Archive for the ‘Spot / International News Wire’ Category

BC List names

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

Abramovic, Dr. Richard
Agius, Paul
Andrews, David [2015/07]
Aris, Izzabin Bin
Austin, Clocreen [2014/05]
Brock, William
Dean, Kenneth [2013/10]
Duckett, Barbara (Arizona Federal Credit Union Official Check for $1,500), Loan agreement/Promissory Note with Roland Webster, Driver’s Licence, bank draft with Roland Webster and US cashier’s check)
Dusana, Francis of F. Dusana Heavy Duty Equipments (Loan agreement/promissory note to Wendy Lewis)
Fischer, John (bank reference letter)
Gilbert, Christine
Gilliard, James
Graham, George
Gustaf, Viktor of Aptilo Networks AB, [2013/09]
Izaddin, Aris
Jackson, Peter
Kiyoshi, Yukio, of NPI Lease Company Limited (Notice to the Profession, January 6, 2012)
Kudou, Noriko
Lambert, Lisa
Landers, Mark (emails from Lucy Wang, loan promissory note) [2013/09]
Lawson, David (Practice Watch, Benchers’ Bulletin, 2011 No. 3 Fall – includes copies of the documentation used in the scam, including evidence of the loan, an Ontario driver’s licence, an attestation to David Lawson’s identity by a Hong Kong lawyer, and wire transfer instructions to a lawyer)
Leong, Matthew [2013/07]
Mason, Larry
McKinley, B
Molden, Michael
Moore, Ken
Muller, Eric
Nakagawa, Yukitomo of Nippon Seisen Co., Ltd. [2014/06]
Ni, Ma Li
Norman, David J., of Moog Components Group Ltd. [2014/07]
Nowark, Andrew [2014/06]
Odwod, Alfred [2013/09]
Otermat, Robert [2013/10]
Patel, Dr. Ashokkumar (loan to Nicholas Aguilera) [2016/09]
Ponimdang, Prateep (Practice Watch, Benchers’ Bulletin, 2011 No. 4 Winter – includes a personal loan agreement, an email exchange with a lawyer, a passport and loan agreement)
Prodromou, Tom, of Prodromou and Co Textiles Limited
Prodromou, Vickott
Rahman, Susan
Richmond, James [2014/06]
Ritzinger, Volker [2016/08]
Robertson, Rich
Rudic, Mark
Ryo, Akio [2013/04]
Satoshi, Ken of Kanto Aircraft Instrument Co., Ltd [2014/01]
Shengli, Yu
Smith, Daniel
Stroddard, Davin [2015/10]
Van Hae, Joe
Wang, Lucy [2013/09]
Watwood, Edward of Kabushikigaisya Sans Trading [2014/06]
William, Ben [2013/07]
Williams, Edward
Williams, Fred
Yomex, Tony [2013/09]
Zamora, Frank
Zhang, Nan, of NPI Lease Company Limited (also references Shoji Equipment Leasing Company Ltd.) (Notice to the Profession, January 6, 2012)
Zimmerman, Patricia
Zoltan, Ray Richard [2013/05]

Commercial sales agreements and invoices (collecting on a phony overdue business account)

