huge part of religious identity. The worship songs of Christianity are often based on communal joy and celebration. Uplifting music is a reliable tool for easing social tension and bringing diverse groups of people together in a dynamic way.

Loving others is our primary responsibility. Evangelical Christians believe that love is greater than even faith, which is written by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians. While one can turn on the news and see Christian leaders ignoring this value, it doesn’t change the fact that the concept imprinted itself on my life. As a lifestyle vegan, civil rights advocate and progressive political commentator, love remains the guiding force in the derivation of my values.

Will I be returning to Evangelical Christianity? Nope. But that doesn’t mean I can’t use the best parts of my past to inform the choices I make as I step into the future.


If homosexuality isn’t illegal, why is there a gay crackdown in Egypt?

Sunday, December 14th, 2014
the guardian
A bath house raid instigated by complicit media looks like a bid to distract attention from bigger economic and political issues

The arrest of at least 25 men during a massive police raid on a bath house in Cairo – instigated by a pro-regime TV channel – is the latest and most dramatic development in a crackdown that has been going on for months, even though homosexuality is not actually illegal in Egypt.

It is reminiscent of a similar crackdown by the Mubarak regime around 2001 (documented in a very detailed report by Human Rights Watch), which included the notorious Queen Boat trial.

One difference between 2001 and now is the existence of social media. Whereas the Queen Boat victims had few public defenders in Egypt, there have been Arab and Egyptian voices openly condemning last weekend’s arrests, though they are undoubtedly still a small minority.

Much of the wrath has been directed against TV presenter Mona Iraqi and her sordid efforts to expose a “den of perversion”. After initially boasting about her achievement on Facebook, Iraqi has now backtracked, claiming she was merely trying to promote sexual health in connection with World Aids Day.

Raiding bath houses does not, of course, stop people having sex, and there are more effective ways to reduce the spread of HIV – such as sex education of the sort people usually lack in Egypt – but they don’t necessarily make for sensational TV.

During the Mubarak regime’s 2001 crackdown, HRW gathered information about 179 men whose cases were brought before prosecutors. In all probability that was only a minuscule percentage of the true total. Hundreds of others were harassed, arrested and often tortured, but not charged.

In the absence of a specific law against gay sex, people are usually charged with “debauchery” under an old law originally intended to combat prostitution. A law against “immoral advertising” has also been used to entrap men seeking gay partners on the internet.

The most publicised of the Mubarak-era cases was the show trial of 52 men following a police raid on the Queen Boat, a floating nightclub on the Nile that was popular with gay men. The trial was accompanied by lurid tales in the Egyptian press alleging everything from prostitution to a gay wedding via devil worship.

Egypt’s prosecutor general, Maher Abdel-Wahid, accused the defendants of “exploiting Islam through false interpretation of verses from the Muslim holy book, the Qur–an, in order to propagate extremist ideas”. They were also charged with “performing immoral acts; the use of perverted sexual practices as part of their rituals; contempt and despite of heavenly religions, and fomenting strife”.

To highlight the supposed danger to the nation, the case was sent to the state security court, specially set up under an emergency law established in 1981 to deal with suspected terrorists. A Cairo newspaper reinforced this view with its front page headline: “Perverts declare war on Egypt”.

The exact reasons for the 2001 crackdown are still debated, and probably several factors were involved. Writing about this at the time, Hossam Bahgat saw it as an attempt by the Mubarak regime to undercut Islamist opposition by portraying the state as the guardian of public virtue: “To counter this ascending [Islamist] power, the state resorts to sensational prosecutions, in which the regime steps in to protect Islam from evil apostates. The regime seems to have realised that suppression and persecution of Islamists will not uproot the Islamist threat unless it is combined with actions that bolster the state’s religious legitimacy.”

He also noted the regime’s practice of using sensational trials to divert public attention from the worsening state of the economy and similar issues. The Queen Boat case was one of three big sex stories that helped to squeeze bad news out of the papers around the same time. One involved a businessman said to have married 17 women, and another was the leaking (possibly by state security) of a video that showed a former Coptic priest having sex with women who visited his monastery in search of healing.

It seems very likely that the crackdown under President al-Sisi is occurring for similar reasons: to distract attention from bigger issues, to show that while suppressing the Muslim Brotherhood the regime is still capable of playing the “morality” card, or a combination of both.

Seoul’s Mayor Apologizes for Nixing Gay Rights Charter

Sunday, December 14th, 2014


Mayor Park Won-soon and LGBT activists in South Korea have reached an agreement after the mayor previously caved to religious groups who decried LGBT inclusion in a human rights charter.

Mayor Park Won-soon of Seoul has issued an apology for  indefinitely delaying a human rights charter that would have protected lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender South Koreans from discrimination in the municipality’s greater region,reports Pink News.

Park’s apology comes afteractivists staged sit-ins at Seoul City Hall one week ago. The demonstrators sought to protest the city government’s decision to delay adopting an LGBT-inclusive municipal human rights charter, allegedly caving to pressure from Protestant church groups.

“It is my responsibility and fault,” Park said in a written statement. “I am sorry for the emotional pain that you have suffered and will make whatever statements that you demand.”

The mayor said he understood that his decision to delay the charter because of its inclusion of language aimed at ensuring equality and nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people had caused harm.

“This is an occasion for me to offer comfort for the emotional pain that you have suffered and to apologize to you,” Park’s statement read. The mayor went on to assure that protection against discrimination would be provided.

“Regardless of any misunderstanding or statement, no citizen will be subjected to discrimination or disadvantage,” the mayor’s statement said.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government’s waylaid human rights charter, originally planned for enactment on December 10, World Human Rights Day, would have had the power of law to prohibit discrimination.

Although he gave no specifics about what the government would do going forward to protect Seoul’s LGBT residents from the anti-LGBT sentiments that likely underpinned the objections to the charter in the first place, Mayor Park said “practical ways of resolving the difficulties” would be found.

The mayor did discuss the creation of an advisory panel, made up of some of the same people who protested at City Hall, tasked with finding ways improve the lives of LGBT people in the Seoul Capital Area, where almost 26 million people (nearly half of South Korea’s entire population) live.

“The protesters concluded that the promise made by the mayor during the private conversation was important,” said a statement issued by the group Rainbow Action. “Through a meeting with Innovation Officer Jun Hyo-gwan held in the morning of December 11, the protesters confirmed the metropolitan government’s will to implement plans for the creation of a collaborative panel consisting of the relevant organizations to eradicate discrimination in city governance. They therefore decided to conclude the sit-in.”


How our children’s book about a gay superhero avoided the straightwash

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

the guardian

Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith struggled for years to get their bookStranger published because the main character has superpowers – and is gay. Here they tell us why they were determined not to change the sexual orientation of their main character

In the world of Las Anclas – Los Angeles in the far future – some people have mutant powers, squirrels can teleport sandwiches out of people’s hands, and deadly crystal trees take their bright colours from the clothes of the people they killed.

This is the setting for our new book, Stranger. It’s a world full of danger and beauty, where there’s sometimes bias against the mutated “changed” folk, but other types of prejudice have completely died out. Nobody cares what race you are, what your gender is, or what your religion is, any more than they care if you’re a boy who prefers to date boys, or a girl who falls in love with other girls.

One of the main characters is Yuki Nakamura. He was once the crown prince of a floating city, but that was years before the story begins. The sole survivor of his family, his promised kingdom forever gone, he’s now just another teenager in the desert town of Las Anclas. Yuki rides on patrols to protect the town, takes care of his pet mutant rat, and dreams of the day when he can leave his tiny world behind and become an explorer. But how can Yuki leave Las Anclas, if it also means leaving the boy he loves?

Yes. Yuki is gay. In Stranger, the only person that matters to is Paco, his boyfriend.

But in our world, that matters to a lot of people.

It matters to the gay readers who might have never before read about someone like them in a book that isn’t about coming out or facing homophobia, but about fighting giant rattlesnakes and exploring strange landscapes. In our book, gay readers will see characters like them depicted as heroes. Who happen to be gay.

It matters to the straight readers who might have never met anyone who’s openly gay, and so may read this book and realise that there’s nothing wrong or weird about it. Some boys like boys, and some boys like girls, and some like boys and girls. It doesn’t hurt anyone else.

To sell a book to publishers, you need an agent to represent it. When we tried to find an agent for Stranger, we ran into problems. An agent finally offered to represent us… on the condition that we either make Yuki straight, or take away his point of view and all mentions of his sexual orientation. We refused. To make Yuki straight would have been to destroy our reason for writing the book in the first place.

We knew gay teenagers who said, “Every book about being gay is about coming out or hate crimes. I want to read about gay superheroes and gay ninjas!” We knew black teenagers who said, “Whenever I see a book with a black girl on the cover, it turns out to be about teen pregnancy or being pressured to join a gang. I don’t relate to that. I like fantasy and adventure stories, but why are the heroes always white?”

The serious, realistic books about social problems and prejudices are important and necessary. But they shouldn’t be the only reading options that depict main characters who are of colour, gay, lesbian, or disabled. We wrote Stranger so that the teenagers who so often get left out of the fun books could have a book where they’re the heroes.

It isn’t that agents and editors are all prejudiced, but they seemed to believe that the world won’t buy books unless the main characters are white and straight. The outcry about a “straightwash” afterwards prompted fantasy writer Malinda Lo to analyse all YA novels published in the US. She found that fewer than 1% of them have any LGBTQ characters at all, even minor supporting characters. A slightly larger number have heroes (as opposed to sidekicks and supporting characters) who are anything other than white, straight, and able-bodied.

Three years later, some things have changed, and some have not. We found a publisher for Stranger. Yuki is still gay, and so is his boyfriend Paco. Brisa, whose mutant power is to make rocks explode, is still a lesbian, and so is her shy girlfriend Becky.

We hope that Stranger will become just one of many more books that are both inclusive and fun. All of you should have a chance to read about heroes like you.

For more reading suggestions check out our list of the best LGBT books for children, teenagers and YAs and the authors featured in our Diversity week.

Doorstep visits change attitudes on gay marriage

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

la times

A single conversation with a gay or lesbian door-to-door canvasser had the ability to change attitudes on same-sex marriage in neighborhoods that overwhelmingly opposed such unions, according to new research.

In a study conducted in Los Angeles County and published Thursday in the journal Science, researchers found that when openly gay canvassers lobbied a household resident about same-sex marriage, the resident was more likely to form a lasting and favorable opinion of gay marriage than if the canvasser was heterosexual.

A previous version of this story said that people who were canvassed about same-sex marriage saw an 8% increase in favorable opinions about it immediately after; the increase was 8 percentage points above the baseline level of 39%. The story also used to say that one year after being lobbied, support was 14% higher than baseline among people who were canvassed by a gay person and 3% higher among those who were canvassed by a straight person; the actual increases were 14 and 3 percentage points.


The doorstep conversations also had a measurable “spillover effect,” in which some household residents who did not speak with the gay canvasser also formed a positive opinion of gay marriage, researchers said.

The experiment was modeled after public outreach campaigns conducted by the Los Angeles LGBT Center in voting precincts that overwhelmingly supported Proposition 8, the 2008 state ballot measure that repealed same-sex marriage.

The finding is unusual in that many previous studies have found that active canvassing or political advertising do little to alter firmly held opinions. In fact, researchers were so skeptical of their results the first time that they re-ran the experiment and duplicated their initial results.

“I was totally surprised that it worked at all,” said lead author Michael LaCour, a UCLA doctoral candidate in political science.

“A lot of time we find in social science that most things don’t work, they don’t change people’s minds. But we found that a single conversation was able to change voters’ minds up to a year later.”

LaCour conducted the study with Donald Green, a political science professor at Columbia University.

In all, 9,507 voters were involved in the experiment. Of the 41 canvassers, 22 were gay and 19 were straight.

Residents were randomly assigned to one of three different groups: a treatment group, in which they were lobbied on same-sex marriage; a placebo group, in which recycling was discussed instead of gay marriage; and a control group where nobody was canvassed.

