Archive for the ‘Spot / International News Wire’ Category

The Vatican’s Gay Art Goes on Display

Monday, January 19th, 2015

thedailybeast

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

cinemablend

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

irishtimes

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

dailymail

  • 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

thestarpress

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

ibnlive

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

desertsun

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, desertsexcenter.com

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 william.dean@desertsun.com.

Billy Crystal’s Homophobic Comments Enrage LGBT Community

Monday, January 19th, 2015

shalomlife

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

wjhl

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

lgbtqnation

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

gaystarnews

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.

Performance
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.

Talent
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: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/why-now-time-world-and-business-leaders-talk-lgbt-davos190115#sthash.3NwNhwxL.dpuf

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

Monday, January 19th, 2015

advocate

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

newsobserver

— 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

independent

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

thehindu

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 wintrust@gmail.com.

 

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

Monday, January 19th, 2015
indiaglitz
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

autostraddle

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

telegraph

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

gaystarnews

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

msnbc

This column is part of “The State of America,” an msnbc.com 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

bustle

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

pinknews

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

pinknews

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

pinknews

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

pinknews

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.”

POLICE SEARCH FOR CLUES AFTER GAY MAN IS MYSTERIOUSLY BEATEN TO DEATH IN NORTHWEST GEORGIA: VIDEO

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

towleroad

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

theguardian

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

informationng

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

gaystarnews

‘I saw the kiss by Michael Sam.. It made me mad–he kissed a man!’ – See more at: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/most-comically-bad-anti-gay-poem-ever-written080115#sthash.aH9pK9ad.dpuf

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: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/most-comically-bad-anti-gay-poem-ever-written080115#sthash.aH9pK9ad.dpuf

Rubio: Bondi should continue fight against gay marriage in Florida

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

tampabay

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

huffingtonpost

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

mediamatters

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

bbc

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

pinknews

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

pinknews

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

Slate

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

tmz

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

christianpost

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

bloomberg

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 jboudreau3@bloomberg.net; Nguyen Dieu Tu Uyen in Hanoi at uyen1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: K. Oanh Ha at oha3@bloomberg.net Lars Klemming

 

The dating app helping gay Chinese men banish the blues — and AIDS

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

nypost

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

nola

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

slate

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

theguardian

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

Wikipedia

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]

Recognition

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]

Awards

Lectures

In 1973 he was invited to deliver the Royal Institution Christmas Lecture on The Language of Animals.

Views and advocacy

Environment

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]

Filmography

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.

Books

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

huffingtonpost

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

advocate

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

canberratimes

 

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

newnownext

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.

Reuters

The gay Asian men pressured into marrying women

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

bbc

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

theguardian

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, institut-francais.org.uk

 

Rich Homie Quan Addresses Gay Rumors, Relationship With Young Thug

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

hiphopdx

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

huffingtonpost

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

france24

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

 

dailymail

  • 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 TheGayUK.com.

 

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

thespectrum

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 GayRussia.ru. 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, GayRussia.ru 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

queerty

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.”

Bull.

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

 

dailymail

  • 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.

WHAT IS PROGESTERONE?

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.

 

‘SUPER-POPE’ BECOMES HOMOSEXUALITY HERO

Friday, December 5th, 2014

wnd

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

discovermagazine

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.

Roberts had contended that the UCC’s open and affirming position “is not biblically sound,” Jackson said in a news release last week. Jackson characterized the UCC, including the Mentone congregation, as a fellowship where everyone is welcome.

Like other UCC flocks, the Mentone church is part of a Congregationalist heritage under which individual churches make their own decisions about hiring and firing of ministers; no governing body outside the congregation is involved.

In fact, said Janet Wilson, president of the United Church of Christ in Redlands, many of the denomination’s policies — including the Open and Affirming Resolution — do not bind member churches.

“The UCC encourages all its congregations to identify as open and affirming,” Wilson said. The Redlands church does so. “But not all do.”

The Mentone church has not identified itself specifically as an open and affirming congregation, Ivory said, acknowledging that her church’s policies do not match those of the denomination: Mentone UCC does not perform same-sex wedding ceremonies.

“But I would call us open,” said Ivory, who has held the post of moderator for about a year and been a member of the church for more than 20 years. “That’s just part of who we are. If you want to worship with us, we welcome you.”

Former Christian Singer Jennifer Knapp Who Came Out as Gay Says Homosexuality Conversation Is ‘Important’ to the Church

Friday, December 5th, 2014

christian post

Former Christian singer Jennifer Knapp, who came out as a lesbian a few years back, discussed the importance of the conversation about homosexuality in the church during a recent interview.

When asked by host Matt Carter on the Bad Christian Podcast last Sunday about the conversation’s relevance to the church, Knapp responded by saying that it is quite important for believers to talk about the issue.

“I do think the conversation is important,” she said. “It’s not only one in terms of social consciousness, I think it’s an opportunity for the church to be really receptive to what it means to be kind and to be compassionate to the real life goings on and the spiritual of every one of its people.”

Knapp rose to stardom in the Christian music industry in the late 1990s after signing with Gotee records. She left the scene in 2002 due to stress and in 2010, she came out as gay. However, she did not denounce her faith. She discussed her experience and views on homosexuality being a sin during the podcast.

“I don’t think homosexual orientation, whether you’re lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, I don’t think sexual identity in any way is a sin. I understand where the teaching [that says] homosexuality’s a sin comes from. However, in understanding that teaching, it’s not one that I feel is one that I could back.”

Knapp subscribes to what she calls the Wesleyan quadrilateral of faith which says that four elements including Scripture, experience, church tradition, logic and reason informs her beliefs as a Christian.

“All four of those things have to marry together to inform what we think we know or what we might know about God,” she said. “And so I think it terms of the LGBT conversation you have to be willing to entertain what that conversation is. It’s not good enough to just simply say to somebody that’s a sin. For some people it’s not. Even Paul talked about that. What’s good for me may not be good for you.”

She also discussed the moment she decided to reconcile her faith with her lifestyle.

“God, this is what I got, so you love me with this from where we’re starting today or you don’t,” said Knapp.

The hosts of the series, which include Christian rockers Matt Carter and Toby Morrell and Pastor Joey Svendson, admitted to not fully embracing Knapp’s point of view, but still respecting her as a genuine believer at the end of the broadcast.

“We have really wrestled with this topic and I think all of us still at a different degree lean a little more towards thinking I think maybe it’s a sin, but for us the big thing is it just doesn’t matter as much as the church makes it an issue,” said Svendson.

Author and Christian Post op-ed contributor Michael Brown recently discussed former Christian artists coming out as gay while attempting to reconcile their faith with their lifestyle. He cites biblical ignorance, moral compromise and societal changes as the main reasoning behind people such as Knapp feeling comfortable coming out.

However, he still would agree with Bad Christian hosts and Knapp that lashing out at each other is not the way to discuss these controversial and personal issues.

Prayer is the more suitable course of action, according to Brown.

Orthodox Protestants least accepting of homosexuality in the Netherlands

Friday, December 5th, 2014

dutchnews

Some 58% of orthodox Protestants in the Netherlands think homosexuality is wrong, making them the most anti-gay group in the country, according to new research from the government’s socio-cultural think-tank SCP. Muslims are also more likely to reject homosexuality – 53% think it is wrong to be gay, the research shows. And just 25% of orthodox Protestant and Muslim parents would accept it if their child had a same-sex partner, the SCP research shows. The SCP says the results of its survey show there has been no improvement in the acceptance of homosexuality in staunch religious circles, despite government campaigns. In terms of ethnic groupings, one in 10 native Dutch people consider homosexuality to be wrong, and one in six would consider it a problem if their child had a same-sex partner. Around half of Dutch people with a Moroccan or Turkish background say homosexuality is wrong but ‘in general’ the second generation is more positive than the first, the SCP says.
Read more at DutchNews.nl: Orthodox Protestants least accepting of homosexuality in the Netherlands

Bloor West Village store target of anti-gay graffiti

Friday, December 5th, 2014

cbc

The owner of a Bloor West Village clothing boutique says her store has repeatedly been the target of homophobic graffiti.

Carolyn Eby, the owner of Trove, says she’s filed three police reports since August because vandals keep covering up a pride flag displayed in the storefront window.

Previously, the vandals used cardboard or rubber cement to cover the flag. But this week, Eby arrived at her business to find a hateful message scrawled in white spray paint on the back of the building.

“Be happy not gay,” read the graffiti. This bigoted message was scrawled onto the back wall of Eby’s store. (CBC)

Despite concern for her store, Eby has taken a defiant tone and says she will not remove the pride flag from her shop window.

“It’s clear that somebody is trying to silence us, but that is something we are not willing to do.”

Helen Hastings, the owner of a store two doors down from Trove, said that businesses in the area will rally to support Eby and the fight for equality.

“We should be able to express how we feel,” said Hasting. “I would put a sign like that in my window and I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable putting it in my window.”

Catholic school board’s stance on gay-straight alliances ambiguous, supports ‘holistic approach’

Friday, December 5th, 2014

calgary herald

The head of Calgary’s Catholic school district has dismissed an Liberal MLA’s claims that church leadership is pressuring boards to prevent students from forming gay-straight alliances in Alberta schools.

“There are no gay-straight alliances in the Catholic school system,” Laurie Blakeman, MLA for Edmonton-Centre, said Wednesday. “There’s no openness, there’s no possibility of having gay-straight alliances in the Catholic school system, or the private one, by the way.”

Blakeman said she has not heard from any Catholic parents or students who oppose having gay-straight alliances in their schools. Rather, opposition to the student-led clubs appears to be coming from school trustees and Catholic leadership, she added.

Her comments come a day after the Tory government pushed through a controversial piece of legislation, known as Bill 10, through second reading in the Alberta legislature Tuesday night.

Bill 10, or the Act to Amend the Alberta Bill of Rights to Protect Our Children, makes sexual orientation a prohibited grounds for discrimination and gives students the right to appeal to their school board or the courts if they are prohibited from forming a gay-straight club in a school.

Linda Wellman, chair of the Calgary Catholic School District, said Bill 10 respects parents’ rights as primary educators of their children and includes tough anti-bullying protection for all students.

Wellman said the district has not taken any direction from any Catholic leaders, and takes a “holistic approach” to create a safe and welcoming environment through “inclusive communities” policies to ensure all students are treated with dignity and respect — including its LGBTQ students.

“Certainly there is no club named ‘gay-straight alliance,’” she said. “But there is certainly support there for all students and any student that self-identifies.”

A spokeswoman said the Catholic school board has developed a comprehensive anti-bullying strategy that addresses homophobia through established student groups, the promotion of inclusive and respectful language and mandatory training for staff.

“The simple answer is, if you’re going to form a club everybody can belong,” Wellman added. “There’s a better way of doing this and I don’t think by labelling students is the way to go.”

Joy Bowen-Eyre, chair for the Calgary Board of Education, said students in 20 public schools across the city have started gay-straight alliances and there would be no issue if any student wanted to form a similar club in any other CBE school.

“They just need to let us know,” Bowen-Eyre said. “We will provide that for our students.”

Blakeman, who now intends to introduce amendments to Bill 10 that includes language from her failed private members’ bill, said the Catholic school district is using excuses and false premises to prevent gay-straight alliances from being established in schools.

“Anyone can join a gay-straight alliance. It’s gay and straight,” Blakeman said. “That’s the point. It’s kids coming together to support one another. Clearly if the sexual minority kids were feeling that they were being accommodated in the Catholic or separate school’s various offerings of diversity clubs they wouldn’t be asking for GSAs, but they are.

“I find that a false premise,” Blakeman said. “That’s an excuse because they don’t want to have gay-straight alliances in their schools. They’ve made it sound as though they will somehow accommodate these kids, but they won’t.”

Planting Peace Launches Holiday HIV/AIDS Campaign In Response To Anti-Gay Pastor’s Remarks

Friday, December 5th, 2014

huffington post

An advocacy group is responding to an Arizona pastor’s viral anti-gay rant with aheartfelt holiday campaign.

Organizers of Planting Peace, perhaps best known as the organization that brought you the rainbow-colored Equality House across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church compound, launched the new fundraiser in response to Pastor Steven Anderson’s claims that “executing” gays will help eradicate HIV/AIDS.

The Planting Peace campaign is raising funds that will go toward helping people with HIV/AIDS, and for every donation made, a lump of coal will be sent to Tempe’s Faithful Word Baptist Church, where Anderson is a pastor, in a festive package to be delivered on Christmas Eve.

“Pastor Anderson calling for the execution of gays is a startling reminder of how much hate and bigotry still exists in our society,” Planting Peace President Aaron Jackson told The Huffington Post in an email. “In keeping with Planting Peace’s philosophy of countering messages of hate with compassion, we wanted to provide a positive platform to bring people together to not only help people with HIV, but to do so in a lighthearted way that will raise awareness for a very serious issue.”

Video footage of Anderson’s bizarre rant went viral earlier this week. In it, the pastor argues that members of the gay community are “filled with disease because of the judgement of God,” and that the cure for HIV/AIDS was “right there in the Bible all along.

Citing Leviticus 18:22, he noted, “if you executed the homos like God recommends, you wouldn’t have all this AIDS running rampant.”

Anderson, who “holds no college degree but has well over 140 chapters of the Bible memorized word-for-word” according to his church’s website, has made headlines several times this year for bizarre statements.

Earlier this year, he has argued in favor of keeping women silent in church, and has referred to second marriages as “adultery.”

Rights Bill Sought for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Americans

Friday, December 5th, 2014

New York Times

WASHINGTON — As barriers to same-sex marriage fall across the country, gay rights advocates are planning their next battle on Capitol Hill: a push for sweeping legislation to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination, similar to the landmark Civil Rights Act that President Lyndon B. Johnson signed in 1964.

Plans for a so-called comprehensive lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights bill are still in their infancy, and advocates say the campaign could take a decade or longer. With Republicans taking control of the House and the Senate in January, they say the measure has little chance of passing in the next two years.

“This will not be an easy struggle,” said Representative David Cicilline, Democrat of Rhode Island, who intends to introduce legislation this spring. “It forces a much larger conversation about our values as a country. Are we going to be a country in which we prohibit discrimination of any kind against individuals based on their sexual orientation?”

The effort reflects a new reality for a movement that has had a series of recent victories. Same-sex marriage is legal in 35 states and the District of Columbia. Gays can serve openly in the military and have a host of new federal protections. On Wednesday, the Labor Department issued a rule barring federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

But gay men and women can still be fired and denied housing in vast stretches of the country, especially in the South and the Mountain West. There are 16 states where gay people lack virtually any legal protections. Officials at the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, who investigate claims of workplace discrimination, said they had received more than 1,300 complaints involving sexual orientation and gender identity since 2013, when they began tracking such claims.

In Yankton, S.D., for example, Tyler Brandt, 16, said his manager at a Taco John’s restaurant required him to wear a name tag that said “Gaytard.” Humiliated, he quit, and he is now represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a claim with the commission. A Taco John’s spokeswoman said the company took the allegations “very seriously” and is in the process of resolving the claim.

In Connecticut, Kerry Considine, a physical therapist at an assisted living facility, tried to add her wife, Renee, to her health insurance policy and was denied; the company was based in Tennessee, which does not recognize same-sex marriages. The company eventually agreed to cover Renee Considine, but not until her wife filed a claim with the commission. Kerry Considine is now suing in federal court, in part to recover expenses incurred when her wife was not covered and also to establish that the denial of benefits was discriminatory.

“If I was a man marrying a woman, there wouldn’t have been a question,” she said.

Against that backdrop, lawyers for an array of gay rights and civil rights groups — including the A.C.L.U., the Lambda Legal Defense Fund and the Human Rights Campaign — have been meeting for the past six months to work on a proposed bill. The Human Rights Campaign has been convening focus groups to gauge public opinion on the plan. On Thursday, it issued areport making the case that a broad civil rights bill would “make ours a more equal nation,” as Chad Griffin, the president of the group, wrote. The Center for American Progress, a liberal research organization, will issue its own report next week.

The push signals a major change in strategy. For the past 20 years, gay rights advocates have tried, unsuccessfully, to pass much narrower legislation banning discrimination only in employment. Now, with analysts predicting that the Supreme Court will soon legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states, movement leaders have coalesced around the broader approach.

Eighteen states already ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Sarah Warbelow, the legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, said protections were needed in every state, in all areas of society — including employment, housing, education, public accommodations, jury service and lending.

“When a transgender person changes their first name from Jennifer, say, to Josh, the credit company says, ‘That’s highly unusual, we don’t have credit history for Josh and so we can’t cover you,’ ” Ms. Warbelow said. “But straight married women change their last names all the time.”

Any effort to create a new class of legally protected people — as the 1964 law does for racial minorities and women — is likely to run into serious opposition from conservatives. They are waging a campaign to carve out religious exemptions to state laws after some high-profile court fights, like that of a New Mexico wedding photographer who refused to work at a same-sex ceremony.

Some conservatives warn of dire social consequences if civil rights protections are extended to transgender Americans.

“This is where the term ‘bathroom bills’ has been coined,” said Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian advocacy group here. “Applying gender protections to public accommodations would mean that you have situations in which people who are biologically male could claim that they have a civil right to use a female designated facility — including restrooms, showers and locker rooms.”

The idea of a national civil rights bill for gays was first proposed in the 1970s by two New York Democrats in Congress, Bella Abzug and Edward I. Koch. But it failed to gain traction and the movement ultimately scaled back its ambitions, settling on the narrower bill, the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, known by the acronym ENDA.

That measure, introduced in 1994, finally passed the Senate last year with the support of 10 Republicans, but only after conservatives insisted on an exemption for religious groups. The exemption infuriated some gay rights groups, which soured on the measure and backed away from it. The bill has not passed the House.

“We’ve made some big tactical mistakes along the way,” said Richard Socarides, who advised President Bill Clinton on gay rights issues. “Many of our allies felt very burned by the infighting around the last big push for ENDA.”

Despite the defeats, advocates said the time was right to push for a broader bill.

“When ENDA was introduced, the idea that same-sex couples would be able to get married was a fantasy, a fairy tale,” said James Esseks, the director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and AIDS Project at the A.C.L.U. “Why are we, 20 years later, still asking only for a small slice of the protections that we actually need, and that most every other community takes for granted?”

But advocates and their allies in Congress say they have no illusions. Senator Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, plans to introduce a broad nondiscrimination bill this spring. But asked when such a measure might pass, he said, “That’s a hazy, crystal-ball question.”

Gay NFL player Michael Sam kisses boyfriend as he wins GQ Man of the Year award

Friday, December 5th, 2014

 

dailymail

  • Michael Sam made history as the the first openly gay player in the NFL
  • The athlete was selected for the St Louis Rams but was later dropped
  • Then he was selected for a Dallas Cowboys squad before being cut again
  • Last night he was named the GQ Man of the Year 2014 in West Hollywood 

The NFL’s first openly gay player, Michael Sam, has been named Man of the Year by men’s magazine GQ, and celebrated the accolade by planting a kiss on his partner Vito Cammisano.

Sam, who was drafted into the St Louis Rams earlier this year, took home the award at a ceremony at West Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont last night.

Other stars in contention for the prize were Chris Pratt, Steve Carell, Dave Chappelle, Ansel Elgort and Shailene Woodley.

The athlete won the award despite having not yet played an on-season game in the NFL. He was cut from the Rams squad in August, but was later picked for a Dallas Cowboys practice team, only to be dropped again in October.

When asked by TMZ why he thought he was not on the roster of an NFL team, Sam said; ‘I think I was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year last year … so I don’t think it had to do with talent.

And while they took that to mean Sam was saying he was cut because he was gay, he quickly clarified his statement on Twitter.

He wrote: ‘Despite what headlines you may read, I’ve never said and have never believed that I am being kept out of the league.

‘I know I have talent to play in the NFL and I look forward to getting an opportunity once again to prove that I can help a team win.’

Football or not, Sam’s career has been taking off since he graduated from University of Missouri, with the  24-year-old becoming perhaps the most famous openly gay professional athlete.

And if the NFL doesn’t work out he does have a big fan in Mötley Crüe front man Vince Neil, who has been very vocal about wanting him for he new Las Vegas Arena Football League team.

 

Life lessons from ‘Gay At Home Dad’

Friday, December 5th, 2014

(CNN)

Frank Lowe’s 5-year-old son may not be able to write his name yet, but he can tell you if your shoes are ratchet.

OK, that’s not really true, but it’s funny, which is the point of Lowe’s Twitter persona, @GayAtHomeDad: to use humor to normalize the concept of gay parenting and show mainstream America that “gay is OK.”

“I think when people are uncertain or uncomfortable about something, humor is the best way to break down some of those barriers, and gay parenting is definitely a new concept to a lot of people,” he said.

Not long ago, Lowe was a fairly normal gay man working in fashion. Then he moved to Connecticut with his partner, adopted their son, Briggs, and became a stay-at-home dad.

That’s when he transformed from a “bitchy gay guy” to a “bitchy gay dad” and began deploying sardonic wit in 140 characters on timely topics in parenting, pop culture and politics.

Lowe launched the Twitter persona in 2012 in response to what he perceived as “a significant lack” of gay fathers in the media and pop culture, except for Cam and Mitchell on “Modern Family.” To riff on the gay dad stereotype, he started @GayAtHomeDad as both a “self-deprecating joke” and a way to encourage gay youth to be comfortable in their skin.

It took off, thanks to the compelling username and outlandish comments such as “When my kid scrapes his knee, he gets a Prada Band-Aid,” or “As IF I’m going to ruin his hair using s****y tears-free shampoo. He can cry.”

“I thought ‘what’s funnier than an outlandishly crazy, lewd gay dad?’ and literally there’s nothing,” he said.

He also wants to put out the message to the gay community that being a gay parent doesn’t mean you have to be a perfect parent. “Gay parents are expected to behave a certain way, because heaven forbid we mess this up, and I think that’s bulls***. I am definitely a lot more cautious now that I’m a parent, but I still am the same person I was before having a kid.”

His 81,000 followers seem to like his style, engaging in his musings on such topics as marriage equality, the ice bucket challenge and some of his favorite performers. And his range is growing, with a YouTube channel and a feature on the “Today” show.

He also really likes “American Horror Story,” especially Jessica Lange, whose presence imbues much of his time line.

But @GayAtHomeDad is an online persona, he says. The real Frank Lowe is a lot less brassy and flamboyant.

“My sense of humor is still sharp and inappropriate, but I don’t walk around with resting bitch face,” he said.

He’s gay, but he’s a father first and foremost — on Twitter and in real life.

“There is nothing like the relationship I have with my son, and I love him more than anything on this planet,” he said. “Once we adopted him, I had to relinquish a lot of my selfish ways, and that was very cathartic and healthy. He constantly makes me want to be a better person and a better father.”

Net tightening on gay and lesbian west Africans

Friday, December 5th, 2014

The Guardian

Few havens for Gambians forced to flee homeland as homophobia sweeps region

The tipoff late one night wasn’t unexpected. Since the crime of “aggravated homosexuality” had come into force in the Gambia in October, Theresa had been living in fear. Then a friend who worked for the country’s notorious police force warned her she would be targeted in a raid in a few hours’ time. Theresa’s crime was being a lesbian. “I wasn’t surprised, I was expecting it anyway because the president has said many times he will kill us all like dogs,” she said. “But I was really, really scared. My friend said, if you don’t go now, it will be too late.” By dawn, Theresa was on a bus out of the country with her best friend, Youngesp, both of whom agreed to speak only if their real names were not used. The two have joined a growing number of people whose lives have been upended by anti-gay laws that trample on an already marginalised minority in west Africa. That they ended up seeking refuge in neighbouring Senegal, where being gay or lesbian is punishable with five-year jail terms, points to the particularly dismal situation in the Gambia. Its politicians have long and publicly railed against homosexuality, with the tone set by President Yahya Jammeh, who this year labelled gay people vermin. In a heated televised statement, the foreign minister announced last weekend that the Gambia would sever all dialogue with the European Union, which has cut aid over its human rights record and criticised its anti-gay laws. Bala Garba Jahumpa said homosexuality was “ungodly” and against African tradition, and that the Gambia would work with other countries on the continent to oppose it. “Gambia’s government will not tolerate any negotiation on the issue of homosexuality with the EU or any international bloc or nation,” Jahumpa told state television. “We would rather die than be colonised twice.” An outcry from western nations over the treatment of lesbian and gay people has often provided fuel for anti-western rhetoric, and sometimes obscured budding homegrown movements for sexual freedom. The African Commission has passed a bill to protect gay and lesbian people against violence and other human rights violations, and gay rights groups are emerging from Botswana to Ivory Coast. But progress is painfully slow. Jammeh, a former soldier who has ruled the Gambia for 20 years, signed the new law against “aggravated homosexuality”, extending the maximum jail terms from 14 years to life. Targets include “serial offenders” who have gay sex, and disabled or HIV-positive people in same-sex relationships. “Detainees have been told that they have to confess to their homosexuality or they would have a device forced into their anus or vagina to test their sexual orientation,” François Patuel, west Africa campaigner for Amnesty International, said of a crackdown that followed the legislation. At least 14 people have been arrested in the past three weeks, including a 17-year-old boy, and have been held in cells with no windows or lights, according to Patuel. Campaigners are battling a wave of homophobia sweeping a continent where being gay is typically considered an illness at best. Last month, Chad looked set to become the 37th African country to outlaw homosexuality, while earlier this year Nigeria hardened its anti-gay rhetoric with a populist law that led to stonings in some cases. Some gay people have scattered to neighbouring countries, but exile in west Africa hardly means a haven: only two of the region’s 16 nations have enshrined gay rights. Neither Theresa nor Youngesp can shrug off the totalitarian shadow of the Gambia. Though their meagre savings are dwindling, they dare venture out only to beg for food or money, convinced secret police from the Gambia will hunt them down. News from home is grim: six of their friends have been arrested and, they believe, tortured into giving up other names. Last week, security agents turned up at Youngesp’s aunt’s house and told the terrified woman they would kill her niece if they found her – a chilling echo of Jammeh’s own vow to slay any citizens attempting to seek asylum abroad for sexual persecution. “I just want to leave Africa to go somewhere I’m not judged all the time,” Theresa said. “But I have to speak out because my friends are still in Gambia, and I really want them out.” Ethan, a gay Nigerian using a pseudonym, is also beginning to speak out. He said depression kicked in at the age of nine when he realised he was gay – and his family would hate him for it. “I have spent most of my life living in fear. [Recently] I saw a video at an online news site where two suspected gay men were being beaten to death with planks of wood; their blood splattered on the ground. Kids were among the onlookers. No one did anything to stop their murder.” A friend had advised him to “lead a sexless life. [But] I’m sick of hearing this homophobia and hiding. I’m speaking out because keeping quiet hasn’t done us any good,” he said defiantly.

