Archive for the ‘Spot / International News Wire’ Category

Combination drug wins Canada’s approval

Monday, March 27th, 2017


World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Combination drug wins Canada’s approval

By Ben ThompsonSUMMARY: The first drug to combine three HIV medications in one tablet has been given approval for use by Health Canada.

OTTAWA — The first drug to combine three HIV medications in one tablet has been given approval for use by Health Canada.

Trizivir is made by GlaxoSmithKline. It is the only HIV triple combination antiretroviral therapy in a single dosage available in Canada.

Trizivir combines the three active ingredients of the widely used HIV medications 3TC(R) (lamivudine), Retrovir(R) (zidovudine/AZT(TM)) and Ziagen(R) (abacavir sulfate).

Health Canada controlled patient studies showed the drug had few side effects.

On average, people being treated for HIV take as many as 12 tablets or capsules per day just to treat their HIV. This does not include vitamins or medications for other conditions. Some of the HIV medications people are required to take may have food and fluid restrictions or requirements, or require complicated multiple dosings throughout the day.

Trizivir does not have any food or fluid restrictions, and does reduce overall pill burden.

Ron Rosenes, honorary director of AIDS Committee of Toronto, welcomed the release of the drug.

“Many of us who live with HIV have become frustrated with managing complex treatment regimens. As long as they are tailored to individual needs, new options that are simpler and easier to manage would be most welcome,” he said.

Angry judge orders treatment for activist

Monday, March 27th, 2017


World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Angry judge orders treatment for activist

By Tom MusbachSUMMARY: In an emergency hearing on Wednesday, a judge in Broward County, Fla., ordered an AIDS service agency and a hospital to help a sick man who is also one of the most influential gay activists in the county.

In an emergency hearing on Wednesday, a judge in Broward County, Fla., ordered an AIDS service agency and a hospital to help a sick man who is also one of the most influential gay activists in the county.

County Judge Ginger Lerner-Wren, who presides over mental health cases, was “enraged” that the Broward General Hospital’s psychiatric unit and Broward House, a nonprofit service agency, would not assist Gary Steinsmith, whose physical and mental health has been ravaged by AIDS, according to the Miami Herald.

“Just help him,” Lerner-Wren told representatives of Broward House. “Treat him. I am ordering you to treat this man.”

In recent months Steinsmith had become very sick and destitute, according to the Herald. On Nov. 1 he was arrested for trespassing at a Marriott hotel in Fort Lauderdale. He was transferred from the county jail on Tuesday to Broward General, but hospital officials sent him back to jail Wednesday because he was not “sufficiently mentally ill.”

After the Wednesday hearing, Steinsmith was admitted to a Fort Lauderdale hospital, and Broward House agreed to provide case management services.

Broward House CEO Tom Shidaker told the Network his agency denied Steinsmith a place in the assisted living facility because it does not provide psychiatric care.

“That facility would not have been right for Gary at this time,” said Shidaker, who has known Steinsmith for 14 years. He also denied that Steinsmith’s finances were a factor in the decision, as the Herald reported.

Steinsmith, 44, had been president of the county’s Dolphin Democratic Club in the early 1990s. He had also served on the Broward County Democratic Executive Committee, the county HIV Health Services Planning Council and the Advisory Board for Persons with Disabilities.

“He’s the most well-known gay activist in Broward County,” Shane Gunderson, who replaced Steinsmith as the Dolphin Club’s president, told the Herald.

Steinsmith reportedly called County Commissioner Lori Parrish to help him get out of jail early Wednesday morning. Parrish, who said the community “owes Gary respect,” made several calls, including one to an official at Broward House.

“I told him he wouldn’t have his job,” she said, “and his damn place wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Gary Steinsmith and his good work.”

Shidaker acknowledged that Steinsmith was part of a group that helped get funding to start Broward House, which opened in 1988.

Quebec prepares for partnership registry

Monday, March 27th, 2017


World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Quebec prepares for partnership registry

By Jean- Pierre O’BrienSUMMARY: The government of Quebec has announced legislation to create a gay and lesbian partnership registry.

The government of Quebec has announced legislation to create a gay and lesbian partnership registry.

In a surprise announcement Friday, the government said it hopes to have the legislation introduced by the end of the year with hearings in 2002. The registry would allow non-married couples, including gay couples, to sign a register. The province already has some limited rights for gay and lesbian families.

The announcement is seen as an attempt to draw attention away from a constitutional challenge to Quebec and Canadian definitions of marriage. Quebec is the only area of Canada with laws which define marriage, part of its unique legal system, the Civil Code.

Michael Hendricks and Rene Leboeuf are in Superior Court in Montreal arguing the case for gay marriage. Neither Hendricks nor Leboeuf were impressed with the government’s registry announcement.

Their lawyer, Anne-France Goldwater, said, “The government is trying to throw a sop to the gay and lesbian community, and at a certain point that’s offensive.”

Goldwater said: “When I throw Fido a bone because he’s my dog, I love my dog but it doesn’t mean I think he’s a human like me.”

Goldwater said her clients want the respect and dignity that would come only with marriage.

“Marriage is a complete partnership,” Goldwater told Justice Louise Lemelin. “My clients are not imposing their homosexuality on anyone else. They just want to be married. … They want the rights and protections to which they have no access, despite 28 years of marriage.”

The governments of Quebec and Canada present their arguments next week.

Many U.S. College Students Not Using Condoms: Study

Monday, March 27th, 2017


World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Many U.S. College Students Not Using Condoms: Study

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Although US college students are at risk for sexually transmitted infection (STI), most do not use condoms consistently, new research shows.

Dr. Marla Eisenberg of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts, looked at sexual health behaviors among more than 8,500 undergraduate students nationwide. The students filled out anonymous surveys as part of the 1997 College Alcohol Study.

Although almost three-quarters (71%) said they were sexually experienced, less than half (43%) said they always used condoms and almost a quarter (24%) said they never did. The results appear in the December issue of the Archives of Sexual Behavior.

Students older than 23 and those who lived off-campus were among those least likely to use condoms, the study indicates. This may be because they are “more likely to be involved in steady relationships and use other forms of birth control than the traditional 18- to 22-year-old, dorm-living college student,” said Eisenberg, now at the University of Minnesota’s National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Research Center.

The study also found that men with more partners reported less condom use–a potentially risky combination.

Men who only had sexual intercourse with other men were less likely to use condoms than their peers who only had sex with women. The reason is unclear, but it may be a response to the development of HIV fighting drugs, noted Eisenberg.

“The social norms around condom use among gay men have changed considerably in the wake of new treatments for HIV/AIDS ,” she told Reuters Health in an interview. “And the energy previously placed on promoting condom use in this population has fallen somewhat now that fewer friends and lovers are dying of the disease.”

Unlike past research on college students’ sexual behaviors, this study asked thousands of students to disclose whether they’d had sexual experience with opposite sex partners, same sex partners, or both. Most previous studies have only included a few hundred students asked to identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual–potentially leaving out a large number of students who have had same-sex experience but tend to avoid such labels.

Another problem with previous research, noted Eisenberg, is that it lumps together women who have had only same-sex experience with those who have had sex with both men and women. This may be “inappropriate,” given that the latter group is more likely to have multiple partners, raising their risk profile, she said.

The number of students using condoms may not directly translate to the number who practice “safe sex,” Eisenberg added. Many students may rely on other forms of birth control and STI prevention, such as oral contraceptives in a monogamous partnership, she explained.

SOURCE: Archives of Sexual Behavior 2001;30:575-589.

Canada is reviewing its blood ban for gays

Monday, March 27th, 2017


World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Canadian panel reviews blood donor ban

By Ben ThompsonSUMMARY: Canada’s blood agency will bring together a panel this week to review the 15-year-old ban on blood donations by gay men.

Canada’s blood agency will bring together a panel this week to review the 15-year-old ban on blood donations by gay men.

The Canadian Blood Services (CBS) has been under mounting pressure to end the ban. It will meet in Ottawa in what it calls a “consensus conference” of experts, blood recipients and donors to review the system.

Debate during the three-day meeting in Ottawa will likely be heated as the panel attempts to decide who should and should not be allowed to give blood.

Currently men, and only men, are asked: “Have you had sex with a man, even one time, since 1977?” Answering “yes” means automatic disqualification.

The question was first included in the mandatory questionnaire in 1986, when a scandal involving blood tainted with HIV was at its peak and blood agencies worldwide were slowly coming to terms with how to safeguard their blood supplies.

Gay and AIDS groups say the question is outdated, discriminatory and far too blunt and too vague to accomplish the objective of turning away infected donors.

They say it should be replaced with a question, or series of questions, that focuses specifically on whether potential donors (homosexual and heterosexual) have engaged in high-risk sexual activities such as unprotected anal sex.

Ron Chaplin, of national gay rights organization Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere, said public health officials “no longer speak of high-risk groups,” but rather of the type of sex practiced by high-risk individuals.

“It is a difficult issue,” said CBS president Graham Sher, who describes the challenge as a balancing act of rights and privileges.

“There are scientific, ethical, moral and societal issues here,” he said.

Poppers: risky venture and AIDS related

Monday, March 27th, 2017


World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Risky Inhalants Make a Comeback

FRIDAY, Nov. 16 (HealthScoutNews) — The inhaled drugs known as poppers are making a comeback in San Francisco, and authorities want to launch an education campaign to make sure that a new generation of gay men doesn’t sniff at their dangers.

“The public health message is very clear: Don’t use poppers if you’re concerned about HIV infection,” says Dr. Grant Colfax, an AIDS official with the San Francisco Department of Public Health . “It’s disrespectful to your health and that of others to use poppers.”

In October, Tom Ammiano, president of the city’s Board of Supervisors, ordered health officials and the District Attorney’s office to look into posting warning signs at stores that sell the drugs, which technically are illegal but sold openly by adult sex shops and Internet sites.

Poppers, made of compounds known as amyl or butyl nitrite, are little known in the heterosexual community, but they’ve been popular sexual boosters among gay men for decades.

Nitrites were first used in the 19th century to treat chest pains because they lower blood pressure. When sold by prescription, they come in tiny glass capsules that are broken to release the gas. The loud “pop” of the broken capsules gave them their street name.

When used as an underground drug, poppers come in tiny bottles. Many are given innocuous names like “video head cleaner” or “room odorizer” in a transparent attempt to disguise their purpose. The effects of poppers last for just a few minutes. They cause a sharp drop in blood pressure, lightheadedness, relaxation and a head rush that some say increases the pleasure of a sexual experience.

Poppers were especially popular in the 1970s and 1980s. “It was a commonly accepted drug, and it’s never gone away,” says Steve Gibson, a director at the San Francisco-based Stop AIDS Project.

In recent months, San Francisco AIDS activists have noticed stores becoming increasingly brazen in their displays of poppers, says Hank Wilson, founder of the advocacy group Survive AIDS. The drugs are appearing in front windows and on counters, he says.

“For a while they weren’t being promoted at all, and now you see them all over the place. We’re also concerned about the deception that’s happening on the Internet, where people say they are perfectly safe, and they miss the [risks].”

Wilson and others convinced city officials to consider warnings for customers, although authorities appear unlikely to crack down on the actual sale of poppers. “We’re not trying to ban or prohibit anything,” Wilson says.

Poppers can cause a variety of health problems, including dangerously low blood pressure, headaches and nausea. A recent survey in San Francisco found that some gay men are taking poppers with the anti-impotency drug Viagra, a hazardous combination that could lower blood pressure fatally.

But young bodies often are strong enough to survive such problems. Medical experts officials are more worried about apparent connections between poppers and AIDS.

Colfax says men who use drugs seem to be at a higher risk of getting AIDS. The reasons aren’t clear, but one possibility is that use of the drugs might make the body more susceptible to infection by HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, he says. It’s also possible that men under the influence of poppers may be more likely to engage in unprotected sex.

“Study after study has shown that people are more likely to get infected if they use poppers, and they’re also more likely to take high risks,” Colfax says.

However, the studies are controversial within the gay community, and opinions diverge widely between those who blame AIDS directly on poppers and those who say the drugs are a scapegoat.

Colfax has no doubts that poppers are trouble. “From a public health perspective, it’s outrageous that these things can be marketed without adequate warnings. People are using them and are unaware of the risks. At the very least, warnings should be posted.”

What To Do: To learn more about poppers, read this fact sheet from The National Institute on Drug Abuse has information about inhalant abuse.

Books close for first gay public company

Monday, March 27th, 2017


World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Books close for first gay public company

SYDNEY, Australia — The chapter has ended in the saga of Satellite Group, the gay publishing and real estate company that went public and then collapsed under about $10 million in liabilities.

This week, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission concluded legal action against two former executives of the failed company.

It followed a decision in the New South Wales Supreme Court that managing director Gregory Fisher and former executive manager Jonathon Broster had used Satellite funds for their personal ventures without authority from directors or shareholders.

ASIC has banned both men from being a director of a private company for five years and from a public company for eight years.

In addition, Broster has agreed to pay $150,000 in fines. Fisher is bankrupt and so no penalty or compensation has been paid.

Once dubbed the world’s first “pink float,” Satellite was forced into voluntary bankruptcy in November 2000.

Shares in the group, which traded as high as 50 cents in 2000, slumped to 15 cents and were halted from trading in July last year.

Salvation Army protest goes to Canada

Monday, March 27th, 2017


World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Salvation Army protest goes to Canada

SUMMARY: What started as a protest against the homophobic policies of the Salvation Army by one PFLAG mom in Michigan and spread across the United States has now crossed the border into Canada.

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia — What started as a protest against the homophobic policies of the Salvation Army by one PFLAG mom in Michigan and spread across the United States has now crossed the border into Canada.

A Halifax doctor has begun a similar campaign to put notes in the army’s red kettles denouncing anti-gay policies in Atlantic Canada.

In the United States, Mary Scholl’s PFLAG campaign protests the Salvationists refusal to grant benefits to the partners of gay and lesbian employees. The Salvation Army employs thousands of people called “civilians” who are not necessarily members of the faith but work for the agency.

In Canada, those workers are covered by federal and provincial laws that ban discrimination and recognize same-sex partnerships.

But, as Dr. James Tee discovered, the Salvation Army not only refuses to allow gays and lesbians to join, it denounces homosexuality in its publications.

Tee said, “I can’t allow my money to go to an organization which discriminates against a whole entire sector of the population.”

The 26-year-old resident in pediatrics said that for as long as he can remember, he and his family have contributed to the organization.

He said that up until now, he didn’t bother looking into the background of agencies he was donating to.

Bob Fougere, coordinator of the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project, is also denouncing the Salvation Army policy on gays.

“First of all, their position on homosexuality, in my opinion, is not Christian,” he said. “I’m a Christian. I go to a Christian church. I live in a very committed relationship and to suggest that I can’t snuggle up in front of the TV with my partner and watch TV is not acceptable. It’s not reasonable.”

Fougere and his partner have set aside a budget for charitable giving, but it does not include the Salvation Army.

Dr. Tee says he believes in religious freedom, but he says that faiths that discriminate will no longer get his financial support. “There are tons and tons of organizations that have non-discriminatory clauses,” he said.

British Actor Nigel Hawthorne Dies

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

British Actor Nigel Hawthorne Dies

Sir Nigel Hawthorne, the veteran British actor whose memorable stage and screen roles ranged from a control-freak politico to insane royalty, died Wednesday at age 72.

Left: Nigel Hawthorne in “Yes, Prime Minister”

Hawthorne suffered a heart attack at his home in Hertfordshire, north of London, his agent Ken McReddie told wire reports. The thespian had been battling pancreatic cancer for nearly two years and recently underwent chemotherapy.While his distinguished career spanned five decades, Hawthorne’s biggest success came late in life, gaining acclaim for his role as the smooth civil servant Sir Humphrey Appleby on the BBC’s long-running political satire, Yes, Minister. In 1995, he was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his lead role in The Madness of King George, chronicling the fall into insanity of England’s King George III. The original stage production also earned him an Olivier Award in 1992.

Most recently, Hawthorne costarred with Whoopi Goldberg in the TNT movie Call Me Claus, playing Santa Claus. And despite his failing health, Hawthorne helped promote the movie’s release to home video.

Hawthorne was born in Coventry, England, in 1929, but was raised in South Africa. While he began his acting career in a Cape Town theater production and then moved to London at the age of 22, Hawthorne was a late bloomer, not experiencing major success until he neared middle age.

In a 1999 interview, Hawthorne said it was theater figure Joan Littlewood who pushed him to take risks and led him to rethink his philosophy toward acting. “Instead of putting on funny noses and funny voices and ‘acting,’ the more I was myself, the more I understood who I was and the more I presented this fallible absurd being that we all are, the more successful I would be,” he told Scripps Howard News Service.

International recognition finally came while in his fifties, when he starred in 1980’s Yes, Minister. The long-running series (and its sequel Yes, Prime Minister) aired through 1987 and was shown in more than 50 countries. The role earned Hawthorne five British Academy Awards , and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once invited him to tea at Downing Street and asked to shoot a scene with the cast.

“I’m always astonished the people still remember that show,” he once told London’s Sunday Times. “In America, people come up to me and say, ‘Hi, Sir Humph!’ I can walk down Whitehall today and every policeman on the beat will say good morning to me.”

His big-screen credits also included Amistad, The Object of My Affection, Demolition Man and Gandhi. On stage, Hawthorne picked up a Tony Award in 1991 for his portrayal of writer C.S. Lewis in Shadowlands. The thespian was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1999.

Hawthorne also happened to be gay, but he was uncomfortable taking the role of gay activist, and he even bristled at tabloid reports about his 20-year relationship with theater manager Trevor Bentham.

Ian McKellen always said I should come out. But why?” he told the Times. “I feel that too much fuss is made about being gay. I’ve been a homosexual all my life. My partner and I don’t want to stand up and say we’re gay, because we think that’s wrong. The best way to get people to accept you is to move about the community and show them there’s nothing to be afraid of.”

Hawthorne is survived by Bentham. Funeral arrangements were not immediately known.

Neighbors want Web porn site shut down

Monday, March 27th, 2017


World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Neighbors want Web porn site shut down

No one knew much about the half-dozen attractive young men who moved into the big two-story house near Lake Brantley until a neighbor boy misfired a water balloon and broke a window into the world of cybersex.

That was when neighbors got a look inside and figured out the men were running a 24-hour gay pornography site.

Now, people in the tony Brantley Harbor subdivision, just north of Altamonte Springs, want authorities to shut the men down.

Welcome to a neighborhood brouhaha for the Internet Age, one that mixes the world of cyberporn with family values, property rights, homeowner associations and lawyers.

Full story at Orlando Sentinel

Police: Murders Of Two Gay Men May Be Connected

Monday, March 27th, 2017


World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Police: Murders Of Two Gay Men May Be Connected

Two gay men who were both known to lend a helping hand to people in need have been murdered in two separate incidents, according to Miami police.

Ward Howard Everitt was found dead in his apartment on Saturday morning. Police are not describing how he was killed, but say the murder was very similar to the killing of Elso Thomas Morales, who was found dead on December 6.

“Both men were “middle-aged, openly gay men who lived alone and were known to lend a helping hand to ‘down and out’ people by bringing them into heir homes,” according to the police report.

Police also say that the men lived in the same part of northeast Miami, and both victims’ cars were missing when their bodies were found.

Morales’ car has been recovered, but Everitt’s car is still missing. It is a silver-blue Ford station wagon with the tag number F95-ETL.

Police say that they want to question Frank Espada (pictured, left), who may have been a witness to one of the murders.

If you have any information regarding these crimes, you are asked to call Miami police at 305-579-6531 or Crimestoppers, at 305-471-TIPS.

Lawsuit: Bad prescription hurt HIV+ man

Monday, March 27th, 2017


World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Lawsuit: Bad prescription hurt HIV+ man

SUMMARY: An HIV -positive man in Boston is suing CVS pharamacy because of an alleged prescription error that has made him resistant to several drugs.

Boston resident Adam Barrett calls himself a “dinosaur” of the AIDS epidemic, but “survivor” may be a better description. He was diagnosed with HIV in 1985 and went on to beat the odds, successfully fighting off illness with the help of new medications. Then came January of this year, when an alleged error by a pharmacy gave the virus the boost it needed to turn the tables on Barrett.

Now, Barrett has filed suit against one of the nation’s largest pharmacy chains, accusing it of threatening his health by botching a prescription.

The CVS company “hasn’t even had the courtesy to accept responsibility for their error,” said Barrett, who has become resistant to several AIDS drugs, apparently because he unknowingly took an incorrect dose of one medicine for three weeks.

The alleged mistake is a “huge error” and may not be an isolated incident, warned Maria DeRisi, a pharmacist at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego and expert on AIDS issues. “This is very scary and could be much more common than we hear about because the patients, doctors and pharmacists aren’t aware of it.”

A spokesman for the CVS company didn’t return a phone call seeking comment. Barrett, 40, was infected by a sex partner in the early 1980s. AZT helped keep his HIV at bay in the early 1990s, and he went on combination therapy, known as the AIDS “cocktail,” a few years later.

The level of virus in his blood shrunk to zero (although it remained in his body), and his immune system remained strong. “I was incredibly compliant as far as never missing dosages,” he said. “It worked phenomenally well for me.”

Then, in January 2001, his body began to lose its battle against HIV. “I did start to notice I was having some more fatigue, and I saw that my lymph nodes were inflamed again,” a sign that his immune system was fighting off something.

Barrett didn’t know what was happening until he dumped out his Crixivan pills and noticed they were 200 milligrams each instead of the prescribed 400. “For a little more than three weeks, I was taking half the dose,” he said.

Then came the bad news. Barrett’s doctor confirmed that the virus was coursing through is blood, and he had become resistant to Crixivan and two other AIDS drugs. He is partially resistant to two more.

Drug resistance is an increasingly common problem for AIDS patients. A study released this month found that more than half of patients surveyed who had AIDS in 1996developed resistance to at least one drug by 1998 and 1999.

HIV can mutate into forms that are immune to medications, and the risk of mutation is especially high if the virus stays alive because a patient takes a break from his or her drug regimen.

Barrett said he is now taking five medications, which cause a variety of side effects and have kept him home from his job as an intensive care nurse at a Boston hospital.

In his lawsuit, Barrett asks for damages of at least $257,000 to pay for lost wages. According to The Boston Globe, CVS is expected to defend itself by saying Barrett would have become drug-resistant anyway, regardless of the prescription mix-up.

It is easy for pharmacists and their technicians to not question an odd-sounding AIDS prescription, said DeRisi, the San Diego pharmacist. “I could see how complacency could develop when it’s so complicated,” she said. “They just assume what the doctor wrote is correct.”

Patients must pay attention to the drugs they take, she said. “They need to make sure they’re well educated, and they need to access all the resources out there.”

Lance Loud “first person to come out on TV” dies

Monday, March 27th, 2017


World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Lance Loud – “first person to come out on TV” – dies

NEW YORK (Variety) – Lance Loud, a journalist who found fame in the early 1970s when his family was profiled on the PBS documentary series “An American Family,” died in Los Angeles on Dec. 21 from complications of AIDS and hepatitis C. He was 50.

“An American Family,” which aired in the first quarter of 1973, presaged the current vogue for reality TV. The multipart series drew record audiences for public television, as well as much criticism. A national phenomenon, the Loud family landed on the cover of Newsweek that winter.

The documentary had been filmed in 1971 by producer Craig Gilbert, whose team spent seven months with Pat and Bill Loud and their five children in their Santa Barbara home. Craig, along with cameraman Alan Raymond and sound technician Sally Raymond, recorded more than 300 hours of film, which was edited into 12 one-hour episodes.

The eighth and ninth episodes detailed the breakup of the Louds’ marriage. Even more controversial was the second episode, in which Pat visited her openly gay son, Lance, in his Chelsea Hotel apartment in New York City.

In Lynne Yamaguchi Fletcher’s book “The First Gay Pope and Other Records,” Lance Loud is listed as “the first person to come out on television.”

“His homosexuality was completely accepted by the family, which was another first for TV,” said David Ehrenstein, author of “Open Secret,” a study of gays in the media. “When the parents split up, there was an undertone of criticism from the media that what was wrong with the marriage was that they had a gay son. On the contrary, Lance held the family together.”

Loud wrote entertainment-related articles for Details, Interview, Buzz Weekly and the Advocate, where he was a columnist for several years. His final byline appears in the current issue, in which he wrote about his battle with hepatitis C and AIDS, with which he was diagnosed in October 1987.

Loud often wrote with self-deprecating wit. His last offering in the Advocate (“A Death in ‘An American Family”’) was no exception: “In a sea of ‘Advocate’ winners, some loser’s musings on his own mortality might just provide a fitting reflective glory to further flatter our issue’s winners. I don’t mind that; I am glad to help out.”

At Loud’s request, Alan and Sally Raymond recently filmed his day-to-day life at the Carl Bean House, the L.A. hospice where the writer died.

Loud is survived by his parents, and two brothers and two sisters. A memorial service is planned for late January in Los Angeles.

Reuters/Variety REUTERS

Researchers discover gay orangutans

Monday, March 27th, 2017


World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Researchers discover gay orangutans

SUMMARY: Researchers have spotted gay sexual activity between two pairs of male orangutans in Sumatra.

Researchers have spotted gay sexual activity between two pairs of male orangutans in Sumatra.

It is the first time homosexual behavior has been seen in wild ape communities, according to the researchers.

Dr Elizabeth Fox, a researcher from the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society, has published her research in the American Journal of Primatology.

She said: “It’s disheartening that we’re only now beginning to learn of the full range of behavior among these highly intelligent animals, yet they are vanishing faster than any time in history.”

Orangutans are the only great apes native to Asia, and they live largely solitary lives.

Other great apes known to take part in homosexual behavior include male mountain gorillas and female and male bonobos.

Half of AIDS Patients Are Now Drug Resistant

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Half of AIDS Patients Are Now Drug Resistant

TUESDAY, Dec. 18 (HealthScoutNews) — In another dose of bad news on the AIDS front, researchers have found that more than half the long-time HIV -positive patients have developed resistance to at least one of the drugs that could help keep them alive.

The true number may be even higher because the statistics were compiled in 1998 and 1999. “Resistance is very prevalent, and we’re going to have to start thinking about resistance among the newly infected,” said Dr. Samuel Bozzett, a professor of medicine at the University of California at San Diego who studied 1,647 people nationwide who tested positive for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

But another expert cautioned that although there is cause for concern, the prospects for patients are more optimistic than the numbers might suggest.

The three main classes of AIDS drugs aim to lower the level of the virus in the blood so a patient’s immune system remains strong. Otherwise, patients become vulnerable to a large number of diseases that attack when the body’s defenses are down.

However, HIV can mutate to avoid being killed by drugs, especially if the virus survives because an infected person forgets to take his medicine.

Doctors usually anticipate the possibility of resistance and put patients with HIV or AIDS on a “cocktail” of medications from the three classes of drugs. If one drug doesn’t work, doctors hope the others will kick in.

Bozzett and his colleagues studied the blood of patients tested in 1998 and 1999. They had all been HIV-positive during an earlier study in 1996, when the AIDS cocktail was first developed.

Of the patients who had significant levels of the AIDS virus in their blood, 78 percent showed resistance to at least one HIV drug; 51 percent of all HIV-positive patients were resistant.

The most vulnerable were those who were still taking the drugs, giving the viruses in their bodies more time to resist the medications.

The patients were most resistant to the oldest class of AIDS drugs, known as nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors. AZT, perhaps the best-known AIDS drug, is a member of that class.

The findings were scheduled to be released today at a Chicago conference sponsored by the American Society for Microbiology.

The findings show that drug resistance is a nationwide problem, not just limited to urban cities where AIDS is treated most aggressively, Bozzett said. “This is everybody — the big providers, the small providers, the cities and the countryside.”

He warned that the growing problem of drug resistance will create huge challenges for doctors.

“HIV care is going to become increasingly complex, and it’s going to be with us for a long time,” he said. “We know that the drugs aren’t magic bullets, but they’re going to require aggressive and sophisticated management. Handling people who are resistant to one or two drugs is quite difficult.”

Another problem looms on the horizon. As drug resistance increases, a larger number of people will be infected with HIV strains that are already immune to AIDS drugs, Bozzett said. Instead of developing that immunity over time, the newly infected will have it from the beginning.

On a brighter note, experts say the number of HIV patients with resistance to all three classes of AIDS drugs appears to be rare.

Although the idea of a drug-resistant strain of HIV sounds scary, researchers note that the mutated forms pay a price as they change their structure to avoid being killed.

“As they learn a new trick, they forget the old tricks to some extent,” said Dr. Robert M. Grant, an investigator at the University of California at San Francisco, in a recent interview.

It’s not clear if people who become resistant to drugs actually die earlier than those who don’t, said Dr. Joshua Bamberger, medical director for housing and urban health with the San Francisco Department of Public Health (newsweb sites).

“Resistance comes in different flavors, and some is bad and some isn’t,” he said. “The fact that there’s resistance out there doesn’t mean that people should stop taking meds. They prolong life and prevent opportunistic infections.”

Bamberger added that doctors should work harder to make sure that patients follow their complicated drug regimens. In San Francisco city programs, patients receive plastic pill kits that line up their medications according to the times they are to be taken.

Unfortunately, he said, this practice is not common nationwide.

Canadian Drag Queen Seeks to Ruleb Right Wing Party

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Drag Queen Seeks to Rule Right Wing Party

TORONTO (Reuters) – Toronto’s best-known drag queen, famous for six-inch heels, slinky dresses and a failed bid to become the city’s mayor, said on Thursday she wanted to join the race to head the right-wing opposition Canadian Alliance party.

“I am a supermodel for a super party,” said Enza ‘Supermodel” Anderson. “I don’t care what you call me but please put in supermodel.”

The 37-year-old, who has worked as a singer in Toronto’s largely gay Church St. district, launched her campaign at Toronto City Hall wearing a short maroon dress, her signature stilettos, a blond wig and bright red lipstick.

Dismissing the Alliance as “racist, supporting bigoted attitudes and an anti-gay stance,” she said the party needed to become more diverse to beat the Liberals. “I am the one to do it,” said Anderson, who prefers to be called a “she.”

“As a new leader of the right, I plan to unite the opposition. Let me tell ‘ya, there are a lot of sexy MPs (members of parliament) I’d like to unite right now.”

The Alliance came a poor second to the Liberals in last year’s federal election. The party will next year vote in a new leader — or perhaps reelect outgoing leader Stockwell Day, who quit this week to allow for a leadership race.

But Anderson’s platform may not match the tough-on-crime Alliance. She wants affordable housing, better public transport and decriminalization of marijuana and prostitution.

“Why is it that when a drag queen runs for office, people consider it a joke? But if (Stockwell Day) shows up in a wet suit or if the prime minister of Canada shows up in a dinghy, it’s considered serious and worthy of national attention,” she said, referring to recent media pictures of federal leaders.

Anderson, who says her political platform is “much more than my six-inch heels,” sashayed into politics last November and won 15,000 votes in the Toronto mayoralty race.

That placed her third on a slate of 25 candidates for the job, won — as expected — by flamboyant Mel Lastman.

Lastman later hit the headlines with ill-timed comments that may have helped scupper Toronto’s bid to host the 2008 Olympic Games (newsweb sites). He balked at the idea of traveling to Africa to lobby for the bid, admitting he was afraid of being boiled in a pot with natives dancing around him.

Anderson said she had nearly collected the C$25,000 and 300 signatures needed to be eligible to run to lead the Alliance.

If she doesn’t win, she will continue to work odd jobs. But she said she had stopped doing drag shows now that her political career seems to be blossoming.

Day, quoted in the National Post newspaper earlier this month, refused to rule out any candidate for his job.

“We’re a very open party,” Day said. “I’m just pleased that we continue to attract people from across the spectrum.”

Risky sex, drugs: circuit party norms?

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Risky sex, drugs: circuit party norms?

SUMMARY: Gay community medical experts are warning New Year’s Eve raves and circuit parties could be dangerous, even fatal.

Gay community medical experts are warning New Year’s Eve raves and circuit parties could be dangerous, even fatal.

According to a new study, gay men are more likely to use recreational drugs and have risky sex when they attend raves or circuit parties.

The findings suggest a need for special HIV prevention strategies that are targeted toward men who attend circuit parties, according to the study’s authors.

BBCM Montreal – Everyone says HIV goes up after their event!

“Circuit parties are an important and often positive influence on the gay community,” Dr. Grant N. Colfax of the San Francisco Department of Public Health says.

In the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, Colfax writes that after taking into account drug use, attendance at circuit parties itself was not linked to high-risk sexual behavior.

But, Colfax said, “a substantial proportion of circuit-party participants report high-risk HIV-transmitting behaviors, often in relation to substance abuse.”

He and his colleagues surveyed nearly 300 gay and bisexual men in the San Francisco area. The men answered questions about their drug use and sexual activity during the weekend of a circuit party in San Francisco, an out-of-town circuit party weekend, and two weekends spent in San Francisco without attending a circuit party.

Most of the men reported using at least one recreational drug when attending an out-of-town circuit party, Colfax and his colleagues report, with 80 percent taking Ecstasy, 66 percent taking ketamine, 43 percent crystal methamphetamines, 29 percent the so-called “liquid Ecstasy” GHB, 14 percent taking the impotence drug Viagra, and 12 percent taking amyl nitrates, also known as “poppers.”

At San Francisco circuit parties, however, the men used certain drugs, including ketamine and crystal meth, less frequently than when out of town. And they were significantly less likely to use drugs — with the exception of alcohol — during weekends in San Francisco when they went to a dance club instead of a circuit party. On weekends when men did not go out to a club or a party, most did not use any drugs, the researchers found.

As was the case for drug use, risky sex was most common at out-of-town circuit parties, where 21 percent of HIV-positive men and 9 percent of HIV-negative men had anal sex without a condom with a partner whose HIV status was unknown or different from their own.

Colfax’s team suggests several possible reasons why men are more likely to have risky sex at out-of-town circuit parties. Increased drug use may contribute, as may the anonymity possible at an out-of-town party. In addition, the availability of new sexual partners at an out-of-town party, as well as an absence of regular partners, may lead some men to have unsafe sex, the authors report.

“There needs to be a greater focus within the public health community on the high prevalence of club drug use in relation to high-risk sexual behavior,” according to Colfax.

And since Viagra was frequently used by men at circuit parties, “physicians should provide safer sex messages” whenever prescribing the drug, he noted.

Funeral home denies services to gay men

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Funeral home denies service to gay man

HOUSTON — A funeral home in Houston has told a gay man he has no rights in making final arrangements for his partner.

David Diehl, 46, said he was stunned when a male employee at the Garden Oaks Funeral Home in southwest Houston told him its policy was to refuse potential customers who were gay.

“He told me his boss would not let him extend me service. I had no rights.”

Diehl had gone to the funeral home to organize a cremation service for his later partner of 10 years, Bobbie Blanton.

Blanton had designated in a will and in a separate legal directive that he wanted Diehl to control the disposition of his remains.

Texas law does not recognize gay partnerships. State law requires funeral homes to know they are dealing with next of kin or a designated representative.

The Texas Health and Safety Code says just one of these legal documents would be enough to allow Diehl to legally request the cremation.

Diehl said he will ask state regulators to investigate.

Another funeral home accepted Blanton’s directive and allowed Diehl to have his partner’s body cremated.

Ed Kubicek, chief of enforcement for the Texas Funeral Service Commission, said he doesn’t know if the commission will be able to do anything to help Diehl.

“Though this is a regulated industry, it still is a business. Like `no shirt, no shoes, no service,’ you have the right to refuse service.”

Jerry Falwell dumbest of the year!

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

MAD names Falwell 2001’s ‘dumbest’

SUMMARY: MAD Magazine named the Rev. Jerry Falwell the “dumbest person of 2001” for blaming the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on gays and lesbians.

MAD Magazine named the Rev. Jerry Falwell the “dumbest person of 2001” for blaming the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on gays and lesbians, feminists and other groups.

The distinction was part of MAD’s year-end review of the 20 “dumbest people, events and things of 2001.”

“We thought Falwell had reached his personal pinnacle of dumbness a few years ago when he accused the Teletubbies of promoting homosexuality,” said MAD editor John Ficarra. “Give the guy credit, we underestimated him.”

Falwell made the controversial statement during a Sept. 13 appearance on “The 700 Club” with televangelist Pat Robertson.

Regarding the attacks on New York and Washington, Falwell said: “I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.'”

The White House rebuked Falwell for his remarks, and he later apologized.

MAD’s “dumb” list for 2001 also includes Anne Heche and Elton John’s Grammy Awards duet with Eminem (newsweb sites).

Youth wins settlement in harassment case

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Youth wins settlement in harassment case

SUMMARY: A Pennsylvania youth will receive $312,000 from a public school district as a settlement for claims that school officials did nothing to prevent anti-gay harassment he endured at school.

A Pennsylvania youth will receive $312,000 from a public school district as a settlement for claims that school officials did nothing to prevent anti-gay harassment he endured at school.

The Erie Times News reported that Timothy Dahle, 19, said he was verbally and physically harassed by former classmates for five years and that school officials ignored his and his parents’ requests for protection.

Dahle and his parents subsequently filed suit in U.S. District Court in Erie against the Titusville Area School District. The lawsuit, filed in June 2000 and scheduled to go to court Jan. 24, was settled Tuesday.

The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a national advocacy group for GLBT students in grades K-12, said the settlement is the first of its kind in Pennsylvania.

The school district denied Dahle’s allegations, according to Erie Times News, saying that he was belligerent to other students and that he did not notify school administrators of the harassment.

“I hope this sends a message to all school districts in Pennsylvania,” said Dahle’s lawyer David Long, “and that message is if you turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to the kind of harassment Timothy Dahle endured for five years, you’re going to be in for an expensive lesson.”

A GLSEN spokeswoman told the newspaper that “five or six” similar lawsuits have been filed in the United States since 1996.

Police Nab Computer Porn Suspect At Mall

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Police Nab Computer Porn Suspect At Mall

Detectives arrested a 37-year-old man Friday afternoon who is accused of sending pornographic images via the Internet to who someone he thought was a 14-year-old boy.Police found Ivan Garcia of Hallandale at the Pembroke Lakes Mall in Pembroke Pines where he was to meet up with the teenager — who was really a police officer he met in an online chat room.

Investigators said that Garcia sent images of himself to the online acquaintance before agreeing to a meeting. Garcia has been charged with transmission of harmful material to a minor by electronic device and computer pornography — which are both third-degree felonies.

During April or May 2001, Garcia met an actual 15-year-old boy on the Internet in a gay chat room, police said. The victim initially told Garcia that he was 18 years old, but later told him that he was only 15. Garcia allegedly replied that it was OK — as long as he was not 80 years old.

Garcia is accused of exchanging telephone numbers with the 15-year-old, which resulted in phone sex. Police said that the relationship led to Garcia meeting the boy at a supermarket so they could go to another location to have consensual oral sex.

As a result of Friday’s arrest, Garcia also faces charges of lewd and lascivious battery and lewd and lascivious conduct.

Irish gays press for right to give blood

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Irish gays press for right to give blood

SUMMARY: A HIV organization in Ireland has demanded that the country’s ban on gays giving blood be lifted, slamming it as discriminatory.

A HIV organization in Ireland has demanded that the country’s ban on gays giving blood be lifted, slamming it as discriminatory.

The Blood Transfusion Service in Ireland claims, however, that they are operating under international standards, which advise that blood should not he accepted from homosexuals. The advice goes back to the 1980s when HIV and AIDS was seen as a gay virus.

“There is an issue around the Blood Transfusion Service. It is probably one of the main areas where gay men are highlighted for different treatment. On the surface, it certainly looks like discrimination,” Brian Sheehan of Gay HIV Strategies, a gay health and community promotion group, told the Irish Examiner.

Deirdre Healy of the Blood Transfusion Service said the service operated according to international standards that recommend donations should not be accepted from gay men.

Healy said: “We don’t apologize for being discriminatory because if you have a cold sore we won’t take you, as well as lots of other things. It’s very rigid. We cut out a lot of people.”

Sheehan said the Blood Transfusion Service needs to look carefully at its category listings and redefine them. It doesn’t, for example, take into account gay men who live in totally monogamous relationships.

Judges urge liberalization in India

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Judges urge liberalization in India

SUMMARY: Judges from South Africa and Australia are in India, where gay sex is a criminal offense, to lobby for a liberalization of the country’s laws on homosexuality.

DELHI, India — Judges from South Africa and Australia are in India, where gay sex is a criminal offense, to lobby for a liberalization of the country’s laws on homosexuality.

Australian Justice Michael Kirby and Justice Edwin Cameron of the Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa are men on a mission — to sensitize Indians about the rights of sexual minorities.

The jurists have been meeting with gay rights advocates across the country.

“Australia had rules similar to the ones in India,” Justice Kirby said, noting that statutory reforms were carried out following public campaigns, and added that India needs a similar public mobilization drive.

“When I was a boy, the fact that I was gay was to be kept a deep, dark secret. We need to blow away that spell cast on people to keep quiet about their sexual identities,” Justice Kirby said.

Justice Cameron said that even when homosexual acts are decriminalized there is still much to do, “For instance in Australia, Justice Kirby is having a tough time ensuring that his partner of 33 years will get a pension in case of any unforeseen eventuality.

“In South Africa, however, the constitution ensures that its citizens are protected from any discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation. The constitutional court has, in fact, also recognized the rights of gays and lesbians to a family life.”

In India, the Lawyers’ Collective, a group of social activists in the legal profession, has filed a petition in the Delhi high court challenging the criminalization of homosexuality, arguing that it violates the Indian constitution, which guarantees equality.

Homosexual customs return to Kandahar

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Homosexual customs return to Kandahar

SUMMARY: Taliban rule is over in Kandahar, Afghanistan , and Western journalists have already noted that traditions of homosexuality are re-emerging.

Taliban rule is over in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and Western journalists have already noted that traditions of homosexuality are re-emerging.

Kandahar’s Pashtuns have started to become visible again with their “ashna” — teenagers who are groomed for sex. Before the Taliban took over in 1994, Pashtuns could be seen everywhere with their young boys on whom they showered expensive gifts. Living in poverty, the boys could not refuse the Pashtuns.

Once a boy becomes the property of a Pashtun, who is usually married with a wife and family, he is marked out. The Kandaharis, however, accept Pashtun relationships as part of their culture. Pashtun and their ashna “beloveds” have been part of everyday life for centuries.

“In the days of the Mujahidin, there were men with their ashna everywhere, at every corner, in shops, on the streets, in hotels: It was completely open, a part of life,” Torjan, 38, one of the soldiers loyal to Kandahar’s new governor, Gul Agha Sherzai, told the Times newspaper.

“They are just emerging again,” Torjan said. “The fighters too now have the boys in their barracks. This was brought to the attention of Gul Agha, who ordered the boys to be expelled, but it continues. The boys live with the fighters very openly. In a short time, and certainly within a year, it will be like pre-Taliban: They will be everywhere.”

Glaxo to begin trials of HIV vaccine in humans

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Glaxo to begin trials of HIV vaccine in humans

NEW YORK, Jan 31 (Reuters) – British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline Plc (quote from Yahoo! UK & Ireland: GSK.L) on Thursday said it will begin human trials in the United States this year on a vaccine to prevent infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Healthy males and females who have not been exposed to the virus and who are at low risk of HIV infection will be enrolled later this year for the trials which will take place at up to 11 clinical research centers in the United States, the firm said.

The vaccine, developed by the drug giant’s GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals vaccine unit, consists of several proteins in and on the outside of the virus as well as an “adjuvant” substance meant to enhance the effectiveness of the vaccine.

In pre-clinical trials, the experimental vaccine protected rhesus monkeys from simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV), a potent virus similar to HIV, Glaxo said.

“The direct relevance of these animal studies to humans is not known. Human data can be obtained only from human studies,” Glaxo cautioned. The U.S. trials represent the first time that the Glaxo vaccine has been tested on humans.

Monkeys given the Glaxo vaccine maintained their levels of key immune-system blood cells, called CD4 cells, that help the body fight off bacteria and viruses. HIV works by invading the body, taking refuge in such CD4 cells and reproducing inside them like wildfire.

But more and more CD4 cells are killed in the process, leaving the immune system prey to deadly opportunistic infections that would not affect people with healthy immune systems.

Glaxo said the vaccine would be aimed at preventing infection with at least two of the most prevalent strains of HIV, found in both the developed and developing world.

The trials will be conducted in collaboration with the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN), which was created in 1999 by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to promote development of HIV vaccines.


The Phase I trial is designed primarily to test for safety, not for effectiveness. In such safety trials low-risk people are tested, with higher-risk populations tested in later Phase II and III efficacy trials.

Glaxo’s vaccine will contain traces of two proteins, called Nef and Tat, that the virus needs to replicate. It also contains bits of a protein called gp 120 that is found on the shell, or envelope, of the virus.

“This is the first time that the Nef and Tat proteins have been stuffed into the same vaccine. It’s a novel approach,” said Dr. Thomas Evans, a professor of medicine at the University of California-Davis that is leading the U.S. trials.

“We had to include the adjuvant and all three proteins — Nef, Tat and gp 120 — to protect the monkeys,” Evans said in an interview. He added the adjuvant was made from a variety of refined substances, including one derived from the bark of a tree.

The safety trial will enroll 84 people over a 15-month period, some of whom will receive the vaccine and others who will receive dummy vaccines.

If the Glaxo vaccine looks promising and safe, Evans said it would be tested in big later-stage trials that could take another two to four years to complete.

U.S. drug giant Merck & Co. Inc is also in the early stages of testing an HIV vaccine in people, and has predicted it will prove successful within the next decade.

About 36 million people worldwide are infected with HIV, with another 15,000 being infected every day, according to estimates of the World Health Organization.

Although expensive cocktails of anti-HIV drugs can control the virus and stave off dangerous infections, the fast-mutating virus quickly can become resistant to the medicines and render them ineffective for many patients.

Health officials have said the only real hope, and affordable means, of containing the HIV epidemic is a preventive vaccine.

Gay Rights Referendum Could Get On Ballot

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Gay Rights Referendum Could Get On Ballot

The Miami-Dade County Commission is moving closer to putting a gay rights referendum on the ballot.

The referendum would ask if sexual orientation should be removed from the existing human rights ordinance.

A group calling themselves SAVE Dade opposes the referendum and is questioning the signatures on a petition supporting it.

“I would like to call on our state attorney to make sure that every signature is valid … if not, we shouldn’t have to vote on anything,” said a SAVE Dade representative.

Two conservative groups gathered signatures for that petition.

Right now it looks like the referendum will be on the Sept. 10th ballot.

New Arrests Prompt Fears of Wider Crackdown on Egypt Sexual Minority

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

New Arrests Prompt Fears of Wider Crackdown on Egypt Sexual Minority

Eight Egyptian men arrested four days ago for the “practice of debauchery” are likely to remain in jail for some time and could be subjected to torture, a local underground human-rights group has warned.

The men, arrested in Damanhour, near Egypt’s coastal city of Alexandria–while allegedly wearing make-up and night-wear, and engaging in “debauchery”–were due to be freed Wednesday, according to a public prosecutor quoted Monday in the independent Egyptian newspaper Al-Wafd

After an initial period of incommunicado detention, they are now expected to be held in custody for further questioning.

Although they will have access to legal representation, reports that they underwent intrusive medical examinations have prompted fears that authorities may be violating a United Nations (newsweb sites) anti-torture treaty, which Egypt has ratified.

“Other men arrested on similar charges in the past have been tortured and we are expecting the same to happen this time,” says “Horus,” an Egyptian human rights worker forced to operate anonymously to avoid arrest.

International human rights bodies also fear that last Saturday’s round-up may form part of a wider crackdown on sexual minorities.

There is a “steadily growing pattern of persecution”, claims the United States-based International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), citing a controversial trial in Cairo last year which found 23 out of 52 defendants guilty of “obscene behavior” and sentenced them to five years’ hard labor.

The so-called ‘Cairo 52’ were also accused of practicing debauchery, a charge normally brought against sex workers, but increasingly used against those involved in consensual homosexual behavior.

Human rights campaigners say the chances of a fair trial next week, in another similar case, are slim after the judge opened the hearing by demanding the khawalat–a derogatory term for homosexuals–be brought into court.

They are calling on the government of President Hosni Mubarak (newsweb sites) to stop the arrests.

“Enough is enough!” says IGLHRC program director Scott Long. “The government of Egypt must stop these arrests. Too many people are sitting in jail whose only crime is to be suspected of homosexuality.”

British lawmakers to repeal gay sex laws

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

British lawmakers to repeal gay sex laws

SUMMARY: Laws that criminalize gay sexual behavior – including the Victorian ones used to prosecute Oscar Wilde over 100 years ago – will be repealed by the British government.

Laws that criminalize gay sexual behavior – including the Victorian ones used to prosecute Oscar Wilde over 100 years ago – will be repealed by the British government, according to the Independent newspaper.

The overhaul of several sexual offense laws is reportedly designed to stop legal discrimination against gay men and put them on equal footing with heterosexuals with regard to the criminal justice system.

The newspaper stated that government ministers are preparing to scrap the offense of “gross indecency,” which targets gay men and was used against Wilde in 1895. In addition, offenses for “buggery” and “soliciting for an immoral purpose” – which reportedly only applies to men – will be repealed.

The revisions will take effect with the new Sexual Offenses Act, which is also expected to reform rape laws, said the Independent.

Martin Bowley, president of the Bar Gay and Lesbian Group, told the newspaper that existing British laws are “anomalous and discriminatory, especially against gay men.”

British TV channel censured for Boy George comments

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

British TV channel censured for Boy George comments

LONDON(Reuters) – A frank discussion of homosexuality by pop star Boy George on a TV talk show earned a reprimand Monday from the Independent Television Commission (ITC).

The Frank Skinner show, broadcast in November on commercial station LWT, carried a warning about its graphic content, but the ITC ruled the advisory was insufficient and called Boy George’s comments outrageous.

“The ITC did feel that the unrelenting sexual nature of the whole Boy George interview, and one or two of the references in particular, had gone beyond the limits of the code,” the ruling said.

The ITC acts as the content watchdog of commercial television channels and issues broadcast licenses in Britain.

Boy George’s sexual remarks prompted 23 complaints from the public, but 17 other complaints over jokes about Afghanistan and the Taliban were not upheld.

LWT said it apologized for any offence caused by the show.

“His sexuality and his candid and sometimes outrageous disclosures have been talking points for 20 years, and we believed we’d prepared viewers for his revelations on the show,” a statement from the company said.


Comedian Barrymore to make TV comeback

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Comedian Barrymore to make TV comeback

LONDON (Reuters) – Troubled television comedian Michael Barrymore will return to British TV screens in February for the first time since a drowning death at his home shattered his personal life, an ITV spokeswoman said Thursday.

Barrymore, who was treated at a rehabilitation clinic in Arizona last year following the man’s death in his swimming pool, will star in a new quiz program, “My Kind of Music,” beginning Feb. 10, the spokeswoman told Reuters.

“From Jennifer Lopez to Jerry Lee Lewis, Atomic Kitten to Al Green, every genre of popular music will be covered in the hunt for Britain’s most knowledgeable music buffs,” was how ITV described the new program in a statement.

Comedian Barrymore, 49, fled to the Arizona clinic last summer after police questioned and then released him on bail following the death of Stewart Lubbock at a late night party at his Essex mansion in March.

Two other men were arrested by police investigating the death of Lubbock, 31, a butchery worker Barrymore met in a local nightclub.

Barrymore, a versatile comic, has starred in several highly popular television series including “My Kind of People” and “Strike it Lucky.”

He has won numerous television awards, but tabloids pounced after he admitted his homosexuality in a 1995 interview.

Barrymore later divorced his wife and then “married” a man in Hawaii in 1999. REUTERS

Study Predicts AIDS Risk From Different Sex Acts

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Study Predicts AIDS Risk From Different Sex Acts

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 16 (HealthScoutNews) — If you knew the odds of getting AIDS for each kind of sexual act, would you change your behavior?

Federal epidemiologists say they hope you would, which is why they estimate the risk levels for various sexual practices in a new study that appears in the January issue of the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

Are you listening now?

However, one expert warns that relying on the numbers could spell trouble and knowing your partner’s HIV status is probably the best protection against AIDS.

“Very few people . . . engage in only one type of sex,” says Frank Edward Myers III, an epidemiologist with Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego who has studied AIDS. Even if a person’s sex life is limited, he says, the research doesn’t consider many variables.

However, study co-author Dr. Thomas Peterman says the report is just a starting point.

“The overarching main message is that there are a variety of ways that you can reduce your risk,” says Peterman, who studies sexually transmitted diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .

Peterman and his colleagues set out to figure out how different sexual activities affect the odds that someone will get AIDS, especially considering that many people have adopted so-called “safe” practices. “The question is how much impact that has had on their risk,” he says.

The researchers examined the prevalence of HIV and AIDS (an estimated 20,000 people are infected in the U.S. each year), the risks of condom failure (estimated at 5 percent), and the accuracy of HIV tests. They assumed that 10 percent of homosexual men are HIV positive, and 1 percent of heterosexuals are.

Using a mathematical formula, they came up with a list of odds for various types of heterosexual sexual acts when compared to receiving oral sex, considered to be of very low risk.

The researchers say performing oral sex is twice as risky as receiving oral sex. When compared to receiving oral sex, insertive vaginal sex is 10 times more risky, insertive anal sex 13 times more dangerous, receptive vaginal sex 20 times more hazardous, and receptive anal sex 100 times more perilous.

The researchers also estimated that not wearing a condom is 20 times as risky as using one.

The researchers estimated that the risk of getting AIDS is one in 2,000, per act, for men who have receptive anal sex with men whose HIV status is not known to them. The risk fell to between one and 2.5 per 100,000 if the gay male took one safe-sex precaution, such as wearing a condom or making sure a partner tested negative for HIV. Gay men should clearly take more than one step to reduce their risk of being infected, Peterman says.

Condoms aren’t the only key to safer sex, he adds: “It’s pretty clear that you’re better off testing your partner than you are ignoring (HIV) status and using a condom.”

Myers says the odds analysis relies on some studies that are flawed because it’s difficult to get accurate information about human sexual behavior and determine exactly how AIDS was transmitted to those who are infected.

For women, he says, sex may be riskier during pregnancy and menstruation. Lack of lubrication may raise risk levels, as may swallowing semen during oral sex, he says.

The study should not be taken literally, he says, but instead be considered a “general barometer” of sexual risks.

What To Do

Learn about HIV tests and what they mean from this fact sheet from the San Francisco AIDS Foundation .

From infection to the full-blown disease, AIDS usually follows a specific pattern in patients. Learn about what happens and when from Boston University.

Falcon founder gives $1M to LGBT center

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Falcon founder gives $1M to LGBT center

SUMMARY: The estate of philanthropist and adult film entrepreneur Charles Holmes has donated $1 million to the new San Francisco LGBT center.

The estate of philanthropist and adult film entrepreneur Charles Holmes has donated $1 million to the San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center.

The center said it is the largest gift from an individual to a LGBT organization in San Francisco’s history.

As a result, the two-building complex will be called the Charles M. Holmes Campus of the San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center.

“Chuck loved everything about San Francisco. He was one of the first donors to the center, and I know that he would have been so impressed with what it has become,” said Terry Bean, executor of the Holmes estate. “Naming this new civic institution after our good friend will ensure his permanent place in the city he loved so much,” Bean said.

While best known as the founder of Falcon Studios, one of the giants in the gay men’s sex video business, Holmes was also a philanthropist who contributed to many organizations, including 20 HIV /AIDS outreach programs. He also served on the boards of directors of the Human Rights Campaign and the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. Holmes died at the age of 55 in 2000, shortly after construction crews broke ground on the center.

“It’s very exciting for the center and LGBT community at large,” said Oren Slozberg, interim executive director of the center. He says the center had been in negotiation with Holmes’ estate for two months. “Chuck Holmes was a businessman, a civil rights leader and a major philanthropist. It’s a great opportunity for the community to have a center and have Chuck’s gift make this become closer to a reality,” Slozberg told the Network.

The donation brings the total amount of money raised to $14.6 million. Though still about $1 million less than the original goal, Slozberg is optimistic the full $15.3 million will be raised prior to the center’s opening.

“We’ve had 3,000 donors to the center,” Slozberg said. “The community has been really supportive, and I’m sure they’ll come through,” he said.

The center was originally slated to open in December 2001, but construction delays pushed the opening back to the week of March 2, 2002. Though the official ribbon cutting is not slated until March 3, Slozberg says the center staff has already moved into the building and San Francisco City College is already holding some classes at the facility.

In addition to being a central gathering place for the LGBT community, the 41,000 square-foot facility will operate 17 programs with 40 collaborating organizations. The center also has space for meetings, dances, film screenings, art exhibits, parties, community forums and other activities.

Slozberg says the goal is for the center to pay for itself by renting out its facilities and by selling annual memberships.

Bisexual Youths More Likely to Have Risky Sex

Monday, March 27th, 2017


World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Bisexual Youths More Likely to Have Risky Sex
Fri Feb 1, 5:29 PM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – A survey of high school students suggests teenaged males who say they are bisexual are less likely to practice safe sex than teens who say they exclusively date males or exclusively date females.

The findings indicate that AIDS education programs in high schools should be geared to include teens who may be bisexual, according to Massachusetts researchers.

They found young men with bisexual experience were more likely to have four or more sexual partners, use alcohol and/or drugs at their most recent intercourse, and were the least likely to use condoms compared with young men with female-only or male-only partners.

Overall, 33% of teens with partners of both sexes said they used a condom at most recent intercourse, compared with 66% of teens who exclusively had female partners and 61% who only had male partners, the report indicates.

Bisexual teens were also between 8 and 10 times more likely to have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease. All of these factors can increase a person’s risk for contracting HIV, according to the report in the February issue of the American Journal of Public Health, journal of the American Public Health Association.

Currently, an estimated 112,000 to 250,000 American adolescents are HIV positive with nearly half of this group made up of young men who have male sexual partners, the authors note.

“The behaviors that may lead to HIV infection are usually initiated in adolescence,” according to Dr. Carol Goodenow of the Massachusetts Department of Education in Malden and colleagues. “Focusing on adolescents can inform prevention efforts that target young people who are still in school,” they write.

In the study, about 67% of youths with bisexual experience remembered having any AIDS education in school, compared with 83% to 93% of other teens.

Of the group surveyed, 3,065 reported having only female sexual partners, 94 had only male sexual partners and 108 had partners of both sexes.

Goodenow’s team notes that sexual identity issues among adolescent males may blunt the effectiveness of broad-based sexual education efforts.

For instance, the investigators found that “more than two thirds of males with only same-sex experience and more than one quarter of bisexually experienced males labeled themselves as heterosexual.”

Given the stigma associated with having same-sex partners, the researchers note that it is unrealistic to hope that young men get AIDS-related information from gay or bisexual support or social groups.

“It may be possible, however, to make mainstream classroom instruction more inclusive and more culturally appropriate for sexual minority adolescents,” Goodenow and colleagues suggest.

“It is critical that such programs be strengthened and that their message be clearly relevant to the needs and choices faced by all sexually active youths,” they conclude.

SOURCE: American Journal of Public Health 2002;92:203-210.

In Clubs, a Potent Drug Stirs Fear of an Epidemic

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

In Clubs, a Potent Drug Stirs Fear of an Epidemic

The New York TimesSome know it as crystal. Others refer to it as Tina, a campy abbreviation of its other name, Christina. But among the habitués of New York’s frenetic gay club scene, the extraordinarily powerful stimulant commonly known as crystal meth is earning a new nickname: the Evil One.