The face-to-face meetings lasted roughly 20 minutes, according to researchers. Gay marriage canvassers would follow a specific script in which they asked residents to name the benefits of marriage. If the canvasser was gay, they would then inform the resident and say they wanted to experience the same benefits. Straight canvassers, on the other hand, said they were hoping that a close relative who was gay could enjoy the benefits of marriage.

Researchers said that immediately after the canvassing experiment, follow-up surveys showed an 8 percentage point increase in favorable opinions of same-sex marriage among people who were canvassed on the topic — up from an initial acceptance rate of 39%.

The researchers followed up a year later to find out whether the positive opinions had gained ground or diminished.

LaCour said that in cases where the canvasser was gay, support for same-sex marriage had increased a total of 14 percentage points.  In comparison, the support for same sex marriage among the people who were canvassed on the topic by a straight person had increased just 3 percentage points.

The researchers also noted that some of the residents’ housemates also expressed favorable opinions even though they had not spoken with the canvasser. Researchers said this suggested a spillover effect, in which they were influenced by second-hand exposure to the lobbying visit.

“It’s interesting that the effects had the same initial impact whether it’s a gay or straight person, but that the effect is lasting when it’s a gay person,” LaCour said. “You forget the message but you remember the messenger.”

The field experiment was conducted in 2013, during the month leading up to a U.S. Supreme Court decision that effectively overturned Proposition 8.

LaCour said that there was no difference in effect when researchers accounted for race or gender. However he said there was a slightly more positive effect when a gay canvasser was initially perceived as being straight.

“There seems to be something powerful about a counter-stereotypical person advocating,” LaCour said.

Gang-gang: Camels and rainbows and gay politicians, these are a few of our favourite things

Sunday, December 14th, 2014



The Holy Bible, normally so strong on detail (so that for example we know from Genesis that the deck area of Noah’s Ark was equivalent to 36 tennis courts) is strangely silent about the names of the camels on which the Three Wise Men  rode to Bethlehem.

We have no such problem with the names of the three camels that at noon on Friday began giving free rides in Civic. Their names were Sarah (I interviewed her at considerable depth, marvelling at her fabulous eyelashes), Cappuccino and ‘Tasha. They belong to Peter Hodge Camels and so, too, does Topsy, an endearingly scruffy little dog who goes everywhere the camels go.

“Aren’t they big!” one little girl, queueing for a ride, marvelled.

“They are hooooge!” her grown-up female companion gasped.

As the hoogely popular camels came and went from Ainslie Place near the musically splishy-splashy Canberra Times Fountain a brisk breeze picked up the fountain’s waters and threw a refreshing spray at man and camel.

“It’s just like being at an oasis,” Sarah confided to me.

One young woman, chortling, engaged in that new art form the camelback selfie.

Camels are always objects of wonder. Their shapes are so improbable and yet they are strangely graceful. On Friday as the humped triumvirate swayed to Akuna Street and back they lent the neighbourhood a kind of dignity. And a biblical, Christmassy dignity at that, because of their species’ vital contribution to the saga of the Nativity. Had the Three Wise Men journeyed to Bethlehem on bicycles or Segway scooters the occasion would have lacked poetry.*

And they, the camels, are the second seldom-seen-in-Canberra creatures being marvelled at at the moment. Loyal readers will know we have been reporting readers’ recent sightings here of rainbow lorikeets. These are dazzlinglycoloured birds (far too vulgar in my opinion, like the worst of Hawaiian shirts) birds we expect to see at the coast but don’t expect to see here. Sightings in recent days, especially in a Narrabundah garden blessed with a heavilyladen loquat tree, have rekindled debate about where the rainbow lorikeets seen in Canberra come from. Are they escapees and rellos of escapees from aviaries, or are they here because of natural expansions and drifts of their populations?

Canberra’s Dr Joseph Forshaw is a world-renowned authority on parrots. In response to the sightings of recent days he ventures that “rainbow lorikeets have been in Canberra since at least the 1980s, when I observed nesting at the Macquarie Oval.”

“At that time numbers were very low, and the birds were quite locally dispersed, occurring mainly at Macquarie and Hawker. It was tempting to suspect that these very local, small populations originated from escaped cagebirds, and that may well have been so.

“Numbers increased quite significantly during the period that I was away from Canberra, between 1990 and 2002, so raising the possibility that they had come from the south coast, where populations increased significantly during this same period. “However, I am not aware of any build-up in numbers in the intervening areas, and indeed I know of no records from the Braidwood-Bungendore region.

“There is good evidence that the now abundant population in southwestern Australia probably originated from a small number of birds that escaped or were released from captivity at the University of Western Australia in the 1960s, and the population in the vicinity of Auckland, New Zealand, similarly originated from a small number of escaped cagebirds, so we know that a strong population can build up quickly from a small number of birds. That may well have occurred in Canberra, but the evidence is merely anecdotal.

“Musk lorikeets and little lorikeets always have appeared in Canberra at irregular intervals, but both naturally occur at more inland localities, and I suspect that warming climate has enabled both to ascend to higher elevations in the Southern Highlands, so they are being seen more regularly in Canberra and district. Possibly the same circumstances have aided range expansion by the purple-crowned lorikeet, and also may be assisting in establishment of rainbow lorikeet populations.

“These comments are offered merely for what they are – speculative theories without solid supporting evidence!”

Of course a more fanciful, more New Ageist columnist would point to the eerie coincidence of these new ACT rainbow lorikeet sightings with the elevation of the “openly gay” Andrew Barr to the chief ministership. He or she, that kind of columnist, might say the rainbow lorikeets’ showings are A Sign  because of course the rainbow flag is the gay pride flag.

The media’s constant references to Andrew Barr being “the first openly gay state or territory leader” has me wondering why this kind of reference to public figures’ sexuality is not more common.

For example I may be the first openly heterosexual Gang-gang columnist, although if so this will be because no previous Gang-gang columnist’s sexuality has ever arisen as a matter of newsworthiness. Perhaps, coming out of the closet here and now to admit to my November 23 birthday I am this column’s first openly Sagittarian writer.

*The camels will be swaying to Akuna Street and back, from 1pm to 7pm  until December 21.

US officials have ‘no plans’ to lift ban on gay men giving blood

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

pink news

The Food and Drug Administration has “no plans” to further discuss the possibility of lifting the lifetime ban on gay and bisexual men giving blood.

In the US at present, regulations introduced during the AIDS crisis mean that all men who have sex with men (MSM) are banned from giving blood for life.

Critics say the practice is discriminatory and does not reflect modern screening practices, and the FDA is facing calls to introduce less discriminatory rules.

Lastt month a key advisory committee made recommendations that the regulations should be relaxed, voting 16-2 in favour of instead introducing a 12 month ban for MSM.

However, the FDA failed to come to an agreement on whether to accept the proposals – and has now kicked the discussion into the long grass.

Speaking to Buzzfeed, spokesperson Stephanie Yao said there were no further plans for the Blood Products Advisory Committee to discuss lifting the blood ban.

She said: “Unless there is a need for further discussion where we would need to convene another meeting, the BPAC has fulfilled its role in providing advice to the FDA on this topic.

“FDA does not plan to hold another BPAC meeting to discuss this issue.”

Ms Yao reiterated: “[Although] advisory committees provide recommendations to the agency, FDA makes the final decisions.”

Ian Thompson  of the American Civil Liberties Union lamented the “deliberate” decision, saying: “Ideally they would have removed sexual orientation entirely from the donor criteria and moved to a risk-based screening process.

“That is obviously not what they have chosen to do.”

Some campaigners are now considering putting pressure on the government to push for a legislative change – but a Democrat-backed measure is unlikely to get through after control of the Senate goes back to the Republicans.

In England, Wales and Scotland, MSM are banned from giving blood for 12 months after sexual activity. Northern Ireland maintains a permanent ban.

Ukip candidate quits after insulting gay, Chinese and Essex people

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

herald scotland

Kerry Smith has quit as Ukip’s candidate in a top target seat after being forced to apologise for a series of offensive comments.

In recordings of phone calls obtained by the Mail on Sunday, the would-be MP was said to have mocked gay party members as “poofters”, joked about shooting people from Chigwell in a “peasant hunt” and referred to someone as a “Chinky bird”.

They were revealed just days after he was reinstated as the party’s general election candidate in South Basildon and East Thurrock.

He initially apologised and explained that he had been under great stress at the time of the comments and taking strong pain killers.

But in a statement, he said: “I have this evening offered my resignation as Ukip PPC for South Basildon and East Thurrock.

“I want the best for South Basildon and East Thurrock and I want to see the real issues discussed that touch the lives of people.

“Therefore I have chosen to resign so that Ukip can win this seat next May.”

Mr Smith was deselected as the candidate for South Basildon and East Thurrock in October – with Neil Hamilton, the former Tory minister who is now Ukip’s deputy chairman, the most prominent of those in the frame to take the nomination.

But Mr Hamilton ended up endorsing the Essex county councillor in his hustings speech after Mr Smith was reinstated – leading the ex-Conservative to lash out at party insiders over a “dirty tricks” campaign being run against him.

His tirade against the “cancer at the heart of Ukip” came after a letter from the party’s finance committee about his expenses claims was leaked.

Mr Hamilton called for the party’s national executive committee (NEC) to take action against those involved in the “black arts of selective briefing, misrepresentation and outright lies”.

Ukip MEP Patrick O’Flynn, who is the party’s candidate in the running to become Cambridge MP, confirmed Mr Smith had not been fired as a result of the scandal.

He pointed out the recorded phone call was some time ago when Mr Smith was on prescription sedatives after an injury and not thinking rationally.

Mr O’Flynn told the BBC’s Sunday Politics: “I’m on the Douglas Carswell side of this where he says what many people call political correctness is often just politeness.

“Using derogatory, pejorative slang is not right at this level of politics and you shouldn’t do it.”

Asked why Mr Smith was previously dropped as a candidate, Mr O’Flynn said he was not sure.

But he insisted: “If Kerry Smith was seriously homophobic, then he clearly would not have been backing David Coburn (MEP for Scotland) who is gay over Stephen Woolfe (Ukip immigration spokesman) who is not.

“He needs to learn to express himself more respectfully about minorities of all kinds now he is off the prescription drugs and he is our candidate.

“He is very popular… He is a young man, he is learning politics.

“We don’t want to become so anodyne and speaking in such non-colloquial language that we lose touch and I think some of the other parties risk doing that.

“But clearly what he said there is unacceptable. He has apologised unreservedly. There are big mitigating circumstances. It is from some time ago and we are willing now to judge him on his performance going froward from now.”

On the party’s wider prospects, Mr O’Flynn accepted the “hand grenades are rolling down the corridor again”.

But he added: “We are still way up in the polls. We have had a fantastic year. We have won a set of nationwide elections. We have won two by-elections against expectations of Tory high command.”

He also pointed out there were rows over inappropriate comments in relation to both Labour and the Conservatives as well last week, namely Aberdeen North MP Frank Doran’s claim the post of fisheries minister was not suitable for a woman and Tory peer Baroness Jenkin’s remark that the poor “don’t know how to cook”.

In the leaked recordings, Mr Smith is said to have claimed Mr Farage was bribed into promoting Mr Woolfe over Mr Coburn when they were candidates in the 2012 London Assembly elections..

But he later allegedly confirmed there was no evidence to substantiate the claim, adding: “If we had proof Nigel would be gone.”

He is also understood to have attacked Olly Neville, former leader of Ukip’s youth wing who was sacked last year after saying he backed gay marriage.

According to the Mail on Sunday transcripts, Mr Smith said: “Olly Neville – the sun shines out of his rear end. He is now setting up BLT Ukip on Facebook. What the old poofter groups call themselves.

“I just call it BLT like the sandwiches. It’s them letters BLT with a Q on the end, bacon lettuce and tomato.

“It’s got our logo done with a rainbow. F*****g loopy. That’s been approved by the NEC. That’s f*****g disgusting.”

Mr Smith is also said to have mocked Lucy Bostick, a Ukip activist in Chigwell, for printing “boring c**p” on her leaflets.