Robbie Rogers, Coming Out and Changing Soccer

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

slate

By February 2013, Robbie Rogers’ career as a professional soccer player had reached its low point. His stints at Leeds United and lower-league Stevenage in England had been blighted by injury, and because he played so infrequently, he was failing to make an impression on the game. At the age of 25, Rogers had also reached a point in his life where he finally felt comfortable coming out to his parents, siblings, and close friends—if not to his teammates.

His professional and personal lives were like two horses pulling in opposite directions. Something had to give. “All I could focus on now was coming out and getting as far away from soccer as possible.” Having released himself from his contract with Leeds, Rogers announced his retirement in a terse note on his website headlined “The Next Chapter …” In doing so, he shook up professional soccer entirely:

For the past 25 years I have been afraid, afraid to show whom I really was because of fear. Fear that judgment and rejection would hold me back from my dreams and aspirations. … I always thought I could hide this secret. Football was my escape, my purpose, my identity. Football hid my secret, gave me more joy than I could have ever imagined. … Now is my time to step away. It’s time to discover myself away from football.

But he didn’t stay away from the game. Three months later, in May 2013, Rogers signed a contract with the LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer, becoming the first openly gay man to play in one of North America’s top five men’s professional sports. His new memoir, Coming Out to Play, chronicles this journey from childhood through college sports and his professional career—retiring, coming out, playing once more.

“The hardest part for me was visiting those childhood memories and the effects that they had on me,” Rogers told me in a phone interview from Los Angeles, where he now resides. On one level, writing the book was “very therapeutic,” but on the other hand, “it put me back in that place as I was reading my journals and remembering the terror I felt before I came out.”

Born in Huntington Beach, California, Rogers’ childhood was geographically divided between his father’s house in San Pedro and his mother’s in Rolling Hills, a little farther north along the coast. But his center was always sports and specifically soccer, which he played from the age of 3 and in which he was considered a “borderline prodigy” by age 5.

The milieu in which Rogers grew up was Catholic and socially conservative, far removed from the city’s gayborhood in West Hollywood. “There are a lot of places in the city where gay people don’t live. I didn’t have any gay friends, and my parents didn’t have any gay friends. Had I had more experience and interactions with gay people, it might have made me more open-minded to myself and my own feelings,” he says. “Not having that experience, including simple conversations, probably kept me closeted for longer.”

What is clear, too, is that Rogers’ internal struggle was complicated by the aggressively heteronormative culture of college sports and professional soccer. “If you don’t hook up with a girl by the weekend, you’re gay,” Rogers recounts hearing during afternoon training a couple of weeks into his first semester at the University of Maryland. In the memoir, he notes more than one instance where he hooked up with or dated girls in order to keep friends and teammates from thinking he might be gay.

Did he not consider the women in these situations? “When I was younger and in high school, I was just thinking about myself. I was a selfish teenager who wanted to be a professional soccer player, and the idea was that if I was gay, I couldn’t be a soccer player. When I was younger, I always thought I would have to hide. I was never really thinking about other people.” What’s more, “I actually thought that maybe, if I met the right girl, I might not even be gay.”

After his college career with the Maryland Terrapins, Rogers had an unsuccessful stint in the Netherlands with SC Heerenveen, before returning to the States, spending five seasons with Columbus Crew, playing for the United States soccer team in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, and accruing 18 appearances for the senior international side. Success back home brought him to the attention of Leeds United and drew him to England.

In Coming Out to Play, it appears that the Leeds United facility was the most homophobic environment Rogers ever encountered. “Walking into the Leeds locker room was like diving into a shoe-box-sized space filled with testosterone-charged gladiators,” he writes. “There were way more homophobic remarks than I could count. My teammates would throw around the word ‘faggot’ like it was an all-purpose put-down.”

Was this the worst environment he played in? “The soccer culture is just different in England,” he told me. “It’s the main sport, and it’s hard to compare to the States,” where many of the players go to college. “Guys say things because teammates laugh, and that needs to change. My biggest issue was the changing room and the fear of not being accepted by teammates.”

Since coming out and returning to soccer, Rogers has found the atmosphere at the LA Galaxy and in the MLS “overwhelmingly supportive.” In the beginning, “I had to come to terms with being the only gay man in the locker room. Last year, it was a bit of a burden. It was really rough and I wasn’t ready,” he says. This year, though, “I loved it: being on a team as one of the guys, contributing on a field and having people respect me for what I’ve done.”

Outside of soccer, Rogers has worked with the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, including serving as an honorary co-chair of their annual Respect Awards. He is also involved in a new project with Universal Studios and ABC calledMen in Shorts, a sitcom inspired by his experience as an openly gay athlete, which could debut as early as fall 2015.

Rogers, however, thinks that the best thing he can do is “focus on being a footballer, since being an out gay footballer is very helpful for people.” Indeed, his public presence as a gay soccer player has been and continues to be inspirational for countless young gay men (including myself). At a time when Rogers says, FIFA “doesn’t care at all” about the struggle of LGBTQ athletes and homophobia in soccer, visibility and individual acts of courage remain the surest way to change the face of the game.

“I would never force anyone to come out,” Rogers concluded. “But the only way really to change the locker room and the clubs and the culture of soccer” is to do just that.

Is Your Husband Gay? Don’t Be So Sure

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

huffington post

Jennifer discovered from her husband Tom’s emails that he was meeting Brad for sex. She came to see me, heartbroken, sure that her marriage to her “gay” husband was doomed. But when I examined Tom, I discovered he wasn’t gay. He had been sexually abused by his coach when he was a boy, and his compulsion to have sex with men was a “trauma reenactment,” which could be eliminated through therapy. Of course, Tom and Jennifer still had to work through the betrayal of his sexual acting out, but his issues did not present a fundamental impediment to the marriage. Had he been gay, then Tom and Jennifer’s challenges would have been much greater.

Seeking sex with men does not make a man gay. Sexual orientation is a complex state of being. You aren’t gay because you “act gay.” You’re gay because you are gay. When I examine a man who’s questioning his sexual orientation, I ask him about childhood abuse and other traumas that can lead straight men to seek sex with men. I’ve also developed a checklist of characteristics of gay men to help me with diagnosis. These characteristics go beyond mere sexual acts. Here is a simplified list:

  1. The beach test: Gay men see the men on a beach, not the women.
  2. Youthful noticing: Before puberty, gay boys notice other boys with a kind of giggling delight, just as straight boys do girls.
  3. Waking up: Straight guys, even those who have sex with men, don’t want to wake up next to one.
  4. Falling in love: A gay man can fall in romantic love with a man; straight men don’t.
  5. Romantic hopes and dreams with a male partner: After a period of promiscuous “gay adolescence,” a gay man will yearn to “settle down.”
  6. Gay sex not degrading: Straight men sometimes interpret gay sex as humiliating. Gay men find it fundamentally joyful.
  7. Homophobia: If a gay man is repressing his gay identity, he is often negative about gay people and the “gay lifestyle.”

Of course, sometimes a questioning man comes to me and it turns out he is gay or bi. In this case, marriage between the man and a woman is fundamentally complicated and often (but not always) leads to divorce. I’ve developed a set of guidelines for these couples. (See my post “Mixed Orientation Marriages” on my website, JoeKort.com, or Chapter 13 of my recent book, Is My Husband Gay, Straight, or Bi?: A Guide for Women Concerned About Their Men.)

Many couples come to see me because the husband’s unconventional sexual interests are interpreted as “gay.” I’m amazed that people continue to believe that an interest in anal sex makes a man gay. Sometimes “kinks” are acted out as compulsions and need to be addressed by therapy to give the man more control over his impulses, but they usually are not “proof” that the man is gay.

Joel came to see me, afraid his wife might discover his secret. He was meeting couples to engage in very specific sex “scenes.” He wanted to be “forced” by a woman to watch her make love to her husband — even to help her make love to her husband — but if the woman wasn’t there, he wasn’t interested. His compulsion for this kink (commonly called “cuckolding”) might seem gay (because of the man in the room), but in fact I’ve never heard of a gay man with this interest.

I did help Joel become less compulsive. In his therapy we uncovered a complex situation in his childhood in which his mother doted on him when his father was absent on business trips but ignored him completely when his father was home. His longing to be included as a child had been sexualized in his psyche as a cuckolding kink. I could not “cure” him of his fantasy; he’ll always be aroused by some version of it. What we achieved in therapy was freeing him from the compulsion to act on it. As a result, he didn’t need to continue to meet with couples for sex.

When a married man and woman come to me for clarity, they end up in one of three situations:

  1. The man is acting out a homosexual behavioral imprinting from childhood, which often fades with therapy.
  2. The man is gay or bi, and the couple must decide how to stay together or part because of it.
  3. The man has a kink whose compulsivity may be controlling and ruining his life (and the marriage), but through therapy he can learn to manage and moderate it, even though it will never go away entirely.

But wait! You want to know if your husband is gay. Without the terror of homophobia clouding our vision with horrendous legal and social consequences, it is relatively easy to determine if a man is gay. He can determine it himself, using the simple tools I noted above: beach test, youthful noticing, and so on. Bisexuality is subtler. The best way to tell if a man is bisexual is to sit down with him and talk about it.

One final thought: No one — not even an “expert” — has the right to tell you to panic and divorce. You most likely understand what you’re dealing with better than anybody. You can choose for yourself. It’s your future. You have options.

 

Justin Luke Zirilli Talks New Book The Gay Gospel and LGBT Equality (AUDIO)

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

huffington post

This week I talked with Justin Luke Zirilli about his new book,The Gay Gospel, a survival guide written specifically for 20-something gay men that tackles everything they need to know after coming out. It’s a first-of-its-kind guidebook addressing dating, sex, breakups, family issues, personal finance and more. Zirilli is one of New York City’s leading gay promoters, presenting three of the largest weekly gay dance parties with his nightlife company BoiParty. In The Gay Gospel he draws from his personal experience surviving his own tumultuous 20s, and from the countless requests for personal advice that he receives from party guests and friends alike. A quick, easy, fun read with no-nonsense and sometimes hysterical nuggets of wisdom and advice, The Gay Gospel is a bible for young gay men wading into adulthood.

I also talked with Zirilli about his spin on LGBT issues. When asked what he would like to see happen for LGBT equality in the next few years, he stated:

I would absolutely like to see marriage equality in all 50 of the states. I would also love to see the end of discrimination in the workplace for those in the LGBT community. We have very simple beginnings. I live in Manhattan, and it’s still hard to believe there are certain states where your very identity can endanger your ability to work. We start there, and from there we can go anywhere else. That is absolutely, for me, the most important thing to get nailed down in the next few years.

Justin Luke Zirilli is the president of the New York-based gay nightlife company BoiParty, which he co-owns with his business partner Alan Picus. He is also the creator of “Gorgeous, Gay and Twenty-Something,” a private international Facebook group now comprising over 8,000 members. Besides The Gay Gospel, Zirilli has authored the bestselling gay novels Gulliver Takes Manhattan and Gulliver Takes Five. Recently he also launched a new fragrance, Pink Boi. He lives in New York City with his boyfriend, mashup DJ JoeRedHead.

School apologises over Bible and homosexuality worksheet

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

BBC

A Belfast school has apologised after complaints were made about a worksheet on religious views on homosexuality.

Hunterhouse College in Belfast has withdrawn the worksheet after the father of one student complained.

The three questions appeared in a Religious Studies worksheet.

The school said they have an ethos of inclusivity and the worksheet was part of a wider discussion on sexuality on both sides of the debate including extreme opinions.

The questions were in relation to 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11 and were set by teaching staff.

They included:

  • What do these verses tell us about homosexuals?
  • Who else is included with homosexuals?
  • What hope is there for all these people?
The BBC has seen a copy of the test which includes the bible passage and questions about homosexuality.

Andrew Gibson, the headmaster of Hunterhouse College, said that the worksheet had been withdrawn and that the school has approached the gay rights charity Rainbow Project NI for advice.

“This is in the introduction to Christian ethics centred around personal and family issues. As part of this, pupils are encouraged to consider a variety of attitudes to homosexuality,” he said.

“The questions were set in house but they were in the context of the CCEA specifications. We have a very strong pastoral care system at the school and deal with issues around sexuality with great sensitivity.”

Mr Gibson added that the school “got it wrong” by allowing the worksheet to be sent home individually and out of context from the rest of the class.

Gavin Boyd of the Rainbow Project said that the school was not to blame as this happens in most schools and comes from a lack of clarity in the syllabus.

“If any LGB child was sitting in that class and asked to list a bunch of people to associate with themselves including drunks and all these licentious people, it’s horrible,” he said.

line

1 Corinthians 6: 9-11 (as taken from the worksheet)

Surely you know that the wicked will not possess God’s Kingdom.

Do not fool yourselves; people who are immoral or who worship idols or are adulterers or homosexual perverts or who steal or are greedy or are drunkards or who slander others or are thieves – none of these will possess God’s Kingdom.

Some of you were like that. But you have been purified from sin; you have been dedicated to God; you have been put right with God by the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

line

“It was ill prepared and ill thought out as it actually could have amounted to an actionable claim of discrimination against the pupil,

“However, I’m confident no malice was intended and I’m impressed that the school have taken steps to quickly rectify the situation.”

The parent who made the complaint has also praised the school’s response to the issue and the steps it has taken since the incident.

Peter Lynas from the Evangelical Alliance said that while the “wording of the question could have been better” it is important to remember that most of the world’s main religions are against homosexuality.

“It is important Christian values are taught in school and schools can sometimes feel pushed into a corner over these issues,” he said.

In a statement, the exam board CCEA said: “We do not produce guidelines for schools on question setting.”

Danny Dyer doesn’t know why he’s a gay icon

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

The Independent

Danny Dyer, Britain’s hardest man (according to himself), is also the nation’s most confused.

Much like the rest of us, he’s not sure why he’s ever been considered an “icon” among the LGBT community, despite building an entire career out of being a professional geezer actor.

“I don’t know about this gay icon title I have been given,” said the Eastenders  star.

“I know some gay men look up to me for some of the movies and plays I have done and they have always supported me quietly.

“I suppose being on EastEnders they are thinking: ‘Well done. We always knew you had it in you’.”

Dyer was praised for playing the role of Mick Carter in the long-running soap. In particular, for his involvement in a storyline, broadcast earlier this year, in which his son, Johnny Carter (Sam Strike), comes out as gay.

“Mick Carter is the closest I have played to myself,” he continues. “This gangster hardman s**t is all bollocks, you get pigeon holed.

“My life has changed, being a part of a show which I never thought I would be part of.”

The show became the subject of homophobic abuse on social media after it aired a gay kiss between Johnny Carter, played by Sam Strike, and Danny Pennant, played by former Hollyoaksalumni Gary Lucy in January.

Out of the 7.8million who tuned in to watch the scene, the BBC received official complaint from just two viewers.

“2014, and gay teens kissing on a soap still draws complaints. Makes me even prouder to have written that ep,” Eastenderswriter Pete Lawson posted on Twitter at the time.

“10 years ago Coronation Street had complaints when I wrote Todd kissing Nick… now complaints about EastEnders gay kiss… no progress,” Darren Little, another of the writers who contributed to the storyline, added.

Dyer defended against criticism by saying that if his part had helped young, gay men feel better about coming out, then he was “proud”. He also posed on the cover of the March issue ofAttitude magazine, alongside Sam Strike.

Being gay in China: Does the rainbow flag fly free?

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

CNN

Editor’s note: In this month’s episode of On China join Kristie Lu Stout for a revealing conversation with China’s leading gay rights advocates. The show premieres at 5:30pm Hong Kong time on Thursday. For other air times please click here.

Beijing (CNN) — In this narrow Beijing hutong, the rainbow flag flies free.

I’m in Two Cities Cafe, a popular meeting place for the local gay community. Here, I meet with some of the country’s leading LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) advocates to learn about gay identity in China.

In the last two decades, China’s LGBT community has made huge gains in social acceptance.

Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1997, and a few years later it was removed from an official list of mental illnesses.

But unlike their counterparts in the West, China’s LGBT community does not have to face down strident political opposition or right-wing religious uproar.

For them, the biggest source of pressure comes from the family, brought on in part by China’s one-child policy.

“You have only one child so you want your child to be as ‘normal’ as everybody else,” says Xiaogang Wei, Executive Director of the Beijing Gender Health Education Institute.

“There’s also the pressure of carrying on the family line,” adds Chi Heng Foundation founder Chung To.

Fake marriages?

Many Chinese gays and lesbians are responding to the family pressure with “cooperative marriages” — gay men and lesbian women marrying each other out of social and economic convenience, often finding each other online.

“I grew up in the 80s and 90s and most of the people my age, everyone, got into marriage — no matter gay or straight,” says Xu Bin, founder of the advocacy group Common Language.

“If you’re not, you’re a monster.”

Despite advances, the social stigma remains immense. According to a 2013 survey by U.S. research group Pew, only 21% of China’s population was in favor of the acceptance of homosexuality.

Same-sex marriage remains a taboo topic for many across China.

And a number of clinics in China offer so-called “conversion” shock treatment to “cure” homosexuality.

Earlier this year, a Beijing court heard China’s first case to challenge the treatment. But a delay in the ruling has raised concerns in the gay community that clinics may continue to provide such treatments.

Discrimination

China’s LGBT professionals must also contend with a lack of legal protection against discrimination at work.

“The job discrimination is very subtle and you might not get a promotion because you are single. You might get fired because of all kinds of reasons,” says To.

“There’s no protection.”

Though China has a long way to go before its gay professionals thrive professionally in all workplaces, Chinese gay activists are encouraged by the recent announcement by Apple CEO Tim Cook.

“I think Tim Cook’s coming out of the closet is very important to the Chinese society, especially in the business world,” Wei tells me.

“It also very effectively motivated people into thinking about the direct and non-direct connections between homosexual people and the products that we all use in our lives.”

New generation

With these forces for change coming from both outside and inside China, the country’s LGBT community is forging ahead, despite its unique set of challenges.

“For the past ten years, the most change probably came from the visibility of the LGBT community in Chinese society. For the next ten years, I would say it’s the visibility of LGBT rights in China,” says Xu.

As the focus shifts to a stronger call for greater rights, China’s pioneering gay activists are looking to the younger generation to pick up the mantle.

“This generation is a lot more confident and self-assertive,” To tells me.

“And they have more resources,” adds Xu.

“In the end, I think we’re fighting not just for a better situation for LGBT, but a better situation for all minorities and vulnerable people,” says To.

Out and proud, China’s gay activists are an increasingly vocal minority pushing for change that could very well reach every corner of Chinese society.

Humphrey Bogart

Monday, November 24th, 2014

Wikipedia

Humphrey DeForest Bogart (/ˈbɡɑrt/;[1] December 25, 1899 – January 14, 1957)[2][3] was an American screen actor who, with performances in films during the 1940s such as The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, and The Big Sleep, became widely regarded as a cultural icon.[4][5][6] In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Bogart as the greatest male star in the history of American cinema.

After trying various jobs, Bogart began acting in 1921 and became a regular in Broadway productions in the 1920s and 1930s. When the stock market crash of 1929 reduced the demand for plays, Bogart turned to film. His first great success was as Duke Mantee in The Petrified Forest (1936), and this led to a period of typecasting as a gangster with films such as Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) and B-movies like The Return of Doctor X (1939).

Bogart’s breakthrough as a leading man came in 1941, with High Sierra and The Maltese Falcon. The next year, his performance in Casablanca raised him to the peak of his profession and, at the same time, cemented his trademark film persona, that of the hard-boiled cynic who ultimately shows his noble side. Other successes followed, including To Have and Have Not (1944); The Big Sleep (1946); Dark Passage (1947) and Key Largo (1948), with his wife Lauren Bacall; and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948); In a Lonely Place (1950); The African Queen (1951), for which he won his only Academy Award; Sabrina (1954); and The Caine Mutiny (1954). His last film was The Harder They Fall (1956). During a film career of almost 30 years, he appeared in 75 feature films.

Early life

Bogart was born on Christmas Day, 1899, in New York City, the eldest child of Dr. Belmont DeForest Bogart (July 1867, Watkins Glen, New York – September 8, 1934, New York City) and Maud Humphrey (1868–1940). Belmont was the only child of the unhappy marriage of Adam Watkins Bogart, a Canandaigua, New York innkeeper, and his wife, Julia, a wealthy heiress. The name “Bogart” comes from the Dutch surname “Bogaert”. It is derived from the word “bogaard”, a short name for “boomgaard”, which means “orchard”.[7] Belmont and Maud married in June 1898. Belmont Bogart was a Presbyterian of English and Dutch descent; Maud was an Episcopalian of English descent. Bogart was raised in the Episcopal faith, but was non-practicing for most of his adult life.[8]

The precise date of Bogart’s birth was a matter of dispute for a time. Warner Bros listed his birthdate as Christmas Day, 1899, throughout his career; but film historian Clifford McCarty later maintained that the Warner publicity department altered it to that date from January 23, 1900 “…to foster the view that a man born on Christmas Day couldn’t really be as villainous as he appeared to be on screen”.[9] The “corrected” January birthdate subsequently appeared—and in some cases, remains—in many otherwise authoritative sources.[10][11] Biographers A.M. Sperber and Eric Lax documented, however, that Bogart always celebrated his birthday on December 25, and consistently listed it as such on official records, such as his marriage license.[12] Lauren Bacall confirmed in her autobiography that his birthday was always celebrated on Christmas Day, adding that he joked that he was cheated out of a present every year because of it.[13] Sperber and Lax also noted that a birth announcement, printed in the Ontario County Times on January 10, 1900, effectively rules out the possibility of a January 23 birthdate;[14] and state and federal census records from 1900 report a Christmas 1899 birthdate as well.[15]

Bogart’s father, Belmont, was a cardiopulmonary surgeon. His mother, Maud Humphrey, was a commercial illustrator, who received her art training in New York and France, including study with James McNeill Whistler, and who later became art director of the fashion magazine The Delineator. She became a militant woman suffragist.[16] She used a drawing of baby Humphrey in a well-known advertising campaign for Mellins Baby Food.[17] In her prime, she made over $50,000 a year, then a vast sum, far more than her husband’s $20,000 per year.[18] The Bogarts lived in a fashionable Upper West Side apartment, and had an elegant cottage on a 55-acre estate in upstate New York on Canandaigua Lake. As a youngster, Humphrey’s gang of friends at the lake would put on theatricals.[19]

Humphrey was the oldest of three children; he had two younger sisters, Frances (“Pat”) and Catherine Elizabeth (“Kay”).[17] His parents were very formal, busy in their careers, and frequently fought — resulting in little emotion directed at the children. Maud told her children to call her “Maud” not “Mother” and showed little if any physical affection for her children. When pleased she “[c]lapped you on the shoulder, almost the way a man does”, her son recalled.[20] “I was brought up very unsentimentally but very straightforwardly. A kiss, in our family, was an event. Our mother and father didn’t glug over my two sisters and me.”[21] As a boy, Bogart was teased for his curls, his tidiness, the “cute” pictures his mother had him pose for, the Little Lord Fauntleroy clothes she dressed him in—and the name “Humphrey”.[22] From his father, Bogart inherited a tendency for needling people, a fondness for fishing, a lifelong love of boating, and an attraction to strong-willed women.[23]

The Bogarts sent their son to private schools. Bogart attended the Delancey School until fifth grade, when he was enrolled in Trinity School.[24] He was an indifferent, sullen student who showed no interest in after-school activities.[23] Later he went to the prestigious preparatory school Phillips Academy, where he was admitted based on family connections.[25] They hoped he would go on to Yale, but in 1918, Bogart was expelled.[26] The details of his expulsion are disputed: one story claims that he was expelled for throwing the headmaster (alternatively, a groundskeeper) into Rabbit Pond, a man-made lake on campus. Another cites smoking and drinking, combined with poor academic performance and possibly some inappropriate comments made to the staff. It has also been said that he was actually withdrawn from the school by his father for failing to improve his academics, as opposed to expulsion. In any case, his parents were deeply dismayed by the events and their failed plans for his future.[27]

Navy

With no viable career options, Bogart followed his passion for the sea and enlisted in the United States Navy in the spring of 1918. He recalled later, “At eighteen, war was great stuff. Paris! Sexy French girls! Hot damn!”[28] Bogart is recorded as a model sailor who spent most of his months in the Navy after the armistice was signed ferrying troops back from Europe.[29]

It was during his naval stint that Bogart may have received his trademark scar and developed his characteristic lisp, though the actual circumstances are unclear. In one account, during a shelling of his ship the USS Leviathan, his lip was cut by a piece of shrapnel, although some claim Bogart did not make it to sea until after the Armistice with Germany was signed. Another version, which Bogart’s long-time friend, author Nathaniel Benchley, claims is the truth, is that Bogart was injured while on assignment to take a naval prisoner to Portsmouth Naval Prison in Kittery, Maine. Supposedly, while changing trains in Boston, the handcuffed prisoner asked Bogart for a cigarette and while Bogart looked for a match, the prisoner raised his hands, smashed Bogart across the mouth with his cuffs, cutting Bogart’s lip, and fled. The prisoner was eventually taken to Portsmouth. An alternate explanation, is that in the process of uncuffing an inmate, Bogart was struck in the mouth when the inmate wielded one open, uncuffed bracelet while the other was still on his wrist.[30]

By the time Bogart was treated by a doctor, the scar had already formed. “Goddamn doctor”, Bogart later told David Niven, “instead of stitching it up, he screwed it up.” Niven says that when he asked Bogart about his scar, he said it was caused by a childhood accident; Niven claims the stories that Bogart got the scar during wartime were made up by the studios to inject glamor. His post-service physical makes no mention of the lip scar even though it mentions many smaller scars, so the actual cause may have come later.[29] When actress Louise Brooks met Bogart in 1924, he had some scar-tissue on his upper lip, which Brooks said that Bogart may have had partially repaired before entering films in 1930.[27] She believed his scar had nothing to do with his distinctive speech pattern, his “lip wound gave him no speech impediment, either before or after it was mended. Over the years, Bogart practiced all kinds of lip gymnastics, accompanied by nasal tones, snarls, lisps and slurs. His painful wince, his leer, his fiendish grin were the most accomplished ever seen on film.”[31]

Early career

Bogart returned home to find that his father was suffering from poor health, his medical practice faltering, and he had lost much of the family’s money on bad investments in timber.[32] During his naval days, Bogart’s character and values developed independently of family influence, and he began to rebel somewhat against their values. He came to be a liberal who hated pretensions, phonies, and snobs, and at times he defied conventional behavior and authority, traits he displayed in life and in his movies. On the other hand, he retained their traits of good manners, articulateness, punctuality, modesty, and a dislike of being touched.[33] After his naval service, Bogart worked as a shipper and then bond salesman.[34] He joined the Naval Reserve.