Once largely confined to California, the Midwest and the Southwest, where it has upended the lives of gay men and a blue- collar constituency of truckers, bikers and housewives, methamphetamine is increasingly becoming a conspicuous part of New York’s clubbing landscape and a major worry for health care workers.

In New York, the drug, which gives its users a seductive rush of power, confidence and energy that can last for days, is still mostly confined to gay men. But law enforcement officials and drug abuse counselors fear that it could follow in the footsteps of Ecstasy and cocaine, widely used party drugs that gained cachet among gay club- hoppers but later spread well beyond their world.

Andrew Spano, new Director (USA) for the National Group!

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

A new Director for the United States at the National Group!

The National Group is proud to announce that M. Andrew Spano, journalist and teacher in the Boston Area, had been made Director of the US office in Boston.

Mister Spano will be responsible for the news content and the public relations for the gay media group in the United States and will be the official spokesperson for the media.

Mister Spano can be reached at

Andrew Spano, new Director (USA) for the National Group!

Monday, March 27th, 2017


World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

A new Director for the United States at the National Group!

The National Group is proud to announce that M. Andrew Spano, journalist and teacher in the Boston Area, had been made Director of the US office in Boston.

Mister Spano will be responsible for the news content and the public relations for the gay media group in the United States and will be the official spokesperson for the media.

Mister Spano can be reached at

Women Who Stayed HIV-Free Studied

Monday, March 27th, 2017


World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Women Who Stayed HIV-Free Studied

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) – For years, more than a dozen women have intrigued AIDS (newsweb sites) scientists: They have remained HIV (newsweb sites) free despite having frequent, unprotected sex with an infected partner.

Now researchers at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey think they can help explain why. The women, they say, have immune systems behaving as they were vaccinated against AIDS.

Their study found that in most of the women, key immune cells worked in various ways to block the HIV virus (newsweb sites) from multiplying in their bodies and infecting them, information that could help create an AIDS vaccine.

But the researchers and other AIDS experts stress that the conclusions reached in the study shouldn’t be interpreted to mean that sex without a condoms is safe for anyone.

“If people have unprotected sex with someone who is HIV-positive, they do so at their own peril,” warned lead researcher Dr. Donald B. Louria, of the university’s Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health.

Louria noted that of the 18 women in the study, one was infected with HIV after nine years of frequent, unprotected sex — despite warnings from health workers against it.

Many researchers have been studying the tiny group of people who mysteriously have not become infected with the virus despite long-term, unprotected exposure.

Previous studies covered one or two immune factors, with similar results, but this study was the most comprehensive, said Susan Plaeger of the Division of AIDS at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (newsweb sites).

The 17 uninfected women had unprotected sex with an HIV-positive partner for periods ranging from one year to 11 years dating as far back as the mid-1980s. All but five were persuaded to stop doing so during the study, which included twice-a-year tests of the women’s HIV status from 1995 through 2000.

Tests on their blood focused on two types of immune cells, CD8 and CD4 cells, which kill invading organisms and rev up the rest of the immune system. HIV normally invades and destroys the CD4 cells, gradually disabling the immune system and leaving the person susceptible to other infections.

The CD8 cells and CD4 cells separately were mixed with HIV proteins in laboratory dishes, mimicking how they would interact in a person’s body, and researchers watched for reactions.

In many samples, the CD4 cells rapidly reproduced, as if stimulating the rest of the immune system, and the CD8 cells or two different substances they produced stopped the HIV virus from reproducing.

The team had expected to find one immune response protecting the women from HIV infection, but instead found all four types of resistance spread among 13 of the 17 women.

“Thirteen of them had at least one immune-type response that was stronger than what one would expect from an unexposed person,” said Joan H. Skurnick, associate professor of preventive medicine and community health at the university’s New Jersey Medical School in Newark.

One woman had all four responses. The other four women, and the 18th woman who eventually was infected, had none of those defenses.

Louria said the researchers also found abnormally high levels of CD8 cells in the women’s partners, which appeared to be lowering chances of transmitting the HIV virus.

“This essentially backs up a lot of other data that indicates CD8 cells (and CD4 cells) are important as a protective mechanism against HIV,” Plaeger said.

The study is published in the February issue of the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Dr. Timothy Babinchak, director of clinical research on infectious diseases at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, said the findings should encourage further study with more patients.

Besides helping in vaccine development, he said the information might help AIDS doctors identify which people infected with the HIV virus are likely to progress to full-blown AIDS most quickly.

Sex Abuse Allegations Disgust Africans

Monday, March 27th, 2017


World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Sex Abuse Allegations Disgust Africans
Associated Press Writer

MONROVIA, Liberia – Two days after reports of widespread sexual abuse by relief workers, refugees at several West African camps on Thursday described being offered food for sex.

“The secretary-general of our camp once told me that if I did not make love to him or give him one of my seven girls aged between 22 years and 7 months, they would not supply us with food,” Helen Kamara, 40, said at a refugee camp in Freetown, Sierra Leone. “I did not bother with him.”

And Mamai Sesay, 26, called it “an open secret that there was nothing for nothing” at the Guinea refugee camp where she lived after fleeing fighting in Sierra Leone in 1991.

“A lot of girls made love to aid workers in charge of food distribution, but to be honest, some of the aid workers did not make it a condition,” she said.

“If you ask some of the girls, they would say it is better to love and survive than to keep your pride and die of hunger,” said Sesay, who left Guinea for home in 1997, but fled again later that year and is now living at a refugee camp near Monrovia.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and Save the Children, UK, published an interim report Tuesday claiming evidence of child sex abuse at camps in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Children told investigators that aid workers and some security forces extracted sexual favors in exchange for food and other services.

The allegations against 67 workers and 40 private aid groups, including UNHCR, could not be independently confirmed. But Save the Children, UK, and the United Nations (newsweb sites) said the number of complaints left no doubt there was a serious problem of sexual exploitation.

“I know of cases here where those supplying us with food items make advances to women,” Zainab Kamara, a 33-year-old trader from the northern town of Makeni who fled rebel fighting in 1999 and is now living at a camp in Freetown. “If they refuse, when the time comes for the supply of food items, you will be told that your name is not on the list,” she said.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (newsweb sites) on Wednesday ordered an urgent investigation into the report. Two U.N. investigators from the Office of Internal Oversight, a pediatric expert on child abuse and staff from UNHCR’s inspector general’s office have been in the region for two weeks looking into the allegations.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers said a lack of funding and the lax enforcement of codes of conduct made it easy for predators to exploit children battered by years of war.

“And that is the responsibility of the international community … I have already warned that if you underfund the UNHCR, you are really adding to poverty and miserable situations,” Lubbers said Thursday in Kigali, Rwanda.

In Sierra Leone, Information Minister Cecil Blake called it a “shocking revelation” and pledged that anyone found guilty of sexually exploiting refugees would “face the full force of the law.”

“Our women and children shouldn’t have to offer themselves sexually and sell their bodies for things that are sent to us,” said Mustafa Samah, a Sierra Leonean refugee in Monrovia. “But we as refugees don’t have our own way.”

Refugees at the Voice of America camp west of the Liberian capital, Monrovia, said victims kept silent out of shame and fear. Young men huddled together Thursday in small groups to share their views on the allegations.

“To be frank, no girl will easily admit to being affected because it is a shame here,” said a woman from Sierra Leone as she fed her 2-month-old baby. She refused to give her name.

“But if you look at the need to survive during a civil war, you can conclude that a lot of girls were affected by the practice (newsY! TV),” she said.

Over the past decade, hundreds of thousands of West Africans have been displaced by war. Many fled armed groups such as Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front, which raped, maimed and killed tens of thousands of civilians.

UNHCR and Save the Children say they have started taking steps to protect refugees, including dispatching more foreign personnel and increasing the number of women working in the camps.

Liberia was consumed by a seven-year civil war that ended in 1996; the war in Sierra Leone was only officially declared over last month.

Guinea was for years spared the violence that convulsed its two neighbors, but its reputation as a haven was shattered two years ago when fighting broke out along its borders with Liberia and Sierra Leone. The clashes have subsided, but a recent upsurge of fighting in Liberia has sent tens of thousands of civilians fleeing again.

Choice of Partner, Sex Act Key in HIV Risk

Monday, March 27th, 2017


World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Choice of Partner, Sex Act Key in HIV Risk

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Choosing a sex partner who has tested negative for HIV (newsweb sites) is one of the most effective ways of protecting against contracting AIDS (newsweb sites), but other measures can also substantially reduce HIV transmission, according to researchers at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (newsweb sites) (CDC).

The investigators used past research data and mathematical models to quantify the risks associated with different sex acts and disease prevention tactics. They found that well-known measures, including using a condom or having lower-risk types of sex, slashed HIV risk on their own. But combining prevention efforts worked even better, particularly for gay and bisexual men.

The risk of HIV infection appears lowest when a person chooses a partner who has tested negative for HIV and has oral sex using a condom, according to Dr. Beena Varghese and colleagues at the CDC in Atlanta, Georgia.

In contrast, the risk of HIV is highest when a person receives anal sex from an HIV-positive partner without using a condom. In this scenario, the chances of contracting HIV are 5 in 1,000, according to findings published in a recent issue of the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

The researchers note that while this risk might seem low, it reflects the risk each time a person performs the act, leading to a high risk over time.

As expected, condom use alone cut HIV risk for heterosexual and homosexual men and women–by 20 times overall, the report indicates. As for individual, unprotected sex acts, being on the receiving end of oral sex carried the lowest risk, while receiving vaginal sex was high-risk, and anal sex was even more risky.

Logically, having sex with an HIV-positive partner substantially raised a person’s HIV risk, but so did having sex with someone whose HIV status was unknown, as opposed to being verified as negative.

Taking just one preventive measure significantly cuts HIV risk for heterosexual men and women–to between 2 and 10 in 10 million per sex act, according to the researchers’ estimates. But for gay and bisexual men, who face an increased HIV risk, two safe-sex tactics may be necessary to see such a drop in transmission risk, the investigators found.

Varghese and colleagues add that while their findings may be “intuitively obvious,” it is important to understand the different HIV risks associated with different behaviors.

“We hope that people use this information to choose a combination of risk-reduction behaviors they will be able to sustain,” the authors conclude.

SOURCE: Sexually Transmitted Diseases 2002;29:38-43.

Safe sex should be promoted on TV soaps, doctors say

Monday, March 27th, 2017


World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Safe sex should be promoted on TV soaps, doctors say

LONDON – TV dramas and soaps should feature young people who have contracted sexual diseases to warn of the dangers of infection, the British Medical Association said Tuesday.

The association said a lack of high-profile campaigns to encourage safe sex was behind the soaring rates of sexually transmitted disease across Britain.Its report said poor sex education in schools and a “desperate” lack of genitourinary clinics has also helped promote the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

British people, the report added, “generally find it embarrassing to talk openly about sexual matters.”

TV soaps and drama series, which draw millions of viewers, should reflect the true nature of sexual relationships, which includes the risk of infection, the report said.

Government figures show the number of cases of sexually transmitted diseases being treated each year rose by almost 300,000 between 1995 and 2000.

Data from the Public Health Laboratory Service shows that in 1999/2000, cases of gonorrhea rose by 31 percent in males and 26 percent in females when compared with 1998/99.

In the same year cases of chlamydia, a major cause of infertility in women, rose by 17 percent, the data showed.

The number of cases of sexually transmitted infections declined in the late 1980s and early 1990s, largely due to the government’s anti-AIDS (newsweb sites) campaigns, the report said. But there have been few public campaigns since.

“What is clear from the figures … is that increasing numbers of young heterosexuals and homosexual or bisexual men are not practicing safer sex,” said Dr. Vivienne Nathanson, the BMA’s head of science and ethics.

“We need to get the message across to young people that there is still no cure for HIV (newsweb sites)/AIDS, that sexually transmitted infections, especially if left untreated, can be very serious, can cause infertility and sometimes lead to death.”

Mexicans turn out for gay marriage rally

Monday, March 27th, 2017


World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Mexicans turn out for gay marriage rally

By / NetworkSUMMARY: More than 100 Mexican gay and lesbian couples took wedding-like vows on Thursday as part of a Valentine’s Day (newsweb sites) rally for same-sex couple rights in Mexico City.

More than 100 Mexican gay and lesbian couples took wedding-like vows on Thursday as part of a Valentine’s Day rally for same-sex couple rights in Mexico City.

According to Reuters, an unknown number of supporters joined the couples in a downtown location of the city, where they demonstrated in favor of a bill that would recognize the rights of same-sex couples.

The legislation would allow couples to form “unions of cohabitation” that entitle partners to share insurance and inherit property rights. City lawmakers will consider the bill later this year, Reuters reported.

“This is completely natural, and it is not true that in Mexican families there are no gays,” said Angel Rodriguez, alluding to Mexico’s reputation for being a macho, male-dominated society.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Mexico.

Gay Spaniard Stripped of Priesthood

Monday, March 27th, 2017


World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Gay Spaniard Stripped of Priesthood

MADRID (Reuters) – A Catholic priest who scandalized the Spanish church by announcing his homosexuality in a gay magazine was stripped of the priesthood on Wednesday.

The Church said it was acting against Father Jose Mantero for abandoning his post and breaking his vow of celibacy.Mantero, 39, from Valverde del Camino parish in Spain’s rural southern province of Huelva, caused a sensation last week by coming out in the glossy gay magazine Zero in a challenge to long-standing church taboos on homosexuality.

A priest for 10 years, Mantero believes he is the first Spanish priest to publicly declare himself gay.

News reports said Mantero did not appear in his parish in the days following the interview, although he did show up on Spanish television on Tuesday evening to declare he wanted to continue being a priest but was not ready to renounce his homosexuality.

His announcement was greeted with a flurry of publicity in the Spanish media and the response of the Bishop of Huelva, Ignacio Noguer, did not take long in coming.

By suddenly leaving his post and breaking his vow of celibacy, Noguer said in a open letter, Mantero had placed himself “outside the discipline of the Church on a subject of extreme gravity and scandal for the faithful.”

“This obliges me, not without deep regret, formally to withdraw all ministerial licenses from Mr. Jose Mantero,” the bishop said.

Mantero told Zero magazine he had renounced celibacy. “I believed in it for seven years…but I was drowning in a pit,” he said.

Mantero told a radio interviewer last week he hoped the interview would act as a seed “so that one day homophobic declarations disappear from the Church.”

“Just as one feels a calling from God to become a priest…I felt that God could be calling on me…to ring Zero magazine,” he added.

In his letter, the bishop said he had tried in vain for several days to talk to Mantero, but the facts were so clear that they called for the application of Church law.

He said the Church would continue trying to be a mother to all, so that, “those who err or distance themselves from it will always find its arms open to reconciliation and pardon.”

A spokesman for the episcopal conference, Juan Jose Asenjo, said last week that the Catholic church regards homosexual sex as a sin but condemns discrimination against gay people. That aside, Mantero had broken the vow of celibacy, he said.

“I don’t think it is plausible for a priest to live an active homosexual life,” Asenjo said.

The Catholic Church still wields considerable influence in Spain, especially in rural areas.

Gay nonprofits tighten belts for recession

Monday, March 27th, 2017


World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Gay nonprofits tighten belts for recession

By Ari Bendersky, / NetworkSUMMARY: While some say the economy is moving out of recession, GLBT nonprofit groups are still feeling the effects, but are moving in the direction of recovery.

While five months have past since the Sept. 11 attacks kicked an already faltering economy into a tailspin, GLBT nonprofit groups are still feeling the effects, but are moving in the direction of recovery.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (newsweb sites) (GLAAD) recently announced a reorganization and program shift that will focus on educating regional media outlets around the country through the use of strategically placed volunteers. To launch this effort, GLAAD will close offices in Atlanta, Kansas City, Mo., and Washington. However, no staff members will be laid off, according to Glennda Testone, GLAAD’s regional media director.

Testone explained that the employees in those three cities — one each in Atlanta and Kansas City; the D.C. staff member already works out of New York — were given the option of moving to GLAAD’s “media hubs” in Los Angeles or New York, but declined for personal reasons. She said GLAAD has put together severance packages for both employees since they won’t be moving with the organization.

In addition to filling these two recently vacated positions, GLAAD will add two more positions to oversee focused local activity and have volunteers in key cities reporting back to the main office.

GLAAD was able to reorganize because the group foresaw the impending recession. GLAAD, as well as the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), started to take measures before Sept. 11.

“The general economy began to be a challenge about a year ago, so we’ve been more conservative in our budget process,” said Elizabeth Birch, HRC’s executive director. “We’re growing, but more conservatively. We’re going to keep doing everything we’re doing.”

GLAAD’s Executive Director Joan M. Garry echoes Birch’s message and said that during this downturn, it’s imperative for gay groups to stay in strong contact with their members and to keep talking about the work they’re doing.

“After Sept. 11, we actively reminded (our members) about the connection they’ve had with this organization over the long haul,” Garry said. “It’s important to have strong national organizations. It’s important to our movement.”

Recovery is the goal for some

On the flipside, not all groups were able to prepare for the recession and subsequent World Trade Center attacks. Some are still recovering.

Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, a national group working toward securing civil rights for gays and lesbians, felt a crunch in its development budget to the tune of nearly $500,000. Lambda’s offices are mere blocks from ground zero and were closed for two weeks following the attacks; mail service was shut down for nearly a month. The combination of lost funds and lost time has set Lambda back, but Kevin Cathcart, the group’s executive director, is optimistic that 2002 will still be a good year.

“We’ve postponed growth that otherwise would’ve happened by now and delayed a variety of new positions,” Cathcart said. “I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to fold much of that expansion back in.” Cathcart admits there’s a large demand for his group’s work and that growth is still in their forecast. In fact, Lambda is slated to open a regional office in Dallas this June.

Smaller, regional GLBT groups, however, haven’t fared as well as the large, well-funded gay nonprofits. Take San Francisco-based Positive Resource Center, for example, a 15-year-old group that assists approximately 2,500 lower income people annually living with AIDS (newsweb sites) and HIV (newsweb sites). In December, PRC leaders announced they had to lay off five staffers after learning they’d lost a major government contract around the same time that private donations started drying up.

But, like many GLBT groups, PRC remains devoted to its mission and its clients.

“Since 1987, our clients have relied on us to assist them in getting their disability and health care benefits, and ultimately rejoin the workforce,” Mark Murphy, president of PRC, said in a statement at the time. “We will not abandon our commitment to them. In fact, we’re more determined than ever to continue to provide for the community.”

The overall effects of Sept. 11 and the poor economy on GLBT groups won’t likely be fully known until the end of the year, according to Nancy Cunningham, executive director of Funders for Lesbian and Gay Issues, which advocates for increased support of GLBT issues within organized philanthropy.

“One challenge for LGBT groups and our community is to create a stronger culture of philanthropy,” Lambda’s Cathcart said. “It’s more important now. There’s no reason why all of our organizations shouldn’t be able to raise more money and grow. The community has to look to itself.”

Court: France Didn’t Discriminate

Monday, March 27th, 2017


World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer
Court: France Didn’t Discriminate
STRASBOURG, France – French authorities did not discriminate by refusing to allow a gay man to adopt a child, the European Court of Human Rights ruled Tuesday.


In a 4-3 decision, the judges cited divisions within the scientific community about “the possible consequences of children being brought up by one or more homosexual parents.”

It also noted “wide differences of opinion both within and between individual countries” and the evolving nature of laws on the subject.

Therefore, it said, “a broad margin of appreciation had to be left to the authorities of each state, who were … better placed than an international court to evaluate local needs and conditions.”

The human rights court did unanimously find that the plaintiff, Philippe Frette of Paris, was denied his right to a fair hearing when a French appellate body set aside a previous ruling in his favor and dismissed his request to be allowed to adopt.

The court said Frette had not been properly informed about when the appeal was to be heard, nor was he given the opportunity to examine or respond to the government’s arguments ahead of the hearing.

It awarded Frette $3,000 for expenses but did not order a new hearing.

Frette’s lawyers have three months to decide whether to appeal the ruling to the court’s highest chamber.

In the United States, as many as 9 million children have at least one gay parent, the American Academy of Pediatrics noted earlier this month in endorsing gay adoption.
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Man Claims Firm Used AIDS to Track Him Down

Monday, March 27th, 2017


World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Man Claims Firm Used AIDS to Track Him Down

By KPIXHow would you feel if you received an urgent phone message telling you to call an AIDS (newsweb sites) testing center right away?

A Bay Area man says at first, he was scared and anxious. But now, he’s angry, after he says that he’s learned what the phone message was really about.

The story starts for Donald Crosslin with getting laid off from a dot-com company. His 2001 Lexus was the first casualty. He was six months behind in his payments when he says he received a strange message on his voicemail — a message he certainly didn’t connect with his car.

“It said, ‘Mr. Crosslin, my name is Mr. North from HIV (newsweb sites) testing center. It’s urgent that you call us back immediately,'” he said. “I started to cry. I’d just been tested two weeks before that for HIV.”

Crosslin says he hadn’t received the results of that test yet. But he said he was about to get a bigger shock, when he called the 800 number back.

“He said, ‘Someone you’ve slept with has tested positive for HIV. I need you to give me your home address,'” Crosslin said.

But in a separate call to the same number, the recorded choices allegedly led him to another person with a far different message. According to a lawsuit he’s now filed, that person stated, “We are calling on behalf of Toyota Motor Credit, regarding your 2001 Lexus.”

Was the HIV Testing number just an elaborate front for repossession company?
Crosslin’s lawyer says yes.
“That was the goal,” said attorney Jeffery Keller. “To get the address, to repossess the car.”

In a phone call, the Houston, Texas repo firm that apparently handled the account denied using the 800 number.

Crosslin does not have audio tapes of the message. But after hearing a reference to Johns Hopkins Aids center on the recording, he called the hospital to check it out. Startled officials dialed the 800 number themselves, and transcribed the recording.

“This is obviously a matter of great concern to us,” said Johns Hopkins spokesperson Dennis O’Shea spokesperson. “We’re always concerned whenever our name — the University’s name — is abused or misused in any way.”

Toyota denies involvement, providing us with this statement, “Toyota does not and would not support the kind of activity that Mr. Crosslin alleges. Toyota vigorously denies any involvement in that activity and believes that his claims are unsubstantiated.”

As for Crosslin – he’s now turned the car back in. As for the real HIV test, that came back negative.

Boston Diocese to Give Police Sex Abuse Victim Names

Monday, March 27th, 2017


World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Boston Diocese to Give Police Sex Abuse Victim Names

BOSTON (Reuters) – Boston’s Catholic archdiocese agreed on Friday to release further details of alleged cases of sexual abuse by priests, capitulating to pressure from prosecutors who said they could not investigate without the accusers’ names.

The agreement, which will be formalized later on Friday, was the latest crack in the wall of secrecy that for decades concealed the extent of the problem of pedophile priests in Boston’s diocese, one of the largest in the United States.

In the last month, the diocese has handed over to law enforcement authorities the names of more than 80 priests accused of sexually abusing children in the past 40 years as it struggles to quell a damaging scandal that began with the case of one defrocked priest.

But, citing out-of-court settlements containing confidentiality agreements, the diocese did not disclose the names of the alleged victims or the places and dates of the incidents.

Prosecutors from five counties expressed frustration with the policy and in a letter on Thursday pressed church officials for the information. The letter also said the district attorneys and the state attorney general were banding together to investigate the allegations.

“As you well know, we cannot begin any investigation without the name of the victim and written reports as to allegations of crime; you have provided neither,” said the letter, signed by Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly and the five district attorneys.

“Because of the sheer volume and age of these cases and the cross-jurisdictional issues involved, the five district attorneys have convened a task force, led by the attorney general,” the letter said.

After a meeting with Reilly and the district attorneys on Friday morning, the diocese agreed to release the information within two weeks, Reilly said.

The diocese also said it would release all victims from their confidentiality agreements related to settlements with the church.

“We need the names of the victims,” Reilly told reporters after the meeting. “Then they (prosecutors) can make decisions as to whether or not any crimes have been committed and whether or not those crimes should be prosecuted.”

John Geoghan, whose case triggered the scandal, was sentenced last month to up to 10 years in prison for molesting a child and has been accused by more than 130 people of molestation during his more than 30 years in the Boston diocese. He faces some 84 civil suits and two more criminal complaints stemming from the allegations.

In the aftermath of Geoghan’s trial, court documents and reports by the Boston Globe revealed the diocese quietly settled as many as 70 claims of sexual abuse against priests.

The documents also showed Boston’s Cardinal Bernard Law knew of accusations against Geoghan but continued to assign him to parishes.

Law, who has apologized several times for his role in the controversy, has faced loud calls for his resignation, but has vowed to stay on.

Ala. Court Rules Against Gay Mother

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Ala. Court Rules Against Gay Mother

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – In awarding custody of three teen-agers to their father over their gay mother, the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court on Friday wrote that homosexuality is “an inherent evil” and shouldn’t be tolerated.

The nine-judge panel ruled unanimously in favor of a Birmingham man and against his ex-wife, who now lives with her gay partner in southern California.The parents weren’t named in court documents to protect the identity of the children, ages 15, 17 and 18.

Chief Justice Roy Moore wrote that the mother’s relationship made her an unfit parent and that homosexuality is “abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature, and a violation of the laws of nature.”

Moore also quoted scripture, historical documents and previous state court rulings that he said backed his view.

Moore is known for his decision to place washing machine-sized monuments of the Ten Commandments in the state judicial building after he became chief justice last year. He also fought to keep a Ten Commandments plaque in his courtroom when he was a district judge.

David White, state coordinator for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance of Alabama, said Moore’s opinion reflected outdated thinking.

“It’s unfortunate Alabama is going to be embarrassed once again by a religious fanatic in a position of power in Alabama,” White said. “It’s obvious he cannot judge a gay person fairly and he should be removed from office.”

John Giles, state president of the Christian Coalition, said Moore’s decision protected the institution of marriage and strengthened the traditional family.

The father had held custody since 1996, but the mother petitioned for custody in June 2000, contending the father had been abusive.

John Durward, the father’s attorney, said his client “is very relieved.”

The mother’s attorney, Wendy Crew, did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

Heart Disease a New Concern for People with AIDS

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Heart Disease a New Concern for People with AIDS

SUNDAY, Feb. 24 (HealthScoutNews) — When AIDS (newsweb sites) experts gather in Seattle today for an annual conference, an unusual topic will be on their lips — heart disease.

Just a few years ago, AIDS doctors would have hardly discussed the risk of heart attacks, which typically strike older people. Many people with AIDS simply never lived that long.Now AIDS drugs are extending life spans. At the same time, however, they appear to be raising cholesterol to shockingly high levels.

“We’re having to go back to learning about cardiovascular medicine, which is not something we had to worry about before,” says Dr. Howard Grossman, who treats people with AIDS in New York City.

As many as half those taking drugs known as the “AIDS cocktail” may need cholesterol-lowering drugs, adds Dr. Princy Kumar, director of the division of infectious diseases at Georgetown University.

The annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections is set to run through Feb. 28. Several doctors spoke to reporters last week to discuss topics that are expected to come up.

For reasons that aren’t completely understood, the AIDS drugs seem to affect cholesterol levels in the blood, the experts say. The subsequent problems “are probably the greatest challenge we have now in treating patients,” Grossman says.

Related problems may be leading to so-called “fat redistribution” among long-time AIDS patients. Fat may vanish from the face, while reappearing elsewhere in a “buffalo hump” on the back or around the neck.

“Their faces are sunken in and wasted, and their bodies change to really horrible degrees,” Grossman says.

At a recent conference attended by AIDS patients, Grossman saw many people who suffered from fat redistribution problems. “It was devastating to see that degree of deformity that people have. What it does is keep them from taking their medications,” he says. “It’s having a big effect on adherence.”

The AIDS virus can mutate to evade drugs, especially if patients don’t take their medication on a regular schedule. Drug resistance has become a major threat to the success of AIDS treatments, especially in patients who become resistant to several medications.

But the other big problem may be a higher risk of cardiovascular disease among people on the AIDS drugs. Ideal levels of “bad cholesterol” are less than 200; some AIDS patients have much higher levels, as high as 1,000.

“They go to the gym, they take care of themselves, and their cholesterol is going up to 300, 400, or 500,” Grossman says. “It’s not your mother’s lipid-lowering situation.”

Because of dangerous drug interactions, doctors can’t turn to all medications that lower cholesterol, Grossman says.

That means in some cases, Grossman delays the full range of drug treatments available to combat AIDS, or avoids drugs that appear to have a higher risk of raising cholesterol levels.

“All of us would love to treat HIV (newsweb sites) the minute it’s diagnosed,” he says. “The fact that we’re pulling back from early treatment has more to do with the side effects than it does with any desire to not treat early.”

While many people with AIDS have dangerously high cholesterol levels, they don’t appear to be suffering from a high rate of heart attacks, says Dr. Michael Horberg, medical director of HIV services for the Kaiser Permanente Health Plan in Santa Clara, Calif.

Those with high cholesterol levels may simply be too young to have heart attacks, he says. “There may be a lag time.”

Or, he says, their high cholesterol rates may not translate into clogged arteries. “What seems logical isn’t necessarily the case,” he says.

AIDS Drugs May Fight Cancer, Too

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

AIDS Drugs May Fight Cancer, Too

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Protease inhibitors, the powerful drugs that fight HIV (newsweb sites), the virus that causes AIDS (newsweb sites), also seem to block the abnormal growth of blood vessels, Italian researchers report.

Besides helping to explain why people taking protease inhibitors are not as likely to develop a type of cancer that frequently accompanies HIV infection, the finding suggests that the drugs may be beneficial to people with other forms of cancer, researchers say.

Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) results in vascular tumors in the tissues under the skin and in mucous membranes, such as the inside of the mouth. Red or purple lesions develop on the skin, as well as on other parts of the body, including the lungs, intestinal tract and lymph nodes. The cancer is thought to be caused by human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8).

Before the introduction of protease inhibitors during the mid-1990s, KS was common among people who had HIV. But people taking a combination of drugs including at least one protease inhibitor seem to be less likely to develop KS.

Protease inhibitors act on protein-chopping enzymes called proteases, but proteases are not limited to HIV. They also are involved in tumor growth, inflammation and angiogenesis–the formation of new blood vessels.

Dr. Barbara Ensoli, of the Istituto Superiore di Sanita in Rome, and colleagues had a hunch that protease inhibitors might have a direct effect on KS or on the angiogenesis on which the cancer depends.

Ensoli and her colleagues tested two protease inhibitors, indinavir and saquinavir, in mice with KS. Though the mice were not infected with HIV or HHV8, the anti-HIV drugs prevented KS lesions from developing and caused existing lesions to regress, the researchers report in the March issue of the journal Nature Medicine.

Treatment with protease inhibitors also blocked the growth of new blood vessels in mice, the authors note. In fact, the anti-angiogenic effects of protease inhibitors were comparable to paclitaxel, a commonly used chemotherapy drug.

The research indicates that protease inhibitors have powerful effects on angiogenesis, as well as on tumors, Ensoli told Reuters Health. The drugs not only target HIV’s protease enzymes, but also cell proteases that are necessary for angiogenesis and the invasion of tumor cells, she explained.

Since tumor growth depends on newly-formed blood vessels to supply blood, blocking angiogenesis and tumor cell invasion with protease inhibitors acts “in a synergistic way to inhibit tumor development or to induce tumor regression,” according to the Italian researcher.

Ensoli advised that protease inhibitors be included in the treatment regimen of HIV-positive people who are at risk of tumors, particularly KS. But the findings suggest that the drugs may provide benefits to people who are not infected with the AIDS virus but who have tumors or other diseases marked by too much angiogenesis, she said.

Though protease inhibitors can cause a variety of side effects, the drugs tend to be less toxic than most anti-tumor drugs, Ensoli said. And since the drugs are already widely used, there is no need for additional safety tests, she said.

The next step, she said, is to conduct studies to test the effects of protease inhibitors on KS and other tumors. Ensoli and her colleagues are starting a clinical trial to test the effects of protease inhibitors in HIV-negative people with KS.

“I believe the future research on the anti-angiogenic and anti-tumor effects of protease inhibitors will provide physicians with new drugs, and at the same time will disclose to scientists important clues on the mechanisms of both angiogenesis and tumor growth,” she said.

SOURCE: Nature Medicine 2002;8:225-232.

HIV Drug Abacavir Works Well in Children-Study

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

HIV Drug Abacavir Works Well in Children-Study

LONDON (Reuters) – An anti-AIDS drug that has helped to control the illness in adults could also be an important weapon in battling the disease in children, British doctors said Friday.

Although more than 11 million children and young people worldwide are living with HIV/AIDS, they have fewer treatment options than adults.

But a trial of 128 HIV-infected children in eight European countries and Brazil showed that the drug abacavir, made by drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline, works well in young patients.

“I think it could be a very important weapon. It may be more useful near the beginning of treatment rather than leaving it as salvage treatment,” said Dr. Diana Gibb, of Britain’s Medical Research Council, who coordinated the study.

Abacavir belongs to a class of drugs known as nucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs), which interfere with the reverse transcriptase enzyme needed by the virus to replicate in the body.

It is usually given in combination with one or more other drugs that interrupt the life cycle of HIV.

Gibb and her team found that drug regimens containing abacavir were more effective than other combinations of NRTIs in children who had not been previously treated for the illness.

“It is a very useful drug which has a good formulation and can be used up front in children,” Gibb added.

The researchers measured the viral load–the amount of virus in the blood, and monitored the immune response of children who had been randomly selected to receive one of three different combination treatments.

The viral loads dropped in most of the children, but most significantly when the youngsters received abacavir and lamivudine, another NRTI that is also known as 3TC.

“For the whole trial two-thirds of the children had undetectable virus in their blood at the end of the year but there were significantly more in the 3TC, abacavir group,” Gibb explained.

Hypersensitivity, which causes a fever and rash, is one of the main side effects of abacavir but Gibb said her team did not see any reactions that were out of the ordinary.

Scientists do not know if the treatments can be interrupted or what the long-term side effects will be. The results of the Pediatric European Network For Treatment of AIDS (PENTA) are published in The Lancet medical journal.

Most HIV-positive children acquire the virus at birth from their mothers. Gibb said the latest figures indicated that 1,800 children were infected with HIV each day in Africa. Many of the mothers were unaware that they had HIV.

Drugs and caesarean section deliveries have been shown to reduce the rates of mother-to-child transmission.

SOURCE: The Lancet 2002:359,733-739.

Syphilis cases rise in United Kingdom

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Syphilis cases rise in United Kingdom

SUMMARY: Manchester, north London and Brighton have been singled out as the hotspots for syphilis among gay and bisexual men, according to health authorities.

Manchester, north London and Brighton have been singled out as the hotspots for syphilis among gay and bisexual men, according to health authorities.

Manchester has had the highest number of gay syphilis cases with 160 in a year. Three-quarters were in their 20s and 30s and less likely to practice safe sex and more likely to have multiple partners. Health specialists also said alcohol and drug abuse played a part.

Health officials in Brighton and Hove have also reported a 600 percent increase in the disease, mostly affecting gay men.

Manchester has launched a syphilis awareness campaign about the disease. If it is left untreated, it attacks the brain and can kill. It is called a silent disease because there are few early symptoms.

“Further research is needed into why people seem not to be heeding safer sex advice, particularly in relation to unprotected anal sex,” said the health authority report.

“Reasons could include boredom with the messages, people feeling (inaccurately) that HIV (newsweb sites) is curable, or a new generation having grown up without experience of AIDS (newsweb sites).”

Gay Man Sues Hospital Over Denial of Visitation

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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Gay Man Sues Hospital Over Denial of Visitation

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – A gay man whose partner passed away at a Baltimore hospital has filed suit against that institution after he was barred access to his partner during treatment.

Bill Flanigan on Wednesday sued the University of Maryland Medical System for “negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress,” claiming that he was temporarily denied access to his partner of 5 years, Robert Daniel, after Daniel was rushed to the Medical System’s Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore on October 16th, 2000, for treatment for an AIDS (newsweb sites)-related complication.Daniel died 3 days later.

According to a statement from the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, which is representing Flanigan on a pro bono basis, Flanigan asked hospital staff if he could see the patient and confer with his doctors soon after his admission to the Shock Trauma Center. However, “they told him only ‘family’ members were allowed to do so, and that ‘partners’ did not qualify,” Lambda states.

“Flanigan explained he had a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions and that he and Daniel were registered as domestic partners (in California),” Lambda reports. Nevertheless, they say, Flanigan was refused access to Daniel or his doctors, as well as information on his partner’s condition, until Daniel’s sister and mother arrived 4 hours later.

At that point Flanigan was allowed access to the patient, but he had lapsed into unconsciousness, from which he did not recover.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the University of Maryland Medical Center writes: “We have not been served with any lawsuit, and we cannot respond to the specific allegations.” They note however, that “according to (Maryland) state law, someone who says he is a guardian or has power of attorney for healthcare must present documentation of those wishes. Otherwise, we rely on family members.”

The case highlights the struggle of the same-sex partners of hospitalized patients to be recognized as “family,” according to Lambda Legal.

“When the government won’t let you marry, not even protecting yourself through legal documents will guarantee that the person closest to you will be allowed to be by your side during times of crisis,” explained Lamba Legal’s David Buckel.

His group believes that the University of Maryland Medical System also violated national hospital accreditation standards, which they say “define ‘family’ as the person who plays ‘a significant role in the individual’s life,”‘ including a person “not legally related to the individual.”

Is Rosie a lesbian? Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer want the scoop!

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

ABC News Stars Deny Rift Over Story

NEW YORK (AP) – ABC News stars Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer on Tuesday denied any rift between them over an interview in which talk-show host Rosie O’Donnell is expected to discuss her homosexuality for the first time publicly.

Walters said, however, that she should have been more sensitive to any public perception that she was trying to undermine Sawyer.

Sawyer landed the much-sought interview with O’Donnell, which is to air on ABC’s “Primetime Thursday” on March 14. O’Donnell will reportedly talk about her sexuality in the context of opposing a Florida law restricting the adoption of children by gay couples.

Last Thursday — the day Sawyer taped her interview with O’Donnell — Walters and her co-hosts on ABC’s “The View” talked briefly about the case. In doing so, they publicly asserted that O’Donnell was a lesbian.

“What concerns Rosie is not just this case but that she has three adopted children and a foster child herself, and she, because she is gay, would not be allowed to adopt this child,” Walters said on “The View.”

Walters said she had not competed with Sawyer to land a prime-time interview with O’Donnell. She was aware Sawyer would be speaking to O’Donnell, but Walters said she didn’t have that interview in mind when the subject came up on “The View.”

(Images from ABC)

“This had nothing to do with getting an interview with Rosie, but I am sensitive enough now as I look back to see how it could be interpreted that way and how, if one didn’t know the story and wanted to create a story, it could look as if I was trying to harm Diane,” Walters said on Tuesday.

“This is not the evil axis,” she said. “This is a little misunderstanding.”

“The View” hosts decided to talk about the subject because of newspaper stories about O’Donnell, Walters said. She said she called O’Donnell that morning to ask if it were OK to talk about her sexuality, and O’Donnell said yes.

A week earlier, Fox News Channel talk-show host Bill O’Reilly had talked about O’Donnell’s sexuality during a guest appearance on “The View,” angering the show’s hosts.

Sawyer said she and Walters talked Tuesday about “The View’s” discussion and she was satisfied there was no attempt to undermine her work. She had been most concerned that it had occurred without O’Donnell’s knowledge, which she believed would be wrong, Sawyer said.

“Barbara and I talked about that and I am now completely relaxed about it,” Sawyer said.

ABC’s announcement of the March 14 special frames it as a look at gay adoption featuring an O’Donnell interview. A second special, to be broadcast in April, will be about her upcoming autobiography, “Find Me.”

O’Donnell’s spokeswoman, Cindi Berger, said O’Donnell agreed to speak to Sawyer because “it was a political issue that was near and dear to her. For that reason, she was compelled to speak and speak openly.”

O’Donnell is ending her run as a daytime TV talk-show host in May.

The timing of Sawyers’ interview and Walters’ discussion on “The View” revived stories about competition between the two. The New York Times, in a story last week, said ABC News President David Westin had to sit the “ferocious” rivals down in fall 2000 and strike a truce after they competed over interviews with Yasser Arafat (newsweb sites).

“I cannot tell you how much we hate this story,” Walters said Tuesday, adding that she and Sawyer have bumped heads on stories far fewer times than one would expect, given their respective roles.

It doesn’t mean the two news stars can’t have fun with it. Both dined separately at the Four Seasons in Manhattan on Tuesday, where observers could notice a scratch on Sawyer’s face. She got it when she ran into a tree while walking her dog over the weekend.

“I’m going to tell everybody that I did it,” Walters said.

Slovenian drag queens to play Eurovision?

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Slovenian drag queens to play Eurovision?

SUMMARY: Gay organizations in Slovenia are fighting to stop challenges to results of the country’s Eurovision song contest.

Gay organizations in Slovenia are fighting to stop the director of Slovenian National Television from trying to annul the results of the country’s Eurovision song contest that was won by a drag queen trio called The Sisters.

Aleks Stakul, director of Slovenian National Television, wants to annul the results because there were problems with televoting. It was later agreed by a jury under broadcasting regulations that the results would stand.

The director, however, wants to repeat the televoting and judging with a different jury.

Gay groups believe that it is due to homophobia and that the director does not want drag queens representing the country.

The final decision on the dispute will be made by the TV Council later this week.

The Eurovision Song Contest is a festival of mostly entertaining songs selected by the television companies of Europe to represent local cultures. The 2002 contest will take place May 25 in Tallinn, Estonia. Previous winners include Dana International and ABBA.

Editorial: Priests paint the wrong picture!

Monday, March 27th, 2017

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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Priests paint the wrong picture

Nothing makes better headlines than sex. Now add the clerical collar of a Roman Catholic priest and dozens of little altar boys and you have the recipe for a major scandal that will hold vast audiences in thrall. This is what is happening with the sexual molestation scandal that began in Boston and is spreading to archdioceses around the U.S.

It is also nothing new. In the 19th Century English writer Matthew Lewis described priestly debauchery in his bestseller “The Monk.” Also in the 19th Century French writer Honore de Balzac portrayed lecherous monks and high-ranking clergy frequenting rich prostitutes and paying them from the alms for the poor.

The difference — and this makes all the difference — is that the adjective “pedophile” comes before the noun “priest” in this latest Roman Catholic Church scandal.

And, unfortunately, that adjective has certain connotations that have already done some serious harm to the innocent gay community in the U.S. and in Boston The reason? Because of the age-old definition of a “pederast,” which is, at least in French, “pederaste,” meaning quite literally “homosexual.” So in this case the connotation becomes the denotation, and the denotation becomes yet another excuse for the straight community to vent its insecurities about anyone with a different sexual orientation.

Gays and straights alike are shocked at the scope and cruelty of the acts of these priests (one Boston priest alone had over 80 child victims). However, it is only gays that are concerned about the growing distrust the public has of the loving, honest, mature homosexuals in our places of worship, schools, Boy Scout troops, social services, mental hospitals, and homes.

After all, the public’s attitude seems to be that it is better to be safe than sorry. Efforts such as that by Roger-Luc Chayer of Montreal, the editor-in-chief of The World Nation and the Web-based Le National, to have the Canadian government change the official definition of “pederaste” to what it should be — a child molester and not a gay man — have been successful.

Let’s do everything we can to prevent a rollback of social morals to the days gay men were denied jobs as teachers, clergymen, and other kinds of youth leaders. There are millions of boys who are homosexual, but do not have any role models among the sanctioned role models of society: family, church, school and state.

Maybe it is because society excludes positive gay role models from the mainstream that real criminals have such an easy time masquerading as people parents can trust with their children.

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NZ Catholic Church Confirms 38 Sex Abuse Cases

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

NZ Catholic Church Confirms 38 Sex Abuse Cases

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – The Catholic Church in New Zealand said on Saturday it had confirmed 38 cases of sexual abuse in its ranks going back over several decades.

“There are offences going over a period of 50 years…right back to the ’50s and it’s not 38 individual offenders because there are, in some cases, two or three complaints about one person,” Lyndsay Freer, spokeswoman for the Catholic Church in New Zealand, said.

“The bishops have on many occasions expressed their sadness, well, their deep shock and regret about these things on different occasions when these things have actually happened,” she said.

The revelations are part of a widening scandal that has shaken the Catholic Church globally, costing clergy their jobs in the United States, Poland, Ireland, Canada and Australia.

The New Zealand Herald reported that the New Zealand cases included complaints against priests, brothers and lay members of the church in positions of authority.

The largest order of priests in New Zealand, the Society of Mary, has paid $54,835 to five people who made accusations against three priests — none of whom remain in the order, the newspaper said.

The vice-provincial of the Society of Mary, Father Tim Duckworth, was quoted saying the past practice of moving abusers to other parishes or schools was wrong.

“I unreservedly apologize on behalf of brother priests…for the hurt that has been done by some few of our number,” he said.

“Even one hurt person is too many.”

Offenders are now sent for treatment in Australia and removed from public ministry upon their return, the church said.

HIV Develops Resistance to Experimental Drug

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

HIV Develops Resistance to Experimental Drug

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – An experimental AIDS ( newsweb sites) drug called T-20, which researchers hope will benefit people whose HIV ( newsweb sites) infections have become resistant to other medications, may itself sometimes cause HIV resistance to develop, the results of a new study suggest.

But the resistance developed in a study of patients taking T-20 alone, not in combination with other medications. Recently, the Swiss healthcare group Roche Holding AG, which is developing the drug with North Carolina-based Trimeris, Inc., reported encouraging results of studies of T-20 used in combination with other AIDS drugs.

“Both studies indicate that T-20 significantly enhances the activity of HIV combination therapy,” Dr. Dani Bolognesi, the chief executive officer and chief scientific officer of Trimeris, told Reuters Health.

Bolognesi pointed out that the cases of HIV resistance developed in an early-phase trial designed to test the safety of the drug in humans. He noted that HIV developed resistance only in patients taking a lower dose than is being tested in later trials of T-20, which are still ongoing. Resistant viruses have not developed in those studies, according to Bolognesi. Further details of T-20 studies will be presented later this summer at an international AIDS meeting in Spain, he said.

T-20 is the first of a class of AIDS drugs called fusion inhibitors. Unlike current drugs that target HIV once it has already entered cells, fusion inhibitors work by keeping HIV from entering cells in the first place.

In the study, Dr. John C. Kappes and colleagues at the University of Alabama at Birmingham studied 16 people with HIV. The patients took 3 milligrams (mg), 10 mg, 30 mg or 100 mg of T-20 twice a day for 2 weeks.

In patients taking the two lowest doses, there was no noticeable effect on the level of HIV in the blood, known as the viral load. In all patients taking the highest dose, however, viral load dropped below detectable levels.

The problems with resistance developed in patients taking the 30-mg dose. These patients experienced some decline in viral load, but it was not as large as the drop seen in the 100-mg group. At the end of the study, though, the researchers detected HIV mutations in two of the four patients in the 30-mg group.

“Our study of patients receiving T-20 monotherapy provided the first evidence for the rapid emergence of clinical resistance to a novel class of entry inhibitors,” Kappes told Reuters Health.

“These findings,” according to Kappes, “are highly relevant to ongoing and future treatment strategies involving these agents.”

In the report, Kappes and his colleagues note that other types of HIV medications, including powerful drugs called protease inhibitors, may trigger resistance when taken alone. Standard practice is to treat HIV infection with a combination of several drugs. This strategy helps keep HIV from changing its structure to make it more resistant to the effects of medications.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health ( newsweb sites), but Trimeris provided the drug for the study.

SOURCE: Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 2002;46:1896-1905.

Gay-rights protesters infiltrate Southern Baptist meeting in St. Louis; 50 arrested

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Gay-rights protesters infiltrate Southern Baptist meeting in St. Louis; 50 arrested

ST. LOUIS – The head of the Southern Baptists condemned homosexuality from the podium Tuesday as gay rights protesters shouting slogans marched through the convention hall and into the arms of police.

Twelve protesters were arrested inside the hall, and 38 more were taken into custody outside, where riot police stood near the main doorway.

The dozen protesters who infiltrated the annual meeting of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination were charged with ethnic intimidation and trespassing.

“Stop killing us! Stop the spiritual violence!” one man shouted as police dragged him behind the curtains at America’s Center. A woman from the group Soulforce, which claims Southern Baptist teachings lead to violence against gays, shouted: “God loves his gay children!”

“You need Jesus!” shouted back the Rev. Robert Smith, a pastor from Cedar Bluff, Alabama. Others hissed as protesters were led away.

The protesters tried to disrupt Southern Baptist president James Merritt’s keynote address to nearly 9,000 delegates and their families.

Merritt took aim at the media and Hollywood, citing surveys that show nearly unanimous acceptance in those groups of homosexuality. He said Southern Baptists have a “biblical responsibility” to preach against such things.

“We now face the fact that there are certain groups that are going to protest us every year,” he said. “They have let me know in their correspondence, `We are not going away.’ Well, I’ve got news for the pornographer, the adulterer, the homosexual, the pedophile, the abortionist: We are not going away either.”

Meanwhile, the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations demanded that the convention condemn “bigoted” and “hate-filled” statements made by one of its pastors in a speech Monday evening.

The Rev. Jerry Vines, a former SBC president, told conventioneers that many of this country’s problems can be blamed on religious pluralism and said “Islam is not just as good as Christianity.”

“Islam was founded by Muhammad, a demon-possessed pedophile who had 12 wives — and his last one was a 9-year-old girl. And I will tell you Allah is not Jehovah either. Jehovah’s not going to turn you into a terrorist that’ll try to bomb people and take the lives of thousands and thousands of people,” Vines said.

Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for CAIR, said the comments were outrageous.

“It’s really unfortunate that a top leader in a mainstream Christian church … would use such hate-filled and bigoted language in describing the faith of one-fifth of the world’s population,” Hooper said Tuesday.

William Merrell, a spokesman for the SBC executive committee, said the comments were made outside the actual meeting, and that it was not the SBC’s place to comment.

On Tuesday, the Baptists elected a new president, the Rev. Jack Graham, pastor of the 22,000 Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. Graham was the only nominee.

Also Tuesday, President George W. Bush ( newsweb sites) greeted delegates via satellite from the White House.

“I want to thank you all for your good works,” he said. “You’re believers and you’re patriots, faithful followers of God and good citizens of America.”

The Southern Baptists claim more than 16 million members.

First anti-AIDS campain in Brazil

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

A reproduction of an anti-AIDS campaign showing a father and son in Rio de Janeiro, June 4, 2002. The slogan reads “Respecting differences is as important as using a condom.” Brazil’s government will launch on Tuesday its first-ever anti-AIDS campaign directed specifically at homosexuals to combat a high growth rate of infection among gay men aged 15 to 24. The campaign, developed with gay rights activists, also aims to raise tolerance toward homosexuals, especially among health professionals, educators and parents. REUTERS/Handout

Companies prepare 20-minute HIV test

Monday, March 27th, 2017


World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Companies prepare 20-minute HIV test

SUMMARY: Abbott Laboratories and OraSure Technologies Inc. announced plans to jointly distribute a new HIV ( newsweb sites) test that claims to detect the virus much quicker than standard tests.

Abbott Laboratories and OraSure Technologies Inc. announced on Monday plans to jointly distribute a new HIV test that claims to detect the virus much quicker than standard tests.

OraSure’s OraQuick device can detect the presence of HIV-Type 1 antibodies within 20 minutes, according to the Associated Press. The common laboratory process, by contrast, takes two weeks.

The Beaverton, Ore.-based company applied for approval from the Food and Drug Administration ( newsweb sites) in June 2001, and the FDA said it was approvable last month, provided minor conditions are met.

OraSure expects to market the product later this year.

The agreement with Abbott settles an earlier patent dispute and makes Abbott a co-exclusive distributor of OraQuick in the United States. Based in Abbot, Ill., the company will focus on marketing the test to hospitals and doctors’ labs.

Study: Homophobia is not a phobia

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Study: Homophobia is not a phobia

SUMMARY: Homophobia is a misnomer, according to a group of U.S. psychologists.

Homophobia is a misnomer, according to a group of U.S. psychologists.

The psychologists from the University of Arkansas claim that homophobia is not an actual phobia because it’s caused by disgust, not fear or anxiety.

The 138 study participants were asked to complete a series of surveys, including: the Index of Attitudes Toward Homosexuals (IAH), which measures homophobia; the Sexual Attitude Scale, which explores what people think about human sexuality; the Disgust Emotion Scale, which measures a person’s response level in terms of disgust; and the Padua Inventory, which assesses contamination obsessions, reports HealthScout.

The participants also answered questions designed to measure levels of fear and anxiety.

According to the study, people who showed homophobic tendencies on the IAH also displayed conservative sexual attitudes, along with elevated levels of disgust and dread of contamination.

The findings suggest that social conditions and attitudes, not psychological factors, create homophobia, the researchers said. In other words, homophobia is closer to racism than it is to a phobia.

Regarding treatment for homophobia, the study’s authors recommended altering social conditioning in homes and schools.

The research was presented at the American Psychological Society convention in New Orleans last weekend.

Facts and figures about gay officeholders

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Facts and figures about gay officeholders

Some facts and figures regarding openly gay and lesbian elected officials in the United States:

NUMBERS: Of 511,039 elected federal, state and local officials, 218 are openly gay or lesbian. Of the group, 149 are men, 69 women; 207 are Democrats, 11 Republicans. Three serve in the U.S. House, 47 are state legislators, and the rest are local officials.


CONGRESS: The openly gay members of Congress are Reps. Barney Frank, D-Mass.; Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz.; and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis. A Maine legislator, Susan Longley, hoped to join Baldwin as the second uncloseted lesbian in Congress, but narrowly lost the Democratic primary June 11.

MAYORS: Tempe, Ariz., population 158,000, is the largest city with an openly gay mayor. An openly gay candidate lost a runoff election June 4 in his bid to become mayor of Long Beach, Calif., population 461,000.


LEGISLATORS: Noteworthy gay legislators include Illinois state Rep. Larry McKeon ( news, bio, voting record), who is HIV ( newsweb sites) positive; state Rep. Glen Maxey (news, bio, voting record), who is stepping down after 10 years as the only openly gay legislator in Texas; and Carol Midgen, who is leaving her San Francisco-area assembly seat to run for statewide office.

Worrying about the dark side of gay “circuit parties”

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Worrying about the dark side of ‘circuit parties’ The events began as fundraisers bringing in millions of dollars for gay charities and AIDS prevention. But a growing reputation for drug use and random sex has public health officials and som

WASHINGTON — They began years ago, and from the start were raucous celebrations of gay culture, from the drag queens who did sendups of pop tunes to the hundreds of dancing partygoers who found comfort in numbers.

Today, ”circuit parties” have become weekend-long bashes in cities across the USA and Canada. They attract thousands of mostly young gay men who dance until dawn and whose admission fees raise millions of dollars for AIDS-prevention groups and gay charities. At the Old Post Office Pavilion here in April, about 2,500 shirtless men packed the dance floor during a circuit party called ”Cherry 7.”

But charities — along with public health officials and many gay rights leaders — are increasingly uncomfortable with what has become the dark side of circuit parties: widespread drug use and random, unprotected sex that some charities say is just the type of behavior they discourage.

At the Cherry 7 party, drug use was apparent and acknowledged. ”Probably a good 25% of the people here, maybe more, are on drugs,” said David Tillette, a drug counselor and a volunteer at the party. ”It does worry me. I feel like it’s deteriorating our health.”

Concerns that such events have grown out of control have led one major AIDS service organization, Gay Men’s Health Crisis in New York City, to get out of the circuit party business. Other groups, mindful of the financial windfall the parties provide, are trying to stop drug use and encourage safe sex among partygoers. Still others have tried to detach themselves from the controversy by allowing the parties to be run by promoters, who take a cut of the proceeds and send the rest to the charities.

Health officials say the parties have become a reflection of the risky behavior that is contributing to rising rates of HIV infection among gay men.

Drug use prevalent

A federal survey last year of 295 men who had attended circuit parties within the previous year indicated that 95% of them took at least one illegal drug at a party.

The survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the men’s favorite party drugs were Ecstasy (also known as ”X”), which gives users a sense of well-being and unlimited energy but also can cause brain damage; the anesthetic ketamine (”Special K”); the sedative gamma hydroxybuterate (GHB); and crystal methamphetamine, a stimulant. The survey also said 28% of the men reported having sex without condoms on circuit party weekends.

Drugs are so prevalent at the parties that organizers often hire medical teams to treat overdoses.

”These parties are creating (HIV-positive) clients,” said Troy Masters, publisher of LGNY, a gay newspaper in New York City that has opposed the parties. ”You wouldn’t find the American Cancer Society throwing a smoking party.”

Gay Men’s Health Crisis, which was founded in 1981 and serves 11,000 clients annually in the New York area, stopped holding its party in 1998 after it became known for drug use and sex. The annual party had begun 16 years earlier as a way to educate gay men about safe sex and to raise money for AIDS prevention.

”It became a social phenomenon above and beyond what (we) intended and beyond what (we) could control,” said Ronald Johnson, an official of the group. At its peak in 1998, the party drew more than 10,000 men and raised more than $450,000. ”We’re still closing those (funding) gaps,” he said.

YouthPride of Atlanta, a group that provides support for gays ages 13 to 24, turned down a pledge from the ”HotLanta” circuit party last year. ”YouthPride is trying to promote . . . healthy behaviors. Circuit parties are not appropriate for the youth we are working with,” said Linda Ellis, the group’s executive director when it declined the funds.

Other groups, determined to keep their fundraisers alive, are cracking down on drug use and increasing security. Among those is Philadelphia Fight, an AIDS service group. ”We confiscate a lot of drugs,” Executive Director Jane Shull said. ”We don’t want anybody to die. We don’t want anyone to get hurt. We certainly don’t want anyone to contract HIV.”

Meanwhile, other charities acknowledge wrestling with the ethics of accepting contributions from circuit parties and prefer not to be involved directly in the events — in part because of liability concerns.

Whitman-Walker Clinic, an AIDS service organization here, accepted $35,000 last year from the Cherry party. This year, Cherry organizers did not include Whitman-Walker on their list of beneficiaries. Whitman-Walker officials have discussed whether their group should benefit from parties that could foster the spread of HIV, Executive Director A. Cornelius Baker said. ”We would never produce such an event,” he said. ”If you are holding an event where there is the potential for alcohol and drug use, you have a greater responsibility about what occurs.”

Weighing the benefits

Cities where circuit parties are held say they usually present fewer problems for police than similar events. But some city officials are beginning to examine whether the economic benefits from the parties should outweigh the troubling behavior of some partygoers.

Last year in Palm Springs, Calif., Mayor Will Kleindienst cited concerns about drug use when he asked the City Council to consider banning the annual ”White Party,” which attracts more than 10,000 men who generally dress in white. Last year, Palm Springs police reported 13 overdoses and two citations for sex in public during the party weekend. The city eventually decided to allow the party to return to its convention center.

”In a nutshell, the economic impact of the White Party is huge,” said David Aaker of the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce.

To address the mayor’s concerns, organizers emphasized the dangers of drugs, gave out condoms and had an ambulance at this year’s party, held Easter weekend. Two overdoses were reported.

Circuit parties got their name from those who travel to various cities — the ”circuit” — to attend several parties each year. The parties essentially are the gay version of raves, parties that are popular among some young people.