According to the transcripts, he said: “This is Chigwell. If she was doing a survey in Chigwell the question should be ‘Do you oppose the EU banning the use of lead in shotguns as that way you can shoot more peasants coming from Chigwell? ‘Do you support a peasant’s hunt through Chigwell village?'”

In addition he is understood to have referred to a “Chinky bird” he claimed gatecrashed a Ukip rally and lunch with Mr Farage.

Florian Philippot, Leader Of Right-Wing French Party, Outed By Tabloid: Today In Gay

Sunday, December 14th, 2014


Nike’s openly gay Chief Information Officer, Anthony Watson, left the company this week after less than a year—and sources say it’s because he was miserable in Portland, where the sportswear is located.

“As a single gay guy from London,” a source told Fortune. “Watson underestimated what it would be like. It was a culture shock [in Portland]. And there’s no point in having a great job if you feel unhappy with your surroundings.”

It might not be swinging London, but we always thought Portland was pretty awesome.

A monk was arrested on Monday for distributing anti-gay leaflets in Cambridge, England.

Brother Damon  Kelly, director of the Black Hermits, a Scottish charity that receives between $40,000 and $55,000 in donations each year, was arrested under a statute banning “threatening or abusive behavior”

In October, Kelly distributed flyers that declared “Homosexuals, like vampires in their insatiable lust, prey upon youth, as they conspire to create more of their own kind, meanwhile busy abusing each other’s anuses and worshiping (sic) their own and each others’ penises in a festival of authentic Satanism.”

A new study indicates that a conversation with a gay person can have a more profound effect on someone’s attitudes about gay marriage than one with a heterosexual.

A group of 41 canvassers were sent door-to-door in L.A. last year to talk to some 9,507 registered voters about marriage equality. Surveys given immediately after the interview indicated an 8% increase in favorable opinions about same-sex marriage across the board.

But a year later, the results were even better: Support for same-sex marriage had increased 14% if the canvasser was gay. If the canvasser was straight, the increase was just 3%.

“A lot of time we find in social science that most things don’t work, they don’t change people’s minds,” lead author Michael LaCour told the L.A. Times. “But we found that a single conversation was able to change voters’ minds up to a year later.”

Anti-gay Republican Rick Santorum has tipped his hat thathe’ll be running for president again in 2016. But, he says, his focus will be more on issues like the economy and immigration.

“Part of what I had to do last time was lay out my bona fides” on moral and social issues, Santorum said. “That’s done.”

Sorry, Rick, you’re still one frothy mixture we don’t want in the White House.


A leader of  France’s far-right National Front Party istaking a gossip magazine to court for outing him as gay.

Last week, Florian Philippot, the NFP’s vice-presidential candidate, was pictured in Closer with his boyfriend in Vienna.

Unlike the States, the personal lives of French politicians are usually off limits for the press. The Telegraph calls the incident “an embarrassment for the [National Front], whose attitude towards homosexuals has historically ranged from ambivalent to downright homophobic.”

In the past, leaders of the Front have denied the Holocaust and said ebola was the cure for France’s immigration woes. The party opposes marriage equality, which came to France last year.

After several Christian bakeries faced legal woes for denying cakes to gay couples, anti-gay activist Theodore Shoebat called 13 pro-LGBT bakers and requested a cake with the words “Gay marriage is wrong” on it.

Shoebat maintains he was denied all 13 times. “One baker even said that she would make me a cookie with a large phallus on it,” says Shoebat, who maintains his “experiment” proves that LGBT allies are more “militant and intolerant” than Christians.

Can you say false equivalency?


Gay skier Paerson: IOC needs LGBT rethink

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

Wisn abc

(CNN) —Openly gay ski legend Anja Paerson says the IOC is out of touch on Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) issues and that she has little confidence that recent changes to the Olympic Charter will prevent discrimination in the future.

Sweden’s Paerson, who retired in 2012 after a glittering career, which included Olympic gold and seven world championship titles, claims the IOC should have taken a firmer stance in the controversial build-up to 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.

Ahead of the Games, LGBT supporters were outraged when the Russian government passed a law in June 2013 prohibiting “gay propaganda.”

The law says it is a crime to publicly acknowledge that you are gay, provide information on homosexuality to minors, or publicly support equal rights for gays.

Paerson told CNN’s Alpine Edge program that the IOC, which at the time released a statement saying it had “received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games,” had effectively ducked the issue.

“The Olympic Committee had a huge responsibility in Sochi and they didn’t stand up for human rights,” she said.

“They were hiding from the difficult questions. I think at that point they made a lot of wrong choices.”

Paerson admitted that she had severe misgivings about going to the Games for her work as a Swedish TV analyst and claimed she was not alone.

“I think a lot of athletes were very uncomfortable. I even figured if I should go or not.

“But I made a choice to go. And I stood for being a gay person and I had my family there, I had my son and my wife. I didn’t feel like Russia should choose the way I live.”

Paerson also believes that her own sport’s ruling body, the International Ski Federation, (FIS) needs to step up to the plate and better support gay athletes.

“Even in alpine skiing I think it’s not talked about enough. From the athlete’s side I think it’s really hard to speak up at the Olympics and I think that’s where we have to have changes,” she added.

In the wake of the controversy, the IOC announced earlier this month that it had made an amendment to the Olympic Charter to specifically include the wording “sexual orientation.”

Principle 6 of the Charter now reads:

“The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Olympic Charter shall be secured without discrimination of any kind, such as race, color, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

IOC President Thomas Bach of Germany described the change as “a very important first step” following a unanimous vote in favor of the move.

“We have to look into the future and try to address the challenges which may arise in the future and the challenges we have already now,” he added.

But Paerson is not convinced this change is sufficient to ensure that future hosts of the Winter Games are held accountable by the IOC for breaches of human rights.

“Hopefully they have learned from Sochi Olympics and will get better in the future,” she said.

Paerson, who was a member of the FIS Athlete Commission, is also calling for her own sport and the IOC to freshen up its membership to better reflect modern views.

“They don’t really follow the new developments,” she believes.

“I hope that both in the Olympic Committee and other sports that the younger generation get more influence because we have a different mindset,” she added.

The IOC was not immediately available to comment when contacted by CNN over Paerson’s remarks.

The 33-year-old can certainly look back on a stunningly successful career — a two-time winner of the coveted overall World Cup title — in addition to her triumphs at world and Olympic levels.

But all the while she kept her sexuality a closely guarded secret and it was only on retiring from her sport that she put an end to persistent rumors and revealed she is gay.

In June 2012, a few months after her farewell race, Paerson went on Swedish public radio to announce that she had been in a relationship with her partner Filippa, whom she first met in 2005.

“I never started to believe that I was gay when I was young,” she told CNN.

“This just happened when I met my wife. She was married and I had a boyfriend. Our lives were just thrown upside down.”

The timing of the announcement was a dilemma, Paerson admits, and they had been worried about the reaction it would receive.

“We were nervous of course, how people would respond. It was important for us to build our atmosphere, our family, our house, our castle before we let everybody else into our life.

“I think why I didn’t choose to announce it when I was still racing was that I wanted to be a 100 percent focused on my races.”

The pair formally tied the knot and were married earlier this year and have a 2-year-old son, Elvis.

Paerson was trained to her biggest successes by her father Anders, her peak achievement coming in 2007 on the home snow of Are, where she grabbed a stunning three gold medals, a silver and a bronze in the world championships.

It came at the end of a difficult season, but after being urged by him to take a short break from training everything clicked into gear.

“I had about 10 days to mentally prepare to believe that my skiing was good enough to win that gold medal. My dad told me ‘go home, go to your friends, do whatever for two days and come back’.”

When she did, Paerson proved unstoppable across all the disciplines to dominate the competition.

Are was the venue for this weekend’s World Cup competition, and although retired, Paerson has been taking a keen interest in the proceedings.

She has seen compatriot Maria Pietilae-Holmer provide home cheer by taking the slalom title Saturday.

Pietilae-Holmer edged out overall World Cup leader Tina Maze of Slovenia by just 0.06 seconds.

Another Swede, Frida Hansdotter, was third 0.32 seconds off the pace, with Olympic champion Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States back in fourth after a poor first run.

The in-form Maze, who had many battles with Paerson’s during the Swede’s career, won the giant slalom Friday from another home hope hope, Sara Hector.

Mississippi pastor trots out horse in wedding dress to protest gay marriage

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

chicago tribune

Mississippi pastor trots out horse in wedding dress to protest gay marriage

Mississippi pastor brought a horse in a wedding dress to stand with him outside a federal courthouse on Friday in Jackson to protest a federal judge’s ruling, currently on hold, to overturn the socially conservative state’s ban on gay marriage.

The horse, complete with white flowers tucked into its harness and a bouquet at its feet, munched grass as the pastor, Edward James of Bertha Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, spoke and waved signs at passersby.

“Do you take this horse to be your unnatural wedded spouse to have and to hold?” one sign read.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves struck down Mississippi’s same-sex marriage ban in a ruling last month. Gay couples cannot yet marry in Mississippi pending the outcome of a state appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, which is hearing arguments in the case on Jan. 9.

Gay marriage is legal in 35 U.S. states, a trend that has accelerated since the Supreme Court ruled in June 2013 that legally married same-sex couples nationwide are eligible for federal benefits, striking down a key part of the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act.

While gay marriage advocates have enjoyed the upper hand in the courts since then, the Cincinnati-based 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in November became the first to rule the other way in upholding state bans on same-sex marriage.

That decision was seen as setting the stage for the Supreme Court to finally rule on the merits of gay marriage nationwide.

Mississippi is home to an estimated 3,484 same-sex couples, according to the most recent decennial census. About one quarter of the couples are raising children.


Speaking in a video-taped interview with the Clarion-Ledger newspaper, James acknowledged that his horse bride was absurd, but said the spectacle served a point.

“Although it’s ridiculous, so is the same-sex marriage status,” he said.


The gay Asian men pressured into marrying women

Sunday, December 14th, 2014


The case of bisexual British businessman Shrien Dewani – cleared this week of murdering his new bride – shone a spotlight on the gay Asian community in Britain. How difficult is it to be gay when homosexuality is seen as a taboo?

It’s a world that’s often hidden.

Many homosexual men – and women – of south Asian descent are believed to be hiding their true sexuality within heterosexual, often arranged, marriages in Britain.

Rahul, a Hindu, knows what that’s like.

He says he always felt he was gay, but accepted an arranged marriage anyway. He thought the “phase” would pass.

“But I realised very quickly that I’d made a huge mistake, that these feelings weren’t going to disappear.”

Family shame

When he finally came out to his family, they were angry.

“I felt that secretly a part of them always knew, I think parents always do know,” he says.

“I think the anger was ‘Oh my god, we all knew he was gay, but he finally told his wife. How could he do that?’.”

Rahul – not his real name – says his parents would have been happier if he’d stayed married, had children and kept quiet about his homosexuality, which his community sees as “shameful”.

He wanted to hide his true identity to protect his family and ex-wife from more shame.

South Asian communities prize marriage highly; from the day their children are born, parents begin saving for their weddings.

Many gay people come under intense pressure to marry someone of the opposite sex.

According to Asif Quraishi, who works for the support charity Naz, many of them succumb.

His contacts with people lead him to believe as many as seven in 10 gay Asians are in what he calls “inauthentic marriages”.

‘Derogatory words’

“There isn’t actually a word for gay or lesbian in our mother languages,” he says.

“The only words that there are are totally derogatory.”

Asif is one of the UK’s few gay, Asian drag queens. He’s also a practising Muslim.

As Asifa Lahore, he runs a club night in west London.

Many of the men and women there are leading double lives, conforming to what their families require of them, while also being gay.

Several talk about how much pressure they are under from their families to have a heterosexual marriage.

One man in the club says that when he came out to his family, his brother took him to a strip bar to try to “cure” him.

He says if his family knew he was at a gay nightclub, they’d kill him for “honour”.

Honour is still highly prized in Britain’s south Asian communities.

Terrible consequences

Many families tell their gay sons and daughters they should keep quiet about their sexuality for the honour of the family.