October 15, 1922 newspaper story for the stage play Swifty featuring among others Humphrey Bogart. “Humphrey Bogart as the erring young man, Tom Proctor, did an excellent bit of work in the main.” [35]

Bogart resumed his friendship with boyhood pal Bill Brady, Jr., whose father had show business connections, and eventually Bogart got an office job working for William A. Brady Sr.’s new company, World Films.[36] Bogart was able to try his hand at screenwriting, directing, and production, but excelled at none. For a while, he was stage manager for Brady’s daughter’s play A Ruined Lady. A few months later, in 1921, Bogart made his stage debut in Drifting as a Japanese butler in another Alice Brady play, nervously speaking one line of dialog. Several more appearances followed in her subsequent plays.[37] Bogart liked the late hours actors kept, and enjoyed the attention an actor got on stage. He stated, “I was born to be indolent and this was the softest of rackets.”[34] He spent a lot of his free time in speakeasies and became a heavy drinker. A barroom brawl during this time might have been the actual cause of Bogart’s lip damage, as this coincides better with the Louise Brooks account.[38]

Bogart had been raised to believe that acting was beneath a gentleman, but he enjoyed stage acting. He never took acting lessons, but was persistent and worked steadily at his craft. He appeared in at least seventeen Broadway productions between 1922 and 1935.[39] He played juveniles or romantic second-leads in drawing room comedies. He is said to have been the first actor to ask “Tennis, anyone?” on stage.[40] Critic Alexander Woollcott wrote of Bogart’s early work that he “is what is usually and mercifully described as inadequate.”[41] Some reviews were kinder. Heywood Broun, reviewing Nerves wrote, “Humphrey Bogart gives the most effective performance … both dry and fresh, if that be possible”.[42] Bogart loathed the trivial, effeminate parts he had to play early in his career, calling them “White Pants Willie” roles. He played juvenile lead, reporter Gregory Brown, in the comedy Meet the Wife, written by Lynn Starling, which had a successful run of 232 performances at the Klaw Theatre from November 26, 1923, to July 1924.

Early in his career, while playing double roles in the play Drifting at the Playhouse Theatre in 1922, Bogart met actress Helen Menken. They were married on May 20, 1926, at the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York City, divorced on November 18, 1927, but remained friends.[43] On April 3, 1928, he married Mary Philips at her mother’s apartment in Hartford, Connecticut. She, like Menken, had a fiery temper and, like every other Bogart spouse, was an actress. He had met Mary when they appeared in the play Nerves, which had a very brief run at the Comedy Theatre in September 1924.

After the stock market crash of 1929, stage production dropped off sharply, and many of the more photogenic actors headed for Hollywood. Bogart’s earliest film role is with Helen Hayes in the 1928 two-reeler The Dancing Town, of which a complete copy has never been found. He also appeared with Joan Blondell and Ruth Etting in a Vitaphone short, Broadway’s Like That (1930) which was re-discovered in 1963.[44]

Bogart then signed a contract with Fox Film Corporation for $750 a week. Spencer Tracy was a serious Broadway actor whom Bogart liked and admired, and they became close friends and drinking companions. It was Tracy, in 1930, who first called him “Bogey.” (Spelled variously in many sources, Bogart himself spelled his nickname “Bogie.”)[45] Tracy and Bogart appeared in their only film together in John Ford‘s early sound film Up the River (1930), with both playing extremely large roles as inmates; Tracy received top billing and Bogart’s face was featured on the film’s posters instead of Tracy’s. The movie was Tracy’s film debut.[46] Bogart then performed in The Bad Sister with Bette Davis in 1931, in a minor supporting role.[47] Decades later, Tracy and Bogart planned to make The Desperate Hours together, but both sought top billing, so Tracy dropped out and was replaced by Fredric March.

Bogart shuttled back and forth between Hollywood and the New York stage from 1930 to 1935, suffering long periods without work. His parents had separated, and Belmont died in 1934 in debt, which Bogart eventually paid off. Bogart inherited his father’s gold ring which he always wore, even in many of his films. At his father’s deathbed, Bogart finally told Belmont how much he loved him.[48] His second marriage was on the rocks, and he was less than happy with his acting career to date; he became depressed, irritable, and drank heavily.[49]

The Petrified Forest

Bogart in the 1934 original theatrical trailer

Bogart starred in the Broadway play Invitation to a Murder at the Theatre Masque, now the John Golden Theatre, in 1934. The producer Arthur Hopkins heard the play from off-stage and sent for Bogart to play escaped murderer Duke Mantee in Robert E. Sherwood‘s new play, The Petrified Forest.[49] Hopkins recalled:

When I saw the actor I was somewhat taken aback, for he was the one I never much admired. He was an antiquated juvenile who spent most of his stage life in white pants swinging a tennis racquet. He seemed as far from a cold-blooded killer as one could get, but the voice (dry and tired) persisted, and the voice was Mantee’s.[50]

The play had 197 performances at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York in 1935.[51] Leslie Howard, though, was the star. New York Times critic Brooks Atkinson said of the play, “a peach … a roaring Western melodrama … Humphrey Bogart does the best work of his career as an actor.”[52] Bogart said the play “marked my deliverance from the ranks of the sleek, sybaritic, stiff-shirted, swallow-tailed ‘smoothies’ to which I seemed condemned to life.” However, he was still feeling insecure.[51]

Warner Bros. bought the screen rights to The Petrified Forest. The studio was famous for its socially realistic, urban, low-budget action pictures; the play seemed like the perfect property for it, especially since the public was entranced by real-life criminals like John Dillinger (whom Bogart resembled) and Dutch Schultz.[53] Bette Davis and Leslie Howard were cast. Howard, who held production rights, made it clear he wanted Bogart to star with him. The studio tested several Hollywood veterans for the Duke Mantee role, and chose Edward G. Robinson, who had first-rank star appeal and was due to make a film to fulfill his expensive contract. Bogart cabled news of this to Howard, who was in Scotland. Howard’s cabled reply was, “Att: Jack Warner Insist Bogart Play Mantee No Bogart No Deal L.H.”. When Warner Bros. saw that Howard would not budge, they gave in and cast Bogart.[54] Jack Warner, famous for butting heads with his stars, tried to get Bogart to adopt a stage name, but Bogart stubbornly refused.[55] Bogart never forgot Howard’s favor, and in 1952 he named his only daughter “Leslie Howard” after Howard, who had died in World War II under mysterious circumstances.[56] Robert E. Sherwood remained a close friend of Bogart’s.

Early film career

The film version of The Petrified Forest was released in 1936. Bogart’s performance was called “brilliant”, “compelling”, and “superb.” Despite his success in an “A movie,” Bogart received a tepid twenty-six week contract at $550 per week and was typecast as a gangster in a series of “B movie” crime dramas.[57] Bogart was proud of his success, but the fact that it came from playing a gangster weighed on him. He once said: “I can’t get in a mild discussion without turning it into an argument. There must be something in my tone of voice, or this arrogant face—something that antagonizes everybody. Nobody likes me on sight. I suppose that’s why I’m cast as the heavy.” Bogart’s roles were not only repetitive, but physically demanding and draining (studios were not yet air-conditioned), and his regimented, tightly scheduled job at Warners was not exactly the “peachy” actor’s life he hoped for.[58] However, he was always professional and generally respected by other actors. In those “B movie” years, Bogart started developing his lasting film persona—the wounded, stoical, cynical, charming, vulnerable, self-mocking loner with a code of honor.

The studio system, then at its most entrenched, usually restricted actors to one studio, with occasional loan-outs, and Warner Bros. had no interest in making Bogart a top star. Shooting on a new movie might begin days or only hours after shooting on the previous one was completed. Any actor who refused a role could be suspended without pay. Bogart disliked the roles chosen for him, but he worked steadily: between 1936 and 1940, Bogart averaged a movie every two months, sometimes even working on two simultaneously, as movies were not generally shot sequentially. Amenities at Warners were few compared to those for their fellow actors at MGM. Bogart thought that the Warners wardrobe department was cheap, and often wore his own suits in his movies. In High Sierra, Bogart used his own pet dog Zero to play his character’s dog, Pard. Bogart’s disputes with Warner Bros. over roles and money were similar to those the studio had with other less-than-obedient stars, such as Bette Davis, James Cagney, Errol Flynn, and Olivia de Havilland.[59]

Taking a back seat to James Cagney in The Roaring Twenties (1939)

The leading men ahead of Bogart at Warner Bros. included not only such classic stars as James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson, but also actors such as Victor McLaglen, George Raft and Paul Muni. Most of the studio’s better movie scripts went to these men, and Bogart had to take what was left. He made films like Racket Busters, San Quentin, and You Can’t Get Away with Murder. The only substantial leading role he got during this period was in Dead End (1937), while loaned to Samuel Goldwyn, where he portrayed a gangster modeled after Baby Face Nelson.[60] He did play a variety of interesting supporting roles, such as in Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) (in which his character got shot by James Cagney‘s). Bogart was gunned down on film repeatedly by Cagney and Edward G. Robinson, among others. In Black Legion (1937), for a change, he played a good man caught up and destroyed by a racist organization, a movie Graham Greene called “intelligent and exciting, if rather earnest”.[61]

In 1938, Warner Bros. put Bogart in a “hillbilly musical” called Swing Your Lady as a wrestling promoter; he later apparently considered this his worst film performance.[62] In 1939, Bogart played a mad scientist in The Return of Doctor X. He cracked, “If it’d been Jack Warner‘s blood … I wouldn’t have minded so much. The trouble was they were drinking mine and I was making this stinking movie.” Mary Philips, in her own stage hit A Touch of Brimstone (1935), refused to give up her Broadway career to go to Hollywood with Bogart. After the play closed, however, she went to Hollywood, but insisted on continuing her career and they divorced in 1937.[63]

Dark Victory (1939) was one of the last films in which he played a supporting role

On August 21, 1938, Bogart entered into a disastrous third marriage, with actress Mayo Methot, a lively, friendly woman when sober, but paranoid when drunk. She was convinced that her husband was cheating on her. The more she and Bogart drifted apart, the more she drank, got furious and threw things at him: plants, crockery, anything close at hand. She even set the house on fire, stabbed him with a knife, and slashed her wrists on several occasions. Bogart for his part needled her mercilessly and seemed to enjoy confrontation. Sometimes he turned violent. The press accurately dubbed them “the Battling Bogarts.”[64] “The Bogart-Methot marriage was the sequel to the Civil War,” said their friend Julius Epstein. A wag observed that there was “madness in his Methot.” During this time, Bogart bought a motor launch, which he named Sluggy, after his nickname for his hot-tempered wife. Despite his proclamations that, “I like a jealous wife,” “We get on so well together (because) we don’t have illusions about each other,” and, “I wouldn’t give you two cents for a dame without a temper,” it was a highly destructive relationship.[65]

In California in 1945, Bogart bought a 55-foot (17 m) sailing yacht, the Santana, from actor Dick Powell. The sea was his sanctuary[66] and he loved to sail around Catalina Island. About 30 weekends a year, he went out on his boat. He once said, “An actor needs something to stabilize his personality, something to nail down what he really is, not what he is currently pretending to be.”

Bogart had a lifelong disgust for the pretentious, fake or phony, as his son Stephen told Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne in 1999. Sensitive yet caustic, and disgusted by the inferior movies he was performing in, Bogart cultivated the persona of a soured idealist, a man exiled from better things in New York, living by his wits, drinking too much, cursed to live out his life among second-rate people and projects.

Bogart rarely saw his own films and avoided premieres. He even protected his privacy with invented press releases about his private life to satisfy the curiosity of the newspapers and the public.[67] When he thought an actor, director, or a movie studio had done something shoddy, he spoke up about it and was willing to be quoted. He advised Robert Mitchum that the only way to stay alive in Hollywood was to be an “againster.” As a result, he was not the most popular of actors, and some in the Hollywood community shunned him privately to avoid trouble with the studios.[68] But the Hollywood press, unaccustomed to candor, was delighted. Bogart once said:

All over Hollywood, they are continually advising me, “Oh, you mustn’t say that. That will get you in a lot of trouble,” when I remark that some picture or writer or director or producer is no good. I don’t get it. If he isn’t any good, why can’t you say so? If more people would mention it, pretty soon it might start having some effect.”

Rise to stardom

High Sierra

High Sierra, a 1941 film directed by Raoul Walsh, had a screenplay written by Bogart’s friend and drinking partner, John Huston, adapted from the novel by W. R. Burnett (Little Caesar, etc.).[69] Both Paul Muni and George Raft turned down the lead role, giving Bogart the opportunity to play a character of some depth, although legendary director Walsh initially fought the casting of supporting player Bogart as a leading man, much preferring Raft for the part. The film was Bogart’s last major film playing a gangster (his final gangster role was in The Big Shot in 1942). Bogart worked well with Ida Lupino, and her relationship with him was a close one, provoking jealousy from Bogart’s wife Mayo.[70]

The film cemented a strong personal and professional connection between Bogart and Huston. Bogart admired and somewhat envied Huston for his skill as a writer. Though a poor student, Bogart was a lifelong reader. He could quote Plato, Pope, Ralph Waldo Emerson and over a thousand lines of Shakespeare. He subscribed to the Harvard Law Review.[71] He admired writers, and some of his best friends were screenwriters, including Louis Bromfield, Nathaniel Benchley and Nunnally Johnson. Bogart enjoyed intense, provocative conversation and stiff drinks, as did Huston. Both were rebellious and liked to play childish pranks. John Huston was reported to be easily bored during production, and admired Bogart (who also got bored easily off camera) not just for his acting talent but for his intense concentration on the set.[72]

The Maltese Falcon

From the trailer, Bogart as Sam Spade in Dashiell Hammett‘s The Maltese Falcon

Raft turned down the lead in John Huston‘s directorial debut The Maltese Falcon (1941), due to its being a cleaned-up version of the pre-Production Code The Maltese Falcon (1931), his contract stipulating that he did not have to appear in remakes. The original novel, written by Dashiell Hammett, was first published in the pulp magazine Black Mask in 1929. It was also the basis for another movie version, Satan Met a Lady (1936) starring Bette Davis.[73] Complementing Bogart were co-stars Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Elisha Cook, Jr., and Mary Astor as the treacherous female foil.[74] Bogart’s sharp timing and facial expressions as private detective Sam Spade were praised by the cast and director as vital to the quick action and rapid-fire dialogue.[71] The film was a huge hit and for Huston, a triumphant directorial debut. Bogart was unusually happy with it, remarking, “it is practically a masterpiece. I don’t have many things I’m proud of … but that’s one”.[75]

Casablanca

With Sydney Greenstreet in Casablanca. Bogart received an Oscar nomination for his performance.

Bogart gained his first real romantic lead in 1942’s Casablanca, playing Rick Blaine, the hard-pressed expatriate nightclub owner, hiding from the past and negotiating a fine line among Nazis, the French underground, the Vichy prefect and unresolved feelings for his ex-girlfriend. The film was directed by Michael Curtiz and produced by Hal Wallis, and featured Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains, Sydney Greenstreet, Paul Henreid, Conrad Veidt, Peter Lorre and Dooley Wilson. It was reportedly Bogart’s idea that Rick Blaine be portrayed as a chess player, which served as a metaphor for the sparring relationship of the characters played by Bogart and Rains. In real life Bogart played tournament chess, one division below master level, and often played with crew members and cast off the set. However, Paul Henreid proved to be the best player.[76]

The on-screen magic of Bogart and Bergman was the result of two actors doing their very best work, not any real-life sparks, though Bogart’s perennially jealous wife assumed otherwise. Off the set, the co-stars hardly spoke during the filming, where normally Bergman had a reputation for affairs with her leading men.[77] She later said of Bogart, “I kissed him but I never knew him.”[78] Because Bergman was taller than her leading man, Bogart had 3-inch (76 mm) blocks attached to his shoes in certain scenes.[77]

Casablanca won the 1943 Academy Award for Best Picture. Bogart was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role, but lost to Paul Lukas for his performance in Watch on the Rhine. The film vaulted Bogart from fourth place to first in the studio’s roster, finally exceeding James Cagney, and by 1946 more than doubling his annual salary to over $460,000, making him the highest paid actor in the world.[79]

Bogart and Bacall

To Have and Have Not

Lauren Bacall, co-star married to Bogart from 1945 until his death

Bogart met Lauren Bacall while filming To Have and Have Not (1944), a loose adaptation of the Ernest Hemingway novel. The movie has many similarities with Casablanca—the same enemies, the same kind of hero, even a piano player sidekick (this time Hoagy Carmichael). When they met, Bacall was 19 and Bogart was 44. He nicknamed her “Baby.” She had been a model since she was 16 and had acted in two failed plays. Bogart was drawn to Bacall’s high cheekbones, green eyes, tawny blond hair, and lean body, as well as her poise and earthy, outspoken honesty.[80] Reportedly he said, “I just saw your test. We’ll have a lot of fun together”.[81] Their physical and emotional rapport was very strong from the start, and the age difference and different acting experience also created the additional dimension of a mentor-student relationship. Quite contrary to the Hollywood norm, it was his first affair with a leading lady.[82] Bogart was still miserably married and his early meetings with Bacall were discreet and brief, their separations bridged by ardent love letters.[83] The relationship made it much easier for the newcomer to make her first film, and Bogart did his best to put her at ease by joking with her and quietly coaching her. He let her steal scenes and even encouraged it. Howard Hawks, for his part, also did his best to boost her performance and her role, and found Bogart easy to direct.[84]

Hawks at some point began to disapprove of the pair. Hawks considered himself her protector and mentor, and Bogart was usurping that role. Hawks fell for Bacall as well (normally he avoided his starlets, and he was married). Hawks told her that she meant nothing to Bogart and even threatened to send her to Monogram, the worst studio in Hollywood. Bogart calmed her down and then went after Hawks. Jack Warner settled the dispute and filming resumed.[85] Hawks said of Bacall: “Bogie fell in love with the character she played, so she had to keep playing it the rest of her life.”[86]

The Big Sleep, Dark Passage and Key Largo

Just months after wrapping the film, Bogart and Bacall were reunited for their second movie together, the film noir The Big Sleep, based on the novel by Raymond Chandler, again with script help from William Faulkner. Chandler thoroughly admired Bogart’s performance: “Bogart can be tough without a gun. Also, he has a sense of humor that contains that grating undertone of contempt.”[87] The film holds a rare niche in Hollywood history as having been completed and slated for release in 1945, then withdrawn and substantially re-edited with new, juiced-up scenes added to better exploit the box office chemistry that shone between Bogie and Bacall in To Have and Have Not and the notoriety of their personal relationship. “After the public’s response to Bacall’s debut performance in To Have and Have Not at the urging of director Howard Hawks production partner Charles K. Feldman, scenes were re-written to heighten the ‘insolent’ quality that had intrigued critics and audiences in that film.” By chance, a 35-mm nitrate composite master positive (fine grain) of the 1945 version survived. The UCLA Film Archive, in association with Turner Entertainment and with funding provided by Hugh Hefner, restored and released it in 1996.[88]

Bogart was still torn between his new love and his sense of duty to his marriage. The mood on the set was tense, the actors both emotionally exhausted as Bogart tried to find a way out of his dilemma. The dialogue, especially in the newly shot scenes, was full of sexual innuendo supplied by Hawks, and Bogart is convincing and enduring as private detective Philip Marlowe. In the end, the film was successful, though some critics found the plot confusing and overly complicated.[89] Reportedly, Chandler himself could not answer the question of who killed the limousine driver in the story, when the baffled screenwriters called him up for final reference.

Dark Passage (1947) was Bogart’s and Bacall’s next collaboration. The first third of the film is shot from the protagonist’s point of view, with the camera seeing what he sees. After the character’s plastic surgery, the rest of the movie is shot normally with Bogart as the lead character. The picture is a suspense thriller, with Bogart intent on finding the real killer in a murder for which he was blamed and sentenced to prison.

Key Largo was directed by John Huston, and, in addition to the presence of Bogart and Bacall, features Edward G. Robinson as “Johnny Rocco,” a seething older synthesis of many of his past vicious gangster roles. The cast is trapped during a spectacular hurricane in a hotel owned by Bacall’s character’s father-in-law, played by Lionel Barrymore. Claire Trevor won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Rocco’s physically abused, alcoholic, girlfriend. Robinson had always had top billing over Bogart in their previous films together but for this movie, Robinson’s name appears to the right of Bogart’s, but placed a little higher on the posters, and also in the film’s opening credits, to indicate Robinson’s near-equal status. Robinson’s image was also markedly larger and centered on the original poster, with Bogart relegated to the background. In the film’s trailer, Bogart is repeatedly mentioned first but Robinson’s name is listed above Bogart’s in a cast list at the trailer’s very end. Robinson’s role remains similar in circumstance to Duke Mantee in The Petrified Forest (1936), Bogart’s initial breakthrough which the studio had originally earmarked for Robinson.

Final marriage

Bogart filed for divorce from Methot in February 1945. He and Bacall married in a small ceremony at the country home of Bogart’s close friend, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louis Bromfield, at Malabar Farm near Lucas, Ohio, on May 21, 1945.[56]

Bogart and Bacall moved into a $160,000 (equal to $2,100,000 today) white brick mansion in an exclusive neighborhood in Holmby Hills. The marriage proved to be a happy one, though there were the normal tensions due to their differences. He was a homebody and she liked nightlife; he loved the sea, which made her seasick.[90] Bogart’s drinking sometimes inflamed tensions.[91]

Bogart became a father at age 49 when Bacall gave birth to Stephen (Steve) Humphrey Bogart on January 6, 1949, during the filming of Tokyo Joe. Bogart told Tokyo Joe’s screenwriter, Steve Fisher, “Don’t get any stupid ideas. It just happens to fit.”[92] Stephen was actually named after Bogart’s character’s nickname in To Have and Have Not.[93] Stephen would go on to become an author and biographer, later hosting a television special about his father on Turner Classic Movies. Their daughter, Leslie Howard Bogart, was born on August 23, 1952, and named after British actor Leslie Howard, his co-star in The Petrified Forest.[56]

Later career

The enormous success of Casablanca redefined Bogart’s career. For the first time, Bogart could be cast successfully as a tough, strong man and, at the same time, as a vulnerable love interest. Despite Bogart’s elevated standing, he did not yet have a contractual right of script refusal, so when he got weak scripts, he dug in his heels, and locked horns again with the front office, as he did on the film Conflict (1945).[94] Though he submitted to Jack Warner on that picture, he successfully turned down God is My Co-Pilot (1945).[95] During part of 1943 and 1944, Bogart went on USO and War Bond tours accompanied by Mayo, enduring arduous travels to Italy and North Africa, including Casablanca.[79]

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

from the trailer of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

Riding high in 1947 with a new contract which provided some script refusal rights and the right to form his own separate production company, Bogart reunited with John Huston for The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, a stark tale of greed involving three gold prospectors played out in Mexico. Without any love story or a happy ending, it was deemed a risky project.[96] Bogart later said of co-star (and John Huston’s father) Walter Huston, “He’s probably the only performer in Hollywood to whom I’d gladly lost a scene”.[97]

The film was grueling to make, and was done in summer for greater realism and atmosphere.[98] James Agee wrote, “Bogart does a wonderful job with this character … miles ahead of the very good work he has done before”. John Huston won the Academy Award for direction and screenplay and his father won Best Supporting Actor, but the film had mediocre box office results. Bogart complained, “An intelligent script, beautifully directed—something different—and the public turned a cold shoulder on it”.[99]

House Un-American Activities Committee

Bogart, a liberal Democrat,[100] organized a delegation to Washington, D.C., called the Committee for the First Amendment, against what he perceived to be the House Un-American Activities Committee‘s harassment of Hollywood screenwriters and actors. He subsequently wrote an article “I’m No Communist” in the March 1948 edition of Photoplay magazine in which he distanced himself from The Hollywood Ten to counter the negative publicity that resulted from his appearance. Bogart wrote: “The ten men cited for contempt by the House Un-American Activities Committee were not defended by us.”[101]

Santana Productions

In addition to being offered better, more diverse roles, in 1948 he started his own production company, Santana Productions, named after his private sailing yacht. (Santana was also the name of the cabin cruiser featured in the 1948 film Key Largo).[102] Bogart’s contract gave him the right to have his own production company, but Jack Warner was reportedly furious at this, fearing that other stars would do the same and major studios would lose their power. The studios, however, were already under a lot of pressure, not just from freelancing actors like Bogart, James Stewart, Henry Fonda and others (who also saved taxes as independents), but also from the eroding impact of television and from anti-trust laws which were breaking up theater chains.[103] Bogart performed in his final films for Warners, Chain Lightning, released early in 1950, and The Enforcer, released early in 1951.

Under Bogart’s Santana Productions, which released its films through Columbia Pictures, Bogart starred in Knock on Any Door (1949), Tokyo Joe (1949), In a Lonely Place (1950), Sirocco (1951) and Beat the Devil (1954). Santana made two other films without him: And Baby Makes Three (1949) and The Family Secret (1951).