There are two or three circuit party weekends a month. Among the cities where they are held: Montreal, San Francisco, Atlanta, Palm Springs, Miami and Washington. The parties are not universally popular among gay men, although many say they have attended one. The parties generally attract professionals ages 21 to 35.

At the party here in April, organizers sheathed the building’s food court in black drapes, suspended laser lights and disco balls in an elaborate stage set, and played music at earplug levels. Two lip-syncing drag queens did a floor show. Proceeds — about $150,000 — went to gay and lesbian groups.

Organizers of the party emphasized a safe-sex, anti-drug message. Everyone who bought a ticket received a pocket-size drug guide. A sponsor scattered festively wrapped condoms and lubricants throughout the building. The organizers hired physicians to provide first aid. ”We’ve never had to transport someone to the hospital,” said Patrick Menasco, executive vice president of the Cherry Fund, which organized the party. ”Weigh that against the fundraising and community-building. This event is worth it.”

At 1:15 a.m., a man who Cherry volunteers said had taken too much GHB was about to lose consciousness. A friend helped him down some stairs.

Two Philadelphia couples said they attend up to eight parties a year and usually take Ecstasy pills with a liquid shot of GHB or some ketamine, which can be liquid or powder. ”If you don’t do drugs,” said Jonathon, 33, who did not want his last name used, ”you’re not going to enjoy it as much.”

Advice Columnist Ann Landers Dies

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Advice Columnist Ann Landers Dies

CHICAGO (AP) – Ann Landers, the columnist whose snappy, plainspoken and timely advice helped millions of readers deal with everything from birth to death, died Saturday. She was 83.

The death of Landers, whose real name was Esther Lederer, was announced by the Chicago Tribune, publisher of her column. She died less than two weeks before her July 4 birthday.

Landers died of multiple myeloma at her Chicago apartment.

“There was absolutely no wall between Ann Landers and her readers. It went straight from her to them,” Tribune syndicated columnist and author Bob Greene said Saturday. “I don’t think there has ever been the kind of mutual trust and affection between writer and reader as there was with Eppie.”

Landers’ column first appeared in print Oct. 16, 1955, in the Chicago Sun-Times. In 1993, she was the world’s most widely syndicated columnist, appearing in more than 1,200 newspapers worldwide with 90 million readers daily. Her twin sister, Pauline, followed her into the profession as writer of the Dear Abby column.

The feisty, outspoken Landers was a housewife when she won the Sun-Times contest to become the second Ann Landers after the woman who created the column died.

At the end of her career, she was a with-it great-grandmother whose name often appeared on lists of the country’s most influential women.

“Eppie Lederer was a great columnist and a wonderful person,” said John W. Madigan, chairman and CEO of Tribune Co. “She helped people with her advice, and made important contributions to society through the causes she supported.”

Psychology Today once gave her credit for likely having more influence on the way people work out their problems than any other person of her era.

“All the column means to me is an opportunity to do good in the world,” she said in a 1993 interview with that magazine.

She attributed her skill to sheer instinct.

“I relate to these people like they are almost sitting in the same room. I feel their pain,” she once said.

Her advice was always blunt, often sympathetic and sometimes sarcastic. But her answers, even to some of the silliest questions, were heartfelt.

In her column published in Sunday’s Tribune, Landers gave advice to “Depressed in New Jersey” and “Stu in Florida.” And to “Desperate in Des Moines, Iowa,” whose husband is keeping his earnings from her, she wrote: “Edgar will not allow you to have any of his income and is planning to sell the house? Something smells rotten to me.

“See a lawyer immediately, and find out how to protect yourself and your children if Edgar leaves you and takes all his assets with him.”

When she began her column, newspaper editors forbade her from talking about homosexuality.

In later years, there were virtually no taboos: In an Oct. 24, 1993, column, for example, she endorsed masturbation or mutual masturbation as a safe, realistic alternative to abstinence for everyone from teens to the elderly.

In a letter published June 16, 1993, a man wrote of being sexually aroused by his girlfriend’s young daughters. In a typically pithy response, Landers wrote: “The klinker in your thinker has a pedophile-like twist that could cause real trouble at any time. Please get counseling at once.”

She was a great believer in counseling and wasn’t too big-headed to seek advice from prominent experts when a reader’s problem proved too complicated.

Her column had lighthearted moments, though. Few topics excited readers more than the question of which direction the toilet paper should be hung in.

“She was like America’s mother, and I’m not alone in my sadness,” Landers’ daughter, Margo Howard, told the Tribune.

“She was about fixing the world. She really wanted to make things better. She really cared about the people,” said Howard, whose column, “Dear Prudence,” appears in the online magazine Slate.

In addition to Howard, Lederer is survived by her sister and competitor in the advice column business, Pauline Esther “PoPo” Phillips, also known as Abigail Van Buren, author of the Dear Abby column.

Landers made headlines and inspired countless water cooler debates in 1985 when she asked women readers whether they prefer tenderness and cuddling or sexual intercourse. Some 90,000 readers sent in responses, and 72 percent voted for cuddling, she reported.

She answered hundreds of letters a day from the office in her high-rise North Side apartment, dispensing thoroughly modern advice by typewriter because she just didn’t like computers.

She was based at the Sun-Times until March 1987, when she switched syndication companies and moved to the Chicago Tribune.

The daughter of Russian immigrants, she was born Esther “Eppie” Friedman on July 4, 1918, in Sioux City, Iowa, 17 minutes before her twin sister. When Pauline became Dear Abby, her older sister was so angry they reportedly feuded several years before reconciling.

Landers married Jules Lederer, who helped found Budget-Rent-A-Car, in 1939 — in a gown matching that of her sister, who got married that same day.

The Lederers had a daughter, Margo. They divorced in 1975, a decision Landers announced in “the most difficult column I have ever tried to put together.”

“How did it happen that something so good didn’t last forever? The lady with all the answers does not know the answer to this one.” Lederer died in January 1999.

Her long career was not without controversy. In 1982 she made headlines when it was revealed that she had recycled old material in her columns.

And her headstrong views got her into hot water in 1993, when she issued a national apology for adding her own inflammatory remarks to a letter from a charity watchdog group. Two years later, she apologized for calling Pope John Paul ( newsweb sites) II a “polack.”

Though she wasn’t shy about expressing her own opinions in her columns, Landers once said she stayed sane by distancing herself from her readers’ problems.

“I learned early in this work to take the problems seriously but not to take them too personally. I have to separate myself from the readers and realize what’s happening to them is not happening to me,” she told the Sun-Times in an interview marking her column’s 30th anniversary.

She told readers at that time, “I intend to crank out this column as long as you find me useful and the good Lord gives me the strength to do it.”

AIDS Study: Behavior Must Change

Monday, March 27th, 2017


World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

AIDS Study: Behavior Must Change

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – A year after the 189-nation General Assembly adopted a plan to halt the AIDS ( newsweb sites) epidemic, a U.N. report issued Sunday said “dramatic changes” in sexual awareness and behavior are still needed in many poor countries to stop the advance of the killer disease.

The report examined data from 39 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America and concluded that while campaigns have raised awareness of the HIV virus ( newsweb sites) and AIDS in many developing countries, they have not had a major impact on people’s behavior — and their perception of risk.

“The results from this study highlight the enormous challenges lying ahead in the prevention of the spread of HIV ( newsweb sites)/AIDS,” the report said. “Clearly, dramatic changes in sexual and reproductive awareness and behavior in many less developed countries are needed in order to defeat the HIV/AIDS epidemic.”

The U.N. Population Fund said it released the study on the first anniversary of the General Assembly special session — the first on a health issue — to provide a picture of HIV and AIDS awareness and behavior among men and women of different ages in many countries. It was based on nationally representative surveys of about 5,000 households in each country, mainly done in the mid-to-late 1990s.

The General Assembly session highlighted the need to intensify international action, focus on prevention of HIV infections, and mobilize the resources to fight the AIDS pandemic

Even in countries where HIV rates are high, the report found a large majority of men and women considered themselves at little or no risk of contracting AIDS.

In several countries, such as the Dominican Republic, Eritrea and Niger, the proportion was 90 percent or higher, it said. In contrast, only in the Comoros did the percentage of women who believed they were at moderate or great risk of getting AIDS reach the 50 percent mark.

“Also striking is the fact that in none of the countries surveyed did the level of education make a significant difference in the responses. This suggests that education has not been effective in making people aware of their own susceptibility to AIDS,” the report said.

“This very consistent finding suggests that the perception of risk is culturally conditioned and may involve considerable denial. Therefore, the notion of `risk perception’ needs to be directly addressed in broad public programs,” it said.

In all 39 countries, a large majority of those surveyed who had heard of AIDS knew at least one way to avoid sexual transmission of the disease. The two ways most often mentioned were using a condom and having only one sexual partner.

But despite a great effort to promote the use of condoms to prevent AIDS, the report said “over the years, the condom has not become more popular among couples.”

In some countries in western and central Africa, “the difficulty in promoting the use of condoms is compounded by the fact that the large majority of women who are sexually active intend to become pregnant,” it said.

Men were much more aware than women about sexually transmitted infections.

The study found that in some countries — including Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Madagascar and Niger — about half the women surveyed didn’t know they could contract a disease through sexual contact. In half the countries surveyed, one quarter to one third of women respondents knew of no way to avoid getting AIDS.

While AIDS campaigns have significantly raised awareness in urban areas, the report said “existing programs have done little, so far, to adequately inform the vast majority of couples who live in the rural areas of many African and Asian countries.”

In the 39 countries, the survey found that the radio was the most informative source on AIDS campaigns.

Canadian Beauty! Is the standoff in the Montreal suburb of Pointe Claire about homophobia or rather a neighbors’ squabble spun out of control?

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Canadian Beauty! Is the standoff in the Montreal suburb of Pointe Claire about homophobia or rather a neighbors’ squabble spun out of control?

Roger Thibault and Theo Wouters insist they’ve been targeted because they’re gay. Now, alleged homophobe Robert Walker finally breaks his silence by MATTHEW HAYS

Since their lives came under the media spotlight over a year ago, Pointe Claire residents Théo Wouters and Roger Thibault have become causes celebre within Montreal’s gay and lesbian community. Having been in a relationship for more than a quarter century, they’re seen as glowing examples of stability, role models for gay youth looking to develop long-term relationships. Last summer they inspired a rally, to which thousands of gays, lesbians and their supporters marched to the Montreal suburb of Pointe Claire to support them in their struggle. Both Justice Minister Allan Rock and openly-gay MP Svend Robinson have taken a specific interest in their case.

They’re even stars of an unrelated advertising campaign by Montreal optician Georges Laoun. The ad graces the back page of Fugues, the city’s French-language gay monthly. The two are modelling glass frames, the photo caption reading simply, “Roger and Théo.” Theirs are now household names, and their celebrity came to a peak last month when they became the first same-sex couple united under the Quebec government’s new civil-union legislation. Their case came to light after they’d lodged a series of complaints to public security, the police and the Quebec Human Rights Commission, and then began taking their beefs to the media. And the press loved the story. According to Wouters and Thibault, the couple were being victimized by mean, angry, homophobic neighbours.

Two weeks ago, the couple appeared to gain an important ruling in their favour, when the Quebec Human Rights Commission recommended that Robert Walker, Wouters and Thibault’s immediately adjacent neighbour, pay them $30,000 and that their other neighbour, Greg Inglis, pay them $6,000. Those thinking this decision will finally bring the long, disturbing and ongoing case of alleged homophobia in Pointe Claire to an end would be wrong. The Human Rights Commission’s decision was not a binding order but rather a recommendation; if Walker and Inglis decline to pay up (which they have both opted to do), the case will then automatically go to a tribunal, where the Commission will hear the case in its entirety and rule on it then.

The tribunal is but one of a gaggle of legal rituals linked to the case which are now unravelling. Walker faces criminal charges of assault and harassment brought against him by police after repeated complaints from Wouters and Thibault. The case is slated for October; apparently in anticipation of a long and complicated trial, Quebec Superior Court has scheduled more than a week for the case to be heard. Inglis is currently suing Wouters, Thibault and the TVA network for defamation of character after a report that aired in March of last year. (The judge in that case ordered Wouters and Thibault to shut down their Web site last week and effectively muzzled them, ordering them not to discuss the case with the media). And Montreal police are looking into complaints by Inglis that Wouters and Thibault have been harassing him. MUC Det.

Alain Dupont confirms he’s currently investigating the case to see if there’s enough evidence to go to trial. Walker must also face charges of indecent exposure, brought against them by Wouters and Thibault. The plight of Wouters and Thibault looks like a simple, straightforward case of a discrimination and bigoted behaviour—the kind media types love. Victims, prejudice, misdeeds in a conservative suburb—it’s a scenario out of the Oscar-winning movie American Beauty. More than a few Pointe Claire residents have summoned the film title. “I hope this doesn’t end up like American Beauty,” Bob Louette said to me during an interview in January. He lives right across the street from Wouters and Thibault and the Walker household. And he’s convinced things could end badly. For over a year now, only one side of this story was being recounted in the media. Both Inglis and Walker, who Thibault and Wouters argued were making their lives hell, refused to be interviewed. (Inglis continues to refuse, now citing the ongoing court proceedings as a reason not to speak to the press.)

But now Walker has broken his media silence. After several phone conversations and a meeting with his wife, Norah, she and Robert Walker agreed to sit down and talk with me. Describing himself as intensely press-shy, Walker insisted no photographer be brought along and even asked me to turn off my tape recorder, opting instead that I take notes. An odd request, from someone who insists the media has gotten virtually every element of this story wrong from the get-go. “This situation has absolutely nothing to do with homophobia,” Walker tells me. He then begins to go over the events of the past two years. I’ve heard many of these tales before, having interviewed Wouters fairly extensively on the subject of the rift on their otherwise quiet Pointe Claire street. Now I’m getting a decidedly different perspective. Both Robert and Norah Walker state that they’ve never, ever had any issue with gay people whatsoever.

For them, this made the irony of the label all the stronger. Without a doubt, Walker became one of Canada’s most notorious homophobes, though the Walkers fairly point out that all of the charges have been alleged, none of them ever proven. Walker even tells me tales of the film business years ago, having worked for the Canadian Film Development Corporation (Telefilm’s forerunner), rubbing shoulders with gay pioneer filmmaker Allan Moyle (The Rubber Gun). “I’m the most liberal guy going,” insists Walker. “Whatever anyone’s lifestyle, it doesn’t matter. I always knew Roger and Théo were gay, ever since we moved in in ’84. Never bothered me.” Walker describes the first nasty exchange occurring between he, Thibault and Mr. Walker in May of 2000.

Walker was working in the yard, and Wouters approached him. Walker expected that Wouters was going to ask about his wife’s health, seeing as Norah Walker had just gone through the first of a number of operations for cancer and was going through chemotherapy. Instead, Walker says Wouters complained about a number of things he was doing wrong, asking Walker to tie his dog up on the other side of his yard, move his composter and take down three flower boxes from the fence (a part of the fence, Walker says, which doesn’t even border Wouters and Thibault’s property). Walker says he was so dumbfounded by the conversation, he barely knew what to say. But he says he was aware that Wouters and Thibault had had multiple complaints about various other neighbours and their conduct, including complaints about kids playing street hockey.

According to the Walkers, the neighbourhood was going through a major demographic shift, from old retirees to young couples with budding families. Walker acknowledges that he said something to the effect of, “Perhaps this isn’t your kind of neighbourhood any more.” In Wouters’ version of this event, the meeting ended on a far nastier note, with Walker screaming at them. “He was very hostile,” Wouters told me. “He said we didn’t belong in Pointe Claire, but rather the dirty gay Village. He was well aware of what he was doing.” Several months after this exchange, in July of 2000, Robert Walker received a letter from the Quebec Human Rights Commission which, he says, left him “dumbfounded.” In it, the Commission asked Walker to respond to a series of charges of harassment made by Wouters and Thibault. The long list of complaints struck the Walkers as eerie. “This was my first understanding that there was a problem,” says Robert Walker.

“They had kept a log of our comings and goings since 1997,” adds Norah Walker. “They had taken the license plate numbers down on the cars of people who’d visited us.” Robert: “Up to that point, I really thought we’d been good neighbours. Not best friends, but always friendly.” Since that turning point, and after a meeting between Wouters and Inglis which apparently also turned nasty at around the same time, things have grown steadily worse for the residents of Parkdale Ave. Others on the street argue the feud has made life there decidedly less carefree and enjoyable than it used to be. “The mood has definitely changed,” says Louette, who backs up Walker in his claims. “Walker is not a homophobe, not at all,” says Louette. “He’s a scapegoat. This has gotten ridiculously out of control. Many of us feel sorry for Walker.” Louette says much of the interaction between neighbours along the street is completely absurd. After police advised residents that they should take photos of their neighbours’ misdeeds so as to have actual evidence of them, a plethora of cameras were set up, with Wouters, Thibault and other residents all clicking cameras at the drop of a hat. At one point, several angry residents joined in, with a group of Pointe Claire citizens all angrily shooting their cameras at each other. In January, Louette got in on the absurdity himself. Armed with a video camera, he took footage of an agitated Thibault, pacing back and forth on his lawn for about eight minutes, cell phone in hand, apparently awaiting Walker’s arrival.

Wouters defends his partner’s action, saying Thibault had been startled by Walker’s appearance moments earlier and that’s why he’s pacing back and forth. The videotape is evidence that has been submitted in Inglis’s civil suit against the couple. The media, argues Louette and the Walkers, have fanned the flames of the situation. Though well-meaning, they argue, the intense attention to their street has meant tempers have flared continually over the past year. As well, they argue the press has run with Wouters’ and Thibault’s version of events, never stopping, even momentarily, to question their validity. Over the past six months, the police have been called at least once a week to Parkdale Ave.; sometimes, they arrive on the scene after a complaint as many as three times in a given week. To some, the calls Wouters and Thibault make are for frivolous reasons. Wouters and Thibault point out that their house and car have been vandalized and feel genuinely threatened. (Their house and car were egged last year and their car was damaged after it was stoned.

The Walkers insist they have absolutely no idea who was behind the vandalism.) A number of the charges the neighbours have made against each other do sound like the kind of minor understandings that, if not handled delicately, can lead to very bad neighbourly relations. The Walkers complained of moth balls that Wouters and Thibault placed under the hedge that stands between their property; Wouters and Thibault complained to the police that Walker intentionally mowed over some of their flowers; Both sides accuse the other of incessant staring, claiming that whenever they step out of the house and into their respective back yard, the other neighbour comes out, just so that their presence is felt. Which does prompt the question: is this homophobia or a simple case of a nasty neighbour tit-for-tat gone terribly wrong? Walker points out that he’s not the only one Thibault and Wouters have labelled homophobic. “Anyone who disagrees with or has an opinion that is different than that of Mr. Thibault and Mr. Wouters is automatically labelled a homophobe by them,” he says. When former Pointe Claire Mayor Bill McMurchie (who now sits in Montreal city council) insisted last May’s parade to support the couple remain in a park and not wind by the couple’s home, Wouters and Thibault accused him of homophobia; When Quebec Human Rights Commission mediator Marcelle Arcand didn’t see eye to eye with Wouters and Thibault, they accused her of homophobia.

When MUC police were not quick enough to arrest Walker for breaking his restraining order (he is currently under order to stay at least 20 feet away from their property line and 50 feet away from them when off his property), they too were labelled homophobic. And Walker’s lawyer, Salvatore Mascia, is now considering his own lawsuit against Thibault and Wouters, after they alleged he has made a career out of defending homophobes. (“I have defended gay clients in the past,” Mascia says. “I have close friends who are gay.”) Certainly, some of Thibault and Wouters’ tactics have been questionable. Their Web site (, currently out of commission due to court order) often had posted bits and pieces of bizarre gossip about their neighbours. Wouters has referred to the Walkers as “such trailer trash.” And Wouters acknowledges he got into his car one day and followed Inglis to work. (“I needed to know where he worked so my lawyers could serve him with a subpoena,” Wouters has told me since, defending his actions.)

As well, while Wouters and Thibault did emerge victorious in the recent recommendations by the Human Rights Commission, mediator Marcelle Arcand asked to be removed from the case. In a damning memo, she said she feared working on the case any longer, citing the extreme language used by Thibault in a written report and the “danger” he presented. If the couple do have a smoking gun, it involves Inglis, not Walker. When police arrived to investigate a complaint in September of 2000, Inglis reportedly turned to an officer and said, “I have two children and I don’t want homosexuals in my neighborhood.” The comments were recorded in a police report, a copy of which was obtained by the Mirror. Still, Walker says he has no knowledge of homophobia on the part of Inglis—he only knows about his own feelings. “I’m not homophobic,” he repeats. Oddly enough, all parties interviewed for this story are actually intensely eager for their day in court. No kidding—they’re looking forward to it. “I trust in the court system,” says Robert Walker. “I’m looking forward to the truth being laid bare.” “This was a great story,” adds Norah Walker. “Too bad none of it is true.” Wouters is equally eager to see the case over and done with. “Can you imagine that some would suggest we would make this up?” Wouters asks rhetorically. “Why on earth would we do that?”

Matthew Hays is associate editor of the Montreal Mirror. His articles have also appeared in The Advocate, The Globe and Mail and The New York Times.

Pastor resigns after fellow priest complains he had gay porn in rectory bedroom

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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Pastor resigns after fellow priest complains he had gay porn in rectory bedroom

( FREDERICKSBURG, Virginia – The pastor of a Roman Catholic parish resigned after a fellow priest complained he had gay pornographic videos and photos in his rectory bedroom.

The Rev. Daniel E. Hamilton, pastor of St. Mary’s Parish in Fredericksburg, stepped down Aug. 26, Bishop Paul S. Loverde said this week.

Hamilton, 59, had been pastor of St. Mary’s for two years. The diocese would not make him available for comment.

The allegations against Hamilton were leveled by the Rev. James R. Haley, who previously worked as an assistant under Hamilton.

The diocese said Hamilton was ordered by the bishop to undergo evaluation and treatment last fall and cooperated fully.

“Despite these facts, certain persons recently took it upon themselves to publicize Father Hamilton’s past failing,” the diocese said in a statement. “Because his ministry could be negatively impacted, Father Hamilton submitted his resignation as pastor.”

Norway appoints its second female bishop in the state Lutheran Church

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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Norway appoints its second female bishop in the state Lutheran Church

OSLO, Norway – The government on Friday appointed Norway’s second female bishop in the official Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Laila Riksaasen Dahl, 55, was named as bishop of the Tunsberg district, 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of the capital, Oslo, after she was selected over several male candidates in an internal church referendum.

Dahl, currently a pastor in Nittedal, outside Oslo, is considered a theological conservative and is opposed to letting active homosexuals into the clergy. She will be one of 10 bishops in the Norwegian church.

Rosemarie Kohn, who became Norway’s first female bishop in 1993, is considered more liberal and made headlines a few years ago when she allowed a lesbian to work as a pastor.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Norway has been the nation’s official religion since 1537. Last year, 86 percent of Norway’s 4.5 million people were listed as members, although only a fraction of those were active.

Shoes Spare Gays from Nudity Charges

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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Shoes Spare Gays from Nudity Charges

TORONTO (Reuters) – Seven men who bared all in Toronto’s Gay Pride Parade have been cleared of public nudity charges because they were wearing shoes, their lawyer says.

The men, from a social group calling itself Totally Naked Toronto Men Enjoying Nudity (TNT!MEN), were arrested and charged under Canada’s Criminal Code after they marched in the annual festival wearing only footwear — and sunscreen.

But prosecutors dropped the charges this week after conceding there was no reasonable prospect of a conviction, said lawyer Peter Simm, a TNT!MEN member himself.

Simm said Thursday his clients were technically not naked even though one had a “sort of a codpiece on.”

“The law is very straightforward if someone is absolutely and completely bereft of clothing…however things become a little more complicated if there is a scrap of apparel anywhere on the body and the Crown has to show that the person is indecently clad which gets into what the current Canadian legal test is for indecency,” he said.

“Because everyone wore at least footwear the Crown had to prove indecency and it couldn’t.”

Simm said his clients, two of them visitors from Texas, were relieved at the decision but upset that they were arrested in the first place.

TNT!MEN nude marchers have joined in the gay festival, which attracts tens of thousands of marchers and onlookers in downtown Toronto each year, ever since the group was first formed in 1997.

But before this year they had never been arrested.

“Besides the fun of marching in the parade, the marchers did have some serious intent as well, addressing issues of body shame and also what is regarded in the gay community as ‘body fascism’,” Simm said, adding that the men arrested ranged in age and size — the youngest was 25 and the oldest was 61.

The Crown, worried about more such incidents, wrote to Simm saying the decision to drop charges should not be seen as a precedent for more incidents in the future.

Gay presence on network TV declines

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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Gay presence on network TV declines

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Prime-time television is getting “straighter” this year, with far fewer gay, bisexual and transgender characters showing up on the fall schedule than appeared last season, a gay activist group said Monday.

The number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) characters in lead, supporting or recurring roles on network TV has dropped from 20 last year to just seven this coming season, according to an analysis by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

Meanwhile, the total number of shows featuring LGBT roles has declined from 16 last season to just six this fall — “ER,” “Will & Grace ,” “NYPD Blue ,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer ,” “Dawson’s Creek ” and the new ABC hospital drama “MDs.”

The decline, coming after three straight years in which gay and lesbian characters enjoyed a surge in visibility on network television, was disappointing to leaders of the gay community.

“The diversity of the gay community cannot be conveyed through seven characters, especially when all of those characters are white,” said Scott Seomin, entertainment media director for GLAAD.

Much of the decline is due to the fact that 11 shows with gay and lesbian characters last season failed to make it back on the schedule this fall, including “Spin City ,” “Felicity,” “Once and Again,” “The Ellen Show” and “Dark Angel .” In addition, the only two series to feature a bisexual and a transgender character — “That ’80s Show” and “The Education of Max Bickford,” respectively — were both canceled last season.

Seomin suggested that gays’ prime-time presence may also have suffered from programming choices by networks looking to offer more “comfort food” to an American public unsettled by events of the past year.


“I believe they are programming for comfort, and that’s very, very narrow programming, and the gay and lesbian community, like all other minorities, don’t bring a lot of comfort in the eyes of the programmers,” he said.

Not only do gays remain scarce on prime time, shows featuring homosexual characters that manage to achieve hit status fail to spark the kind of imitation seen by other television genres, Seomin said.

“The networks are not copycatting the success of shows with gay and lesbian characters, like ‘Will & Grace,’ the way they copycat medical dramas, for example,” Seomin said.

Karen Narasaki, head of the multiethnic coalition of civil rights groups pressing for greater racial diversity on network TV, said the decline of gay and lesbian characters in prime time fits a larger pattern.

“When there are fewer minority portrayals on television, the accuracy of the representations decreases,” she said in a statement.

This year’s declining presence of gays and lesbians on broadcast TV reverses a trend in which the number of LGBT portrayals ran between 20 to 24 for each of the past three seasons, Seomin said.

By contrast, cable television offers a far heavier concentration of gay characters on a smaller number of shows, with a total of 22 LGBT roles counted on six shows this coming season — “Oz,” “Sex and the City ,” “Six Feet Under” and “The Wire” on HBO, “The Shield” on FX and “Queer as Folk” on Showtime.

Gays’ network visibility is due to grow again early next year when two new shows debut as mid-season replacements — the CBS sitcom “Charlie Lawrence,” starring Nathan Lane as a gay actor turned congressman, and the Fox series “Oliver Beene,” about an 11-year-old boy who is revealed in flash-forward scenes to be gay, though he doesn’t know it yet. Reuters/Variety

Gay Bathhouses Good Targets for Anti-HIV Outreach

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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Gay Bathhouses Good Targets for Anti-HIV Outreach

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – If the activities at one gay bathhouse are any indication, risky sexual behavior appears to be less frequent at these establishments than in the past. But health officials warn that gay and bisexual men who do report having unsafe sex in bathhouses are more likely to be HIV positive.

The findings highlight the importance of targeting bathhouses for educational interventions to reduce HIV spread, the researchers say.

After the explosion of HIV infection among gay and bisexual men in the mid-1980s, a large number of gay bathhouses were shut down, amid much controversy, largely because of their association with the spread of HIV infection.

Now, more than a decade later, the bathhouse is slowly making a comeback, especially in larger US cities, according to lead author Chris A. Van Beneden of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.

“Gay bathhouses have been described as ‘licensed men’s health clubs that provide a setting for impersonal homosexual sex,”‘ the authors write in August 15th issue of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.

From a public health perspective, AIDS experts are often on the lookout for ways to reduce or eliminate the spread of HIV in the community. While some take the view that gay bathhouses should be shut down, others see them as an opportunity to reach out to the otherwise unreachable patrons that visit these establishments in an effort to alter risky sexual behavior.

In the current investigation, Van Beneden and colleagues surveyed upwards of 900 men who frequented a bathhouse in Portland, Oregon, where such establishments, including private sex clubs, are legal.

Among the group, 86% reported having oral sex and 51% reported having anal sex within the month before being surveyed. Of these, 21% of men acknowledged that they had not used condoms while having anal sex during the previous month, the report indicates.

“Although most bathhouse patrons engaged in lower risk activities, those reporting unprotected anal sex were more likely to report HIV infection and to have multiple sexual partners,” the authors write.

“Well into the HIV epidemic, bathhouses remain venues for ongoing spread of HIV and opportunities for intervention,” Van Beneden and colleagues conclude.

Commenting on the study, J. E. Miles, Jr., a spokesperson for the not-for-profit group Gay Men’s Health Crisis in New York City, said he thought the study confirmed his own experiences when speaking with gay men at such establishments.

“We have found the same thing, that, for the most part, the majority of men going to bathhouses are practicing safe sex and are using condoms that are provided,” said Miles, who is involved in outreach programs targeting sex clubs and bathhouses.

He also noted that “the study’s findings highlight the fact that for some reason some men are still engaging in risky behavior.

“Let’s try and learn more about the men who still have unprotected sex. If we can better identify these individuals…we can make a more targeted effort with our (outreach programs),” he told Reuters Health.

SOURCE: Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes 2002;30:522-526.

Gay couple moves by Falwell church

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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Gay Couple Moves by Falwell Church

LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) – A gay couple is renting a home across the street from the Rev. Jerry Falwell’s church to correct what they see as misinformation spread by the pastor and show that homosexuals can lead Christian lives.

“We just want Lynchburg to see us — an old gay couple — and realize that we’re as boring as they are,” said the Rev. Mel White, 62, who moved into the cottage Tuesday with Gary Nixon, 52.

White, a minister with Metropolitan Community Church in Los Angeles, ghost-wrote Falwell’s autobiography and has known Falwell for more than 15 years — before White announced his homosexuality.

White said he started planning a trip to Lynchburg after Falwell blamed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in part on gays.

“It broke our hearts to see what he was doing,” White said. Falwell later apologized for the comments.

Falwell called the couple’s move a publicity stunt but said they are welcome at his Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, about 60 miles east of Roanoke.

“I can’t think of anyone who needs it more,” Falwell said.

White’s activist group Soulforce plans several local events to support homosexuals and gay rights. He said he hopes his presence will soften Falwell’s stance.

“We believe he’ll be one of the first to say gays are God’s children too,” White said. “We just need to give him enough time to do it.”

U.N. postpones historic gay rights vote

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

U.N. postpones historic gay rights vote

SUMMARY: On Friday the United Nations (newsweb sites) Human Rights Commission deferred a landmark resolution on human rights and sexual orientation until next year.

On Friday the United Nations Human Rights Commission deferred a landmark resolution on human rights and sexual orientation until next year, apparently after five Muslim nations — four of them United States allies — maneuvered procedural delays.

Libyan chairwomen Najjat Al-Hajjaji’s proposal to defer the resolution to the next year’s session was voted 24-17 with 12 abstentions, amid protests from Canada, European Union (newsweb sites) and Brazil.

Friday was the last day of the 59th session of the U.N. Human Rights Commission.

Frederico S. Duque Estrada Meyer of the Brazilian (newsweb sites) delegation in Geneva called it a “double victory,” saying if the resolution had been put to vote it might have been defeated. Meyer said, “We have one year to act. … The issue of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation is on the table, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and other opponents of the resolution will not get rid of it.”

On Thursday, Brazil initiated debate on its resolution, titled “Human Rights and Sexual Orientation,” arguing that it created no new rights and that it was strictly based on existing treaties.

The opposition came from mostly military-run Pakistan on the grounds that the resolution conflicted with Islam. Pakistan proposed “no action” to avoid a voting on the resolution but was defeated 24-22, with six abstentions. Behind the scenes, the Vatican (newsweb sites) itself was said to be pressuring predominantly Catholic Latin American nations against the resolution, sources in Geneva said.

The Muslim bloc nations, namely Saudia Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, Libya and Malaysia, succeeded in delaying a vote by proposing five different amendments to the resolution. On Thursday, Al-Hajjaji postponed the vote until Friday.

In Geneva, Jan Doerfel of the International Research Centre for Social Minorities told the Network on Friday: “In spite of the unholy alliance between the Holy See and the OIC, this was a monumental step. This has led to victories that have to be built upon in the years ahead.”

Faisal Alam, founder of world’s first openly queer Muslim organization, Washington-based Al Fatiha, said on Friday, “I am obviously upset. The issue of GLBT rights has been sacrificed at the altar of political expediency.” Alam alleged “blackmail” of the 57-member OIC, U.S. opportunism and the Vatican pressure as the three main reasons that led to Friday’s postponement of the vote.

Others felt there were reasons for cheer. Suki Beavers of the Canadian Action for Population and Development said via e-mail, “This resolution was not defeated and we will be back with a vengeance next year. Although we didn’t get a full out victory, neither is this a defeat and it is clear that this will be the issue for the (U.N.) CHR next year.”

According to Doerfel, the nations who were clearly in favor of the Brazilian initiative were Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Guatemala, Ireland, Japan, Poland, South Korea (newsweb sites), Russian Federation, Sweden, Thailand, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

Those who were clearly opposed to the draft resolution were Cameroon, Gabon, Kenya, Libya, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Syria, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

The nations leaning towards no, though not explicitly so, were Argentina, China, Congo, India and Senegal.

The United States led the fence-sitting nations that included Chile, Paraguay, Peru, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Togo, and Vietnam. Other nations said to be in this category were Cuba, Swaziland, Uruguay and Venezula.

The first-of-its-kind resolution in the U.N.’s 60-year history, the measure had expressed deep concern at the occurrence of violations of human rights on grounds of sexual orientation and urged all states to promote and protect the human rights of all persons regardless of their sexual orientation.

According to the Amnesty International, millions of people across the globe face imprisonment, torture, violence and discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Swiss AIDS Campaign Offends Catholic Bishops

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Swiss AIDS Campaign Offends Catholic Bishops

By Nigel Glass

VIENNA (Reuters Health) – A Swiss advertising campaign to combat HIV (newsweb sites)/AIDS (newsweb sites) has been cut back to avoid offence to the country’s Catholic bishops — religious leaders to 3.3 million of the country’s 7.3 million people.

Two advertisements urging the use of condoms have been withdrawn from the initiative, which aimed to curb the 25-percent increase in HIV infections seen in Switzerland last year.

A poster in German says: “Dear Father, if Rome doesn’t want you to talk about contraception, then talk about condoms instead.”

“We are not against the campaign, but we do not want it to upset Catholic sensibilities,” Marc Aellan, deputy general secretary of the Swiss Bishops’ Conference, told Reuters Health.

He said that while the Swiss Catholic Church was completely behind the campaign in principle, “it did not like a number of the campaign’s messages, and these two were particularly offensive.”

But Swiss health ministry spokeswoman, Sandra Meier, denied that the campaign had been dropped because it offended Catholic sensibilities, but rather because it was inaccurate in its use of wording.

“We had intensive talks with the Bishop’s conference, and agreed to drop that part of the campaign because we had used the word Rome rather than Vatican (newsweb sites). The Pope is in Rome, but he lives in the Vatican, which is a separate state,” she told Reuters Health.

“We realized that the campaign would provoke a reaction. It was never our intention to attack Rome, the Vatican or the Church, or to hurt religious feelings.”

Juerg Schaub, who is at the advertising agency CRDDB and designed the posters, said one of the main goals of the campaign was to get people talking about AIDS once again, and if that was done through controversy, then so be it.

It is not the first controversial Swiss campaign against HIV/AIDS. In the early 1990s, an advertisement promoting the use of condoms featured gay men playing in the countryside, and a later effort showed a penis tied in a knot.

Aellan said that his church does not entirely condemn the use of condoms in protecting against HIV/AIDS. “We say that the best protection is fidelity, but for those who cannot follow this, condoms are the better of the two wrongs,” he said.

California man has HIV superinfection

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

California man has HIV superinfection

SUMMARY: Researchers report in the May 2 edition of the medical journal AIDS (newsweb sites) that a California man has been infected with two different strains of HIV (newsweb sites).

Researchers report in the May 2 edition of the medical journal AIDS that a California man has been infected with two different strains of HIV, picking up a wild-type (otherwise known as drug-sensitive) strain of HIV after first contracting a drug-resistant strain of the virus.

Initially enrolled in a study that was looking at people with drug-resistant HIV, the man was discovered — four months after enrolling in the program — to be infected with more than one strain of HIV. The infection was confirmed after the researchers performed a series of genetic tests to show that the second strain wasn’t resistant to reverse transcriptase inhibitors.

The man was infected with HIV strains common in North America. His superinfection apparently had an adverse effect on his health, driving up his viral load in two months from 2,400 to over 200,000, while over the course of 11 months his T-cell count went from a high of over 800 to a low of 282.

HIV superinfection, or the presence of two strains of HIV in the same person, has been a controversial issue in AIDS health and social service circles. It raises issues about HIV-positive people having unprotected sex even with each other, and raises significant stumbling blocks to researchers trying to develop an AIDS vaccine. Activists and health officials also raise concerns about overtalking superinfection, since it could encourage more HIV-infected people to seek out negative partners, which could increase overall infection rates.

Scientists believe current HIV tests used to show if a patient is infected with drug-resistant HIV wouldn’t work if the patient also is infected with the wild-type strain. But if the person began drug therapy, evidence of the drug-resistant strain would emerge.

At least two other HIV superinfections have been reported. In September 2002 a Swiss research team reported they had discovered a 38-year-old man with dual strain infections, while in July 2002 at the international AIDS conference in Barcelona, Spain, a researcher reported a similar infected patient in Boston.

Court: Domestic abuse law not for gays

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Court: Domestic abuse law not for gays

SUMMARY: The Puerto Rico Supreme Court has overturned gay and lesbian provisions in domestic violence laws.

The Puerto Rico Supreme Court has overturned gay and lesbian provisions in domestic violence laws.

In a 4-3 decision, the court set aside criminal charges against Leandro Ruiz Martinez for beating his domestic partner, Juan J. del Valle, two years ago. It was the first domestic-violence case the government prosecuted since it decided to apply the law to same-sex couples.

The judges in the majority said the legislative intent was to “strengthen the institution of the family,” defined as a “sentimental and legal union between a man and a woman.”

The ruling comes as the Legislature is revising the island’s penal code for the first time in 30 years, including Puerto Rico’s sodomy law.

Although the law has never been applied in Puerto Rico, activists say the threat is there. One lawmaker so much as voiced that threat during hearings on the new code.

Lesbian activist Margarita Sanchez took the threat to the commonwealth’s Supreme Court. The judges threw out the case, ruling a potential threat was not enough to prove a violation of the right to privacy guaranteed in the island’s Constitution or unequal protection under the law.

The Ruiz domestic violence case, Sanchez says, shows the danger of the sodomy law. In order to pursue the case against his former partner, del Valle had to get immunity from prosecution under the sodomy law, which criminalizes any sexual contact not traditionally used for procreation.

“Here we see a clear example of the type of damage this can cause,” said Janice Gutierrez, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Puerto Rico office.

“The decision by the court reflects that wish for the (gay) community to continue to be nonexistent, for the closet to keep growing,” said Ricardo Ramirez Lugo of the Legal Assistance Clinic at the University of Puerto Rico’s Law School.

The U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing a Texas case in which two men caught having sex in a bedroom claim the sodomy law is unconstitutional. If the court rules the law unconstitutional, it would void the law in Puerto Rico and other states and territories which still ban sodomy.

Some Predict Backlash for Gay Support

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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Some Predict Backlash for Gay Support

By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – Supporters of Howard Dean’s presidential campaign will be celebrating Saturday’s third anniversary of his signing of the nation’s only law giving gay partners the same legal rights as married couples. The loudest cheering, though, might come from Republicans.

Dean, a former Vermont governor, is touting his signing of the civil unions law. His campaign is helping organize more than 50 fund-raisers at the homes of supporters across the country Saturday to celebrate the anniversary, with Dean making conference calls to the guests.

Several of Dean’s rivals for the Democratic nomination also are speaking out in support of increased rights and acceptance of gays. But many Republicans say strong support for gays will backfire in the general election and help President Bush (newsweb sites) win more conservative and southern states.

Richard White, a Republican state senator from Mississippi, said any candidate talking about gay rights might as well not even visit his state.

“The people down here, they are not going to put up with that kind of stuff,” White said. “We’re not prepared for all that in Mississippi or anywhere else in the southern states.”

The public has mixed feelings about homosexual acts, recent polls suggest. While a majority feels such acts should not be illegal, a majority does feel that such acts are immoral.

When Sen. Rick Santorum (news, bio, voting record), R-Pa., compared homosexuality to bigamy, polygamy, incest and adultery in an interview with The Associated Press this week, Bush remained silent while the Democratic presidential candidates roundly denounced his remarks.

Declaring support for gay rights draws applause from liberal audiences along the Democratic primary campaign trail. Sen. Joe Lieberman (newsweb sites) of Connecticut, arguably the most moderate of the field, sought to appeal to members of the liberal Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (newsweb sites) by playing up his support of a bill that would extend benefits to partners of gay federal employees.

Three other candidates — Sen. John Kerry (news, bio, voting record) of Massachusetts, Rep. Dick Gephardt (newsweb sites) of Missouri and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (news, bio,voting record) of Ohio — were co-sponsors of the legislation last year.

But Dean has the strongest gay rights credentials thanks to signing the civil unions law.

“I feel like most people. If they know anything about him, that’s what they know,” said 26-year-old Josh Kruskol, who is having 30 to 50 friends over Saturday night for wine, dessert and a pitch to support the Dean campaign.

Dean said he opposes the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that allows gays to serve in the military as long as they keep their sexual orientation private and do not engage in homosexual acts. He said that if elected president, he would approach Congress and the Joint Chiefs of Staff about changing the policy.

He also said he would recognize civil unions at the federal level, extending rights to homosexual couples under tax law, immigration law and other federal policies.

“It seems to me the fair thing to do, and I think most Americans are fair-minded,” Dean said. “So I can’t wait to engage the Republicans on that issue.”

The opposition research on Dean posted on the Republican National Committee (newsweb sites)’s web site leads off by declaring that he is “ultraliberal on civil unions.” And some Democrats say Dean will hurt himself in the South with his outspoken support for gay rights. Darryl Tattrie, chief financial officer of the Kentucky Democratic Party, said he personally supports civil unions, but he doesn’t think it would be a winning issue in his state.

“I don’t think voters in Kentucky would be for that,” he said. “It’s the way folks are raised.”

Dean says he won’t back down on the issue anywhere.

“It’ll be harder in the South, but let’s not forget that there are a lot of southern folks who are suffering in the Bush economy and who need better health care and better education for their kids, too,” he said.

Bush backs senator in flap over remarks on gays!

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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Bush backs senator in flap over remarks on gays!

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President George W. Bush (newsweb sites) believes a key Senate ally under fire for controversial remarks about gays is “an inclusive man,” and the president has confidence in his leadership, the White House said.

Republican Senator Rick Santorum, who holds his party’s third-highest post in the chamber, has sparked a political controversy by likening homosexuality to adultery and incest in comments about a US Supreme Court case over an anti-sodomy law.

“The president believes that the senator is an inclusive man,” said Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer (newsweb sites). “The president has confidence in Senator Santorum and thinks he’s doing a good job as senator — including in his leadership post.”

Santorum’s widely published remarks stated that “if the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything.

“All of those things are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family,” Santorum said.

Santorum has since said his comments were “misconstrued.”

The issue has political resonance because Republican Senator Trent Lott lost his majority leader post after remarks in which he suggested the United States would be better off if a segregationist had won the 1948 White House race.

The Human Rights Campaign, a gay group, suggested Bush’s support of Santorum showed a double standard because the president had publicly criticized Lott for his comments.

“The real question before us right now is whether the president actually supports inclusion and equality, or if it is simply something that is convenient from time to time,” said Elizabeth Birch, the group’s executive director.

Wal-Mart and same sex benefits

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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Wal-Mart Adds Gays to Workplace Policy

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the nation’s largest private employer, will now include gays and lesbians in its anti-discrimination policy, company officials said Wednesday.

Company spokesman Tom Williams said the policy will not affect benefits, which Wal-Mart does not offer to unmarried partners of any orientation, but he said sexual orientation will be added to the company’s existing diversity-awareness training programs for employees.

Williams said the policy change had been considered for months and is now in effect. It is considered an internal communication and is not being publicly released.

“Our continued growth requires us to be one of the more desirable employers around, so we’re clearly stating our acceptance for all of our associates,” Williams said. “Otherwise, we could lose many talented employees, and we don’t want that.”

The change means nine of the 10 largest Fortune 500 companies now have rules prohibiting discrimination against gay employees, according to the Human Rights Campaign. The one exception is the Exxon Mobil Corp.

Wal-Mart’s decision was hailed by gay advocacy groups as a sign of changing attitudes in corporate America in the treatment of gay employees.

“It’s a tremendous step forward, a real symbol of how far we’ve come in recent years, and especially in the past few days,” said Michael Adams, an attorney and spokesman for the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, alluding to last week’s U.S. Supreme Court (newsweb sites) decision striking down anti-sodomy laws.

“Wal-Mart is a uniquely important company in this country,” Adams said. “And they’re known as a careful and cautious corporation, which will cause others to take a look at this issue.”

Williams said the policy change “unfolded by itself” after discussions with employees and groups advocating the inclusion of gays and lesbians in anti-discrimination policies. He said the Supreme Court ruling was not a factor in the decision.

“We want all of our associates to feel they are treated with respect and valued, with no exceptions at all,” Williams said.

The change was first reported by The New York Times in Wednesday editions after a letter was sent to the gay advocacy group Pride Foundation that said Wal-Mart would work to ensure that all of its personnel decisions, including recruitment, hiring, training and promotions, would be protected from discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Wal-Mart Stores, based in Bentonville, Ark., is the world’s largest retailer, with over 1.1 million domestic employees.

Risky sex: pedophile on the net

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Man Charged With Meeting Teens Online For Sex

The head of security at a Massachusetts hospital has been charged with using the Internet to lure a teenage boy into having sex.

NewsCenter 5’s David Muir reported that authorities arrested 29-year-old James Rozema of Southbridge Wednesday. They say he drove to Keene, N.H., to have sex with a 14-year-old boy.

That boy turned out to be an undercover officer who had posed as the teen on the Internet.

“This arrest culminated, like others, after a one month investigation where we find him online,” Keene Police Department Det. James McLaughlin said.

Rozema is the head of security at Harrington Hospital in Southbridge. Authorities said that he spent much of his off time online.

“(He was online in) a chat room specifically designed for adult men who are looking for boys for sex,” McLaughlin said.

In one online chat, Rozema allegedly talked about Molly Bish, the missing Warren, Mass., lifeguard whose remains were found in the woods.

Worcester County District Attorney John Conte has been informed of the Bish conversation, though it may hold little significance in Conte’s investigation.

“While we hope that Mr. Rozema is innocent of the charge, clearly, we could never employ someone guilty of such conduct,” a spokesman for Harrington Hospital said in a statement.

Rozema was released on $5,000 and was ordered to stay away from anyone under 18. A hearing is set for July 9 in Keene District Court.

Fired from a choir because he’s gay

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Catholic church fires gay choir leader

SUMMARY: The firing of a gay music director for refusing to abandon his partner of 10 years has left the largest Roman Catholic parish in the city of Rockford, Ill., bitterly divided.

The firing of a gay music director for refusing to abandon his partner of 10 years has left the Holy Family, the largest Roman Catholic parish in the industrial city of Rockford, Ill., bitterly divided, the Associated Press reported.

Bill Stein, who had been the church music director and organist for five years and who performed with the church choir for the pope in Austria and Italy, was fired on June 17 after he refused the church leaders’ demand that he promise to lead a “chaste” life, implying that he should end his relationship with his partner, Manny Ahorrio.

Stein had always treated his relationship as something normal, neither flaunting nor hiding it among the church congregation, but his sexual orientation became cause for concern when some straight parents learned he was planning to adopt a child.

“I was fired based on church law. There was no mention of Gospel. There was no mention of what Jesus taught us: compassion, love, forgiveness and charity,” the A.P. cited Stein as saying.

Patrick McArron, national president of Dignity USA, told the Network from San Diego, “We abhor the firing of the music director.” McArron, who leads the nation’s largest GLBT Catholic group, said the danger arising out of such a firing was that it would continue to push the gay and lesbian people away from the church.

“It also continues to create an uncharitable conflict in the minds of many,” McArron said.

He regretted that it was unlikely any other church would hire Stein, whose track record included doubling the choir’s membership.

“If the bishops continue to follow the official position of the church, no pastor would be in a position to hire an openly gay person without risking his own job,” McArron said.

Linda McCullough, associated director at New Ways Ministry, which serves GLBT Catholics, said the Catholic Church was not a monolith. “At any parish or any church you may find both progressive people who are supportive of the LGBT community and others who are not,” she told the Network.

She cited a document entitled “Always Our Children,” issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that implored Catholics “to welcome homosexual persons into the faith community and seek out those on the margin and to avoid stereotyping and condemning.”

Penny Wiegert, a spokeswoman for the Rockford Diocese, was unwilling to comment on personnel matters, but she explained to the A.P., “We are simply talking about what the Catholic Church and Catholic teachings expect of its leaders as well as the people in the pews.”

Will americans go to Canada to get gay marriage?

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Go Canada! – Should American homosexual couples head north to elope?

To the uninitiated, the June 10 unanimous decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal to effectively green light same-sex marriages in the Canadian province — and Prime Minister Jean ChrÈtienís announcement last week that he would not fight the courtís ruling, and indeed would introduce legislation to further strengthen the move — seems to have come out of nowhere.

Under closer inspection, Canadaís steps toward legal recognition of marriages between homosexual couples have been a long time coming. Besides the provincial court decision in Ontario, courts in both Quebec and British Columbia have already ruled in their respective provinces that denying gay and lesbian couples the right to marry violates their equality under the law. Those decisions gave the federal government in Ottawa until July 2004 to figure out what to do nationally about the issue, but Canadaís Parliament has hardly been dragging its feet. It conducted hearings on gay marriage, and one of the more contentious public-policy concerns, the extension of federal tax and social benefits for same-sex couples, became law way back in 2000.

What strikes American proponents and detractors of gay marriage is the political consensus that equal recognition for committed same-sex relationships in Canada is inevitable. As deputy prime minister John Manley admitted on June 17, ìI think on balance people recognize that the decisions of the courts are really pointing in a direction from which it would be difficult — if we wanted to — to turn back.î All three of ChrÈtienís probable Liberal Party successors say they wonít appeal the decision, while Canadian legal experts say it is almost certain the Canadian Supreme Court, which is likely to hear a case on gay marriage in about two years, will support the Ontario courtís claim.

Canada would then become the third country to recognize gay marriage. The first was the Netherlands, in 2001; Belgium followed earlier this year. A number of Scandinavian countries allow same-sex couples to register as domestic partners as well. In the U.S., where most marriage issues are handled by the states, the atmosphere couldnít be more confusing. Presidential hopeful and former Governor Howard Dean signed Vermontís civil-unions bill into law in 2000, four years after President Clinton (newsweb sites) signed the constitutionally dubious Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which for the first time in the history of federal law defined the terms ìmarriageî and ìspouse,î and argued that states wouldnít have to recognize hypothetical same-sex marriages in other states — a violation of the Constitutionís full faith and credit clause. Thanks to DOMA, the federal government also would not recognize same-sex marriage ceremonies performed in other countries. So all those future Canadian marriages between gay and lesbian couples may have no meaning here.

Still, in New Jersey and Indiana, cases challenging the legal definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman are working their way through the courts. And in March, Massachusettsí Supreme Judicial Court heard arguments in a case filed by seven same-sex Bay State couples who were denied marriage certificates based on their gender. A ruling is expected as early as July, but a referendum campaign to ban gay marriage in Massachusetts is well under way, with the hopes of putting the issue in front of voters in 2006.

In 2000, California voters passed the Knight Initiative, which bans same-sex marriages in the state, by a sizable margin. Currently 35 other states have similar laws on the books, but that hasnít stopped some from forming same-sex domestic partnership registries. More than 20,000 California couples are registered domestic partners, which offers them limited rights and benefits. On June 4 the state Assembly passed AB 205, which was introduced by Los Angelesí Jackie Goldberg. AB 205 would give domestic partners extended rights in areas like child custody, hospital visitation, pension rights and family medical leave. The California Senate is expected to pass a similar bill, but it is unclear if recall-challenged Governor Davis would sign it into law.

Polls show that Americans are warming to the idea of equal benefits for same-sex partners, and are overwhelmingly supportive of things like anti-discrimination laws and striking down anti-sodomy statutes. But the concept of ìgay marriageî is still a tough one for many people. It is clear, however, that the public is more open-minded about the idea than ever before. Which scares social conservatives, who are not waiting for public opinion to shift any further. In 2001 a group of conservative Congress members first proposed the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would change the Constitution to bar same-sex marriages. Plenty of politicians and legal scholars, including some right-leaning Republicans, have torpedoed the idea as unnecessary and dangerous. But the events in Canada have no doubt enraged marriage-amendment supporters and may revive support of the amendment. The bigger unanswered question is this: Will Canadaís actions galvanize enough gays and lesbians into building political support for legal same-sex marriages in this country? It could happen here.

New mice with AIDS

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Scientists Close in on Mouse Model for HIV

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – For more than a decade, scientists have been trying to develop a mouse that could be infected with HIV (newsweb sites) so that the disease could be studied in an animal that is readily available and reproduces quickly.

In a step that brings researchers closer to that goal, scientists have shown that mouse cells can be modified to allow the virus to penetrate and reproduce in them, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Cell Biology.

An AIDS (newsweb sites) researcher unaffiliated with the new study said that while the research may not immediately yield a mouse that can be used to study HIV, it identifies a crucial step in the process.

“From the beginning, people have been looking for a mouse model,” said Dr. James Hoxie, a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and director of the Penn Center for AIDS Research, both in Philadelphia.

“So far, the only model available has been non-human primates. And they are expensive and increasingly hard to get,” Hoxie said in an interview with Reuters Health.

A mouse model would “be a boon to many areas of HIV research, especially vaccine research” Hoxie said.

In earlier studies, researchers found that cells from mice modified to carry human receptors for the virus could be infected with HIV, Hoxie explained. But the virus was not able to reproduce in those mouse cells. That’s because the virus-infected mouse cells weren’t able to produce an important building block needed to make new viral particles, Hoxie said.

For the new study, Dr. B. Matija Peterlin and colleagues at the University of California at San Francisco tweaked mouse cells to carry not only the human receptors that allowed infection, but also two key proteins, CycT1 and hp32, that appear to support replication of the virus.

After infecting these mouse cells with HIV, the researchers were able to show that the cells produced both the building blocks for the virus and new viral particles.

“This is an interesting and promising model,” Hoxie said. “But just because it works in mouse cells, doesn’t mean it will work in a mouse. This is an exquisitely regulated system. You need just the right amount of (hp32). Too much could be just as bad as too little.”

SOURCE: Nature Cell Biology 2003;5:611-618.

Startling Study Says People May Be Born Gay

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Startling Study Says People May Be Born Gay

MONDAY, Oct. 6 (HealthDayNews) — The origins of sexual orientation may be evident in the blink of an eye.

In what is the first study to show an apparent link between a non-learned trait and sexual orientation, British researchers have discovered the way peoples’ eyes respond to sudden loud noises may signal differences between heterosexual and homosexual men and women that were developed before birth.

The authors, whose study appears in the October issue of Behavioral Neuroscience, say about 4 percent of men and 3 percent of women are gay. Scientists have long sought to determine whether sexuality is learned or biological.

“We have several decades of research which suggests rather strongly that human sexual orientation is to some degree biologically determined,” says study author Qazi Rahman, a lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of East London. “The problem with those types of studies is that we can’t disentangle the effects of learning.”

The question then became, “What kind of task could be used that is not influenced by learning or socialization?” The answer came in human startle responses, which are involuntary and instinctual.

Specifically, Rahman and his colleagues decided to use pre-pulse inhibition (PPI (newsweb sites)). When humans hear a sudden noise, they respond by blinking. If that loud noise is preceded by a quieter noise (the pre-pulse), the response to the second, loud noise is weaker. In other words, it is inhibited.

The researchers compared responses to a loud noise both alone and after a quieter noise to see what the degree of inhibition was. Participants were 59 gay and straight men and women.

In the heterosexual women, the PPI averaged 13 percent and, in heterosexual men, 40 percent.

Lesbians, however, had a PPI of 33 percent, closer to the straight-man end of the spectrum, while gay men averaged 32 percent, slightly lower than that of straight men but not statistically significant.

The findings are consistent with other studies, which have found that certain traits in lesbians are highly “masculinized,” while the same traits in gay men are almost the same as in straight men.

While it’s difficult to make generalizations about gay behavior on the basis of these findings (for example, “all gay male thinking is like that of women”), it is possible to build a case for the origins of sexuality, the authors say.

“On the basis of these results and in conjunction with the bulk of the literature in the last three decades or so, the evidence points to some prenatal factor or factors [in determining sexual preference],” Rahman says.

The findings could have implications for a number of social issues.

“Actual sexual orientation and sex-related research is now being accepted as a legitimate national investment in terms of research,” Rahman says. “We have problems with STDs [sexually transmitted diseases]. Understanding sexual behavior is clearly important to that.”

The findings may also help illuminate sex differences in mental health issues. “Although homosexuality per se is not related to psychiatric problems, on those occasions that gays and lesbians do present with psychiatric problems, they often show disorders that are typical of the opposite sex,” Rahman says. Gay men, for example, may be more likely to suffer depression, anxiety and eating disorders than their straight counterparts, while lesbians may be more vulnerable to substance abuse than heterosexual women.

“Maybe having an understanding of brain basis of sexual orientation in healthy individuals may give us some clues in what is going wrong in the brain circuitry underlying certain psychiatric problems,” Rahman says. “In the future, we may be able to tailor treatments more specifically.”

It’s important not to draw too many generalizations. “It’s not that the gay brain is like the heterosexual brain of the opposite sex. It seems to be a mosaic of male and female typical traits,” Rahman says. “Because we’re looking at humans, thing are always more complicated that you would expect.”

More information

The University of California, Davis has more on research related to sexual orientation, as does the American Psychological Association.

Canadian Religious Groups Seek Gay Marriage Appeal

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Canadian Religious Groups Seek Gay Marriage Appeal

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian religious groups took the unusual step on Monday of asking the Supreme Court to allow them to challenge a lower-court ruling which overthrew the definition of marriage as a union of a man and a woman.

It would be unusual for such groups to be allowed to take over a case and carry it on to the Supreme Court, but they argue that the federal government abandoned its responsibility when it decided against appealing the Ontario court ruling.