This can have terrible consequences.

Last week an inquest heard that London doctor Nazim Mahmood, 34, had killed himself after coming out as gay to his family, who told him to seek a “cure”.

In April, Jasvir Ginday was given a life sentence for murdering his wife, apparently to stop her revealing his homosexuality.

They had an arranged marriage but the bank worker from Walsall was active on the gay scene.

Then there is the case of Shrien Dewani.

The Bristol businessman had been accused of murdering his wife Anni on their honeymoon in 2010, but a South African court threw out the case on Monday.

The court case revealed that Mr Dewani was bisexual and had been seeing a German male prostitute before his marriage.

Asif Quraishi says the coverage has had a negative impact on the gay community.

He wants something positive to come out of it.

“It highlighted that gay Asians are entering inauthentic marriages,” he says.

Not consummated

“Gay Asians need to take responsibility, to use the exposure to question these marriages.

“And, at the same time, the British Asian community needs to recognise that by pressuring their children into these marriages, it leads to mental health problems – and the real victims are the heterosexual partners.”

Salma – not her real name – was certainly a victim.

She was forced into marriage to a cousin at 19. He told her on their wedding night he was gay.

“When we were left alone and it was time to go to bed, he said ‘Is it alright if I sleep next door because I’m not into women?’,” she recalls.

Their marriage was never consummated, but when she left him, she says she was blamed.

Even her own family tried to persuade her to go back, telling her she was a “bad wife”.

Her mother told her if she “had done everything right, he wouldn’t have been gay”.

Salma adds: “She said ‘You should have touched him, made him have feelings for you’.”

The attitude of the south Asian community to homosexuality has even been absorbed by some of the gay and lesbian members within it.

Hrpreet – not his real name – is a married man in his 20s with a young son.

‘Life in tatters’

He says that if his child told him he was gay, he’d be upset because being gay is wrong.

And yet Hrpreet calls himself bisexual, and says he prefers having sex with men.

His wife and family don’t know that he regularly goes to gay clubs and picks up men.

If they found out, his life would be in tatters, he says.

In a country where gay rights are enshrined in law, for many British Asians so much is still shrouded in secrecy.

And it will remain so until their community accepts them for who they are and understands that marrying someone of the opposite sex is not a “cure” for being gay.

My mother insisted I was gay – but I’m not

Sunday, December 14th, 2014


Guillaume Gallienne was different from his three athletic brothers – he liked to dance and dress up as a woman. His mother treated him like a girl and told him he was gay. The thing is, he was actually heterosexual in his early teens, Guillaume Gallienne’s mother told him that he was gay. He had always found it difficult fitting in with his macho father and athletic brothers, and so everyone in the family was convinced that he was gay – including Guillaume himself.

It took him several years to realise that was not strictly true.

Even when he started to go out with girls, his parents insisted that he was in denial and when he announced his engagement to the woman who is now his wife, neither his mother nor his father spoke to him for 24 hours.

Guillaume was born in Paris into a haute-bourgeois family. His mother, Melitta, a descendant of the Russian-Georgian aristocracy, married Jean-Claude, a wealthy businessman. They had four sons, of whom Guillaume was the third. But he was not a boy in the way his brothers were or in the way his tyrannical father wanted him to be.

“I did not correspond to the masculine criteria of my family,” he says. “My father was in the French Olympic bobsleigh team – he liked sailing and horse riding. I was scared of horses and would get seasick.”

Instead, young Guillaume preferred to dance, learn Spanish and dress up like Sisi, the Empress of Austria, who was known as the loveliest woman in Europe, using his mother’s duvet as a crinoline.

“Being a man meant being brutal, but I didn’t feel strong enough. Very early on, I realised that I could not be like the men in my family, but that I also didn’t want to be like them. The only alternative for me was to turn to the women of my family and especially my mother, whom I adored.”

There was only one way for the young Guillaume to justify in his own mind why he was not a “real” boy and at the same time be close to his mother by differentiating himself from his brothers, and that was to believe that he was, in fact, a girl.

When Guillaume’s mother wanted to call him and his brothers to supper, she would call: “Les garçons et Guillaume – à table!” (Boys and Guillaume, to the table!) This sentence later inspired his coming-of-age one-man show and now a film, Me, Myself and Mum. The idea came during a session with his psychiatrist and he decided to write an autobiographical film about a boy who learns to accept his heterosexuality, in a family that had decided he was homosexual.

“It became the connecting link for all the separate anecdotes in the puzzle of my life; as if all the years of confusion suddenly made sense.”

Guillaume stars in the film as his younger self and also as his mother in drag. Now 41 and a well-known French actor and member of the acclaimed Comédie-Française theatre, he seems to be at peace with his troubled childhood. In the film, he manages to revisit it with humour but also a sense of justice, in what he calls a love letter to women, but most of all to his mother.

Did she simply treat him like the daughter she never had? The answer is not clear, even to Guillaume. He says: “I think she did, but subconsciously. When we talk on the phone, she always hangs up saying ‘Kisses, my darling’” (in French, ma cherie, which she uses to speak to her son, is the feminine gender).

The strong, complex personality of his mother, who was very feminine, fascinated him. “She was never tender with us – never hugged or kissed us – and was often blunt and cold, but she could also be warm. She was a fantastic woman, deeply modest and shy, and extremely funny. In her, I could see qualities I preferred.”

She inspired him to the extent that he began to imitate her. His voice ended up resembling hers so much that even his grandmother would sometimes mistake him for her daughter.

At the age of 10, Guillaume was sent to a Christian Brothers boarding school. For the first time, he found himself feeling different outside the microcosm of his family. “I was very effeminate and precious. My snobbish classmates often bullied me and insulted me, calling me a faggot. I used to spend every day crying.”

To cope with the challenges of school, he had to be inventive. “I had a classmate whose father had died and I noticed people were very nice to him. So when someone asked me one day why I was crying, I said that my father had just died. Of course, my family found out at some point when another classmate’s mother came to dinner at our house and was surprised to see my father was very much alive.”

It is interesting, perhaps, that he decided to “kill” his father. In a symbolic way, he does that in the film, too, as we only see him on few occasions. It seems it is all part of his conscious decision to turn the dark moments of his childhood into a light-hearted comedy and to search for the funny side of the sometimes ugly truth.

The difficulties at school led to a nervous breakdown when Guillaume was 12. He began to see a psychiatrist who recommended to his parents that they send their son away. Guillaume went to a boys’ boarding school in England, near Portsmouth, but this time found himself in an environment where he felt free to be different. He loved the experience.

“I blended in very easily. The fact that we were all wearing uniforms applied some kind of equality, as there was no judgment based on appearance. No one made fun of me there. I could finally be myself.” He even developed a crush on a boy, although he never told him. He told his mother, but she had a surprise in store. “Of course you are in love with a boy,” she said. “It’s because you are gay.”

Until then, everything had been clear in his mind. “I knew I couldn’t be a boy, because I was not strong and brutal. So I had to be a girl and fall in love with a boy, as girls do. When my mum told me the reason I was in love with a man was because I was gay, my whole world fell apart. I had spent my life thinking I was a girl – now I had to learn how to be a boy!”

He does not know if the fact that his father wanted him to be a “real” man, while his mother subconsciously treated him as a girl, was a source of conflict between his parents. “My mother would rarely fight to protect us against her husband. He was tyrannical; it was hard to go against his will.”

His father’s choice not to deal with his son’s troubled childhood also manifested itself years later, when he went to see Guillaume’s one-man show. “He did a wonderful thing – he ‘forgot’ his hearing aid. He kept shouting at my mother’s ear, asking her what was happening on stage, so she was not able to follow it either. I had read the text to her much earlier, though, and she found it very funny. But she prefers the film, which she says is more moving. My father never saw it; he died in 2009.”

In a dysfunctional family, Guillaume has managed to find a silver lining. “My past is not Les Misérables. We grew up in a very lively environment. My parents would take us to operas and plays, and we would travel a lot together.”

Guillaume feels no anger towards his mother. Playing her in the film (a hit in France) allowed him to, literally, occupy her shoes and to feel some empathy for her. “When I was 16, I spoke to her about how I felt. My confusion was also caused by her behaviour towards me. But when I played her in the film and experienced everything through her point of view, I realised it was too easy to blame everything on her.”

He had a few affairs with boys, but didn’t seem to be fulfilled or happy. “My sexual impulses for men were very narcissistic. I hated myself; I was feeling ugly and inadequate. I was so humiliated by the men of my family that if there was a man who treated me differently, I would fall in love with him. It was more of a seduction game. Succeeding meant I was not that undesirable.”

The uncertainty continued until his aunt suggested that the only way to find out if he was gay or straight, was to fall in love. Which he did; with a woman. He met Amandine 14 years ago. It was love at first sight and it changed his life. They have been happily married since 2004 and have a seven-year-old son, Tado.

There is a scene towards the end of the film, where Guillaume, in a “reversed coming out” as he calls it, tells his mother that he is straight and in love with a woman.

The announcement comes to her as a shock and evokes a cruel realisation. All these years, if she was convinced her son was gay, it meant that she would always remain the most important woman in his life. Now that he was confirmed as straight and in love with a woman, she had lost her exclusive relationship with him.

How did his mother cope with that in real life? “It took her many years to come to terms with it. The way she’s been with my girlfriends – and still is with my wife – is very different to how she is with my brothers’ girlfriends. When Amandine and I announced our engagement, my parents didn’t speak to us for 24 hours. Amandine was very sad. I went to my mother and said: ‘It’s very simple. Either you start being polite to my girlfriend or the wedding and the children are going to happen without you. You choose.’

“So she accepted her, but until this day I believe she still doesn’t like the idea of me being with a woman.”

When it comes to labels, he refuses to accept any. “My sexuality today is straight because I fell in love with a woman. If I would fall in love with a man tomorrow, I would have a gay life. Who we happen to be attracted to depends on our heart – it’s not something we can control. I could erase my past and say that I am a straight man but my past is what built me and is still part of me; less and less though. My wife’s love reassures me, fulfills me and makes me feel strong.”

The birth of his son made him feel strong, too, in a way he had never experienced before. “Tado is an amazing child. Contrary to me, he actually enjoys doing boys’ stuff. I love him so much, I play football with him, which for me was, of course, inconceivable before,” he laughs.

Me, Myself and Mum is on at Ciné Lumière at the French Institute, London SW7, until 18 December and then on selected release,


Rich Homie Quan Addresses Gay Rumors, Relationship With Young Thug

Sunday, December 14th, 2014


Rich Homie Quan replies to rumors that he and Young Thug are homosexuals.

Rich Homie Quan and Young Thug are two of Atlanta’s hottest artists out right now. However, with success comes detractors and rumors get spread.

One longstanding rumor about Young Thug particularly is that he’s a gay man, a hearsay mostly developed via the rapper’s Instagram, which contains numerous pictures of Thug and other rappers with captions containing the words “bae” and “lovers” in reference to their relationship.

Recently sitting down with Sway in the Morning on Shade 45, Rich Homie Quan addressed the Young Thug/gay rumors and even fielded a question about his own sexuality.

“First and foremost I try not to get into all the comments, because it be so many, but at the same time I see them. If I respond back to that, that’s what they want me to do,” Rich Homie Quan said when asked about gay rumors. “Everyone in Atlanta know me and Young Thug is not gay. With Thug it’s different, it’s just his slang. I don’t take nothing of it or nothing. I know I ain’t gay, everybody know I ain’t gay… I get a joke out of it, ’cause it’s just so funny how people will take anything and run with it.”

Rich Homie Quan also spoke about his relationship with Young Thug musically and says the two record around 15 collaborative tracks a week.

“I really feel he seen that energy in us. The same energy he seen in them when they were young,” Quan said, “I think he just fell in love with the work ethic.”


Naheed Nenshi: Albertans will be labelled ‘hillbillies’ if Tories’ gay-straight alliance bill passes

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

national post

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi chastised the Tory government Thursday, saying Alberta risked being portrayed as “hillbillies” if the province pushed ahead with the controversial legislation governing students’ rights to establish gay-straight clubs in schools.