While the majority of his films lost money at the box office (the main reason for Santana’s end), at least two of them are still remembered today; In a Lonely Place is now recognized as a masterpiece of film noir. Bogart plays embittered writer Dixon Steele, who has a history of violence and becomes a suspect in a murder case at the same time that he falls in love with a failed actress, played by Gloria Grahame. Many Bogart biographers and actress/writer Louise Brooks agree that the role is the closest to Bogart’s real self and is considered among his best performances.[104] She wrote that the film “gave him a role that he could play with complexity, because the film character’s pride in his art, his selfishness, drunkenness, lack of energy stabbed with lightning strokes of violence were shared by the real Bogart”. The character even mimics some of Bogart’s personal habits, including twice ordering Bogart’s favorite meal of ham and eggs.[105]

Beat the Devil, Bogart’s last film with his close friend and favorite director John Huston, also enjoys a cult following. Co-written by Truman Capote, the movie is a parody of The Maltese Falcon, and is a tale of an amoral group of rogues chasing an unattainable treasure, in this instance uranium.[106]

Bogart sold his interest in Santana to Columbia for over $1 million in 1955.[107]

The African Queen

With Katharine Hepburn in a promotional image for The African Queen

Bogart starred with Katharine Hepburn in the film The African Queen in 1951, again directed by his friend John Huston. The novel was overlooked and left undeveloped for fifteen years until producer Sam Spiegel and Huston bought the rights. Spiegel sent Katharine Hepburn the book and she suggested Bogart for the male lead, firmly believing that “he was the only man who could have played that part”.[108] Huston’s love of adventure, a chance to work with Hepburn, and Bogart’s earlier successes with Huston convinced Bogart to leave the comfortable confines of Hollywood for a difficult shoot on location in the Belgian Congo in Africa. Bogart was to get 30 percent of the profits and Hepburn 10 percent, plus a relatively small salary for both. The stars met up in London and announced the happy prospect of working together.

Bacall came for the duration (over four months), leaving their young child behind, but the Bogarts started the trip with a junket through Europe, including a visit with Pope Pius XII.[109] Later, the glamor would be gone and she would make herself useful as a cook, nurse and clothes washer, for which Bogart praised her, “I don’t know what we’d have done without her. She Luxed my undies in darkest Africa”.[110] Just about everyone in the cast came down with dysentery except Bogart and John Huston, who subsisted on canned food and alcohol. Bogart explained: “All I ate was baked beans, canned asparagus and Scotch whisky. Whenever a fly bit Huston or me, it dropped dead.”[111] The teetotaling Hepburn, in and out of character, fared worse in the difficult conditions, losing weight, and at one time, getting very ill. Bogart resisted Huston’s insistence on using real leeches in a key scene where Bogart has to drag the boat through a shallow marsh, until reasonable fakes were employed.[112] In the end, the crew overcame illness, soldier ant invasions, leaking boats, poor food, attacking hippos, bad water filters, fierce heat, isolation, and a boat fire to complete a memorable film.[113] Despite the discomfort of jumping from the boat into swamps, rivers and marshes the film apparently rekindled in Bogart his early love of boats and on his return to California from the Congo he bought a classic mahogany Hacker-Craft runabout which he kept until his death.

The African Queen was the first Technicolor film in which Bogart appeared. He appeared in relatively few color films during the rest of his career, which continued for another five years. The role of Charlie Allnutt won Bogart his only Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role in 1951. Bogart considered his performance to be the best of his film career.[114] He had vowed to friends that if he won, his speech would break the convention of thanking everyone in sight. He advised Claire Trevor, when she had been nominated for Key Largo, to “just say you did it all yourself and don’t thank anyone”. But when Bogart won the Academy Award, which he truly coveted despite his well-advertised disdain for Hollywood, he said “It’s a long way from the Belgian Congo to the stage of this theatre. It’s nicer to be here. Thank you very much … No one does it alone. As in tennis, you need a good opponent or partner to bring out the best in you. John and Katie helped me to be where I am now”. Despite the thrilling win and the recognition, Bogart later commented, “The way to survive an Oscar is never to try to win another one … too many stars … win it and then figure they have to top themselves … they become afraid to take chances. The result: A lot of dull performances in dull pictures”.[115]

Final roles

Bogart dropped his asking price to get the role of Captain Queeg in Edward Dmytryk‘s The Caine Mutiny, then griped with some of his old bitterness about it.[116] For all his success, he was still his melancholy old self, grumbling and feuding with the studio, while his health was beginning to deteriorate. The character of Captain Queeg mirrored those Bogart had played in The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca and The Big Sleep—the wary loner who trusts no one—but with none of the warmth or humor of those roles. Like his portrayal of Fred C. Dobbs in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Bogart played a paranoid, self-pitying character whose small-mindedness eventually destroyed him. Three months before the film’s release, Bogart as Queeg appeared on the cover of TIME magazine, while on Broadway Henry Fonda was starring in the stage version (in a different role), both of which generated strong publicity for the film.[117]

In Sabrina, Billy Wilder, unable to secure Cary Grant, chose Bogart for the role of the older, conservative brother who competes with his younger playboy sibling (William Holden) for the affection of the Cinderella-like Sabrina (Audrey Hepburn). Bogart was lukewarm about the part, but agreed to it on a handshake with Wilder, without a finished script, and with the director’s assurances to take good care of Bogart during the filming.[118] But Bogart got on poorly with his director and co-stars. He also complained about the script, which was written on a last-minute, daily basis, and that Wilder favored Hepburn and Holden on and off the set. The main problem was that Wilder was the opposite of his ideal director, John Huston, in both style and personality. Bogart told the press that Wilder was “overbearing” and “is the kind of Prussian German with a riding crop. He is the type of director I don’t like to work with … the picture is a crock of crap. I got sick and tired of who gets Sabrina.”[119] Wilder said, “We parted as enemies but finally made up.” Despite the acrimony, the film was successful. The New York Times said of Bogart, “he is incredibly adroit … the skill with which this old rock-ribbed actor blends the gags and such duplicities with a manly manner of melting is one of the incalculable joys of the show.”[120]

The Barefoot Contessa, directed by Joseph Mankiewicz, was filmed in Rome, and released in 1954. In this Hollywood back-story movie, Bogart again is the broken-down man, this time the cynical director-narrator who saves his career by making a star of a flamenco dancer, Ava Gardner, modeled on the real life of Rita Hayworth. Bogart was uneasy with Gardner because she had just split from “rat-pack” buddy Frank Sinatra and was carrying on with bullfighter Luis Miguel Dominguín. Bogart told her, “Half the world’s female population would throw themselves at Frank’s feet and here you are flouncing around with guys who wear capes and little ballerina slippers.” He was also annoyed by her inexperienced performance. Later, Gardner credited Bogart with helping her. Bogart’s performance was generally praised as the strongest part of the film.[121] During the filming, while Bacall was home, Bogart resumed his discreet affair with Verita Peterson, his long-time studio assistant, whom he took sailing and enjoyed drinking with. But when Bacall suddenly arrived on the scene discovering them together, Bacall took it quite well. She extracted an expensive shopping spree from him and the three traveled together after the shooting.[122]

Bogart could be generous with actors, particularly those who were blacklisted, down on their luck, or having personal problems. During the filming of The Left Hand of God (1955), he noticed his co-star Gene Tierney having a hard time remembering her lines and behaving oddly. He coached Tierney, feeding her lines. He was familiar with mental illness (his sister had bouts of depression), and Bogart encouraged Tierney to seek treatment.[123][124] He also stood behind Joan Bennett and insisted on her as his co-star in We’re No Angels when a scandal made her persona non grata with Jack Warner.[125]

In 1955, Bogart made three films: We’re No Angels (dir. Michael Curtiz), The Left Hand of God (dir. Edward Dmytryk) and The Desperate Hours (dir. William Wyler). Mark Robson‘s The Harder They Fall (1956) was his last film.

Television and radio work

Bacall, Bogart and Henry Fonda in the television version of The Petrified Forest

Bogart rarely appeared on television. However, he and Bacall appeared on Edward R. Murrow‘s Person to Person in which they disagreed in answering every question. Bogart was also featured on The Jack Benny Show. The surviving kinescope of the live Benny telecast features Bogart in his only TV sketch comedy outing. Bogart and Bacall also worked together on an early color telecast in 1955, an NBC live adaptation of The Petrified Forest for Producers’ Showcase, with Bogart receiving top billing and Henry Fonda playing Leslie Howard’s role; a black and white kinescope of the live telecast has survived.

Bogart performed radio adaptations of some of his best known films, such as Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon. He also recorded a radio series called Bold Venture with Lauren Bacall.

Post-death Productions

Bogart’s image was digitally inserted as the main character in the Tales From the Crypt television episode “You, Murderer” (1995) as one of many references to Casablanca. The character representing Ingrid Bergman was not inserted digitally but instead played by her daughter Isabella Rossellini.

The Rat Pack

Bogart was a founding member and the original leader, until his death, of the Rat Pack. In the spring of 1955, after a long party in Las Vegas with Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, her husband Sid Luft, Mike Romanoff and wife Gloria, David Niven, Angie Dickinson and others, Lauren Bacall surveyed the wreckage of the party and declared, “You look like a goddamn rat pack.”[126]

Romanoff’s in Beverly Hills was where the Rat Pack became official. Sinatra was named Pack Leader, Bacall was named Den Mother, Bogie was Director of Public Relations, and Sid Luft was Acting Cage Manager.[127] When asked by columnist Earl Wilson what the purpose of the group was, Bacall responded “to drink a lot of bourbon and stay up late.”[126]

Death

By the mid-1950s, Bogart’s health was failing. Once, after signing a long-term deal with Warner Bros., Bogart predicted with glee that his teeth and hair would fall out before the contract ended. Bogart had formed a new production company and had plans for a new film Melville Goodwin, U.S.A., in which he would play a general and Bacall a press magnate. His persistent cough and difficulty eating became too serious to ignore and he dropped the project. The film was renamed Top Secret Affair and made with Kirk Douglas and Susan Hayward.[128]

Bogart, a heavy smoker and drinker, developed cancer of the esophagus. He almost never spoke of his failing health and refused to see a doctor until January 1956. A diagnosis was made several weeks later and by then removal of his esophagus, two lymph nodes, and a rib on March 1, 1956, was too late to halt the disease, even with chemotherapy.[129] He underwent corrective surgery in November 1956 after the cancer had spread.[56] Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy visited him at this time. Frank Sinatra was also a frequent visitor. With time, Bogart grew too weak to walk up and down stairs. He valiantly fought the pain and joked about his immobility: “Put me in the dumbwaiter and I’ll ride down to the first floor in style.” The dumbwaiter was then altered to accommodate his wheelchair.[130] In an interview, Hepburn described the last time she and Spencer Tracy saw Bogart (the night before he died):

Spence patted him on the shoulder and said, “Goodnight, Bogie.” Bogie turned his eyes to Spence very quietly and with a sweet smile covered Spence’s hand with his own and said, “Goodbye, Spence.” Spence’s heart stood still. He understood.[131]

Bogart had just turned 57 and weighed 80 pounds (36 kg) when he died on January 14, 1957, after falling into a coma. He died at his home at 232 South Mapleton Drive in Holmby Hills, California. His simple funeral was held at All Saints Episcopal Church with musical selections from Bogart’s favorite composers, Johann Sebastian Bach and Claude Debussy. The ceremony was attended by some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, including Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Judy Garland, David Niven, Ronald Reagan, James Mason, Bette Davis, Danny Kaye, Joan Fontaine, Marlene Dietrich, James Cagney, Errol Flynn, Gregory Peck and Gary Cooper, as well as Billy Wilder and Jack Warner. Bacall had asked Tracy to give the eulogy, but Tracy was too upset, so John Huston spoke instead and reminded the gathered mourners that while Bogart’s life had ended far too soon, it had been a rich one.

Himself, he never took too seriously—his work most seriously. He regarded the somewhat gaudy figure of Bogart, the star, with an amused cynicism; Bogart, the actor, he held in deep respect … In each of the fountains at Versailles there is a pike which keeps all the carp active; otherwise they would grow overfat and die. Bogie took rare delight in performing a similar duty in the fountains of Hollywood. Yet his victims seldom bore him any malice, and when they did, not for long. His shafts were fashioned only to stick into the outer layer of complacency, and not to penetrate through to the regions of the spirit where real injuries are done … He is quite irreplaceable. There will never be another like him.[132]

Bogart’s cremated remains were interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, Glendale, California. He was buried with a small, gold whistle once part of a charm bracelet he had given to Lauren Bacall before they married. It was inscribed with an allusion to a quote from their first movie together where Bacall said: “You know how to whistle don’t you Steve? You just put your lips together and blow”. The inscription read: “If you want anything, just whistle.”[133]

The probate value of Bogart’s estate was $910,146 gross; $737,668 was the final estate value.[134]

Legacy and tributes

Bogart, Cagney and Jeffrey Lynn in The Roaring Twenties

After his death, a “Bogie Cult” formed at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as well as Greenwich Village, New York and in France, which contributed to his spike in popularity in the late 1950s and 1960s. In 1997, Entertainment Weekly magazine named Bogart the number one movie legend of all time. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked him the Greatest Male Star of All Time.

Jean-Luc Godard‘s Breathless (1960) was the first film to pay tribute to Bogart. Later, in Woody Allen‘s comic tribute to Bogart, Play It Again, Sam (1972), Bogart’s ghost comes to the aid of Allen’s bumbling character, a movie critic with women troubles whose “sex life has turned into the ‘Petrified Forest'”.

Awards and honors

On August 21, 1946, Bogart was honored in a ceremony at Grauman’s Chinese Theater to record his hand and footprints in cement. On February 8, 1960, he was posthumously given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6322 Hollywood Boulevard. During his career, Bogart was nominated for several awards including the BAFTA award for best foreign actor in 1952 for The African Queen and three Academy Awards.

Academy Awards
Year Award Film y/n
1943 Best Actor Casablanca Nominated
1951 Best Actor The African Queen Won
1954 Best Actor The Caine Mutiny Nominated

In 1997, the United States Postal Service honored Bogart with a stamp bearing his image in its “Legends of Hollywood” series as the third figure to be recognized.[135] At a formal ceremony attended by Lauren Bacall, and the Bogart children, Stephen and Leslie, Tirso del Junco, the chairman of the governing board of the USPS, provided an eloquent tribute:

“Today, we mark another chapter in the Bogart legacy. With an image that is small and yet as powerful as the ones he left in celluloid, we will begin today to bring his artistry, his power, his unique star quality, to the messages that travel the world.”[136]

On June 24, 2006, a section of 103rd Street, between Broadway and West End Avenue, in New York City was renamed “Humphrey Bogart Place.” Lauren Bacall and her son Stephen Bogart were present at the commemorative event. “Bogie would never have believed it,” Lauren Bacall expressed to the assembled group of city officials and onlookers in attendance.[137]

In popular culture

Humphrey Bogart’s life has inspired writers and others:

  • Two Bugs Bunny cartoons featured Bogart:
    • In Slick Hare (1947), Bogart orders fried rabbit in a Hollywood restaurant. Told that they do not have any, he becomes insistent, leading waiter Elmer Fudd to try to serve Bugs as the meal. Bogart finally gives up, saying: “Baby will just have to have a ham sandwich instead.” Bugs, upon hearing the name, then presents himself to Bacall.[138]
    • In 8 Ball Bunny (1950), Bugs decides to take a baby penguin back to the South Pole. At intervals, “Fred C. Dobbs” (Bogart’s character in Treasure of the Sierra Madre) appears and asks Bugs to “help out a fellow American who’s down on his luck”—a line Bogart says a number of times in the film to John Huston, playing an American gringo.[139]
  • Bogart is featured in one of Woody Allen‘s comic movies, Play It Again, Sam (1972), which relates the story of a young man obsessed by his persona.[140]
  • 2HB is a song written by Bryan Ferry and first recorded by Roxy Music for their 1972 debut album, Roxy Music. Ferry also recorded a version for his 1976 solo album, Let’s Stick Together. The title is a pun, not about the European nomenclature of pencil leads, but a dedication to Bogart (“2HB” = “to Humphrey Bogart”). In particular, the song references Casablanca, including the line “Here’s looking at you kid, hard to forget”.
  • In the murder mystery spoof Murder by Death (Columbia, 1976) Peter Falk imitates Bogart with his portrayal of detective Sam Diamond, named after Sam Spade in the The Maltese Falcon. Falk reprises the character in The Cheap Detective (1978), although this time the detective was named Lou Peckinpaugh. Scenes from Bogart’s movies Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, and To Have and Have Not were spoofed in this film.
  • Issue No.70 of the US The Phantom (1977) comic book is known as the “Bogart” issue, as the story stars Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre and Claude Rains and is a mixture of Casablanca, The African Queen, The Maltese Falcon, and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.[141]
  • The Man with Bogart’s Face (1981) was an homage to Bogart and starred Bogart lookalike Robert Sacchi.[142]
  • The slang term “bogarting” refers to taking an unfairly long time with a shared marijuana joint. Allegedly, it derives from Bogart’s style of cigarette smoking, leaving his cigarette dangling from his mouth between puffs.[143]
  • A 1968 song Don’t Bogart Me (also known as Don’t Bogart That Joint) by U.S. band Fraternity of Man became popular in counterculture through its inclusion in the soundtrack of the 1969 film Easy Rider. The lyric’s refrain: “Don’t bogart that joint, my friend; Pass it over to me.”
  • “Bogart” can refer to coercion or bullying in African American slang[144]
  • The Bertie Higgins 1981 hit “Key Largo” recalls the famous love affair and features the chorus “We had it all, just like Bogie and Bacall.” It has lines from “Casablanca” too, “Here’s looking at you, kid.”
  • Bogart outtakes (mostly from The Big Sleep) play a small but critical role in Carl Reiner‘s 1982 parody of mystery film, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid.
  • In the popular anime, Dragon Ball Z, episode number 93, “The Heavens Tremble”, Krillin is seen dressed up and talking like Bogart.

Quotations

Bogart is credited with five of the American Film Institute’s top 100 quotations in American cinema, the most by any actor:

  • 5th: “Here’s looking at you, kid”—Casablanca
  • 14th: “The stuff that dreams are made of.”—The Maltese Falcon
  • 20th: “Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”—Casablanca
  • 43rd: “We’ll always have Paris.”—Casablanca
  • 67th: “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”—Casablanca

Bogart is also credited with one of the top movie misquotations. In Casablanca, neither he nor anyone else ever said, “Play it again, Sam,” although that “quote” is widely credited to him, and is the title of the Woody Allen tribute movie. When Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), his former love, first enters the Café Americain, she spots Sam, the piano player (Dooley Wilson) and asks him to “Play it once, Sam, for old times’ sake.” When he feigns ignorance, she responds, “Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By.'” Later that night, alone with Sam, Rick says, “You played it for her – you can play it for me,” and “If she can stand it, I can! Play it!”[145]

Key Largo Movie

Monday, November 24th, 2014

Wikipedia

Key Largo (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Key Largo
Key largo432.jpg

theatrical release poster
Directed by John Huston
Produced by Jerry Wald
Screenplay by Richard Brooks
John Huston
Based on Key Largo (play)
1939 play
by Maxwell Anderson
Starring Humphrey Bogart
Edward G. Robinson
Lauren Bacall
Lionel Barrymore
Claire Trevor
Music by Max Steiner
Cinematography Karl Freund
Edited by Rudi Fehr
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • July 16, 1948 (U.S.)
Running time 101 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office US$8,125,000[1]

Key Largo is a 1948 film noir directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson and Lauren Bacall and featuring Lionel Barrymore and Claire Trevor.[2][3] The movie was adapted by Richard Brooks and Huston from Maxwell Anderson‘s 1939 play of the same name, which played on Broadway for 105 performances in 1939 and 1940.[4]

Key Largo was the fourth and final film pairing of married actors Bogart and Bacall, after To Have and Have Not (1944), The Big Sleep (1946), and Dark Passage (1947). Trevor won the 1948 Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance.

Plot

Ex-Major Frank McCloud (Humphrey Bogart) arrives at the Hotel Largo in Key Largo, Florida, to visit the family of George Temple, a friend from the Army who had served under him and was killed in the Italian campaign. He meets with George’s widow Nora Temple (Lauren Bacall) and his father James (Lionel Barrymore), who owns the hotel. Because the winter vacation season has ended and a major hurricane is approaching, the hotel has only six guests: the dapper Toots (Harry Lewis), the boorish Curly (Thomas Gomez), stone-faced Ralph (William Haade), servant Angel (Dan Seymour), an attractive woman, Gaye Dawn (Claire Trevor), and a sixth man who remains secluded in his room. They claim to have come to the Florida Keys for a fishing trip and have a charter boat waiting.

Rebuffing Curly’s attempts to engage him in conversation, Frank (as planned) meets with Nora and James Temple. He tells them where George is buried and recounts George’s heroism under fire. Nora seems taken with Frank, stating that George frequently mentioned Frank in his letters. Frank reveals to them the intimacy that is the experience of men in combat. They learn that George had told Frank personal and confidential details about the Temples (father and daughter-in-law). And Frank had committed to memory the small and cherished details that George had spoken of, to relieve the boredom, stress, and stark terror that was the reality of their moment-to-moment existence in combat.

The three begin preparing the hotel for the coming hurricane, but are interrupted by Sheriff Ben Wade (Monte Blue) and his deputy Sawyer (John Rodney), who are looking for the Osceola brothers, a pair of Native Americans who escaped from Sheriff’s custody after being arrested on minor charges. James Temple promises the lawmen that he will use his influence with the local Indians to get the boys to surrender. Soon after the police leave, the local Seminoles show up seeking shelter at the hotel, among them the Osceola brothers.

With the storm approaching, Curly, Ralph, Angel and Toots pull guns and take the Temples and Frank hostage. They explain that the sixth member of their party is notorious gangster Johnny Rocco (Edward G. Robinson), who was exiled to Cuba some years before for being an undesirable alien. The gang discovered Sawyer looking about and knocked him unconscious. As they are held at gunpoint, Temple lets go a stream of insults toward Rocco, who responds by taunting Temple, explaining how he will one day return to prominence. At one point Rocco gives Frank a pistol and offers to fight a duel with him, but Frank declines, stating that he believes in self-preservation over heroics and that “one Rocco more or less isn’t worth dying for.” Sawyer grabs the gun and tries to escape, but Rocco shoots him. In the gunplay it becomes apparent that the gun that Rocco gave to Frank was not loaded.

Rocco intends to hold the Temples and Frank hostage until his American contacts from Miami arrive to conclude a deal. As the storm rages, the Seminoles, usually sheltered in the hotel in storms, huddle outside as Rocco and his company worry about storm damage and insist the Indians stay outside. Rocco forces Gaye, his former moll, to sing for them and then berates her for her poor performance and fading looks. Nora reveals to Frank that she knows that the story he told earlier about her husband’s heroism was false and that Frank was the real hero. Mr. Temple invites Frank to come live with them at the hotel, a prospect that seems to intrigue Nora.

After the storm subsides, Sheriff Ben Wade shows up looking for Sawyer, who had telephoned from the hotel before the hurricane. Temple is forced by Rocco to lie and say that he has not seen the deputy, but as Wade is leaving he discovers Sawyer’s corpse floating in the water nearby where the hurricane had left it (Rocco’s men had taken the body into deeper water and thrown it overboard). Rocco blames the killing on the Osceola brothers, whom Wade then confronts in the nearby boathouse and kills.

After Wade leaves with Sawyer’s body, Rocco’s contact Ziggy (Marc Lawrence) arrives to conclude the deal. Rocco sells Ziggy a large amount of counterfeit money and then forces Frank, who has skills as a seaman, to take him and his henchmen back to Cuba on a small boat belonging to the hotel. (The captain of the luxurious yacht on which they arrived has moved it to deeper water to escape storm damage). Rocco pays James Temple for the stay and has his henchmen gather everyone’s bags, except for Gaye’s. He tells her he will not be taking her to Cuba with him and gives her some money for expenses. Nora and Gaye try to convince Frank to make a break for safety once he is outside the hotel, but he agrees to take the men to Cuba. Gaye appears to make a last-ditch attempt to convince Rocco to take her with him and uses the embrace to steal Rocco’s gun, which she then manages to pass on to Frank. Out on the Straits of Florida, Frank manages to knock Ralph overboard and then kills the other henchmen, sustaining a minor wound himself. Johnny Rocco tries to trick Frank into thinking that he is giving up and throws out one of the other henchman’s guns onto the ship deck, but Frank is not fooled and shoots Rocco as he comes up with his gun ready to shoot. Frank radios for help and pilots the boat back to Key Largo, and asks if they can put him through to the hotel. Meanwhile, Nora, Temple and Gaye tell Sheriff Ben Wade the truth, and he also learns that Ziggy and his mob have been apprehended by state police. As Temple and Wade lament the loss of the Osceola brothers, Gaye reassures them that Rocco bears the blame. As Wade and Gaye leave to identify Ziggy and his men, Temple and Nora receive Frank’s call and are delighted that he is coming back.

Cast

Lauren Bacall, the last surviving cast member, died on August 12, 2014.

Cast notes Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall were in four films together:

Bogart, Robinson and Trevor had also starred in the 1938 film The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse and Bogart and Trevor in the 1937 film Dead End.

Production

The script was adapted from a 1939 play by Maxwell Anderson. In the play, the gangsters are Mexican bandidos, the war in question is the Spanish Civil War, and Frank is a disgraced deserter who dies at the end.

Robinson had top billing over Bogart in their four previous films together: Bullets or Ballots (1936), Kid Galahad (1937), The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (1938) and Brother Orchid (1940). For this movie, however, Robinson’s name appears to the right of Bogart’s, but placed a little higher on the posters, and also in the film’s opening credits, to indicate Robinson’s near-equal status. Robinson’s image was also markedly larger and centered on the original poster, with Bogart relegated to the background. In the film’s trailer, Bogart is repeatedly mentioned first but Robinson’s name is listed above Bogart’s in a cast list at the end.

Exterior shots of the hurricane were taken from stock footage used in Night Unto Night, a Ronald Reagan melodrama which Warner Bros. also produced in 1948.

The boat used by Rocco’s gang to depart Key Largo, with Bogart’s character at the helm, is named the Santana, which was also the name of Bogart’s personal 55-foot (17 m) sailing yacht.[5]

Song

A high point of the film comes when Robinson’s alcoholic former moll, ex-nightclub singer “Gaye Dawn”, played by Claire Trevor, is forced by Rocco to sing a song a capella before he will allow her to have a drink. Trevor was nervous about the scene, and assumed that she would be lip-syncing to someone else’s voice. She kept after director Huston, wanting to rehearse the song, but he put her off, saying “There’s plenty of time,” until one afternoon he told her that they would shoot the film right then, without any rehearsal. She was given her starting note from a piano, and, in front of the rest of the cast and the crew, sang the song. It was this raw take that was used in the film.[6] The song was Moanin’ Low, composed by Ralph Rainger with lyrics by Howard Dietz, introduced on Broadway in the 1929 revue The Little Show by Libby Holman becoming a hit and Holman’s signature song.