“We’re here because they’ve abdicated their role,” Michael Martens of the evangelical group Focus on the Family Canada told reporters in the court lobby before the oral hearing.

The Supreme Court case was another battle in a long-running war over gay unions, which broke onto the forefront on June 10 when the Ontario Court of Appeal ordered that same-sex marriage be allowed in the province with immediate effect.

The issue has divided both Canadian public opinion and the Canadian Parliament, and it promises to feature in the federal election expected to be called next spring.

Both the federal government, now in favor of gay marriage, as well as the seven homosexual couples who had sought permission to marry opposed the right of the religious coalitions to launch an appeal of their case.

“The litigation is over. Five of our seven applicant couples are now legally married. We cannot turn the clock back,” the couples’ lawyer, Martha McCarthy, said in a statement.

Following the Ontario court decision in June, the appeal court in British Columbia extended gay marriage rights to that province and the federal government drafted its own legislation which would extend them to the entire country.

The government has also made a separate “reference” to the Supreme Court, asking its opinion on its draft bill, including whether it would be constitutional to allow gay marriage.

But the religious groups want a clear answer on whether the Supreme Court think the constitution actually requires, rather than allows for, gay marriage.

“The reference questions are extremely narrow and do not give the court an opportunity to really consider the constitutionality of the (traditional) definition of marriage itself,” Janet Epp-Buckingham said for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.

The federal government’s “reference” case before the Supreme Court is due to be heard next spring, coincidentally around the time of the expected federal election.

Episcopal Church Faces Split on Gay Issue

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Episcopal Church Faces Split on Gay Issue

DALLAS – Angry Episcopalians urged fellow church members Wednesday to stop funding the denomination, along with the dioceses and congregations that back its liberal policies, while an insurgent bishop outlined how a split in the church might shape up.

Two priests, the Rev. John Guernsey of Woodbridge, Va., and the Rev. Ruth Urban of Brandon, Miss., told a conference of about 2,700 conservatives to stop giving to the Episcopal Church because of its recent moves to become more accepting of gay relationships.

Guernsey said it’s wrong to support “the overturning of apostolic teaching” and those who “depart from the historic faith.” This summer at its national convention, the church confirmed the election of a gay bishop living with his partner and voted to recognize that its bishops are allowing blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples.

The conservatives’ meeting in Dallas, organized by the American Anglican Council, is about finding ways to fight back against those decisions, with the possibility of a schism looming. About 45 of the church’s 300 bishops are attending.

Lay speaker Sam Thomsen of Falls Church, Va., said his congregation decided last month to stop sending money to the diocese and national denomination.

The congregation has launched a $28 million building program, said Thomsen, a retired foreign service officer. But at one meeting, Thomsen said, a parishioner told the group “I’d rather give it all up and worship in a corn field than go along with the decisions of General Convention.”

Conservatives acknowledge they’re in the minority in the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion. But among Anglicans around the globe, they believe they are in the majority.

Next week, 38 leaders of the world’s Anglican branches will gather at an emergency session in London to discuss the American situation and a similar dispute among Anglicans in Canada.

In a blunt speech greeted by loud applause and cheers, Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh predicted that the Anglican primates would rebuke the U.S. denomination and bishops who backed its decisions.

Duncan said he expects the primates to set a deadline for the U.S. church to repent. But that “will be met with American arrogance,” Duncan predicted, with Episcopal Church leaders taking no action.

A new network of conservative dioceses and congregations will emerge from the resulting chaos, he said.

Duncan warned that if the primates do not take decisive action in London, the result would be a wrenching split in the “whole fabric of the Anglican Communion.”

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Frank Griswold, released a letter Wednesday that he sent to U.S. bishops saying the confirmation of gay clergyman V. Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire did not settle the debate in the church over homosexuality. He also expressed his wish that Episcopalians could move beyond “condemnation and reaction.”

He said he did not want to speculate about the London meeting, but hoped that “whatever the outcome may be, we will be able to live it with the awareness that the church is never something we can possess and shape according to our own liking.”

Anguish over the developing situation was obvious in participants’ corridor comments.

The national church convention “took a vote on one of the Ten Commandments,” said the Rev. Mark Seitz of Wheeling, W. Va., “and the commandment lost. I don’t know how it is that we can continue to claim that we’re a Christian church.”

Participants also were submitting responses to a proposed draft of a declaration from the meeting. Leaders were to rewrite the document overnight for endorsement before departing Thursday.

The draft version commits supporters to stop funding Episcopal dioceses and agencies that support the convention decisions and appeals to next week’s meeting to “create a new alignment for Anglicanism in North America.”

IBM Targets Gay Business Owners

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

IBM Targets Gay Business Owners

IBM next month launches its first campaign targeted overtly at the gay community via an ad that will run in The Advocate, Out and about 40 other gay-themed publications.

The ad, created by IBM shop Ogilvy & Mather in New York, courts the gay business community. Above a diverse group of men and women, the headline links IBM’s Armonk, N.Y., headquarters with well-known gay hangouts: “Chelsea/Provincetown/The Castro/ Armonk.” Copy explains that the six people shown are IBM employees who belong to the company’s 1,100-member GLBT (Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender) Network.

Joseph Bertolotti, program director for the GLBT and pictured in the ad, said IBM decided to launch the group two years ago because research showed gay business owners are more likely to buy from gay sales reps. “This ad is ground-breaking,” he said.

IBM has winked at the gay community in previous advertising. A 1998 print ad, for example, showed two men alongside copy explaining that they weren’t “your typical mom and pop operation. We’re not even your ordinary pop and pop.” More recently, a print execution for IBM’s ThinkPad that ran last year in publications including Advocate and Out featured Simon Doonan, the openly gay evp of creative services at retailer Barneys.

Poll: U.S. public is 50-50 on gay marriage

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Poll: U.S. public is 50-50 on gay marriage

SUMMARY: With same-sex marriage being assailed by conservatives in Washington and Episcopals meeting in Dallas, a new poll shows that half of America supports gay marriage.

With same-sex marriage being assailed by conservatives in Washington and Episcopals meeting in Dallas, a new USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll shows that half of America supports gay marriage.

The poll shows that 50 percent of those surveyed said allowing gay marriage would either improve society or have no effect. Forty-eight percent of the respondents said allowing gay unions “will change our society for the worse.” The poll, conducted Sept. 19-21, surveyed 1,003 adults and has a margin of error of +/-3 percentage points.

Researchers noticed several trends. They believe the younger the respondent, the stronger the support for same-sex marriage. Sixty-seven percent of those between 18 and 29 years of age support gay and lesbian marriage. That percentage drops to 53 percent for respondents aged 30-49.

Researchers also believe those who are against gay marriage are more likely to attend religious services. For those who said they attended church weekly, 67 percent of them responded, “Allowing two people of the same sex to legally marry will change our society for the worse.” That percentage was down to 51 percent for those who attended services at least once a month.

This survey comes as conservatives try to push traditional notions about marriage. In a proclamation signed Friday, President Bush (newsweb sites) declared Oct. 12-18 “Marriage Protection Week” in an effort to define marriage as “a union between a man and a woman.” On Tuesday, conservative Episcopalians started a meeting in Dallas to repudiate their denomination’s blessing of same-sex unions and the confirmation of an openly gay bishop.

HIV Drug Resistance Rockets in UK

Monday, March 27th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

HIV Drug Resistance Rockets in UK

LONDON (Reuters Health) – Around 13 percent of people with HIV (newsweb sites) in Britain are resistant to all of the three main classes of antiretroviral drugs compared with only 1 percent in 1996, the Health Protection Agency said.

Publishing figures from the National HIV Resistance Database, the agency said tests on a sample of the 19,312 patients known to be receiving HIV therapy showed that 21 percent had no level of resistance, 24 percent were resistant to one drug class, 43 percent to two drug classes and 13 percent to three classes of drugs.

The agency said in a statement that the percentage of people who had not received any prior drug treatment, but who had been infected with a strain of HIV that was already resistant, had increased from 10 percent in 1996 to 14 percent in 2001, with a provisional figure of 21 percent in 2002.

“This shows us that a number of people are contracting their infection from someone who is receiving or has in the past already received drug therapy,” according to the agency.

“Of those patients in whom drug therapy is not working, and therefore have a level of virus in the blood sufficient to perform the resistance test, the percentage who have resistance to any one HIV drug and are therefore experiencing ‘treatment failure’ has remained stable at around 70-80 percent since 1996.

“Of greatest concern, however, are the number who are resistant to all three available classes of drugs. This percentage has increased from 1 percent in 1996 to 14 percent in 2001. The preliminary figure for 2002 is 13 percent and should be interpreted with caution until the data are complete.”

Montreal hints at rival Gay Games if deal falls

Saturday, March 25th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Montreal hints at rival Gay Games if deal falls

SUMMARY: If Montreal’s deal to host the Gay Games in 2006 falls apart, organizers in the city say they will stage their own competition for gay athletes.

If the Federation of Gay Games revokes its invitation to Montreal next week to host the 2006 Gay Games and chooses another host city, Montreal will stage its own competition for gay athletes, a spokesman for that city’s organizing committee said on Friday.

That would set the stage for rival gay athletic competitions, an unprecedented development.

Although negotiations continue between Montreal 2006, the event’s organizing committee, and the Federation of Gay Games (FGG), which oversees the event, Montreal 2006 says it is “too far down the road” financially to turn back now.

“It’s a hypothetical question at this point, but if you want a hypothetical answer, Montreal will hold games regardless,” said Tom Czerniecki, spokesman for Montreal 2006. Czerniecki spoke to the Network from Montreal on Friday.

Meanwhile, an informal survey hinted that many gay athletes would attend the Montreal event, even if it is not sanctioned by the FGG.

According to Equipe Montreal, a non-profit organization representing athletes in the Montreal area, 91 percent of respondents to its e-mail survey indicated they would participate in a separate event planned by the Montreal organizing committee.

Equipe Montreal, says it surveyed 675 gay and lesbian sports teams from around the world from Oct. 24 to 27, with a response rate of 21 percent.

Cities around the world vie to host the Gay Games because, like the Olympics, the weeklong event attracts thousands and creates a boon for the city’s tourism industry.

Although the games are still three years off, there is plenty of urgency. The FGG is days away from its annual meeting in Chicago, Nov. 10-14, where the federation would likely discuss options for moving the games to another city, if the Montreal deal collapses.

The FGG told that if it can’t agree on terms and sign a contract by Nov. 7, thea different city for the 2006 games.

One possible alternative host city for the 2006 Gay Games is Los Angeles, which bid to host the 2006 games but lost. Los Angeles is now pursuing the 2010 Gay Games.

According to Shamey Cramer, head of the Los Angeles Games Exploratory Bid Committee, Los Angeles remains interested in hosting the 2006 games if negotiations with Montreal fall through.

“We hope an amicable solution can be reached,” said Cramer. “In the event that does not occur, the Federation knows how to contact us, and we would be happy to discuss any alternatives and/or solutions with them at that time.”

In a press release issued Oct. 17, Montreal 2006 declared a “crisis situation” in contract negotiations with the FGG, over the budget and the number of athletes.

Montreal 2006 said it wants at least 16,000 athletes to participate, which is scaled down from its earlier projection of 24,000, while the FGG is projecting athletic participation at only 12,000. The press release claimed the lower number would lead to “financial disaster.”

The San Francisco-based FGG released a response on Oct. 22, saying it was not imposing a ceiling on the number of participants, but preferred a “conservatively sized” initial plan that has “built-in flexibility to grow” when additional income is secured.

The FGG has its reputation on the line after the last three Gay Games ended in deficits. According to the FGG’s press release: “It is the Federation’s ethical duty and part of our core mission to ensure that this pattern stops.”

On Friday, Jake Stafford, a spokesman for the FGG, said his organization is no longer commenting on the negotiations, after agreeing during an Oct. 28 conference call with Montreal 2006 to “keep private” details of the license agreement that are still pending.

“We want to present a resolution for our participants, not a play-by-play of negotiations,” said Stafford.

Britain closing the door on free health care for foreigners

Saturday, March 25th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Britain closing the door on free health care for foreigners

LONDON (AFP) – The British government is to announce measures Tuesday to stamp out “health tourism” whereby foreigners come to Britain to take advantage of free health care, Health Secretary John Reid said.

In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph newspaper, Reid said it was unfair for foreigners to come to Britain to tap into the National Health Service (NHS), which nominally guarantees free care for all.

“If there are emergencies here, and there are bone fide tourists dropping ill on the street, of course we will do what we have to do morally and legally,” he said.

“But we are not mugs. There is a difference between being civilised and being taken for a ride.”

Health tourism is said to cost the state-run NHS an estimated 200 million pounds (285 million euros, 354 million dollars) a year.

Cases include women who come to Britain on a six-month holiday visa when they are more than 34 weeks pregnant, then giving birth at an NHS hospital without paying a penny, the Sunday Telegraph said.

“Every time that happens, somebody has to wait a little longer, often in pain to get the service to which they are entitled,” said Reid, who is charged by Prime Minister Tony Blair (newsweb sites) with whipping the NHS back into shape.

Under proposals to be announced Tuesday, free care will be denied to business travellers and their dependents, failed asylum applicants, and HIV (newsweb sites) sufferers seeking long-term expensive treatment, the Sunday Telegraph said. Genuine emergency cases will remain exempt from charges.

“The starting point I have is that the NHS is first and foremost for the benefit of those living in the United Kingdom,” Reid told the newspaper. “Visitors need to know that they will be liable to be charged for treatment.”

Commenting on the Sunday Telegraph report, a Department of Health spokesman said: “The full details will be announced on Tuesday. We are going to look at changing the rules.”

Doctor who helped gay-rights movement dies

Saturday, March 25th, 2017


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©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Doctor who helped gay-rights movement dies

SUMMARY: The psychiatrist who helped in the historic battle to remove homosexuality from a major list of mental disorders died on Tuesday. Dr. Judd Marmor was 93.

The psychiatrist who helped in the historic battle to remove homosexuality from a major list of mental disorders died on Tuesday. Dr. Judd Marmor was 93.

Dr. Marmor’s death came a day after the 30th anniversary of the American Psychiatric Association’s December 15 vote to remove homosexuality from its list of disorders, a decision that was a landmark moment for gay and lesbian rights.

Dr. Marmor first gained prominence as an analyst to Hollywood celebrities. When he began treating homosexual patients who wanted to change their sexual orientation, he believed psychoanalysis could help.

But interacting with closeted gay men who had successful careers led Dr. Marmor to conclude that “psychoanalysts didn’t know enough gay people outside the treatment community who were happy with their lives, who were satisfied and well adjusted,” as he told historian Eric Marcus in the book “Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights, 1945-1990.”

Dr. Marmor quipped: “If we made our judgments about the mental health of heterosexuals only from the patients we saw in our office, we’d have to assume that all heterosexuals were mentally disturbed.”

Marmor’s observations reached millions through his friendship with Abigail Van Buren and her daughter, Jeanne Phillips, who both worked on the “Dear Abby” column.

“If Mom had a question about homosexuality or other behavior, she would ask him,” Van Buren’s daughter Jeanne Phillips told the Los Angeles Times. “You could call Judd up, and he would answer your questions very sweetly and very thoroughly.”

Ronni Sanlo, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Center at the University of California at Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times that for the LGBT community, Dr. Marmor will be remembered as “one of the foreparents of the movement.”

Gay Couple Sues Online Adoption Site

Saturday, March 25th, 2017


World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Gay Couple Sues Online Adoption Site

SAN FRANCISCO – A California gay couple sued the Internet site on Tuesday, alleging the site won’t help them adopt a child because they are homosexuals.

Michael and Richard Butler of San Jose, who legally changed their last names so they would be the same, have been domestic partners for about eight years and share a house, according to the suit.

After deciding to adopt and being certified by California to do so, they sought the services of, which lists the profiles of hundreds of birth mothers as well as qualified persons wanting to adopt.

The suit, filed in San Francisco County Superior Court, alleges the site has unlawfully rejected the Butlers’ application to join the site.

“This is a clear-cut case of discrimination,” said one of the couple’s attorneys, Neel Chatterjee.

A spokeswoman for Tempe, Ariz.-based declined to comment.

The site’s legal director wrote in a letter to the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which is suing on behalf of the Butlers, that heterosexual couples are better suited to adopt than homosexuals.

“All of the scientific research that we have seen overwhelmingly supports the premise that children have a much greater chance of thriving in their lives … if they are raised in a stable and traditional two-parent family,” said the letter, which was included in the suit.

Michael Jackson Denies Sex Charges in TV Interview

Saturday, March 25th, 2017


World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Michael Jackson Denies Sex Charges in TV Interview

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – In his first interview since being charged with child molestation, pop star Michael Jackson vehemently denies the allegations but insists there is nothing wrong in sleeping with children, according to excerpts released on Friday by CBS News.

“Before I would hurt a child, I would slit my wrists,” Jackson told correspondent Ed Bradley in an interview scheduled to be shown Sunday on “60 Minutes.”

Bradley asked Jackson whether he thought that under the circumstances, it was still acceptable to sleep with children and Jackson answered, “Of course. Why not? If you’re going to be a pedophile, if you’re going to be Jack the Ripper, if you’re going to be a murderer, it’s not a good idea. That I am not.”

Jackson also said the police search of his Neverland Valley Ranch in central California last month so violated his privacy that “I won’t live there ever again. It’s a house now. It’s not a home anymore. I’ll only visit.”

During the 30-minute interview, conducted Thursday at a Los Angeles hotel, Jackson also discussed his brief time in police custody, including an injury he said he suffered from the handcuffs, and other details about his arrest, CBS said.

In addition to the “60 Minutes” interview, CBS said that an hourlong Jackson music special that was canceled the day after authorities raided his Neverland Ranch has been rescheduled for Friday, Jan. 2.

CBS spokesman Chris Ender said Jackson’s “60 Minutes” interview cleared the way for the network to resurrect the music special. “The timing is better,” Ender told Reuters. “We wouldn’t have rescheduled the entertainment special if he hadn’t addressed the situation in the Ed Bradley interview.”

The reclusive entertainer was arrested on suspicion of child molestation in November and released on $3 million bail. He was formally charged Dec. 18 with seven counts of committing a lewd act on a minor and two counts of administering an “intoxicating agent” for the purposes of molesting a child.

The charges stem from allegations that he molested a boy under the age of 14 at his Neverland ranch earlier this year.

Jackson, who has three children of his own, has issued a statement through his publicist calling the allegations a “big lie,” and his lawyer, Mark Geragos, has said the case is a “shakedown” motivated by greed and revenge. But Jackson’s upcoming appearance on “60 Minutes” will mark his first interview since the case broke.

Jackson’s last television interview was in a controversial documentary by British journalist Martin Bashir that ran on ABC and British television in February.

In it, the singer appeared on camera holding hands with a 12-year-old boy with whom Jackson admitted sharing his bedroom. Jackson said he had spent the night with numerous children but denied there was anything sexual about such sleepovers.

The documentary renewed questions about Jackson’s relationship with children and sparked calls for an investigation by child welfare authorities.

Canada’s first gay married couple Time Magazine’s Newsmaker of the Year

Saturday, March 25th, 2017


World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Canada’s first gay married couple Time Magazine’s Newsmaker of the Year

TORONTO (CP) – A couple that made headlines around the world by being the first gay pair to legally wed in Canada have been chosen as Time Magazine’s Canadian Newsmaker of the Year.

“We’re just elated,” said Michael Leshner, who with his partner Michael Stark were the first same-sex couple to receive a legal marriage license in Ontario last June. “It’s a wonderful vindication of all our years of struggling to tell our love story.”

The pair were married in a quick civil ceremony mere hours after Ontario’s Court of Appeal pronounced Canadian law on traditional marriage unconstitutional, effective immediately.

They learned two weeks ago that the newsmagazine had selected their story as the greatest Canadian news story of 2003 – beating out the SARS (newsweb sites) epidemic, the summer blackout and the mad cow crisis.

“We chose them, first of all, because they were the first to get married,” said Steven Frank, Time’s Canadian bureau chief.

“Second of all, because they have been very tenaciously fighting for gay rights in Canada, but also because they symbolize what we thought was the most important trend of the year in Canada which was the great advancement of social liberalism in a number of areas,” Frank added.

“These guys we felt represented that.”

While a photo spread inside the magazine, scheduled to hit newsstands Monday, features Leshner and Stark in their Toronto home, their photos are not on the cover.

That honour goes to the anonymous American soldier who is Time magazine’s Person of the Year and who will appear on the cover of all Time magazine issues around the world.

Group: Vietnam HIV/AIDS Patients Vilified

Saturday, March 25th, 2017


World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Group: Vietnam HIV/AIDS Patients Vilified

HANOI, Vietnam – Vietnamese with HIV (newsweb sites)/AIDS (newsweb sites) are often ostracized by their colleagues and employers in the workplace, including being fired or refused jobs, the International Labor Organization said Tuesday.

“Stigma and discrimination is in fact a reality at workplaces,” ILO country director Rose Marie Greve said during a workshop on the topic. “More importantly, and very sadly, it is often based on misinformation.”

Greve said Vietnam has no anti-discrimination law dealing with HIV/AIDS in the workplace, leading to a loss of skilled workers. “It’s not simply the right thing to do, it’s simply good business,” she said, regarding the retention of HIV-positive employees.

An ILO study conducted earlier this year found that 88 percent of factory workers surveyed associated HIV/AIDS with so-called “social evils,” such as prostitution and intravenous drug use.

But Jordan Ryan, country representative of the United Nations (newsweb sites) Development Program, said that may have been the case 10 years ago, but the disease is now rapidly spreading within the general population. “HIV is becoming a young person’s disease in Vietnam,” he said, noting that 64 percent of cases involve people age 15-29. “It has to be a concern for everyone.”

The study found that up to 83 percent of respondents said HIV testing should be mandatory for job applicants and 70 percent said HIV/AIDS sufferers should not be allowed to work, while 63 percent said they should work in a separate area. One-third said HIV/AIDS workers should be fired.

There were about 165,400 reported HIV cases this year in Vietnam, and that number is expected to reach 200,000 by 2005, according to the Ministry of Health.

No dating app has more engagement than Grindr

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

Yahoo Finance


Smartphone app stores are chock-full of dating apps, all vying for screen time. But gay dating app Grindr actually trumps them all when it comes to sheer user engagement.

According to a new study from New York City-based research firm 7Park Data, Grindr users spend an average of 165 minutes, or 2.75 hours, a week inside the app, far surpassing dating apps Badoo and Tinder, with users on average spending 68 minutes and 55 minutes a week using those apps, respectively.

7Park Data based its findings on anonymized mobile user data from millions of Android smartphone devices during the last two years from across 16 countries, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Taiwan, the UK, and the US.

The findings may be something of a surprise, particularly to the Grindr uninitiated. But ever since CEO and founder Joel Simkhai launched Grindr in 2009, the smartphone dating app has effectively transformed the way millions of smartphone-toting bisexual and gay men interact with one another.

Although Simkhai initially positioned his app as a location-based social network — and indeed, some actually use the app for dating, even making new friends — many more of its 5 million-plus monthly active users rely on the app for convenient hook-ups and still do. After all, why go through the hassle of going to a bar in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood, when Grindr can tell you exactly who’s a few feet, yards or blocks away?

App engagement ranked

Still, Tinder remains the overall winner when it comes to user base. The four-year-old app, which helped simplify online dating into finger swipes — swipe right to like, swipe left to pass — had 50 million users when the company last reported user base statistics back in 2014.

“While Grindr leads in terms of app engagement (time spent and frequency of sessions), the app doesn’t have as big of a mass appeal as the top five dating apps do,” the report reads. “One of the reasons could be because Grindr was created for, and used by, a niche market — gay and bisexual men.”

WA One Nation candidate claims gay community uses Nazi-style mind control

Thursday, February 16th, 2017


Another WA One Nation candidate has come under the spotlight after her extraordinary claims the gay community uses Nazi-style mind control to get people to support same sex marriage.

Michelle Myers has been nominated for the newly-created seat of Bateman and will take on former Transport Minister Dean Nalder.

According to Perth’s only gay and lesbian newspaper Out in Perth, Ms Meyers took to Facebook last year to claim Christians were being swayed to accept the push for gay marriage through mind control employed by the LGBTI community that was previously used by the Soviets then the Nazis.

“Are you wondering why even some Christians are being swayed by the gender industry’s pitch and push 4 same sex ‘marriage’ and acceptance of fake families?”, the One Nation candidate asked.One Nation candidate for the PIlbara David Archibald called single mums 'too lazy to attract and hold a mate'

“It’s not by accident; it’s by a carefully contrived but disingenuous mind control program, melded together by two Norwegian homosexuals who graduated from Harvard – one of whom has since prematurely passed away.

“It’s by a design convert to the general public but fully practised and promoted by the LGBTIQQMA/P community.

“Utilising many of the strategies developed by the Soviets and then the Nazis, they have gone on to apply and perfect theses principles so as to make them universal in their application – but with devastating results considering the counter productive nature of such “unions”.”

Ms Myers then goes on to say Christians needed to stand up and stop being duped by “those whose interests are self-serving but unnatural, unproductive and unhealthy”.

In her post she continually calls people with children in gay or lesbian relationships as “fake families”.

Greens spokesperson for sexuality and gender identity Lynn MacLaren was stunned by the One Nation candidates comments.

“There is a very real danger despite their obvious extremism that One Nation will win seats in the Upper House,” she told WAtoday.

“That is why having Greens in the Upper House is more important than ever. The Greens are not doing any deals with One Nation – in fact we are putting One Nation last and recommending that our voters put One Nation last.

“The Greens always have and always will stand in solidarity with the LGBTIQA+ community.”

Only this week, the Liberals announced it would preference One Nation above the Nationals in the upper house country regions in exchange for the far-right party’s support in all lower house seats at the upcoming March 11 state election.

Premier Colin Barnett has justified the deal with One Nation as “sensible and pragmatic” but that comment might come back to haunt him with another PHON candidate bound to court controversy over her comments.

Since One Nation launched its push into WA politics last month, a number of candidates have come under fire despite party leader and founder Pauline Hanson saying she was personally involved in vetting the candidates.

Two week ago, Cameron Bartkowski who is running for One Nation in the Upper House in the South West region, was found to be fond of a number of sexually explicit pages and lewd groups on Facebook.

Radio 6PR uncovered some of his Facebook likes which show pages such as ‘hot booty ebony’, ‘world class babes’, ‘hot girls worldwide’, ‘I cuckhold all my boyfriends and ‘f**k my ex’.

He has liked dozens of bawdy and lewd Facebook pages.

Just two days before Mr Bartkowski’s fondness for flirty Facebook pages, One Nation said it was standing by its candidate for the seat of Pilbara, David Archibald, despite his offensive and bizarre comments towards single women labelling them too “lazy to attract and hold a mate”.

Writing an article for the prestigious literary online magazine Quadrant in 2015, Mr Archibald claimed there were a number of welfare programs that should be slashed because they support “lifestyle choices that could be defunded”.

“The first that springs to mind is single motherhood,” he writes.

“These are women too lazy to attract and hold a mate, undoing the work of possibly three million years of evolutionary pressure.”

“This will result in a rapid rise in the portion of the population that is lazy and ugly. We know what causes pregnancy these days, so everyone who gets pregnant outside of marriage is a volunteer.”

One Nation candidate for the seat of Dawesville, Lawrence Shave, had plans to open a “bikini baristas” drive-through coffee shop, where staff donned only scantily-clad swim wear.

And party leader Pauline Hanson dumped Brian Brighton, who nominated for the seat of Joondalup because of his past criminal conviction.

Mr Brighton was fined $5000 back in 1993 for stealing departure tax stamps and selling them for $1000 while working as a customs officer.

He later told WAtoday he was planning to run as an independent in the March election and wanted wants all drug addicts to be dumped on an island to fend for themselves.

Despite the controversial candidates One Nation is expected to be the wild card in the upcoming WA election with political pundits expecting the party to poll as high as 11 per cent

But One Nation isn’t the only party whose candidates have got themselves in hot water in the past week – highlighting questionable practices in the vetting process for candidates.

Robert Kirkman Confirms That Jesus Is Gay – Both Of Him

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

Bleeding Cool News


The charismatic Walking Dead comic book character Paul Monroe, otherwise known as Jesus, was defined as a gay character a long time ago, but the television version of the character didn’t have quite as clear a definition.

The actor who plays Jesus, now known as Paul Rovia, in the TV series was asked to comment. Thomas Payne told the Huffington Post that bringing that aspect to the TV version of the character.

When asked about the possibility of seeing that element of Jesus on screen, Payne didn’t confirm it no much as ask “why wouldn’t he be?”

Well, in the back of today’s Walking Dead #164 comic book, Robert Kirkman says “if I was coy before… I’ll be less so know. Jesus is gay on the TV show as well.”

So, there you go, from the creator of The Walking Dead. If you were in any doubt. Oh and while we’re looking at today’s Walking Dead…


…heeeeeeeere’s Negan!

Washington court rules against florist who denied service to gay couple

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

Toronto Star

The Washington Supreme Court has ruled against a florist who denied service to a gay couple in 2013, upholding a previous ruling by a lower court that she broke the state's anti-discrimination law.
The Washington Supreme Court has ruled against a florist who denied service to a gay couple in 2013, upholding a previous ruling by a lower court that she broke the state’s anti-discrimination law.  

OLYMPIA, WASH.—The Washington Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday that a florist who refused to provide services for a same-sex wedding broke the state’s antidiscrimination law, even though she claimed doing so would violate her religious beliefs.

Barronelle Stutzman, a florist in Richland, Washington, had been fined by a lower court for denying service to a gay couple in 2013. Stutzman said she was exercising her First Amendment rights.

But the court held that her floral arrangements do not constitute protected free speech, and that providing flowers to a same-sex wedding would not serve as an endorsement of same-sex marriage.

“As Stutzman acknowledged at deposition, providing flowers for a wedding between Muslims would not necessarily constitute an endorsement of Islam, nor would providing flowers for an atheist couple endorse atheism,” the opinion said.

Stutzman’s lawyers immediately said they would ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the decision.

“It’s wrong for the state to force any citizen to support a particular view about marriage or anything else against their will,” Stutzman’s attorney, Kristen Waggoner, wrote in a statement issued after the ruling. “Freedom of speech and religion aren’t subject to the whim of a majority; they are constitutional guarantees.”

Gov. Jay Inslee lauded the ruling, saying it was “in favour of equality for all Washingtonians.”

“By ruling that intolerance based on sexual orientation is unlawful, the Court affirmed that Washington state will remain a place where no one can be discriminated against because of who they love,” Inslee said in a written statement.

Stutzman had previously sold the couple flowers and knew they were gay. However, Stutzman told them that she couldn’t provide flowers for their wedding because same-sex marriage was incompatible with her Christian beliefs.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the couple sued her, saying she broke state anti-discrimination and consumer protection laws, and the lower court agreed. The state’s nine high court justices upheld that verdict.

The court rejected several arguments put forth by Stutzman, including the assertion that since other florists were willing to serve the couple, no harm occurred.

“As every other court to address the question has concluded, public accommodations laws do not simply guarantee access to goods or services. Instead, they serve a broader societal purpose: eradicating barriers to the equal treatment of all citizens in the commercial marketplace,” the court wrote. “Were we to carve out a patchwork of exceptions for ostensibly justified discrimination, that purpose would be fatally undermined.”

The case thrust the great-grandmother into the national spotlight and she testified before state lawmakers in Indiana and Kansas.

Michael Scott, a Seattle attorney who worked with the American Civil Liberties Union to represent Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed — the couple denied the flowers — had previously told justices he didn’t believe Stutzman’s floral creations constituted speech. By providing flowers for a same-sex marriage, he argued, “she’s not endorsing same-sex marriage. She’s selling what she sells.”

Ferguson had said the state’s argument rested on long-standing principle, and uprooting it would weaken antidiscrimination law.

After the arguments in the Supreme Court case last November, at a packed theatre at Bellevue College, a large crowd of Stutzman’s supporters greeted her outside, chanting her name and waving signs with pictures of roses that said “Justice For Barronelle.”

In a February 2016 ruling, Benton County Superior Court Judge Alexander Ekstrom found that Stutzman’s refusal to provide flowers because of sexual orientation violated Washington’s anti-discrimination and consumer protection laws. She has been fined $1,000, plus $1 in court costs and fees.

Stutzman entered the florist business 30 years ago, when her mother bought a flower shop and she started as a delivery person.

After fighting for 30 years, Taiwan’s gay rights crusader senses victory for marriage equality

Thursday, February 16th, 2017


Taipei, Taiwan

In 1986, in the twilight of Taiwan’s four decades of martial law known as the White Terror, 28-year-old Chi Chia-wei did what for many was unthinkable: he came out publicly as gay. He spent 162 days in prison, released only after a lenient and ashamed judge pardoned him, with tears in his eyes.

During the 30-plus years since Chi challenged Taiwan’s then-authoritarian government, he has been a constant force pushing for societal—and legal—acceptance of his LGBTQ comrades. Now Taiwan’s constitutional court is preparing to review a lawsuit filed by Chi nearly two years ago, setting the stage for what could be a tipping point in the the push for marriage equality here.

Chi said he learned the court would review his case earlier this month when a journalist contacted him with the news.

“The court doesn’t want me to appear,” the energetic Chi, 59, said with a smile. “Once I show up, they’re in for a real headache.”

This is not the first time Taiwan’s courts have had to deal with Chi’s persistence. 16 years ago it ruled against Chi, who sought a constitutional review of Taiwan’s marriage laws so that he could marry his partner. The couple have been together since 1988. In 2015, Taiwan’s Supreme Court ruled against Chi once more.

This time around he is confident of victory, not in small part to the fact that the Taipei City government is also requesting a constitutional interpretation of Taiwan’s marriage laws, which he said was the impetus for the court taking up the case.

On December 26, Taipei’s Bureau of Civil Affairs began issuing non-legally binding same-sex partnership certificates, which resemble ID cards. These cards permit couples to sign medical consent forms for each other or apply for family leave. As of the end of November 272 couples had registered under the scheme.

“Look, Taiwan is a democracy, it has rule of law,” he said. “We’re on the same path as the US, France, and the UK.”

The hearing for Chi’s newest case will be held on March 24. Supporters and opponents of marriage equality will be allowed to make their case to the Council of Grand Justices, as the court is officially known. Additional oral arguments may take place afterward, if the court sees fit, after which it will have a month to reach a decision.

Before same-sex marriages can be legally recognized, a decision by the court’s 15 justices in favor of the constitutionality of same-sex unions would need to be followed by new laws passed by Taiwan’s legislature, the Legislative Yuan. Chi said that if the court rules in favor of marriage equality, new laws would be a foregone conclusion.

“The Legislative Yuan can’t negate the court’s ruling,” he said. “They’d only be able to delay legislation.”

Concurrent to the judicial review, proposed same-sex marriage legislation is currently working its way through the Legislative Yuan.

Unlike previous hearings of Chi’s cases, the court has decided this time to make the same-sex marriage debate a very public event bybroadcasting court proceedings live online.

Participants in the hearing who oppose marriage equality in Taiwan, a movement that has been spearheaded by a small group of highly organized conservative churches, are likely to be out in full force. Taiwanese same-sex marriage opponents have recently acquired new allies in their fight: the right-wing American group MassResistance.

But Taiwan’s LGBTQ community is more organized—and more mainstream—than ever before.

Last October Chi was honored with the Pioneer Award at the first annual Queermosa Awards. “Chi is a pioneer in Taiwan’s gay rights movement,” said Jay Lin, the founder of the awards who is himself a vocal advocate for LGBTQ rights in Taiwan. “To this day, you can see him at rallies and parades waving his large rainbow flag—his presence alone inspires the new generation.”

Legal same-sex marriage in Taiwan is not a matter of if, but when, Chi said. Once it happens, however, he said he will still have plenty to fight for. He worries that same-sex marriage legislation, should it arrive, might not cover the rights of same-sex couples to raise or adopt children.

“I never tire,” Chi said. “Every morning when I wake up, it’s like my first day of doing this 30 years ago.”

The Tragic Lessons of Cinema’s First Gay Love Story

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

The New Yorker

There is only one hopeful scene in “Different from the Others,” a silent picture from 1919 that is widely considered the first feature film about gay love. In it, a gaunt, handsome man plays the piano in his Berlin drawing room. He is Paul Körner, a violin virtuoso, and, in his silk housecoat, surrounded by heavy drapery and Grecian statuettes, he appears to live a life that is resplendent but lonely. Then an unlikely event sets him on a new course: a young music student has come calling. Kurt Sivers, round-faced, excitable, has seen all of Paul’s concerts, and he approaches the master nervously, hands clutched to his chest. “My deepest wish would come true if you were willing to be my teacher!” an intertitle reads. Paul responds by offering Kurt his great open palm. Their alliance, a perfect meeting of passion and pedagogy, seems indivisibly strong—but, by the end of the film, we have learned that it is otherwise, owing to the self-hatred and cruelty that homosexual love can inspire, even in Weimar Berlin.

“Different from the Others,” which was written by the gay sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld and the Austrian director Richard Oswald, tells the story of one who “suffers not from his condition, but rather from the false judgment of it,” as another intertitle reads. By 1933, when the Nazis stormed Hirschfield’s Institute of Sexual Research, also in Berlin, every known copy of the film had been destroyed. Luckily, the good doctor had included some forty minutes of the footage in a long scientific film called “Laws of Love,” which was shown in Russia in the late twenties or early thirties and remained for decades in the Krasnogorsk archives. In the eighties, film restorers began trying to piece together the original, but it wasn’t until this winter—six years after the U.C.L.A. Film & Television Archive bought a 35-mm. print of “Laws of Love”—that a reliable version of “Different from the Others” was completed, using detailed Nazi censorship records as a narrative guide, and with images substituted for the missing scenes. “Years before Alfred Kinsey, Hirschfeld was arguing that homosexuality exists on a continuum,” Jan-Christopher Horak, the director of the U.C.L.A. archive, told me. “It’s not abnormal, because there is no abnormality.”

The film makes another argument: that hatred can fester even in the interstices of liberal democracies. On the surface, tolerance prevailed in Weimar Germany. If you were careful enough, you could evade the shadow of Paragraph 175, an infamous law that forbade “unnatural fornication, whether between persons of the male sex or of humans with beasts.” And it was relaxed censorship laws that allowed “Different from the Others” to be made in the first place, along with later gay-themed films such as “Pandora’s Box” (1929), whose seductive countess was one of the first onscreen lesbians, and “Mädchen in Uniform” (1931), which takes place in a brutal, erotically charged all-girls boarding school. Weimar night life was infamously decadent: men dressed as women flocked to the Silhouette; women dressed as men favored the Mikado; and the Eldorado drew gender-benders of all types. When Anita Loos, who wrote the novel “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” visited the city in the twenties, she observed that “any Berlin lady of the evening might turn out to be a man; the prettiest girl on the street was Conrad Veidt”—the silent-screen leading man who played none other than Paul Körner in “Different from the Others.”

Yet there is a special kind of shame and suffering that comes from living life half-openly, from knowing what it is you’re not really allowed to have. In “Different from the Others,” we watch as Paul loses his faith in the power of companionship. In a flashback to his years as a boarding-school teen-ager, he looks over a text with his roommate, Max, and drapes his arm around the younger boy. Then a teacher walks in and bursts into outrage: Max is supposed to be doing his assignment alone—the standard punishment, it would seem, for untoward tendencies. “As a university student, Körner led a lonely and reclusive life, devoted only to his studies,” an intertitle then tells us. We see him reading as five classmates sneak up behind him, raising their hands in unison and clapping them down on his shoulders—a threat of future violence delivered in the guise of friendship. “The girls are making fun of you because no one ever sees you,” they say, inviting him to a bordello, where two women in lace gowns try to kiss him. “If that boy’s completely normal, then I’m a virgin,” the madam says—the kind of comment that moves Paul to seek a cure from a hypnotist, the conversion therapist of the day.

It is not the state that is responsible for Körner’s downfall, at least not directly: in keeping with the subterranean hatred of Weimar Berlin, convictions under the anti-sodomy law often began with extortionists who operated within the demimonde itself. The villain of “Different from the Others” is the smirking Franz Bollek, played by the well-known film star Reinhold Schünzel, who passes Kurt and Paul on a wooded path in a city park. “Handsome lad,” Bollek says, glaring at Kurt, as Paul starts with recognition: years before, Paul had been blackmailed by Bollek after meeting him at a masquerade. (A scene from that party, showing an androgynous conga line, was considered one of the film’s controversial images.)

Now Bollek decides to resume his crime. On the very day Kurt performs in a concert alongside Paul, they find Bollek prowling around in Paul’s living room. “Don’t get so excited,” Bollek tells Kurt, when he tries to brawl. “You’re getting paid by him, too!” Kurt is not a whore, of course, but the mere suggestion, and Paul’s familiarity with Bollek, is enough to send him running: “I am determined to make my way alone,” Kurt writes to his sister. Paul, meanwhile, refuses another demand for payment; Bollek turns him in to the police, and he is sentenced to a week in prison. He does not need to serve his term to be publicly shamed and professionally ruined: we watch him swallow a few capsules of cyanide and sink into his chair. His eyes narrow and widen; his face tightens and slackens; his head lolls back and he dies.

Bad laws can destroy good relationships—perhaps especially when they’re poorly enforced, leaving just enough space for human bonds to form. At the end of “Different from the Others,” we’re told of a missing sequence in which a great hand descends over a German law book to cross out the entry for Paragraph 175. It is fitting that the scene was lost, because the law prevailed for many decades to come. The Nazis used it to send some forty-six thousand men to prison and perhaps ten thousand of those to concentration camps. Upon liberation, most of the survivors were promptly locked up again, whether by East or West Germany, both of which continued to enforce Paragraph 175 through about 1970. It was not until 1994 that the law was formally repealed, and it was not until last year that reparations were paid to the few thousand victims who were still living.

Today we continue to live in the slipstream of provisions like Paragraph 175. Similar laws are still in force in dozens of countries; in the United States, anti-sodomy statutes were ruled unconstitutional in 2003, but they remain on the books in upward of ten mostly deep-red states, and activists have been stymied in their push for formal repeal. Love trumps hate, the signs tell us, or, as Magnus Hirschfield said in 1919, at the Berlin première of “Different from the Others,” “Soon the day will come when science will win a victory over error, justice a victory over injustice, and human love a victory over human hatred and ignorance.” That day is still ahead of us.

14 TV Shows That Broke Ground With Gay and Transgender Characters

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

New York Times

From left, Hal Holbrook, Scott Jacoby and Martin Sheen in “That Certain Summer” (1972). CreditBravo

Last year was a remarkable time when it came to the representation of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer regular characters on television, according to the latest Glaad report monitoring diversity on the small screen. But that milestone, along with more accurate story lines and fewer stereotypes, has been a long time coming — a turbulent 45-year trajectory from television movies to single episodes involving secondary players to fully fleshed-out characters central to a show’s story line. “All of these moments are very important in one way or another, either in progressing our lives as L.G.B.T.Q. people, or being able to help people understand who we are, especially in those times when so many people lived hidden and invisible,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and chief executive of Glaad (formerly known as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation). The following are some of the most momentous.

1972 — THAT CERTAIN SUMMER’ A divorced father (Hal Holbrook) hides his lover (Martin Sheen) from his teenage son in Lamont Johnson’s movie for ABC, considered the first sympathetic depiction of gay people on television. (In 2015, Mr. Sheen partnered with Sam Waterston on Netflix’s “Grace and Frankie.”)

1977 — ‘THE JEFFERSONS’ Norman Lear, who had already shaken up the staid sitcom with shows like “All in The Family” and “Maude,” did so again on this CBS sitcom. In the episode “Once a Friend,” George Jefferson (Sherman Hemsley) learns that his old Army buddy Eddie is now a transgender woman named Edie (Veronica Redd). (In 1975, Mr. Lear had introduced one of the first gay couples on network television in the short-lived ABC series “Hot l Baltimore.”)

1977 — ‘SOAP’ In this ABC sitcom, Billy Crystal plays Jodie Dallas — a gay man having an affair with a famous quarterback and contemplating gender-reassignment surgery — who becomes one of the first gay dads on television.

1985 — ‘AN EARLY FROST’ A Chicago lawyer (Aidan Quinn) returns home to reveal to his parents that he’s gay and has AIDS in this NBC movieby John Erman, setting the stage for feature films like Jonathan Demme’s “Philadelphia.”

1994 — ‘THE REAL WORLD’ Pedro Zamora, the MTV reality show’sfirst HIV-positive cast member, brings awareness to the illness and commits to his boyfriend, Sean Sasser, in the first same-sex ceremony on television.

1994 — ‘MY SO-CALLED LIFE’ In the episode “Life of Brian,” this ABC drama about high school angst deals with young gay love when Rickie (Wilson Cruz) develops a crush on his new classmate, Corey (Adam Biesk).

1994 — ‘ROSEANNE’ Mariel Hemingway locks lips with Roseanne Barr in “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” — an early same-sex kiss that 30 million viewers tuned in to watch.

1996 — ‘FRIENDS’ In “The One With the Lesbian Wedding,” the marriage of Ross’s ex-wife, Carol (Jane Sibbett), to her partner, Susan (Jessica Hecht), draws 31.6 million viewers to this NBC sitcom — even though the women don’t seal their vows with a kiss.


Ellen DeGeneres, left, and Laura Dern during a taping of “The Puppy Episode” in 1997.CreditMike Ansell/Touchstone Television

1997 — ‘ELLEN’ Ellen DeGeneres comes out on “The Puppy Episode” on her ABC sitcom — the first lead character to do so on television — and draws a staggering 42 million viewers. The episode also earns Ms. DeGeneres a Peabody.

1998 — ‘WILL & GRACE’ Two gay men plus two straight women equals 83 Emmy nominations and 16 wins for the show that Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., in 2012 on “Meet the Press,” said “probably did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody’s ever done so far.”


Randy Harrison, left, and Gale Harold in “Queer as Folk.” CreditShowtime

2000 — ‘QUEER AS FOLK’ Showtime breaks new ground with the first hourlong drama in the United States about gay men and women, including a character who is H.I.V. positive. The cable channel does it again in 2004 with “The L Word,” giving lesbians visibility they hadn’t previously had.

2009 — ‘MODERN FAMILY’ This ABC sitcom — featuring a gay couple, Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cameron (Eric Stonestreet), and their adopted daughter, Lily (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons), as part of a larger family — “is genius in the way it integrates comedy and inclusion, and is able to educate and open people’s hearts and minds,” Ms. Ellis said.


Taylor Schilling, left, and Uzo Aduba in “Orange Is the New Black.” CreditNetflix

2013 — ‘ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK’ This Netflix series tells the story of a women’s correctional facility and its diverse cast of inmates, including the transgender Sophia (Laverne Cox) and the lesbian Poussey (Samira Wiley), who is killed off in Season 4 — the latest fatality in a 40-year string of lesbian deaths on television, beginning with Julie (Geraldine Brooks) in “Executive Suite” in 1976.

2014 — ‘TRANSPARENT’ This Amazon show stars Jeffrey Tambor as the patriarch of a California family who is transitioning late in life to the woman he has always identified as. Inspired by her own transgender parent, the show’s creator, Jill Soloway, makes a point of putting transgender people both in front of and behind the camera.

Gay Journalist Leaves The Left Behind And Embraces A ‘Brand New Conservative’

Thursday, February 16th, 2017


Until September, journalist Chadwick Moore says his life had been lived in a liberal bubble — one that burst after he wrote a profile Milo Yiannopoulosfor Out Magazine.

Yiannopoulos is a gay blogger for Breitbart and provocateur who so favors Donald Trump he calls him “daddy.” Yiannopolous has inspired such ferocious online attacks on others that he was banned from Twitter.

Moore’s article was critical, but also let Yiannopolous be heard, and included a professional photo shoot. As soon as it was published, Moore was attacked — so severely he says it pushed him to rethink his political allegiance.

He became the subject of a New York Post story earlier this month headlined “I’m a gay New Yorker and I’m coming out as conservative.”

Moore tells NPR’s Steve Inskeep that the personal attacks — including being shunned by his liberal friends — caused him to lose respect for the left.

He says people like him are “part of a brand new conservative.”

“We were born in the Democratic party, somebody set our house on fire, we went running out, and the right has been so welcoming to people like me and there’s so many of us,” he says.

Interview Highlights

On the response to his Yiannopoulos profile

There was a petition [circulated] online signed by like 60 people in gay media condemning it, condemning the article, calling it dangerous, how dare you give this person a platform — and then of course personal attacks against me, calling me a Nazi, white supremacist, completely insane and ridiculous.

On how his friends reacted

Friends, immediately after the story ran — people I knew in places where I hang out would turn around and walk away from me and not talk to me. As I sort of starting seeing this behavior amongst my peers, I began to then challenge them more and say “How can you not at least listen to this person’s argument?” And by the way, if you really are intent on destroying people like Milo Yiannapolous, then isn’t it beneficial to learn about him, to know what he’s about – his weaknesses and to beat him by being smarter and have better arguments? But nobody is interested in that. They just name call.

On whether he’s a moderate or a conservative, as was the headline of the NY Post story

To come out as a moderate is to be more aligned with the conservative. I said in the story, which was an “as told to” piece, so I was interviewed by Michael Kaplan at the New York Post, and he wrote a story in my words. [Conservative] was in the headline.

What I say in it is that I’m more aligned with the right than the left and I sympathize with the right more. And I feel more welcomed on the right now that it’s happened.

To be moderate — to come out as a moderate today, being in the left as I was, is to be more aligned with the right and conservative. If you value things like free speech, if you value free thought, if you value individualism over collectivism, then you’re on the right now.

On how the media covers the right

Many in the media, they seek out the craziests on the right: the very overly racist, overtly anti-immigrant people who are a very, very tiny percentage — just like I believe on the left the worst elements are a tiny percentage.

On his positions — like whether he favors Vice President Mike Pence’s stance on gay rights

I don’t support Pence’s views because I don’t think that religion has any place in government, but I support religious freedom. For example, I support an evangelical Christian florist who doesn’t want to do the flowers for a gay wedding. You can go to another florist to do your flowers. Don’t unleash the ACLU on granny and her bucket of dyed carnations.

Church of England gay marriage vote thrown into chaos after members ‘get confused and press wrong button’

Thursday, February 16th, 2017


Members of St Ansells a christian youth organisation out of Lambeth Palace pass the African LGBTI Christians who have joined the protest
Members of St Ansells a christian youth organisation out of Lambeth Palace pass the African LGBTI Christians who have joined the protest CREDIT: ALAMY

The Church of England’s crucial vote on gay marriage has been thrown into doubt after the Bishop of Coventry admitted he accidentally voted against the report and several others may have made the same mistake.

The Right Reverend Dr Christopher Cocksworth apologised for the mistake last night, which he said was because of “a moment of distraction and some confusion over the voting process”.

The bishop insisted that he did in fact support the report written by his colleagues and was “embarrassed” to have accidentally rejected it.

The Rt Revd Dr Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry at Coventry Cathedral
The Rt Revd Dr Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry at Coventry CathedralCREDIT: ANDREW FOX

It has since emerged that some members have suggested that clergy had made the same mistake.

Rev Peter Ould, of Canterbury, said he had heard from other synod members who had also voted “no” incorrectly.

He added: “I’ve spoken to two members of the house of laity who were confused, one of whom was very clear that he voted the wrong way. It would need four members of the house of clergy to say that they made a mistake for the result to change.

Church leaders gathered at Church Hall in Westminster
Church leaders gathered at Church Hall in Westminster CREDIT: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP

“They voted the wrong way because they weren’t sure of what they voted on. One I spoke to thought they were still voting on procedure aspects rather than the actual substantive motion.”

Other members said that they had voted the wrong way because they thought they were voting on a point of procedure, and not the actual debate.

Prominent Anglican blogger Archbishop Cranmer tweeted: “If a bishop can do it, so can four members of clergy. How precarious is digital democracy.”

Rev Peter Ould speaking on Facebook
Rev Peter Ould speaking on Facebook CREDIT: FACEBOOK

One lay synod member, who accidentally voted against the report but did not want to be named, told magazine Christian Today about the chaos in the chamber, saying a lot of people were unsure what they were voting for.

“Other people around me were talking about their own misunderstandings,” he said.

“The voting wasn’t clear. I have concerns, someone got shouted over, it was very confusing.”

He added: “It was more of a colluding with people rather than an orderly debate.”

In response to the confusion the Church of England reminded members to be more careful with their voting machines.

Voting electronically at the Synod on February 15 
Voting electronically at the Synod on February 15 

A spokesman said: “We are aware that the Bishop of Coventry and a member of the House of Laity have reported pressing the wrong button in the vote following the take note debate on the House of Bishops’ Report on marriage and Same-Sex Relationships

“As the results in both the House of Bishops and House of Laity were strongly in favour of the report there is no material difference to the outcome of the vote.

“It is the responsibility of Synod members to follow debates and the business of Synod carefully and to cast their votes accordingly.”

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury listens during a session of the General Synod
Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury listens during a session of the General Synod CREDIT: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP / GETTY 

The technical problems raise questions about whether the vote, which was only lost by seven votes in the house of clergy, can stand.

The report, which was rejected last night after the House of Clergy voted against it by 100 votes to 93, said that the Church should preserve current teaching on gay marriage, which says that marriage is between one man and one woman and gay couples cannot marry in church.

Members of the general synod, which is the Church of England’s general assembly, take votes using a hand-held device which has three buttons – one which means approval, one which means rejection and a third which means abstention.

The other two houses of the Synod, bishops and laity, both voted to “take note” of the report.  But there was surprise when it was revealed that one bishop had voted against it.

Sources said they believed the rejection came from the more liberal members of the clergy who thought the Church should ultimately drop its opposition to gay marriage.

Members said it was “grudging and condescending”, “divorced from reality” and made the Church look “unkind” and homophobic.

A delegate walks past activists from the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement outside the General Synod at Church House in London
A delegate walks past activists from the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement outside the General Synod at Church House in London CREDIT: PA

In a statement, Bishop Christopher admitted to being the dissenter and said: “Much to my embarrassment, I have managed to give the impression that there was not complete agreement in the House of Bishops that the Report provided us with the best way forward.

“Due to a moment of distraction and some confusion over the voting process, I pressed the wrong button on my handset, thus registering a vote against taking note rather than a vote for taking note of the Report!

“I have apologised to my colleagues in the House of Bishops and to the Archbishops for my mistake.”

Gay clubs, weeds and the European Union: politics mixes with the personal in Wolfgang Tillmans’s Tate Modern survey

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

Art Newspaper

Gay clubs, weeds and the European Union: politics mixes with the personal in Wolfgang Tillmans's Tate Modern survey

Wolfgang Tillmans’s Juan Pablo & Karl, Chingaza (2012) (© Wolfgang Tillmans)
The German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans turns the spotlight once more on social and political concerns, such as fake news and the “post-truth” era, in a vast survey of his recent works opening this week at Tate Modern in London (Wolfgang Tillmans: 2017; 15 February-11 June). The Turner Prize-winner is developing a new series of pro-EU posters after producing several passionate pro-Remain posters before the vote for Brexit in June last year.

“In France, in Slovenia, and across Europe, I am developing the posters further, and translating them…. The EU is not a faceless machine but a democratic representation of 508 million people,” he tells The Art Newspaper. “Nobody voted for a hard Brexit on 23 June. I strongly believe that dissolving the EU at this time, in this place, in this global situation is the worst thing one can do. I want to continue spreading the message that the EU is not our enemy.”

Wolfgang Tillmans's Collum (2011) (© the artist)

Wolfgang Tillmans’s Collum (2011) (© the artist)

The Tate show—encompassing photographs, video, digital slide projections and publications—focuses on works produced in a variety of media since 2003, “an important year when he felt the world changed with the invasion of Iraq and anti-war demonstrations”, a press statement says.

But Brexit does not feature in the latest iteration of the artist’s “truth study centre”, a mix of printed matter from pamphlets to newspapers centred on seismic world events that he has worked on since 2005.  “I didn’t want to highlight the obvious, the shit storm of lies that surround us, and instead have created an installation that focuses on the physiological and psychological processes of truth and opinion-making in the brain.”

Tillmans, a former Tate trustee, also looks to nightlife in his imagery. “Clubs are an affirmation of life. There has to be a space for freedom of expression. In cities like London, there is a fear of the energy of youth, and the life is being squeezed out of both London and New York.” An image in the exhibition called The Spectrum/Dagger (2014) shows clubbers at the eponymous gay club in Brooklyn.

The artist adds however: “I am an artist and this exhibition is about art…. There is a four-metre tall picture of a weed [Weed, 2014]. That is an experience you cannot have anywhere, not online, not in a book. The main experience is for me to be in the pure presence of works of art.”

A section dedicated to portraiture includes images of Neil MacGregor, the former director of the British Museum, and the musician Frank Ocean. Meanwhile, Playback Room is a space where visitors can listen to recorded music by Colourbox, a UK band who were active between 1982 and 1987. “Tillmans has chosen to include it here to encourage others to think about how recorded music can be given prominence within the museum setting,” the organisers say.

‘There is no door open, no hope.’ The gay Iranian refugee that Canada abandoned

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

Daily Xtra

Amirhossein Zolghadri is stuck in Turkey after Canada suspended his application, in order to prioritize Syrian refugees. After applying for resettlement in the US, his application was suspended just before his final interview due to President Donald Trump’s “Muslim ban.” Courtesy Amirhossein Zolghadri

Amirhossein Zolghadri regrets not trusting his smuggler.

The gay Iranian man, who also identifies as queer, was supposed to be trafficked out of Turkey to Britain or Norway. But the shifty, burly man left Zolghadri with a bad feeling. He instead filed a refugee claim with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Canada selected him for resettlement.

“I got very scared of that smuggler. But now when I look back, I feel I made the most terrible mistake of my life,” Zolghadri says. “Now I feel this smuggler was much more trustworthy than the UNHCR and Canada, because they both have let me down.”

Zolghadri is among a handful of LGBT Iranians who have told Xtra that Canada had selected them for resettlement, before abandoning them to make space for Syrians.

The two main Toronto advocacy groups for LGBT Iranians — the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees and the Iranian Queer Organization — say they’re in touch with dozens in the same situation, and that most had been referred to the United States before President Donald Trump suspended refugee resettlement from seven predominantly-Muslim countries.

It’s the latest blow to Zolghadri, whose most terrifying hours were spent on Nov 18, 2014, inside Tehran’s international airport.

After causing a scandal by sleeping with a preacher in his hometown of Karaj, 17-year-old Zolghadri was trying to flee to Turkey, leaving behind a broken life and a prestigious family that wanted to save face.

“As a gay person in Iran, whether you remain silent or decide to scream in protest, every day you are condemned to death,” Amirhossein Zolghadri says.

Courtesy Amirhossein Zolghadri

Passing through security checks manned by Iran’s revolutionary guards, Zolghadri worried they’d look through documentary tapes he’d filmed about gay Muslims. They’d see the clerics in the religious city of Qom, who had beat Zolghadri for asking about homosexuality. They’d hear about the time the preacher’s father almost sideswiped Zolghadri with his car.

“As a gay person in Iran, whether you remain silent or decide to scream in protest, every day you are condemned to death,” Zolghadri says in one of the tapes, now posted online. “I preferred to scream, than to die everyday in my community, at school and at home.”

If the guards searched Zolghadri’s name online, they’d see him recounting childhood bullying, which escalated into him running away from home, narrowly avoiding shock therapy and dropping from academic studies to shop classes.