“This damaging and hateful debate that we’ve been having in the provincial legislature around Bill 202 and Bill 10 does nothing but reinforce negative stereotypes,” Nenshi told several hundred business leaders during a Calgary Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

In the face of a mounting backlash this month, Premier Jim Prentice hit pause on the contentious Bill 10, which could have forced gay-straight alliance meetings off school property if local school boards objected to their presence.

The premier said last week he accepted “personal responsibility” for the bill, introduced to counter Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman’s Bill 202, which would have mandated gay-straight alliances at a student’s request.

The move means Bill 10 will remain in limbo until the Progressive Conservative government conducts more consultation on the issue and decides to address it again next year.

But the mayor warned Thursday that the entire debate was “ridiculous,” as politicians spent two weeks discussing what clubs Alberta students can join. He argued gay-straight alliances help keep students stay safe and prevent suicide among a vulnerable group of kids.

If we say that we live in a city where we were thinking it would be OK for a 15-year-old to appear before a judge to … start a club in his school, a club that no one would be forced to belong to, well folks, that would be the Scopes Monkey Trial of Alberta

“What was happening was dangerous,” Nenshi said of the proposed legislation. “By saying not all rights are absolute, the government seemed to be saying that our children don’t have the right to be safe. That’s not right. That’s not fair.”

Gay-straight alliances, or GSAs, are typically formed by students as a voluntary support system for LGBTQ kids. But opponents have argued that forcing schools to approve such alliances would be a breach of school board autonomy and infringe on parental rights.

Bill 10 also could have forced students to head to court to press for gay-straight alliances, if turned down by school boards.

During his fiery address, Nenshi likened the bill to an infamous 1925 trial in which the State of Tennessee accused a high school teacher of violating a law prohibiting the teaching of evolution in publicly funded schools.

“If we say that we live in a city where we were thinking it would be OK for a 15-year-old to appear before a judge to … start a club in his school, a club that no one would be forced to belong to, well folks, that would be the Scopes Monkey Trial of Alberta,” he said.

“We would end up having international attention towards what kind of hillbillies we are. None of us need that.”

I don’t know how much praise we should be giving Jim Prentice for pulling the bill. He basically wrote it and used it as a way of circumventing Bill 202, so praising him is a bit much

Nenshi repeatedly thanked Prentice for stalling the bill for further consultation, adding that it’s time “for us to say straight out that we are indeed welcoming, that we are indeed working hard to make sure that every single person can succeed here.”

Prentice’s press secretary responded to Nenshi’s remarks in an email saying the premier took personal responsibility for the introduction of Bill 10 and the impact it had on Alberta’s LGBTQ youth.

“The purpose of putting Bill 10 on hold was to allow for a respectful conversation amongst Albertans who have differing views about how we can ensure our schools are respectful and inclusive,” Emily Woods said Thursday.

At the legislature, Blakeman said she was grateful Nenshi had the courage to speak out while the city is in critical negotiations with the province to draft a big city charter.

The Edmonton MLA said Nenshi’s comments are refreshing and prove that most Albertans support equality “and this government is back in the 1950s, or worse.”

But she wanted to point out to Calgary’s mayor that Prentice has only paused Bill 10 — and the controversial legislation could return in the spring.

Jeff Wilson, Wildrose MLA for Calgary-Shaw, said Nenshi raised some valid points about the Bill 10 debate, but wondered where the mayor was last week when the issue was “top of mind.”

He also questioned how much credit Prentice deserved for putting the bill on hold, noting the legislation was opposed by many people “in all corners of the province and by all parties.”

“I don’t know how much praise we should be giving Jim Prentice for pulling the bill,” Wilson added. “He basically wrote it and used it as a way of circumventing Bill 202, so praising him is a bit much.”

With files from Darcy Henton and James Wood, Calgary Herald

Mean Gays: What the Gay ‘Community’ and the North Shore High School Cafeteria Have in Common

Sunday, December 14th, 2014


It starts out simply enough: I open up Scruff and peruse nearby men, looking at their profiles; immediately ignoring anyone I deem less-than-attractive, regardless of what their personality may entail; and filtering through guys according to which of the app’s rudimentary self-descriptors they’ve claimed for themselves. “Handsome guy, but he labels himself a ‘jock’?” I ask myself. On to the next. “This one is labeled as a ‘geek’ and nothing else? Must have no life.” Next. “Oh, a ‘daddy’ who’s looking for ‘bear chasers’? What would I ever want with him?” Pass. And so the cycle continues until I’m struck by the realization that I’ve been conditioned to become one judgmental bitch.

I’ve stopped trying to meet men during the day-to-day of my existence and instead have turned to the convenience and relative anonymity of apps and online dating. Guys in my city congregate in a very concentrated number of places, none of which I would consider my “scene,” which has effectively nullified my hopes of a meet-cute. Apps have made it easy for me to approve or veto men based solely on a basic bio and a handful of precreated self-descriptors that come packaged with the software. As I’ve observed my own behaviors and those of my peers, friends, and acquaintances, I’ve become increasingly certain that the gay community is no longer a true community at all but a hierarchy of cliques and labels.

I think the issue stems in large part from society’s preoccupation with categorization. While many members of our nation have expressed a desire to move to a state of being that is “post-label,” the gay community is investing more time and energy into creating smaller boxes into which we can neatly shoehorn our kin. Are you a jock, geek, daddy, bear, bear-chaser, or the like? What happens when you don’t quaintly fit into one of these preconfigured niches of gay life?

It’s simple: We turn on you. You, a person who has sought to escape the marginalization forced upon you by the predominately heteronormative American public, have jumped out of the social frying pan and into its fire. Your bravery in choosing to publicize your orientation has been for naught. We will isolate you and ostracize you. I myself am a prime example and, as you’ve seen, have also been a massive contributor to the problem, especially in my hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.

If I’m allowing myself to be perfectly honest, I’d be labeled an “otter.” I’m thinner, and I have a good amount of body hair. Unfortunately, that’s the only descriptor that’s accessible to me in today’s culture, and it does a frighteningly poor job of describing who I am as a person. I like sports, but I can’t talk for hours about football (tennis, perhaps), so I don’t qualify as a “jock.” I play video games, but I don’t identify with “gaymer” culture, so “geek” is out. I work out, but I’m not a gym rat, so goodbye, “muscle.” I enjoy high culture, but there are also moments when I want to watch a trashy sitcom and turn off my mind for several hours, but there’s no category for someone like that.

As I result I, like many others, don’t quite fit into any single subset of the gay population but I’m not so far removed that I’m altogether separate from the community. Instead I exist as a fringe member of gay society, neither a fixture of the scene nor a pariah. My inability to actively own up to one of these preformed online identities makes it difficult to even engage in conversation, let alone make new friends or go on dates. “But wait,” you say. “I’m a lot like that too! I don’t fit into just one category!” And therein lies the crux of the problem: People, as a whole, cannot be described, identified, and understood by a handful of trite labels and categories, despite how hard we try as a result of social and sexual convenience.

Unfortunately, the modern gay male has become less of a human and more of a consumer, using and discarding his brethren, treating the body as a product, and it has become disposable as a result. In our culture you wouldn’t buy an item off the shelf if it weren’t neatly labeled and handsomely packaged, would you? So why would you afford that concession to a person? We’ve begun crafting relationships using the same tactics with which we might approach building a Lego fortress; these self-imposed monikers are becoming the building blocks of what we deem to be a desirable companion, sexual or otherwise, often leading us to fully assess potential matches before we’ve even met them, chemistry be damned!

We are taught by those around us that this is how we are, and too many of us, including me, have drunk that proverbial Kool-Aid. I’m thirsty for something more, something richer, something both filling and fulfilling. I want the men I know, the ones I don’t, and the ones I’d love to meet to push for accurate depictions of gay men in the media, eschew the self-imposed sociocultural restrictions we’ve enacted, and cease living out the stereotypes that we all proclaim to hate but in which we readily indulge on a consistent basis.

Perhaps it would make most sense to quote 2004’s Mean Girls — and let’s face it, the gay community is actively working to segregate itself just as much as those lunch tables in that fictional high-school cafeteria did — and say, “You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it OK for guys to call you sluts and whores.” While the syntax is different, the core message is the same. If we continue, as a unit, to perpetuate this uninviting, fractured sense of “community” amongst our members, we just make it more and more appealing for the broader public to do the same to us.

Cairo bathhouse raid spreads fear in Egyptian gay community

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

the washington post

Egypt’s government has aggressively cracked down on Islamist and liberal opponents over the past year. Now officials are increasingly targeting another group: gay people.

Police raided a public bathhouse in Cairo this month and arrested at least two dozen men, parading them half-naked in front of television cameras before hauling them off to prison.

It was the latest in a series of police busts at suspected meeting places of homosexuals across the country. Arrests of gay people have been on the rise since President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi seized power in a military coup in 2013, but in recent months the arrests have escalated, rights groups say.


“It’s a full-on crackdown on all sorts of freedoms,” said a prominent gay-rights activist in Egypt, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing crackdown. “There is a lot of fear in Egypt’s gay community,” he said. “Many people want to leave the country.”

As a fiercely conservative, largely Muslim society, Egypt has never openly accepted gay or transgender people. In the early 2000s, the government of then-president Hosni Mubarak staged similar raids on gay-friendly hangouts and jailed dozens of people. Gay activists are comparing the current campaign to the darkest days under the Mubarak government.

 Homosexuality is not illegal per se under Egyptian law. But prosecutors charge defendants under a section of the penal code that criminalizes prostitution and debauchery. In April, four men were sentenced to between eight and 12 years in prison each for debauchery after a raid on an all-male party they attended at a villa in a Cairo suburb. About 150 people have been arrested in such raids since 2013, rights groups say.

Egypt’s Interior Ministry did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the detentions at the bathhouse, and it was not clear what charges the men might face.

Hope gives way to fear

When protesters rose up to oust the long-ruling Mubarak in 2011, many gay, lesbian and transgender Egyptians had hoped they would finally be able to secure their place in a new, democratic system.

“After the revolution, there was this intense feeling of euphoria,” said another Egyptian gay-rights activist. He, too, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of fears for his safety. He is working outside the country.

“People began to embrace each other and began to feel at least partially accepted,” he said. “The community was more visible, and the public became more aware that we exist.”

But now many gay Egyptians are living in fear.

Activists say the current persecution of homosexuals is part of a broaderstate clampdown on dissidents of all stripes. Since the coup, the government has jailed tens of thousands of Islamists, liberal activists and anti-government students.

But the gay community is not being targeted for its members’ political activism. Rather, in an era of fervent nationalism and pro-military sentiment, homosexuals are seen as failing to uphold traditional standards of manhood, activists say.

“The government is pumping out nationalist rhetoric and xenophobic speech all the time. They want to enforce a stereotypical vision of masculinity,” said the first gay activist. “But of course that vision sees homosexuality as a weakness and as against nationalist values.”

TV station’s role in raid

The bathhouse raid, on Dec. 7, was particularly troubling for the gay community, activists here say. Not only was a television crew from a popular satellite channel on hand to document the operation, but the channel’s own journalists also had actually prompted the arrests by informing police that gay men went to have sex at the location.

The channel, Al Kahera Wal Nas, had planned to feature the bathhouse, or hammam, in a special report on AIDS in Egypt, calling it a “den of sin” but offering no proof that any illegal activity had taken place there. Bathhouses are popular in the Arab world, with men and often women visiting them to relax in hot baths or steam rooms.

“This is the first time I have seen such close coordination between the media and the security forces” on an anti-gay raid, said the activist who is outside Egypt.

The television host responsible for the report, Mona al-Iraqi, immediately posted photos of the bare-chested detainees on her Facebook page.

“With pictures, we reveal the biggest den of group perversion in the heart of Cairo,” she wrote, in a post that was later taken down.

Rights groups say people detained in such operations are particularly vulnerable in the penal system.