Ackerman, James of City of Toronto (not to be confused with the legitimate City of Toronto) [2014/07]
Akahane, Takako of Tsukasa Industry Co., Ltd. [2014/09]
Akahane, Yasuhiro of Akahane Electronics Industry
Amaya, Ayaka [2014/08]
Anderson, Mark of Armature Electric Limited
Andor, Fredrik
Appertet, Olivier of Edmond Baud SA [2015/03]
Archibald McAulay & Son Limited of City of Toronto (not to be confused with the legitimate City of Toronto) [2014/07]
Avin, Carl
Basu, Pete
Bechill, Verne C. of Wuhan Iron & Steel (Group) Corporation
Ben, Wilcox of De Bruycker nv [2014/07]
Bertolotto, Giovanni of Binding Union [2013/06]
Blackwell, Sean (loan from Ronald Morris) [2016/08]
Branson, Mark
Chau, Suzuki of Gen Company Limited [2016/08]
Cheng, Allen of Wuhi Economic and Technological Development Zone [2013/08]
Cheng, Peng, also known as Cheng, Peter of Wuhan Iron & Steel (Group) Corporation
Cheng, Yeo Mao of Hangzhou Candid I/E Co., Ltd. (CANDID)
Cheung, Fredrick of Hong Kong Wah Sun Company [2015/10]
Chiyoko, Hiroko [2014/08]
Daichi, Ayumu of Eikayo Trading Group Inc. [2015/11]
Dermaku, Lulzim of Edmond Baud SA [2015/03]
Fortis, Ronal
Franklin, Brandon of Advantage Innovation Dynamics Ltd. [2013/05]
Fukuyama, Tsukasa of Luci Pte. Ltd. [2014/09]
Funahashi, Koji of Chiyoda Corporation [2015/09]
Gang, Xu of Henan Billions Chemical Co. Ltd. [2013/07] [2013/09]
Goling, F. of Alfa Construction Ltd
Hagiwara, Taro, of Hoya Corporation
Hanson, Christopher of Kong Ying Stainless Co. Ltd. (not to be confused with Chris Hanson of the legitimate company)
Henry, Eric (erichenry09@gmail.com) [2014/06]
Hensen, Dan of Hensen Equipment LLC
Hernandez, Jesus of Dongguan Sunny Tool and Die Co., Ltd, Mexico [2013/07]
Hill, Don of Hill Equipment Co
Hsu, Pang-Fu [2016/08]
Huang, Shaoxiang [2013/07]
Hui, Lu [2014/10]
Inoue, Makoto of ORIX CORPORATION [2015/09]
James, Bessant
Jary, Corina of Shandong Hengyuan Petrochemical Company [2016/07]
Joon, Dir-Lee Jae of H-kwang Elect. Pte Ltd
Kagawa, Shinji of Koyo Electronics Industry Co.
Kawasaki, Anthony of Hamamoto Aoki-Steel Co., Ltd. [2014/09]
Kawasaki, Hiroya of Kobe Steel Ltd  [2015/09]
Khan, Yusuf of Shandong Hengyuan Petrochemical Company [2016/07] and of Shandong Hengyuan Petrochemical Company [2016/08]
Kichirou, Masaru [2016/04]
Kimora, Kew Lew of Futaba Corporation
Knott, Martin of TEC Electric Motor Ltd.
Landauer, Karlheinz of Celonic AG [2015/05]
Lee, Chongan
Lee, Michael of Hitachi Oil & Construction/Hitachi Nippon Ferrule Inc.
Lu, Hui [2014/10]
MacPherson, Donald G. of Grainger Inc. [2015/03]
Mahmood, Fady [2013/05]
Masaru, Kichirou [2016/04]
Mason, C.J.B.
Mason, Ian of Electrocomponents plc
Mei, Jack [2015/03]
Meiga, Takayoshi of Godo Steel, Ltd. (email) [2015/09]
Montagnon, Franz of Edmond Baud SA [2015/03]
Morris, Ronald (loan to Sean Blackwell) [2016/05]
Munish, Shajesh of Usha Martin Limited
Muraki, Yamanaka of Chan Industries Pte. Ltd.
Mizuno, Nao of EIKOH/KIC TRADING INC [2015/09]
Nakamura, Shinichiro of Daiwa Steel Tube Industries [2015/05]
Nakamura, Yuki [2016/08]
Nowark, Andrew [2014/06]
Nye, Edwin of Shandong Hengyuan Petrochemical Company [2016/08]
Osamu, Masaru [2014/10]
Peng, Hui of Taiki Yusho Company Limited [2015/10]
Philips, Rachel or Rachael, Managing Director of Elect Motor Limited, UK
Pochu, Thana of Advanced Machinery & Exports [2016/08]
Proennecke, Stephan Mike of Debiotech S.A. [2014/01]
Quen, Shi
Qiu, Zheming of Shengzhou Reaching Textile Co., Ltd. [2013/12]
Rager, Timothy of Hensen Equipment LLC
Rawlinson, David II of Grainger Inc. [2015/03]
Reaching, Shengzhou of Shengzhou Reaching Textile Co. Ltd. [2014/01]
Robbe, Johan of A. Hak Industrial Services B.V. of Netherlands [2016/08]
Roberts, Lawson [2013/01], [2013/05]
Sakura, Masashi of JX Nippon [2015/10]
Sebastian, Andre of Shandong Henguan Petrochemical Co., Ltd. [2015/12]
Shibuya, Akiyori of Howa Textile Industry Co., Ltd. [2013/10]
Shinomoto, Manabu of Hitachi Kokusai Electric Inc. [2014/02]
Shinji, Kagawa of Koyo Electronics Industry Co.
Shui, Chen of Anhui Gujing Group Limited China
Shunliang, Hu of MaanShan Iron & Steel Co. Ltd  [2015/02]
Steven, Jerry
Stevenson, Alvey of John Reid & Sons Ltd. re Wilkinson Steel & Metals [2014/06]
Stevenson, Alvey of John Reid & Sons Ltd. re Wilkinson Steel & Metals and re Tri-Metal Fabricators [2014/06]
Stevenson, Ronald of Clarkwood Equipment Inc.
Styrud, Anna of Diamyd Medical AB [2014/01]
Suzuki, Kiyoyuki [2014/08]
Takaya, Fumito of Ojt Group International
Tanaka, Hiroshi of BJ Group International
Tatsuyuki, Matsui [2013/11]
Terazawa, Hiromi of Terazawa Trading [2015/03]
Trump, Steven of JVGENTAINVESTMENT [2015/12]
Tsikoudis, Christos [2014/11]
Turner, Julian of Capio AB (The Group) [2014/05]
Wang Xinji Po
Warnaar Steel-Tech Ltd. of City of Toronto (not to be confused with the legitimate City of Toronto) [2014/07]
Watwood, Edward of Kabushikigaisya Sans Trading [2014/06]
Wei, Li of Coma Holdings Inc. [2013/04]
Weijian, He [2013/11]
Williams, Craig of Williams Investment Ltd. [2013/09]
Wood, Alice
Wu, Cheng of Wu Ind’l Co. Ltd. [2013/11]
Xiandong, Qui
Yamamoto, Takeo of Kanehira Steel Co [2015/06] yamamototakeo1@outlook.com
Yamamoto, Yuki [2013/05]
Yamanaka, Muraki of Chan Industires Pte. Ltd
Yeng, Ma Li, of Yengbeijinguangzhou Electric Corp
Yeong, Mr.  [2014/11]
Yin, John (Practice Watch, Benchers’ Bulletin, 2010 No. 3 Fall – includes an edited version of a business debt letter)
Yoshimitsu, Kiyoshi, of Yoshimitsu International Law Office in Japan
Yoshimura, Ed [2014/10]
Zheng, Zujin of Maanshanco, Ltd. [2015/12]
Zhu, Mr. [2014/11]
Zujin, Zheng of Maanshanco, Ltd. [2015/12]