Author Philip Furia said about the song, ‘Moanin’ Low': “[it’s] about a woman who’s trapped in a relationship with a very cruel man. And … you see [Trevor as Gaye] realize that that’s exactly her real life situation. [Trevor’s performance] slowly break[s] down, and her voice falters and she sings off key.” Robinson is dismissive but “Bogart pours her a stiff drink, walks it over … under gunpoint … and gives it to her and says ‘You deserve this’—it’s just a great dramatic scene, [and] it’s a wonderful use of a song in a non-musical picture. [Trevor] won [the Academy Award] based purely, I think, on that performance.”[7]

Awards and honors

Academy Awards

American Film Institute

In popular culture

See also

Religious fundamentalism could soon be treated as mental illness

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Digital Journal

Kathleen Taylor, a neurologist at Oxford University, said that recent developments suggest that we will soon be able to treat religious fundamentalism and other forms of ideological beliefs potentially harmful to society as a form of mental illness.

She made the assertion during a talk at the Hay Literary Festival in Wales on Wednesday. She said that radicalizing ideologies may soon be viewed not as being of personal choice or free will but as a category of mental disorder. She said new developments in neuroscience could make it possible to consider extremists as people with mental illness rather than criminals. She told The Times of London: “One of the surprises may be to see people with certain beliefs as people who can be treated. Someone who has for example become radicalized to a cult ideology — we might stop seeing that as a personal choice that they have chosen as a result of pure free will and may start treating it as some kind of mental disturbance.” Taylor admits that the scope of what could end up being labelled “fundamentalist” is expansive. She continued: “I am not just talking about the obvious candidates like radical Islam or some of the more extreme cults. I am talking about things like the belief that it is OK to beat your children. These beliefs are very harmful but are not normally categorized as mental illness. In many ways that could be a very positive thing because there are no doubt beliefs in our society that do a heck of a lot of damage, that really do a lot of harm.” The Huffington Post reports Taylor warns about the moral-ethical complications that could arise. In her book “The Brain Supremacy,” she writes of the need “to be careful when it comes to developing technologies which can slip through the skull to directly manipulate the brain. They cannot be morally neutral, these world-shaping tools; when the aspect of the world in question is a human being, morality inevitably rears its hydra heads. Technologies which profoundly change our relationship with the world around us cannot simply be tools, to be used for good or evil, if they alter our basic perception of what good and evil are.” [In related news: Atheism a ‘suicide risk,’ US Marine Corps warns] The moral-ethical dimension arises from the predictable tendency when acting on the problem, armed with a new technology, to apply to the label “fundamentalist” only to our ideological opponents, while failing to perceive the “fundamentalism” in ourselves. From the perspective of the Western mind, for instance, the tendency to equate “fundamentalism” exclusively with radical Islamism is too tempting. But how much less “fundamentalist” than an Osama bin Laden is a nation of capitalist ideologues carpet bombing civilian urban areas in Laos, Cambodia and North Korea? The jihadist’s obsession with defending his Islamic ideological world view which leads him to perpetrate and justify such barbaric acts as the Woolwich murder are of the same nature as the evangelical obsession with spreading the pseudo-religious ideology of capitalism which led to such horrendous crimes as the murder of hundreds of thousands of civilians in four years of carpet bombing operations by the Nixon administration caught in a vice grip of anti-communist paranoia. The power to control the mind will tend too readily to be used as weapon against our jihadist enemies while justifying the equally irrational and murderously harmful actions we term innocously “foreign policy.” Some analysts are thus convinced that neuroscientists will be adopting a parochial and therefore ultimately counterproductive approach if they insist on identifying particular belief systems characteristic of ideological opponents as the primary subject for therapeutic manipulation. On a much larger and potentially more fruitful scale is the recognition that the entire domain of religious beliefs, political convictions, patriotic nationalist fervor are in themselves powerful platforms for nurturing “Us vs Them” paranoid delusional fantasies which work out destructively in a 9/11 attack or a Hiroshima/Nagasaki orgy of mass destruction. What we perceive from our perspective as our legitimate self-defensive reaction to the psychosis of the enemy, is from the perspective of the same enemy our equally malignant psychotic self-obsession. The Huffington Post reports that this is not the first time Taylor has written a book about extremism and fundamentalism. In 2006, she wrote a book about mind control titled “Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control,” in which she examined the techniques that cultic groups use to influence victims. She said: “We all change our beliefs of course. We all persuade each other to do things; we all watch advertising; we all get educated and experience [religions.] Brainwashing, if you like, is the extreme end of that; it’s the coercive, forceful, psychological torture type.” She notes correctly that “brainwashing” which embraces all the subtle and not-so-subtle ways “we make people think things that might not be good for them, that they might not otherwise have chosen to think,” is a much more pervasive social phenomenon than we are willing to recognize. As social animals we are all victims of culturally induced brainwashing whose effectiveness correlates with our inability to think outside the box of our given acculturation.

Joan Rivers

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Wikipedia

Joan Alexandra Molinsky[1] (previously Rosenberg; born June 8, 1933), known by her stage name Joan Rivers, is an American actress, comedian, writer, producer and television host, best known for her stand-up comedy, for co-hosting the E! celebrity fashion show Fashion Police, and for starring in the reality series Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best? alongside her daughter Melissa Rivers.

Rivers first came to prominence in 1965 as a guest on The Tonight Show, a pioneering late-night program with interviews and comedy, hosted by Johnny Carson, whom she acknowledges as her mentor. The show established her particular comic style, poking fun at celebrities, but also at herself, often joking about her extensive plastic surgery. When she launched a rival program, The Late Show, he never spoke to her again.

She went on to host a successful daytime slot, The Joan Rivers Show, which won her a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show Host. However, her insulting style when discussing sensitive or personal matters has sometimes been criticized as controversial by the media.

She is also the author of 12 best-selling memoir and humor books, as well as providing comic material for stage and television. She currently hosts and produces her online weekly talk show on YouTube called In Bed with Joan, and resides in Malibu, California, with her daughter and grandson.

Early life

Rivers was born Joan Alexandra Molinsky in Brooklyn, New York, in 1933,[2] the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants Beatrice (née Grushman; January 6, 1906 – October 1975) and Meyer C. Molinsky (December 7, 1900 – January 1985). Her older sister Barbara died on June 3, 2013, aged 82.[3][4][5] She was raised in Brooklyn, New York, and her family later moved to Larchmont, in Westchester County, New York. She attended Connecticut College between 1950 and 1952 and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Barnard College in 1954 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature[6] and anthropology. Before entering show business, Rivers worked at various jobs such as a tour guide at Rockefeller Center,[7] a writer/proofreader at an advertising agency[7] and as a fashion consultant at Bond Clothing Stores.[8] During this period, agent Tony Rivers advised her to change her name, so she chose Joan Rivers as her stage name.[9]

Career

Jim Connell, Jake Holmes and Joan Rivers when they worked as the team: “Jim, Jake & Joan”

1950s-1960s

During the late 1950s, Rivers appeared in a short-run play, Driftwood, playing a lesbian with a crush on a character played by a then-unknown Barbra Streisand. The play ran for six weeks.[10] Rivers performed in numerous comedy clubs in the Greenwich Village area of New York City in the early 1960s, including The Bitter End and The Gaslight Cafe,[11] before making her first appearances as a guest on the TV program The Tonight Show originating from New York, hosted at the time by Jack Paar.[12]

By 1965, Rivers had a stint on Candid Camera as a gag writer and participant; she was “the bait” to lure people into ridiculous situations for the show. She also made her first appearance on The Tonight Show with new host Johnny Carson, on February 17, 1965.[13] During the same decade, Rivers made other appearances on The Tonight Show as well as The Ed Sullivan Show, while hosting the first of several talk shows. She wrote material for the puppet Topo Gigio. She had a brief role in The Swimmer (1968), starring Burt Lancaster. A year later, she had a short-lived syndicated daytime talk show, That Show with Joan Rivers; Johnny Carson was her first guest.[14] In the middle of the 1960s, she released at least two comedy albums, The Next to Last Joan Rivers Album[15] and Rivers Presents Mr. Phyllis & Other Funny Stories.[16]

1970s

By the 1970s, Rivers was appearing on various television comedy and variety shows, including The Carol Burnett Show and a semi-regular stint on Hollywood Squares. From 1972 to 1976, she narrated The Adventures of Letterman, an animated segment for The Electric Company. In 1973, Rivers wrote the TV movie The Girl Most Likely to…, a black comedy starring Stockard Channing. In 1978, Rivers wrote and directed the film Rabbit Test, starring her friend Billy Crystal. During the same decade, she was the opening act for singers Helen Reddy, Robert Goulet, Mac Davis and Sergio Franchi on the Las Vegas Strip.

1980s–1990s

Rivers has spoken of her primary Tonight Show life as having been Johnny Carson’s daughter, a reference to his longtime mentoring of her and, during the 1980s, establishing her as his regular guest host by August 1983. She also hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live, on April 9, 1983.[17] In the same period, she released a best-selling comedy album on Geffen Records, What Becomes a Semi-Legend Most? The album reached No. 22 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album.[18]

Rivers in 1967

Also in 1984, Rivers published a best-selling humor book, The Life and Hard Times of Heidi Abramowitz, a mock memoir of her brassy, loose comedy character. A television special based on the character, a mock tribute called Joan Rivers and Friends Salute Heidi Abramowitz, was not successful with the public.

The decade was controversial for Rivers. She sued female impersonator Frank Marino for $5,000,000 in 1986, after discovering he was using her real stand-up material in the impersonation of her that he included in his popular Las Vegas act. The two comics reconciled, even appearing together on television in later years.[19]

Also in 1986 came the move that cost Rivers her longtime friendship with Carson, who had first hired her as a Tonight Show writer. The soon-to-launch Fox Television Network announced that it was giving her a late night talk show, The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers.[20] The new network planned to broadcast the show 11:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. Eastern Time, making her a Carson competitor. Carson learned of the show from Fox and not from Rivers herself. In the documentary Johnny Carson: King of Late Night, Rivers said she only called Carson to discuss the matter after learning he may have already heard about it, and that he immediately hung up on her. In the same interview, she said that she later came to believe that maybe she should have asked for his blessing before taking the job. Rivers was banned from appearing on the Tonight Show, a decision respected by Carson’s first two successors Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien. After the release of his 2013 biography on Johnny Carson, Carson’s manager Harry Bushkin revealed that he never received a call from Rivers’s husband Edgar concerning the move to Fox, against Rivers’s prior knowledge.[21] Rivers did not appear on the Tonight Show again until February 17, 2014, when she made a brief appearance on new host Jimmy Fallon‘s first episode.[22] On March 27, 2014, Rivers returned for an interview.

Shortly after Carson’s death in 2005, Rivers said that he never spoke to her again. In 2008, during an interview with Dr. Pamela Connolly on television’s Shrink Rap, Rivers claimed she did call Carson, but he hung up on her at once and repeated the gesture when she called again.

The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers turned out to be flecked by tragedy. When Rivers challenged Fox executives, who wanted to fire her husband Edgar Rosenberg as the show’s producer, the network fired them both. On May 15, 1987, three months later, Rosenberg committed suicide in Philadelphia; Rivers blamed the tragedy on his “humiliation” by Fox.[23] Fox attempted to continue the show with a new name (The Late Show) and rotating guest hosts. A year after the Late Show debacle, Rivers was a guest on TV’s Pee-wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special. By 1989, she tried another daytime TV talk show, The Joan Rivers Show,[24] which ran for five years and won her an Daytime Emmy in 1990 for Outstanding Talk Show Host.[25] In 1994, Rivers and daughter Melissa first hosted the E! Entertainment Television pre-awards show for the Golden Globe Awards.[26] Beginning in 1995, they hosted the annual E! Entertainment Television pre-awards show for the Academy Awards.[26] Beginning in 1997, Rivers hosted her own radio show on WOR in New York City. Rivers also appeared as one of the center square occupants on the 1986–89 version of The Hollywood Squares, hosted by John Davidson.

In 1994, Rivers—who was influenced by the “dirty comedy” of Lenny Bruce—co-wrote and starred in a play about Bruce’s mother Sally Marr, who was also a stand-up comic and influenced her son’s development as a comic. After 27 previews, “Sally Marr…and Her Escorts,” a play “suggested by the life of Sally Marr” ran on Broadway for 50 performances in May and June 1994.[27] Rivers was nominated for a Drama Desk Award as Outstanding Actress in a Play and a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for playing Sally Marr.[28]

2000s-2010s

By 2003, Rivers had left her E! red-carpet show for a three-year contract (valued at $6–8 million) to cover award shows’ red carpet events for the TV Guide Channel.[29]

Rivers poses for a photograph at the Pierre Hotel in New York City, May 24, 2001

Rivers appeared in three episodes of the TV show Nip/Tuck during its second, third and seventh season playing herself.[30][31][32] Rivers appears regularly on television’s The Shopping Channel (in Canada) and QVC (in both the United States and the UK), promoting her own line of jewelry under brand name “The Joan Rivers Collection”. She was also a guest speaker at the opening of the American Operating Room Nurses’ 2000 San Francisco Conference. Both Joan and Melissa Rivers are frequent guests on Howard Stern‘s radio show, and Joan Rivers often appears as a guest on UK panel show 8 Out of 10 Cats.

Rivers was one of only four Americans invited to the Wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Camilla Parker Bowles on April 9, 2005.[33] On August 16, 2007, Rivers began a two-week workshop of her new play, with the working title “The Joan Rivers Theatre Project”, at The Magic Theatre in San Francisco.[34] On December 3, 2007, Rivers performed in the Royal Variety Show 2007 at the Liverpool Empire Theatre, England, with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip present. In January 2008, Rivers became one of 20 hijackers to take control of the Big Brother house in the UK for one day in spin-off TV show Big Brother: Celebrity Hijack. On June 24, 2008, Rivers appeared on NBC-TV’s show Celebrity Family Feud and competed with her daughter, Melissa against Ice-T and Coco.

Rivers performing in her show at the 2008 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Rivers and daughter Melissa were contestants in 2009 on the second Celebrity Apprentice. Throughout the season, each celebrity raised money for a charity of his or her choice; Rivers selected God’s Love We Deliver.[35] After a falling out with poker player Annie Duke, following Melissa’s on-air firing (elimination) by Donald Trump, Rivers left the green room telling Clint Black and Jesse James that she would not be in the next morning. Rivers later returned to the show and on May 3, 2009, she became a finalist in the series. The other finalist was Duke.[36][37] On the season finale, which aired live on May 10, Rivers was announced the winner and hired to be the 2009 Celebrity Apprentice.

Rivers was featured on the show Z Rock as herself and was also a special so-called pink-carpet presenter for the 2009 broadcast of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade. She was also roasted in a Comedy Central special, taped on July 26, 2009, and aired on August 9, 2009. From August 2009, Rivers began starring in the new reality TV series How’d You Get So Rich? on TV Land. A documentary film about Rivers, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, premiered at the San Francisco International Film Festival at the Castro Theatre on May 6, 2010. In 2011, Rivers appeared in a commercial for Go Daddy, which debuted during the broadcast of Super Bowl XLV.[38] To date, Joan has made two appearances on Live at the Apollo, once as a comedian and once as a guest host.

Rivers performing at a London Udderbelly event in May 2009

Joan and her daughter Melissa Rivers premiered the new show Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best? on WE tv. The series follows Joan moving to California to be closer to her family. She moves in with daughter Melissa while searching for a home of her own. WE tv then ordered a new season consisting of 10 episodes, which premiered in January 2012. In 2011, Rivers was featured as herself in Season 2 of Louis C.K.‘s self-titled show Louie, where she performed on-stage. Since September 10, 2010, Rivers has co-hosted the E! show Fashion Police, along with Giuliana Rancic, Kelly Osbourne and George Kotsiopoulos commenting on the dos and don’ts of celebrity fashion. The show started as a half-hour program, but expanded to one hour on March 9, 2012. On August 7, 2012, Rivers showed up in Burbank, California to protest that the warehouse-club Costco would not sell her New York Times best-selling book, I Hate Everyone … Starting with Me. She handcuffed herself to a person’s shopping cart and shouted through a megaphone. The police were called to the scene and she left without incident and no arrests were made.[39] On March 5, 2013, Joan launched a new online talk show called In Bed with Joan through YouTube, in which each week she has a different celebrity guest that “comes out of the closet” and they talk about various topics. The show takes place in Joan’s bedroom, which is in Melissa’s house in Malibu, California.

In 2013, she came under heavy criticism for making jokes about Adele‘s weight. Rivers continued to make jokes about her weight following her Academy Award win for Skyfall.[40] Rivers refused to apologize.[41] Rivers had also come under criticism for making jokes about the Holocaust. The Anti-Defamation League called her remarks “vulgar and hideous”. Despite the criticism of her joke, Rivers, who is Jewish, refused to apologize, and later stated: “This is the way I remind people about the Holocaust. I do it through humor.”[42]

In January 2014, she appeared on Lior Schleien‘s television program called State Of The Nation (Matzav HaUma) on Israeli television stating that she “love[d] Israel.”[43] In April 2014, Rivers made a joke about the victims of the Ariel Castro kidnappings. She came under criticism from the lawyers of two of the kidnapping victims. The lawyers demanded that Rivers apologize for her joke.[44] Rivers defended her comments by saying “I know what those girls went through. It was a little stupid joke.”[45] In July 2014, Rivers walked out of an interview with CNN‘s Fredricka Whitfield while promoting her book Diary of a Mad Diva.[46] She later talked about the incident on The Late Show with David Letterman, where Letterman reenacted the incident.[47] In August 2014, during the Israeli operation in Gaza called Operation Protective Edge, Rivers told a reporter for the TMZ website in video footage that Palestinian civilians “deserve to be dead”.[48][49] Following a critical response on Twitter, Rivers later said her comments had been “taken out of context”.[50]On August 26, 2014, Rivers hosted a taping of Fashion Police with Kelly Osbourne, Giuliana Rancic, and George Kotsiopoulos about the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards and the 2014 MTV Movie Awards which would be her last television appearance before her incident.[51] The day before her throat surgery accident, she released her most recent podcast of In Bed with Joan with LeAnn Rimes and Eddie Cibrian.[52]

Personal life

Rivers is a member of the Reform synagogue Temple Emanu-El in New York. Rivers’s first marriage was in 1955 to James Sanger,[53] the son of a Bond Clothing Stores merchandise manager. The marriage lasted six months[54] and was annulled on the basis that Sanger did not want children and had not informed Rivers before the wedding.[55] Her second marriage was on July 15, 1965,[56] to Edgar Rosenberg, who committed suicide in 1987. Their only child, Melissa Warburg Rosenberg (now known as Melissa Rivers), was born on January 20, 1968. She has one grandson, Melissa’s son Cooper (born Edgar Cooper Endicott in 2000)[57] who is featured with his mother and grandmother in the WE tv series Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?[58]

In her book, Bouncing Back (1997), she described how she developed bulimia and contemplated suicide. Eventually, she recovered with counseling and the support of her family. In 2002, Rivers told the Montreal Mirror that she was a Republican.[59] However, on a 2013 episode of Celebrity Wife Swap, Rivers stated that she was a Democrat. Then on January 28, 2014, during a conversation with Reza Farahan she announced that she was in fact a Republican.[60]

In a June 5, 2012, interview with Howard Stern, Rivers said she had several extramarital affairs when married to Rosenberg. According to Rivers, she had a one-night sexual encounter with actor Robert Mitchum in the 1960s after an appearance together on The Tonight Show. She also had an extended affair with actor Gabriel Dell during the out-of-town and Broadway productions of her play, Fun City, in 1971, for which Rivers told Stern she “left Edgar over” for several weeks.[61] Rivers is open about her multiple cosmetic surgeries, and has been a patient of plastic surgeon Steven Hoefflin since 1983. Her first procedure, an eye lift, was performed in 1965 as an attempt to further her career.[62]

On August 28, 2014, Rivers experienced serious complications—including stopping breathing—during throat surgery at a clinic in Yorkville, Manhattan.[63][64] She was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital and was put into a medically induced coma after reportedly entering cardiac arrest.[63] On August 29, her daughter, Melissa, publicly stated that she was “resting comfortably” in the hospital.[65] On August 30, it was reported Rivers had been put on life support.[66]

Reports initially stated that Rivers’ family might face ending her life support if her condition did not improve.[67] However, on September 1, 2014, an unnamed source told Entertainment Tonight that Rivers’ physicians at Mount Sinai Hospital had started the process of trying to bring her out of the coma on August 31.[68] Prior to that, there had been no further medical updates beyond her daughter’s statement.

Books

  • Having a Baby Can Be a Scream. J.P. Tarcher. 1974. (Self-Help/Humour)
  • The Life and Hard Times of Heidi Abromowitz. Doubleday. 1984. ISBN 978-0385293594. (Humour)
  • Enter Talking. Dell Publishing Co. 1986. ISBN 978-0440122449. (Autobiography)
  • Still Talking. Random House. 1991. ISBN 978-0394579917. (Autobiography)
  • Jewelry by Joan Rivers. Abbeville Press. 1995. ISBN 978-1558598089. (Non-Fiction)
  • Bouncing Back: I’ve Survived Everything … and I Mean Everything … and You Can Too!. HarperTorch. 1997. ISBN 978-0061096013.
  • From Mother to Daughter: Thoughts and Advice on Life, Love and Marriage. Birch Lane Pr;. 1998. ISBN 978-1559724937. (Self-Help)
  • Don’t Count the Candles: Just Keep the Fire Lit!. HarperCollins. 1999. ISBN 978-0060183837. (Self-Help)
  • Murder at the Academy Awards (R): A Red Carpet Murder Mystery. Pocket. 2009. ISBN 1416599371. (Fiction)
  • Men Are Stupid…And They Like Big Boobs: A Woman’s Guide to Beauty Through Plastic Surgery. 2009. ISBN 141659924X. (Non-Fiction)
  • I Hate Everyone…Starting with Me. Berkley Trade. 2012. ISBN 978-0425255896. (Humour)
  • Diary of a Mad Diva. Berkley Publishing Group. 2014. ISBN 978-0425269022. (Humour)

Filmography

Films

Year Title Notes
1965 Once Upon a Coffee House
1968 The Swimmer
1978 Rabbit Test Also director and writer
1981 Uncle Scam
1984 The Muppets Take Manhattan
1987 Les Patterson Saves the World
1987 Spaceballs Voice
1988 Pee-Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special
1989 Look Who’s Talking Voice
1993 Public Enemy #2
1994 Serial Mom
1995 Napoleon Voice
1999 Goosed
2000 The Intern
2000 Whispers: An Elephant’s Tale Voice
2002 The Making and Meaning of ‘We Are Family Documentary
2002 Hip! Edgy! Quirky!
2004 Shrek 2 Voice
2004 First Daughter
2007 The Last Guy on Earth
2010 Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work Documentary; herself
2010 Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps Uncredited
2011 The Smurfs Party Guest
2011 Tower Heist Uncredited
2013 Iron Man 3 Cameo
2014 The Story of the Swimmer The making of The SwimmerDocumentary; herself

Television

Year Title Notes
1968–69 That Show starring Joan Rivers Syndicated daytime talk show[14]
1972–77 The Electric Company Voice
1973 Here’s Lucy
1973 Needles and Pins Guest-starred as Eleanor Karp in episode “The Wife You Save May Be Your Own”
1984 An Audience with Joan Rivers
1986 Joan Rivers: Can We Talk?
1986–87 The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers Host
1988–89 The New Hollywood Squares Hosted by John Davidson, center square
1989–93 The Joan Rivers Show Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk Show Host
1990 How to Murder a Millionaire Starred along with Morgan Fairchild
1992 Lady Boss
1994 Tears and Laughter: The Joan and Melissa Rivers Story[69]
1995–present Can We Shop?
1997 Another World Cast member
2001 E! True Hollywood Story: Joan Rivers Parody episode of show aired April 1, 2001[70]
2004, 2007 Jack Dee Live at the Apollo Cast member, guest host in 2007
2004 Dave the Barbarian Voice – Zonthara, Emperess of Evil
2004–05, 2010 Nip/Tuck[71]
2004–06 The Joan Rivers Position
2006 An Audience with Joan Rivers
2006–07 8 Out of 10 Cats
2006 Joan Rivers: Before Melissa Pulls the Plug
2006 Dawn French’s Girls Who Do Comedy In-depth interview with Dawn French for the BBC
2007 Straight Talk
2008 Shrink Rap With Dr. Pamela Connolly – More4
2008 Celebrity Family Feud
2008 Big Brother: Celebrity Hijack Celebrity Hijacker
2008 Z Rock Aunt Joan
2008 Spaceballs: The Animated Series Voice
2008, 2010 Arthur Voice – Bubby (Francine’s Grandmother)
2009 Celebrity Apprentice 2 Herself
2009 How’d You Get So Rich? Herself
2009 The Comedy Central Roast of Joan Rivers Herself
2009 Celebrity Ghost Stories Herself
2010 Celebrity Apprentice 3
2010–present Fashion Police
2011–present Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?
2011 Louie Herself
2011 The Simpsons Voice – Annie Dubinsky (season 23, episode 8 – “The Ten-Per-Cent Solution“)
2012 Joan Rivers: Don’t Start with Me
2012 Hot in Cleveland Anka
2013–present In Bed with Joan Online talk show

Theater work

Year Show Notes
1972 Fun City An original comedy, co-written with Lester Colodny and Edgar Rosenberg, Morosco Theatre[72]
1988 Broadway Bound By Neil Simon (replacement for Kate, 1988, Broadhurst Theatre)[73]
1994 Sally Marr…and her escorts A play suggested by the life of Lenny Bruce‘s mother (co-written with Erin Ladd Sanders and Lonny Price), May 1994, Helen Hayes Theatre, Broadway.
2008 Joan Rivers: A Work in Progress by a Life in Progress Geffen Playhouse
2008 Joan Rivers: A Work in Progress by a Life in Progress Edinburgh Festival Fringe
2008 Joan Rivers: A Work in Progress by a Life in Progress Leicester Square Theatre, London
2012 Joan Rivers: The Now or Never Tour October 2012, UK tour
2014 Joan Rivers: Before They Close The Lid Tour October 2014, UK tour

Awards and nominations

Year Nominated work Award Category Result
1984 What Becomes a Semi-Legend Most? Grammy Award Best Comedy Album Nominated
1990 The Joan Rivers Show Daytime Emmy Award Outstanding Talk Show Host Won
1991 Nominated
1992 Outstanding Writing – Special Class Nominated
Outstanding Talk Show Host Nominated
1993 Outstanding Writing – Special Class Nominated
Outstanding Talk Show Host Nominated
1994 Sally Marr…and her escorts Tony Award Best Actress in a Play Nominated
2009 Arthur Daytime Emmy Award Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program Nominated

Note: Emmy nominations for Outstanding Writing – Special Class shared with Toem Perew and Hester Mundis.