“I think that was a miracle, that I somehow made it out of Iran,” Zolghadri, now 20, told Xtra in a video chat, his dark eyes peering through long, black locks of hair. After breaking off contact with the smuggler, he slept in dodgy hostels. He’s struggled to find under-the-table work, and scrapes by on cash transfers from friends and activists.

According Zolghadri’s UNHCR documents, which he provided to Xtra, he registered as a refugee on July 30, 2015. Canada started a third-country resettlement application on Nov 20, 2015.

But almost a year later, in mid-November 2016, the UNHCR told Zolghadri that Canada had suspended his application, because it is only resettling Syrian refugees through the UN system.

Zolghadri provided Xtra with his UNHCR documents which show his case was moving forward in Canada and the US before being suspended in both countries.

Courtesy Amirhossein Zolghadri

The UN put his case back into its system, before the US started its own resettlement application on Dec 2, 2016. US officials interviewed Zolghadri on Dec 26, and planned a final interview before suspending his application after Trump’s executive order.

Zolghadri believes he’d be in the US already if his Canadian application hadn’t languished for 11 months. “Why did Canada give me this false hope?” he says.

He passes the time painting, seldom leaving the vacation flat in Eskişehir, Turkey, that was offered to him by a stranger he met online, an Iranian living in the US who fled persecution because of his Baha’i faith.

While living in Turkey, both Zolghadri’s grandmother and estranged father have died.

Zolghadri dreams of coming to Canada and taking legal studies because almost everyone in his family is a lawyer.

But for now, death is close to mind. He follows closely as Canadian parliamentarians raise the issue, but he’s worried about Turkey’s uptick of anti-LGBT violence.

“The options to me right now are either suicide or a hunger strike. Because they’re ignoring Iranian LGBT people in this situation,” he says. “There is no door open, no hope.”

AIDS Is A Gay Disease

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

Daily Caller

AIDS Is A Gay Disease

  Like other Jewish historians and community members, I was bothered by the Trump Administration’s universalist Holocaust statement papering over the fact that, by and large, the Holocaust was about Jews. As a gay man who has writtenextensively about LGBT history, the episode reminded me of a similar bit of amnesia gay people have fostered about ourselves: that “AIDS is not a gay disease.”

The slogan was originally an understandable retort to haters who blamed us for our own suffering. But gays aren’t downtrodden anymore. For the sake of clear thinking about policy, respect for victims, and well-earned pride in gay history, it’s time we just say it: much as the Holocaust was a Jewish event, AIDS in the United States is a gay disease.

Of course straight people suffer and die from HIV-related illness, just as about 200,000 Gypsies were murdered by the Nazis. But “AIDS is not a gay disease” was a situational political strategy, not a scholarly consensus. It was an epidemiological and historical obfuscation designed to gain sympathy and funding for the illness in an era when gays were outsiders. Yet it remains in 2017, repeated almost as a mantra anytime someone “outrageously” links AIDS with homosexuality.

But of course AIDS is linked with homosexuality. Even today, gay men receive more than two-thirds of HIV diagnoses, and earlier in the epidemic that number was even higher. Gay men are maybe 2 percent of the American population, but 55 percent of Americans living with HIV. Men who have sex with men are more than 60 times more likely to contract HIV than those who don’t.

Like calling Tay-Sachs a Jewish disease, or sickle-cell anemia a black disease, calling AIDS a gay disease is a rhetorical shortcut, not finger-pointing.

Nonetheless, in the mid-to-late 1980s, AIDS activists began to highlight the minority of victims who contracted the illness through infected needles and heterosexual sex. Everyone was at risk for contracting HIV, they argued, and if the nation didn’t act, the epidemic would be soon spread rapidly within the “general population.”

That was epidemiological nonsense, we now know. HIV had spread so quickly among gay men because we had so many more sexual partners, and because anal sex facilitates transmission particularly effectively. A single instance ofheterosexual intercourse with an infected person transmits the virus less than one time in a thousand. So straight people – whose unprotected sexual encounters are much more sporadic, and among whom monogamy is a more central value – are simply never going to see the disease spread exponentially as it did among gay men in the early 1980s.

But proclaiming “AIDS is not a gay disease” worked. Fundraising and government spending on research, prevention and care skyrocketed, and the illness was increasingly seen as an American problem, not a gay problem.

That progress came at a cost. Tens of millions of prevention and education dollars that could have helped teach vulnerable gay men how to play safe were diverted to educate Americans with much lower risk. And the disease began to slip off the LGBT radar screen

With falling transmission rates and rising life expectancy among its rich white male funders, Big Gay has for more than a decade diverted limited resources toward issues with wholesome connotations – think lesbians in wedding dresses.

HIV is a downer of an issue, involving weakness, sickness, and death; and concerning the poor, minorities, and (horrors!) sex. Even among LGBT health concerns, HIV has been shunted aside. Only a third of the articles at one major gay organization’s “Health & HIV/AIDS” Web page deals with HIV. Preposterously, several relate to abortion, which – while a liberal sacrament – isn’t all that urgent for men who have sex with men and women who have sex with women.

The gay community cannot be permanently enfeebled by those who blame our pain on our “perversion.” When gay leader Matt Foreman called AIDS a gay disease in 2008, narrow-minded groups seized the opportunity to renew their tired argument that homosexuality is a “dangerous lifestyle” (an odd analysis given the rarity of HIV transmission through lesbian sex). But in 2017, Americans are more likely to find comments like Foreman’s refreshing and those about diseased homosexuals off-putting.

Denying the gayness of AIDS has been doubly damaging, as it has diverted attention from today’s victims, who are largely people of color but just as gay; and rejected any discussion of gay white male victims to avoid a supposedly pernicious stereotype.

Thus the early history of the epidemic gets obscured, because most of that story’s heroes are gay white men. And those heroes are pretty fuckin’ awesome. In coalition with lesbians, people of color, and concerned heterosexuals those gay white men revolutionized the way Americans deal with illness.

Gays already faced constant discrimination, vilification, and scapegoating when news of a fatal illness in their midst led even well-meaning Americans to shun them. They were rejected by neighbors, co-workers, even their own doctors and parents. Some Americans blamed homosexuality for making their loved ones sick, locking same-sex partners out of health care decisions and even denying them a chance to say goodbye.

And yet.

Those gay white men and their allies organized political pressure on government officials to devote funds to research and care. They created a broad spectrum of community organizations to succor the afflicted. They became experts at epidemiology and pharmacology so they could advocate on their own behalf, shaking up a stodgy drug-approval system to give dying men hope. They pioneered a style of in-your-face activism that demanded Americans end their deadly silence. And they devoted their already abundant talents in arts as diverse as musical theater, graffiti and quilt-making to express agony, perseverance, and hope in the face of an unprecedented plague.

The gay community’s bravery and endurance in a time of monumental stress is unsurpassed in the 20th century. It is a largely untold tale that deserves a place of honor right alongside the African-American freedom struggle, showing the best of what Americans can be.

AIDS is not a gay disease?



HIV rates continue to soar among young gay and bisexual men

Thursday, February 16th, 2017



HIV blood test

New data has revealed that HIV infections in young gay and bisexual men has soared, as rates drop overall.

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that the number of people contracting HIV fell from 45,700 in 1998 to 37,600 in 2014 – an 18 percent drop.

Among straight people, this decline is around 36 percent (56 percent in drug users) but in gay and bisexual men aged 25 to 34 diagnoses are up from 7,200 to 9,700 – about 35 percent.

In gay and bisexual men overall figures remained about the same with only a one percent increase reported.

Experts have said greater public education, testing, needle exchange programmes and PrEP have accounted for the overall drop.

However, they added that the figures among young gay and bisexual men were worrying.

In a breakdown of the stats, half of new infections were in Southern States.

African American men who had sex with men (MSM) witnessed infection rates climb 22 percent in six years.

The rate in Latino MSM was up by 20 percent.

The CDC has said that if trends don’t improve then one in two black gay or bisexual men will be infected at some point in their life, Latino men one in four and white men one in 11.

In contrast, HIV rates in the UK among the same group have plummeted.

New infections fell by a third over the last two years in England alone.

No gay conservatives, I won’t accept your ‘coming out’ as Trump supporters

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

The Independent

The day after the American election, my ex-boyfriend messaged me to confess that he had voted for Trump. Hillary Clinton, he thought, just wasn’t trustworthy enough, so instead he opted for a compulsive liar and megalomaniac. As a gay man, I was repulsed by the idea that someone I’d once shared a bed with could now be in bed with our oppressors.

Now, another gay man has decided to “come out” (his words) as a conservative, this time in a piece for the New York Post. Chadwick Moore is a 33-year-old journalist who wrote a fawning profile of the out alt-right troll Milo Yiannopoulos for Out, one of America’s premier gay men’s magazines.

Yiannopoulos’ Islamophobia, transphobia, racism, and sexism are well documented, and that an LGBT publication would give him “neutral” (as Moore claims) coverage rightfully angered many in the community. It was met with swift condemnation from within the community, with dozens of prominent LGBT journalists signing an open letter condemning the article and Out’s decision to publish.

Bernie Sanders: Trump is a pathological liar

Moore himself took a lot of flack for writing such a flattering piece of someone who has campaigned against gay marriage and is otherwise an equally deplorable human being. He was attacked on Twitter, but to his surprise, it did not end there. “Personal friends of mine — men in their 60s who had been my long time mentors — were coming at me. They wrote on Facebook that the story was ‘irresponsible’ and ‘dangerous’. A dozen or so people unfriended me,” he whinges.  He lost his best friend. People in gay bars wouldn’t talk to him. A guy he chatted up called him a Nazi.

Delicate little snowflake can’t take the heat, it seems.

All of this has led Moore to realise he’s not a liberal after all, but is actually a conservative. Anyone who read his piece on Yiannopoulos could’ve told you that, but apparently it took being criticised for fawning over fascists for Moore to realise his own political predilections. Now he’s standing for far-right gadfly Ann Coulter and hoping that “New Yorkers can be as open-minded and accepting of my new status as a conservative man as they’ve been about my sexual orientation.”

Girl, goodnight.

Conservatism in America has literally killed gay people. Thousands lost their lives because of Reagan’s homophobic inaction on Aids. The Vice President of the United States only two years ago signed a license-to-discriminate as governor of Indiana. The right uses religion to deny marriage equality, housing protections, job protections, and even trans peoples’ right to use a public toilet. Conservative Americans are so homophobic and transphobic that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office had to issue a travel alert to LGBT Britons going to North Carolina. And unlike the British Conservative Party, the Republican Party has made no overtures towards LGBT people, no apologies for past injustices, and no attempt at including us in their vision for the country.

Donald Trump did say LGBT like he was trying to sound out a Welsh place name though, so these Aunt Marys (a term used to describe gay people who side with the oppressor) suddenly want all of this forgiven.

Gay conservatives aren’t welcome in gay spaces because the people they support are an existential threat to our rights and our community. After all, queer spaces (such as bars, bathhouses, community centres, and even bookstores) were founded and instrumental in radical sexual politics and political engagement. You can’t divorce that from the social aspect, because doing so would deny the history of our community and the present reality of so many vulnerable LGBT people.

Asking that the gay community embrace you and your politics is like one turkey asking another to be okay that he voted for the farmer and Thanksgiving. I don’t care if this hurts someone’s feelings; I’m more concerned with the harm their vote causes. So until American conservatism welcomes queer people, queer people shouldn’t welcome American conservatives. Even if they’re queer themselves.

Sorry, Chad. Maybe Milo will buy you a drink.

Will the AFLW herald changing times for gay players in the men’s game?

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017


Moana Hope of the Magpies and Mia-Rae Clifford of the Demons shake hands
Moana Hope of Collingwood and Mia-Rae Clifford of the Demons after their AFLW match at Ikon Park. Rae-Clifford’s partner, Penny Cula-Reid, plays for the Pies. Photograph: Michael Dodge/AFL Media/Getty Images 

The year is 2002. I am packed onto an Adelaide hotel couch with 15 other teenage girls. We are not just any teenage girls, we are state cricketers, here to represent Victoria in the national championship carnival.

We are waiting for the team bus to arrive, watching the Saturday morning music video countdown on Rage. This week’s number one is surprise hit All The Things She Said, the lesbian “anthem” by Russian duo tATu (later exposed as “fake” lesbians). A deep, awkward silence falls over the group as we sit through three minutes of girls making out in school uniforms. The group stays eerily quiet until we walk to the newly-arrived bus. My team-mate and friend, a larrikin by the name of Penny Cula-Reid, elbows me and says: “I bet you enjoyed that.”

At 30, I wonder if I missed an opportunity to reach out to a fellow queer. This weekend, Cula-Reid is featured in the Age as one part of the AFL’s “first openly gay AFL player couple” alongside partner and fiancee Mia-Rae Clifford. The pair teed off in Saturday night’s thrilling contest between Melbourne and Collingwood, the Dees overturning a 19-point deficit at half-time to come out 19-point winners. Both players were subdued; Cula-Reid had three kicks while Clifford had one. Perhaps they were nervous, after the article lauded them as the face of the “brave new AFL”. In the piece, journalist Samantha Lane describes the arrival of the AFLW as heralding an “infinitely more progressive reality” for the AFL.

Certainly critics can point to the lack of any openly gay, elite, male player as a sign that the AFL has a way to go when it comes to progressive politics on sexuality. In 2013, when I covered the first ever women’s exhibition game for the Age, the number of openly gay women’s players ensured sexuality was a persistent topic of conversation among the AFL executive. Attending the official launch at AFL house, I was seated next to two male officials who confided in me their own hope that a male player would be brave enough to come out. I reminded them it was only three years earlier that Jason Akermanis had penned a column arguing gay male players should stay in the closet.

In 2010, Akermanis’s article claimed the AFL was not ready for a gay player to come out, and that such a declaration would “cause discomfort in that environment”. Akermanis recalled having a gay team-mate who “played his heart out and was respected by everyone in the team”. Nonetheless, Akermanis wrote that he had been compelled to leave the showers when that same team-mate walked in.

Thankfully, many have since taken Akermanis and his ilk to task, pointing out that his discomfort speaks volumes about his own and others’ homophobia, rather than any issue with his gay team-mates. This includes Jason Ball, Australian Greens politician, LGBTIQ activist and first ever openly gay male player (although still not elite). Ball was influential in inaugurating the first ever AFL Pride game last year between St Kilda and Sydney, which featured Saints players with rainbow numbers on their guernseys and was notable for inspiring club legend and Aboriginal activist Nicky Winmar to come out publicly in support of his gay son Tynan.

I would argue that having queer role models such as Cula-Reid and Clifford will make a huge difference to the youth now flocking to the game in the wake of the AFLW’s success. As reported in the lead-up to the Pride game last year, 87% of young gay Australians involved in team sport feel that they have to hide their sexuality.

This is often exacerbated by the homophobic slurs they encounter on the field, something the AFL has committed to cracking down on after commentator Brian Taylor called Harry Taylor a “big poofter” on air. Ball has written extensively about how damaging this culture is for queer youth: “I feared getting bullied, I feared getting kicked off the team, and so it was this constant battle for me to hide that side of who I was.”

But will these AFLW players’ bravery have any impact on the culture of the men’s game? I retain some hope the AFL’s new lovechild will force the hand of the old guard when it comes to the shadow of homophobia that still lingers as a blight on this wonderful game.

Unlike some other sports, the success of AFLW has so far been built on the close interconnectedness of the men’s and women’s teams. To be granted an AWFL licence, clubs had to undergo a rigorous process to prove their women’s team would have appropriate access to facilities and be integrated into the broader club culture.

There have been positive examples to date; the male Carlton players formed a guard of honour at the game against GWS on the weekend at Princes Park and several clubs have also included their male players as women’s team coaches, such as leadership-member Jordan Roughead at the Bulldogs.

Women’s players are also invited to official AFL functions, such as the infamously heteronormative Brownlow medal, where players’ partners are known merely by the euphemism of WAGs (wives and girlfriends).

But if Annie Nolan could “stop” the Brownlow last year by daring to show up in a suit, then women bringing their queer partners could well send the AFL machinery into a long-awaited and welcome tailspin.

Gay porn star, 29, who was booted from several sites for his Nazi tattoos is arrested in meth raid

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

Daily Mail

A gay porn star who recently came under fire for his white supremacist tattoos has now been arrested in a drug raid.

Timothy Harper, 29, was one of four people arrested at a Dallas, Texas home last Thursday where a SWAT team found more than 1,600 grams of methamphetamine – as well as scales and packaging ‘consistent with narcotics trafficking’.

He was arrested on a charge of manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance after reportedly admitting to ordering and receiving drugs. He remains held on $100,000 bail.

The Dallas Morning News reports that Harper is a gay porn actor who works under the name Cameron Diggs.

Last April, he came under fire when gay porn studio NakedSword released a clip of him and many pointed out that he had Nazi tattoos on his body – including SS Bolts on his hips and Iron Crosses on his chest.

Harper, who works under the name Cameron Diggs, came under fire for his Nazi tattoos last year - including two Iron Crosses on his chest 

Harper, who works under the name Cameron Diggs, came under fire for his Nazi tattoos last year – including two Iron Crosses on his chest

A few months later, in July, NakedSword suggested that Harper issue a statement to ‘clear his name’ – but that didn’t go down as they intended.

‘I believe people should want to be proud of who they are and where they come from,’ Diggs said in his statement on July 14.

‘I feel like we are suppose [sic] to continue our race and our culture… When it comes to having kids, I prefer to stay inside my race. It’s nothing hateful towards any race, it’s just what I believe. Why is that so wrong? Does that make me a racist?’

Just hours after posting the statement, another porn site, CockyBoys, pulled down a clip of Diggs.

‘We removed Cameron’s scene after reading his response,’ CockyBoys director and CEO, Jake Jaxson, told VICE in August.

‘His statement does not represent the basic values of mutual respect and acceptance that is the mission of CockyBoys.’

And on July 25, NakedSword followed suit by cancelling the release of a new Diggs scene that was scheduled to go live the next day


Restoration work to impact Gay Street traffic

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017


Building restoration work involving a crane is leading to three days of lane closures in the 600 block of South Gay Street.

Starting Wednesday at 7 a.m., the northbound lanes of Gay Street between Church and Clinch avenues will be closed during the day. One southbound lane will remain open while daytime crews are working on the former KUB Building.

The crane work is part of a facade removal and $10 million renovation. The Tombras Group is expected to move into the building in about a year. The building has been unoccupied since the Knoxville Utilities Board moved out more than 16 years ago.

The crane’s operation will block daytime curbside drop-offs in front of the Tennessee Theatre, but all lanes of traffic will reopen each evening.

The lane closures are expected to end by early Friday evening.

Gay footballer long way off: Dogs’ skipper

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

Wide World of Sports

Western Bulldogs’ captain Robert Murphy believes the AFL’s first openly gay footballer may be years away from revealing himself for fear of sparking a media circus.

The AFL has made significant strides to tone down the sport’s once-proud masculine image, staging its inaugural Gay Pride Round last season.

Despite the statistical improbability of all 700-plus AFL-listed players being straight, no elite footballer in AFL/VFL history has declared otherwise.

Murphy said potential “sensationalist interest” surrounding an AFL player opening up to talk about their sexuality would be a daunting prospect.

“I can only talk for my own footy club but I just don’t think it’s fair to put it at the feet of the club and the locker-room nature of footy clubs,” Murphy told SEN radio on Wednesday.

“It’s obviously a complex issue but the media storm that waits I feel is just as big, if not a bigger factor in what might hold people back.”

Murphy, who missed the Bulldogs’ drought-breaking premiership last year with a season-ending knee injury, said the demands of being a professional athlete were great enough without the added pressure of becoming a gay icon.

“A lot of footballers who are gay want to be recognised as a footballer first, not as the first person to come out and openly talk about the fact they are gay,” he said.

“The fact we are having this conversation still says to me that we have a long way to go.

“The first player to come out as gay, he may not want to become a spokesman for it and if he’s the first one, he probably will be or people will want him to be.”

Last week, AFL Women’s players Penny Cula-Reid (Collingwood) and Mia-Rae Clifford (Melbourne) revealed they were in a long-term relationship.

More than 20 years ago, NRL star Ian Roberts became the first professional sportsman in Australia to publicly acknowledge he was gay.

Trump Keeps Obama’s Top Gay Rights Envoy at State Department

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

Foreign Policy

Trump Keeps Obama’s Top Gay Rights Envoy at State Department

The Trump administration has decided to keep President Barack Obama’s top advocate for gay rights issues at the State Department in defiance of evangelical groups who called for his immediate expulsion,Foreign Policy has learned.

Randy Berry, the Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons, is continuing “in his role under the current administration,” a State Department spokesperson said on Monday. The move marks the latest surprise decision by President Donald Trump on gay rights as he juggles the agenda of his staunchly conservative cabinet and top aides, and his cosmopolitan, New York-bred daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

“This is really surprising to me,” Ross Murray, the director of programs at GLAAD, a pro-LGBT group, told FP. “I don’t think I can applaud it until I see what his mandate becomes in this administration.”

“But Berry has been really effective in that job,” he said.

Berry, an openly gay career Foreign Service officer whom conservative groups have derided as Obama’s “top gay activist,” became the first person to hold the position in February 2015.

In December, Tony Perkins, the head of the conservative Family Research Council, implored Trump to launch a major purge of pro-LGBT diplomats inside Foggy Bottom. “The incoming administration needs to make clear that these liberal policies will be reversed and the ‘activists’ within the State Department promoting them will be ferreted out,” he said.

The special envoy position was created during the Obama years to fight back against the discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people around the globe. Conservative groups have called the office an attempt to “entrench the LGBTI agenda” into the United States government, and accuseit of browbeating countries opposed to gay-friendly school textbooks and same-sex marriage.

Berry repeatedly stressed that his goal was to convince foreign governments to stop violence against gays and lesbians rather than pressure every nation to allow same-sex marriage. “He was mindful not to be heavy-handed or overly colonial,” said Murray, who mentioned his work in countries with less tolerance for LGBT people, such as Uganda and Nigeria.

On Jan. 20, in one of the Obama administration’s final acts, it also named Berry deputy assistant secretary to the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Conservative groups blasted that decision as an 11th-hour move to place an LGBT-friendly diplomat in a position that has influence over U.S. policies at the United Nations. The State Department spokesperson said Berry maintains his duties in both roles in the Trump administration.

The spokesperson declined to say why Berry wasn’t reassigned or dismissed last month when a slew of other political and career officials were booted by Trump loyalists. A recently updated State Department organizational chartshows continued vacancies in positions opposed by Republicans on ideological grounds, such as the Special Envoy for Climate Change, a position previously filled by Jonathan Pershing. But Berry’s name and position remain intact.

In recent weeks, Trump has shown himself capable of surprising the LGBT community even as it wages opposition campaigns to oppose his cabinet appointments such as Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

Earlier this month, Kushner and Ivanka Trump, who have a track record of supporting gay rights, worked to torpedo a draft executive order that would have overturned Obama’s regulations strengthening LGBT rights for federal contracting jobs, according to Politico.

Trump’s secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, pushed the Boy Scouts of America to be open to gay rights when he served as national president from 2010 to 2011. In 2013, while he served on the executive board of the Scouts, it rescinded the ban on gay scouts. During his confirmation hearing, Tillerson declined to say whether “gay rights are human rights.”

The Family Research Council did not respond to a request for comment.


How Gay Is Your Geek TV?

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

The Mary Sue


Editor’s note: This article originally appeared, and is reposted here with permission.

When I was growing up, there were so few queer characters in pop culture that I lived on a media diet of Sassy Magazines and the hope that I’d see myself reflected somewhere by someone.

It wasn’t until I was in my early 20s that LGBTQIA characters were actually depicted in the media I loved: When Willow and Tara made magic together for the first time on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, my heart sang with recognition.

The validation and encouragement that comes from seeing yourself reflected in the culture you value is just as important to me now as it was then. But unfortunately, in 2017 it can still be a struggle to find positive LGBTQIA representation in media — particularly for people of color. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) found in their most recent annual TV report card that around 64% of LGBT characters on broadcast TV in in 2016 were white, and that percentage was even higher for cable and streaming platforms. Some letters in that acronym are also more likely to see themselves positively represented than others.

My personal gravitation has always been towards television and film, although I know many people who have found themselves best represented in novels and comic books. My heart has also always belonged to science fiction and fantasy, genres that usually feature expansive worlds and diverse characters.

One might think that sci-fi and fantasy creators would use that expansiveness as an opportunity to positively represent all sexualities and genders. But while there are certainly some sci-fi and fantasy titles with great LGBTQIA characters (my personal favorites include Lost Girl and Sense8), there’s still a lot of work to be done.


sense 8

Still from Sense8. Photo Credit: Via Netflix

Prior to writing this article, I talked to some sci-fi and fantasy fans on Twitter about the queer representation they love in sci-fi and fantasy TV. Some examples came up repeatedly: Lost Girl,which featured the first bisexual female lead on TV; Sense8, which has queer and trans leads;Orphan Black, which has depicted gay, trans, and women- loving-women characters; andTorchwood.

In my own experience, LGBTQIA audiences can be fiercely loyal to the few shows that do right by them. The opposite, of course, is also true.

For an example, look at The 100. Season three of this post-apocalyptic sci-fi show featured a scene wherea lesbian character was killed by a stray bullet soon after her first love scene with another woman.

Still from The 100. Photo Credit: The CW

Still from The 100. Photo Credit: The CW

That death was an example of ‘Burying Your Gays,’ a trope seen in both genre and mainstream TV in which a queer character is killed off—usually to further the story of a white, cis, straight character. Fans responded to the presence of this trope on The 100 with petitions, fundraisers, guidelines for creators on how to do better, and even the launch ofa new convention for LGBTQ women.

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When sweeps roll around, supporting roles usually make for the juiciest kills—and then a community’s sole representative is being killed.

In 2016 alone, 10 queer female characters on sci-fi and fantasy shows died—many of them in brutal, violent ways. That’s a staggeringly high number when you consider how few LGBTQIA characters there are on TV overall. When queer audiences are looking to find themselves in media, it can be damaging for us to repeatedly receive the message that our stories are doomed to end in tragedy.

So, clearly, not all science fiction or fantasy representation is positive. To me, “positive representation” means fleshed out characters that are more than just window dressing for the stories of straight, cis people.

With that definition in mind, I turned to some creative minds in the entertainment industry to get their thoughts on where queer representation in geek TV stands today—and how we can keep improving.

wynonna earp

Still from Wynonna Earp. Photo Credit: SyFy

Emily Andras is currently showrunner on SyFy’s weird science fiction series Wynonna Earp. She’s also worked on series like Lost Girl and Killjoys, and was kind enough to weigh in.

“As with all television, it’s hard to generalize,” she told me. “Some sci-fi genre does LGBT representation well; some tries but its efforts might make us wince, and some doesn’t bother to try at all.  That being said, I do think genre is paving the way.  It’s a natural fit: Genre is ultimately about outsiders trying to make sense of a strange, often hostile world—and if that doesn’t speak to the queer experience, what does? Much of what attracted me personally to genre is the chance to develop characters that don’t normally get their due on television. Likewise, genre audiences tend to crave unique and broad-minded storytelling. It’s a match made in space fantasy heaven. And it doesn’t have to be either/or: We can celebrate those shows we think are ‘getting it right’ while urging them and their less progressive counterparts to continue to grow and do better—as we should with all media representation.”

Do science fiction and fantasy tropes still subtly present LGBTQ characters as strange and alien?

Some of the shows with great queer representation aren’t on traditional TV networks. Carmilla is a very queer web series about vampires that’s become a hit since it premiered on YouTube in 2014. The series features no less than three queer women, two of whom are the show’s leads, as well as a non-binary supporting lead.

Carmilla series writer and director Jordan Hall says that the nature of genre TV can encourage that kind of great representation. “The license that sci-fi and fantasy provides has allowed people to push at issues that might be harder to address in more mundane genres—fictional societies and characters with capabilities like shifting between differently constructed bodies can allow us to approach issues in innovative ways, and/or illustrate the world as we think it should be.”

Although, Hall points out that relying on genre shows to supply our best representation of the LGBTQIA community comes with its own issues. “What is being said when the accepting societies we create are positioned as flights of the imagination? When a physical body that doesn’t match the gender identity of the consciousness in it is the result of possession, or an alien symbiont, or some other supernatural means? Do science fiction and fantasy tropes still subtly present LGBTQ characters as strange and alien instead of including them as part of the normal spectrum of human experience?”

Still from Carmilla. Photo Credit: YouTube

Still from Carmilla. Photo Credit: YouTube

Apart from these questions, Hall still feels that sci-fi and fantasy TV is making strides in the quantity of queer characters depicted—even if it stumbles in the quality of their storylines. “In television, especially, we still see a lot of ‘token’ LGBTQ characters in supporting roles (I suspect out of a false assumption that straight viewers may be alienated by an LGBTQ protagonist),” Hall writes. “This feeds directly to the truly awful ‘Bury Your Gays’ trope, because when sweeps roll around, supporting roles usually make for the juiciest kills—and then a community’s sole representative is being killed. (Not that the trope would be acceptable either way.)”

“There also isn’t much plurality in the gender identities afforded to LGBTQ characters—androgynous, butch, and even flamboyant presentations (just to name a few) are still pretty rare unless they’re deliberately being showcased for their ‘strangeness.’ Hall adds, “It is worth noting, though, that this kind of analysis is possible because the body of LGBTQ characters in sci-fi and fantasy continues to grow, and I’m hopeful that the variety and sophistication of those representations will continue to grow as well.”

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I wondered if the worlds of comics, books, and gaming experienced the same problems in LGBTQIA representation. So I reached out to Sam Maggs, author of The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy andWonder Women, and a writer at the video game company, Bioware. Bioware has featured queer and trans characters prominently in their games Mass Effect and Dragon Age.

Dragon Age: Inquisition's Krem Photo Credit: BioWare

Dragon Age: Inquisition‘s Krem Photo Credit: BioWare

Overall, Maggs says she sees sci-fi as a very progressive place: “Sci-fi has always been the most progressive genre for diverse representation, and we’re seeing that trend continue today. It’s a place where people who consume fiction can explore new ideas without feeling immediately threatened by them, which is why creators can utilize the sci-fi space to put forth ideas that might seem radical in contemporary fiction.”

I asked Maggs to share some of her favorite representations of queerness in sci-fi, and she provided quite the list. “I love the diversity in my favorite book of 2015, Becky Chambers’ The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. On a rag-tag space crew that’s part Mass Effect and part Firefly, Chambers included not only a wide variety of LGBT characters, but also characters of differing gender identities. Plus, you fall in love with them all instantly.”

“In comics, IDW’s Jem and the Holograms (drawn by a trans woman) includes queer characters on both the Holograms and the Misfits, and features one of the best coming-out scenes by a trans character I’ve ever seen in comics.”

“In games, I might be biased, but I can’t overstate the importance of what BioWare has done to make gaming inclusive for people of all genders and sexualities – both behind the scenes and represented on-screen.”

Still from Sense8. Photo Credit: Netflix

Still from Sense8. Photo Credit: Netflix

In all, what I learned from speaking with these creators is that having a queer character doesn’t automatically make a story progressive. Creating meaningful LGBTQIA characters requires thought into how they are framed and represented. Writers and creators should aim to think outside the box to create intersectional TV, with LGBTQIA characters that are just as fleshed out, complex, and centered in the narrative as their straight or cis counterparts.

There will always be pushback—perhaps more now recently, given today’s political climate. But it’s very clear that positive LGBTQIA representation in media changes hearts and minds. I know it changed me, offering validation and inspiration when I had never before seen myself on screen. Sci-fi and fantasy have the built-in ability to challenge perceptions, which makes them a natural place for queer representation to thrive. All it will take is a few more creators willing to look beyond toxic tropes to create more worlds where all of us can see ourselves.

[Editor’s Note:The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet author Becky Chambers was formerly an editor at The Mary Sue, and worked there at the same time as Sam Maggs and The Portalist’sCarolyn Cox.]

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Feature still of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” via 20th Century Fox Television

Dana Piccoli is a pop culture critic and entertainment writer who lives recently relocated from New York to Greenville, SC. She’s a former Staff Editor and writer for AfterEllen and contributes to The Mary Sue, TV Junkies and more. She’s also written for Curve Magazine, Go Magazine, and Alloy Entertainment. You can follow her on Twitter andTumblr.

If you, like The Sun, think it’s important that a male nurse used to be a gay porn star, reassess your priorities

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017


What would a gay slut-shaming story be without making reference to HIV – ‘that inevitably fatal immune disease,’ as my grandmother once referred to it in one of her longer emails to me about my sexuality? Never fear! They found one of those too

Many of you will, like me, have done a double take yesterday when an article surfaced about a 23-year-old nurse who had previously worked in the adult entertainment industry, a “revelation” brought to light by The Sun.

There is self-evidently no public interest in this story at all – whether or not a person once starred in an adult film, gay or otherwise, has no bearing on whether they can effectively train as medical personnel. Why, then, was this nasty piece of writing even published?

The tabloid media these days avoids the traditional (and now taboo) approach of universally condemning all gay people, and instead prefers to maintain a degree of plausible deniability, playing to people’s prejudices and capitalising on their fears. Who, after all, could forget the Daily Mail’s headline (later changed after an online outcry) about the three “judges who blocked Brexit: One founded a EUROPEAN law group, another charged the taxpayer millions for advice and the third is an openly gay ex-Olympic fencer.”

The nurse in The Sun’s story is a gay man, and it does feel a bit like an “outing”. There is undoubtedly a hot, throbbing vein of potent homophobia here, although if he were a straight woman it’s clear this story would still have run: sexism sells just as well as anti-gay sentiment. And let’s not forget that there’s undoubtedly a dollop of slut-shaming in this decidedly unsavoury recipe as well.

As readers, we are invited not only to be outraged at the fact that this dashing young nurse is a gay man, but that he has also had gay sex with numerous partners, on camera, for money, and now has the audacity to be masquerading as a fully qualified nurse. It is all but suggested that we have the poor man led naked through the street by a severe looking nun with a handbell crying: “Shame! Shame!” à la Game of Thrones.

And what would a gay slut-shaming story be without making reference to HIV – “that inevitably fatal immune disease,” as my grandmother once referred to it in one of her longer emails to me about my sexuality? Never fear! They found one. Visitors to the article are presented with a snap of our unwitting protagonist with his National HIV Nurses Association certificate. The dirty, slutty hypocrite!

Personally I was not at all outraged by this young man’s CV: he sounds impressively illustrious to me, and I have the utmost respect for anyone pursuing a career in nursing, being far too self-centred myself for that ever to have been a realistic consideration in terms of my own career route.

I imagine that when applying to become a nurse, it’s unlikely that he cited his previous experience in the area of adult film-making – largely because it didn’t seem particularly relevant to his burgeoning career in nursing. I have various friends who funded their way through university via similar means, and I don’t imagine they lead with it on their resumé.

I completely understand that not everyone reading the article is going to be as understanding of the young man’s earlier career choices as I am, but I was heartened to see that the vast majority of the reader comments appending the offending article were by and large less to do with a gay adult performer’s filmography, and much more to do with the right to privacy of a young nurse, on whose life this story is bound to have a monumental and potentially lasting impact.

‘Too Gay’? No Way in Mean Girls Musical Parody

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017


Mean Gurlz
 Homophobia. Tyranny. The dangers of school bullying.

There are issues tied to the current political climate — but they were also portrayed with remarkable acumen in Mean Girls, released in 2004.

Directed by Mark Waters and written by Tina Fey, the film was inspired in part by Rosalind Wiseman’s book Queen Bees and Wannabes, an anthropoligcal study of high school cliques and their impact on teenage girls. As a result, the movie was a clever social commentary, which also clearly resonated with viewers. In 2014, a decade after its release, it was prounounced a classic due to its many quotable lines of “word vomit” (“You go, Glen Coco!” “That’s so fetch!”) as well as the star power of the young Lindsay Lohan, who as Cady became every outsider navigating the often precarious strata of “girl world.”

Mean Girls also holds a special place in the hearts of queer people, who as outsiders related to Cady and her struggle to fit in. That’s not to mention the presence of a gay character, Damian, as well as the antigay slurs used to bully and exclude; “Janis Ian is a dyke” and “too gay to function” were in the “burn book,” a list of cruel notations written by the popular clique known as the Plastics.

In 2017, this influence and relevance endures, as evidenced by perhaps the film’s queerest interpretation yet, The Unauthorized Musical Parody of Mean Gurlz at Rockwell Table and Stage in Los Angeles.

In the tradition of UMPO shows, Mean Gurlz melds the main plot of the film with song-and-dance numbers from popular music, which in and of itself amplifies the production’s camp sensibilities. Aaron Samuels (Jason Michael Snow and Michael Thomas Grant) seranades new girl Cady (Bianca Gisselle) with Maroon 5’s “Sunday Morning.” Ms. Norburry croons Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All” as she counsels her students on clique culture.

Mean Gurlz Extrax750

But in Mean Gurlz, the story is told by a fanboy played by Ryan O’Connor, who narrates the story with a “few tweaks and polishes,” which work to empower its queer characters. In this imagining, Damian (Andy Arena) has his chance to shine at the talent show, with a complete and soulful rendition of Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful.” The character of Janis Ian — who in the film fell from social graces due to lesbian rumors — is now a queer avenging angel (E.K. Dagenfield, in drag) bent on ruining Regina (How to Get Away With Murder‘s Corbin Reid) and watching Carol with Cady. And as the title implies, RuPaul’s Drag Race references and tongue pops abound.

The production might have once been called “too gay to function,” yet function it does, providing hilarity and also new insights into how the high school hierarchy of Mean Girls is a potent political allegory. “Regina George is worse than Donald Trump,” says the narrator in one of many humorous references. And as the audience members laugh at Gretchen Weiners’s breakdown in the face of Regina’s rule — “Why should Caesar get to stomp around like a giant while the rest of us try not to get smushed under his big feet?” — they also feel her pain.

Politics aside, the cast of the Mean Gurlz production includes several LGBT performers, who shared their insights with The Advocate as to why the story still appeals to queer audience members.

Actor Michael Thomas Grant argued that intersectionality might be a factor in this draw, as queer men can relate to and celebrate “strong and flawed women.”

“Finding strength in spite of, or because of, one’s perceived femininity is a shared journey for a lot of us,” Grant said. “I really appreciate that Mean Girlstakes it one step further, though, by not only recognizing that our search for strength can harbor resentment and alpha-beta, cliquey communities, but also, in the end, teaching people that those behaviors can be tempered with a little honesty, community, and communication with those who’ve had a similar struggle.”

“It also holds true that if you stop being friends with someone because you think they’re a lesbian, you most likely deserve to be hit by a bus,” he said.

Tye Blue, the director of Mean Gurlz, added that, despite gains in visibility and rights, there is still a mean streak in some LGBT people that can cause divisiveness as well as its own clique culture.

“There is still much work to be done within our own community. Even though we can get married and trans is out front and drag is winning Emmys, we are still pretty mean to each other,” Blue said. “The slightly overweight, ‘average’-looking newbie at the bar can still identify with Cady, Janis, and Damian, while the athletic, homogenized wonder cliques still feel, to me anyway, very much like the Plastics.”

“There’s a lot of compassion and empathy still to be found in our own culture. Fingers crossed!” he concluded on a hopeful note.

Mean Gurlz, which assures all audience members “you can sit with us,” was written by Kate Pazakis and Joseph Gonzalez, and directed by Tye Blue, with musical direction by Gregory Naboursruns. It runs through April 15 at Rockwell Table and Stage.

Clouds parting in gay marriage debate: Wong

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

Sky News Australia

An inquiry into draft laws for same-sex marriage is calling for a new category of religious celebrants.

Federal politicians hope the ‘clouds of partisanship have parted’ in the same- sex marriage debate after the release of a consensus committee inquiry report.

A parliamentary inquiry examined a draft bill to legalise gay marriage that the government would introduce to parliament following voter approval.

However the plebiscite is unlikely to go ahead because of lack of support.

The committee nonetheless released its report to parliament on Wednesday.

It proposed setting up a new category of independent religious celebrants to perform wedding ceremonies within their faith.

The committee recommended civil celebrants should uphold the law if marriage equality is legalised, but was in favour of the right of ministers to refuse to solemnise marriages on religious grounds.

However the committee said evidence supported the need for current protections for religious freedom to be enhanced.

Labor senate leader Penny Wong, who is in a same-sex relationship, described the report as a significant and important moment in the gay marriage debate, insisting the ‘clouds of partisanship had parted’.

‘We must now, together, take the next steps, to work together, to compromise, to end this debate and to achieve what is the will of the overwhelming majority of the Australian people,’ she told parliament.

Gay Liberal senator Dean Smith said it made sense to extend the institution of marriage to others.

Canada, the UK and New Zealand had already legalised gay marriage.

‘There is nothing to fear from changing the definition of marriage to one that gives every Australian the opportunity to share in this tried and tested institution,’ he said.

Gay Labor senator Louise Pratt said the report showed it would not be difficult to create laws that upheld religious freedom and freedom to marry.

‘I would like … the right to be married but please don’t ask me about my plans to get married because I can’t yet make them,’ she told parliament.

But Liberal senator David Fawcett, who chaired the committee, disagreed saying it a complex legal task.

‘If Australia is to remain a plural and tolerant society, where different views are valued and legal, legislators must arecognise that this change will require careful, simultaneous consideration of a wide range of specialist areas of law, as opposed to the common perception that it involves changing just a few words in one act in parliament,’ he said.

Greens senator Janet Rice said the unprecedented show of collaboration, negotiation and consensus had paved the way forward to achieve marriage equality in this parliament.



New York drag restaurant owner, 54, left severely bruised after he was ‘bashed for being gay’ – and he blames the attack on Donald Trump

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

Daily Mail


  • Mark Zschiesche, 54, claims he was beaten in San Diego on Sunday morning
  • The 54-year-old co-owns Lips Drag Queen Showplace Restaurant and Bar
  • He was left bloodied and had large bruises on his cheek and eye after the attack
  • Zschiesche said the attacker called him an anti-gay slur before punching him
  • He blamed Donald Trump and ‘those who voted for him’ for the anti-gay attack

A New York man who owns a popular drag queen restaurant chain claims he was beaten up because he is gay – and he blames Donald Trump for the attack.

Mark Zschiesche posted an emotional video on Facebook on Sunday claiming he had been punched in the face in San Diego, California earlier that morning by a stranger.

The 54-year-old, who co-owns Lips Drag Queen Showplace Restaurant and Bar, was left bloodied and had larges bruises on his cheek and eye.

Mark Zschiesche, 54, posted an emotional video on Facebook on Sunday claiming he was punched in the face in San Diego, California by a stranger who yelled anti-gay slurs at him

Mark Zschiesche, 54, posted an emotional video on Facebook on Sunday claiming he was punched in the face in San Diego, California by a stranger who yelled anti-gay slurs at him

‘Someone hit me in the face because I’m gay and I have never ever in my entire life experienced this,’ Zschiesche said.

‘I blame this on Trump and all of you that supported him,’ he said repeatedly.

Zschiesche said he was walking alone through San Diego’s North Park neighborhood at about 2am on Sunday when a complete stranger approached him, CBS reports.

He said the attacker called him an anti-gay slur before punching him.

The 54-year-old was left bloodied and had larges bruises on his cheek and eye
The 54-year-old was left bloodied and had larges bruises on his cheek and eye

The 54-year-old was left bloodied and had larges bruises on his cheek and eye following the attack on Sunday morning

Zschiesche posted an emotional video on Facebook saying he had never been attacked because of his sexuality

Zschiesche posted an emotional video on Facebook saying he had never been attacked because of his sexuality

The shocked restaurant owner said he had never been attacked because of his sexuality.

‘My personal opinion is there is a lot of hate in the air. You hate to blame, besides the person who hit me, but I blame Trump and his rhetoric,’ he said.

Zschiesche’s Lips restaurant chain started in New York’s West Village more than 20 years ago. They now have venues in Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, San Diego and Chicago.

Zschiesche's Lips restaurant chain started in New York's West Village more than 20 years ago

Zschiesche’s Lips restaurant chain started in New York’s West Village more than 20 years ago

The shocked restaurant owner said he had never been attacked because of his sexuality and blamed Donald Trump and those who voted for him

The shocked restaurant owner said he had never been attacked because of his sexuality and blamed Donald Trump and those who voted for him


This 18-Year-Old’s Open Letter About Gay Shaming, Sexuality And Acceptance Is A Must Read

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017


We posted a BTS-image of model Saket Sharma from Narendra Kumar’s show at Lakme Fashion Week where he was wearing a full face of make-up that included a red (almost tangerine) lipstick and blue eyeshadow. There were a lot of comments on the post; some were good, some even encouraging, but most of them were just mean-spirited and hateful. Saket shared the post, writing, “Hurts my being to even read the comments, not because I’m the subject here but because it’s difficult for people to be themselves in this country. I don’t wear make-up in my everyday life, but I have friends who do and it doesn’t bother me or alters my life in any shape or form. It’s about time people need to keep going with their life. In the truest hour, I ask for the world to end because this is not the way we should live.”

Open Letter About Gay Shaming, Sexuality and Acceptance© MensXP

Like any lifestyle website with a big reach, we usually receive a mixed-bag of comments and emails. Name calling, abuse, and even death-threats—we’ve seen it all. And even though we’d usually never call out our readers, this is an exception, because comments like these are simply just…hateful!

Open Letter About Gay Shaming, Sexuality and Acceptance

Open Letter About Gay Shaming, Sexuality and Acceptance

Open Letter About Gay Shaming, Sexuality and Acceptance

And then we received this gem of an open letter, from 18-year-old, Ishan Dhage—whose words definitely echo our sentiments (read the letter below). Why so much hate? Sitting behind a computer, commenting on posts in an obscene language doesn’t make you a stud. What makes you brave is having the ability to face your fears—whether it’s wearing a full face of make-up, dressing up in uncomfortable clothes or wearing heels. If that’s what you have to do, then that’s what you have to do. You cannot mess with someone else’s free will just because it represents the “other” for you. This world is filled with all sorts of people. In your lifetime, you’ll meet various kinds, who will open your minds, show you grace and kindness … if you let them. Should you look at the world with a jaundiced eye then believe us, your hateful comments will truly end up representing who you are: hateful, violent and miserable. So, who do you want to be? The choice is yours, but leave others to make THEIR choices.

Open Letter About Gay Shaming, Sexuality and Acceptance© MensXP

“Do you know what gender stereotypes are? Of course, you do. You are also aware of the fact that they are utter rubbish. This is 2017 and we have progressed so much. We have made advances in every field possible from medicine to science, art, literature and what not. So what I’m failing to understand is, why can’t our regressive ideas and thoughts, progress? Why do we—as a progressive society—have to stick to a very ancient and conventional (read: ghastly) mindset? Why can’t we ALLOW girls to explore their masculinity and guys to explore their femininity? Why is it that we always make fun or belittle anyone who is slightly different than the norm? I honestly DO NOT understand. 

Let’s discuss make-up and the big fuss about it. I mean why would you make a big deal out of someone wearing make-up?! Putting on a full face of make-up doesn’t make you ‘gay’ or ‘artificial’. And, judging someone’s personality or sexuality based on a palette of colours…is just stupid! 

I stand up for simple things in life that bring people joy—whether it is a pair of high heels or a bright red lipstick. I stand for girls who are tired of hearing ‘too much makeup’, ‘you don’t need it’, ‘artificial’, ‘plastic’ and what not! I stand up boys who are brave enough to go against the grain and stand up for what they love. But what happens when someone is actually brave enough to defy norms? One word: Humiliation!  Instead of applauding them for taking a stand and overcoming their fears—we start calling them names— ‘unnatural’, ‘gay’, ‘fag’ etc. Is your masculinity so fragile that the only way to win in life is by taking someone down? 

Fuck you if you think this is unnatural. 

Fuck you if this goes over your head and against your immature ideas. 

Fuck you if you ever shamed someone based on their choices. 

Fuck you if you think makeup is only limited to one gender. 

Fuck you if you ever made fun of someone for something they love to do. 

Fuck you and your gender norms. 

Oh and you can judge me all you want, because honestly, I expect nothing better. I know a number of people who’ll judge me just for standing up for someone. But guess what? Neither my masculinity nor my ego is as fragile as yours. So please, give it your best shot.

Open Letter About Gay Shaming, Sexuality and Acceptance© MensXP

This is not a ‘coming out’ post. This is not about me. This is much, much bigger than me. This is written in hopes of giving someone courage or at least some kind of inspiration to face their demons. This is me standing up for all those who have to deal with so much unnecessary bullshit. This is me standing up for that one person who’s scared to do what they truly love, out of the fear of being judged and ridiculed—I’m with you and I’ll stand by you.”

Photo: © MensXP (Main Image)

The Homosexuals, or Faggots: new play satirises white privileged gay life – and rings true

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

The Guardian

Simon Burke and Simon Corfield in The Homosexuals, or Faggots
Simon Burke and Simon Corfield in The Homosexuals, or Faggots. Photograph: Brett Boardman 

The faggots are burning. The fire alarm rings in gay couple Warren and Kim’s angular Sydney home as the Mardi Gras parade plays out from the bathroom window.

Warren, in his late 40s, played by Simon Burke, waves away the panic of his husband Kim (Simon Corfield), and offers to fix them martinis. As the lithe, 30-something Kim drops to the ground and crawls on all fours, Warren considers buying him a dog as therapy.

The Homosexuals, or Faggots is in its fourth week of rehearsal when I visit the crew in a wharf loft at Walsh Bay. The title references a meal of mixed pork liver rolled into meatballs – a meal which has just burst into flame in the couple’s oven, and one that doubles as a side dish of gay slur.

The play, by the Melbourne playwright Declan Greene and directed by Lee Lewis, has a rainbow of characters: elegant Baebae (Mama Alto), a non-binary transfeminine person of colour, for instance; and Diana (Genevieve Lemon), a foul-mouthed white trans woman.

But Warren, Kim and their model friend Lucacz (Lincoln Younes) are gay white middle-class cisgender males, like me. This appellation sounds exotic, but “cis” really just means I identify my gender as being in line with the sex I was assigned at birth. Sorry for that gaysplaining, but as a gay white middle-class cis male, it appears I have the floor again.

Men such as me, the play contends, have made same-sex marriage their number one activism priority, overshadowing other lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and queer concerns. This – plus a fondness for cocktails and cash – make a certain sort of Sydney gay ripe for satire, given to marginalising his oppressed cohorts. How else to explain Kim’s possibly transphobic and racist micro-aggression of a costume, when he dresses up in a “sexy” Hitler/Caitlyn Jenner hybrid? Likewise, Lucacz complains that decoupling “Muslim” from “terrorist” is simply “political correctness”.

But as a Sydney gay of Warren’s vintage, hear me out: we would have dropped the constant bleating about marriage equality long ago if the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd-Abbott-Turnbull governments had pulled their heads out of their neoliberal backsides and done what the high court said parliament has authority to do: allow us to get married, should we want to.

My partner of 18 years and I wrote our wills a decade ago in the event we would need to legally prove our relationship exists, and perhaps I should just settle for that. But there are now some 20 western countries in which same-sex marriage is legally recognised, while still more have civil unions. Nationally, Australia – reactionary, complacent, conservative continent that it is – has neither.

A number of my queer fellow travellers argue that we shouldn’t go near the conservative, patriarchal institution of marriage. For one thing, as Baebae notes in the play, the marriage equality campaign has been cheaply co-opted by commerce: “ANZ supports gay marriage!” Baebae says, of a Mardi Gras float sign. Warren gasps that he has fought for a decade for gay marriage, a “sanctity” he “refuses to pervert” by marrying a woman. The play’s draft text also quotes the US author Bruce Benderson, who has argued that marriage is meaningless and “wanting it is almost as repulsive as gays fighting to join the military, as opposed to gays fighting to end the military”.

All fair enough, but those are different arguments; the argument I’m making is one of equality of opportunity. Much as Lady Gaga’s song Born This Way can be used to celebrate diversity, self-love or genetic determinism, we can have more than one view of marriage.

The gender theorist Kate Bornstein is prominently quoted in the play too, from her book Gender Outlaw: “Male privilege is, in a word, violence.” But surely opening up marriage to same-sex couples challenges existing privilege.

Activists march during a rally in Sydney in support of marriage equality
Activists march during a rally in Sydney in support of marriage equality. Photograph: Carol Cho/EPA

In his play, Greene does hold before me a mirror reflecting uncomfortable truths. I recognised such a moment when a neighbour disses Warren’s loud dance music and Warren calls him a “homophobe”. It’s a word we’re too quick to throw around, undermining the moments when it really needs to be used: step forward Cory Bernardi, who has likened homosexuality to bestiality; George Christensen,who linked the Safe Schools program to paedophilia; and cartoonist in decline Larry Pickering, who last week, at a far-right Q Society meeting in Sydney, said of Muslims: “They’re not all bad, they do chuck pillow-biters off buildings.”

Does my support of marriage equality blind me to other oppression? Well, I did nervously attended an Invasion Day ceremony on 26 January, wondering if I’d feel welcome (I did); and a dozen years ago I was a Mardi Gras volunteer for a season, writing an eight-page guide to the parade and festival and contacting every float maker. Boy was there some socioeconomic, cultural and faith diversity there, beyond the urban, middle-class white gay male.

But I must admit I have little other rainbow involvement with which to signal my virtue, beyond what I take an interest in reading. For most of us living in this absurdly overpriced city, we’re generally too busy to foster rainbow coalitions, instead working to pay Sydney rent and mortgages.

I know my share of conservative gays like Warren and Kim, for whom a facial and a cocktail fix everything. I personally can’t abide the creeping commercialisation of Mardi Gras any more than gays who negatively gear, keeping others consigned to the rental treadmill. Stilettos and floats up Oxford Street are lovely modes of transport but they don’t house or (otherwise) clothe us.

No need for white, middle-class gays to picket Declan Greene’s play, then. If you see it, I predict you will laugh – especially if you recognise your absorbed self. What a way to reclaim a word like “faggot”, too.

The Homosexuals, or Faggots is at the Malthouse in Melbourne from 17 February, and at Griffin theatre in Sydney from 17 March

Church of England apologises for tone of gay marriage report

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

BBC News

Women holding placardImage copyrightAFP

Leading bishops have apologised to members of the Church of England who may be alienated by a report on homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

The report by the House of Bishops, which the General Synod is debating, calls for a “fresh tone”.

But it maintains that marriage in church should only be between a man and a woman, and services should not be held to bless same-sex relationships.

The Bishop of Norwich said the Church “owes much” to gay members and clergy.

‘Difficult’ report

Graham James, of the diocese of Norwich, said: “Like others which have gone before it, [the report] has not received a rapturous reception in all quarters, and I regret any pain or anger it may have caused.”

In a speech to the Church’s national assembly, the Bishop of Willesden, the Right Reverend Pete Broadbent, said he did not want to “attempt an exercise in self-justification”.

He told members: “I don’t want to make excuses for the House of Bishops’ document.

“I do want to apologise to those members of Synod who found our report difficult, who didn’t recognise themselves in it, who had expected more from us than we actually delivered, for the tone of the report.

“On behalf of the House, and without being trite or trivial, I’m sorry.”

Protesters outside Church HouseImage copyrightREUTERS

Before the debate, protesters gathered outside the Church of England headquarters and champions of LGBT rights sang hymns.

The group, organised by the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and Changing Attitude now known collectively as One Body One Faith, with the support of Out and Proud African LGBTI and rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, called for the rejection of the bishops’ report.

Mr Tatchell said the report proposed a “massive scale of church-sanctioned discrimination”.

He added: “It denies the right of same-sex couples to be blessed in church, even though it will bless cats and dogs, and it gives a very clear message that clergy who are in same-sex marriages which are lawful will be denied promotion.”

Members of the Synod are holding a “take note” debate of the report on Wednesday evening, but the proposals will not be formally rejected or approved.

sign reading What would Jesus doImage copyrightAFP

The Reverend Bertrand Olivier, who’s gay, told the BBC the Church needed to reflect modern society.

He said: “The proposals on the table are indeed gong to take us back 20 years. I’ve been a priest in the Church of England for 21 years.

“I was ordained as an openly gay candidate then and it’s been going backwards ever since at the same time as the nation has moved on and we now have legal same-sex marriage.”

But the Right Reverend Pete Broadbent said campaigners may be asking too much.

He said: “Our role is to hold the Church together and say we can only go as far as the whole church can agree. Campaigners are actually wanting us to go further, more hurriedly, than we necessarily can.

“We need to do more work on what we can agree around and not just say because we’ve had the shared conversations, we can give campaigners exactly what they want.”

Gambling legislation

The Synod has unanimously passed a motion urging the government to bring forward proposals to reduce the amount gamblers can stake on on fixed-odds betting terminals from £100 to £2.

In a speech to the church’s national assembly, London Diocese lay member Clive Scowen said the “machines feed off poverty and exacerbate it, often plunging people into unmanageable debt”.

The Bishop of St Albans, Alan Smith, said the debate concerned a “very focused form of betting which has caused huge suffering”.

How Gay Marriage Suggests A Strategy For Climate Change

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017


The iPhone shows how rapidly society can change if it wants to, a California energy commissioner said last week, and gay marriage shows that change can happen in public policy too.

Climate policy could be next, said David Hochschild, the environmental commissioner on the California Energy Commission and an architect of Proposition B, San Francisco’s successful $100 million solar initiative.

“There was gay marriage nowhere until 2004, then we saw that state by state by state by state it got adopted, and now of course it’s in all 50 states. Over a very short period of time. You go back 12, 13 years and you ask how many people think gay marriage is universal and I think most people would assert, it’s not going to happen,” Hochschild said during a Stanford University seminar last week.

“I think there’s actually some lessons for the climate movement in what happened with marriage equality, because they framed the movement in terms of love: Government has no place to get between two people who love each other,” he said. “I actually think climate change is the same thing. It’s about loving the next generation, and I think that is a good way to think about it.”

Hochschild helped design a 2001 ballot initiative for then-San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown to outfit the city with solar panels. His team polled voters and found that of the many potential benefits of clean energy, voters cared most about clean air. The mayor’s“Clean Air, Clean Energy” initiative won with 73 percent of the vote.

He then went to work for Vote Solar, a non-profit that works to topple barriers to solar energy in all states.

The iPhone is his model for change potential: “It’s gone from basically not existing to being ubiquitous in a decade,” he said. And he thinks cigarettes model the country’s addiction to fossil fuels. The smoking rate has fallen from about 50 percent in 1965 to 15 percent today, he said, in spite of early and expensive efforts by the tobacco industry to foster doubt about the science.

The Tragic Lessons of Cinema’s First Gay Love Story

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

The New Yorker

There is only one hopeful scene in “Different from the Others,” a silent picture from 1919 that is widely considered the first feature film about gay love. In it, a gaunt, handsome man plays the piano in his Berlin drawing room. He is Paul Körner, a violin virtuoso, and, in his silk housecoat, surrounded by heavy drapery and Grecian statuettes, he appears to live a life that is resplendent but lonely. Then an unlikely event sets him on a new course: a young music student has come calling. Kurt Sivers, round-faced, excitable, has seen all of Paul’s concerts, and he approaches the master nervously, hands clutched to his chest. “My deepest wish would come true if you were willing to be my teacher!” an intertitle reads. Paul responds by offering Kurt his great open palm. Their alliance, a perfect meeting of passion and pedagogy, seems indivisibly strong—but, by the end of the film, we have learned otherwise, owing to the self-hatred and cruelty that homosexual love can inspire, even in Weimar Berlin.