Intellectual property rights (breach of a licence agreement)

Andrew, Stephen (connected to Hung, Wen Lung of Chang Shuan Electronics Co. Ltd.) [2016/09]
Chan, Cheng [2014/08]

Cheng, Chan [2014/08]

Fong, Lee of Lee’s Pharmaceutical (Hong Kong) Limited [2014/01]
Hung, Wen Lung of Chang Shuan Electronics Co. Ltd. [2016/09]
Liu, Daniel, of China Resources Machinery Company Ltd.

Lung Hung, Wen of Chang Shuan Electronics Co. Ltd. [2016/09]
Nagasakii, Dan, of CCP Group International (Notice to the Profession, December 15, 2011)
Nguon, Sou Heng [2016/11]
Shen, Frank of Jenjaan Quartek Corporation [2016/09]
Sou, Heng Nguon [2016/11]
Wang, David of China Resources Machinery Co. Ltd.
Yu, Miyahara of Goertek Technology Co., Ltd., claim against Seaside Computing Services and payment by BEI Canadian Initiatives, Inc.(email, letter from BEI Canadian Initiatives, Inc.) [2013/10]

Surety bond services

Joseph, John of Trammel, Harper and Williams Inc. [2013/04]

Franchise agreement

Fujimori, Yoshiaki [2014/04]
Fujimori, Yoshiaki of Kyodo Printing Co. Ltd. [2014/11]
Suzuki, Junya of Nissha Printing Co. Ltd. [2014/11]