Honors

Court Ruling in the Steeve Biron case: Stunning!!!

Saturday, August 30th, 2014

By Roger-Luc Chayer (Translation by Google)

STUNNING !!!
Steeve Biron sentenced to 6 years in prison
Amazement at the court of Quebec on ​​August 29, that the case Steeve Biron was more than surprising denouement, 6 years in prison for a user to Gay411 who solicited sexual encounters.

Small reminder of the case Steve Biron is a young man from Quebec who, like many gays, solicited sexual encounters mainly through the famous Gay411 site. Biron essentially sought relationships bareback,” his followers knowing that barebacking is a form of Russian roulette that is having unprotected sex and risky, with individuals who may potentially be carriers of HIV or other sexually transmitted. The kick to his followers is to get greater enjoyment because of the voltage generated by the risk-taking. Knowing HIV, Biron did not mention his status to his acquaintances and like most followers of barebacking, “playing the game” until an ex-fuck decides to violate his privacy and to consult his record hospital, that person being a nurse.

The victim nick is then presented to the police to lodge a complaint, the police started looking for other fucks bareback Biron and 15 people have come forward. Following the filing of charges of sexual assault, Gay Globe investigated and managed to get under a false identity via Gay411, multiple appointments with most pseudo-victims, clearly indicating that it was for bareback without condom use THESE SAME PEOPLE WERE SAYING THEY SIGNED COMPLAINTS HAD NEVER GRANTED tO THIS TYPE oF SEX.

The case was in the bag for our survey at least, but now counsel Biron decided initially not to submit our dossier of thousands of pages in evidence at the original trial, and worse, he decided not to mention during argument, saying while the court did not take into account. But now, in the judgment of Judge Marie-Claude Gilbert, it specifically mentions that the informed consent of the victims did not and they were betrayed. FALSE since our record proved otherwise.

Steeve Biron sees therefore sentenced to six years in prison, he will have to serve in a federal prison. The order banning publication remaining, we can not mention the names of victims. The worst part of this whole thing is that from now on, anyone who knows he is infected with HIV can be arrested and sentenced to prison if she fails to mention her status to relationships.

Quebec back 20 years back in campaigning for HIV!
Because of the refusal on the part of counsel for Steeve Biron produce a journalistic record showing that some victims solicited by knowingly bareback relationships even after filing their complaints, contradicting their claims on informed consent and which can Steeve Biron benefit of reasonable doubt required for acquittal, that the people may benefit from HIV testing to quickly process could now refuse these tests since discovering their new status, they become potentially criminal if they do not comply with certain obligations disclosure to all partners BEFORE having only one sex. Go now to convince young people to get tested! Between ignorance and prison, freedom is worth more !!!

Orson Welles

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014

Wikipédia

George Orson Welles (/ˈwɛlz/; May 6, 1915 – October 10, 1985) was an American actor, director, writer and producer who worked in theater, radio and film. He is best remembered for his innovative work in all three media: in theatre, most notably Caesar (1937), a groundbreaking Broadway adaptation of Julius Caesar; in radio, the debut of the Mercury Theatre, whose The War of the Worlds (1938), is one of the most famous broadcasts in the history of radio; and in film, Citizen Kane (1941), consistently ranked as one of the all-time greatest films.

After directing a number of high-profile stage productions in his early twenties, including an innovative adaptation of Macbeth and The Cradle Will Rock, Welles found national and international fame as the director and narrator of a 1938 radio adaptation of H. G. Wells‘ novel The War of the Worlds performed for the radio anthology series The Mercury Theatre on the Air. It reportedly caused widespread panic when listeners thought that an invasion by extraterrestrial beings was occurring. Although some contemporary sources claim these reports of panic were mostly false and overstated,[2] they rocketed Welles to notoriety.

His first film was Citizen Kane (1941), which he co-wrote, produced, directed, and starred in as Charles Foster Kane. Welles was an outsider to the studio system and directed only 13 full-length films in his career. Because of this, he struggled for creative control from the major film studios, and his films were either heavily edited or remained unreleased. His distinctive directorial style featured layered and nonlinear narrative forms, innovative uses of lighting such as chiaroscuro, unusual camera angles, sound techniques borrowed from radio, deep focus shots, and long takes. He has been praised as a major creative force and as “the ultimate auteur.”[3]:6 Welles followed up Citizen Kane with critically acclaimed films including The Magnificent Ambersons in 1942 and Touch of Evil in 1958.

In 2002, Welles was voted the greatest film director of all time in two British Film Institute polls among directors and critics,[4][5] and a wide survey of critical consensus, best-of lists, and historical retrospectives calls him the most acclaimed director of all time.[6] Well known for his baritone voice,[7] Welles was a well-regarded actor in radio and film, a celebrated Shakespearean stage actor, and an accomplished magician noted for presenting troop variety shows in the war years.

Early life

George Orson Welles was born May 6, 1915, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, son of Richard Hodgdon Head Welles (b. 1873, Missouri, d. December 28, 1930, Chicago, Illinois) and Beatrice (née Ives; b. 1882 or 1883, Springfield, Illinois, d. May 10, 1924, Chicago).[8] He was named after his paternal great-grandfather, influential Kenosha attorney Orson S. Head, and his brother George Head,[9]:37 and was raised Roman Catholic.[10]

Despite the Head family’s affluence, Welles encountered hardship in childhood. His parents separated and moved to Chicago in 1919. His father, who made a fortune as the inventor of a popular bicycle lamp,[11] became an alcoholic and stopped working. Welles’s mother, a concert pianist, played during lectures by Dudley Crafts Watson at the Chicago Art Institute to support her son and herself; the oldest Welles boy, “Dickie”, was institutionalized at an early age because he had learning difficulties. Beatrice died of hepatitis in a Chicago hospital[12]:3–5 May 10, 1924, at the age of 43, just after Welles’s ninth birthday.[13]:326

After his mother’s death Welles ceased pursuing music. It was decided that he would spend the summer with the Watson family at a private art colony in Wyoming, New York, established by Lydia Avery Coonley Ward.[1]:8 There he played and became friends with the children of the Aga Khan, including the 12-year-old Prince Aly Khan. Then, in what Welles later described as “a hectic period” in his life, he lived in a Chicago apartment with both his father and Dr. Maurice Bernstein, a Chicago physician who had been a close friend of both his parents. Welles briefly attended public school[14]:133 before his alcoholic father left business altogether and took him along on his travels to Jamaica and the Far East. When they returned they settled in a hotel in Grand Detour, Illinois, that was owned by his father. When the hotel burned down Welles and his father took to the road again.[1]:9

“During the three years that Orson lived with his father, some observers wondered who took care of whom”, wrote biographer Frank Brady.[1]:9

“In some ways, he was never really a young boy, you know,” said Roger Hill, who became Welles’s teacher and lifelong friend.[15]:24

Welles briefly attended public school in Madison, Wisconsin, enrolled in the fourth grade.[1]:9 On September 15, 1926, he entered the Todd School for Boys,[14]:3 an expensive independent school in Woodstock, Illinois, that his older brother had attended for ten years until he was expelled for misbehavior.[1]:10 At Todd School Welles came under the influence of Roger Hill, a teacher who was later Todd’s headmaster. Hill provided Welles with an ad hoc educational environment that proved invaluable to his creative experience, allowing Welles to concentrate on subjects that interested him. Welles performed and staged theatrical experiments and productions there.

“Todd provided Welles with many valuable experiences”, wrote critic Richard France. “He was able to explore and experiment in an atmosphere of acceptance and encouragement. In addition to a theater the school’s own radio station was at his disposal.”[16]:27 Welles’s first radio performance was on the Todd station, an adaptation of Sherlock Holmes that he also wrote.[12]:7

On December 28, 1930, when Welles was 15, his father died at the age of 58, alone in a hotel in Chicago. His will left it to Orson to name his guardian. When Roger Hill declined, Welles chose Maurice Bernstein.[17]:71–72

Following graduation from Todd in May 1931,[14]:3 Welles was awarded a scholarship to Harvard University. Rather than enrolling, he chose travel. Later, he studied for a time at the Art Institute of Chicago.[18] He returned a number of times to Woodstock to direct his alma mater’s student productions.

Early career (1931–1935)

After his father’s death, Welles traveled to Europe using a small inheritance. Welles said that while on a walking and painting trip through Ireland, he strode into the Gate Theatre in Dublin and claimed he was a Broadway star. The manager of Gate, Hilton Edwards, later said he had not believed him but was impressed by his brashness and an impassioned quality in his audition.[19]:134 Welles made his stage debut at the Gate Theatre on October 13, 1931, appearing in Ashley Dukes‘s adaptation of Jew Suss as Duke Karl Alexander of Württemberg. He performed small supporting roles in subsequent Gate productions, and he produced and designed productions of his own in Dublin. In March 1932 Welles performed in W. Somerset Maugham‘s The Circle at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre and travelled to London to find additional work in the theatre. Unable to obtain a work permit, he returned to the U.S.[13]:327–330

Welles found his fame ephemeral and turned to a writing project at Todd School that would become the immensely successful, first entitled Everybody’s Shakespeare and subsequently, The Mercury Shakespeare. Welles traveled to North Africa while working on thousands of illustrations for the Everybody’s Shakespeare series of educational books, a series that remained in print for decades.

In 1933, Roger and Hortense Hill invited Welles along to a party in Chicago, where Welles met Thornton Wilder. Wilder arranged for Welles to meet Alexander Woollcott in New York, in order that he be introduced to Katharine Cornell, who was assembling a repertory theatre company. Cornell’s husband, director Guthrie McClintic, immediately put Welles under contract and cast him in three plays.[1]:46–49 The Barretts of Wimpole Street and Candida toured in repertory for 36 weeks beginning in November 1933, with the first of more than 200 performances taking place in Buffalo, New York.[13]:330–331

In 1934, Welles got his first job on radio — on The American School of the Air — through actor-director Paul Stewart, who introduced him to director Knowles Entrikin.[13]:331 That summer Welles staged a drama festival with the Todd School in Woodstock, Illinois, inviting Micheál Mac Liammóir and Hilton Edwards from Dublin’s Gate Theatre to appear along with New York stage luminaries in productions including Trilby, Hamlet, The Drunkard and Tsar Paul. At the old firehouse in Woodstock he also shot his first film, an eight-minute short titled The Hearts of Age.[13]:330–331

Katharine Cornell’s company began a 36-week tour of Romeo and Juliet in the fall of 1934, with Welles playing Mercutio. Opening December 20 at the Martin Beck Theatre in New York,[13]:331–332[20] the Broadway production brought the 19-year-old Welles (now playing Tybalt) to the notice of John Houseman, a theatrical producer who was casting the lead role in the debut production of Archibald MacLeish‘s verse play, Panic.[21]:144–158

On November 14, 1934, Welles married Chicago socialite and actress Virginia Nicolson[13]:332 (often misspelled “Nicholson”)[22] in a civil ceremony in New York. To appease the Nicolsons, who were furious at the couple’s elopement, a formal ceremony took place December 23, 1934, at the New Jersey mansion of the bride’s godmother. Welles wore a cutaway borrowed from his friend George Macready.[17]:182

By 1935 Welles was supplementing his earnings in the theater as a radio actor in Manhattan, working with many actors who would later form the core of his Mercury Theatre on programs including America’s Hour, Cavalcade of America, Columbia Workshop and The March of Time.[13]:331–332 “Within a year of his debut Welles could claim membership in that elite band of radio actors who commanded salaries second only to the highest paid movie stars,” wrote critic Richard France.[16]:172

Theatre (1936–1938)

Federal Theatre Project

Silkscreen poster for Macbeth (Anthony Velonis)
Poster for Project 891’s production of Horse Eats Hat
Poster for Project 891’s production of The Cradle Will Rock

Macbeth

In 1936, the Federal Theatre Project (part of Roosevelt‘s Works Progress Administration) put unemployed theater performers and employees to work. Welles was hired by John Houseman and assigned to direct a play for the Federal Theatre Project’s Negro Theater Unit. He offered Macbeth.[23] The production became known as the Voodoo Macbeth, because Welles set it in the Haitian court of King Henri Christophe, with voodoo witch doctors for the three Weird Sisters. Jack Carter played Macbeth. Canada Lee, who two years before had rescued Welles from a potentially dangerous scrape with an armed theater-goer, played Banquo.[24] The incidental music was composed by Virgil Thomson. The play opened April 14, 1936, at the Lafayette Theatre in Harlem and was received rapturously. It later toured the nation. When the lead actor, Maurice Ellis, fell ill on tour, Welles quickly boarded an airplane to fly to the location and stepped in to the part, playing in blackface.[25] At 20, Welles was hailed as a prodigy. A few minutes of the Welles production of Macbeth was recorded on film in a 1937 documentary called We Work Again.[26]

Horse Eats Hat

After the success of Macbeth, Welles mounted the farce Horse Eats Hat, an adaptation by Welles and Edwin Denby of Eugène Labiche‘s play, Un Chapeau de Paille d’Italie.[15]:114 The play was presented September 26 – December 5, 1936, at Maxine Elliott’s Theatre, New York.[13]:334 Joseph Cotten was featured in his first starring role.[27]

The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus

Welles consolidated his “White Hope” reputation with Dr. Faustus, which used light as a prime unifying scenic element in a nearly black stage. Faustus was presented January 8 – May 9, 1937, at Maxine Elliott’s Theatre, New York.[13]:335

The Second Hurricane

In 1937 American composer Aaron Copland chose Welles to direct The Second Hurricane, an operetta with a libretto by Edwin Denby, and one of Copland’s least known works. Presented at the Henry Street Settlement Music School in New York for the benefit of high school students, the production opened April 21, 1937, and ran its scheduled three performances.[13]:337 Among the few adult performers in the production was actor Joseph Cotten, Welles’s longtime friend and collaborator, who was paid $10 for his performance.[28]

The Cradle Will Rock

In 1937, Welles rehearsed Marc Blitzstein‘s political operetta, The Cradle Will Rock. It was originally scheduled to open June 16, 1937, in its first public preview. Because of severe federal cutbacks in the Works Progress projects, the show’s premiere at the Maxine Elliott Theatre was canceled. The theater was locked and guarded to prevent any government-purchased materials from being used for a commercial production of the work. In a last-minute move, Welles announced to waiting ticket-holders that the show was being transferred to the Venice, 20 blocks away. Some cast, and some crew and audience, walked the distance on foot. The union musicians refused to perform in a commercial theater for lower non-union government wages. The actors’ union stated that the production belonged to the Federal Theater Project and could not be performed outside that context without permission. Lacking the participation of the union members, The Cradle Will Rock began with Blitzstein introducing the show and playing the piano accompaniment on stage with some cast members performing from the audience. This impromptu performance was well received by its audience. It afterward played at the Venice for two weeks in the same informal way.

Mercury Theatre

Breaking with the Federal Theatre Project in 1937, Welles and Houseman founded their own repertory company, which they called the Mercury Theatre. The name was inspired by the title of the iconoclastic magazine, The American Mercury.[1]:119–120 Welles became executive producer and the repertory company eventually included actors such as Ray Collins, George Coulouris, Joseph Cotten, Dolores del Río, Agnes Moorehead, Erskine Sanford and Everett Sloane, all of whom worked for Welles for years. The first Mercury Theatre production was a melodramatic edited version of William Shakespeare‘s tragedy Julius Caesar, set in a contemporary frame of fascist Italy. Cinna, the Poet dies at the hands not of a mob but of a secret police force. According to Norman Lloyd, who played Cinna the Poet, “it stopped the show.” The applause lasted more than ten minutes and the production was widely acclaimed.

Caesar opened November 11, 1937, followed by The Shoemaker’s Holiday (January 11, 1938), Heartbreak House (April 29, 1938) and Danton’s Death (November 5, 1938).[29]:344

Radio (1936–1940)

Simultaneously with his work in the theatre, Welles worked extensively in radio as an actor, writer, director and producer, often without credit.[29]:77 Between 1935 and 1937 he was earning as much as $2,000 a week, shuttling between radio studios at such a pace that he would arrive barely in time for a quick scan of his lines before he was on the air. While he was directing the Voodoo Macbeth Welles was dashing between Harlem and midtown Manhattan three times a day to meet his radio commitments.[16]:172

“What didn’t I do on the radio?” Welles reflected in February 1983:

Radio is what I love most of all. The wonderful excitement of what could happen in live radio, when everything that could go wrong did go wrong. I was making a couple of thousand a week, scampering in ambulances from studio to studio, and committing much of what I made to support the Mercury. I wouldn’t want to return to those frenetic 20-hour working day years, but I miss them because they are so irredeemably gone.[14]:53

In addition to continuing as a repertory player on The March of Time, in the fall of 1936 Welles adapted and performed Hamlet in an early two-part episode of CBS Radio‘s Columbia Workshop. His performance as the announcer in the series’ April 1937 presentation of Archibald MacLeish‘s verse drama The Fall of the City was an important development in his radio career[29]:78 and made the 21-year-old Welles an overnight star.[30]

In July 1937, the Mutual Network gave Welles a seven-week series to adapt Les Misérables, which he did with great success. Welles developed the idea of telling stories with first-person narration on the series, which was his first job as a writer-director for radio.[13]:338 Les Misérables was one of Welles’s earliest and finest achievements on radio,[31]:160 and marked the radio debut of the Mercury Theatre.

That September, Mutual chose Welles to play Lamont Cranston, also known as The Shadow. He performed the role anonymously through mid-September 1938.[29]:83[32]

The Mercury Theatre on the Air

After the theatrical successes of the Mercury Theatre, CBS Radio invited Orson Welles to create a summer show for 13 weeks. The series began July 11, 1938, initially titled First Person Singular, with the formula that Welles would play the lead in each show. Some months later the show was called The Mercury Theatre on the Air.[33] The weekly hour-long show presented radio plays based on classic literary works, with original music composed and conducted by Bernard Herrmann.

An electrical transcription disk of the Orson Welles War of the Worlds broadcast

The War of the Worlds broadcast

The Mercury Theatre’s radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells October 30, 1938, brought Welles instant fame. The combination of the news bulletin form of the performance with the between-breaks dial spinning habits of listeners was later reported to have created widespread confusion among listeners who failed to hear the introduction, although the extent of this confusion has come into question.[2][34][35][36] Panic was reportedly spread among listeners who believed the fictional news reports of a Martian invasion. The myth of the result created by the combination was reported as fact around the world and disparagingly mentioned by Adolf Hitler in a public speech some months later.[37]

Welles’s growing fame drew Hollywood offers, lures that the independent-minded Welles resisted at first. The Mercury Theatre on the Air, which had been a sustaining show (without sponsorship) was picked up by Campbell Soup and renamed The Campbell Playhouse.[38]

The Campbell Playhouse

As a direct result of the front-page headlines Orson Welles generated with his 1938 Halloween production The War of the Worlds, Campbell’s Soup signed on as sponsor. The Mercury Theatre on the Air made its last broadcast December 4, 1938, and The Campbell Playhouse began December 9, 1938.

Welles began commuting from Hollywood to New York for the two Sunday broadcasts of The Campbell Playhouse after signing a film contract with RKO Pictures in August 1939. In November 1939, production of the show moved from New York to Los Angeles.[13]:353

After 20 shows, Campbell began to exercise more creative control and had complete control over story selection. As his contract with Campbell came to an end, Welles chose not to sign on for another season. After the broadcast of March 31, 1940, Welles and Campbell parted amicably.[1]:221–226

Hollywood (1939–1948)

RKO Radio Pictures president George Schaefer eventually offered Welles what generally is considered the greatest contract offered to an untried director: complete artistic control.

After signing a summary agreement with RKO on July 22, Welles signed a full-length 63-page contract August 21, 1939.[13]:353

RKO signed Welles in a two-picture deal; including script, cast, crew and most importantly, final cut, although Welles had a budget limit for his projects. With this contract in hand, Welles (and nearly the whole Mercury Theatre troupe) moved to Hollywood. He commuted weekly to New York to maintain his commitment to The Campbell Playhouse.

Welles toyed with various ideas for his first project for RKO Radio Pictures, settling on an adaptation of Joseph Conrad‘s Heart of Darkness, which he worked on in detail. He planned to film the action with a subjective camera (a technique later used in the Robert Montgomery film Lady in the Lake). When a budget was drawn up, RKO’s enthusiasm cooled because it was greater than the agreed limit. RKO also declined to approve another Welles project, The Smiler With the Knife, based on the Cecil Day-Lewis novel, ostensibly because RKO executives lacked faith in Lucille Ball‘s ability to carry the film as the leading lady.

Welles’s first experience on a Hollywood film was narrator for RKO’s 1940 production of Swiss Family Robinson.[39]

Citizen Kane

Production

Orson Welles in Citizen Kane (1941)

RKO, having rejected Welles’s first two movie proposals, agreed on the third offer, Citizen Kane, which Welles co-wrote, produced and directed, also performing the lead role.[40]

Welles found a suitable film project in an idea he conceived with screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, (then writing radio plays for The Campbell Playhouse[41]). Initially titled The American, it eventually became Welles’s first feature film (his most famous and honored role), Citizen Kane (1941).

Mankiewicz based the original outline on an exposé of the life of William Randolph Hearst, whom he knew socially and came to hate, having once been great friends with Hearst’s mistress, Marion Davies. Banished from her company because of his perpetual drunkenness, Mankiewicz, a notorious gossip, exacted revenge with his unflattering depiction of Davies in Citizen Kane for which Welles bore most of the criticisms.

Kane’s megalomania was modeled loosely on Robert McCormick, Howard Hughes and Joseph Pulitzer as Welles wanted to create a broad, complex character, intending to show him in the same scenes from several points of view. The use of multiple narrative perspectives in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness influenced the treatment.

Supplying Mankiewicz with 300 pages of notes, Welles urged him to write the first draft screenplay under John Houseman, who was posted to ensure Mankiewicz stayed sober. On Welles’s instruction, Houseman wrote the opening narration as a pastiche of The March of Time newsreels. Orson Welles explained to Peter Bogdanovich about the writers working separately by saying, “I left him on his own finally, because we’d started to waste too much time haggling. So, after mutual agreements on storyline and character, Mank went off with Houseman and did his version, while I stayed in Hollywood and wrote mine.”[13]:54 Taking these drafts, Welles drastically condensed and rearranged them, then added scenes of his own. The industry accused Welles of underplaying Mankiewicz’s contribution to the script, but Welles countered the attacks by saying, “At the end, naturally, I was the one making the picture, after all—who had to make the decisions. I used what I wanted of Mank’s and, rightly or wrongly, kept what I liked of my own.”[13]:54

Charles Foster Kane is based loosely on areas of Hearst’s life. Nonetheless, autobiographical allusions to Welles were worked in, most noticeably in the treatment of Kane’s childhood and particularly, regarding his guardianship. Welles added features from other famous American lives to create a general and mysterious personality, rather than the narrow journalistic portrait drawn by Mankiewicz, whose first drafts included scandalous claims about the death of film director Thomas Ince.

Once the script was complete, Welles attracted some of Hollywood’s best technicians, including cinematographer Gregg Toland, who walked into Welles’s office and announced he wanted to work on the picture. Welles described Toland as “the fastest cameraman who ever lived.”[40] For the cast, Welles primarily used actors from his Mercury Theatre. He invited suggestions from everyone but only if they were directed through him. Filming Citizen Kane took ten weeks.[40]

Reaction

Mankiewicz handed a copy of the shooting script to his friend, Charles Lederer, husband of Welles’s ex-wife, Virginia Nicolson, and the nephew of Hearst’s mistress, Marion Davies. Gossip columnist Hedda Hopper saw a small ad in a newspaper for a preview screening of Citizen Kane and went. Hopper realized immediately that the film was based on features of Hearst’s life. Thus began a struggle, the attempted suppression of Citizen Kane.

Hearst’s media outlets boycotted the film. They exerted enormous pressure on the Hollywood film community by threatening to expose fifteen years of suppressed scandals and the fact that most studio bosses were Jewish. At one point, heads of the major studios jointly offered RKO the cost of the film in exchange for the negative and existing prints, fully intending to burn them. RKO declined, and the film was given a limited release. Hearst intimidated theater chains by threatening to ban advertising for their other films in his papers if they showed Citizen Kane.

The film was well-received critically, with Bosley Crowther, film critic for the New York Times calling it “close to being the most sensational film ever made in Hollywood”.[42] By the time it reached the general public, the publicity had waned. It garnered nine Academy Award nominations (Orson nominated as a producer, director, writer and actor), but won only for Best Original Screenplay, shared by Mankiewicz and Welles. Although it was largely ignored at the Academy Awards, Citizen Kane is now hailed as one of the greatest films ever made. Andrew Sarris called it “the work that influenced the cinema more profoundly than any American film since The Birth of a Nation.”[40]

The delay in its release and uneven distribution contributed to mediocre results at the box office; it earned back its budget and marketing, but RKO lost any chance of a major profit. The fact that Citizen Kane ignored many Hollywood conventions meant that the film confused and angered the 1940s cinema public. Exhibitor response was scathing; most theater owners complained bitterly about the adverse audience reaction and the many walkouts. Only a few saw fit to acknowledge Welles’s artistic technique. RKO shelved the film and did not re-release it until 1956.

During the 1950s, the film came to be seen by young French film critics such as François Truffaut as exemplifying the “auteur theory“, in which the director is the “author” of a film. Truffaut, Godard and others inspired by Welles’s example made their own films, giving birth to the Nouvelle Vague. In the 1960s Citizen Kane became popular on college campuses as a film-study exercise and as an entertainment subject. Its revivals on television, home video and DVD have enhanced its “classic” status and ultimately recouped costs. The film is considered by most film critics and historians to be one of, if not the, greatest motion pictures in cinema history.