“From the beginning of the process, they are beaten, verbally abused, threatened with rape,” said Dalia Abd el-Hameed, the head of the gender program at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, a local human rights organization.

“If they have long hair, it is forcibly cut, because it’s seen as a sign of effeminacy,” she said. “People are treated in the most humiliating way.”

The suspects are sometimes forced to undergo anal examinations, which are then submitted to the court as evidence of homosexual activity, rights groups say.

Because of the shame of being arrested under such circumstances, detainees often don’t want to contact friends or family members. There are few Egyptian defense lawyers willing to take on such cases, meaning sometimes the accused are left without representation.

“Sissi and the police, they want to assert this idea that they are the guardians of morality in Egypt now,” said the activist who is outside the country.

“So the state is trying to shame people for their private behavior and destroy the lives of anyone with a voice.”

Heba Habib contributed to this report.

Is France’s far right flirting with gay vote?

Sunday, December 14th, 2014


France’s far right National Front party announced Friday that the cofounder of a prominent gay rights group was joining its ranks and will be a future candidate in elections, a surprise move for a group that has long been linked to homophobic views.

Party leader Marine Le Pen and Sébastian Chenu held a joint press conference in Paris to confirm he was leaving the right-wing opposition Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party to work alongside the anti-immigration National Front (FN).

Chenu, a former UMP general secretary, is mostly known in France as one of the founders of GayLib, a gay rights group that also describes itself as being in the centre-right of the political spectrum.

“I am joining Marine Le Pen because of her consistent views on Europe and social issues,” Chenu told reporters.

The 41-year-old politician accused the UMP of fully accepting France’s “submissive” relationship to the European Union. Chenu also added that the UMP and Nicolas Sarkozy, the party’s newly elected president, were “alarmingly” out of touch with LGBT issues.

“[Sarkozy] declared that he supported striking down the gay marriage law,” Chenu lamented in reference to a November 15 speech in front of party members. At the same time, he questioning the former French president’s true convictions on the subject: “he could have said the exact opposite if he was speaking to a gay rights group.”

Chenu’s decision to join Le Pen, based, at least in part, on the hot-button issue of gay marriage, has nevertheless confounded observers, since the FN officially remains opposed to marriage-equality legislation France adopted in 2013, commonly referred to as the “Mariage pour tous”, or Marriage for all, law.

“I will remind you that we are opposed to the marriage for all question, and that we have declared we would repeal the law,” Louis Aliot, Vice-president of the FN and a European MP, was quick to point out in an interview with Radio France International (RFI) on Friday.

Aliot insisted Chenu and the FN had found common ground in their shared rejection of transferring political powers to the EU.

GayLib, which works closely with the UMP, also rushed to highlight the contradiction in Chenu’s decision and to pour censure on one of its original members.

According to GayLib, by tying the knot with the far-right group, Chenu had “betrayed all the political values and objectives that he supposedly defended, in particular the rights of the LGBT community.”

“Sébastian Chenu is joining a political platform that has publicly expressed its rejection of marriage and adoption for same-sex couples,” GayLib deplored in a statement.

Outing Marine Le Pen’s ‘gay lobby’

While Chenu’s induction into the FN family has raised eyebrows and drawn scrutiny, it also appears to confirm Marine Le Pen’s intention to distance the party from her firebrand father and FN founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Le Pen father is infamous for labelling the Holocaust a “detail” in the history of World War Two, but also for declaring on primetime TV in 1984 that homosexuality was a “biological and social anomaly”, and two years later recommending that HIV patients be confined to “AIDS-atoriums.”

Since Le Pen daughter took over the FN in 2011, she has avoided similar incendiary comments and worked hard to make her party more palatable to French constituents. In an often quoted statement after she took the reins of the party, Marine Le Pen called the Holocaust “the ultimate act of barbarism.”

A few weeks later she made another pronouncement at the party’s annual May 1 rally that rang out for many as an appeal for change within the party: “Whether man or woman, heterosexual or homosexual, Christian, Jewish or Muslim, we are foremost French.”

Claims of rampant immigration and insecurity have remained the party’s key issues under Marine Le Pen, but evidence suggests that hate speech directed at Jews and homosexuals is off the agenda. French media, including far-right weekly Minute, have reported that an important number of men in Marine Le Pen’s inner circle are gay, referring to them as her “gay lobby.”

Coincidently, FN party officer Florian Philippot announced this week that he would sue tabloid magazine Closer for recently publishing photos of him and another man the weekly claimed was his boyfriend. Philippot has never publicly confirmed or denied he was gay.

While Chenu’s decision to flip from the UMP to the FN has caught many people off guard, others will see the announcement as further proof of the widening rift between Marine Le Pen entourage and the party’s old guard.

Running away from Islam?

At the height of the anti-gay marriage protests in France last year, Marine Le Pen was nowhere to be seen, even as other FN leaders broke rank to take part in the massive marches. Le Pen’s conspicuous absence has been attributed to her friendship and commitment to Philippot.

Some journalists in France have moved beyond the debate over whether Le Pen’s “gay lobby” really exists, and have asked how gay men can be attracted to a far-right party and why many were considering voting for Marine Le Pen.

In his 2012 book “Why are gays turning to the right” (Pourquoi les gays sont passés à droite, Seuil) French journalist and writer Didier Lestrade suggested gay men in France who feel threatened by hardline Muslim rhetoric are being encouraged by the FN’s anti-Islam rhetoric.

Sylvain Crépon, a French researcher and expert on far right movements in Europe, has said FN leaders are ready to exploit the trend – whether it is widespread or only anecdotal – for electoral gain.

The FN may not have a history of defending gay causes in France, but it is well positioned to denounce the persecution of gay Frenchmen by Muslims in suburbs where immigrants are often in the majority, the researcher explained.

“It’s as much the harassment of gays perpetrated by Muslims as Marine Le Pen’s statements denouncing it that are driving homosexuals to the National Front,” Crépon said.

Model used in anti-gay billboard not a twin, actually gay

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

The independent

This billboard was recently put up by an ‘ex-gay’ Christian group in the US, bearing the text: “Identical twins: One gay, one not. We believe twins research studies show nobody is born gay.”

However, in news that will surprise no one apart from perhaps Alanis Morissette, it turns out the model in photo is not only not an identical twin, but is actually gay.

South African Kyle Roux contacted the local NBC channel in Richmond, Virginia, after the billboard was brought to his attention by friends and family.

“I was obviously quite shocked, so that why I decided to send you guys an email saying hey, I’m that guy in that billboard,” he wrote.

“It just seems like there no place in today’s world for an organisation that is promoting this as being some kind of deviant or distasteful lifestyle, because I’ve lived my life openly gay and happy for my entire life.”

Chris Doyle, counsellor and board member at Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX), said the photo was irrelevant, the issue was “actual science” (our italicisation).

That’s despite the American Psychological Association saying views that sexual orientation could be altered through ‘therapy’ had been “rejected by all the major mental health professions”.


Benjy’s first kiss: ‘Gay’ bull saved from slaughterhouse by Simpsons creator after he failed to show interest in female cows finds love at the sanctuary

Sunday, December 14th, 2014



  • Benjy was destined for the slaughterhouse after he refused to breed
  • Fundraisers including The Simpson’s co-creator Sam Simon intervened
  • Will now live out rest of his life at a Norwich sanctuary – after the snip
  • Upon arrival was immediately given a welcome kiss from neighbour Alex

A bull which was destined for the slaughterhouse after a vet said he is gay but was granted a last minute reprieve following an intervention from a Simpsons creator has arrived at his new home.

Benjy the gay bull has today arrived at his new home at Hillside Sanctuary, Norwich, where he will undergo the snip before living out the rest of his days in peace thanks to terminally ill The Simpsons co-creator Sam Simon.

And within seconds of his arrival Benjy experienced his first kiss – from Alex the one year old bullock living in the next door pen on the farm.

Benjy had been just days away from death after his owner became frustrated when he would not breed, but was saved following a fundraising appeal which included a generous contribution from Mr Simon.

But before the bull can completely relax he will have to undergo castration to calm him down and stop him terrorising the other animals.

John Watson, who works at the sanctuary, told Newstalk: ‘We will castrate Benjy, because once you castrate them you don’t tend to notice their sexual preferences so much – it settles them down.’

He added: ‘We’ve got three really gentle elderly cows that are going to be next to him in the barn.’

Benjy had been destined for the butchers after he failed to show any interest in the female cows on his farm in County Mayo and instead seemed to gravitate towards the other bulls.

A vet told his owner that it was Benjy’s sexual orientation that was the reason he wouldn’t and couldn’t breed.

But Hollywood producer and long-term vegan Mr Simon heard about his plight and bought the animal’s freedom by donating £5,000 to buy and transport Benjy to a sanctuary in time for Christmas.

Mr Simon, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2012, recently said that he would give away his entire $100million fortune on animal rights causes.

Mr Simon said: ‘PETA told me about Benjy, and I felt compelled to help. All animals have a dire destiny in the meat trade, but to kill this bull because he’s gay would’ve been a double tragedy.

‘It thrills me to help PETA and ARAN make Benjy’s fate a sanctuary rather than a sandwich.’

Mr Simon was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2012 and has chosen to use his money and the time he has left to help animals in need.

This includes getting 17 bears transferred from virtually barren concrete pits to a lush new home, helping retire a lame horse used for racing and securing the transfer of a chimpanzee who had spent more than 18 years in solitary confinement at a zoo to a reputable sanctuary.

He also runs The Sam Simon Foundation, an organisation dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating homeless dogs.

Given three months to live in 2012, Mr Simon immediately decided to team up with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) president Ingrid Newkirk, and dedicate his time to the rescue of maltreated animals and conservation.

Having defied that diagnosis’ original death sentence, Simon continues to push ahead and has also funded projects such as ‘Feeding Families’ to help with the underprivileged in inner cities.

In addition to the money fronted by Simon, more than 250 other individuals have donated to fund the bull’s transfer via a crowd-funding initiative set up by Irish animal-protection group ARAN and


Taylor Swift denies secret lesbian romance with model BFF Karlie Kloss after cosy Twitter picture sends fans into a frenzy

Friday, December 5th, 2014

daily mail

Taylor Swift has laughed off rumours of a lesbian romance with her best friend Karlie Kloss.

The singer and her model pal were at the centre of a Twitter frenzy after a grainy picture emerged on social media that appeared to show them kissing at a concert on Thursday.

A fan posted the blurry snap along with the caption: ‘Exclusive taylor and karlie making out #confirmed.’

But the 24-year-old singer’s spokesperson was quick to nix the rumour to Gossip Cop, branding the speculation ‘hilarious’.

In one image the blonde BFFs can be seen watching The 1975’s performance while leaning on the railings of a balcony area of the concert hall.

In another, Karlie has Taylor in a full embrace, left arm wrapped around her shoulders and right hand cupping her face as the songstress leans in for a kiss while holding on tight to her friend’s hand.

Taylor and Karlie attended the gig in New York on Thursday along with fellow models Lily Aldridge, and Martha Hunt.

And the ladies appeared to have enjoyed their girls’ night at the Terminal 5 venue as they were pictured cheerfully leaving the concert linking arms.

Taylor wore a miniskirt, sheer patterned tights and a zip-up black jacket and looked a little worse-for-wear sporting slightly smudged cherry red lipstick as she walked between her stunning friends Lily and Martha.

The leggy ladies got to spend some quality time together in London earlier this week, with Taylor providing the musical entertainment for the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, which this year took place at the Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre.

Taylor and Karlie, 22, have made no secret of their bond and the Shake It Off singer recently revealed in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine that Karlie even has her own room in her apartment.

During the interview Taylor gave a tour of her home and showed off the guest room which was decorated with pictures of the model and included a basket of her favourite Whole Food treats by the bed.

Meanwhile, the Love Story hit maker opened up about her dating life to Billboard magazine as she was named Woman Of The Year by the music publication.

She said: ‘I, however, am 24, perfectly happy being alone, and one of the reasons I’m perfectly happy being alone is that no one gets hurt this way.’

In other romance rumours, Taylor reportedly met and exchanged numbers with The 1975 frontman Matt Healy in October and has attended several of the band’s gigs since then.