“Different from the Others,” which was written by the gay sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld and the Austrian director Richard Oswald, tells the story of one who “suffers not from his condition, but rather from the false judgment of it,” as another intertitle reads. By 1933, when the Nazis stormed Hirschfield’s Institute of Sexual Research, also in Berlin, every known copy of the film had been destroyed. Luckily, the good doctor had included some forty minutes of the footage in a long scientific film called “Laws of Love,” which was shown in Russia in the late twenties or early thirties and remained for decades in the Krasnogorsk archives. In the eighties, film restorers began trying to piece together the original, but it wasn’t until this winter—six years after the U.C.L.A. Film & Television Archive bought a high-definition print of “Laws of Love”—that a reliable version of “Different from the Others” was completed, using detailed Nazi censorship records as a narrative guide, and with images substituted for the missing scenes. “Years before Alfred Kinsey, Hirschfeld was arguing that homosexuality exists on a continuum,” Jan-Christopher Horak, the director of the U.C.L.A. archive, told me. “It’s not abnormal, because there is no abnormality.”

The film makes another argument: that hatred can fester even in the interstices of liberal democracies. On the surface, tolerance prevailed in Weimar Germany. If you were careful enough, you could evade the shadow of Paragraph 175, an infamous law that forbade “unnatural fornication, whether between persons of the male sex or of humans with beasts.” And it was relaxed censorship laws that allowed “Different from the Others” to be made in the first place, along with later gay-themed films such as “Pandora’s Box” (1929), whose seductive countess was one of the first onscreen lesbians, and “Mädchen in Uniform” (1931), which takes place in a brutal, erotically charged all-girls boarding school. Weimar night life was infamously decadent: men dressed as women flocked to the Silhouette; women dressed as men favored the Mikado; and the Eldorado drew gender-benders of all types. When Anita Loos, who wrote the novel “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” visited the city in the twenties, she observed that “any Berlin lady of the evening might turn out to be a man; the prettiest girl on the street was Conrad Veidt”—the silent-screen leading man who played none other than Paul Körner in “Different from the Others.”

Yet there is a special kind of shame and suffering that comes from living life half-openly, from knowing what it is you’re not really allowed to have. In “Different from the Others,” we watch as Paul loses his faith in the power of companionship. In a flashback to his years as a boarding-school teen-ager, he looks over a text with his roommate, Max, and drapes his arm around the younger boy. Then a teacher walks in and bursts into outrage: Max is supposed to be doing his assignment alone—the standard punishment, it would seem, for untoward tendencies. “As a university student, Körner led a lonely and reclusive life, devoted only to his studies,” an intertitle then tells us. We see him reading as five classmates sneak up behind him, raising their hands in unison and clapping them down on his shoulders—a threat of future violence delivered in the guise of friendship. “The girls are making fun of you because no one ever sees you,” they say, inviting him to a bordello, where two women in lace gowns try to kiss him. “If that boy’s completely normal, then I’m a virgin,” the madam says—the kind of comment that moves Paul to seek a cure from a hypnotist, the conversion therapist of the day.

It is not the state that is responsible for Körner’s downfall, at least not directly: in keeping with the subterranean hatred of Weimar Berlin, convictions under the anti-sodomy law often began with extortionists who operated within the demimonde itself. The villain of “Different from the Others” is the smirking Franz Bollek, played by the well-known film star Reinhold Schünzel, who passes Kurt and Paul on a wooded path in a city park. “Handsome lad,” Bollek says, glaring at Kurt, as Paul starts with recognition: years before, Paul had been blackmailed by Bollek after meeting him at a masquerade. (A scene from that party, showing an androgynous conga line, was considered one of the film’s controversial images.)

Now Bollek decides to resume his crime. On the very day Kurt performs in a concert alongside Paul, they find Bollek prowling around in Paul’s living room. “Don’t get so excited,” Bollek tells Kurt, when he tries to brawl. “You’re getting paid by him, too!” Kurt is not a whore, of course, but the mere suggestion, and Paul’s familiarity with Bollek, is enough to send him running: “I am determined to make my way alone,” Kurt writes to his sister. Paul, meanwhile, refuses another demand for payment; Bollek turns him in to the police, and he is sentenced to a week in prison. He does not need to serve his term to be publicly shamed and professionally ruined: we watch him swallow a few capsules of cyanide and sink into his chair. His eyes narrow and widen; his face tightens and slackens; his head lolls back and he dies.

Bad laws can destroy good relationships—perhaps especially when they’re poorly enforced, leaving just enough space for human bonds to form. At the end of “Different from the Others,” we’re told of a missing sequence in which a great hand descends over a German law book to cross out the entry for Paragraph 175. It is fitting that the scene was lost, because the law prevailed for many decades to come. The Nazis used it to send some forty-six thousand men to prison and perhaps ten thousand of those to concentration camps. Upon liberation, most of the survivors were promptly locked up again, whether by East or West Germany, both of which continued to enforce Paragraph 175 through about 1970. It was not until 1994 that the law was formally repealed, and it was not until last year that reparations were paid to the few thousand victims who were still living.

Today we continue to live in the slipstream of provisions like Paragraph 175. Similar laws are still in force in dozens of countries; in the United States, anti-sodomy statutes were ruled unconstitutional in 2003, but they remain on the books in upward of ten mostly deep-red states, and activists have been stymied in their push for formal repeal. Love trumps hate, the signs tell us, or, as Magnus Hirschfield said in 1919, at the Berlin première of “Different from the Others,” “Soon the day will come when science will win a victory over error, justice a victory over injustice, and human love a victory over human hatred and ignorance.” That day is still ahead of us.

Gay minorities speak out against racists slurs on Grindr

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

Medical student Dustin Mangatjay McGregor said he regularly received racist abuse from potential dates on Grindr, including being called a “petrol sniffer” and a “wog abo c***”.

Mr McGregor said gay men who were not white were more likely to be rejected in the online dating world and that he was fed up with users disclosing their racial preferences in derogatory terms, such as “no rice or spice”, meaning they have no interest in Asian or Indian men.

“There’s a hierarchy in the gay community,” said Mr McGregor, who is from North East Arnhem Land and also has Greek and Scottish heritage.

“The white attractive male with the European background is at the top of the pyramid. The further you are away from that ethnicity or body image the more you’re shunned in the gay community.

“‘No rice or spice’ is one of the most common things I’ve seen on Grindr. It’s all good and well to have preferences but don’t throw that around in a derogatory way.”

Mr McGregor, 23, said he had been sent racist messages frequently since he joined the dating app five years ago. They include slurs about traditional land ownership and petrol sniffing, as well as being asked if he speaks English because he “looks Chinese” and questioned about “bush techniques”.

Grindr users who spoke to Fairfax Media said most men who made the offensive comments on gay dating apps were white and that profiles commonly said “Euros only”, “Aussies only”, “GWM only” [gay white men] and “No Asians”. Some also use emojis of turbans to indicate they are not interested in Indian men.

In one disturbing example, a user’s profile picture shows a tattoo of an eagle, similar to the emblem used in Nazi symbolism.

A screengrab of a profile on a gay dating app. A screengrab of a profile on a gay dating app.

Dinesh, a Melbourne man with Sri Lankan heritage, said he calls people out on dating apps who use terms such as “No Asians”.

“If you’re a young guy coming to terms with your sexuality the last thing you need to be told is that you’re not attractive by the community you’re supposed to be part of,” he said.

“The biggest thing for me is being asked where I’m from. Every time I’m asked that I’m jolted into thinking ‘I don’t belong’.”

Dinesh said he personally knows Asian men who discriminate against other Asians on gay dating websites. He said there was a “ranking order” that placed Asian men at the bottom. “The Asian guys want to be seen with the white guys, which is really sad,” he said.

Mr McGregor’s profile, which he has now deleted, said he was “Aboriginal/Greek/Caucasian (mixed Euro)”. As an experiment he recently removed all references to his heritage for one month and described himself as “white” instead of “other”.

“I wondered if people would notice such subtle changes in my profile and they did,” he said. “I was flooded with messages. There was so many more – I lost count. But when I changed it back there wasn’t as much interest.

“What frustrates me the most is that there are vulnerable people out there who have more typical presentations of their heritage than I do and they can’t hide from that. They receive this sort of abuse more often and in worse forms than me.”

Skiatook man busted after child porn sent through Grindr mobile dating app

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

A Skiatook man was arrested Tuesday on allegations that he sent sexually explicit images of underage boys to another man through a popular mobile dating application.

The man who received the images, which were sent through the mobile application Grindr, reported the incident to Broken Arrow police officers on Monday, police said in an arrest and booking report.

The man reportedly told police that Joshua Duane Gauger, 25, of Skiatook, sent the images to him after first asking whether he was “into taboo,” according to the police report. When the man told Gauger that he didn’t know what that meant, Gauger specified that it meant “bestiality” and “young,” police said.

Gauger reportedly sent sexually explicit images of underage boys despite the man’s having told him that he was not interested. The man took screenshots of the images and his conversations with Gauger and showed them to police, according to the report.

The next day, police searched the man’s cellphone after he agreed to turn it over. Officers confirmed that the images were sent by Gauger, and the man was given his phone back, according to the report.

The man agreed to meet up with Gauger through the mobile application so that police could arrest Gauger, according to the report.

Gauger and the man agreed to meet about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at a restaurant in the 3800 block of South Elm Place in Broken Arrow, police said.

When Gauger arrived, police officers were waiting in the restaurant’s parking lot. When officers saw Gauger get out of his vehicle, they approached him, according to the report.

Gauger was taken into custody and taken to the Broken Arrow City Jail, where he was interviewed. He was told why he was being arrested and allowed officers to search his cellphone, police said.

Gauger reportedly admitted to having about 500 sexually explicit images and a couple of videos of underage boys on his cellphone. The sexually explicit materials were found on the phone.

Gauger reportedly said he did not know any of the children in the images and that he downloaded them from the internet, police said.

He was booked into the Tulsa Jail about 4:45 p.m. Wednesday on complaints of possessing and distributing child pornography as well as on a hold for Washington County, according to jail records. He is being held in lieu of $10,000 bond and has a court appearance set for Thursday.

Washington County District Court records indicate that Gauger was charged on Wednesday with one count of proposing a lewd or indecent act to a child younger than 16.

Paris Burris

Suspect accused of robbing, kidnapping victims on Grindr

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017
Justin Carrillo, admits to aggravated robbery and kidnapping of men he met on Grindr in Austin and Kyle (Hays County Police)
Justin Carrillo, admits to aggravated robbery and kidnapping of men he met on Grindr in Austin and Kyle (Hays County Police)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A suspect is now in custody after police say he confessed to the armed robbery and kidnapping of several people through the dating app Grindr, across Austin and the city of Kyle.

Justin Carrillo, 22, is accused meeting men on the popular dating app and then taking them to ATMs to withdraw cash. The first instance was on Jan. 24 around midnight when a man told police he invited Carrillo to his apartment and ended up robbed at gunpoint.

The victim said as soon as Carrillo entered his apartment on West Slaughter Lane he turned off the lights and pulled out a handgun. According to the affidavit, Carrillo took the victim’s laptop and two iPhones before forcing him to drive to an ATM and empty out his checking account. The victim returned home after the robbery and called police.

Two days later, Kyle police responded to a similar situation where a suspect robbed a man he met on Grindr at gunpoint. The second victim told investigators Carrillo had him drive to an unknown address in Kyle. Holding on to the man’s wallet and keys Carrillo told him to wait in the car. Fearing for his life, as soon as Carrillo entered the house, the victim ran out of the car and called for help.

Meanwhile, inside the house Carrillo robbed the homeowner he met on Grindr before driving away. Using the app, police were able to set up a fake meet-up and tracked down Carrillo.

Carrillo is currently in custody at the Hays County Jail and admitted to one count of aggravated kidnapping and two counts of aggravated robbery.

Spoofed Grindr Accounts Turned One Man’s Life Into a ‘Living Hell’

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017



Cases of Grindr catfishing and deception happen every so often on Grindr—sometimes with tragic results. But the Grindr impersonation Herrick describes in his lawsuit was a longer-term form of abuse with equally dangerous consequences. In the worst cases, the suit alleges, the impersonator requested a “rape fantasy.” In one instance, Herrick says, a man refused to leave Herrick’s apartment building, and wrestled with Herrick’s roommate in the hallway until Herrick broke up the fight. Others have screamed obscenities at Herrick at his workplace, stalked him outside, and tried to have sex with him in the bathroom of the restaurant. On one day earlier this month, six men seeking sex came to the restaurant where Herrick works in just a four-minute span. And Herrick says the person controlling the fake profiles will often tell the visitors Herrick will “say no when he means yes,” or that he’d sent them away only to hide them from his jealous roommate, and that they should return.

“They were setting him up to be sexually assaulted,” says Herrick’s attorney Carrie Goldberg. “It’s just luck that it hasn’t happened yet.”

Herrick’s civil complaint points to an ex-boyfriend as the source of the impersonation attacks. (WIRED has chosen not to identify him as he’s not named as a defendant in the complaint.) He allegedly began impersonating Herrick on Grindr even before their breakup earlier this year, but only started using the spoofed accounts to harass him after they separated. The complaint states that the ex “would manipulate the geo-physical settings” of the app—a simple enough hack using GPS-spoofing apps for Android or jailbroken iPhones—to make fake accounts appear to be located at Herrick’s home or work.

The ex-boyfriend told WIRED in a phone call that he denies “any and all allegations” in the complaint, but declined to comment further due to what he described as another pending case that involves both him and Herrick.

Goldberg said she had personally verified all the claims in the complaint. “Any attack on my client’s credibility is countered by the voluminous evidence I’ve seen,” says Goldberg, who has risen to prominence as a fierce advocate of victims of revenge pornography cases. Goldberg declined to share any of that evidence, however, preferring to reveal it at a later stage in the lawsuit. Goldberg and Herrick also declined to comment further on the ex-boyfriend or his alleged involvement in the spoofing attacks, emphasizing that Grindr is the subject of their lawsuit for allowing the spoofing regardless of who carried it out. “A malicious user is just running amok using their product as a weapon,” says Goldberg. “Grindr can control that, and they’re not.”

Grindr did not respond to WIRED’s requests for comment.

‘It’s cheaper for them not to staff a department that addresses complaints and abuses of the product.’ATTORNEY CARRIE GOLDBERG

Herrick contrasts Grindr’s alleged lack of direct communication or action on the spoofed accounts to the behavior of a lesser-known gay dating app, Scruff. When profiles impersonating Herrick began to appear on Scruff, he filed an abuse complaint with the company that led to the offending account being banned within 24 hours, according to Herrick’s complaint against Grindr. Scruff also prevented the same device or IP address from creating any new accounts. Herrick says that Grindr, despite terms of service that explicitly disallow impersonating other people, never responded even after dozens of requests from him and from family members trying to help. “It’s the ostrich with its head in the sand strategy,” says Goldberg. “It’s cheaper for them not to staff a department that addresses complaints and abuses of the product.”

One reason for Grindr’s unresponsiveness, in fact, may be that it isn’t actually legally liable for the ordeal Herrick has experienced, says Ashley Kissinger, a media defense attorney with Levine, Sullivan, Koch and Schulz LLP. Despite the early ruling Herrick has already won against Grindr, Kissinger points to section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which says that internet services can’t be held legally responsible for content posted by their users. “If I were defending the case I’d have a strong argument that section 230 protects them from these claims,” says Kissinger. Herrick’s complaint counters that the case should be considered not one of illicit content on a service, but product liability: “Grindr affirmatively availed itself as a weapon to destroy [Herrick’s] life,” the complaint reads. But Kissinger points to a2003 case where a woman sued over false profiles that had resulted in harassment. Matchmaker argued the section 230 defense and won.

In the meantime, Herrick says he’s reported the situation to the police repeatedly. He declines to talk about any criminal investigation against the ex he believes is behind the spoofed profiles. But on some occasions sympathetic cops have patrolled his block or parked outside his building. They’ve also suggested he move or get a new job, a notion that infuriates him.

“Why don’t you move? Why don’t you run? Why don’t you hide? I find that so insulting. How is that a solution?” says Herrick. “Why doesn’t Grindr do its job?”

Meth Addict Who Murdered and Ate Gay Police Officer After Grindr Hookup Found Dead in Jail

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017


Stefano Brizzi

Stefano Brizzi

Stefano Brizzi, a 50-year-old meth-addict who murdered a gay police officer after luring him to his apartment for sex and drugs and then ate him, has died in prison where he was recently sent to serve a life sentence.

The BBC reports:

In a statement the MoJ (Ministry of Justice) said: “HMP Belmarsh prisoner Stefano Brizzi died in custody on Sunday.

“As with all deaths in custody there will be an independent investigation by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman.”

The MoJ has not indicated a cause of death and said that would be determined by a coroner. No date has been given for an inquest.

In December, the Guardian reported:

Stefano Brizzi

Stefano Brizzi

Stefano Brizzi, 50, was found guilty last month of murdering Gordon Semple, 59, in April. A court heard that he lured the officer to his London flat for sex and drugs before strangling him, dismembering his body and dissolving it in acid in a bath, copying the method of corpse disposal used by Walter White, the lead character in the US TV series.

In gruesome details that emerged in court, the prosecution also accused Brizzi of cannibalism after bite marks were found on the dead officer’s rib and it was revealed that the Italian had cooked other parts of his body.

Brizzi admitted dismembering and disposing of Semple’s body, but claimed the officer, who served in the Metropolitan police for 30 years, died accidentally during a sex game after a dog leash around his neck slipped.

An officer with the Metropolitan Police for three decades, Semple reportedly left his home on April 1st and visited the Shangri-La hotel in the Shard building later that day. He left the hotel at 12.30pm and was last seen on CCTV about two-and-a-half hours later near London Bridge. Semple met Brizzi on Grindr, the court heard:

The court heard that on the day of the murder Brizzi was tired and bad-tempered because he had been engaged in heavy drug use, had not slept and had been let down by someone else on Grindr. He was also dissatisfied with Semple’s appearance, describing him as fat, ugly and unattractive.

Brizzi and Semple had been trying to persuade other gay men in the area to join them for a “chemsex” party, but when one man agreed to join them he was sent away by Brizzi, who told him via intercom: “We’re having a situation here. Someone fell ill but we’re taking care of it. So our party is cancelled,” the court was told.

Pathologists believe he killed the officer after the pair had sex.

Semple’s body was discovered on April 7 after a neighbor alerted police to a “smell of death” coming from the flat. Semple’s dismembered body was found dissolving in a bath of acid. Brizzi reportedly dumped body parts in the River Thames and attempted to boil his flesh away. He also ate some of it:

Officers found a pool of fat and grease inside Brizzi’s oven, which had a blood-stained handle. Semple’s DNA was found on chopsticks, a cooking pot and the oven.

Brizzi, who answered the door to officers wearing pink underpants, initially confessed to deliberately killing Semple, telling police at the scene: “Satan told me to.” But he later changed his account, claiming it was an accident caused by sexual asphyxiation.

Crystal meth addiction was behind much of Brizzi’s behavior, the court heard:

The judge said there were “terrible features” of the case and that Brizzi’s drug addiction had ruined his life. He added: “Regret you express now for Mr Semple’s death has to be seen against what you did over a number of days to his body.”

The defendant sat in the dock with his head bowed throughout the hearing.

Before the murder, Brizzi had been a £70,000-a-year web developer at Morgan Stanley, but lost his job because of his crystal meth addiction. The court was told he sought help from a users’ support group, whose organiser described how Brizzi had been obsessed with Breaking Bad.

‘You Can Find it On Grindr’: Twitter Can’t Stop Laughing at Trump’s Tweet About ‘EASY D’

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017


trump-brody-intervieweditedAs he complained about the block on his executive orders again today, President Trumptweeted something that currently has Twitter aflutter with giggles and snickering.

Trump’s immigration-restrictions were blocked by a federal judge late last week, and a speech he gave earlier today suggests that the challenge to his controversial policy is still a sore spot for him. As Trump tends to do, the president decided to get back on the Twitter machine to complain:


While “EASY D” probably refers to an “easy decision” for his order to win its judicial appeal, the last two words of Trump’s tweet have already become a major point of mockery across the Twittersphere.






Homophobic posters banning gay dogging plastered on trees around popular sites for outdoor sex

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

The sun

The notices appeared at Ockham Common near Wisley, Surrey, and are styled on the official posters issued by park rangers.

The homophobic posters have been plastered up in a park which is a popular dogging site

The homophobic posters have been plastered up in a park which is a popular dogging site

The laminated sheets show a silhouetted image of two men with the words “no buggery” in bold beneath and contains translated terms for offensive gay slang such as ‘a*** bandit’.

The poster, which also includes the Wildlife Trust logo, advises: “Gentlemen, if you really can’t find love in a specialist establishment or online, please clear up after yourselves.”

Grace House, a local dog walker, said: “At first I thought it was a joke – which it might be – but it has the Wildlife Trusts logo on it and the sign is the same design as other signs on the common asking dog walkers to pick up their dog poo.

“So it seems like quite a lot of effort for someone to go to just for a joke.

“I could understand if it was in a more prominent place like Richmond Park but to go to such extreme lengths just to put a joke sign on a small common like Ockham seems strange.”

The local Wildlife Trust have branded the offensive posters “inappropriate”.

A spokeswoman for the Surrey Wildlife Trust, which manages the site, said: “Obviously these posters are very inappropriate and have used the logo of The Wildlife Trusts without permission.

“We have asked our rangers on the site to remove them as soon as possible.”


These Gay Republican Activists Are Making Inroads With Trump’s Team

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

BuzzFeed News

Ben Jackson / Getty Images

Gregory T. Angelo has been waiting for this moment. In 2008, he began volunteering for the Log Cabin Republicans, the country’s most famous conservative gay organization, and over Obama’s tenure, he climbed the ladder to become the group’s president. But he was often sidelined when better-known, more-liberal LGBT organizers ran victory laps with the White House to celebrate milestones like marriage equality (a position that Angelo’s group supported years before Obama did). And in the past year, he clenched his teeth while other LGBT organizations — and their leaders — crusaded for Hillary Clinton.

Then it became obvious just how unprepared his liberal counterparts were for Donald Trump winning, he recalled during a recent interview. A week after the election, advocates had met in California to grapple with their situation, and the second item on their agenda was figuring out how to “engage” with the transition team.

Angelo already knew how to engage with Trump’s team — their numbers were in his phone. He spoke to them several times a week. And he wasn’t the only gay activist plugged in. A few LGBT groups with roots in conservative circles, including the American Unity Fund, told BuzzFeed News they had had been talking to Trump’s staff for weeks or more. In some cases, they had been cultivating relationships for years with people who ended up working on the transition. Now, with Trump prepared to take the oath, Angelo and a handful of gay conservative activists think they have a rare, if not unprecedented, advantage over their liberal peers.

As progressives sprint to catch up — or refuse to deal with Trump’s staff directly — these gay activists on the right believe access to Trump’s White House will make them bellwethers for the entire LGBT movement.

“A lot of people tried to deny that our movement even existed.”

On Saturday their relationships will be on display when the Log Cabin Republicans hold an inauguration party at the Capitol Hill Club. Their guest of honor will be Rep. Chris Collins — the Trump transition’s congressional liaison. Angelo said his group was also invited recently to brief Trump’s staff on preserving an executive order, signed by Obama, that banned LGBT discrimination in federal contracts. Angelo submitted a white paper earlier this week.

“For decades, the push for LGBT equality in the United States was defined almost exclusively by the left,” Angelo said in his group’s Washington, DC, headquarters last month. “But LGBT leaders who represent our interests didn’t even try to form a relationship with the president-elect while he was running for office — that is astounding to me.”

Angelo is himself like a young, gay Trump, with a plume of yellow hair and an appetite for combat. His office near Capitol Hill features a framed portrait of Reagan behind his desk and a flag with a “Don’t Tread On Me” logo hanging in front of him. Like Trump, he occasionally breaks with Republican doctrine — like diverging from the party’s anti-LGBT platform — but he’s more coy. He said his middle initial stands for “Thunder” and refused to share his age. Most of all in our interviews, Angelo relished that this week, LGBT Americans will have their first Republican president who isn’t openly hostile to them.

Trump’s positions on LGBT rights have been contradictory, but his gay supporters point out Trump made several positive overtures during the campaign — even holding a pride flag on stage — giving hope he will rein in anti-LGBT people around him, like his vice president, Mike Pence. They want to persuade Trump to leave Obama’s LGBT legacy untouched and hope to work with Trump, and a Republican Congress, to cut deals Democrats would have shunned.

Upstart gay activists are invigorated, too. Among the inauguration festivities, a Gays for Trump ball will be hosted on Friday night by a group that formed on Twitter. “We have moved from a hashtag movement to a flesh-and-blood organization,” said Peter Boykin, the ringleader from North Carolina, who is expecting more than 200 people for a three-course, black-tie gala. Tickets topped out at $500, he said. “A lot of people tried to deny that our movement even existed.”

But as they try to cement inroads with the new administration, Angelo said traditional LGBT groups like the Human Rights Campaign could have little, or zero, influence. “They so demonized Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign that any advocacy they did wouldn’t have any heft to it,” Angelo said. Log Cabin Republicans didn’t endorse Trump, he noted, but they didn’t oppose him, either. “We have organizations on the LGBT left with budgets in the millions and staff in the hundreds, and they’re scrambling now because they don’t have the level of access to the Trump transition team and incoming administration that the Log Cabin Republicans have.”

But on the conservative side, American Unity Fund’s strategic adviser, Tyler Deaton, and the leader of a group called LGBT for Trump, Chris Barron, have — like LCR — been talking to Trump’s transition regularly, they told BuzzFeed News in recent interviews.

Deaton said his organization, which is backed by hedge fund manager and philanthropist Paul Singer, has been briefing Trump’s staff on legal issues pending at federal agencies. Deaton has been talking to landing teams for the Justice Department, the Education Department, Health and Human Services, the Pentagon, and more. “The fact that these conversations are happening, and [their position] isn’t just a forgone conclusion is a great sign.”

“Conservative LGBT organizations are going to be leading more and more during this administration.”

This could force the public to reckon with how they think about LGBT rights in the US. “Conservative LGBT organizations are going to be leading more and more during this administration,” Deaton said at a lunch spot a few blocks from the White House, noting that red dominance in both Congress and state capitols favors couching LGBT issues in conservative terms. “This is an opportunity for the LGBT community to dig in, to look at the landscape, to see that Republicans are overwhelmingly in charge.”

Which would flip the tables. Conservative LGBT activists were always relegated to fringes of their own movement because their agenda — legalizing marriage, banning discrimination — has been anathema to their own party’s anti-LGBT platform.

(Transition officials did not comment on what type of contact they have had with conservative LGBT organizations and if the advocacy before Inauguration Day has influenced their plans.)

But as Angelo, Barron, and Deaton see it, this is their chance realign one of the country’s leading social causes. They could help conservatives back away from unpopular, hardline positions while making headway where liberals couldn’t — and cutting deals that Democrats wouldn’t.

Yet those deals, their idea of what makes good policy, would make many progressives howl. For example, they think an LGBT nondiscrimination bill in Congress must include exemptions for religious objections, so people of faith can opt out in some circumstances.

Perhaps even harder to swallow for the left, Angelo wants to make other conservative goals — like gutting the Affordable Care Act and slashing taxes — intertwined with the LGBT agenda.

“We will be making a case for things like Obamacare repeal, death-tax repeal, fighting radical Islamic terrorism in the US — issues that henceforth have rarely been viewed through the prism of the LGBT community,” said Angelo. “The strategy and the tactics that we pursue may be different,” he acknowledged, but added, “Whether folks want to believe it or not, I do have the interest of all LGBT people at heart.”

Mark Ralston / AFP / Getty Images

President Obama wasn’t tight with gay Republicans. The most recent White House LGBT liaison, Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, told BuzzFeed News this month she never got in touch with conservative groups like American Unity Fund or Log Cabin Republicans — even though her job was being the president’s main contact for LGBT groups.

As she explained it, the conservative gay groups never contacted her, and she never reached out to them.

“I obviously work for a Democratic administration,” she said in an interview during her last week on the job. “There are obviously appropriate conversations and inappropriate ones, sometimes based on what’s going on.” But she didn’t regret keeping a distance, she added. “I was never in a position where I needed them, to be honest … I’m not in political strategy, and if I had been, it might have been a different story.”

“I was never in a position where I needed them,” said Obama’s LGBT liaison.

Which is why it’s not shocking the relationship between Trump’s people and progressive LGBT groups is firming up as rather icy.

The biggest of the organizations, the Human Rights Campaign, swung for the fences for Clinton — producing videos last year about Trump’s “hate-filled campaign” and sending a membership email this week about their long-term plan to “defy Trump.”

Jay Brown, a spokesperson, said in December the group was “eager to talk with anyone on the Trump team who is willing to stand up and be a champion for equality,” but he didn’t confirm they had actually talked to anybody. Brown did say Trump is preparing to stack his cabinet the “worst enemies of equality,” adding that his group has been “working closely with progressive partners to discuss and plan strategies to block attempts to roll back our progress.”

Other mainstream LGBT groups reported varying — but limited — contact with the Trump team a month after the election. Freedom for All Americans, a nonpartisan group with ties to both parties, said through a spokesperson they had “been in touch” with Trump’s transition, but refused to elaborate. Karin Johanson, the ACLU’s national political director, said in a statement that staffers “have had informal conversations with the Trump team” and offered no more.

At the National Center for Transgender Equality, spokesperson Jay Wu said in December they had done nothing on this front: “We haven’t reached out to the transition team.”

As much as conservatives may dislike it, however, these progressive organizations cannot be ignored — they can rally thousands of activists and Democrats to try to block bills in Congress and state houses. The ACLU has vowed to be a brute in court. Plus, LGBT people as a bloc skew far to the left, with Gallup reporting three times more LGBT Democrats than Republicans.

When he spoke about the partisan divide, Angelo unspooled years of frustration at what he sees as a dead-end strategy by liberal LGBT organizations that represent those interests. They tailored advocacy to Democrats and shut out conservatives. They helped pass laws that ban discrimination in states that Democrats already control, but now they face nearly three dozen states where the LGBT movement is essentially stuck. Most state legislatures, governor’s mansions, and seats in Congress belong to Republicans. The one federal bill to ban LGBT discrimination, the Equality Act, hasn’t had a hearing in Congress since it was filed in 2015.

The only way to pass new LGBT-friendly bills, his thinking goes, is by having fellow conservatives argue the case.

Angelo said he speaks several times a week with people in Trump’s circle, including Ed McMullen, who has assisted with the transition and is vice chairman of the committee planning for Trump’s inauguration. Angelo has known other people in the transition for years, he said. They include financial pundit Larry Kudlow, who spoke at the Log Cabin Republicans annual dinner in 2014, and David Malpass, who worked in the Treasury under Reagan. Those two aren’t representing LGBT issues for the transition, he said, but he argued it underscores how Log Cabin and groups like his have built relationships.

Barron, with LGBT for Trump, said, “There is this belief somehow that Donald Trump is the antichrist for LGBT folks,” pointing out that Trump has made gestures never seen before from a Republican president-elect. Barron has been furious that liberal groups balked at nominees who have been friendly to gay causes, such Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson, who backed gay inclusion in the Boy Scouts as the group’s president. If the left-leaning groups don’t play ball, he said, “They become marginalized.”

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

There is a question many can’t help but wonder about gay conservatives: Aren’t they already marginalized? Their party largely rejected their cause.

Deaton said the premise of that thinking is flawed, countering that many conservative Republican lawmakers want — in fact, they’re “excited” — to support LGBT rights. He’s coached some of them, he said, and the first step is creating a “safe space” for them to ask questions. Many want to be taught transgender basics. “It wasn’t too long ago that we were talking about what it means to be a gay American, and now we are having that experience on what it means to be a transgender American.”

“I am kind of borrowing from the left with that ‘safe space’ jargon,” he laughed. Deaton sells this to Republicans as a conservative issue — one conservative to another. Even his language is tailored for this framing, consistently using the term “LGBT freedom” in our interview, never “LGBT rights.”

Another tactic to win Republicans: Telling stories about family and getting the government out of private lives, which are bedrock language for both conservatives and LGBT people, Barron added. “I think it’s sad we have gotten away from some of that messaging, and it has become much more of a ‘Our way or the highway’ from some folks in the community.”

But realistically, even the best messaging is a tough sell for the base: The GOP adopted a platform last summer that reads like a manifesto to extinguish LGBT rights in America, and several members of Trump’s cabinet have severe records.

To get past the sales pitch, these guys actually sell a slightly different product — a different blueprint for LGBT rights than groups like the Human Rights Campaign.

Deaton, Barron, and Angelo said bills banning discrimination must compromise by offering limited carve-outs for people with religious objections.

“There is this belief somehow that Donald Trump is the antichrist for LGBT folks.”

Deaton suggested a federal model based on a Utah law, which bans LGBT discrimination at work and in housing, but includes a few exemptions. The Utah law lacks protections in places of public accommodation, so businesses can still legally turn away a couple for being gay. Religious groups are also exempt, and people would be free to express their religious beliefs about marriage in the workplace, so long as it’s not done in a harassing way.

Of course, Democrats and progressive groups would balk at a bill like Utah’s if it were attempted in Congress. Many have said they only supported the Utah law because of unusual circumstances there — the state’s preexisting civil rights law lacked public accommodations protections for other classes of people, which is why it was omitted for LGBT people.

The more immediate concern in Washington, DC, is persuading Trump to not repeal anything already on the books. Trump’s cabinet, particularly Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, who’s been nominated to lead the Justice Department and has a rigidly anti-LGBT history, presents a unique threat. The primary unresolved issue of the Obama administration’s LGBT agenda is its effort to interpret bans on sex discrimination so that they also include bans on discrimination against transgender people — a legal stance held by the Justice Department that influences every agency. Sessions could reverse that interpretation and, for example, reverse the government’s position on a pending Supreme Court case involving a transgender boy’s use of school restrooms in Virginia.

Deaton, who has been in talks with landing teams for federal agencies, said that how Trump and Sessions handle this matter signals how the next White House “will handle LGBT freedom generally.”

But it’s unclear if this hallmark of Obama’s progress — fighting for transgender people — is also on the radar of gay men like Angelo and Barron.

“We haven’t taken a position on that yet,” said Angelo, unfamiliar with the scope of this legal interpretation that sweeps across agencies and courts.

Angelo paused to note his group recently came around to include transgender rights within its mission. “We don’t have any transgender staff here at Log Cabin Republicans,” he said. “I rely largely on transgender chapter leaders, members, and supporters to provide guidance on those issues to me.”

Barron, for his part, said he “is not a legal expert” on the issue of using civil rights laws to cover transgender people, and seemed to suggest it could be handled on a “case-by-case basis,” despite the fact that inconsistency could create legal fractures between departments.

But if the Trump team scorches these guys on LGBT rights somehow, the question becomes, how much capacity do they have to fight back?

American Unity Fund has a multimillion dollar budget and about a dozen staffers — a fraction of the Human Rights Campaign and the ACLU. The Log Cabin Republicans’ membership is a mystery. Angelo and a spokesperson for the group said they have 30,000 supporters, but refused to answer questions about how many were actually members and about the group’s budget. Barron’s group, LGBT for Trump, is mostly him advising Trump’s staff.

“Maybe I will be be proven wrong,” Barron said about his hopes for Trump’s LGBT legacy. “But I will trust him for now rather than terrifying people into believing that Trump is going to do something that he hasn’t done.”

Lush features gay couples in Valentine’s ad and it’s super cute

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017


Picture: Lush Cosmetics
Lush USA feature the women on their homepage (Picture: Lush Cosmetics)


And cosmetics giant, Lush, has embraced the all encompassing spirit of love with its latest ad campaign.

The company tweeted a picture of two men in a tub enjoying a bath bomb together and the US home page features two women playing with bubbles.

A spokesman for Lush told us: ‘At Lush we believe that love transcends gender. We set out to do one thing when creating our Valentine’s Day visuals, we wanted to capture love between two people and we believe that’s what we have done here.

‘The fact that our loyal and loving fans are starting their own conversations using our visuals and #loveislove absolutely warms our hearts.’

What It’s Like Inside Toronto’s Bathhouses

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017



It’s no hard task to find gay bathhouses in this city, if you know where to look. Follow the smell of chlorine down an alleyway in the Church-Wellesley Village, pass through a set of heavy metal doors and up a flight of stairs, and there is Steamworks. Go a few blocks south and there is Spa Xcess. There is the Oasis Aqualounge, which also markets itself to heterosexuals. But by and large, these are establishments by and for gay men, and they have always been so.

In 1981, the year of the bathhouse raids, they went by different names—the Barracks, the Richmond Street Health Emporium, the rather indiscreetly named Back Door Gym—but the concept was the same. You pay to get in under the pretense of working out or going for a shvitz, and spend a few hours pacing and mingling. In truth everyone is there for the explicit purpose of no-strings-attached sex. At Steamworks, a room on a Saturday night costs $33 to rent for eight hours, less if you want to redeem your Frequent Fucker points.

Up until the raids, baths were popular because, in those early days of the gay pride movement, the other options (bars, public restrooms) were riskier and seemed more liable to infiltration by the police. Back then, the force had the Morality Bureau, an entire unit dedicated to upholding the city’s puritanical mores. Its officers led a raid on The Parkside, a local gay bar, in 1979. A popular washroom for hooking up in Greenwin Square was similarly monitored and used to entrap men who came looking for sex. But the baths were considered safer. The emphasis on cruising and on fucking was the ultimate queer shibboleth. Undercover officers who scoped out the joint as part of the six-month undercover Operation Soap were probably serviced freely and willingly, but that did not stop then-police chief Jack Ackroyd from authorizing the raids on the basis of antiquated anti-prostitution laws.

On February 5, 1981, 200 of Toronto’s finest simultaneously stormed four different bathhouses around the city. They came wielding crowbars and sledgehammers, smashed through walls and doors, and herded hundreds of men wearing only their towels into front lobbies. One officer dubbed “the Animal” singled out men wearing wedding rings, and warned them, “This is going to be the biggest fucking mistake of your life.” To others, he said, “You guys are lucky this isn’t Germany.” Men were made to bend over, grab their ankles and cough, a humiliating test that is typically only administered to inmates in jail. In total, 306 men were arrested and charged that night, making it the largest mass arrest in Canadian history—a record that stood until the G20 protests in 2010.


Almost immediately after the raids, the outcry was such that Chief Ackroyd was forced to issue a terse half-apology. The public saw through police attempts to pass off the raids as a mere anti-prostitution sting, and recognized it for what it really was: an assault on the nascent organized gay community. Gay people, Ackroyd begrudgingly acknowledged in January 1982, were “legitimate members of the community” who are entitled to the same “rights, respect, service, and protection as all citizens.” The protests that erupted in the aftermath of the raids eventually evolved to become the Pride Parade of today.

Undercover cops who were already in the baths when the raids transpired wore tiny red stickers to identify themselves to their fellow officers. I thought of those little red dots when I visited Steamworks on a Thursday night, when the lights are dimmed even lower than usual and visitors are given keychain lasers whose pointillist rays can be aimed at prospective suitors. When its new owners acquired the space, which was previously known as the Spa on Maitland, they undertook a $2-million renovation. The locker room wraps around a glass-walled space that includes showers, a wet and dry sauna, a small pool, and a hot tub. Across the hall from the lockers is a very dark room that can only be described as a sex maze. The many private, rentable rooms take up the rest of the space, though there is a second set of showers and another dark area. There is a full gym, brightly lit though unused except by the occasional gym bunny looking to get his pump on. The entire space is kept immaculately clean, a far cry from the stereotype of the sketchy or grungy bathhouse.

The baths have endured despite repeated predictions of their imminent demise, prompted first by the HIV-AIDS crisis in the 1980s and 90s, and then by hook-up apps like Grindr in the 2000s. Yet visit one of the city’s gay baths on a Friday or Saturday night and you will find that these establishments still do a brisk business. In the early morning hours, after the bars let out, there is often a wait list for rooms. Ten thousand men passed through Spa Xcess in 2014, according to its owners. In addition to its space in Toronto, Steamworks has locations in Vancouver, Chicago, Seattle, and Berkeley, California. Far from operating as havens for the closeted or ashamed, bathhouses seem to thrive in places where the gay community has by and large already been liberated.

The appeal lies in the immediacy of the experience itself, of checking out other men in the flesh. Cruising online collapses the reality of another body into pixels and a series of statistics that allow for sorting by age, race, body type. As the novelist Garth Greenwell writes, “the circulation of bodies in physical space allows for a greater possibility of being surprised by desire, of having an unexpected response to the presence of another.” At Steamworks, there are all manner of men—men of colour, men from other countries and from poorer parts of town, men that I would otherwise never have encountered. There was the fellow from Niagara who worked in a chicken slaughterhouse; the personal-injury lawyer who was smoking meth; the hormonal 18-year-old from rural Ontario who seemed astounded that such a place of casual sex could actually exist.


Up until the Supreme Court intervened in 2014, a place like Steamworks was, in the eyes of the law, a bawdy house. This bit of legalese was, at the very least, etymologically apt: outside the Criminal Code, the adjective “bawdy” describes the humorously indecent, a manner of dealing with sex in a comical way. The scene inside a place like Steamworks—teeming masses of men, naked but for a towel and sometimes not even that, all there for the singular purpose of getting laid—is nothing if not bawdy.

Under the now-abolished sections of the Code, the bawdy-house provisions allowed police to raid any establishment where “indecent” acts were taking place. In my experience, it is indisputably true that “indecent” acts take place in a gay bathhouse—though unlike Ackroyd and the authors of the Criminal Code, I don’t use the word pejoratively. The carnal, hedonistic environment is actually rollicking good fun, if you’re in the mood. Group sex is par for the course, orgies arise in the sauna spontaneously. Some nights there is a DJ: wearing only a pair of briefs, he spins deep, throbbing house music from a booth at centre of Steamworks’ maze of hallways. The scene is funny, it is bawdy, but it certainly does not feel as though it should be illegal.

The police now agree, though relations between TPS and the LGBTQ community have already improved significantly. On a recent summer afternoon, the Toronto Police LGBTQ Community Consultative Committee held an open house at Second Cup on Church, just around the corner from Steamworks. Officers sat on the sunny patio and fielded questions from passersby. A large contingent of police march every year in the Pride Parade, celebrating the very community the force once persecuted.

Bathhouses, to quote Greenwell again, are “spaces in which the radical potential of queerness still inheres, a potential that has been very nearly expunged from a mainstreaming, homonormative vision of gay life.” I thought about those words as I left Steamworks at nearly 5:00 a.m. one morning. The staff had set out a table laden with breakfast food: yogurt cups, mini-croissants, bananas, and coffee. Towelled guests paused their hedonism and gathered around to eat and banter in the early-morning light. A new day was beginning.

Thriving in a Hostile Environment on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017


I can’t help but think this as we commemorate National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day today that taking care of ourselves can indeed be a political act, especially in the face of a new presidential administration that could walk back the strides we’ve made toward ending the HIV epidemic. Most importantly, we had turned a corner by expanding health care access to large numbers of young gay and bisexual men of color, especially black/African-American men.

The day was originally established in 1999 to call attention to the impact of HIV and AIDS in the black/African-American community, and 18 years later, it is a vital reminder that in Los Angeles County — and indeed across the country — the impact of HIV continues to be devastating. According to the 2017-2021 Comprehensive HIV Plan for Los Angeles County, for example, the HIV epidemic among the black/African-American community in our own backyard encompasses the following statistics:

  • Blacks/African-Americans are one of three racial/ethnic groups most impacted by HIV
  • Among men who have sex with men (MSM) blacks/African-Americans have the highest estimated HIV prevalence
  • Young (18-29) black/African American MSM are one of the fastest-rising groups contracting HIV
  • New HIV diagnoses  both adults/adolescent males and females is highest among blacks/African-Americans
  • Among females living with HIV, the majority are black/African-American

For a sobering perspective on the epidemic nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last year reported that if current trends continue, one in two black/African-American MSM will contract HIV in their lifetime. Fifty percent. Even PrEP, the daily use of a pill that prevents HIV, approved four years ago, is not yet making major inroads in communities of color, due to lack of awareness, problems with access, and concerns about its cost as well as distrust of the medical establishment (the shameful legacy of Tuskegee still looms large).

The theme for this year’s National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is “I Am My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper. Fight HIV/AIDS!” I appreciate that it brings together the idea of watching out for each other but also includes the word “fight.” After all, in communities that can quite often feel under siege, every day — even if you are not living with HIV — can be a struggle. But we’re in this together.

The steps that this observance asks us to take are:

Get Educated
Everyone in our community has a responsibility to learn the facts about HIV as well as other sexually transmitted infections and talk with our friends, family, and sexual partners. This will go such a long way in ensuring that we are all informed. Additionally, it is important that we all know the truth about the ways to prevent HIV transmission (condoms, PrEP/PEP, HIV-positive individuals being in care and on medication). It is also important we support those who are HIV-positive. This reduces the stigma associated with living with HIV, which often prevents those who are HIV-positive from seeking the medical care they need or from talking to their loved ones.

In addition, if you have health insurance, talk to a medical provider about PrEP and other HIV prevention methods. If you don’t have insurance, find out if you qualify for a low-cost plan. In California, for example, Medi-Cal enrollment continues year-round, and PrEP is one of the benefits an enrollee can access for little or no cost. The Trump administration can’t take that away yet.

Get Tested
If you’re sexually active, get tested for HIV and STIs every three to six months. It’s easy to do, free even if you don’t have insurance, and confidential. Encourage your friends and partners to get tested and share their results too.

Get Involved
There are many wonderful HIV and health care organizations in our community that are committed to ending the epidemic. They need your support, whether through volunteering or financially. Reach out to them to see how you can help. In addition, lend your voice to the fight to keep Obamacare accessible for everyone. Access is a crucial component to fighting HIV and getting people in care.

Get Treated
If you are HIV-positive and not getting medical care, find out where you can get it. If you are in care, take your medication as prescribed. We know that when HIV-positive individuals are virally suppressed the likelihood of them transmitting HIV is almost zero.

We should never forget that we can help each other with each of these steps — that we are stronger working together. The future isn’t looking so bright out there at the moment, let’s be honest. But we can ensure we are doing everything possible with the resources above to stay healthy in body and mind. We can, and will, thrive despite those who would seek to strip care away from us.

TERRY L. SMITH is the director of HIV preventions services for APLA Health. For more on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, visit For more on APLA Health, visit

Nigeria AIDS agency warns against HIV cure ‘publicity’

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017


Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS, NACA, Sani Aliyu

Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS, NACA, Sani Aliyu

The Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, Sani Aliyu, has expressed displeasure with the publicity given to the claim of a cure for HIV/AIDS by a Nigerian professor.

Mr. Aliyu, in a statement by his office on Monday, said it was a great disservice to the vulnerable group of HIV patients for the media to disseminate such claims in the absence of scientific evidence.

Maduike Ezeibe, who is a Professor of Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Virology at the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture in Umuahia, Aba State, had claimed he had produced a drug that could cure HIV.

He said the drug he produced with “Aluminium Magnesium Silicate” had been successfully tested on ten persons living with HIV.

The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, on Monday disclosed that the Federal Government had mandated the National Institute for Medical Research and the College of Medicine, Ibadan to do a proper study of claims of HIV cure in the country.

While responding to questions on the position of government on the claims at a Town Hall meeting in Ilorin, Kwara State, Mr. Adewole said getting a cure would be of public health interest to the country but that any claim would have to be subjected to standard scrutiny.

“We are concerned that the publicity given to these claims will stop patients with HIV from taking life-saving antiretrovirals and give them false hope of a cure,” the NACA Director General said on the claim in the statement on Monday.

“There are long established, tried and tested routes for the discovery, development and validation of modern medicines before they can be registered and used for treatment in humans and animals.


Mr. Aliyu called on academics to follow legal and scientifically-acceptable methods in conducting their researches and to avoid making premature claims that are capable of derailing the huge progress made in the last two decades in the war against HIV/AIDS.

“Millions of lives have been saved as a result of modern antiretroviral treatment and people living with HIV can now look forward to a normal healthy future”, he said.

Aliyu also calls on editors of media houses in Nigeria to seek comments from the leadership of the relevant government parastatals and professional bodies when it receives new research findings related to the agency’s areas of responsibility.

“We assure you that we will respond rapidly and constructively to any queries”, he stated.

He also encouraged people living with HIV to continue to take their medication and to see their doctors if they have any concern or call the NACA helpline (6222) for information.

Nigeria has about three million people infected with HIV, the second highest number in the world after South Africa.

Trump Seems to Support Bush’s AIDS Program for Now

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

Despite concerns raised during the presidential transition, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) seems poised to continue its work. The multi-billion dollar government initiative created by George W. Bush in 2003 has worked with remarkable success to treat and prevent HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis in a number of countries around the world, and is often hailedas his greatest legacy.

The Trump administration decided early last month to keep Obama-appointee Deborah Birx, the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy, in her position, at least for the time being. Birx, who holds the highest position in PEPFAR, told me she was asked to stay on an interim basis the day before the inauguration. While non-termed presidential appointees typically resign leading up to a transition, the fact that Birx was asked to stay on, avoiding a gap in leadership, suggests a degree of consideration for the initiative.

As Helene Cooper of The New York Times reported, this came after a Trump transition-team questionnaire posed questions that seemed skeptical of the program, asking: “Is PEPFAR worth the massive investment when there are so many security concerns in Africa? Is PEPFAR becoming a massive, international entitlement program?”

The tone of the questions was perplexing, given Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s praise of PEPFAR in his confirmation hearing, and Vice President Mike Pence’s support of the initiative when it was first proposed in 2003 and when it was re-authorized for the first time in 2008.

And, as my colleague Ed Yong wrote after the questionnaire was made public,tragedy would unfold if PEPFAR were eliminated. The initiative funds and maintains a complex web of laboratories, supply chains, and health centers that provide a wide array of health services to millions of people around the world—all enabled by sustained funding and logistical support. As of 2016, the program helped provide life-saving antiretroviral treatment for over 11.5 million people, trained 220,000 health-care workers, and facilitated counseling and testing for over 74.3 million people.

Though keeping Birx in her post seems to demonstrate that the administration values PEPFAR, they may also have endangered its ability to function.

Three days after Birx was asked to stay on, Trump issued a presidential memorandum re-instating the Mexico City Policy, also known as the “global gag rule.” The policy has traditionally blocked NGOs from receiving funds from the U.S. government for family-planning programs unless they promise not to “perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning.”

This move was, in a way, expected, said J. Stephen Morrison, director of the Global Health Policy Center at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Each president since Reagan has instituted or rescinded the policy along party lines. But Trump’s memorandum breaks precedent.

His memorandum calls for “a plan to extend the requirements … to global-health assistance furnished by all departments or agencies.” With the addition of that phrase, the policy goes from affecting $400-$600 million in U.S.-aid dollars to $10 billion, according to Morrison. That includes PEPFAR.

In the past, the Mexico City Policy has applied to funding for family-planning programs, rather than all global-health programs. And, once PEPFAR came into being, former President George W. Bush exempted it from the policy. As Scott Evertz, who served as director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy under George W. Bush, told Slate, “It would have been impossible to treat HIV/AIDS in the developing world … if the global gag rule were to be applied to the thousands of organizations with which those of us involved in PEPFAR would be working.”

Yet this is not the first time that PEPFAR, which is funded through Congress, has come into conflict with ideology. When Pence advocated for PEPFAR in Congress, he pushed for the allocation of funding to abstinence-education programs. “Abstinence and marital faithfulness before condom distribution are the cure for what ails the families of Africa,” Pence said in a 2003 floor speech. “It is important that we not just send them money, but that we send them values that work.”

But these values, in the end, did not work.

When PEPFAR was first funded in 2003, one-third of its budget for HIV-prevention programs was earmarked by Congress to fund abstinence education, though that amount was reduced in 2008. These interventions—including messages printed on billboards and broadcast over the radio—were shown to beineffective in reducing HIV risk or changing sexual behavior.

The Mexico City Policy has proven to be similarly counterproductive: It’s beenassociated with an increase in abortions, including unsafe abortions, in the affected countries. NGOs that cannot access U.S.-government funding due to the gag rule are also key providers of contraception, which is thought to lowerabortion rates.

It’s unclear how the new global gag rule will be implemented, and how PEPFAR’s support of other organizations will be affected.

Morrison told me the administration’s actions seem dissonant: Keeping Birx in her position—which he called a “smart decision”—“was the done with the right hand, and the Mexico City order comes with the left hand,” he said.

“It hasn’t been explained,” Morrison added. “We don’t know the true costs will be, how this will be implemented in practice, and we don’t know what the legality is.”

And while abortion is illegal in some sub-Saharan countries where PEPFAR operates, some make exceptions for cases of pregnancies resulting from rape, or when the mother’s health or life may be on the line. Other countries place no such restrictions. For instance, abortion is fully legal in South Africa, a PEPFAR partner country, where 6.8 million people were estimated to be living with HIV in 2014.

Health centers that receive PEPFAR funding provide a wide array of services. So a clinic that includes a family-planning program in a country like South Africa may also receive PEPFAR funding for an HIV-treatment program. Under the new policy, that clinic may now be unable to counsel a pregnant 18-year-old girl who was raped that abortion is an option for her, or the clinic would lose its U.S. funding, even if those family-planning services aren’t funded by the U.S.

“I’m very worried, and I’m not sure that any of this was thought through,” Morrison said, adding, however, that it would be “wrong to jump to catastrophic conclusions.” But, in the continued absence of clear direction from the White House, he believes NGOs may begin to “self censor,” and preemptively cut services for fear of losing funding.

For now, the situation remains unclear, says Morrison. But figuring out “whether the left hand contradicts the right is going to have to happen somewhere downstream soon.”

Beaumont native spreading awareness about HIV/AIDS

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017


BEAUMONT – Deondre Moore was diagnosed with HIV nearly 3 years ago at the age of 19.

“The day that I found out I was in the doctor’s office at Sam Houston State and the first thing that came to mind is that I have to go home,” said Moore. “This was the day after Easter so I had just left home so I had to drive two hours to come home. I had to get to my mom. I didn’t know who else to talk to.”

For Kathleen Wingate, Moore’s mother, the news was shocking.

“He came in and we sat in the den, and he proceeded to tell me and it nearly killed me,” said Wingate

Since that fateful moment, Deondre and Kathleen have been trying to spread awareness about the disease. They are being featured in commercials airing around the country partnering with Greater Than AIDS and The Elton John AIDS Foundation.

“When I first thought about me wanting to come out and tell this story, it’s something that I struggled with just in general,” said Moore, a Beaumont Ozen graduate. “But there was this voice and I always said it was God talking to me telling me that it was something I needed to do.”

As the situation strengthens their family, Wingate wishes the same outcome for other families affected by the disease.

“I’m hoping it has helped to make other people stronger,” said Wingate. “That’s the reason. So many people turn their backs on their kids, for whatever reason. And at the end of the day, like I remember speaking to one lady after church service, that’s still your child.”

Being raised in Beaumont, Deondre feels that it is necessary to spread his message to this area.

“As a person coming from this city, I can say I was nervous,” said Moore. “It’s always in the back of my mind, what are people at home going to think or say?  But I have to know that, what I’m doing in the service and what I’m doing in the community is much larger than my own personal feelings or whatever one or two people might think about it.”

George Michael Was the Kind of Gay Man We Now Whisper About

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017


George Michael

George Michael came out later than many would have liked, but he came out with a (dirty, anonymous) bang. Many of us come out late — most wish we had come out sooner. But few of us can say that our coming-out story permanently marked our queer lives. For many of us, coming out was simply the beginning, an event that eventually got overshadowed by better, richer experiences. But George never lived down his coming-out — or, rather, his “outing.” It was public, scandalous, and almost custom-written for tabloids. Today, there are many out gay celebs, but who can say they got arrested for lewdness (pulling his dick out) in a public restroom in Beverly Hills? Hell, yeah!

After than infamous 1998 hookup, Michael became relentlessly sex-positive, perhaps to his detriment, for the remainder of his career. He never seemed apologetic about his sex life — in his greatest-hits album he released following the arrest, his song “Outside” set its video clip in a men’s restroom. I don’t want to forget that sleazy, sexy side of George Michael. Despite all the clean-cut, polished queer celebs out there, from Anderson Cooper to Neil Patrick Harris and his picture of familial cuteness to power couple Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black, I identified with Michael most.

Most gay celebs probably won’t admit they like getting fucked up and fucking guys in public — but George did, and I do. That’s what my gay life is like, not the glamorous, conventional life of married, monogamous couples. Michael and I were cut from the same cloth. Our world is filled with drugs and dance floors. We struggle with sex and image and finding sincere connections. It’s easy for us to get depressed and overwhelmed. When I look at my straight counterparts, I see a different culture and a different set of ideals, a world of kids and big family Thanksgivings and a lot less drag and a lot less dope. I imagine when Michael, shut in his house in Oxfordshire, England, in his final days, looked out at the world of his straight counterparts, including his legions of devoted fans, he saw something similar.

The juiciest part of his career happened before I came along, but I still latched on to “Father Figure” in high school, 20 years after it came out, because I was living my own coming-out story and found strength in kitschy queer icons that came before me. I joined the legions of countless homos who loved Michael for loving sex and getting caught and wearing leather pants.

But many of us forgot about him over the years. We assumed he was trooping along, dating boys, and living comfortably. So the reports that he died alone, a recluse, on Christmas Day are heartbreaking. From this news, I suddenly step closer to Michael than ever before. I know he struggled with drugs — he was arrested in 2006 and 2008 for drug-related charges, and in 2010, after a Gay Pride parade, he drove his car into a storefront.

But the fact is, I’ve heard many stories like this. He may have been one of the guys in my gay men’s Crystal Meth Anonymous group, raising his hand in a meeting, sharing his feelings, trying to stay sober. There are so many of us out there that the world doesn’t see.

No official coroner’s report has been released, and I have doubts if one ever will be, but for me, Michael’s death proves again that, aside from HIV, there is another scourge sweeping over gay men — the silent one. We have a drug problem, and have had one for a long time.

If addiction may be seen socially as the disease it is, we could start addressing it with antistigma campaigns the same way we do HIV. Gay men: Your best friend is an addict. We hush the drug-related details of celeb deaths for the same reasons the media has long shied away from saying someone died of AIDS-related complications — because we believe their diseases somehow disrespect their legacies, and because we shame these diseases. We have lost some of the world’s greatest minds — artists, writers, thinkers, performers — to AIDS, and we will continue losing great people to addiction if we continue crouching and creeping around it, keeping it out of the spotlight. Just as we call out publications that report poorly and ignorantly on HIV, we must call out publications that report poorly on drug use, and ignore sensationalist headlines that vilify drugs or the people who use them. Shaming anything doesn’t make anyone safer — it does the exact opposite.

I mourn George because I lost one of my own — in more ways than one. In 2017, let’s create safe spaces for celebrities and everyone to get help, find community, and spend Christmases with others. And let’s listen to hits like “I Want Your Sex” and the indefatigable Pride ballad “Freedom! ’90” again and again in memoriam. And let’s go cruising in public restrooms — because it’s fun.

Supporters’ attitudes HAVE changed — openly gay footballers would be applauded, and the moronic minority of fans hounded out

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017


Anton Hysen, European’s first openly gay footballer, says it’s an insult to English fans to suggest they would shun players who come out (Photo: Rex Features)

The likes of Clyde Best, Cyrille Regis and Viv Anderson who had “Get back on your jam jar” chants and monkey grunts thrown at them by entire sections of grounds on a weekly basis.