Phony business loan (some of the names that “lenders” have used)

Halifax Venture Capital Corporation (Notice to the Profession, May 14, 2009)
Montreal Venture Capital Corporation (Notice to the Profession, May 14, 2009)

Phony mergers, purchase of business

Asanishi, Yasushi of Gosho Industrial Co., Ltd. [2014/12]
Bush, Frances of Shandong Hengyan Petrochemical Co., Ltd. [2015/11]
Cheung, Fredrick of Hong Kong Wah Sun Company [2015/10]
Chin-Cheng, Yeh of Amigo Technology Co., Ltd. [2016/08]
Dizon, Thea of Zaptech Products Inc. [2014/05]
Fujino, Hiroshi aka Fujinoo, Hiroshi of Denkyosha Co., Ltd.
Hayashi, Saburo of Daiichi Kosho Co., Ltd. [2013/09]
Hiroyuk, Itsuki of Kodansha Ltd. [2013/08]
London, Timothy of an Ontario business [2013/08]
Sebastian, Andre of Shandong Henguan Petrochemical Co., Ltd. [2015/12]
Shikida, Yoshiki of SKD Japan Co, LTD [2014/12]
Tanaka, Yasufumi of Chugai Electric Industries Co., Ltd. [2014/05]
Toshinari, Motonori of Kaga Electronics Co., Ltd. [2015/08]

Equipment Purchase scam

Aioko, Linda of KIJ Corporation Ltd. [2015/08]
Akira, Jun of Gen Company Ltd. [2016/01]
Alvarado, Brun or Bruno of Poligono Industrial Camporroso [2016/07]
Ariel, Liam of Qingzhou Yongsheng Dredging Machinery Co., Ltd. aka Ariel, Liam of Julong Dredging [2015/11]
Bakker, Andre of N-Sea Group [2016/10]
Bell, Angelica [2015/09]
Bernard, Alain of DEME-Group [2016/06]
Bush, Frances of Shandong Hengyan Petrochemical Co., Ltd. [2015/11]
Bychkova, Diana [2015/09]
Chang, Zhang (purchase of an oil vessel) [2017/05]
Chew, Peggy of Kayaba System Machinery Co., Ltd. [2015/07]
Craig, Jim (CEO) of Ampelmann Operations BV, Netherlands [2016/10]
Dabab, Jamal of Klemms Business Brokers [2017/04]
Dang, Vi Quan of Dahan Co., Ltd. [2017/03]
De Francesco, Julia [2015/09]
De Roeck, Nic of VEKA GROUP NV [2016/03]
Dietze, Rudolf, CEO of VOSTA LMG International B.V. (dredging equipment) [2017/05]
Fedrerick, Georges aka Frederick, Georges (purchase of hydraulic excavators) [2016/10]
Frederick, Georges aka Fedrerick, Georges (purchase of hydraulic excavators) [2016/10]
French, Christopher M (cmfrench) [2015/09]
Gentilini, Marco [2016/01]
Heerema, Pieter (President/CEO) of Heerema Group, Netherlands [2016/10]
Heerema, Robert (President/CEO) of Heerema Group, Netherlands [2016/11]
Hong, Yan Gilbert of JuLong Dredging & Mining Machinery Co., Ltd. [2015/11]
Inamoto, Alex [2014/12]
Jobst, Swen of Bauer Baumaschinenhandle GmbH (purchase of mulcher) [2016/08]
Jung, J.C. of Hyundai Heavy Industries Europe NV [2016/08]
Kenta, Suzuki [2017/04]
Kloos, Rob of VEKA GROUP NV [2016/03]
Kubo, Toshihiro of Kubota [2015/07]
Lee, John of Universal Machinery and Equipment, INC (sale of dredger) [2016/03] and Gen Company  LTD (sale of dreger) [2016/08]
Lim, Marcus of Hua Lee Construction Corporation Ltd. (purchase of dredger) [2016/06]
Lindstrom, Hans [purchase and sale of 130213-DP Sand and Gravel Dredge with Process Plant from marine construction firm based in Europe] [2017/04]
Mega Equipment and Dredging [2016/01]
Meyer, Hank (drilling equipment purchase) [2017/04]
Moore, Rebecca also known as Moor, Rebecca [2015/08]
Morris, Riccardo [2016/01]
Olander, Carl [2015/12]
Philips, Giovanni [2016/01]
Pieters, Tim of Qingzhou JuLong Dredging & Mining Machinery Co., Ltd. [2015/11]
Riccardo, Morris [2016/01]
Scott, Brianna Rowena [2015/09]
Sebastian, Andre of Shandong Henguan Petrochemical Co., Ltd. [2015/12]
Silva, Nick of Bi-Port Engineering Ltd. [2015/04]
Smith, James (purchase and sale of fishing equipment) [2016/08]
Smith, Paul of Metka Group [2016/11]
Suzuki, Kenta [2017/04]
Vincent, Martin (purchase and sale of fishing equipment; related to James Smith ruse) [2016/09]
Wahlberg, David (email) [2015/09]
Welbeck, Richie [2015/01]
Yoshiro, Ken of Kombaa Dredging Equipment  [2015/09]
Zhang, Chang (purchase of an oil vessel) [2017/05]
Zhang, Lee of Kombaa Group [2015/10]
Zhang, Sui of Kombaa Dredging Equipment [2015/09]