Their rumoured flirtation began when Healy wore Swift’s 1989 album T-shirts during one of the band’s gigs, and she followed suit by sporting one of their tour tops.

The Begin Again singer attended a concert with BFF Selena Gomez last week and during an interview with Australian radio show Shazam Top 20 this week, Matt revealed the potential couple had exchanged phone numbers adding: ‘I wouldn’t say no.’

Michigan House passes anti-LGBT ‘right to discriminate’ law

Friday, December 5th, 2014

daily kos

Here we go again with a bill protecting the religiously persecuted from evil LGBT citizens hoping to pay for services and participate in the U.S. economy. Michigan’s GOP House Speaker Jase Bolger pushed through a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” which is now headed to the state Senate for consideration.

It’s a similar bill to the one we saw in Arizona earlier this year. Michigan Republicans apparently felt a real sense of urgency after they quashed an effort the day before to help LGBT individuals hold down jobs and be productive members of society.

The 59-50 party-line House vote occurred just one day after competing proposals to add gay rights protections to Michigan’s anti-discrimination law stalled in committee due to a dispute over including transgender residents.

On that pitiful note, studies have shown that fully 90 percent of trans employees experience varying forms of harassment and mistreatment at work. It’s also totally legal in the Great Lake State and 31 others to fire people simply because of their gender identity. Only 18 states protect gay and transgender workers from discrimination on the job.

Speaker Bolger was the lynchpin to the whole deal, according to Democratic Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer.

“There were religious leaders from all faiths at the Capitol yesterday calling on the legislature to end discrimination, not further sanction it,” said Whitmer, (D-East Lansing). “It’s offensive enough that the Speaker won’t allow the anti-discrimination to move forward despite a majority of the House willing to support it, but to try to justify it with religious intent is simply disgraceful.”

Naturally, the Michigan Catholic Conference set itself apart from other faith leaders by celebrating the victory.

“Religious liberty is neither right nor left, liberal or conservative,” Tom Hickson, vice president for public policy and advocacy, said in a statement. “The free exercise of religion without threat of government interference is paramount and deserves swift consideration from the State Senate.”

It’s just so Christmassy—people of good will coming together to keep other people from being full citizens of the country.

St. George may wait for state on LGBT discrimination measures

Friday, December 5th, 2014


Advocates for more legal protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are looking at St. George as a potential place to make headway, but they are preparing for a lengthy campaign.

After a year of often heated debate over LGBT issues that eventually led to the legalization of same-sex marriage in Utah, attention has turned back to a statewide effort by LGBT people and their supporters to make it illegal to use a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity as means for discrimination in the workplace or in housing.

“It takes a community to get that ball rolling and make it happen,” said Preston Hilburn, a field organizer with Equality Utah, an advocacy group that has been working to forward LGBT causes in the state.

Hilburn and other advocates hosted a town hall meeting in St. George this week to help supporters have more impact convincing lawmakers to support such legislation.

It’s become a sometimes fractured campaign, with some municipalities adopting their own measures, others rejecting the proposals and a statewide measure having run repeatedly but yet to gain support among a majority of legislators.

Opponents have cited a litany of concerns, worrying that such laws would create a separate class of people based on behavior rather than race and that it would force employers and landlords to make choices based on behavior.

Some argue that the measure would create special rights for LGBT people at the expense of employers and property owners, who they feel should be allowed to choose whom to hire and whom to allow to rent.

In 2009, Salt Lake City became the first Utah municipality to adopt such an anti-discrimination ordinance, and similar measures have passed in 17 cities and counties across the state. Springdale became the first in Washington County when it adopted its ordinance in 2012.

A group of supporters have approached the City of St. George about passing such legislation, but Mayor Jon Pike said Thursday that his feeling is that the city will want to take its time. Officials want to hear more from constituents about their thoughts, want to study more how similar measures have impacted other cities and want to wait to see how the Utah Legislature, which begins its annual 45-day general session in January, will approach the issue, Pike said.

“I think the council is looking at a slower approach,” he said. “Everybody is kind of waiting to see where everyone else is going with it.”

Statewide legislation is being pushed again by Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, who spent the past two years trying to get the measure passed after saying he saw and heard examples of discrimination.

The measure cleared a Senate committee in 2013 but was wasn’t discussed during the 2014 session after legislative leaders decided to table all LGBT-related bills because, at the time, the state was appealing a court ruling that allowed same-sex marriage.

That’s no longer an issue this year, Urquhart said, and while there could be an appetite among some lawmakers to strike back after losing on same-sex marriage, he argued that he has never felt the marriage issue ever had anything to do with workplace and housing equality.

“I think it helps pass my bill just for the simple reason that it removes a specious argument – the argument of pass this and you’ll end up with gay marriage,” he said.

Urquhart said he is working to convince fellow lawmakers to support the bill, but that the most powerful arguments will come from constituents with relevant stories explaining the harm caused by discrimination. He said he is confident the bill will pass eventually.

“We know how this issue ends,” he said. “We know there’s going to be full equality under the law. It’s just a question of how long does it take.”

LGBT Activist Compensated After Russian City Bans Gay Pride Parade

Friday, December 5th, 2014

the moscow times

A court in Kostroma has awarded compensation to a prominent gay rights activist after authorities unlawfully banned a gay-pride parade and two LGBT-themed protests from taking place in the city.

In accordance with the ruling passed down Wednesday by a district court, local authorities will have to pay 3,000 rubles ($55) in moral damages to activist Nikolai Alexeyev, the news site reported.

The decision marks the first time in a decade that Alexeyev, the founder of the Moscow Gay Pride movement, has been compensated for moral damages in regards to his LGBT rights activism in Russia, the report said.

In 2013, the country adopted legislation banning the promotion of nontraditional sexual relations to minors, though homosexuality itself is not illegal in Russia.

In October, the same court ruled that Kostroma authorities would have to pay Alexeyev more than 8,000 rubles ($150) for pecuniary damages and legal fees related to its cancellation of the planned events: a gay pride parade and two protests against the so-called “gay propaganda law.”

Alexeyev was attacked by unknown assailants in Kostroma after traveling to the city in September to participate in a hearing against the ban on the parade and rallies, reported at the time.

Rights activists have criticized the adoption of Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law, saying it will lead to a restriction of the rights and freedoms of the country’s LGBT community.

Putin Says Russia Respects LGBT Rights, but Prefers Traditional Values

Friday, December 5th, 2014

sputnik news

During a meeting with human rights activists Putin said that he respects the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, but chooses to promote traditional values.

MOSCOW, December 5 (Sputnik) – Russia respects the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, but promoting traditional family values will remain the government’s “strategic choice,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday.

“We have no plans to persecute people of non-traditional [sexual] orientation,” Putin said at a meeting with human rights activists. “But a traditional family…is our strategic choice.”

The fact that Russia chooses to promote traditional values, does not mean that we limit the rights of homosexual people, he added.The government’s policy is only aimed at protecting children from gay propaganda. “A society that can’t protect it’s children has no future,” he said.

Russia has been bashed by human rights groups for its alleged negative stance on LGBT community. Moscow came under a barrage of criticism in June after its parliament endorsed unanimously an amendment to a law aimed at protecting children from “harmful information”.

The addition, dubbed “gay propaganda” law, prohibits informing underage children about the “attractiveness of nontraditional sexual relationships” and giving them “distorted ideas about social equality of traditional and nontraditional sexual relationships.”

The legislation raised concerns that it could be used to crack down on sexual minorities. However the Russian government stressed the criticism was exaggerated since the law never meant to criminalize same-sex relationships, unlike stricter anti-LGBT legislation in other countries.

Five Reasons Why Homophobia Is The Only Possible Reason The FDA Won’t Change Its Ban On Gay Blood Donors

Friday, December 5th, 2014


Since 1983, the FDA has placed a blanket ban on blood donations from anyone who has had sex with another man at any time since the nation’s bicentennial in 1976. The ban was instituted as hysteria about the AIDS epidemic was growing and blood screening technology hadn’t been instituted to detect the virus in blood donations. The FDA insists that the decision, now in its fourth decade is “based on the documented increased risk of certain transfusion transmissible infections, such as HIV, associated with male-to-male sex and is not based on any judgment concerning the donor’s sexual orientation.”


As the FDA hearings on the ban this week have shown, there is no good scientific reason why gay men and men who have sex with men are singled out for treatment that no one else receives. The FDA insists that it’s concerned about the safety of the blood supply, but here are five good reasons why the agency seems to be motivated by anything but science.

1. The FDA is more lenient with straight men. Have unprotected sex with a female prostitute, and you have to wait a year before you can donate blood. Watch a Judy Garland movie anytime since Gerald Ford was president, and you’re a leper for life.

2. The agency doesn’t differentiate what kind of gay sex. The science proves that unprotected anal sex is a high-risk behavior for HIV transmission. Other types of sex don’t carry anything like the same risk. But the FDA doesn’t care what kind of sex you had, just that you had it with another man. In the FDA’s book, mutual masturbation is as good a reason to ban gay blood donors as unprotected anal sex.

3. Monogamy? Never heard of it. In a monogamous relationship? The FDA doesn’t care and it’s not about to take your word for it in any case. It just care that you’re knocking boots with another man. Imagine if they applied the same standard to heterosexual married couples.

4. Multiple experts have called the ban nonsense. The American Medical Association, the American Red Cross, and the American Association of  Blood Banks have all called on the FDA to change its policy on the grounds that its not based on sound science. A one-year deferral, which is common in many countries, would make more sense than a lifetime ban, they argued and would result in one additional transfusion-related infection every 32 years.

5. The technology is incredibly advanced. The most commonly used test to screen blood donations will detect HIV within nine days of the donor becoming infected. The risk of transmission from a donation is from anyone who just become infected with HIV within a little more than the past week. From the way the FDA acts, you think that science has stood still since Reagan was president.

The FDA panel that held hearings to consider lifting the ban was unable to come to any conclusion after two days of “heated deliberations.” The heat seems to come from something other than cold hard science. In the meantime, the agency seems intent on reminding us that the hysteria that fueled the response to the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s is still alive and kicking.

Canadian Olympic Committee’s new goal: eradicating homophobia in schools

Friday, December 5th, 2014

ctv news

The Canadian Olympic Committee is partnering with two organizations to encourage inclusion in sports in advance of the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.

The COC is working with You Can Play and Egale Canada, two organizations that promote acceptance and tolerance, to fight homophobia across the country.

As part of the partnership, You Can Play and Egale will provide support for Olympic athletes who want to reveal their sexuality.

Athletes will also visit schools to talk to students about issues faced by members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) community.

“Starting today, the greatest athletes in Canada embrace a new mission: the eradication of homophobia in Canadian schools,” You Can Play founder Patrick Burke said at a news conference Tuesday.

Burke later said that, eventually, the initiative will reach millions of Canadian schoolchildren.

“When you see this happening at the national level, the COC is stepping up and saying that not only do we welcome LGBTQ athletes in our own house, but we’re going to go out into the community and try and make an impact, go into schools and talk about LGBTQ issues. I think we’re going to see a real impact on Canada’s youth,” he told CTV News Channel.

The program will include updating the COC’s internal policies and programs to be the most advanced for LGBTQ inclusion in the world, he said.

And it will also train elite athletes to deliver the message of acceptance to schoolchildren across the country, be it gay athletes or athletes who support the program’s message.

Two-time Canadian Olympian Anastasia Bucsis called the program “ground-breaking.”

When Bucsis came out to friends and family in 2012, “I really struggled with it,” she told News Channel.

“I felt a great deal of loneliness, confusion, anxiety,” she said.

“And to be sitting here a little over two years later, and being a part of such a momentous movement, I’m very proud. I think we’re going to see great strides, and this is going to have a huge effect on future generations.”

The Canadian Olympic School Program (COSP) aims to establish relationships with 25 school boards across the country by the end of 2016.