But who rose above it and made it possible for the next generation of black players to integrate, and the generation after that to play in English stadiums so relatively free of racism that when they travelled to other parts of Europe they would be genuinely shocked to be attacked for the colour of their skin.
Changes in society’s attitudes had much to do with the haters being muted but within football, racism as a mass participation activity was defeated by the courage of those pioneers, and by the sheer amount of black players succeeding at the highest level.
It was all about the numbers, of black faces on the pitch, and of fans prepared to make a stand against bigotry on the terraces.
Frank Clark of Nottingham Forest
The bravery of Anderson and other black players defeated the ranks of terrace racists (Photo: Getty)

Which is why FA chairman Greg Clarke may be on to something as he tries to break what some people are calling sport’s last taboo — the fact that not one single gay footballer in the English professional game feels ready to declare his sexuality for fear of the backlash.

Clarke says he has recently spoken to 15 gay sportspeople (including footballers) to ask their advice, and concluded that, if a number of top-level players wanted to come out, it might be a good idea to do so en masse, on the same day .

The reaction thus far is mainly positive (although many have winced at Clarke’s Disneyesque rationale for making it the opening day of the season when “the crowds are happy and the sun is shining”).

Veteran gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell backs a collective coming out, as does Europe’s first openly gay footballer Anton Hysen, who said : “It’s insulting to supporters in England to suggest that they’re not ready to support a gay footballer.”

Which is the key point.

When people ask if English football is ready to accept gay footballers, they really mean ‘Are the fans ready?’, or would any players coming out fall victim to a level of abuse and ridicule that would ruin careers and scare off others from doing the same.

Video thumbnail, Stonewall video promoting 'Rainbow laces' campaign to promote tolerance of LGBT fans and players
No-one knows for sure.

But I would say that now, more than any other time, the majority of fans would applaud their courage and silence the moronic minority.

Contrary to an out-dated public perception, this is the era of supporters embracing and championing social issues.

Groups have sprung up locally and nationally to challenge greed and injustices in the game, many ditching old rivalries and working together.

We’ve seen The Football Supporters Federation unite with Kick It Out to run a campaign called Fans For Diversity; Middlesbrough fans show solidarity with sacked steel-workers and those exploited by the makers of poverty-porn TV shows; “Refugees Welcome banners” held up at grounds such as Arsenal’s, Aston Villa’s and Swindon’s; Liverpool and Everton fans setting up a joint food-bank under the title “Hunger Doesn’t Wear Club Colours”; anti-fascist flags flown at non-League Clapton, and Dulwich Hamlet supporters chanting “We love you Stonewall, we do” when they played the country’s leading gay team.

Fans hold a banner reading Refugees Welcome at the Emirates stadium
Fans’ capacity for compassion on display at Arsenal (Photo: PA)
Middlesbrough players and fans show their support for the Save our Steel Campaign at the Middlesbrough v Leeds match
Middlesbrough supporters join in the Save our Steel Campaign last season(Photo: Doug Moody)

Attitudes among all but a hardcore of fans are shifting to a more liberal stance, and any gay professionals wanting to come out should take great encouragement from that.

Clarke is trying to get that reassuring message across but other major bodies and figures in the game need to back him up.
Imagine what a boost it would be to gay teenage footballers who fear coming out would lead to persecution, to see a group of high-profile professionals say: “I’m gay. So what?” and for them to be accepted and embraced by fans across the land?

Meaning the only people who then needed outing were the bigots.

Mother Stabs Son To Death For Being Gay

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017


A mother in Brazil has confessed to stabbing her teenage son to death because of his sexuality.

The attack occurred on Christmas Eve as Tatiana Lozano Pereira, 32, and her 17-year-old son Itaberli Lozano were returning home after having a heated argument. Once they entered the house, the boy was ambushed by Pereira and two men she’d hired to assault him.



Though the original plan was to bruise him up to “teach him a lesson” about being gay, halfway through the beating, Pereira ordered the men to kill him. When they refused, she took a kitchen knife and stabbed him herself, according to local news sources.

The 32-year-old mother told police that after he was dead, she removed the body from the house with the help of her husband, the boy’s stepfather. They took it to a nearby cane field where they burned it.



The young boy’s charred remains were discovered on January 7. During her first interrogation, Pereira reportedly confessed her part in the crime, naming the two men she’d hired. Her husband was charged for aiding in the disposal of the body.

According to several family members, including the boy’s uncle, Pereira had long rejected her son for his sexuality.

These Students Were Asked To Sign “I’m Gay” Legal Documents To Serve On Council

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

BuzzFeed News

Students at the University of Sydney have had to sign statutory declarations confirming they are gay, a woman, or have an ethnic background in order to hold certain positions on the student council.

Students at the University of Sydney have had to sign statutory declarations confirming they are gay, a woman, or have an ethnic background in order to hold certain positions on the student council.


The controversial ruling was introduced by the SRC’s returning officer after a male Liberal staffer briefly pretended to identify as a woman in order to earn a $12,000 council position last year.

The new ruling applies to anyone who was elected to a position based on identity – for instance queer officer, disability officer, or even mature age student officer – and anyone who was elected to an affirmative action position, which must go to people who identify as women or non-binary.

This year, Andrea Zephyr, a 24-year-old student, was elected as one of the SRC queer officers.

In order to keep the position, she had to sign a statutory declaration saying she fulfilled the queer-identifying requirement to hold it.

“Do I look straight or cisgender to you?” Zephyr wrote on the document.

Another student simply wrote “I’m gay”. One added “P.S. FUCK THE STATE” on their stat dec.

20-year-old student Maddy Ward had to sign a stat dec stating that she is Maori and a woman.

“They said that all our positions would just get re-elected if we didn’t sign, so it was like we didn’t have a choice,” she told BuzzFeed News.

“I wrote on one, ‘I’m a FOB’, and [the SRC secretary] said ‘No’. So I had to write on a different one saying ‘I’m Maddy Ward and I identify as Maori’.”

FOB is short for Fresh Off the Boat, a slang term meaning an immigrant from another country.


The ruling stems from a council meeting in October last year in which Liberal staffer Alex Fitton said he was a woman in order to become joint general secretary of the SRC with a man from Labor Right.

The $12,000 position can be split between two people, but only if one of them is not a cisgender man, according to SRC regulations.

BuzzFeed News understands that Fitton said he identified as a woman on the night, but when election returning officer Paulene Graham asked him to sign a statutory declaration to prove it, he declined. The election was ruled invalid 24 hours later.

“There were concerns raised to Graham that by making [Fitton] sign a stat dec it was questioning his gender and getting into dangerous territory, the politics of passing and not passing, which I think are valid concerns,” SRC president Isabella Brooks told BuzzFeed News.

“So we’re not picking and choosing whose identity we question, she decided the most logical thing was to get everyone to sign stat decs.”

Graham’s ruling has left several students disgruntled.

Zephyr said that while she disagreed with Fitton’s actions, she was alarmed by the way his nomination was treated.

“I don’t agree with Fitton because he lied. He is not transgender, he is a cisgender man,” she said. “But the immediate witch hunt that happens around transgender feminine people, it’s horrific.”

“I think everyone was pretty pissed off about having to sign a stat dec,” Ward said.

Brooks said “quite a few people” had complained to the SRC, but most were OK with the situation after discussing it with Graham.

Just Weeks Into 2017, Its Movies Are Already Very Gay

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017
Stills via Wolfe Video/Brainstorm Media

Compared to most weeks, this has been a good one for gay movies. Moonlight*scored a stellar eight Oscar nominations on Monday. I Am Love director Luca Guadagnino’s adaptation of André Aciman’s beloved 2007 novel Call Me By Your Name debuted at Sundance on Sunday to such effusive praise, “raves” feels like an understatement. Also unveiled at Sundance to glowing reviews was Eliza Hittman’s Coney Island cruising flick Beach Rats.

For civilians nowhere near Park City, two new gay movies are in theaters today: Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau’s Paris 05:59: Théo & Hugo and Justin Kelly’s I Am Michael. As is the case with most queer movies that aren’t Moonlight(and the Sundance selections mentioned above), both of these films focus on the sexualities of a few white characters, with only nominal recognition inMichael that non-white people can be queer too. There’s your caveat that while 2017 is off to a good start in terms of queer visibility in cinema, it’s the same kind of visibility that we’ve been seeing and it will take considerably more time before the influence of Moonlight (and, more to the point, Moonlight’s impressive-for-its-size gross) to be felt.

Neither Théo & Hugo nor I Am Michael have experienced nor warrant the hype that precedes the as-yet-unannounced commercial release of Call Me By Your Name, but they’re both trying (I guess) to be important and one is far less worse than the other. Let’s take a look:

Paris 05:59: Théo & Hugo

Starting with a happy ending and then working its way toward an even happier one, the French language Paris 05:59: Théo & Hugo wants to make it clear that intimacy can be found in the least likely of places. Our protagonists, Théo & Hugo meet virtually wordlessly at a gay sex club during their movie’s highly explicit 19-minute opening scene, during which boners and blowjobs abound (however, there aren’t any shots of anal penetration). Directors Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau perfectly nail the disorienting, narcotic energy of red-lit, writhing bodies, and what feels like miraculous focus that can materialize when surrounded by nothing but options.

Théo spots Hugo fucking another dude and wants a taste, so through a series of intense stares and bodily maneuvering, he makes his way over. If you can read the movie’s title, you know what’s coming (they both are—together, with the matter-of-factly versatile Hugo assuming the role of bottom). They leave the club together in a euphoric afterglow, as Hugo rhapsodizes the cosmic implications of their amazing fuck (“I think we made a big contribution to world peace. What we did was pure love creation. We need to start over for the good of humankind!”).

And then, when Hugo realizes that Théo fucked him without a condom, their universe built for two threatens to collapse. But so does their movie. Hugo’s ensuing panic initially suggests he’s terrified of contracting HIV—he calls Théo “insane”—until you realize that Hugo is HIV positive and he’s scared for Théo’s health.

A few things there: If Hugo is aware of his status and concerned enough about it to worry about how it may impact his sex partners, he’s more than likely on meds, which means his HIV is undetectable, which means it’s virtually impossible for him to transmit the virus. That Théo topped further cuts the risk. And if Hugo were the kind of person who cares so intensely about these things, why didn’t he make sure Théo put on a condom?

Many of these points are eventually teased out as Théo goes to an all-night clinic to get PEP (or post-exposure prophylaxis, in which a regimen of antiretroviral medications are administered over the course of about 30 days to thwart the transmission of the virus), though perhaps not precisely enough—Hugo twice mentions that he’s undetectable without explaining what that means or the implications for transmission. That the irrational fears of HIV transmission conjured by its characters’ unrealistic ignorance (especially on the part of Hugo) remain the source of tension in this film feels at least slightly exploitative if not a total perversion of the truth for the sake of plot, which continues to follow Théo and Hugo around Paris in real time, just the two of them so that the structure of the movie is something akin to Weekend with a heaping dose of AIDS paranoia. I wanted to print out the results of the PARTNER study (which surveyed some 58,000 sex acts among serodifferent couples and found not one instance of HIV transmission) and throw it at the screen.

Théo’s uncertainty and resentment is a contrived device for getting at bigger issues that are rarely talked about outside of private conversations among gay men, so even if Théo & Hugo’s methods are overblown and disingenuous, at least the movie is contributing something to culture, including the mere presentation of the idea that Hugo doesn’t bear the entire responsibility of Théo’s predicament (which seems obvious to me, but laws criminalizing HIV across our very nation suggest otherwise). “It takes two to screw up,” says Hugo quite reasonably. Later he also notes, “Desire is stupid,” which is also correct, but probably too on the nose given the rest of this material.

I Am Michael

I think it would be useful to rattle off some things that actually come out of people’s mouths in Justin Kelly’s ex-gay yarn I Am Michael to give you the clearest picture of what we’re dealing with:

  • “Everyone’s gonna die. No amount of praying is ever going to change that.”
  • “We are making a documentary about queer youth in America because discrimination against LGBT youth must be eliminated!”
  • “When faced with your own death, it reminds you of what’s important in life, and for me that’s helping other people.”
  • “Not everyone wants to be part of the subculture!”
  • “Stop hating, start loving!”

These are just a few of the lines penned by Kelly and fellow screenwriter Stacey Miller in their bad-verging-on-incompetent adaptation of Benoit Denizet-Lewis’s great 2011 New York Times Magazine story “My Ex-Gay Friend,” about gay-activist/writer-turned-ex-gay Michael Glatze. Kelly and Miller’s script is so mercilessly heavy-handed that not only are you conspicuously aware of its presence as you watch Kelly’s film, but you can practically see their lips moving as they were writing it.

I Am Michael is strung together with more than just verbal clichés. As his Michael (played by James Franco), via a religious awakening, struggles with the idea that his sexuality is perhaps mutable and convertible, Kelly slings melodrama like it’s crack. There’s a scene of Franco taking a bath in shallow water and dim lighting with knees pressed up to his chest. In another he listens to a radio show on headphones outside, and as the guest says choosing gay identity will lead to eternal suffering, the camera swirls. “This is hard! Michael Glatze is conflicted!” this movie says over and over without adding much insight beyond that or depth to the character. This sensibility extends to the final frame.

Kelly’s I Am Michael follow-up King Cobra (nominally about the murder of gay porn producer Bryan Kocis, who discovered former twink du jour Brent Corrigan) was just as shallow as this. It surveyed gay-porn production as voyeuristically as a dude jerking off at home in front of his computer (and there weren’t even dicks in Kelly’s movie) and was ineptly paced (it takes more an an hour and 15 minutes to get to the murder the movie is supposed to be about!!!). However, it is Franco who comes off worst here, though he’s done no favors via Kelly’s script, which gives Zachary Quinto and Emma Roberts nothing to do but show up and look vaguely concerned. Franco displays “pained” like he’s playing a remedial game of charades. Franco, who played bicurious in Interior. Leather Bar and power bottom in King Cobra, has talked at length about his fascination with gay culture (despite claiming never to have indulged in man-on-man “intercourse”) but his choice of Kelly’s gallingly dumb scripts (and otherwise willful misunderstanding and contempt of gay art) suggests that he is just skimming the surface for brownie points. Certainly, given his choice of material, he hasn’t been blessed with the refined taste stereotypically attributed to gay men.

While a nuanced argument regarding the elastic and ever-evolving nature of sexuality is in order, I Am Michael is perhaps too compassionate to Glatze, who gave his blessing to the film. It’s kind of hard to take a guy seriously who went through the life of a writer-activist in San Francisco and then goes on to advise questioning youth, “If you’re a moral person then you’ll choose heterosexuality to be with God.” But it’s not like you can take Glatze in any way because Franco never disappears into the part. He’s never not James Franco doing that James Franco thing where he plays gay/not gay on screen in part of the bigger, provocative performance of his life. His quite like Madonna in that way, actually. I guess if you can’t be gay, or a gay icon, you can at least act like one.

Sebastian Barry wins second Costa Book Award with gay Wild West love story

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017
Sebastian Barry

Sebastian Barry has become the first novelist to win the Costa Book Award twice, for a love story set in the Wild West and inspired by his son coming out as gay.

The Irish writer won the £30,000 prize for Days Without End, which the judges praised as a “searing, magnificent, incredibly moving description of how the West was won”.

It is no run-of-the-mill tale of frontier life. At its heart is the relationship between Thomas McNulty, a teenage boy who flees the Irish famine for America, and his comrade, John Cole, who both sign up for the brutal Indian Wars. They also work as entertainers in a saloon bar, dressing as women to comfort miners starved of female company, and settle down as a family with a young Sioux girl as their ‘adopted’ child.

The book is dedicated to Barry’s son, Toby, who came out as gay when he was 16.

Accepting his award, Barry said the win had made him “crazy happy from the top of my head to my toes, in a way that is a little bit improper at 61.”

And he paid tribute to his family, singling out his son with the words: “This book is dedicated to Toby eternally.”

The author has previously described himself as a “proud father of one shining person who happens to be a member of the LGBT community” and in a recent interview said the book was in part a reaction to an incident in which his son was threatened on a train after a gang saw him kissing his boyfriend goodbye.

Days Without End

“Two or three people on the train thought it licenced them to come over and sit beside him and menace him and be dreadful. It shook him.

“I didn’t want to go and remonstrate with them. I wanted to beat them to death with a large stick. And this informed this book because I felt such a terrible sense of emergency because he was terribly worried,” Barry said.

Through literature, “maybe you can reach back into the past in order to make a strange template for a possible future where gayness is so unremarkable that literally no one remarks on it. So someone as amazing as my son can be safe on trains and everywhere else.”

Speaking after he found out he had won, Barry said he wished for a world in which homophobia no longer existed.

“As a father, I’m trying to mobilise the world to stop being in any way prejudiced towards people who are gay, since they are actually incredible instances of human existence and should be revered and emulated rather than in any way feel unhappy. I mean, when somebody is bringing to bear a comment on your 16-year-old son, you’re on action stations.

“He said a beautiful thing to me after he’d read the book: ‘You’re not gay, dad, but you’re an ally.'”

Barry said Ireland’s vote in favour of gay marriage “was one of the times I felt truly and properly proud to be Irish”.

The initial idea for the book came from a family tale of his great-uncle fighting in the Indian Wars. “And it just so happened that the time I was thinking about it enough to begin the book, that Toby came out in that magical way. It’s what you pray for as a writer but how could you possibly arrange it? It’s like a celestial coming together of things.

Barry winning the prize in 2008
Barry winning the prize in 2008

“You should be teaching your child something, it’s not supposed to be the other way around. But maybe it always is, in truth. He’s taught me something.”

Barry, who lives in Co Wicklow with his wife and three children, won the Costa in 2008 for The Secret Scripture. He is the first novelist to score a double win, although Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney both won twice in the poetry category.

Days Without End is also a bloody historical account of the Indian Wars and the US Army’s suppression of indigenous tribes. Kate Williams, chair of the judges said: “It’s brutal, it’s terrifying, it moves you to tears, it horrifies, and at the same time it’s got these fantastic moments of light, of beauty and of friendship. It takes you from the highs to the lows of human experience.”

Gay Adult Film Actor Strip-Searched and ‘Humiliated’ At Israeli Airport Because of ‘Muslim-Sounding Name’

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017


French gay adult film actor claims that airport officials in Israel strip-searched and interrogated him for hours because of his “Muslim-sounding name.”

Ibrahim Moreno arrived at Ben Gurion International Airport on Friday to perform at a club in Tel Aviv.

He alleges that he was questioned three times by officials and that it took him two and a half hours to clear customs.

Times of Israel reports that in a Facebook post on Monday, he alleged that he again faced discrimination on his return trip to the airport:

“Today at the Tel Aviv airport back home I have been humiliated, treated me like a terrorist and simply because my name is IBRAHIM, why can not I have a name of Arab origin? I’m GAY, I’m not a MUSLIM, I don’t speak any Arabic language, but if I carry a cross that allows me to be judged and humiliated.”

According to Ynet News, Moreno uploaded a picture of himself on Facebook crying on the airplane before uploading another post, this time highlighting the fun he had in Tel Aviv.

In a statement, Israel Airports Authority (IAA) said that security checks at Ben Gurion are “carried out on all travelers leaving the country regardless of their identity, nationality, etc, and in the procedures laid out by the authorized officials.”

“Items that are prohibited on flights in hand luggage are confiscated as is the norm all over the world,” the IAA added.

Pope Francis says he has accompanied gay and transgender people through pastoral care

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017


Pope Francis answers questions from journalists aboard his flight from Baku, Azerbaijan, to Rome Oct. 2. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Catholics who are homosexual, confused about their sexuality or convinced they were born in the wrong body deserve the same attentive pastoral care as anyone else, Pope Francis said.

Flying back to Rome on Oct. 2 after a visit to Georgia and Azerbaijan, the pope was asked, given his criticism on Oct. 1 of “gender theory” and of what he describes as “ideological colonization,” how he would provide pastoral care to a person who felt his or her sexuality did not correspond to his or her biology.

Pope Francis began responding to the reporter’s question by saying that as a priest, a bishop and even as pope he has “accompanied people with homosexual tendencies and even homosexual activity. I accompanied them; I helped them draw closer to the Lord, although some couldn’t. But I never abandoned them.”

“People must be accompanied like Jesus would accompany them,” he said. “When a person who has this situation arrives before Jesus, Jesus certainly will not say, ‘Go away because you are homosexual.’ No.”

Pope Francis said what he was condemning was “indoctrination of gender theory,” teaching small children that no matter their biological sex, they can choose their gender. He said a Spanish father told him he had asked his son what he wanted to be when he grew up and the boy replied, “A girl.” The father realized the child was taught in school that gender is a choice “and this is against nature.”

“It is one thing for a person to have this tendency, this option and even to have a sex change, but it is another thing to teach this in schools in order to change mentalities. This I call ideological colonization,” the pope said.

The pope also told the story of a Spanish husband and wife whom he invited to the Vatican. The husband was born a girl, but always felt like a boy. When she was in her 20s, she told her mother she wanted a sex change operation, but the mother begged her not to do it as long as she was alive. When her mother died, she had the surgery, the pope said.

A Spanish bishop, “a good bishop,” spent time a lot of time “to accompany this man,” who later married, the pope said. They asked to come to the Vatican “and I received them and they were very happy.”

In the town where the man lived, he said, a new priest, “when he would see him would shout at him from the sidewalk, ‘You will go to hell!’ But when he’d meet his old priest, he would say to him, ‘How long has it been since you’ve confessed? Come on, confess so you can take Communion.'”

“Do you understand?” the pope asked the journalists. “Life is life and you must take things as they come. Sin is sin. And tendencies or hormonal imbalances” create problems “and you cannot say, ‘it’s all the same, let’s throw a party.’ No.”

Welcome the person, study the situation, accompany the person and integrate him or her into the life of the community, the pope said. “This is what Jesus would do today.”

“Please,” the pope told reporters, “Don’t say, ‘The pope will bless transgender people,’ OK?”

“I want to be clear. It is a moral problem. It is a problem. A human problem,” the pope said. “And it must be resolved the best one can—always with the mercy of God, with the truth” and “always with an open heart.”

#MemeOfTheWeek: Trump Asked ‘The Gays,’ And Got Answers

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017


A man wears a rainbow cape during a memorial vigil for the victims of Orlando’s Pulse nightclub shooting Thursday in San Antonio.

Eric Gay/AP

After last week’s mass shooting that killed 49 people at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, politicians of all stripes have been speaking out about the LGBTQ community — arguing what should be done to protect them, speaking to the importance of their safe spaces, and pledging commitment to their needs. Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, per usual, seems to have made the most waves with his words.

On Monday, one day after the attack, Trump spoke as an ally of the community. “A radical Islamic terrorist targeted the nightclub not only because he wanted to kill Americans, but in order to execute gay and lesbian citizens because of their sexual orientation,” Trump said. He then called the attack a “strike at the heart and soul of who we are as a nation,” as CNN reported, saying it was an “assault” on people’s ability to “love who they want and express their identity.”

But by Wednesday, the tone had shifted. While Trump seemed to still be showing sympathy to gays and lesbians, the delivery was off for many watching — his talk shifted from support for the community to boastful pride. “The LGBT community, the gay community, the lesbian community — they are so much in favor of what I’ve been saying over the last three or four days,” Trump said during a campaign stop in Atlanta on Wednesday, defending his tough talk on limiting Muslim immigration and fighting ISIS.

“Ask the gays what they think and what they do, in, not only Saudi Arabia, but many of these countries, and then you tell me — who’s your friend, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton?”

We’re not even going to touch the fact that he used “the” in a strange way with those words, a thing he’s done before when referencing other minority groups, like the Latinos, orthe blacks. What stood out most, besides that precariously placed definite article, was the question: “Ask the gays.”

Some were just beyond words.

Even Hillary Clinton got in on the fun, with one simple word.

There was a certain power on display in all the tweets, and in the LGBTQ community’s ability to not just speak for itself, but to find humor in a painful week, when politicians could be seen as using gays and lesbians as political props. But there is also a more serious undercurrent to #AskTheGays — how, why, and how quickly an entire group can become political footballs in moments of such distress.

To be fair, both Clinton’s and Trump’s records on LGBTQ issues are up for debate. Trump has spoken less disparagingly of gays and lesbians than he has of other minority and affinity groups, though he has opposed issues like same-sex marriage. He has said he would allow transgender people to use any bathroom at Trump Tower, but also argued that states should be allowed to decide their own policies concerning bathrooms for transgender individuals.

Hillary Clinton has gained the endorsement of most major LGBTQ organizations, and has campaigned with her support of same-sex marriage and transgender rights. But she did not always support same-sex marriage, and has made some missteps with the LGBTQ community before — most recently during the funeral of Nancy Reagan, when she argued that Reagan had helped advance the nation’s conversation on AIDS. (Nancy Reagan’s husband was actually silent on AIDS for years.)

Still, Clinton seems to have the advantage — in a May Gallup poll, 54 percent of those who identify as LGBT view Clinton as favorable while only 18 percent view Trump as such.

There is much to unpack in the way LGBTQ people have been both marginalized, co-opted, and embraced in just a matter of days since a physical safe space was taken from the community. But, in a way, #AskTheGays was able to create a safe space online in a week where it might have been particularly hard to find those spaces in the real world or our political discourse.

Texas Republican: Gay people were sent by Russia to destroy America

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017



Conservative Republicans of Texas President Steven Hotze made the astounding claim

Conservative Republicans of Texas President Steven Hotze made the astounding claim

A Texas Republican activist has compared gay people to termites, claiming homosexuality was created by the Soviet Union to destroy America.

Steven Hotze of Conservative Republicans of Texas made the shocking comments at the ‘Stand 4 Truth; evangelical conference, which was held over the weekend in Houston.

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In the speech, snipped by Right Wing Watch, he warns: “The homosexual movement has really infiltrated… think of them like termites.

“They get into the wood of the house and they eat away at the very moral fabric of the foundation of our country.

“This is exactly what the Marxist movement was all about… If you remember, [Soviet leader] Khrushchev came and said we’re going to get your country one way or another, and the way they want to do it is to destroy the moral fabric and create moral anarchy in our country so that our people no longer live righteous lives but they’re living lives that are ungodly.

“When you do that, you lack moral courage, because you can’t very well stand up and oppose people doing wicked things if you’re participating in the same activities.

“Now you’ve got pornography… it’s legal to have pornography on the internet, but we, in some jurisdictions of the country, you can’t stand up and say that homosexuality is wrong or immoral activity, whether it’s the promotion of adultery or premarital sex, we can’t say that that’s wrong because that’s hate speech.

“But it’s perfectly legal according to allow pornography to be perpetrated upon our public, and even in our public schools to be taught and shown.”

A Texas pastor recently prophesied that paedophilia will soon be renamed ‘happy’ and legalised.

Rick Scarborough of Vision America made the claim while preaching at Trinity Family Church in Forney, Texas.

He fumed: “What’s next? Paedophilia?

“When we called homosexuality, instead of sodomy, ‘gay,’ it changed everything because everyone wants to be gay. So let’s just change paedophilia to ‘happy’ and we’ll have all kinds of leagues of happy people and we’ll have the lobby for happy people.

“Who wants to keep somebody from being happy? I don’t know how long we’ve got, but I intend to fight this.”

Idaho man pleads guilty to hate crime in beating death of gay man

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017


An Idaho man who admitted fatally beating a gay man by kicking him up to 30 times with his steel-toed boots pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a federal hate crime, U.S. attorneys said.

Federal prosecutors said Kelly Schneider, 23, of Nampa, attacked Steven Nelson at a remote wildlife refuge last spring because of Nelson’s sexual orientation.

“Steven Nelson was assaulted and later died because he was gay,” Wendy Olson, former U.S. Attorney for Idaho, said in a statement.

Last month, Schneider pleaded guilty to a state charge of first-degree murder in Nelson’s death and is scheduled to be sentenced March 20.

Sentencing for Schneider on the federal charge is set for April 26 in Boise. Both crimes are punishable by up to life in prison.

Schneider was contacted by Nelson the evening of April 27 after Schneider posted a shirtless photograph of himself in a solicitation for sex on the website, federal authorities said. The pair met by prearrangement the next evening, when Schneider took Nelson’s money but did not engage in a sexual act, according to U.S. prosecutors.

Before that encounter, Schneider told his friends that he was not gay and would not let anyone who was touch him, prosecutors said. Schneider arranged to go with Nelson on April 29 to an isolated area within Deer Flat Wildlife Refuge in southwest Idaho with the promise of a sexual encounter.

Instead, Schneider attacked Nelson at the wildlife area, kicking Nelson between 20 and 30 times with steel-toed boots while repeatedly using a homophobic slur, prosecutors said.


Wednesday, February 8th, 2017


After more than a decade in which leading L.G.B.T.Q. organizations focussed their fight on same-sex marriage, a right held most dearly by affluent whites, Trump’s ascension is driving the gay-rights movement to embrace its greatest natural strength: its extension across lines of race and class. Zeke Stokes, a vice-president at glaad, told me, “Our top priority is to make sure that we are locking arms with other parts of the progressive movement,” and Hari Nef, the trans actress and model, led her remarks at the rally with the legend of Marsha P. Johnson, a black trans woman who is said to have thrown the shot glass that started the Stonewall riots. Thus, although the event featured many colorfully worded signs—“hell hath no fury like a drag queen scorned”; “rise up faggot”; “i want dicks in my 👄, not running my country”—the one that best captured the spirit of the day, and the great diversity of the crowd and speakers, was the simplest: “&.” “They don’t know that we are Muslims, we are women, we are transgender, we are Mexican,” Carmelyn Malalis, the city’s commissioner on human rights, told the crowd. “They don’t know that we are united and never leave a brother or sister behind. Not ever.”

Such unity, loving and warlike, is the only defense against an Administration whose treatment of the vulnerable seems, like its whole agenda, to combine pernicious intentions with minimal planning. After Johnson’s speech, as the wind chill began to outmatch the sun, he told me about the origins of the rally: the weekend before, he’d put out a call on Facebook, in response to reports that Trump was poised to revoke Obama’s anti-discrimination protections for L.G.B.T.Q. federal contractors. Then, last Tuesday, the White House appeared to change course, releasing a statement that championed Trump as “respectful and supportive of L.G.B.T.Q. rights.” (Reportedly, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump had intervened.) After the reversal, word of the rally spread virally, Johnson said—a way of calling “total bullshit” on an Administration that includes Mike Pence, one of America’s leading homophobes. Johnson pointed to the leaked version of an executive order on “religious freedom,” which would allow almost any organization to exempt itself from federal regulations protecting same-sex marriage, transgender identity, abortion, and contraception. “That is a license to discriminate,” Johnson said.

The left is sometimes ridiculed for its factionalism—its thicket of nonprofit support systems, its acronym for every gradation of identity. But when you shake one part of that structure, you learn how durably it is fastened to all the others. Many of the speakers at the rally testified to how this crisscrossing can manifest on a personal level. A magnificent testimonial came from Olympia Perez, of the Audre Lorde Project, which advocates for queer people of color: “I cannot divide the pieces of me that are Dominican, Brazilian, Puerto Rican, and South Asian from the parts of me that are trans, a woman, and a fuckin’ New Yorker.” The crowd roared as Perez, her long black hair framing her face, read a battle cry from Assata Shakur, a Black Panther who went into exile after killing a New Jersey State Trooper. “It is our duty to fight,” she said. “It is our duty to win. We must love each other and protect each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

The nationwide uprisings of the past weeks—from the Women’s March to the resistance to the immigration ban—have reminded us that, although the people’s power can be gathered by revanchist right-wingers and finance-friendly Democrats, it belongs ultimately to the people themselves. Neither Governor Cuomo nor Mayor de Blasio attended the rally on Saturday, but Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, seemed to have absorbed the message of the protesters who mobbed his Brooklyn brownstone the week before, demanding total opposition to the new Administration: he led the crowd in a brief recitation of “dump Trump” and promised to defeat both Betsy DeVos, Trump’s nominee for Education Secretary, and Neil Gorsuch, his appointee to the Supreme Court. “Stop protecting Trump Tower!” someone shouted at Scott Stringer, the city comptroller. The pest, an Irish-born actor by the name of Donal (not Donald) Brophy, told me, “I think it’s unfair for our tax dollars to be used to protect the so-called First Family.” When I asked why he’d used the word “so-called”—Trump’s word, in a tweet from early that morning, for the judge who stayed the immigration ban—he said that the Electoral College system was disenfranchising coastal Americans. “We are the majority, and we’re constantly under attack.”

As the rally disbanded, I found myself sucked into a knot of people near Seventh Avenue. Some two dozen police officers had formed a circle around a group of five protesters. It seemed that they had refused to move out of the street, which was being opened to traffic, and now they linked arms tightly as they chanted, “In the name of humanity, we refuse to accept a fascist America.” A few cops moved in, taking hold of shoulders and arms and torsos, and a slow-motion struggle commenced. Along the border of the circle, a hundred cell-phone videos were being filmed, and, after the last protester was pushed into a patrol car, the crowd took up their chant.

Why Gay Men Should Talk About Their Partners at Work

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017


The Leadership Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question, “How can you play a role in advancing workplace equality?” is written by Phil Schraeder, president and COO of GumGum.

Your company supports workplace equality, right? There’s an easy answer to that question: “Yes, of course!”

But when I say “easy answer,” I mean exactly that. Boilerplate support for diversity and equality is one thing, but what team members throughout your organization actually think and experience might be different. If you’re serious about not just talking the talk but walking the walk when it comes to workplace equality, it takes a clear plan, active commitment, and change in your office culture.

Here’s how you can be a part of moving the ball forward:

Share your own story

Every employee at your company has a unique perspective, and it helps immensely if they discuss their background with colleagues. As a gay man, I’m always willing to discuss my own story with the rest of the organization. This means, for instance, bringing up my partner in casual conversation with the same ease that a straight colleague might bring up a girlfriend, boyfriend, or spouse. When I initially gravitated toward working in accounting and finance, I didn’t have a tremendous number of gay role models to look up to, so I’m especially aware of the subtle but powerful value of just being visible and vocal about who I am.

For example, over the past few years, half of our interns have been women, which is particularly exciting in the engineering field. From the conversations we’ve had with our interns, we’ve learned about which undergraduate and graduate computer science programs actually care about gender equality.

Be ready to listen

Put your ego aside and be willing to hear and address hard truths about your workplace culture. I’ve been in situations at companies in the past where I’ve heard anti-LGBTQ comments in casual lunchtime conversations. I tend to be a pretty vocal person, so I’ve spoken up when I’ve needed to, but it’s important to recognize that not every employee may have the same willingness to engage in a confrontation. That’s why we have an anonymous hotline to which people can text concerns or questions regarding workplace issues including diversity and equality.

It’s also easy to take too much credit for the diversity in your organization when you’re based in a community that’s already diverse. We’re headquartered in Santa Monica, and are deeply appreciative of the advantages of being part of the Los Angeles metropolitan area, a proudly diverse melting pot.

But at the same time, we know that we always have to stay aware of the struggle for workplace diversity and equality that continues beyond the walls of our offices. Only 19 states and Washington DC, for instance, have laws that prohibit companies from firing an employee just for being LGBTQ. Particularly in larger organizations with offices in states that lack such protections, it’s important that your team’s leadership let all employees know, through clearly articulated diversity and equality policies, that you stand with them—regardless of the local political and cultural climate they may face.

You and your colleagues can help set a powerful example that can change hearts and minds—even if every heart and mind at your company is already pro-diversity and pro-equality.

Gay Porn Gave Me The Sex Education That Real Life Didn’t

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

BuzzFeed News

Scott Mabe for BuzzFeed News

G Books, a gay used bookstore, was crouched at the garden level of a brownstone on DC’s U Street, back when the block was still snaggletoothed. I went there often in college, to browse videos and rummage through magazines from that golden age of late- ’80s gay porn. So often that, at a certain point, I exhausted their supply and was forced to choose something from the more sanitized stack of ’90s mags that I usually avoided. I liked the look of the cover model, his handlebar mustache a relic of a bygone era. But the model, when I opened up the centerfold, turned out to be a bait-and-switch. In the photograph — just a still from a movie, when I looked closer — he stood wreathed by text: a column that posed the question of whether gay men were in danger of OD’ing on porn.

The article warned that watching porn would jeopardize my mental and emotional health, a threat more pernicious than all the moral arguments against my sexuality I’d heard at church over the years and finally faced down. All that work, to secure the space to masturbate without shame, and now my wellness was imperiled. All that work to enter basements like this bookstore and maintain eye contact, and now I had to trouble over what Colt Studios might mean to the man I was becoming, or how my adoration for Catalina Video would limit the way I might view other men — turn them into fetish objects, the projections of my own desire.

I railed against that. Couldn’t even finish reading the thing. And so I flung the magazine back on the shelf. Obviously, it wanted to snatch away the bounty of secret knowledge I’d found at G Books, which offered up so much to me at the time. Straight people had their love songs, I fumed. Even black straight people had their haven, my college, a historically black university; thusly, straight people had the world. Their instructions — on how to get a man and keep him, on how to keep yourself when you needed to leave him, or most vitally, on when you wanted him and that sentiment was unrequited — were embedded in the lyrics of the girls I sang along to: Coko and Mary J. Blige and Monica. But where were mine?

I had this place, this dank corner in the back room of a shop, to discover what new permissions I would grant myself. And I remained there spiritually for much of my twenties, in righteous, ribald rejection of the sentiment in that magazine column. Still, through much of my adult life, that warning about porn has hounded me. At times, I’ve reassured myself that I was only giving myself the education — on legislating feelings and relationships, on developing my emotional well-being — that I was denied as a gay man in a heteronormative society. At other times, I’ve thought of myself as an addict.

Desire had driven me to the bookstore in the first place. All the habits I’d developed to still my anxiety — the fast food, the liquor, the cigarettes, the porn — were resulting in serial overdrafts to my bank account. Having sold most of my literary titles to Second Story Books for quick cash, and my DVDs to CD/Game Exchange, I turned to the cache of porn I’d been hoarding since freshman year, VHS tapes that ran $50 a pop and came in big, muscular boxes. I toted the least coveted items from my stash to G Books in order to liquidate them quickly.

The store grew like a polyp at the edge of the black neighborhood where I was attending undergrad, and I inhabited the world of my university in much the same way. This was the year I’d cut off my dreadlocks, grown my hair back, and permed it bone-straight, a kind of penance for failing to accomplish what I’d arrived on campus from Arkansas two years ago to do: to be validated as a black man, to make coherent the frustrated parts of myself that grew neurotic, speaking in so many voices all the time — butch masculine black, token black, dutiful church black, black best friend. At Howard, I imagined I would resolve the discord between the representations of black men I’d seen, and the smart, sensitive, expressive one I longed to be.

I imagined I would resolve the discord between the representations of black men I’d seen, and the smart, sensitive, expressive one I longed to be.

The dreadlocks had been an attempt at making physical the kind of person I wanted to be then — bold, exotic, and unmanicured. But there were only so many times I could be mistaken for a spoken-word poet before I realized that I was giving a counterfeit impression. No self-respecting conscious soul would have longed, like I had, to skip out on the midnight affirmative action march on the Mall in the dead of winter to watch mustachioed Chad Douglas plow California Blonde Cory Monroe in Spring Break: Falcon Pac 48.

I escaped campus, too afraid to pursue gay friendship yet, and made my first forays into gay bars. But I soon swore off the lonely sojourns to the clubs near South Capitol, where rounds of drinking myself slurry made me courageous enough to insert myself into huddles of gay men, stand at the periphery nodding my head to the beat, and hope to catch the eye of the one who was the closest approximation of Chase Hunter.

The frustration from those nights sent me hurtling toward kinkier scenes, leather bars I rode to in secret on my bike and snuck inside, being underage. There were the awkward nights when I came to, licking the boot of some leather daddy perched in a shoe shine chair, begging off when he got too mean with the titty-twisting. And there were the nights when I shut up and suffered the rough nipple play because I worried this might be as good as it got.

I wondered why all of this had to happen in secret, why I couldn’t find spaces on my campus that might have made the transition easier — a support group for failed black twinks. A mixer? But I did nothing to establish those scenes myself; I wanted to simply arrive upon them, the way my straight classmates had. My own rainbow identity at the time remained small enough to fit in my pocket, and the most audacious things I did then, I did with my wallet. And so my porn collection grew.

After finding G, I discovered my predilection for the dated VHS stuff over the newer, glossier DVDs, and began hoarding them like a fanboy. My college had only just installed ethernet cables, and access to most online porn required a membership. Unable to find classes that even acknowledged gay bodies in the course catalogue, I skipped class to go to the library, where I determined to do that reading on my own. I slunk most days from the library, having skipped a day’s worth of classes, and took my envy of the good time I assumed everyone else was having, at the place that was supposed to have been my salvation, to G Books.

The G Books brownstone (painted blue). Google Maps

The bookstore, like me, had made a pathetic attempt at declaring itself, this far from Dupont Circle: a letter-sized rainbow flag Scotch-taped to the window. But inside, the store took the contents of an inner life I’d hardly explored and displayed it proudly: classic gay novels, queer theory, sex aids festively heaped in jars on the front counter, a wall of dildos behind the cashier. The only light streamed in through the front windows, leaving the back, where the sex tapes were kept, shrouded in darkness. But even the paper goods chastely displayed closer to the front, the vintage erotic magazines, put crotch and pec and bicep right up in my face. And it was at G that I realized my desire did have a lineage, and unearthed not just my identity but the term for it: bossy bottom, indeed. I went there to mine the things men had always known about me, what I liked and how I liked it, before I’d even known myself.

I went there to mine the things men had always known about me, what I liked and how I liked it, before I’d even known myself.

There were stacks of tattered, musty magazines to rifle through, the perfect texture and scent for what they contained: the kitschy machismo of all those pinup men from late-’80s Playgirl, hair erupting all over their bodies. New stock arrived at random, drawn from the collection of some anonymous perv — someone I liked to imagine had, like me, missed out on all the real-life fun looking at dirty pictures, and so had survived the ’80s themselves. I hoped never to meet any of said people. We maintained our dignity by remaining anonymous.

I brought in my wares, the VHS tapes, along with books of critical theory whose titles and subtitles had turned out to be much sexier than the dense prose inside. Most times I went, I ended up spending back whatever I’d earned. I think the shop proprietor, an Asian guy with silvering hair and preppy clothes, saw me — saw the ambition in the titles I’d collected and the exhaustion in my gait, when those books finally made their way into the shopping bags I toted from campus. He scanned each title politely, always, though he’d probably scanned them before and would now have to refuse them again. Most times, I came in so early in the day that there were no other customers. When the shop was empty, he’d step from behind the counter and smoke a cigarette on the sidewalk with me, and mostly we’d just exhale together. I was thankful for the company.

I spent enough time in that place to need smoke breaks. It felt almost as if it were a friend’s bedroom, and I was stashing things there for safekeeping until I could come retrieve them or they passed out of memory (which most of them did). But really, the store just became a very expensive library; I would check things out for purchase, and return them for much less.

At G, I could look at enough of those images of glowering Castro clones, the gay paper dolls from San Francisco in their macho costumes, that my now-aching desire to be bent at the waist and fucked started to make a kind of sense. No black man had claimed a desire like that within earshot of me in my entire lifetime.

The ire I’d brewed back home in Arkansas — growing up black, gay, closeted but helplessly signaling, in a world that validated straightness, whiteness, and most avidly, their admixture — seemed newly neutralized. How could it touch me anymore, when I was the one now granted the right to see, to frame, to discover, to discern, to discriminate? This is why looking — becoming a black body looking, hungry and devouring — meant so much to me. It gave me the power not to feel looked at; it made me the person who got a choice.

There’s a tension in me still, acknowledging all that might’ve passed me by while indulging my impulse toward porn, and allowing it to shape my desire. I do wonder if so much looking was also a distraction, a chance to sidestep regret or disappointment. I never even bought a condom, a bottle of poppers, a tube of lube or Anal-ease. Those were for men far more successful at being gay than I was then, things that admitted that desire involved someone else.

At G, I did not have to acknowledge all the things I was not, or lament all the things I was not having: the white, blonde, athletic bodies I watched so rabidly on those tapes. Instead, I could concern myself only with what I wanted. I believed that understanding what I wanted would guarantee possession of it.

I believed that understanding what I wanted would guarantee possession of it.

That’s not the sexuality I want anymore: one that refuses to acknowledge the longing I feel for another person, because I’m afraid they won’t talk to me. I’ve wrestled enough with that (mostly unrequited) longing to have become cautious of letting myself want. The volume at which I spoke my right to desire in my twenties has been tamped down by age, and by an abiding fear that no amount of ranting will compensate for the companionship I’m missing.

There are only so many new things to learn about gay-for-pay actors, only so many interracial scenes where the black guy gets to be the bottom, only so many times to grow righteously angry over everyone’s seeming inability to see black men as fuckable — as deserving of that kind of indulgence, or desirable enough for it. It’s begun to feel like a fixation; I worry that my zealotry on these counts masks some pretty deeply rooted racial self-loathing, that my reluctance to turn away from the retro vids in favor of a dating app signals toward a nostalgia for a world that will never be again, and an impulse to justify rather than confront my fears.

But too, there’s a delicious power in knowing myself this well. There’s a self-reliance I’ve learned in not expecting the universe to deliver me beautiful things. And this instinct toward self-authorship has sustained me in a world that has often refused to see black boys like me the way I think we should be seen. It has let me forgive that earlier me for failing to find the courage to say so many things. It has pushed me to make something rigorous and exacting of myself, that is also sometimes heedless and addicted — something beautiful.

How a Gay Man, Two Artists, and a Drought Made an Impossible Mural

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017


One of California’s largest farmers’ markets is beneath a freeway in its capital, Sacramento — Route 50, or the intersection of W and 6th streets, to be exact. As cars whiz by overhead, hundreds of patrons below peruse a cornucopia of offerings — apples, meats, honey, pastries, rainbow-colored carrots, bottles of olive oil, pearl onions, and more — which are brought in each Sunday morning from the region’s many farms.

The stretch of cement over the parking lot is far from an eyesore. In fact, it is a work of art. Dubbed the Bright Underbelly, the 75,000-square-foot area is painted with patches of blue, birds in flight, insects, and phases of the moon, which cycles through a lunar year in a circle overhead. Branches of sycamore trees — live ones once stood in this site — are outlined in various stages of flowering, a reminder to visitors of the passage of time.

As Allen Ginsberg foreshadowed in his 1955 poem “A Supermarket in California”: What peaches and what penumbras!

Awakening Fullx750

Poetry aside, the passage of time is one of the key components in the story of how one of California’s largest murals — created by Sofia Lacin and Hennessy Cristophel of LC Studio Tutto in collaboration with the California Department of Transportation and Sacramento — was made.

Completed in March 2016, the project took several years of planning, paperwork, and painting to complete. Its ribbon-cutting, hailed as “a sign of what’s possible in Sacramento” by The Sacramento Bee, is also a sign of what’s possible in America — as long as one is provided with inspiration and has patience for the sometimes slow-moving wheels of bureaucratic processes.

“You’d think that just putting paint on cement is the easiest possible thing. But if you’re a freeway engineer, it’s not,” said Tre Borden, the project manager and “placemaker” who first envisioned art where blank cement once stood.

Borden, a gay graduate of Yale University and the University of California, Davis, Graduate School of Management, was struck by inspiration for the project during a student exchange program in Buenos Aires in 2011. In the Palermo neighborhood, he encountered a pedestrian bridge and observed how art had transformed a structure that was “utilitarian into a real community gateway.” Borden, a native of Sacramento, imagined how such a tactic could be applied to his own city, which is bordered by blank canvases — highways and infrastructure just waiting for a creative mind to take action.

A seed was planted. But its flowering took a few seasons. In considering a subject, Borden was drawn to the Downtown Farmers’ Market because of what the venue represented. This crossroads of commerce showcased the region’s agricultural assets. Sacramento is known as “American’s Farm-to-Fork Capital,” and its largest market is symbolic of the city’s pride in supporting local farms on both dining room tables and restaurants. The venue is also melting pot of the city’s diverse inhabitants, which includes everyone from “hipsters” to “rich white ladies” to “people who live in the projects” nearby.

Borden, a fellow in the mayor’s office of Sacramento at the time, asked Mayor Kevin Johnson how he might implement such a program. The mayor had no idea. So Borden did his own digging. He learned there were many hurdles to clear. For one, the property was managed by the state, not the city. He engaged with people in the arts community, who told him there was no funding or “no real mechanisms” in place for such a project. The manager of the market thought it was a great idea — but again, the money wasn’t there. In the midst of these obstacles, Borden graduated from business school and took a job at a utility company for about a month before realizing his future wasn’t there. He quit. Indeed, he questioned whether he would quit Sacramento as well.

However, certain shifts were happening in the city, California, and the country that would determine Borden’s fate — as well as that of the Bright Underbelly. Sacramento’s population was changing. Artists, entrepreneurs, and progressive thinkers were moving to California’s capital, in part due to the tech industry driving up rent prices and the cost of living in San Francisco. They found a city welcoming to creative types, where a person or group could make a significant impact in ways that might not be possible in larger cities with more established systems.

Queer transplants might be surprised by the vibrant scene. There’s a thriving gayborhood, Lavender Heights, where bars like the Depot, Badlands, Faces, and the Mercantile Saloon draw packed crowds on weekends. Dining options are not only farm-to-fork, they are LGBT-friendly, with mainstays like Mulvaney’s B&L hosting many a same-sex wedding party.

The city’s progressive policies also help. California has been in the vanguard of climate initiatives and health care, which led Gov. Jerry Brown  to declare in Sacramento last month, “California is not turning back, not now, not ever,” in response to threats on these issues from the White House. (Borden said some of his liberal political contacts in D.C., mourning the loss of the Obama administration, are looking to Sacramento for new opportunities.) The city’s spirit of inclusiveness can also be seen in its sports stadium, the Golden 1 Center, which is one of the first major arenas to have transgender-inclusive restrooms.


Even in 2012, the market was ripe for Borden help launch Flywheel, a creative incubator, which taught business skills to creative minds. Two of Flywheel’s participants, Lacin and Cristophel — who would become the pair who designed and executed the Sacramento mural — expressed their interest in the project to Borden. The wheels began turning once again.

Borden is no artist, but he sees his role of placemaking consultant as a bridge between artists, businesses, and political players. His skills were put to the test in realizing Bright Underbelly. He re-established communication with state operators, including California’s freeway operator, Caltrans — “not the tiniest, most nimble bureaucracy, let me tell you,” joked Borden. He received a stroke of luck. Caltrans, as a result of the years-long drought that had impacted California, was seeking ways to beautify spaces without water or vegetation. A partnership with an arts project seemed like the perfect solution, and Borden succeeded in obtaining permission from the state agency. All he needed was the money.

Remarkably, Borden and his small team were able to do the fundraising themselves. Not having traditional sources of money at their disposal, they found other means to reach goals. Since the project supported healthy food, the California Endowment, a health foundation, gifted $50,000. Bright Underbelly was able to leverage this donation to convince small businesses to help match the amount. In total, they raised $150,000 for the project. In doing so, Borden and his team also helped “create a new template, a new model for civic improvements” for others to follow.

However, the fundraising wasn’t the end of the story. During this process, Caltrans changed legal representation, which added an additional delay of several months. At points, Borden wondered if he would ever be able to navigate around the red tape.

“There was so many points where it felt like, this is never going to happen,” said Borden, who often felt like giving up in the face of bureaucracy.

But after about two years from its project launch in April 2014, Bright Underbelly was completed. It was a victory not just for Borden, Lacin, and Cristophel, but for all artists and creative people. The rewards to the city were many. In the short term, visitors to the Farmers’ Market now enjoy a beautified space, which in turn attracts more business and neighborhood revitalization. In addition, by showing that something is “possible that people didn’t think was possible,” said Borden, it inspires others to take action as well.

“The fact that this conversation is happening is part of it,” said Borden. “Who knows who will read this article and go, ‘Hmm, I didn’t know Sacramento was a thing, let me go check that out’? Maybe there will be some bazillionaire who wants some investment opportunity or maybe a really excited gay kid who will check this place out. It’s hard to measure, but every little bit definitely contributes.”

The delay of Bright Underbelly — the project was initially only supposed to take six months — was also a blessing in disguise for Borden. As the gears turned on the mural, he engaged in smaller projects, such as helping to convert a century-old factory into the Warehouse Artist Lofts. The mixed-use facility houses over 200 members of Sacramento’s creative community as well as two dozen art installations. These artists are also investments for the city, as their accomplishments will bring more Bright Underbellies into the world.

As a result, Borden has taken new root in the city where he was raised. His work has also taken on new meaning since the election of Donald Trump, which has left many members of vulnerable communities fearful of the future. Looking forward, Borden is excited to be planning projects that are “thinking of those communities that are less out of these conversations, particularly underserved black people, Latino people, gay people, and where this could have the most impact.”

Borden argued that Trump, who has threatened to cut federal funding to the arts, should learn that the arts are necessary to making America great. Fostering individual creativity, for example, is a more effective strategy to boosting the economy than bullying and bribing big businesses not to fire U.S. workers.

“Trump … appeals to a person who is afraid, who doesn’t feel they could really have an impact in the community. His solutions obviously gear toward the titans of the world who control all these low-wage jobs in warehouses that are never coming back,” said Borden. “I think that if he were savvier and not so craven about his solutions, I think [he should be] telling people how they could empower themselves.”

Borden cited cities like Sacramento, Indianapolis, and Detroit, where “you’ve seen how citizens, when they feel empowered with these new tools, they do things that are really resonant to their own communities, and start businesses that people patronize. That gets more people excited about being in a city, and that becomes its own engine.”

“I think that trying to return people to the past is not productive, and it’s not reality. It’s so irrelevant to what’s happening right now,” he added.

Despite the pessimism that Trump has expressed over the state of the country — the president invoked “American carnage” and the “graveyard” of industry in his inaugural speech — and the despair many LGBT people feel about the new administration, Borden sees the bright side. He is hopeful of what can happen in the face of adversity.

“I have a determinately optimistic view. I think that when such a shocking and almost unbelievable external threat happens, people really start to become active and engaged,” he said.

“The exciting part about being in Sacramento is it’s still a place where you can change a lot of things you think are wrong. All it takes is someone taking an interest.”

Queer art pushes boundaries: why I made my explicit gay porn music video

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

The Guardian

Australian musician Brendan Maclean
‘Anything beyond the whole truth sanitises queer history and makes it boring,’ says Brendan Maclean. Photograph: Brock Elbank

As the shimmering, lube-smeared bottom descended over my face while the cameras rolled, one question ran through my mind. Not, “Have I taken this music video too far?” but instead, “Have I taken this far enough?”

Over the past three days, my explicit music video House of Air has been viewed more than 400,000 times. It has resulted in 3,500 comments, five email hacks, two death threats and one online protest video from Brazil (and a counter-protest video). The film clip, which was released on 30 January, is a light-hearted, extremely explicit look at the world of gay semiotics. You can watch it right nowif you like – but if you’re at work, or a child, or just not in the mood to look directly at some sex, you shouldn’t.

The genesis for the clip came last year, when I found myself in a library hidden in an iconic London sex shop that was being knocked down to make room for another Pret A Manger. There, snuggly positioned between various musings on queer culture and biographies of Harvey Milk, I spotted a very plain, very thin grey book: Gay Semiotics by Hal Fischer. Vaguely familiar with the handkerchief codes of the early 70s, I found myself unable to part with its scholarly yet delightfully witty take on the movement. I devoured the essay and its awkwardly shot collection of kink photography in a park opposite the doomed store, and quickly scrawled down the note: “Gay semiotics music video.”

Man with a yellow handkerchief in back pocket
‘Gay men needed a method to communicate sexual preferences, [and] a sexual semiotic was developed,’ writes Hal Fischer in his essay Gay Semiotics. Photograph: Brendan Maclean

Gay semiotics are described by Fischer as a series of “signifiers of accessibility”, one that gained notable popularity in the sadomasochism (S&M) community of San Francisco. The code was designed to surreptitiously let prospective sexual partners know what you’re into. “Traditionally western societies have utilised signifiers for non-accessibility,” Hal muses. “The wedding ring, engagement ring, lovelier or pin are signifiers for non-availability which are always attached to women.

“Gay men needed a method to communicate sexual preferences, [and] a sexual semiotic was developed.”

Under the handkerchief code, a dark blue hanky in the pocket is a sign the wearer is seeking anal sex. How they want to have it depends on the pocket: the left pocket, for example, indicates a desire to play the dominant role, and right the passive. A yellow hanky suggests watersports, red is for fisting, and brown – well, do I really need to spell it out?

It’s a concept my generation of emoji-sending meme traders should feel quite at home with; a language of winks and nudges that not only bond a community, but protect them from outsiders who would wish to intrude.

Fast-forward two weeks, and I received a text from one of the directors: “The porn stars have been booked and the studio is all set for next week.”

Porn stars? Yes, I was surprised. I’d assumed we’d simply be faking the action, a few camera tricks and innuendo, but I see now this would have made our clip redundant: if you are going to make a film about the outrageous truth, there is no room for fakes. And so there we were: two porn stars, one with his arm elbow-deep in the other, while the owner of the studio sat on set behind a large box to avoid seeing it happen.

So why do it at all? Why make something very few people would seemingly want to watch, that next to no media outlets will run, which would see all my social media accounts banned upon release, and my email hacked, and that I’d have to warn my parents against watching? (Mum, seriously.)

The first thing to keep in mind is this: nothing we show in this video is new. Fischer’s essay from 40 years before had laid our script out for us so clearly I was worried we’d be sued for plagiarism. (Fischer has since given us his blessing.)

Add to this the accompanying photos, which provided a perfect framework for our stylist to draw from, and you’re left with a video truly rooted in its original era. The pastel blue backdrop and high school-style pop-up facts provides guidance and a frankness to what would otherwise be a shocking flash in the pan, and as we walk you through the various handkerchiefs and what they mean, the viewer learns to anticipate the rising stakes – there is no “gotcha” moment. We don’t want you to look away; we want you to watch everything, even if you are watching through your fingers covering your eyes.

Screen shot from House of Air
‘There is no “gotcha” moment’: a safe-for-work screen shot from the explicit, albeit instructive, clip. Photograph: Brendan Maclean

To answer the question “why?” – well … why not? Are we not collectively over artists who make “edgy” work that is secretly designed to appease the masses? The kind of touching or extreme viral videos, which so often turn out to be a commercial for jeans? And while I am obviously amused at the pearl clutchers – like the guy from the global imaging company who refused to print the footage, or half the crew who asked for their names to be redacted from the credits just days before the release – we didn’t design it for any reason but to explore a culture that is already decades old.

Do critics asking me to release a censored version understand why I made the clip at all? Take out the extreme images and you’d be left with a bundle of gay models walking around London – to which I’m certain I’d receive the comment, “Why do the models have to be gay?” You can’t win, so I won’t try.

Tell me what’s really more upsetting, my film clip or the fact Donald Trump is the president of the United States? George Michael didn’t soften his videos to make people feel comfortable, and in his wake I am given so much hope from groundbreaking queer artists – rapper HTML Flowers, songwriter Kira Puru, journalist and photographer Jonno Révanche – and their common value: fearless truth-telling.

There are some queer artists who would find it easier to shave off the rough corners of our history, to wave our flag but leave out some of the colours that don’t sell to a straight crowd. But frankly, anything beyond the whole truth sanitises our history, and makes it boring. And if there’s one thing queer historyisn’t, it’s boring.