The Magnificent Ambersons

Welles’s second film for RKO was The Magnificent Ambersons, adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Booth Tarkington. George Schaefer hoped to make money with this film, since he lost money with Citizen Kane. Ambersons had been adapted for The Campbell Playhouse by Welles, for radio, and Welles then wrote the screen adaptation. Toland was not available, so Stanley Cortez was named cinematographer. The meticulous Cortez worked slowly and the film lagged behind schedule and over budget. Prior to production, Welles’s contract was renegotiated, revoking his right to control the final cut.

Journey into Fear

At RKO’s request, Welles worked on an adaptation of Eric Ambler‘s spy thriller, Journey into Fear, co-written with Joseph Cotten. In addition to acting in the film, Welles was the producer. Direction was credited to Norman Foster. Welles later said that they were in such a rush that the director of each scene was determined by whoever was closest to the camera.

CBS then offered Welles a radio series called the Orson Welles Show. It was a half-hour variety show of short stories, comedy skits, poetry and musical numbers. Joining the original Mercury Theatre cast was Cliff Edwards, the voice of Jiminy Cricket, “on loan from Walt Disney“. The variety format was unpopular with listeners and Welles soon was forced to limit the content of the show to telling one half-hour story for each episode.

War work

It’s All True

To complicate matters during the production of Ambersons and Journey into Fear, Welles was approached by Nelson Rockefeller and Jock Whitney to produce a documentary film about South America. This was at the behest of the federal government’s Good Neighbor policy, a wartime propaganda effort designed to prevent Latin America from allying with the Axis powers. Welles saw his involvement as a national service, since his physical condition excused him from military service.

Expected to film the Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Welles rushed to finish the editing on Ambersons and his acting scenes in Journey into Fear. Ending his CBS radio show, he lashed together a rough cut of Ambersons with Robert Wise, who edited Citizen Kane, and left for Brazil. Wise was to join him in Rio to complete the film, but never arrived. A provisional final cut arranged via phone call, telegram and shortwave radio was previewed without Welles’s approval in Pomona, in a double bill, to a mostly negative audience response, particularly to the character of Aunt Fanny played by Agnes Moorehead. Whereas Schaefer argued that Welles be allowed to complete his version of the film, and that an archival copy be kept with the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, RKO disagreed. With Welles in South America, there was no practical means of his editing the film.

As a result of difficult financial circumstances at RKO in 1940–42, major changes occurred at the studio in 1942[43] Floyd Odlum took control of RKO and began changing its direction. Rockefeller, the most significant backer of the Brazil project, left the RKO board of directors. Around that time, the principal sponsor of Welles at RKO, studio president George Schaefer, resigned. The changes throughout RKO caused reevaluations of projects. RKO took control of Ambersons, formed a committee, which was ordered to edit the film into what the studio considered a commercial format. They removed fifty minutes of Welles’s footage, re-shot sequences, rearranged the scene order, and added a happy ending. Koerner released the shortened film on the bottom of a double-bill with the Lupe Vélez comedy, Mexican Spitfire Sees a Ghost. Ambersons was an expensive flop for RKO, although it received four Academy Award nominations including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress for Agnes Moorehead.

Welles’s South American documentary, entitled It’s All True, budgeted at one million dollars with half of its budget coming from the U.S. Government upon completion, grew in ambition and budget while Welles was in South America. While the film originally was to be a documentary on Carnaval, Welles added a new story, which recreated the journey of the jangadeiros, four poor fishermen who made a 1,500-mile (2,400 km) journey on their open raft to petition Brazilian President Vargas about their working conditions. The four had become national folk heroes; Welles first read of their journey in TIME. Their leader, Jacare, died in a filming mishap. RKO, in limited contact with Welles, attempted to rein in the production. Most of the crew and budget were withdrawn from the film. In addition, the Mercury staff was removed from the studio in the U.S.

Welles requested resources to finish the film. He was given a limited amount of black-and-white film stock and a silent camera. He completed the sequence, but RKO refused to support further production on the film. Surviving footage was released in 1993, including a rough reconstruction of the “Four Men on a Raft” segment. Meanwhile, RKO asserted in public that Welles had gone to Brazil without a screenplay and had squandered a million dollars. Their official company slogan for the next year was, “Showmanship in place of Genius” – which was taken as a slight against Welles.

On returning to Hollywood, Welles next worked on radio. CBS offered him two weekly series, Hello Americans, based on the research he had done in Brazil, and Ceiling Unlimited, sponsored by Lockheed, a wartime salute to advances in aviation. Both featured several members of his original Mercury Theatre troupe. Within months, Hello Americans was canceled and Welles was replaced as host of Ceiling Unlimited by Joseph Cotten. Welles guest-starred on a variety of shows, notably guest-hosting Jack Benny shows for a month in 1943. He took an increasingly active role in American and international politics and used journalism to communicate his forceful ideas widely.

In 1943, Welles married Rita Hayworth. They had one child, Rebecca Welles, and divorced five years later in 1948. In between, Welles found work as an actor in other films. He starred in the 1944 film adaptation of Jane Eyre, trading credit as associate producer for top billing over Joan Fontaine.

He had a cameo in the 1944 wartime salute Follow the Boys, in which he performed his Mercury Wonder Show magic act and “sawed” Marlene Dietrich in half after Columbia Pictures head Harry Cohn refused to allow Hayworth to perform.

In 1944, Welles was offered a new radio show, broadcast on the Columbia Pacific Network, The Orson Welles Almanac. It was a half-hour variety show, with Mobil Oil as sponsor. After the success of his stand-in hosting on The Jack Benny Show, the focus was primarily on comedy. His hosting on the Jack Benny show included self-deprecating jokes and story lines about his being a “genius” and overriding ideas advanced by other cast members. The trade papers were not eager to accept Welles as a comedian, and Welles complained on-air about the poor quality of the scripts. When Welles started his Mercury Wonder Show a few months later, traveling to armed forces camps and performing magic tricks and comedy, the radio show was broadcast live from the camps and the material took on a decidedly wartime flavor.

While he found no studio willing to hire him as a director, Welles’s popularity as an actor continued. Cresta Blanca Wines gave Welles its radio series This Is My Best to direct, but after a month he was fired for creative differences. He started writing a political column for the New York Post, called Orson Welles’s Almanac. While the paper wanted Welles to write about Hollywood gossip, Welles explored serious political issues. His activism for world peace took considerable amounts of his time. The Post column eventually failed in syndication because of contradictory expectations and was dropped by the Post.

Post-war work

The Stranger

Director and star Orson Welles at work on The Stranger (October 1945)

In 1946, International Pictures released Welles’s film The Stranger, starring Edward G. Robinson, Loretta Young and Welles. Sam Spiegel produced the film, which follows the hunt for a Nazi war criminal living under an alias in the United States. While Anthony Veiller was credited with the screenplay, it was rewritten by Welles and John Huston. Disputes occurred during editing between Spiegel and Welles. The film was a box office success and it helped his standing with the studios.

Around the World

In the summer of 1946, Welles directed Around the World, a musical stage adaptation of the Jules Verne novel Around the World in Eighty Days with the book by Welles and music by Cole Porter. Producer Mike Todd, who would later produce the successful 1956 film adaptation, pulled out from the lavish and expensive Broadway production, leaving Welles to support the finances. When Welles ran out of money he convinced Columbia Pictures president Harry Cohn to send enough money to continue the show, and in exchange Welles promised to write, produce, direct and star in a film for Cohn for no further fee. The stage show soon failed due to poor box-office, with Welles unable to claim the losses on his taxes. The complex financial arrangements — concerning the show, its losses, and Welles’s arrangement with Cohn — resulted in a tax dispute between Welles and the IRS.

Radio series

In 1946, Welles began two new radio series — The Mercury Summer Theatre on the Air for CBS, and Orson Welles Commentaries for ABC. While Mercury Summer Theatre featured half-hour adaptations of some classic Mercury radio shows from the 1930s, the first episode was a condensation of his Around the World stage play, and is the only record of Cole Porter’s music for the project. Several original Mercury actors returned for the series, as well as Bernard Herrmann. It was only scheduled for the summer months, and Welles invested his earnings into his failing stage play. Commentaries was a political vehicle for him, continuing the themes from his New York Post column. Again, Welles lacked a clear focus, until the NAACP brought to his attention the case of Isaac Woodard. Welles brought significant attention to Woodard’s cause. Soon Welles was hanged in effigy in the South and theaters refused to show The Stranger in several southern states.

The Lady from Shanghai

The film that Welles was obliged to make in exchange for Harry Cohn’s help in financing the stage production Around the World was The Lady from Shanghai, filmed in 1947 for Columbia Pictures. Intended as a modest thriller, the budget skyrocketed after Cohn suggested that Welles’s then-estranged second wife Rita Hayworth co-star.

Orson Welles in The Lady from Shanghai (1947)

Cohn disliked Welles’s rough-cut, particularly the confusing plot and lack of close-ups, and was not in sympathy with Welles’s Brechtian use of irony and black comedy, especially in a farcical courtroom scene. Cohn ordered extensive editing and re-shoots. After heavy editing by the studio, approximately one hour of Welles’s first cut was removed, including much of a climactic confrontation scene in an amusement park funhouse. While expressing displeasure at the cuts, Welles was appalled particularly with the musical score. The film was considered a disaster in America at the time of release, though the closing shootout in a hall of mirrors has since become a touchstone of film noir. Not long after release, Welles and Hayworth finalized their divorce.

Although The Lady From Shanghai was acclaimed in Europe, it was not embraced in the U.S. until decades later. Influential modern critics including David Kehr declared it a masterpiece, with Kehr calling it “the weirdest great movie ever made.” A similar difference in reception on opposite sides of the Atlantic followed by greater American acceptance befell the Welles-inspired Chaplin film Monsieur Verdoux, originally to be directed by Welles starring Chaplin, then directed by Chaplin with the idea credited to Welles.

Macbeth

Prior to 1948, Welles convinced Republic Pictures to let him direct a low-budget version of Macbeth, which featured highly stylized sets and costumes, and a cast of actors lip-syncing to a pre-recorded soundtrack, one of many innovative cost-cutting techniques Welles deployed in an attempt to make an epic film from B-movie resources. The script, adapted by Welles, is a violent reworking of Shakespeare’s original, freely cutting and pasting lines into new contexts via a collage technique and recasting Macbeth as a clash of pagan and proto-Christian ideologies. Some voodoo trappings of the famous Welles/Houseman Negro Theatre stage adaptation are visible, especially in the film’s characterization of the Weird Sisters, who create an effigy of Macbeth as a charm to enchant him. Of all Welles’s post-Kane Hollywood productions, Macbeth is stylistically closest to Citizen Kane in its long takes and deep focus photography. Shots of the increasingly isolated Scottish king looming in the foreground while characters address him from deep in the background overtly reference Kane.

Republic initially trumpeted the film as an important work but decided it did not care for the Scottish accents and held up general release for almost a year after early negative press reaction, including Life ‘s comment that Welles’s film “doth foully slaughter Shakespeare.”[44] Welles left for Europe, while co-producer and lifelong supporter Richard Wilson reworked the soundtrack. Welles returned and cut twenty minutes from the film at Republic’s request and recorded narration to cover some gaps. The film was decried as a disaster. Macbeth had influential fans in Europe, especially the French poet and filmmaker Jean Cocteau, who hailed the film’s “crude, irreverent power” and careful shot design, and described the characters as haunting “the corridors of some dreamlike subway, an abandoned coal mine, and ruined cellars oozing with water.”[45]

In the late 1970s, a fully restored version of Macbeth was released that followed Welles’s original vision, and all prints of the truncated theatrical release have gradually been withdrawn from circulation, turning Welles’s compulsory recut version—which has the distinction of being created by the director himself—into something of a lost work.

Europe (1948–1956)

Welles left Hollywood for Europe in late 1947, enigmatically saying that he had chosen “freedom.” In Italy he starred as Cagliostro in the 1948 film Black Magic. His co-star, Akim Tamiroff, impressed Welles so much that Tamiroff would appear in four of Welles’s productions during the 1950s and 1960s.

The Third Man

The following year, Welles starred as Harry Lime in Carol Reed‘s The Third Man, alongside Joseph Cotten, his friend and co-star from Citizen Kane, with a script by Graham Greene and a memorable score by Anton Karas. The film was an international smash hit, but unfortunately for Welles, he turned down a percentage of the gross in exchange for a lump-sum advance.

The film is also memorable for a scene that has entered Hollywood lore, an unscripted monologue Welles inserted that took director Reed completely by surprise. Talking to Joseph Cotton in a carriage atop a Ferris wheel, Lime says: “Don’t be so gloomy. After all it’s not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

A few years later, British radio producer Harry Alan Towers would resurrect the Lime character in the radio series The Lives of Harry Lime. The 1951 series included new recordings by Karas and was very successful, running for 52 weeks. Welles claimed to have written a handful of episodes—a claim disputed by Towers, who maintains that they were written by Ernest Borneman—which later served as the basis for the screenplay by Welles, Mr. Arkadin (1955).

Welles appeared as Cesare Borgia in the 1949 Italian film Prince of Foxes, with Tyrone Power and Mercury Theatre alumnus Everett Sloane, and as the Mongol warrior Bayan in the 1950 film version of the novel The Black Rose (again with Tyrone Power). [46]

Othello

During this time, Welles was channeling his money from acting jobs into a self-financed film version of Shakespeare’s play Othello. From 1949 to 1951, Welles worked on Othello, filming on location in Europe and Morocco. The film featured Welles’s friends, Micheál Mac Liammóir as Iago and Hilton Edwards as Desdemona‘s father Brabantio. Suzanne Cloutier starred as Desdemona and Campbell Playhouse alumnus Robert Coote appeared as Iago’s associate Roderigo.

Filming was suspended several times as Welles ran out of funds and left for acting jobs, accounted in detail in MacLiammóir’s published memoir Put Money in Thy Purse. When it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival it won the Palme d’Or, but the film did not receive a general release in the United States until 1955 (by which time Welles had re-cut the first reel and re-dubbed most of the film, removing Cloutier’s voice entirely), and it played only in New York and Los Angeles. The American release prints had a technically flawed soundtrack, suffering from a drop-out of sound at every quiet moment. Welles’s daughter, Beatrice Welles-Smith, restored Othello in 1992 for a wide re-release. The restoration included reconstructing Angelo Francesco Lavagnino‘s original musical score, which was originally inaudible, and adding ambient stereo sound effects, which were not in the original film. The restoration went on to a successful theatrical run in America. A print of the U.S. version was released on laserdisc in 1995 but soon withdrawn after a legal challenge by Beatrice Welles-Smith. The original Cannes version has survived but is not available commercially.

In 1952, Welles continued finding work in England after the success of the Harry Lime radio show. Harry Alan Towers offered Welles another series, The Black Museum, which ran for 52 weeks with Welles as host and narrator. Director Herbert Wilcox offered Welles the part of the murdered victim in Trent’s Last Case, based on the novel by E. C. Bentley. In 1953, the BBC hired Welles to read an hour of selections from Walt Whitman‘s epic poem Song of Myself. Towers hired Welles again, to play Professor Moriarty in the radio series, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, starring John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson.

Welles briefly returned to America to make his first appearance on television, starring in the Omnibus presentation of King Lear, broadcast live on CBS October 18, 1953. Directed by Peter Brook, the production costarred Natasha Parry, Beatrice Straight and Arnold Moss.[47] While Welles received good notices, he was guarded by IRS agents, prohibited to leave his hotel room when not at the studio, prevented from making any purchases, and forced to turn over the entire sum (less expenses) he earned, all of which went to his tax bill.

In 1954, director George More O’Ferrall offered Welles the title role in the ‘Lord Mountdrago’ segment of Three Cases of Murder, co-starring Alan Badel. Herbert Wilcox cast Welles as the antagonist in Trouble in the Glen opposite Margaret Lockwood, Forrest Tucker and Victor McLaglen. Old friend John Huston cast him as Father Mapple in his 1956 film adaptation of Herman Melville‘s Moby-Dick, starring Gregory Peck.

Mr. Arkadin

Welles in Madrid during the filming of Mr. Arkadin in 1954

Welles’s next turn as director was the film Mr. Arkadin (1955), which was produced by his political mentor from the 1940s, Louis Dolivet. It was filmed in France, Germany, Spain and Italy on a very limited budget. Based loosely on several episodes of the Harry Lime radio show, it stars Welles as a billionaire who hires a man to delve into the secrets of his past. The film stars Robert Arden, who had worked on the Harry Lime series; Welles’s third wife, Paola Mori, whose voice was dubbed by actress Billie Whitelaw; and guest stars Akim Tamiroff, Michael Redgrave, Katina Paxinou and Mischa Auer. Frustrated by his slow progress in the editing room, producer Dolivet removed Welles from the project and finished the film without him. Eventually five different versions of the film would be released, two in Spanish and three in English. The version that Dolivet completed was retitled Confidential Report. In 2005 Stefan Droessler of the Munich Film Museum oversaw a reconstruction of the surviving film elements. Included in a DVD box set (The Complete Mr. Arkadin) released by The Criterion Collection, it is considered by Welles scholar and director Peter Bogdanovich to be the best version of Welles’s original intentions for the film.

In 1955, Welles also directed two television series for the BBC. The first was Orson Welles’ Sketch Book, a series of six 15-minute shows featuring Welles drawing in a sketchbook to illustrate his reminiscences for the camera (including such topics as the filming of It’s All True and the Isaac Woodard case), and the second was Around the World with Orson Welles, a series of six travelogues set in different locations around Europe (such as Venice, the Basque Country between France and Spain, and England). Welles served as host and interviewer, his commentary including documentary facts and his own personal observations (a technique he would continue to explore in later works). A seventh episode of this series, based on the Gaston Dominici case, was suppressed at the time by the French government, but was reconstructed after Welles’s death and released to video in 1999.

In 1956, Welles completed Portrait of Gina. Dissatisfied with the results—Welles recalled he had worked on it a lot and the result looked like it—he left the only print behind at the Ritz Hotel in Paris.} The film cans would remain in a lost-and-found locker at the hotel for several decades, where they were discovered after Welles’s death. The work posthumously aired on German television under the title Viva Italia, a 30-minute personal essay on Gina Lollobrigida and the general subject of Italian sex symbols.

Return to Hollywood (1956–1959)

Welles the magician with Lucille Ball in I Love Lucy (October 15, 1956)

In 1956, Welles returned to Hollywood, guesting on radio shows, notably as narrator of Tomorrow, a nuclear holocaust drama produced by the Federal Civil Defense Administration. He guest starred on television shows including I Love Lucy, and began filming a projected pilot for Desilu, owned by Lucille Ball and her husband Desi Arnaz, who had recently purchased the former RKO studios. The film was The Fountain of Youth, based on a story by John Collier. Originally deemed not viable as a pilot, the film was not aired until 1958 — and won the Peabody Award for excellence. Welles’s next feature film role was in Man in the Shadow for Universal Pictures in 1957, starring Jeff Chandler. Around this time period Welles began to suffer from weight problems that would eventually cause a deterioration in his health.

Touch of Evil

Welles as corrupt police captain Hank Quinlan in Touch of Evil (1958)

Welles stayed on at Universal to direct (and co-star with) Charlton Heston in the 1958 film Touch of Evil, based on Whit Masterson‘s novel Badge of Evil. Welles, who wrote the screenplay for the film, claimed never to have read the book. Originally only hired as an actor, Welles was promoted to director by Universal Studios at the insistence of Charlton Heston.[48]:154 The film reunited many actors and technicians with whom Welles had worked in Hollywood in the 1940s, including cameraman Russell Metty (The Stranger), makeup artist Maurice Seiderman (Citizen Kane), and actors Joseph Cotten, Marlene Dietrich and Akim Tamiroff). Filming proceeded smoothly, with Welles finishing on schedule and on budget, and the studio bosses praising the daily rushes. Nevertheless, after the end of production, the studio re-edited the film, re-shot scenes, and shot new exposition scenes to clarify the plot.[48]:175–176 Welles wrote a 58-page memo outlining suggestions and objections, stating that the film was no longer his version—it was the studio’s, but as such, he was still prepared to help with it.[48]:175–176 The studio followed a few of the ideas, but cut another 30 minutes from the film and released it. The film was widely praised across Europe, and was awarded the top prize at the Brussels World’s Fair.

In 1978, a longer preview version of the film was discovered and released. In 1998, editor Walter Murch and producer Rick Schmidlin, consulting Welles’s memo, used a workprint version to attempt to create a version of the film as close as possible to that outlined by Welles in the memo.

As Universal reworked Touch of Evil, Welles began filming his adaptation of Miguel de Cervantes‘ novel Don Quixote in Mexico, starring Mischa Auer as Quixote and Akim Tamiroff as Sancho Panza. While filming would continue in fits and starts for several years, Welles would never complete the project.

Welles continued acting, notably in The Long, Hot Summer (1958) and Compulsion (1959), but soon returned to Europe.

Return to Europe (1959–1970)

He continued shooting Don Quixote in Spain and Italy, but replaced Mischa Auer with Francisco Reiguera, and resumed acting jobs. In Italy in 1959, Welles directed his own scenes as King Saul in Richard Pottier’s film David and Goliath. In Hong Kong he co-starred with Curt Jürgens in Lewis Gilbert‘s film Ferry to Hong Kong. In 1960, in Paris he co-starred in Richard Fleischer‘s film Crack in the Mirror. In Yugoslavia he starred in Richard Thorpe‘s film The Tartars and Veljko Bulajić‘s “Battle of Neretva“.

Throughout the 1960s, filming continued on Quixote on-and-off until the decade, as Welles evolved the concept, tone and ending several times. Although he had a complete version of the film shot and edited at least once, he would continue toying with the editing well into the 1980s, he never completed a version film he was fully satisfied with, and would junk existing footage and shoot new footage. (In one case, he had a complete cut ready in which Quixote and Sancho Panza end up going to the moon, but he felt the ending was rendered obsolete by the 1969 moon landings, and burned 10 reels of this version.) As the process went on, Welles gradually voiced all of the characters himself and provided narration. In 1992, the director Jesús Franco constructed a film out of the portions of Quixote left behind by Welles. Some of the film stock had decayed badly. While the Welles footage was greeted with interest, the post-production by Franco was met with harsh criticism.

Welles being interviewed in 1960

In 1961, Welles directed In the Land of Don Quixote, a series of eight half-hour episodes for the Italian television network RAI. Similar to the Around the World with Orson Welles series, they presented travelogues of Spain and included Welles’s wife, Paola, and their daughter, Beatrice. Though Welles was fluent in Italian, the network was not interested in him providing Italian narration because of his accent, and the series sat unreleased until 1964, by which time the network had added Italian narration of its own. Ultimately, versions of the episodes were released with the original musical score Welles had approved, but without the narration.

The Trial

In 1962, Welles directed his adaptation of The Trial, based on the novel by Franz Kafka and produced by Alexander Salkind and Michael Salkind. The cast included Anthony Perkins as Josef K, Jeanne Moreau, Romy Schneider, Paola Mori and Akim Tamiroff. While filming exteriors in Zagreb, Welles was informed that the Salkinds had run out of money, meaning that there could be no set construction. No stranger to shooting on found locations, Welles soon filmed the interiors in the Gare d’Orsay, at that time an abandoned railway station in Paris. Welles thought the location possessed a “Jules Verne modernism” and a melancholy sense of “waiting”, both suitable for Kafka. The film failed at the box-office. Peter Bogdanovich would later observe that Welles found the film riotously funny. During the filming, Welles met Oja Kodar, who would later become his muse, star and mistress for the last twenty years of his life. Welles also stated in an interview with the BBC that it was his best film.[49]

Welles played a film director in La Ricotta (1963)—Pier Paolo Pasolini‘s segment of the Ro.Go.Pa.G. movie, although his renowned voice was dubbed by Italian writer Giorgio Bassani.[13]:516 He continued taking what work he could find acting, narrating or hosting other people’s work, and began filming Chimes at Midnight, which was completed in 1966. Filmed in Spain, it was a condensation of five Shakespeare plays, telling the story of Falstaff and his relationship with Prince Hal. The cast included Keith Baxter, John Gielgud, Jeanne Moreau, Fernando Rey and Margaret Rutherford, with narration by Ralph Richardson. Music was again by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino. Jess Franco served as second unit director.

Chimes at Midnight

Welles during the production of the stage version of Chimes at Midnight in 1960

Chimes at Midnight was based on Welles’s play Five Kings which condensed five of Shakespeare’s plays into one show in order to focus on the story of Falstaff. Welles produced the show in New York in 1939 but the opening night, where part 1 was acted, was a disaster and part 2 was never put on. He revamped the show and revisited it in 1960 at the Gate Theatre in Dublin. But again, it was not successful. However, this later production was used as the base for the movie. The script contained text from five plays: primarily Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2, but also Richard II, Henry V and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Keith Baxter played Prince Hal, and internationally respected Shakespearean interpreter, John Gielgud, played the King, Henry IV. The film’s narration, spoken by Ralph Richardson, is taken from the chronicler Raphael Holinshed. According to Jeanne Moreau, Welles delayed filming for two weeks due to stage fright. Welles held this film in high regard and considered it, along with The Trial, his best work. As he remarked in 1982, “If I wanted to get into heaven on the basis of one movie, that’s the one I’d offer up.”[50]

In 1966, Welles directed a film for French television, an adaptation of The Immortal Story, by Karen Blixen. Released in 1968, it stars Jeanne Moreau, Roger Coggio and Norman Eshley. The film had a successful run in French theaters. At this time Welles met Oja Kodar again, and gave her a letter he had written to her and had been keeping for four years; they would not be parted again. They immediately began a collaboration both personal and professional. The first of these was an adaptation of Blixen’s The Heroine, meant to be a companion piece to The Immortal Story and starring Kodar. Unfortunately, funding disappeared after one day’s shooting. After completing this film, he appeared in a brief cameo as Cardinal Wolsey in Fred Zinnemann‘s adaptation of A Man for All Seasons—a role for which he won considerable acclaim.