“Athletes should be judged by their performance on the field of play and their character as people, not for who they love,” COC chief executive officer Chris Overholt said Tuesday. “Today’s announcement is a positive step forward and we are so proud to begin the important work in changing the locker-room culture across Canada.”

Bucsis called organized sports “a final frontier of homophobia” that fosters a silence “that just furthers the stigma and stereotypes.”

Burke noted that athletes fear coming out to their teammates because they will be targeted in the locker room.

“It’s a total waste of energy for these athletes,” Burke said. “They have to lie to their teammates, lie to themselves, spend all this time hiding who they are and feeling that external and internal pressure. It distracts them from being an elite athlete.”

Many athletes see their on-field performances improve once they are able to reveal their sexual identity to their teammates, he said.

Emphasizing acceptance and diversity in the locker room will help, Bucsis said. She already knows what her message will be when she visits schoolchildren.

“Be authentic,” she said. “To be proud of who you are on and off the field.”

Did homosexuality evolve to help humans bond? People who are more open to the idea of sleeping with the same sex have higher levels of ‘social’ hormones

Friday, December 5th, 2014



  • Scientists looked at the link between progesterone and sexual attitudes
  • Progesterone is a hormone that contributes to formation of social bonds
  • Heterosexuals with more of the hormone are more open to homosexuality
  • In men, thinking about social bonds and friendships had the same effect 
  • UK study claims there is a continuum between affection and sexuality

Homosexual behaviour may have evolved to improve how well humans bond and get along with each other, according to new research.

Researchers found that heterosexual women with high levels of the hormone progesterone are more open to the idea of engaging in sexual behaviour with other women.

Similarly, when heterosexual men are subtly reminded of the importance of having male friends and allies, they report more positive attitudes toward engaging in sexual behaviour with other men. 

The study provides the first evidence that our need to bond with others increases our openness to engage in homosexual behaviour.

The hormone progesterone is known to contribute to the formation of social bonds, which have many benefits for humans.

The hormone is produced mainly in the ovaries in women, and in the adrenal glands in men.

It is one of the main hormones responsible for caring or friendly behaviour, and levels rise when people have close and friendly interactions.

Dr Diana Fleischman from the University of Portsmouth said that the pattern was particularly obvious in men who had high levels of progesterone.

Women’s levels of progesterone peak after ovulation when the chance of becoming pregnant is dramatically reduced.

‘From an evolutionary perspective we tend to think of sexual behaviour as a means to an end for reproduction,’ said Dr Fleischman.

‘However, because sexual behaviour is intimate and pleasurable, it is also used in many species, including non-human primates, to help form and maintain social bonds.

‘We can all see this in romantic couples who bond by engaging in sexual behaviour even when reproduction is not possible.

‘The results of our study are compelling because, using two very different methods, they arrived at the same conclusion.

‘Women were more likely to be motivated to think about homosexual sex when their levels of progesterone were higher.’

Dr Fleischman said that, compared to a control group, men’s homoerotic motivation was not increased by priming them with sex.

But thinking about friendship and bonding caused a measurable change in their attitude to the idea of having sex with other men.

She said that having homoerotic thoughts did not necessarily mean they would be acted upon.

The researchers first developed a measure of homoerotic motivation through an online survey of 244 participants, with questions including: ‘The idea of kissing a person of the same sex is sexually arousing to me’, and ‘If someone of the same sex made a pass at me I would be disgusted’.

The researchers then measured progesterone in 92 women’s saliva and found that as progesterone increased, so too did openness to the idea of engaging in homosexual activity.

In a second study, the researchers measured levels of progesterone in the saliva of 59 men before all were randomly assigned to one of three groups.

They were then asked to complete word puzzles, one using friendship words, one using sexual words, and a third using neutral words.


The hormone progesterone is known to contribute to the formation of social bonds, which have many adaptive benefits for humans.

The hormone is produced mainly in the ovaries in women and in the adrenal glands in men.

It is one of the main hormones responsible for caring or friendly behaviour and levels rise when people have close and friendly interactions.

Women’s levels of progesterone peak after ovulation when the chance of becoming pregnant is dramatically reduced.

This research looks at how progesterone, a hormone that has been shown to increase motivation to form close bonds, might also underlie the motivation to affiliate with those of the same sex, sexually.



Friday, December 5th, 2014


Look up in the sky! A bird? A plane? No, it’s the Super-Pope!

Pope Francis is increasingly sighted aloft with cape and briefcase – in graffiti at least. The celestial soaring is part of an informal social media campaign supporting the spiritual leader and his ideas.

Italian artist Mauro Pallotta surprised Vatican visitors with images of the pontiff as a manly, airborne superhero last January hovering at low altitude just outside the walls of the Vatican. Pallotto, a.k.a. “MauPal,” claims his inspiration came while simultaneously listening to the pope and reading a Superman comic.

Progressives and liberals in the Catholic Church fervently hope Francis is of their tribe or will at least promote their interests. He hasn’t disappointed them yet.

MauPal claimed the Pope is “our superhero” and presented him with a small version of the papal mural in person last February.

Officials seemed secretly pleased with the analogy, even tweeting images of the graphic offerings far and wide before Pallotta’s bright images were removed.

Bringing new life to the words “caped crusader,” Francis also stirs all the controversies the term historically carries. This time, however, the pope appears to stand against policies of his predecessors and is already challenging traditional church doctrine.

Homosexual accommodation is the big beached whale liberal church members are positioning in the best light, regardless of claims. Once dead in the water thanks to John Paul II and Benedict, it’s the pivotal target in their crosshairs now.

Cryptic remarks by Francis on homosexuality and its place in the Church revived the debate. A wake of perplexed members was left to decipher exactly what his holiness means by these offhand remarks.

Francis said he wants a “more merciful and less rigid Church,” although Catholic catechism previously stated homosexual folks are “accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.”

Recently the pope beefed up inclusivity demands by pondering if the Church is “capable of accepting and valuing” homosexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on family. Since it is glaringly obvious that that doctrine would have to be stretched to “infinite tolerance” to accomplish that, many are pondering Francis’ words.

The drift away from tradition is so clear that openly homosexual artists like Elton John are holding praise-a-thons for the tolerance and compassion of the 266th pontiff.

More troubling is Francis’ culling of official dissenters, who are put to pasture or demoted. Though the patriarch of the West claimed clergy are allowed to speak in “in true freedom” now, the bishops are begging to differ – albeit quietly. It appears there is no tolerance for defiance of the new sexual glasnost of the Church.

Vatican officials are fencing with critics from the rank and file, who share conservative, family values. They claim this is unimportant and that doctrine hasn’t changed. But the world is seeing this as a clear norming of homosexuality or they wouldn’t be in rhapsodies.

Writers such as Liam Moloney assume street art reflects the view of the people, which would be hard to prove. From there he infers that the pope’s success in public art space proves a natural connection with the people and their deepest longings.

Gallery owner Stefano Antonelli claims, “Pope Francis is perfect as a subject for an art that was born for the average person. … He is one of us.”

Moloney et al miss the point that street-art stars such as Banksy (who honor Francis via aerosol) are extremely wealthy. Banksy only speaks for Banksy.

Few art celebrities are serious Catholics, so their relevance is limited – regardless how charming the image of patriarch of the West on a Vespa. If the discussion were solely over mass transportation, it wouldn’t be controversial and we could all just get along.

Illustrating the great divide is brutal contempt homosexual activists heaped on Francis’ predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, for their pro-family views.

The former pontiffs seemed to prophetically sense a future wave of “gay” aggression. In a 2005 book John Paul labeled homosexuality an “ideology of evil.” Benedict XVI seconded him with warnings humanity must be saved from “homosexual or transsexual behavior,” which is “intrinsically evil.”

Homosexual magazine “The Advocate” bequeathed them both “Phobie Awards” for daring to keep Catholic tradition. God is now labeled “anti-gay.”

Conversely, “The Advocate” hailed Francis as “Man of the Year” last December. It appears to them at least that the vicar of Christ is squarely in their camp.

“Appears” is the key word here, as the Vatican clarifies, denies or re-interprets statements conservatives find worrisome. Francis recently answered questions over openly homosexual clergy with a rhetorical and spiritually slick query: “Who am I to judge?”

Christians believe God alone is our final judge, yet Francis has power to judge this issue, or no one would be asking his opinion.

Migliandolo, a tiny Italian hamlet near the Pope’s birthplace, is sponsoring a competition to honor Francis with a huge mural on a possible visit next year. If he continues his overtures to the homosexual community and rebuffs to conservatives.

Meanwhile, liberal artists are thrilled to have the Super-Pope riding their bus line. No one knows where it will end.

Study of Gay Brothers Suggests Genetic Basis of Male Homosexuality

Friday, December 5th, 2014


Are people born gay or is it a choice? A new study of gay brothers, the largest to date, adds more scientific evidence that there’s a genetic basis for homosexuality.

A genetic analysis of over 409 pairs of gay brothers found that two areas of the human genome, a portion of the X chromosome and a portion of chromosome 8, were associated with the men’s sexual orientation. The findings gel with a smaller study conducted in 1993 that implicated the same area of the X chromosome.

Zeroing In

Before proceeding, it’s important to be clear that this study did not discover a “gay gene.” The regions they identified contain many different genes, so scientists still have a lot of searching to do before finding the specific genes that underlie sexual orientation. With that said, here’s how scientists established a broad genetic link.

Over several years, the study’s lead author Alan Sanders, of the NorthShore Research Institute in Illinois, collected blood and saliva samples from 409 pairs of gay brothers, including sets of non-identical twins. Then, researchers went through each man’s samples looking for unique genetic markers shared by all men in the study.

The 818 men varied in hair color, height, intelligence and other physical attributes. So each man had unique genetic markers matching their unique traits. The one thing they did have in common was that they were all gay. Therefore, if the same genetic variants are found in the same spots in each man, there’s reason to believe these places have something to do with sexual orientation.

The two most frequently shared genetic markers were from the Xq28 region on the X chromosome and the 8q12 region on the 8 chromosome. This commonality suggests there’s a genetic link for male homosexuality. They published their findings Monday in the journal Psychological Medicine.

Not Quite Conclusive

One of the primary weaknesses of the study, as pointed out by Science’s Kelly Servick, is that researchers used a type of analysis, genetic linkage, that’s been phased out by more precise techniques.

Genetic linkage studies only identify relationships between broad regions that could contain hundreds of different genes. Today, the linkage technique has been replaced by genome-wide association studies, which identify specific genes associated with traits being studied.

According to the Associated Press, other researchers have questioned the data as well:

Neil Risch, a genetics expert at the University of California, San Francisco, said the data are statistically too weak to demonstrate any genetic link. Risch was involved in a smaller study that found no link between male homosexuality and chromosome X.

Sanders told the New Scientist that he’s already moving forward with the next phase of the study: comparing the genetic markers in gay men to straight men. If the differences are clear, they could narrow the field to fewer genes and also shore up the strength of the associations they’re pointing to.

Mentone church fires pastor who condemned homosexuality

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Redlands Daily Facts

MENTONE >> A church has fired a minister who contended that homosexuality is not compatible with biblical teaching and who called on his congregation to leave a denomination that disagrees with that stance.

The council of Mentone Congregational Church, which is part of the United Church of Christ, on Wednesday night handed a termination notice to the Rev. William P. Roberts, its pastor since 2008, according to church moderator Carmen Ivory.

“You have been open, very verbal and adamant over your beliefs about an ‘open and affirming’ church environment,” the notice reads in part. “These verbal expressions are creating division in the Mentone Congregational United Church of Christ.”

Roberts’ firing, which Ivory said was based on a consensus of the church council, became effective immediately, she said: “He was there, and he accepted the letter from us.”

Multiple calls to Roberts were not returned Thursday.

Roberts had scheduled a gathering this Sunday to ask congregation members to vote to withdraw from the UCC, which welcomes people of all sexual orientations and gender expressions and pledges nondiscrimination under its Open and Affirming Resolution of 1985, said Hal Jackson, a member of the UCC Southern California Nevada Conference’s Committee on Church and Ministry.

Because of Roberts’ firing, Ivory said, the meeting will not take place.

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