Hungarian mayor seeks to ban Muslims and gay people from his village

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017


The mayor first unveiled the plans to ban Muslim traditions as part of a “preventative action package” of laws last November, describing them as a “defence against the forced mass resettlement of migrants by Brussels”. The Hungarian government is due to rule on the legality of Asotthalom’s by-laws later in February.

In another display of his strong anti-refugee rhetoric, MrToroczkai released a video in 2015 warning immigrants entering the town that they would be caught and imprisoned.

The video, which appeared to be a mash-up between a clichéd car advert and a low budget action film, showed dramatic police chase scenes on the Hungary-Serbia border, ending with the ominous warning: “If you are an illegal immigrant and you want to get to Germany… Hungry is a bad choice. Asotthalom is the worst.”

The mayor’s latest remarks come as Hungary’s government on Monday submitted proposals to the EU that all asylum seekers in the county be automatically detained for the entirety of their asylum claim. The government’s chief spokesman, Zoltán Kovács, said anyone seeking asylum through the country would be kept in “shelters” for the entire period of their application.

Speaking at a briefing in London, Mr Kovács said: “No migrants – not even those who have already issued their request for asylum – will be able move freely until there is a primary legal decision whether they are entitled for political asylum, refugee status or anything else, so they are not entitled to move freely in the country.”

Hungary has repeatedly clashed with the EU over its migration policy, including its decision to erect a fence on its Serbian border and its refusal to accept EU-wide asylum quotas. During 2015, the country saw nearly 10,000 refugees entering every day.

The country set up border fences with Serbia last year, and plans to employ between 6,000 to 8,000 border guards “to apprehend those coming through the fence”.


Gay affair rumours in French election race: Favourite is forced to deny he is enjoying extra-marital liaisons with radio chief

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017


Daily mail

  • French Presidential election favourite Emmanuel Macron denies gay affair
  • It was alleged 39-year-old was seeing Radio France boss Mathieu Gallet, 40
  • Mr Macron has been married to Brigitte Trogneux for the past 10 years

The current favourite to become the next president of France has been forced to deny rumours that he is enjoying an extra-marital gay affair with a high-profile media chief.

Emmanuel Macron, the 39-year-old former economy minister, has been rumoured to be seeing Mathieu Gallet, the 40-year-old boss of Radio France.

This is despite Mr Macron being married for the last decade to Brigitte Trogneux, who is 20 years older than him.

French Presidential election favourite Emmanuel Macron, pictured, 39, has been forced to deny he is having a 'gay affair' 

French Presidential election favourite Emmanuel Macron, pictured, 39, has been forced to deny he is having a ‘gay affair’

Mr Macron, who was alleged to be having an affair with Radio France boss Mathieu Gallet, pictured, 40, said he had 'nothing to hide'

Mr Macron, who was alleged to be having an affair with Radio France boss Mathieu Gallet, pictured, 40, said he had ‘nothing to hide’

Addressing the rumours head on during a presidential campaign rally on Monday night, Mr Macron said: ‘I am who I am – I have never had anything to hide.

‘I hear people saying that I have a secret life or something. It’s not nice for Brigitte. Because I share all my days and nights with her, she asks me how I manage it.’

On Sunday, Jean-Luc Melenchon, one of Mr Macron’s rivals to become president in May, used a hologram of himself at a rally in Paris.

Mr Macron said: ‘If they say I have a double life with Mathieu Gallet, it must be my hologram, but it can’t be me.’

The Russian state news agency Sputnik has made allegations that Mr Macron is backed by a homosexual lobby.

They quoted French MP Nicolas Dhuicq, of the conservative Republican Party, saying: ‘Concerning his private life, it is becoming known….He is supported by a rich, gay lobby.’

The interview has prompted fears that Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to interfere in the French election.

Mr Macron, right, has been married to Brigitte Trogneux, left, who is 20 years older than him, for a decade

Mr Macron, right, has been married to Brigitte Trogneux, left, who is 20 years older than him, for a decade

Putin is a friend of Francois Fillon, the conservative Republican candidate who is currently at the centre of sleaze allegations involving setting up fake jobs to family members, including his Welsh-born wife, Penelope.

Mr Macron, who served in France’s current Socialist government, has become increasingly popular as the Fillon scandal deepens.

He is now predicted to make the second round run-off against Marine Le Pen, of the far-right National Front, and then win by a landslide.

The boyish Mr Macron has particular appeal to young people in France, who are impressed by his modern, anti-establishment image.

He is a former tax inspector and Rothschild banker whose business activities saw him become a multi-millionaire.

He met Ms Trogneux as a 15-year-old when she was his teacher at La Providence high school in Amiens, northern France.

His parents tried to split the couple up, but they stayed together until he was 18, and they married in 2007.

The couple now live with Ms Trogneux’s three children from a previous marriage.


This guy tried to ‘cure’ his homosexuality and it’s seriously heart-wrenching

Monday, February 6th, 2017


(Photo via Humans of New York)

(Photo via Humans of New York)

Humans of New York has profiled a man who was subjected to gay ‘cure’ therapy.

At present, it is legal in nearly all US states to attempt to ‘cure’ homosexuality, even though experts say the practice can be deeply harmful.

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The state of New York moved to outlaw gay ‘cure’ practises for minors last year, but adults are still free to seek treatment.

Photojournalist blog Humans of New York, which is run by Brandon Stanton, posts daily pictures of everyday people around New York – and attracts a huge following across the internet.

A picture from the blog went viral this week, featuring a man opening up about his relationship with faith and sexuality.

He says: “I call them clobber verses. There are six of them. They’re the verses that get used to hammer gay people.

“The funny thing is that I never felt pressured by God himself. Only his followers. But I desperately wanted God to change me.

“I didn’t want to be part of a group with so much shame attached to it. So I started praying in my twenties for God to make me straight.

“If I could have taken a pill, I would have. I joined the ministry. I got married. I told my wife that I’d had experiences with men, but I convinced both of us that I could choose to be different.

“I wanted to be normal. I wanted kids. I thought it was just a matter of commitment.

“I even tried to take reparative therapy classes – just to show her I was serious. They tried to teach me that homosexuality wasn’t real. They said that I’d just had an overbearing mother. But

“I couldn’t change. I kept slipping up. I couldn’t give my wife what she needed. My marriage ended.

“I had tried so hard but nothing worked. I got so angry with God for not keeping up his end of the bargain.

“But after some time, I finally realized why he wouldn’t change me. He never felt like he needed to.”


A Pro-Gay Arabic Hashtag Recently Went Viral on Twitter

Monday, February 6th, 2017

unicorn booty

Last Friday, a pro-LGBT Arabic hashtag trended worldwide. The hashtag, “,” translates to “I love gays and I’m not one of them.”

International Business Times, reprinted in Raw Story, writes:

Homosexuality is illegal in nearly every nation in the Arab world. Punishment ranges from imprisonment to death. Many users took the opportunity to voice their support for gay rights and respect for their struggle.

“Leave the hate to your ancestors and learn to accept differences and to love other sexual and racial minorities,” user @Q_Valour wrote.

“If only some people would open their minds and accept that (gay people) were born with these sexual tendencies without choosing. Generally, gay people are the best and nicest people I know,” @Stunggrll19 wrote.

“They marry four women, they marry minors, they wish harm on others who have not harmed them in anyway and then they have the audacity to say homosexuality is abnormal,” wrote @Alaa09877.

Other Twitter users expressed themselves more visually:


But despite this beautiful display of support, social media still offers potential dangers to LGBTQ people living in the Arab world. Twitter has a problem with accounts who use the service to “out” gay Arabs.

Homosexuals in Nigeria face anti-gay Gambian President Yahya Jammeh being offered asylum

Monday, February 6th, 2017


Jammeh is refusing to relinquish power after defeat in presidential election held in December 2016.

The incumbent leader, known for his inflammatory anti-gay rhetoric, has long been accused of committing human rights abuses during his time in office.

Among other things, the strongman vowed to slit gay men’s throats, he compared homosexuals to “vermins” and claimed homosexuality was anti-humanity.

Now gay Nigerians fear that if Jammeh finds safe haven in Nigeria – where homosexuality is illegal – this will strengthen homophobic attitudes that have already prompted LGBTQ people to hide their sexuality and identity and flee Nigeria to avoid persecution and prosecution.

“In Nigeria, Jammeh’s presence will further justify the fact that he does not really care, whatever he says about LGBTQ people. It will send the message that if you are African and you are very homophobic, we will protect you,” Alimi told IBTimes UK.

He spoke at the launch of the London-based Bisi AlimiFoundation‘s first report ongay rights and homophobia in Nigeria.

Among other things, Not Dancing to Their Musichighlighted the discriminationLGBTQ people are facing in Nigeria, where “isolation and stigmatisation is commonplace.”

“On the other side, if Jammehremains in the Gambia, would we allow Gambia to break up? ” Alimi, who became the first gay Nigerian to disclose his homosexuality on national TV in 2004, continued.

“There would be another refugee situation and, as we have seen in places such as Syria, people who would suffer from it are going to be mostly women, children and vulnerable people, including disabled people and LGBTQ people. Do I want to see that happen because of my sexuality? No.

“Achieving peace in Gambia is very important, even if that means it can be achieved by Jammeh being in Nigeria. I don’t have to agree with it, but I think the most important thing is peace. I don’t want my brothers and sisters in Gambia to become the victims of another war.”

gay rights gay marriage
Nigerians in a gay marriage or civil union face imprisonment of up to 14 years under the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill signed by ex-president Goodluck Jonathan in 2014iStock

Gambia’s political impasse

A delegation of West African leaders, led by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, has failed to persuade Jammeh to step down. The entrenched president, who lost to opposition leader Adama Barrow, initially conceded defeat.

However, he now intends to contest the election result at the Supreme Court due to what he claims are “unacceptable abnormalities”.

The apex court said it could hear his case in May or even November, due to lack of judges available to hear the case.

Fears Jammeh might not give up power were further compounded on 12 January when his party – Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) – filed a request with the Supreme Court seeking to block Barrow’s inauguration.

Barrow, who will stay in Senegal until the day of his inauguration on 19 January, told IBTimes UK he considered himself the “rightful leader” of the country.

Meanwhile, reports warned Gambians are fleeing to neighbouring nations, fearing the country’s political impasse will escalate into violence in the following days.

7 Facts About Gay Conversion Camps and Homosexuality Cures

Monday, February 6th, 2017

insider monkey

The 7 facts about gay conversion camps and homosexuality cures will lay bare what a farce it all is. Ever since the world’s most popular book, The Bible, came out, homosexuality has been deemed a horrendous sin and a one-way ticket to hell. According to the passage Leviticus 18:22, man must not lay with man. For over two millennia, this has led to the ostracization of such people and more often than not, their deaths. And while the human race has advanced by leaps and bounds in this time period, it looks like our intellect has not.

I will say this once, and then probably keep on repeating it because apparently it needs reinforcing, but being gay is not a choice. It is not a conscious decision and a person does not simply decide that he wants to do something which is still regarded as distasteful throughout the world, could lead to his own family in disowning him, and in some countries, could lead to his death as I mentioned before. A person is born gay, and it is about time we accept it.

7 Facts About Gay Conversion Camps and Homosexuality Cures

Now I’m not surprised that many people in developing countries whose law is still dictated by a religion that is 1,400 years old view homosexuality as abhorrent and in fact, punish the act by death. I am not saying it is excusable, just that I, being from such a country myself, see why people react like that. This creates trouble for the gay population in such countries, which can surprisingly be found in the 10 Countries with the Biggest Gay Populations in the World. But to be from the United States, the nation which proclaims itself to be the champion of freedom, and yet, simultaneously establish practices such as gay conversion therapy, where the ‘gayness’ is tortured out of the person. Can anyone else see the hypocrisy here? And do you know the success rate of such therapy? The answer is zero percent. Even if a person claims to be cured, he or she will simply have done so to avoid the repercussions.

While some states in the United States, such as California, Vermont, and Oregon have introduced legislation to make illegal the offer of such therapies to minors, a lot more still needs to be done. The reason why such therapy was outlawed by these states is because medical professionals have through the decades stated it to be not just ineffective but dangerous as well. However, while I believe that gay conversion therapy should be illegal on a federal level, due to the discrimination the LGBT community has faced throughout the decades, it is unlikely to happen soon enough.

We compiled some facts regarding gay therapy conversion and homosexuality cures to prove how dangerous and horrible this practice is. Funnily enough, I did not intend for the facts to be actually persuasive in favor of my argument; I went in with an open mind. However, the result has convinced me more than ever that this practice needs to be abolished with severe penalties and jail terms for those engaging in it. So, let’s hear these facts about gay conversion camps and homosexuality cures.

To beat Aids, we must show compassion for the infected

Monday, February 6th, 2017

daily nation

Agnes Nyambura left the clinic in a daze. A prenatal check up had just revealed that she was HIV positive. Yet she had been married for less than a year and was two months pregnant.

“I wished the ground would open up and swallow me,” she says of the life-changing discovery in June 2006.“The news came as a real shock. I didn’t know what to do because I couldn’t figure out where I had contracted it [HIV] from since I had been faithful to by husband,” she says.

Confused, Ms Nyambura returned to her home in Karuru Village in Banana, Kiambu County, but could not gather the courage to tell her husband. Then, while cleaning her house a few days later, she found some medicine hidden under the carpet. She had already been put on antiretroviral (ARV) drugs at the clinic, so she knew exactly what they were for. And since only she and her husband were living in the house at the time, she was sure they were his, so she decided to confront him.

“He did not deny it and even admitted that he had been on ARVs for a while but was afraid to tell me because he feared losing me,” she explains. “That really broke my heart because I knew that having the virus would subject me to public disdain and eventually wipe out my entire family. I contemplated suicide several times because I wasn’t prepared to undergo what I had seen people going through.”

As days went by, she and her husband started losing weight and were soon the subject of gossip among their neighbours. Though it was difficult, Ms Nyambura, who had grown to hate her husband, decided to follow the doctors’ advice and continue taking her medication as she awaited her fate.

“Though we were still living under the same roof, we were not on speaking terms. In fact, we had separate bedrooms but couldn’t file for divorce since we didn’t not know what reasons we would give for the break-up,” she adds.


In the meantime, she continued attending her prenatal clinics, where the nurses consistently assured her that being HIV positive was not a death sentence, and that if she heeded their advice, she could even give birth to an HIV-negative child. But it sounded too good to be true.

About five months later, during one of her visits to the clinic, she met a counsellor who had lived with the virus for 13 years, which convinced her that, indeed, all was not lost. That gave her the courage to approach her husband: “If you were afraid of telling me the truth because you thought you would lose me, now I am here and we can start all over again. And if we accept our condition and follow the doctors’ advice, we will both live long.”

In January 2007, the couple had an HIV-free baby. Ms Nyambura did not breastfeed him to avoid the risk of infecting him. In addition, the baby was put on medication for a year to prevent mother-to-child transmission and subjected to regular testing until it was ascertained that he did not have the virus.

But while Ms Nyambura had accepted her condition and moved on, her husband couldn’t and resorted to heavy drinking. He died of HIV/Aids-related complications in 2008.

Though Ms Nyambura had accepted her situation, her husband’s death dealt her a severe emotional blow.

“My friends and in-laws started rejecting me and made me the talk of the town. I had a small business from which I earned a living but with all the gossip, my customers fled and I had to close it down. To survive, I sought casual jobs far from home where nobody knew me,” she says.

Not even her church was willing to offer her a shoulder to lean on, so after some time, she stopped going there.

Alone and dejected, Ms Nyambura found solace in her son, the health workers at the clinic and a few people living with the virus whom she met there.

Then, after a lot of soul searching, she decided to take the bull by the horns. “First, I had accepted my status, only that people had made it a topic of discussion. So I decided to talk about it myself, which helped end the gossip because apart from backbiting me, there was nothing else my neighbours could do. I also prioritised my health and left the rest to God,” she says.

That silenced her neighbours, especially after she started talking to people about HIV with a view to reducing the stigma associated with it. She even received invitations to different fora and churches to talk about HIV/Aids.

Her health improved dramatically, such that people found it hard to believe she was HIV-positive; some even doubted her. Men started making sexual advances at her but since she did not want to tell them she was HIV-positive, she would tell them to first undergo an HIV test, which put them off. But after a while, she decided it was best to tell those seeking a romantic relationship the truth.

Agnes Nyambura and her husband Peter Waweru, a discordant couple at their home in Banana, Kiambu County. PHOTO | ERIC WAINIANA


In 2009, she met Mr Peter Waweru, who treated her differently, although he was not aware of her status. After months of friendship, he made advances at her, but since Ms Nyambura did not want to reject him to his face, she sent him a text message.

“I told him that whatever he was talking about was good, but my status would not allow me to let him into my life because I had vowed never to infect anyone with the virus,” she recalls.

But Mr Waweru took it as a joke, arguing that, given society’s views on the condition, no HIV-positive person would genuinely reveal their status.

To put him off, Ms Nyambura insisted that they both go for HIV testing, to which Mr Waweru agreed; the results showed that he was HIV negative.

Not one to give up, Waweru continued pursuing her despite discouragement by his family and friends. And blown away by his determination, Ms Nyambura, who saw real love and acceptance which she had been missing, gave in and they became part of the statistics of the estimated 260,000 discordant couples  — where only one partner is infected — in Kenya.

They both went for intensive counselling, during which they were assured that they could  live together, as long as they took certain precautions.

“To me, she had great potential and I did not let the differences in our status come between us. At first she was hesitant, but she eventually accepted my proposal,” says Mr Waweru, adding they started getting intimate, but with protection. After some months, the couple decided to have a child to prove their critics wrong but did not know how due to the risks associated with unprotected sex.

For reasons they cannot explain, they risked unprotected sex, which fulfilled their wish of having a child but left them both deeply worried.

Ms Nyambura feared that she might have infected Mr Waweru, who was also afraid that he might have contacted the virus. After some time, he began preparing himself psychologically for any eventuality.

Mr Waweru says it was probably because Ms Nyambura’s viral load had been suppressed by the medication that she had been taking consistently that he did not contract the virus.

However, he kept undergoing regular tests to clear any doubts, as did their baby, who had also been put on preventive medication. Thankfully, the results have been negative.

Ms Nyambura and Mr Waweru say very few people understand HIV/Aids, which leads to stigmatisation, adding that people with the virus deserve love.



Agnes Nyambura and her husband, Peter Waweru work in their farm in Banana, Kiambu County. The couple also aims to reach out to those infected with HIV. PHOTO | ERIC WAINAINA

Networking to help reduce Aids stigma

Agnes Nyambura and Peter Waweru  have become household names in the Banana, thanks to their voluntary efforts  to empower  people living with Aids.

“I have lost count of the people we have found on their death beds, having given up in life. After talking to them, they gain confidence and looking at them today, we can hardly believe they are the same people,” Ms Nyambura says.

They have created a network within the community which ensures that anytime there is a patient who is about to give up, they are notified. Their activities include monitoring to ensure total adherence to medication as well as proper eating habits.

At the moment, they have a network of 300 people living with the virus in Banana and its environs, including about 100 children.

The patients encourage each other through peer support by sharing challenges, working them out and learning from, and encouraging, each other.

Ms Nyambura, whose viral load has reached a barely detectable level, says  they are sometimes andgive their food to people who are seriously sick,  or to live with them in their corrugated iron sheet-walled, earthen-floor house. Sometimes she hosts more than 10 people at ago, especially the youth.

“HIV is not a killer disease like previous campaigns sought to portray it. On the contrary, it’s manageable and not painful like cancers and other ailments but the reason people die is because they are in denial due to stigma, so they end up not taking  drugs,” she says.

The couple believes it is possible to run a campaign that is geared towards ensuring a virus-free society, which they believe can only be achieved if the world worked to ensure zero infections, which has been a challenge, especially among the youth.

Last year alone, the National Aids Control Council (NACC) director, Mr Nduku Kilonzo, released statistics showing that there were at least 35,000 new HIV infections among women aged 15-24 years.

“Today, an HIV-positive positive mother can give birth without transmitting the virus to her child or spouse. If we were to ensure that anyone living with the virus does not pass it to anybody, we would be guaranteed a virus-free generation,” she says.

Meanwhile, Mr Waweru believes that the anti-HIV campaigns that have been going on cannot achieve much, saying that, instead of focusing on zero infections and eliminating the stigma that was created by campaigns in the past,  the focus has been on collecting statistics of the victims.

“There is a huge problem among the youth, who are transmitting the virus either intentionally out of anger or unknowingly. Some people lack the courage to visit a health centre for a test or to collect medicine because the stigma is still very much alive,” he says.

He adds that if the campaigns focused on ensuring all people voluntarily get tested and created an environment that ensured that all patients took their medication as prescribed, and above all that no one was transmitting the virus to others, it would be the beginning of having an HIV-free generation.

Karuri County Assembly member Martin Njoroge agrees, saying that all isolated HIV/Aids standalone service centres should be abolished and the services integrated into mainstream health services.

Mr Njoroge argues that the isolated VCT and ARV services discourage many people from taking the test, while patients feel isolated and exposed, which makes them reluctant to go for ARV drugs.

In 2014, the MCA, who previously worked with HIV and Aids organisations, successfully moved a motion stating that the greatest stigma emanates from the discrimination that people living with HIV/Aids encounter in health institutions.

“One’s HIV status, or any other status, is a personal and confidential issue but when you line up people and put a banner above of them written ‘VCT’, you carelessly expose their status,” Mr Njoroge said.

He claims that more than 70 per cent of the people living with Aids in Kiambu seek treatment in Nairobi while others go  as far as Murang’a and Nyeri counties for treatment.

Tragedy Would Unfold If Trump Cancels Bush’s AIDS Program

Monday, February 6th, 2017


A questionnaire from the president-elect’s transition team asked whether the extraordinarily successful PEPFAR had become a “massive, international entitlement program,” and whether it was worth the investment.

In 2003, in a move that has been described as his greatest legacy, George W. Bush created a program called PEPFAR—the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. At the time, more than 20 million people in sub-Saharan Africa were living with AIDS, but only 50,000 had access to antiretroviral drugs that manage the disease and prevent its spread. Now, thanks to PEPFAR, 11.5 million people are on those drugs. For good reason, it has been variously described as a “globally transformative lifeline,” “one of the best government programs in American history,” and something “for all Americans to be proud of.”

It seems that some members of President-Elect Trump’s transition team beg to differ.

Last Friday, Helene Cooper at The New York Times reported that the transition team sent a four-page questionnaire to the State Department about America’s relationship with Africa, on topics ranging from terrorism to humanitarianism. Several questions indicated “an overall skepticism about the value of foreign aid.” Two mentioned PEPFAR in particular: “Is PEPFAR worth the massive investment when there are so many security concerns in Africa? Is PEPFAR becoming a massive, international entitlement program?”

Without knowing the specific author, “it’s hard to assess the intent of those questions, but at face value, they represent a point of view that is skeptical in the least and barely veiled hostility at the most,” says Jack Chow, who worked at the State Department under Colin Powell and acted as an ambassador focusing on HIV. “They could be aimed at provoking a justification—an aim that is not too uncommon for these kinds of inquiries.”

For those who work in public health, the justification is clear. “It’s very clear that PEPFAR has saved an incredible number of lives in the past decade,” saysRebecca Katz, Co-Director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University.

Bush initially committed $15 billion to PEPFAR over five years, but the program was renewed in 2008 and 2013 and has since received over $72 billion in funding. As well as disseminating treatments, that money has: funded HIV testing and counseling for 74 million people; provided critical care and support to 6 million orphans and vulnerable children; prevented 2 million babies from being born with HIV by offering drugs to mothers; trained 220,000 health workers; supported 11 million voluntary male circumcisions to prevent the spread of HIV; improved health care in the various focus countries; and supported services for controlling other diseases like malaria and tuberculosis.

While PEPFAR program has been criticized for also funding ineffective attemptsto prevent HIV infections by teaching abstinence and faithfulness, such efforts only used up a small and decreasing proportion of the program’s money. The vast majority of the funds went towards evidence-based practices—with demonstrable results.

One study showed that within five years, PEPFAR had roughly halved the adult death rates in nine targeted countries, at a time when mortality in other sub-Saharan African nations barely declined. During that period, African adults were16 percent less likely to die if they lived in one of the PEPFAR-targeted nations.Another project found that in Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi, HIV incidence has fallen by 51 to 76 percent since 2003, and 65 percent of infected adults are successfully suppressing the virus to a point where they’re much less likely to transmit it. “That’s almost touching the 73 percent level that’s predicted to really give us epidemic control,” says Elizabeth Radin from Columbia University, who was involved in the research. “It’s a remarkable achievement compared to where we were 15 years ago.”

PEPFAR “helped changed the equation on what was once—not too long ago—seen as an insurmountable plague,” wrote Amanda Glassman and Jenny Ottenhoff from the Center for Global Development in 2013. And it “managed to maintain bipartisan support that bridged two U.S. Administrations, six U.S. congressional sessions, and one global economic crisis.” It’s a tribute to what can be accomplished with sustained funding and political unity.

Indeed, Obama has taken flak from congressional Democrats and Republicans for halting the year-on-year rise in PEPFAR funding, and slightly reducing it on several occasions. “The current administration’s comparative neglect of it demonstrates that its existence and survival are anything but guaranteed,” wrote Dylan Matthews in 2015.

Defunding the program would be catastrophic. Antiretroviral drugs aren’t a cure for AIDS; they must be taken continuously, lest the disease flare up again. “To sustain that therapy, there are substantial pipelines involving supply chains, financing mechanisms, and myriads of organizations,” says Chow. “Disruptions risk rekindling HIV.”

Trump has actually commented about PEPFAR once—sort of. At a conference in October, a group of college students asked him if he would commit to doubling the number of people receiving treatment through the program to 30 million by the year 2020. “Those are good things,” he replied. “Alzheimer’s, AIDS. We are close on some of them. On some of them, honestly, with all of the work done which has not been enough, we’re not close enough. The answer is yes. I believe strongly in that and we are going to lead the way.” If you squint a bit, that looks like a yes. But as I noted last month, it’s unclear if Trump actually understood the question, given that PEPFAR doesn’t cover Alzheimer’s.

More encouragingly, Rex Tillerson, former ExxonMobil CEO and Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, unequivocally praised PEPFAR during his Senate confirmation hearing last week. It “has been one of the most extraordinarily successful programs in Africa,” he said. “I saw it up close and personal because ExxonMobil had taken on the challenge of eradicating malaria because of business activities in Central Africa.” (ExxonMobil is one of several companies that contribute to the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria.)

Tillerson’s answer hints at something crucial: PEPFAR’s impact goes well beyond AIDS. It also helps to curtail future epidemics that begin in sub-Saharan Africa and threaten to spread to other continents. “What do we do to keep Ebola out of the U.S.? We build capacity in the countries that need it most,” says Katz. “And PEPFAR has unquestionably contributed to building foundations for systems that can be used to fight the next pandemic.”

And since AIDS hits people of working and reproductive ages the hardest, the social benefits of controlling it are huge. Compared to other countries, those targeted by PEPFAR have a better opinion of the U.S. Their male employment rates are 13 percent higher, creating economic benefits that are equal to half the amount spent. They have developed three times faster. Their levels of political instability and violent activity have fallen by 40 percent since 2004, compared to just 3 percent in non-PEPFAR countries.  All of this benefits the U.S., creating markets for exports and reducing the instability that leads to extremism.

This is why the transition team’s questionnaire, which juxtaposes PEPFAR investments against the “many security concerns in Africa,” makes no sense, says Radin. “Controlling the AIDS epidemic is in the interest of national security,” she says. “It’s not a zero-sum game.” And speaking of sums, the $6.8 billion committed to PEPFAR in 2015 was just 1 percent of what the U.S. devoted to military spending.

She also frowns on the question that portrays PEPFAR as a “massive, international entitlement program.” “There’s an important argument that says that just by dint of being a human being, you’re entitled not to die from a treatable disease, especially for just a few hundred U.S. dollars a year,” she says. “That entitlement isn’t predicated on your ability to pay global market prices for treatments.”

How we overcame Aids against all the odds

Monday, February 6th, 2017


This month, 30 years ago, I wrote a draft of what was to become soon afterwards the first comprehensive human rights charter for people with HIV. It was born out of an urgency to stop the global drift by governments to panic and repression. In March 1987, a handful of us founded the UK Aids Vigil Organisation to campaign for the protections set out in the charter, lobby the World Health Ministers Summit in London and host a parallel HIV human rights conference, one of the first such conferences held anywhere.

Our modest efforts were a mere footnote to a much bigger and more important story, which is told by David France in How To Survive a Plague. This is a remarkable book about a remarkable achievement: how an unlikely alliance of US activists, patients, doctors and scientists tamed one of the greatest threats to public health in the past 100 years, saving millions of lives. It is a tale of triumph over obstructive government, greedy drug companies and homophobic political and religious leaders; transforming a death sentence into a manageable disease — all within the timeframe of a mere decade and a half. And it was made possible by people with HIV and their LGBT activist allies who dared to question medical, scientific, pharmaceutical and government authority. This is the heroic inside story of how we, thanks to them, survived HIV.

Outside Africa, the US was the epicentre of HIV, and it is about the US experience that this book is written. It documents one of the most effective and inspiring campaigns of the last 50 years — which got results and prevented a far longer and more deadly pandemic. As a result, few westerners die of HIV today. However, in poorer counties, anti-HIV treatments are often not available. Worldwide, over one million people are still dying needlessly of HIV every year.

From the outset, this book makes the point that HIV was a public health issue that was made political by the homophobia of US political and religious leaders, from President Reagan to Senator Jesse Helms, Revd Jerry Falwell and Cardinal O’Connor. For the first few years, as thousands of mostly young gay men were dying, Reagan refused to even say the word Aids, let alone fund action to save lives. By default, he allowed gay men to die in their thousands. Supposedly Christian clergy stirred the pot with claims that Aids was divine retribution for the sin of homosexuality.

Much of the progress in the fight against HIV was spearheaded by gay HIV-positive activists via the direct action group Act Up (the Aids Coalition to Unleash Power), with its mantra ‘Silence = death’. There were other key players too: Gay Men’s Health Crisis, Treatment Action Group and hundreds of HIV organisations that sprang up all over the US in response to official indifference.

The focus of these predominantly young campaigners — some barely out of their teens — was, variously, to protest against government and drug company failings, push for public education about HIV and improve funding for scientific research, promote the innovative idea of safer sex to cut infection rates,challenge the demonisation and scapegoating of gay men and demand faster, better, cheaper HIV treatments.

Never before in history have people with a life-threatening condition been so prominent in driving a scientific, medical and political transformation. Their dual tactics of working both against the system and inside it paid dividends, and offer a model for successful social change that others could usefully learn from.

Imaginative, daring and often necessarily provocative, Act Up protests were a call to arms. They highlighted official culpability through mass civil disobedience at the Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health over delayed drug releases; at St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York against the Catholic church’s opposition to condom protection; and by wrapping the home of Senator Helms in a giant condom in protest at his scuppering of HIV funding.

‘Drugs into bodies’ became the activist battle cry against government and pharmaceutical bureaucracies that demanded prolonged drug research and trials. And they succeeded. The Food and Drug Administration was forced to relax its protocols for new drug approvals, speeding access to life-saving treatments. This revolution in drug trialling is now the template for dealing with emerging deadly diseases.

What is astonishing is that none of the lead activists began with any medical knowledge or experience. They read scientific and medical papers voraciously and became self-taught experts in immunology. Lay people rivalled scientists. People with HIV educated medical staff, turning upside down the traditional active-doctor, passive-patient relationship.

However, it wasn’t a simple series of triumphs, as David France reveals. Great hope was held out for the drug AZT. Desperate for some drug — any drug — that might save lives, activists pushed for its availability. Sadly, its efficacy was illusory and its toxicity alarming.

I have only two caveats about this stupendous volume. First, it is American-centric, not giving sufficient attention to the contribution of non-US doctors, scientists and activists. Second, it neglects to expose the tens of millions of dollars wasted on futile lab experiments with chimpanzees, macaques, dogs, cats and rats. These were always less likely to produce useful results, given the different physiology of humans and other species. In fact, animal research may have actively harmed the development of HIV treatments. This appears to have happened at the drug giant Merck in 1989, when they abandoned the first promising protease inhibitor because it proved to be fatal to non-human animals. However, it may have been safe for humans, as later versions turned out to be. For several more years, until 1995 when other protease inhibitors became available, thousands of people with HIV continued to die, perhaps unnecessarily, as in the case of my friend the film-maker Derek Jarman. Animal-based research was bad science and the one orthodoxy that most radical activists, doctors and scientists failed to question.

Toronto police apologize for ‘you’re going to get AIDS’ comment caught on video

Monday, February 6th, 2017


Toronto police issued an official apology Wednesday regarding the conduct of an officer who made an inaccurate comment about the transmission of HIV/AIDS in a controversial arrest caught on video earlier this week.

The apology came through a series of tweets, noting that the service would hire an HIV/AIDS expert to educate its staff about the virus.


“It was the right thing to do,” police spokesman Const. Victor Kwong said of the apology. “What was done was wrong and when you do something wrong you have to make amends for it.”

The apology appeared to refer only to a male officer saying “he’s going to spit in your face and you’re going to get AIDS” — apparently referring to the suspect — and said nothing about the use of a Taser on the suspect while he appears to be restrained on the ground in the footage.

Police have launched an internal investigation into what’s seen in the video, filmed by Waseem Khan Tuesday morning after he spotted an altercation between officers and a man in the back of a cruiser near Ryerson University.

“Two officers grabbed him out of the drivers’ side rear door, he was placed on the ground, and this is where it really disturbed me — he was kicked and stomped in the head by police officers,” Khan said.

At the time, Khan said the man appeared to be restrained, with his hands behind his back.

“As soon as I saw this, I told my wife ‘I’ve got to jump out and record this.'”

‘You’re going to get AIDS’

The resulting video appears to show police officers using a stun gun on the man as he lies on the ground near Dundas Street East and Church Street. An officer is also seen in the video kicking the man while he is on the ground surrounded by officers.

Another male officer, wearing a tuque, can be heard on the video speaking to bystanders and makes the comment about the suspect transmitting HIV/AIDS.

“From what I could see, he was completely unresponsive,” Khan recalled, adding the incident was “disturbing” to witness.

He also slammed the officer’s threatening language about AIDS.

“You don’t get HIV from someone spitting on you … I think this speaks to the way this officer or these officers look toward certain demographics of people,” he said.

Khan added he was about nine metres away from the incident while recording the video, and was “taken aback” when two officers told him that if he was witnessing the incident they would have to seize his phone.

Mark Pugash, a spokesman for Toronto Police Services, previously told CBC that police “don’t have that authority.”

“We’ve told our people, life in 2017 is people will be filming you, and provided they’re not obstructing or interfering in any way — and it doesn’t look like that’s happening in this case — then they’re entitled to keep on filming,” he said.

Police association ‘disturbed’ by aspects of incident

Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack said he’s “disturbed” by some of the comments officers made during the incident and that those involved will have to answer for their actions.

McCormack said the comments came amid a “dynamic” situation where a female officer was injured and hospitalized, and several construction workers were also hurt. The video, he said, doesn’t show everything that was going on.

“There may be other circumstances the video didn’t capture,” he said, noting several other people captured footage of the arrest.

Police say incident began at downtown shelter

Police have painted a different picture of what happened before and during the filmed incident.

Toronto police Taser

Toronto police restrain a man who allegedly assaulted a female police officer near a downtown homeless shelter. A police spokesperson said officers had to remove the man from a police cruiser near Dundas Street East and Church Street after he kicked out a window. (Alanna Rizza/The Eyeopener )

Pugash said police were called to Seaton House homeless shelter for an assault, and arrested a man.

“He then spat at a police officer (and) punched her in the face, knocking her to the ground,” Pugash said. “Some construction workers came to her assistance — one of whom was bitten by the man.”

Pugash said police put the man in the back of a police car but had to remove him after he kicked out the window.

A first round of Tasering “didn’t work” because the man’s layers of clothing, he added. The man also continued to bite an officer, Pugash said.

“The man displayed continued, high-level violence… 90 per cent of what happened is not in the video,” he said.

The man arrested appeared in court Wednesday and has been charged with nine offences, including two counts of assault, three counts of assaulting a peace officer, and one count of assault with the intent to resist arrest.

Toronto police have said they are reviewing the incident.

Mayor Tory finds footage ‘disconcerting’

In a statement, the office of Mayor John Tory said he has seen the video and “finds it disconcerting.”

“It’s important to keep in mind that we do not know the full context of what happened before or after the video footage,” the statement continued. “The Mayor believes it is appropriate that the Toronto Police will be reviewing the matter internally.”

Toronto police Taser arrest

Toronto police used a stun gun twice on the suspect. A police spokesperson said the first blast wasn’t effective due to the man’s heavy clothing. (Alanna Rizza/The Eyeopener )

Khan said the officers trying to make him stop recording makes the officers look “guilty.”

“If they were doing their job properly, you would think they’d welcome any evidence,” he said.

He also maintained that the use of force seemed inappropriate.

“I can’t help but think this situation would’ve went completely different if this was some white guy in a suit in the financial district,” Khan said.

“I don’t think he would’ve been pulled out of the car, stomped on, and dragged over to the curb.”

‘Abolish private medical aid’

Monday, February 6th, 2017


SA Health Professions Council president Dr Kgosi Letlape Kgosi Letlape Picture: Terry Haywood/The Mercury

Durban – Medical Aid Schemes are a “crime against humanity” and should be abolished because they cannot co-exist with the government’s proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme.

SA Health Professions Council president Dr Kgosi Letlape told academics and medical professionals at a discussion on whether the NHI white paper meets human rights objectives of the constitution, that private medical aids and the Medical Schemes Act should be abolished if the NHI was to provide universal health care access for all citizens.

Letlape was speaking at a public discussion at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban on Friday.

“There can be no national health if it is not for all of us. You try to engage about NHI with the privileged, and they say ‘don’t touch my medical aid’. Medical aid is a crime against humanity. It is an atrocity.”

Letlape said Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi did not seem to have much support for NHI, and people such as parliamentarians and judges also had an attitude of “don’t touch my medical aid”.

However, he said it was possible to provide universal health care, which was not a new concept, as the country previously had one of the best health-care systems in the world under apartheid.

“South African whites had health for all. By 1967 they had a system that could give somebody a heart transplant for no payment. At the point of service, there were no deductibles, the doctor was on a salary and everyone could access health care.”

But when the Medical Schemes Act was created 50 years ago, the exodus of medical professionals from the public to the private sector began, Letlape said.

He estimated there were between 3000 and 4000 medical professionals working for medical schemes that could be redistributed to the health system if schemes were abolished.

Dr Mfowethu Zungu, deputy director-general for Macro Policy, Planning and NHI at the KZN Health Department said only 48% of expenditure on health in South Africa was spent in the public sector, which served 87% of the population.

The balance was spent in the private sector, which served medical aid members, who comprised around 17% of the population.

Dr Hanif Vally, deputy director of the Foundation for Human Rights SA, said medical aid created a divide, as 50% of the country’s doctors and an even greater number of specialists served around 18% of the country’s citizens, who had access to the private sector.

“Medical professionals are going into private practice, inequalities are being worsened and people are not realising their constitutional rights.”

Heath Department deputy director-general for Health Regulation and Compliance Management, Dr Anban Pillay, said the provision of universal health care for all citizens was critical.

“We currently have a system where people access care based on what they can afford. Clearly, there are a number of barriers to access, particularly in the lower socio-economic groups. NHI is a massive reorganisation of the public and private health-care system.”

Pillay said the poor were often most in need of health care, and funding for NHI would come from taxpayers based on a principal of social solidarity.

“Social solidarity means we all contribute to a fund, so that when I am sick I will have access to health care. But maybe I may never need to (access), but somebody else will.

“It’s not a concept South Africans are particularly used to in the current context. If you look at your medical scheme environment, which an individual contributes to as an insurance, you have a particular entitlement – it’s your money. This is very different to how the NHI works.”

In younger, healthier years, South Africans would contribute to the fund and were likely to derive benefits from that contribution only later in life.

“The young and healthy should subsidise the sick and old. This is not about investing in something where you are going to derive some profit. It’s investing in society so you can build society,” Pillay added.

Efforts on to improve quality of life for those with HIV/AIDS

Monday, February 6th, 2017


A number of strategic recommendations to improve the overall quality of life of People Living with and Affected by HIV and AIDS have come out of the recently held Caribbean Faith Leaders Consultation, held earlier this month in Trinidad and Tobago.

The Consultation, was supported by the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and AIDS HealthCare Foundation and attracted 55 Religious Leaders from 14 Caribbean countries.

United Nations Secretary-General Special Envoy for HIV in the Caribbean, Dr Edward Greene, highlighted the imperatives for fast-tracking the response to AIDS. The issues reflected in the remarks of Dr. Kevin Harvey, Regional Director of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), including focus of AHF on strengthening partnerships with special reference to supporting a coordinated approach to the implementation of the recommendations from the consultation.

In his Keynote address, Prof. Clive Landis, Deputy Principal, The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, identified the major scientific developments leading to the conclusion that anti-retroviral therapy (ART) delivers a life-saving benefit to persons living with HIV by abolishing end-stage AIDS.

Two extended periods of working groups and discussions by religious and lay leaders resulted in some following recommendations, among them; Endorsing the Targets in the 2016 UN High Level Political Declaration to fast-track the end of the AIDS epidemic by 2030; Promoting healthy living of people at all ages of the life cycle by placing emphasis on plugging the prevention gaps and  Facilitating best practices through the process for effective support and leadership in the area of treatment and care, paying particular attention to achieving the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets for 90% of persons living with HIV (PLHIV) to know their status.

At the conclusion of the Consultation, Faith Leaders agreed to establish a regional consultative group; discuss the recommendations for action with their national religious councils; and provide a progress report to the regional consultative group by July 1, 2017 and to share information on activities initially using the PANCAP website.

The Director of the PANCAP Coordinating Unit in his final remarks charged the religious leaders with upholding the recommendations of the Consultation and urged them to continue their efforts to engage People Living with and Affected by HIV and AIDS.

A pathway controlling inflammatory responses aids recovery after heart attack

Monday, February 6th, 2017


After a heart attack, or myocardial infarction, a patient’s long-term prognosis depends on the ability of the heart tissue to heal and remodel. Immune system activation and inflammatory responses that occur in the aftermath of a myocardial infarction can be detrimental to healing, so better understanding of the pathways that contribute to these processes may improve treatments in heart attack patients.

A study published this week in the JCI has identified a signaling pathway in cardiac tissue that suppresses after cardiac injury.

Work led by Jonathan Epstein at the University of Pennsylvania showed that in heart muscle, activation of the Hippo pathway leads to the recruitment of T regulatory cells, which in turn help control inflammation.

Mice lacking the Hippo pathway components YAP and TAZ displayed increased cardiac fibrosis as well as exacerbated inflammation around the heart. These observations were associated with reduced numbers of T regulatory cells and lower expression of the immune system signaling protein, IFN-γ.

When IFN-γ was delivered directly to the injured heart muscle, T regulatory cell levels were restored and fibrosis was ameliorated in these mice.

Together, these findings identify the Hippo signaling pathway and IFN-γ production as crucial control points for the immune response to heart injury and recovery.

China boosts anti-AIDS drive

Monday, February 6th, 2017


China’s State Council has embarked on a multi-tier strategy including education and awareness, prevention and treatment to deal with the growing numbers of HIV/AIDS patients.

The plan, which also targets illegal blood transfusions, mother to child transmission and needle sharing, is part of the 13th Five-Year Plan, the Council said.

Improving quality of life and reducing the number of deaths of HIV/AIDS patients is central to this plan.

It also falls within efforts by Chinese President Xi Jinping that government and social institutions must do more toward the prevention and control of HIV/Aids.

Doing so, he said concerns people’s life and health, and social harmony and stability.

The Chinese President has previously said that the country must implement all legal and scientific methods and policies it has at its disposal, but also stressed that the Communist Party must work with the public to eliminate discrimination against HIV carriers and patients with Aids.

The current strategy focuses on increasing AIDS prevention awareness by employing publicity and education campaigns.

There will also be enhanced blood testing regulation and delivering proper medical assistance.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently marked an increase in the number of people contracting HIV/AIDS.

The CDC said that the number of people aged 15 to 24 testing positive for HIV/AIDS increased four-fold between 2010 and 2016.

Some 13,000 men aged above 60 tested positive for the disease in 2016, 3.6 times that of 2010, the CDC said.

More than 96,000 cases of HIV/AIDS were reported in January to September 2016. More than 200,000 people have died of AIDS, but the CDC did not provide a time frame for this figure.

A total of 654,000 were known to be living with HIV/AIDS in China, the CDC said, and 94 per cent of those cases were contracted through sexual transmission.

The CDC has also reported a steady rise in HIV/AIDS among homosexuals.

According to the UN, there are currently 34 million people around the world who have HIV. Since 1984, when medical authorities began to tabulate HIV cases, some 35 million people have died of AIDS.

Claims of ‘Homosexual Agenda’ Help Kill Hate Crimes Laws in 5 States

Monday, February 6th, 2017


Some Christian groups have no problem protecting people from crimes driven by racial or religious hatred. They just draw the line at sexual orientation.

Police tape outside the Emanuel AME Church, after a shooting that killed nine African-American churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 18, 2015 (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Last year, lawmakers in South Carolina introduced legislation that would have increased the standard penalties for anyone who assaults, intimidates or threatens another individual if they did so because of the victim’s “race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin, or sexual orientation.”

Drafted by Democratic legislators after white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine African-American parishioners at a church in Charleston, the bill never even came up for a vote. It was a familiar fate. In recent years, at least a half-dozen other hate crimes proposals have died in the South Carolina statehouse.

Much the same story played out in Indiana, where Republican state Sen. Susan Glick authored similar legislation in 2016; Glick’s bill would have increased time behind bars for those convicted of harming or intimidating someone if the assailant’s motivation was driven by the victim’s gender identity, disability, sexual orientation, race, religion or immigration status

The legislation passed in the Senate by a vote of 34-16 but died in the House without so much as a hearing.

Since the 1980s, nearly every state in the union has enacted some sort of hate crimes law, as have Washington, D.C., and the federal government. While the laws vary from state to state, they generally bolster penalties for those who commit crimes — assault, vandalism, credible threats of physical violence, among others — because of some sort of bias against the victim.

South Carolina and Indiana are among a small handful of states that have failed to pass such laws. Wyoming, Arkansas and Georgia are the other hold-outs.

Much of the opposition to creating hate-crime legislation in these states has come from well-organized groups of Christian fundamentalists who on religious grounds disapprove of any sort of legal protections for gays, lesbians and transgender people. For these critics, the primary concern is legal language stepping up punishment for crimes motivated by contempt for the LGBT populace, measures they view as a small but dangerous part of a broader “homosexual agenda.”

One of the Christian groups is the Family Research Council. Contacted by ProPublica, the FRC’s national office directed questions about hate crimes to Ryan McCann, an Indiana activist and lobbyist who works with the organization.

McCann views hate crimes laws as a sort of Trojan Horse: If Indiana adopts such a law, McCann said, LGBT advocates will use the precedent to argue for further legal safeguards, including anti-discrimination statutes, which he opposes.

Christian conservatives such as McCann have become potent activists against hate-crime legislation — lobbying, organizing their followers to petition statehouse lawmakers, and providing many of the key arguments against the laws.

“Homophobia and resistance to providing protections for LGBT people obviously play a role in the push back,” said Robin Maril, associate legal director for Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBT advocacy organization.

Documenting Hate

Hate crimes and bias incidents are a national problem, but there’s no reliable data on their nature or prevalence. We’re collecting reports to create a national database for use by journalists and civil-rights organizations.

Statehouse experts are quick to point out that Christian conservatives aren’t the only people who can be hostile to hate crimes laws.

Jeannine Bell, a law professor at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law, said some legislators in that state believe the laws will create an inequitable justice system that “serves particular groups and not others.” (Bell, who has studied the laws, disagrees: “That is a misunderstanding. Everyone has a race.”)

Lynne Bowman of Human Rights Campaign noted that, in general, Republican-controlled legislatures have not been supportive of hate crimes bills regardless of the language.

The range of concerns can include worries about limiting free speech or doubts that police and prosecutors can truly know a perpetrator’s state of mind or motivations at any given moment. There have even been some expressions of misgiving among civil rights advocates that the legal hurdles created by hate-crime laws — establishing with certainty, for instance, someone’s specific motivations — can be counter-productive.

Decades ago, in a landmark 1993 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court examined the fundamental fairness of hate-crime legislation. The court held that carefully crafted hate crimes laws do not infringe on the free exercise of speech, a finding that resolved the major constitutional questions on the matter. The case centered on a racially motivated incident in Wisconsin in which an African-American man assaulted a white teen, leaving the victim in a coma.

In the five states without hate-crime laws, however, there is little question that Christian activists have had an impact.

Bowman, a senior field director with Human Rights Campaign, said “homophobia” gives lawmakers “an easy excuse to stand up against these bills.”

For the past two decades, much of the resistance to hate crimes legislation has been orchestrated by a trio of intertwined conservative Christian groups.

The oldest and most prominent is Focus on the Family, the Colorado-based ministry founded by James Dobson. The sprawling organization, which produces a vast array of media on biblical topics and funds anti-abortion counseling centers for pregnant women, operated on a budget of nearly $90 million in 2013, the last year for which full tax records are available.

Focus on the Family portrays hate crimes laws as part of a plot to marginalize Christians and ban them “from the public arena.”

Dobson’s ministry helped to spawn the Alliance Defending Freedom, a network of fundamentalist Christian lawyers who have argued that the laws infringe on religion while “creating additional legal protections for those engaged in homosexual behavior that are not available to everyone else.”

But it is the FRC, a third offshoot based in Washington, D.C., that has emerged as perhaps the most effective foe of hate crimes legislation.

When Congress took up the issue in 1999, an FRC leader told the Senate Judiciary Committee that revising the federal code to cover hate crimes could lead to the prosecution of “people who merely oppose homosexual activism.” Ten years later, as Congress debated the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the FRC decried the act as a “thought crimes” bill.

Since then, the “thought crime” claim has become a common talking point in conservative Christian circles and the FRC’s regional chapters have sought to halt hate crimes legislation at the state level.

In 2007, the FRC chapter in Arkansas urged lawmakers there to vote against hate crimes legislation authored by a veteran Democratic legislator. The bill failed. In a blog post, chapter leader Jerry Cox proudly touted the group’s accomplishments, saying it had spent years fighting “to make sure Arkansas’ civil rights and hate-crimes laws are not used to promote a homosexual agenda.”

McCann of the FRC is straightforwardly explicit about the group’s thinking.

“The gay-rights groups and the folks on the left only want to get the terms ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ into the law,” said McCann. “Unfortunately, that’s all they care about — their agenda.”

In Indiana, groups affiliated with the FRC have enjoyed great success in killing hate crimes bills over the past decade. The Republican Party currently enjoys a super-majority in the state, controlling both legislative chambers and the governor’s office. But “even under Democrat rule these hate crimes bills didn’t get a hearing,” said McCann, who helps to lead the Indiana Family Institute, a group associated with the FRC and Focus on the Family.

Currently McCann is pushing legislators to stop five different hate crimes bills pending in the statehouse.

Though the FRC describes its mission as the advancement of “faith, family and freedom in public policy,” critics take a very different view: The Southern Poverty Law Center has dubbed it an anti-gay “hate group.”

The FRC has vigorously denied the characterization. The allegations are “an attempt to discredit FRC’s work and cut us out of public policy debates and media coverage over homosexuality and same-sex ‘marriage,’” the organization said in a 2010 statement.

The FRC has cultivated powerful allies, some of them in the White House. As Wired recently reported, both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence appeared at the organization’s “Values Voter Summit,” while a range of current or pending administration officials — Reince Priebus, Mike Pompeo, Tom Price, Jeff Sessions — have all spoken at FRC events. Ed Prince, the father of Betsy DeVos, provided millions of dollars in funding to the FRC in the group’s early days. DeVos, a Michigan billionaire, has been tapped by the Trump administration to serve as U.S. secretary of education.

While 45 states have enacted hate crimes laws, the statutes vary dramatically around the country. In 15 of those states, the laws do not cover gays and lesbians; in 28 they don’t cover gender identity or transgender individuals.

In Georgia, state Sen. Vincent Fort, a Democrat, said he has sponsored at least five bills that have been defeated largely because they covered sexual orientation. “Some people have said, ‘If you don’t include gay people, it might pass,’” he recalled. Still, he insists he’ll never support “any bill that excludes gay people. I’m not going to have anything to do with a hate crimes law that, in effect, is discriminatory. Wouldn’t that be ironic?”

Wendell Gilliard of South Carolina tells a similar tale. A Democrat from Charleston, Gilliard has introduced “four or five hate crimes bills” in the state House of Representatives — and all of them have come to nothing. The lawmaker, who is African-American, said he’s been barraged with angry emails and phone calls about his bills — not about race but from people “quoting biblical verses about homosexuality.”

Opponents of the bills under consideration in Indiana claim the legislation, if passed, could be used to prosecute preachers who portray homosexuality as a sin. “Let’s pray that silencing speech is not the next step in the ‘gay’ agenda that the media embraces and pushes in the statehouse,” wrote Micah Clarke, an Indiana lobbyist and leader of an FRC chapter, in a newsletter sent to his group’s members.

Clarke declined to be interviewed.

“There are gay-rights activists all over the country who are trying to silence those who don’t agree with them,” said McCann, the Indiana lobbyist. As far as he’s concerned, the bills provide special treatment to members of “favored political classes” and are likely to muzzle fundamentalist Christians.

“Those are ‘alternative facts,’” said one clearly frustrated lawmaker, Greg Taylor, a Democrat from Indianapolis who has authored two hate crimes bills currently pending in the state Senate. “It’s mind-boggling.”

Robin Maril of Human Rights Campaign describes the rhetoric coming from her political foes in Indiana as “irresponsible” fear-mongering.

“It’s absolutely not true. But it sounds scary and it plays into people’s fears,” Maril told us. “None of this legislation would ever impede an individual’s ability to speak out. … We are not policing ministers’ ability to give sermons.”

Venezuela is running short on HIV meds—and places to turn for help

Monday, February 6th, 2017


On top of its currency being in free fall for 3 years running, empty shelves at supermarkets, and electricity rationing, Venezuela has aserious shortage of medicines, including life-saving anti-HIV drugs. This led a network of Venezuelans living with HIV to seek “urgent humanitarian aid” in June 2016 from the Geneva, Switzerland–based Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. But because the World Bank classifies Venezuela as a high-income nation, the Global Fund on 18 January denied the request. “As an agency relying itself on donations from multiple stakeholders, the Global Fund is not in a position to grant any exceptions from its rules,” wrote Executive Director Mark Dybul and chair of the board Norbert Hauser.

An estimated 110,000 people in 2015 were living with HIV in Venezuela, and at least 63,000 of them have started antiretroviral (ARV) treatment, says Feliciano Reyna Ganteaume, whose Caracas-based nonprofit Acción Solidaria supplies HIV-infected people with ARVs. “[The situation] is much worse than one can describe,” he says. When the government does take action, drug orders are placed late and not paid for on time, causing interruptions that have lasted more than 3 months. “There is not even 1 month without our receiving complaints of lack of one or more ARVs from one or more Venezuelan states,” he says. Reagents for the tests needed to monitor people on treatment also are in short supply.

A petition at is urging the Global Fund to bend its policy toward high-income countries, given the extreme situation. The policy has previously led to cuts in HIV/AIDS funding to several Eastern European countries, a move heavily criticized by advocates in those countries. As international assistance for HIV/AIDS hassteadily dropped over the past few years, the Global Fund has pushed harder on governments to foot their own bills.

The petition notes that in addition to a “severe stockout of antiretroviral treatment,” Venezuela does not have enough condoms, HIV test kits, or basic supplies to diagnose and treat tuberculosis—a major risk for people living with the AIDS virus. “This is not a political petition and does not seek to establish a position on the current status of the government,” it says. “This is a humanitarian call to avoid the genocide of Venezuelans living with HIV.”

The Global Fund leaders—who notably took 6 months to reply to the original urgent request for help—wrote that they had “liaised with our partner network to see who might be in a position to help.”

‘I’m gay, disabled and still have sex’

Monday, February 6th, 2017

The Irish Times

He stole the hearts of viewers on last night’s First Dates Ireland TV show and since then it’s been a bit emotional for Dubliner Paddy Smyth

“Last Christmas as a joke my friends got a jumper that said ‘I’m gay, disabled and still have sex’. I love it. They also got me one that says ‘Gorge’. Spot the gay right?’”

“Last Christmas as a joke my friends got a jumper that said ‘I’m gay, disabled and still have sex’. I love it. They also got me one that says ‘Gorge’. Spot the gay right?’”

It’s fair to say that Paddy Smyth stole the hearts of viewers on last night’s First Dates Ireland. After his date was broadcast, the Sutton born 28-year-old even trended on twitter. This morning he told us ‘I’ve had a little cry today too. I suppose dating has been hard because I’m afraid to show people my vulnerable side. Guys see my disability and automatically ‘friend-zone’ me. But today, for the first time in ages, I fee l quite attractive. I’ve even had a few date offers since I woke up, and a few ‘pics’ too’.

Smyth’s date with David (master’s student in UCC) got off to a bit of an awkward start, but as time went by the two relaxed into it. ‘It was so awkward at first. I mean, it’s a first date on TV. And I was nervous too. I’m such a messy eater, I’d make a mess of a Cobb salad, so I was worried I’d spill something and look all disabled in front of him.’

The new First Dates star has grown a large following on snapchat over the last year, documenting his day-to-day life living with cerebral palsy. His honest and often hilarious attitude towards his disability is a breath of fresh air, on a platform that is so often filled with picture-perfect, filtered lives.

‘On social media I’m pretty honest about what it’s like living with a disability. I show the good and the bad bits, like I get to skip queues and make people carry my tea, but yeah, dating can be tough. One of the reasons I went on First Dates was to highlight the stigma surrounding being gay and disabled.’

‘My friends always joke that all I talk about is sex, being gay and being disabled. I even call my followers on social media my ‘disablers’ (like my ‘beliebers’) so last Christmas as a joke they got a jumper made for me that said ‘I’m gay, disabled and still have sex’. I love it. They also got me one that says ‘Gorge’. Spot the gay right?’

Despite the initial nerves, the first date continued on to The George once the cameras were off. ‘We had a little kiss. He’s a lovely guy. I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t attraction.’ And will they be seeing each other again? ‘Well you never know- when I watched last night I remembered how much we got on, so maybe. And we’re still texting. But for now I’m still single- so if anyone is interested- get in touch!’

Port case prompts special police training on gay chemsex crime

Monday, February 6th, 2017

The Guardian

Scotland Yard has adopted measures to increase knowledge of chemsex crime in the gay community after the police watchdog launched an investigation into “missed opportunities” to catch the serial killer Stephen Port.

In the wake of Port’s conviction, frontline officers were undergoing special training to deal with rape and sex crimes against males.

The measures were announced on Friday as the family of Jack Taylor, Port’s final victim, claimed their concerns over the initial investigation went unheeded because he had been dismissed as “a gay and a druggie and that was it”.

Port, 41, was given a whole life sentence without release for the murders of four gay men: Anthony Walgate, 23, Gabriel Kovari, 22, Daniel Whitworth, 21, and Taylor, 25. Port had surreptitiously given them fatal doses of the drug GHB to satisfy his fetish for sex with drugged, unconscious boyish-looking males.