Sergei Bondarchuk and Orson Welles at the premiere of The Battle of Neretva in Sarajevo (November 1969)

In 1967, Welles began directing The Deep, based on the novel Dead Calm by Charles Williams and filmed off the shore of Yugoslavia. The cast included Jeanne Moreau, Laurence Harvey and Kodar. Personally financed by Welles and Kodar, they could not obtain the funds to complete the project, and it was abandoned a few years later after the death of Harvey. The surviving footage was eventually edited and released by the Filmmuseum München. In 1968 Welles began filming a TV special for CBS under the title Orson’s Bag, combining travelogue, comedy skits and a condensation of Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice with Welles as Shylock. Funding for the show sent by CBS to Welles in Switzerland was seized by the IRS. Without funding, the show was not completed. The surviving film clips portions were eventually released by the Filmmuseum München.

In 1969, Welles authorized the use of his name for a cinema in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Orson Welles Cinema remained in operation until 1986, with Welles making a personal appearance there in 1977. Also in 1969 he played a supporting role in John Huston‘s The Kremlin Letter. Drawn by the numerous offers he received to work in television and films, and upset by a tabloid scandal reporting his affair with Kodar, Welles abandoned the editing of Don Quixote and moved back to America in 1970.

Later career (1970–1985)

Welles returned to Hollywood, where he continued to self-finance his film and television projects. While offers to act, narrate and host continued, Welles also found himself in great demand on television talk shows. He made frequent appearances for Dick Cavett, Johnny Carson, Dean Martin and Merv Griffin.

Welles’s primary focus during his final years was The Other Side of the Wind, an unfinished project that was filmed intermittently between 1970 and 1976. Written by Welles, it is the story of an aging film director (John Huston) looking for funds to complete his final film. The cast includes Peter Bogdanovich, Susan Strasberg, Norman Foster, Edmond O’Brien, Cameron Mitchell and Dennis Hopper. Financed by Iranian backers, ownership of the film fell into a legal quagmire after the Shah of Iran was deposed. While there have been several reports of all the legal disputes concerning ownership of the film being settled, enough disputes still exist to prevent its release.

Welles portrayed Louis XVIII of France in the 1970 film Waterloo, and narrated the beginning and ending scenes of the historical comedy Start the Revolution Without Me (1970).

In 1971, Welles directed a short adaptation of Moby-Dick, a one-man performance on a bare stage, reminiscent of his 1955 stage production Moby Dick—Rehearsed. Never completed, it was eventually released by the Filmmuseum München. He also appeared in Ten Days’ Wonder, co-starring with Anthony Perkins and directed by Claude Chabrol, based on a detective novel by Ellery Queen. That same year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gave him an honorary award “For superlative artistry and versatility in the creation of motion pictures”. Welles pretended to be out of town and sent John Huston to claim the award, thanking the Academy on film. Huston criticized the Academy for awarding Welles, even while they refused to give Welles any work.

In 1972, Welles acted as on-screen narrator for the film documentary version of Alvin Toffler‘s 1970 book Future Shock. Working again for a British producer, Welles played Long John Silver in director John Hough‘s Treasure Island (1972), an adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson novel, which had been the second story broadcast by The Mercury Theatre on the Air in 1938. This was the last time he played the lead role in a major film. Welles also contributed to the script, his writing credit was attributed to the pseudonym ‘O. W. Jeeves’. Some of Welles’ original recorded dialog was redubbed by Robert Rietty.

Orson Welles in F for Fake (1973), a film essay and the last film he completed.

In 1973, Welles completed F for Fake, a personal essay film about art forger Elmyr de Hory and the biographer Clifford Irving. Based on an existing documentary by François Reichenbach, it included new material with Oja Kodar, Joseph Cotten, Paul Stewart and William Alland. An excerpt of Welles’s 1930s War of the Worlds broadcast was recreated for this film; however, none of the dialogue heard in the film actually matches what was originally broadcast. Welles filmed a five-minute trailer, rejected in the U.S., that featured several shots of a topless Kodar.

Welles hosted and narrated a syndicated anthology series, Orson Welles’s Great Mysteries, over the 1973–1974 television season. It did not last beyond that season; however, the program could be perceived as a television revival of the Mercury Theatre whose executive producer Welles had been in the 1930s and 1940s. The year 1974 also saw Welles lending his voice for that year’s remake of Agatha Christie‘s classic thriller Ten Little Indians produced by his former associate, Harry Alan Towers and starring an international cast that included Oliver Reed, Elke Sommer and Herbert Lom.

In 1975, Welles narrated the documentary Bugs Bunny: Superstar, focusing on Warner Bros. cartoons from the 1940s. Also in 1975, the American Film Institute presented Welles with its third Lifetime Achievement Award (the first two going to director John Ford and actor James Cagney). At the ceremony, Welles screened two scenes from the nearly finished The Other Side of the Wind.

In 1976, Paramount Television purchased the rights for the entire set of Rex Stout‘s Nero Wolfe stories for Orson Welles.[51][52] Welles had once wanted to make a series of Nero Wolfe movies, but Rex Stout – who was leery of Hollywood adaptations during his lifetime after two disappointing 1930s films – turned him down.[53] Paramount planned to begin with an ABC-TV movie and hoped to persuade Welles to continue the role in a mini-series.[54] Frank D. Gilroy was signed to write the television script and direct the TV movie on the assurance that Welles would star, but by April 1977 Welles had bowed out.[55] In 1980 the Associated Press reported “the distinct possibility” that Welles would star in a Nero Wolfe TV series for NBC television.[56] Again, Welles bowed out of the project due to creative differences and William Conrad was cast in the role.[57]

In 1979, Welles completed his documentary Filming Othello, which featured Michael MacLiammoir and Hilton Edwards. Made for West German television, it was also released in theaters. That same year, Welles completed his self-produced pilot for The Orson Welles Show television series, featuring interviews with Burt Reynolds, Jim Henson and Frank Oz and guest-starring The Muppets and Angie Dickinson. Unable to find network interest, the pilot was never broadcast. Also in 1979, Welles appeared in the biopic The Secret of Nikola Tesla, and a cameo in The Muppet Movie as Lew Lord.

Beginning in the late 1970s, Welles participated in a series of famous television commercial advertisements. For two years he was on-camera spokesman for the Paul Masson Vineyards,[58] and sales grew by one third during the time Welles intoned what became a popular catchphrase: “We will sell no wine before its time.”[59] He was also the voice behind the long-running Carlsberg “Probably the best lager in the world” campaign,[60] promoted Domecq sherry on British television[61] and provided narration on adverts for Findus, though the actual adverts have been overshadowed by a famous blooper reel of voice recordings, known as the Frozen Peas reel.

In 1981, Welles hosted the documentary The Man Who Saw Tomorrow, about Renaissance-era prophet Nostradamus. In 1982, the BBC broadcast The Orson Welles Story in the Arena series. Interviewed by Leslie Megahey, Welles examined his past in great detail, and several people from his professional past were interviewed as well. It was reissued in 1990 as With Orson Welles: Stories of a Life in Film. Welles provided narration for the tracks “Defender” from Manowar‘s album Fighting the World and “Dark Avenger” on Manowar‘s 1982 album, Battle Hymns. His name was misspelled on the latter album, as he was credited as “Orson Wells”.[62]

During the 1980s, Welles worked on such film projects as The Dreamers, based on two stories by Isak Dinesen and starring Oja Kodar, and Orson Welles’ Magic Show, which reused material from his failed TV pilot. Another project he worked on was Filming The Trial, the second in a proposed series of documentaries examining his feature films. While much was shot for these projects, none of them was completed. All of them were eventually released by the Filmmuseum München.

In 1984, Welles narrated the short-lived television series Scene of the Crime. During the early years of Magnum, P.I., Welles was the voice of the unseen character Robin Masters, a famous writer and playboy. Welles’s death forced this minor character to largely be written out of the series. In an oblique homage to Welles, the Magnum, P.I. producers ambiguously concluded that story arc by having one character accuse another of having hired an actor to portray Robin Masters.[63] He also, in this penultimate year released a music single, titled “I Know What It Is To Be Young (But You Don’t Know What It Is To Be Old)”, which he recorded under Italian label Compagnia Generale del Disco. The song was performed with the Nick Perito Orchestra and the Ray Charles Singers and produced by Jerry Abbott who was father to famed metal guitarist Dimebag Darrell.[64]

The last film roles before Welles’s death included voice work in the animated films The Enchanted Journey (1984) and The Transformers: The Movie (1986), in which he played the planet-eating robot Unicron. His last film appearance was in Henry Jaglom‘s 1987 independent film Someone to Love, released after his death but produced before his voice-over in Transformers: The Movie. His last television appearance was on the television show Moonlighting. He recorded an introduction to an episode entitled “The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice”, which was partially filmed in black and white. The episode aired five days after his death and was dedicated to his memory.

In the mid-1980s, Henry Jaglom taped lunch conversations with Welles at Los Angeles’s Ma Maison as well as in New York. Edited transcripts of these sessions appear in Peter Biskind‘s 2013 book My Lunches With Orson: Conversations Between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles.[65]

Personal life

Relationships and family

Orson Welles and Chicago-born actress and socialite Virginia Nicolson (1916–1996) were married November 14, 1934.[13]:332 The couple divorced February 1, 1940.[66][67]

Welles fell in love with Mexican actress Dolores del Río, ten years his senior, with whom he was involved between 1938 and 1942.[68] They acted together in the movie Journey into Fear (1943) but the affair ended soon after filming ended. Rebecca Welles, the daughter of Welles and Hayworth, met Del Rio in 1954 and said, “My father considered her the great love of his life … She was a living legend in the history of my family”.[69]

Welles with Dolores del Río after the premiere of Citizen Kane (1941).

Welles married Rita Hayworth in 1943. The couple became estranged by 1946 – Welles blamed Hayworth for making unfounded accusations of infidelity, and after he was turned out of the marital bed he then actually started to have affairs, which in turn prompted Hayworth to have affairs of her own. They briefly reconciled in 1947 during the making of The Lady from Shanghai, before finally separating. In 1948 Hayworth filed for divorce, her reason to the press being, “I can’t take his genius any more.”[70] During his last interview and only five hours before his death, Welles answered Merv Griffin‘s suggestive comment “But one of your wives—oh, I have envied you so many years for Rita Hayworth”, by calling her “one of the dearest and sweetest women that ever lived” and saying that he was “lucky enough to have been with her longer than any of the other men in her life.”[71]

In 1955, Welles married actress Paola Mori (née Countess Paola di Girifalco), an Italian aristocrat who starred as Raina Arkadin in his 1955 film, Mr. Arkadin. The couple had embarked on a passionate affair, and after she became pregnant they were married at her parents’ insistence.[17]:168 They were wed in London May 8, 1955,[13]:417, 419 and never divorced.

Croatian-born actress Oja Kodar became Welles’s longtime companion both personally and professionally from 1966 onwards, and they lived together for some of the last 19 years of his life. They first met in Zagreb in 1962, while Welles was filming The Trial, and embarked on a passionate, short-lived affair which ended when Paola Mori had a cancer scare and Welles returned to his wife. Kodar assumed Welles had left for good, and Welles hired a private detective to track down Kodar, to no avail. Three years passed, and Kodar was by then living in Paris and in a relationship with a struggling young actor. When they saw a press feature that Welles was in Paris, the young actor persuaded a reluctant Kodar to use her influence with Welles to get him a job. When she telephoned him, Welles immediately rushed to her hotel room, broke down the door, and pulled out a small metal box from his jacket. It contained a love letter to her. He had been carrying it every day for the last three years, in case he might meet her again one day.

With the passing years, Welles’s domestic arrangements became more complicated. From 1966 he always maintained at least two separate homes, one with Kodar, the other with Mori and their daughter Beatrice. In the 1960s and 1970s, he shared houses just outside Paris and Madrid with Kodar. Although British tabloids reported his affair with Kodar as early as 1969 (which was a factor in his moving permanently to the United States in 1970), both Mori and Beatrice remained oblivious as to Kodar’s existence until 1984. Welles set up a home with Mori and Beatrice in the United States (first in Sedona, then in Las Vegas), ostensibly because the climate would be good for his asthma. But while they lived in Las Vegas, he spent most of his time in Los Angeles, where he openly shared a house with Kodar. When Mori found out about Kodar in 1984, she threw him out of their Las Vegas house, and she and Beatrice did not see him for the last year of his life, although they still talked regularly on the telephone.

This situation had serious ramifications for the copyright status of his work after his death. Welles left Kodar his Los Angeles home and the rights to his unfinished films, and turned the rest over to Mori. Mori contended that she should have been left everything, and a year after Welles’s death, Mori and Kodar finally agreed on the settlement of his will. On the way to their meeting to sign the papers, however, Mori was killed in a car accident in August 1986. Mori’s half of the estate was inherited by Beatrice, who refused to come to an arrangement with Kodar, who she blames for undermining her parents’ marriage. Legal wranglings between the two have persisted for over 25 years, leading to complex ongoing legal battles over who owns his unfinished films.

Welles had three daughters from his marriages: Christopher Welles Feder (born March 27, 1938, with Virginia Nicolson); Rebecca Welles Manning (December 17, 1944 – October 14, 2004,[72] with Rita Hayworth); and Beatrice Welles (born November 13, 1955, with Paola Mori). His only known son, British director Michael Lindsay-Hogg (Sir Michael Lindsay-Hogg, 5th baronet, born May 5, 1940), is from Welles’s affair with Irish actress Geraldine Fitzgerald, then the wife of Sir Edward Lindsay-Hogg, 4th baronet. Although Hogg knew Welles sporadically and occasionally worked as his assistant, and had long been rumoured to be his son given their strong physical resemblance, he refused to believe such rumours until he eventually took a paternity test in 2010.[73] In her autobiography, In My Father’s Shadow, Feder wrote about being a childhood friend and neighbor of Lindsay-Hogg’s and always suspecting he might be her half-brother.[74]

After the death of Rebecca Welles Manning, a man named Marc McKerrow was revealed to be her biological son, and therefore the direct descendant of Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth. McKerrow’s reactions to the revelation and his meeting with Oja Kodar are documented in the 2008 film Prodigal Sons.[75] McKerrow died June 18, 2010.[76]

Despite an urban legend promoted by Welles himself, he was not related to Abraham Lincoln’s wartime Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles. The myth dates back to 1944 when, bantering with Lucille Ball on The Orson Welles Almanac before an audience of U.S. Navy service members, Welles says, “my great-granduncle was Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy in Lincoln’s cabinet”.[77] In a 1970 TV interview on The Dick Cavett Show, Welles refers to Gideon Welles as his great-grandfather. As presented by Charles Higham in a genealogical chart that introduces his 1985 biography of Welles, Orson Welles’s father was Richard Head Welles, son of Richard Jones Welles (born Wells), son of Henry Hill Wells (who had an uncle named Gideon Wells), son of William Hill Wells, son of Richard Wells (1734–1801).[9]

Welles is related to Charles Head (1899–1951), first husband of costume designer Edith Head (1897–1981). They are direct descendants of Henry Head (1647–1716), who emigrated to America before 1683 and settled in Little Compton, Rhode Island..

Physical characteristics

“Never robust, even as a baby Welles was given to ill health”, wrote biographer Frank Brady, who notes that from infancy he suffered from asthma, sinus headaches and back pain, with bouts of diphtheria, measles, whooping cough and malaria. “As he grew older,” Brady wrote, “his ill health was exacerbated by the late hours he was allowed to keep [and] an early penchant for alcohol and tobacco”.[1]:8

Welles reached a height of six feet at the age of 14.[9]:50 Peter Noble’s biography describes him as “a magnificent figure of a man, over six feet tall, handsome, with flashing eyes and a gloriously resonant speaking-voice”[78] According to a 1941 physical exam taken when he was 26, Welles was 6 feet (183 cm) tall and weighed 218 pounds (99 kg). His eyes were brown.[79] Other sources cite that he was 6 feet 4 inches (193 cm) tall, but the slates from costume tests made during the 1940s show him as 6 feet 1 inch (185 cm). Welles gained a significant amount of weight in his 40s, eventually rendering him morbidly obese, at one point weighing nearly 400 pounds (180 kg). The weight gain may have caused him to appear slightly shorter than his actual height. His obesity was severe to the point that it restricted his ability to travel, aggravated other health conditions, including his asthma, and even required him to go on a diet in order to play the famously portly character Sir John Falstaff.[80] Some have attributed his over-eating and drinking to depression over his marginalization by the Hollywood system.[81]

Religious beliefs

When Peter Bogdanovich once asked him about his religion, Orson Welles gruffly replied that it was none of his business. Welles then added that he was raised Catholic — “and once a Catholic, always a Catholic, they say.”[13]:xxx In an April 1982 interview, Merv Griffin asked Welles about his religious beliefs. Welles replied, “I try to be a Christian. I don’t pray really, because I don’t want to bore God.”[1]:576

Politics

Welles was politically active from the beginning of his career. He remained aligned with the left throughout his life, and always defined his political orientation as “progressive“. He was a strong supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, and often spoke out on radio in support of progressive politics. He campaigned heavily for Roosevelt in the 1944 election.

For several years, he wrote a newspaper column on political issues and considered running for the U.S. Senate in 1946, representing his home state of Wisconsin (a seat that was ultimately won by Joseph McCarthy).

In 1970, Welles narrated (but did not write) a satirical political record on the administration of President Richard Nixon titled The Begatting of the President.

He was also an early and outspoken critic of American racism and the practice of segregation.

Death and tributes

On the evening of October 9, 1985, Welles recorded his final interview on the syndicated TV program, The Merv Griffin Show, appearing with biographer Barbara Leaming. “Both Welles and Leaming talked of Welles’s life and the segment was a nostalgic interlude,” wrote biographer Frank Brady.[1]:590–591 Welles returned to his house in Hollywood and worked into the early hours typing stage directions for the project he and Gary Graver were planning to shoot at UCLA the following day. Welles died sometime on the morning of October 10, following a heart attack.[13]:453 He was found by his chauffeur at around 10 a.m.; the first of Welles’s friends to arrive was Paul Stewart.[82]:295–297

Ronda, Spain

Welles’s funeral was the subject of some disagreement among his family. It was handled by his widow Paola Mori, who had not seen him since she had thrown him out of their family home a year earlier, and his youngest daughter, Beatrice Welles. Mori would die the following year at age 57. On the pretext that “Daddy left no money for funerals or anything else”, Beatrice planned for it to be “a simple affair”, which intentionally excluded “Hollywood types”. Welles’s eldest daughter, Chris, has written of her horror at arriving in “a slum” district of downtown Los Angeles and finding that the funeral took place in a building that “looked more like a hot sheets motel than a funeral home”, and that the funeral was booked in a small, bare, sparsely furnished shabby back room, which “had the look of a cheap motel room” and had no music or flowers. No ministers, speakers, or ceremony had been organized, and so the mourners sat in silence by Welles’s cremated remains until his 90-year-old former teacher and mentor, Roger Hill, gave an impromptu eulogy. Paola Mori had refused to allow most of Welles’s friends to attend, limiting the mourners to nine: herself, Welles’s three daughters, Roger Hill, three of Welles’s friends (Gary Graver, Prince Alessandro Tasca di Cuto, and Greg Garrison), and the doctor who had signed Welles’s death certificate. Welles’s companion for the last 20 years, Oja Kodar, was not invited, nor were his ex-wives. Regarding the proceedings, Hill exclaimed, at the funeral, “This is awful! Awful!” Hill took particular exception to Welles’s having been cremated to save money, because “Orson never wanted to be cremated. He hated the whole idea of cremation. Thank God he doesn’t know what they did to him!”[17]:1–9

In 1987 the cremated remains of Welles and Paola Mori were taken to Ronda, Spain, and buried in an old well covered by flowers on the rural estate of a longtime friend, retired bullfighter Antonio Ordóñez.[82]:298–299 A photograph of the grave site appears opposite the title page of Orson Welles on Shakespeare: The W.P.A. and Mercury Theatre Playscripts, edited by Richard France.[83]:ii

Unfinished projects

Welles’s reliance on self-production meant that many of his later projects were filmed piecemeal or were not completed. Welles financed his later projects through his own fundraising activities. He often also took on other work to obtain money to fund his own films.

Don Quixote

In the mid-1950s, Welles began work on Don Quixote, initially a commission from CBS television. Welles expanded the film to feature length, developing the screenplay to take Quixote and Sancho Panza into the modern age. Filming stopped with the death of Francisco Reiguera, the actor playing Quixote, in 1969. Orson Welles continued editing the film into the early 1970s. At the time of his death, the film remained largely a collection of footage in various states of editing. The project and more importantly Welles’s conception of the project changed radically over time. A version of the film was created from available fragments in 1992 and released to a very negative reception. A version Oja Kodar supervised, with help from Jess Franco, assistant director during production, was released in 2008 to mixed reactions.

The Merchant of Venice

In 1969, Welles was given another TV commission to film a condensed adaptation of The Merchant of Venice.[84] Although Welles had actually completed the film by 1970 the finished negative was later mysteriously stolen from his Rome production office.[82]:234

The Other Side of the Wind

In 1970, Welles began shooting The Other Side of the Wind. The film relates the efforts of a film director (played by John Huston) to complete his last Hollywood picture and is largely set at a lavish party. By 1972 the filming was reported by Welles as being “96% complete”,[1]:546 though it is likely that Welles had only edited about 40 minutes of the film by 1979.[3]:320 In that year, legal complications over the ownership of the film forced the negative into a Paris vault where it remained until 2004, when Peter Bogdanovich (who also acted in the film) announced his intention to complete the production. As of 2009, legal complications over the Welles estate have kept the film from being finished or released. Some footage is included in the documentaries Working with Orson Welles (1993) and Orson Welles: One Man Band (1995).

Other unfinished films and unfilmed screenplays

  • Too Much Johnson, a 1938 comedy film written and directed by Welles. Designed as the cinematic aspect of Welles’s Mercury Theatre stage presentation of William Gillette‘s 1894 comedy, the film was not completely edited or publicly screened. Too Much Johnson was considered a lost film until August 2013 news reports that a pristine print was discovered in Italy in 2008. A copy restored by the George Eastman House museum was scheduled to premiere October 9, 2013, at the Pordenone Silent Film Festival, with a U.S. premiere to follow.[85]
  • Heart of Darkness: Welles’s projected first film in 1940, planned in extreme detail and with some test shots filmed. (The footage is now lost.) It was planned to be entirely shot in long takes from the point of view of the narrator, Marlow, who would be played by Welles, seeing his own reflection in the window as his boat sailed down river. The project was abandoned because it could not be delivered on budget, and Citizen Kane was made instead.[13]:30–33, 355–356
  • The Life of Christ: In 1941, Welles sought the approval of church leaders including Bishop Fulton Sheen for a turn-of-the-century retelling of the life of Christ. He scouted locations in Baja California and Mexico with Perry Ferguson and Gregg Toland, and wrote a screenplay with dialogue from the Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke. “Every word in the film was to be from the Bible — no original dialogue, but done as a sort of American primitive,” Welles said, “set in the frontier country in the last century.” The unrealized project was revisited by Welles in the 1950s when he wrote a second unfilmed screenplay, to be shot in Egypt.[13]:361–362
  • It’s All True: Welles did not originally want to direct this 1942 documentary on South America, but after its abandonment by RKO, he spent much of the 1940s attempting to buy the negative of his material from RKO, so that he could edit and release it in some form. The footage remained unseen in vaults for decades, and was assumed lost. Over 50 years later, some (but not all) of the surviving material saw release in the 1993 documentary It’s All True: Based on an Unfinished Film by Orson Welles.
  • Monsieur Verdoux: In 1944, Welles wrote the first-draft script of this film, which he also intended to direct. Charlie Chaplin initially agreed to star in it, but later changed his mind, citing never having been directed by someone else in a feature before. Chaplin bought the film rights and made the film himself in 1947, with some changes (Welles said the gallows scenes were written by Chaplin, but that much of the film was unchanged from his own script). The final film credits Chaplin with the script, “based on an idea by Orson Welles”.
  • Cyrano de Bergerac: Welles spent around nine months c. 1947-8 co-writing the screenplay for this along with Ben Hecht, a project Welles was assigned to direct for Alexander Korda. He began scouting for locations in Europe whilst filming Black Magic, but Korda was short of money, so sold the rights to Columbia pictures, who eventually dismissed Welles from the project, and then sold the rights on to United Artists, who in turn made a film version in 1950, which was not based on Welles’s script.[13]:106–108
  • Around the World in Eighty Days: After Welles’s elaborate musical stageshow of this Jules Verne novel, encompassing 38 different sets, he began shooting some test footage in Morocco for a film version in 1947. The footage was never edited, funding never came through, and Welles abandoned the project. Nine years later, the stage show’s producer Mike Todd made his own award-winning film version of the book.[13]:402
  • Moby Dick—Rehearsed: a film version of Welles’s 1955 London meta-play, starring Gordon Jackson, Christopher Lee, Patrick McGoohan, and with Welles as Ahab. Using bare, minimalist sets, Welles alternated between a cast of nineteenth-century actors rehearsing a production of Moby Dick, with scenes from Moby Dick itself. Kenneth Williams, a cast member who was apprehensive about the entire project, recorded in his autobiography that Welles’s dim, atmospheric stage lighting made some of the footage so dark as to be unwatchable. The entire play was filmed, but is now presumed lost. The recording was made during one weekend at the Hackney Empire theatre.[86]
  • Histoires extraordinaires: The producers of this 1968 anthology film, based on short stories by Edgar Allan Poe, announced in June 1967 that Welles would direct one segment based on both “Masque of the Red Death” and “The Cask of Amontillado” for the omnibus film. Welles withdrew in September 1967 and was replaced. The script, written in English by Welles and Oja Kodar, is in the Filmmuseum Munchen collection.[87]
  • One-Man Band: This Monty Python-esque spoof in which Welles plays all but one of the characters (including two characters in drag), was made around 1968-9. Welles intended this completed sketch to be one of several items in a television special on London. Other items filmed for this special – all included in the “One Man Band” documentary by his partner Oja Kodar – comprised a sketch on Winston Churchill (played in silhouette by Welles), a sketch on peers in a stately home, a feature on London gentlemen’s clubs, and a sketch featuring Welles being mocked by his snide Savile Row tailor (played by Charles Gray).[88]
  • Treasure Island: Welles wrote two screenplays for this in the 1960s, and was eager to seek financial backing to direct it. Eventually, his own screenplay (under the pseudonym of O.W. Jeeves) was further rewritten, and formed the basis of the 1972 film version directed by John Hough, in which Welles played Long John Silver.