Phony incorporation of a company

Dean, Irfan [2013/11]
Horkavec, Lukas [2013/11]

Phony personal claims 

Personal injury settlement for infliction of disease

Andersen, Melissa (Practice Watch, Benchers’ Bulletin, 2011 No. 3 Fall – includes sample email)

Personal injury settlement (motor vehicle)

Peterson, Jane
Young, Cooper claim against Abbott Laboratories [2014/06]

Personal loan agreement

Ackley, Raymond $570,000 loan to son-in-law Paul Nathaniel, with payment notification letter from Richard Kofow and Marcy Jacob of Apple Consulting Services [2014/04]
Adone, Vanessa loan to John Anderson
Akihiro, Hotakaa loan to family friend
Alfred, Richard [2013/09]
Alrashed, Ibrahim [2015/08]
Andrews, David [2015/07]
Beckman, Paul [2013/05]
Brockman, Margaret [2013/21/05]
Brooks, William [2016/11]
Butler, Palila, loan to Michael Burrow (D-S Summer Investment and Loan Firm) [2016/11]
Cheng, Peter [2013/09]
Chua, Veronica [2013/12]
Chung, Bruce [2016/02]
Dustin, Burton loan to Andrew Richard [2016/09]
Fang, Gan [2015/08]
Giese, John  [2015/08]
Green, Lachi [2014/10]
Hall, Dallas [2014/03]
Henry, Eric [2014/12]
Hill, Stephen [2015/05]
Hillary, Wessler loan to a friend, David Troyer [2013/10]
Hsiang, Hsieh [2016/08]
Huang, Weimin [2015/06]
Hubert, Bertram [2014/12]
Hughes, John [2013/07]
Johnson, David [2014/12]
Kapoor, Michael of Develop & Co Ltd. [2015/04]
Landers, Mark (emails from Lucy Wang, loan promissory note) [2013/09]
Lee, Frank loan to John Brown [2016/10]
Li, Yu Sheng, loan to friend
Liu, Andy [2015/02]
Makoto, Kasuruo [2013/09]
Maxwell, Jonathan [2013/07, 2014-07]
Morris, Ronald (loan to Sean Blackwell) [2016/08]
Nowark, Andrew [2014/06]
Odwod, Alfred [2013/09]
Peter, Cheng [2014/12]
Pho Lee, Frank loan to John Brown [2016/10]
Ponimdang, Prateep loan to friend, Ms. Lisa Jin (Practice Watch, Benchers’ Bulletin, 2011 No. 4 Winter)
Robert, Gregory
Robertson, John [2015/08]
Seiders, Gary Lee [2013/05]
Smith, David [2015/06]
Stephen, Hill [2015/05]
Switzer, Donna of S Summer Investment and Loan Firm [2015/08]
Troyer, David [2013/10]
Wang, Lucy [2013/09]
Watwood, Edward of Kabushikigaisya Sans Trading [2014/06]
Wilson, Wilfred [2016/09]
Yomex, Tony [2013/09]
Young, Rufus [2013/05]

Breach of personal agreement

Han, Akai

Wrongful dismissal claims

Gilbert, Gill (Concepts Furniture Wholesale Consultancy Agreement with Owen Mason; Concept Furniture Wholesale termination letter; Cheque & Passport and email Gill Gilbert and Owen Mason)
Gill, Gilbert (Concepts Furniture Wholesale Consultancy Agreement with Owen Mason; Concept Furniture Wholesale termination letter; Cheque & Passport and email Gill Gilbert and Owen Mason)
Mason, Owen (email Owen Mason and Gill Gilbert; Letter & Cheque Owen Mason, Cheque & Passport Gilbert)

Personal injury settlement between employer and employee

Andersson, Jehan [2013/04]
Cluster, Patrick
Lunn, Graham Jackie
Park, Michael
Savage, Tammy
Sullivan, Terry (Practice Watch, Benchers’ Bulletin, 2011 No. 3 Fall – includes sample email)
Young, Cooper claim against Abbott Laboratories [2014/06]

Phony debt collection in the matrimonial context

Adelson, Liu of Hong Kong claim against Phil Adelson [2016/09]
Allen, Hania  [06/2014]
Andersen, Melissa (Practice Watch, Benchers’ Bulletin, 2011 No. 3 Fall – includes sample email)
Anderson, Bill [02/2014]
Anderson, Fumiko [02/2014]
Bloomberg, Crystal [2017/05]
Blumenkrantz, Brenda
Bratt, Audrey Julie [2016/07]
Bratt, Brown Derek [2016/07]
Brewer, Tammy
Burany, Julie
Chan, Monica [2017/04]
Chengie, Paul [2015/02]
Chew, Peggy
Chipman, Donna
Chue, Feng [2014/03]
Chue, Paula [2014/03]
Chun, Lisa [2015/02]
Cox, Marlene [2014/06]
Crowford, Kim [2013/11]
Daley, Gloria [2015/03]
Dalton, Dina [2014/06]
Dalton, Romio [2014/06]
Denman, Brian
Goldbery, Alice [2013/06]
Hachiro, Zain
Hamasaki, Diana
Hamayotsu, Toshiko, Attorney-at-Law, of Hamayotsu & Hamayotsu [2013/10]
Hasfa, Hachirou [2014/01]
Heochi, Susan
Hirochi, Lauretta
Hoffman, Tammi
Hoga, Azami [2015/09]
Hogenbirk, Laura Cynthia [2016/03]
Holden, Tim [2016/03]
Hoshiko, Zaria and Hoshiko, Zaira aka Jyong, Zaira
Jun, Paris [2015/10]
Kaidence, Jacklyn
Kaito, Haruka [2014/05]
Kaito, Youji [2014/05]
Kamenosuke, Hachiuma [2014/07]
Kazuo, Shinju  [2015/11]
Kazue, Masako
Kennedy, Maki aka Kennedy, Mako [2013/10, 2014/05]
Kennedy, Mika [2015/02]
Kennedy, Rhoda [2017/04]
Kinoshita, Elena
Kinoshita, Greenberg
Kitaya, Andre [2013/12]
Kitaya, Marina [2013/12]
Kiyoharu, Fukui [2015/03]
Kiyoharu, George [2015/03]
Kiyoshi, Stephany
Kobayashi, Akemi
Koch, Akemi [2014/07]
Martinez, Robert [2014/06]
Martinez, Sherry [2014/06]
Masaru, Crystal
Masato, Tanako
Mazur, Tammi
Minoru, Isabella
Minoru, Janaya
Mizuki, Umeko
Morgan, Clarence [2014/06-07]
Nakazato, Andrian claim against Ramseyer Nakazato [2014/08]
Nelson, Sophia
Nikkori, Greg [2013/07]
Nikkori, Sapphire [2013/07]
Nishinaka, Tsutomu [2014/07]
Oshiro, Mima
Pack, Jayen [2015/12]
Pack, Piper [2015/12]
Richardson, Angela [2014/02]
Rodriguez, Maria [2015/12]
Russell, Mei [2014/06]
Sakihito, Junko (Practice Watch, Benchers’ Bulletin, 2010 No. 3 Fall – includes a sample letter)
Schwartz, Tammy
Scotia, Kathy
Shunshi, Brianna
Simmons, Hanako [2013/07]
Song, Huan aka Huan Shan [2013/11]
Song, Shan [2013/11]
Stryker, Nishiyo [2014/03]
Su, Jing [2014/07]
Swang, Alice [06/2014]
Swang, Yan [06/2014]
Takahashi, Rika
Tiachi, Hillary
Walton, Asami [2015/11]
Walton, Rina [2013/09]
Wang, Alice  [2015/08]
Wang, Yan [2016/10]
Wazarti, Eria [2014/06]
Wazarti, Rexito  [2014/06]
Wong, Jennifer [2010/03]
Yasuko, Williams
Yamato, Hikari
Yanai, Asako Tadashi
Young, Harmony
Young, Sain [2014/01]
Zukerberg, Kumura

Phony real estate conveyance or fake mortgage

Chang, Shukmuda, purchaser, working with James Aries of Toronto [2014/04]
Cheung, Kin Hang (Notice to the Profession, June 1, 2012) (cheques and payment memo from Holcim (Canada) Inc., payment memo and SMS cheque from John Owen) Chinese passport, email, Hong Kong Identity Card and Primerica cheque for $350,000 USD)
Cooper, Richard (purchaser) [2016/07]
Donald, Wayne Nava
Eliseo, Bellon
Haines, Susan [2015/06]
Joji, Shiukmoda
Lee, Kayan (phony $150,000 USD certified cheque from Allied Financial Company issued to BC law firm) [2014/04]
Sixsmith, Martin
Terry, Derreck [2013/11]
Tu, Jyoung Chung
Tu, Young Chung

Phony potential clients (ruse unknown)

Johnson, Keith, of Industrial Machinery & Engineering Inc. [2014/07]
Kuehn, Marion of Universal Medicare Ltd.
S.M.S. Technology Ltd. [2014/05]
Sougourov, Nourlan of Universal Medicare Ltd.
Tang Yuk Tim of Vnl Engineering, Inc. [2015/05]
Tim, Tang Yuk [2015/05]

Phony law firms, lawyers and notaries

Fritz Shirreff Vickers Ltd. (Note that the legitimate, former BC law firm, Fritz Shirreff Vickers, has no connection to this scam.)
Hamayotsu, Toshiko, Attorney-at-Law, of Hamayotsu & Hamayotsu (In Japan, Hamayotsu & Hamyotsu also appears to be the name of a legitimate law firm and Toshiko Hamyotsu the name of a legitimate practising lawyer)
Howard, Charles of Howard & Associates, LLC at www.charleshowards.com
Lianzhong, Xie (lawyer or notary name) (Practice Watch, Benchers’ Bulletin, 2011 No. 3 Fall)
Paul, Alexander Patrick (also appears to be the name of a legitimate practising lawyer in California)
Qin, Gorge of Jon Pin Kazutaka Law Office for Renesas Electronics Corporation [2014/01]
Sterns, William (lawyer name) (Practice Watch, Benchers’ Bulletin, 2010 No. 3 Fall – includes an edited version of a phony lawyer referral email)
Thatcher, Pamela of Corona, California (Note that the legitimate Pamela Thatcher, who used to practise law at the same address, has no connection to this scam)
Wagner Elliott LLP (law firm name) (Notice to the Profession, May 2, 2011)
Yip, Tse & Tang (lawyer and notary firm name) (Practice Watch, Benchers’ Bulletin, 2011 No. 3 Fall)

Complete list of Names

Individuals 

Abramovic, Dr. Richard
Ackerman, James [2014/07]
Ackley, Raymond [2014/04]
Adelson, Liu [2016/09]
Adone, Vanessa
Agius, Paul
Aguilera, Nicholas [2016/09]
Aioko, Linda [2015/08]
Akahane, Takako [2014/09]
Akahane, Yasuhiro
Akihiro, Hotakaa
Akira, Jun [2016/01]
Alfred, Richard [2013/09]
Allen, Hania [06/2014]
Alrashed, Ibrahim [2015/08]
Alvarado, Brun or Bruno [2016/07]
Amaya, Ayaka [2014/08]
Andersen, Melissa
Anderson, Bill [02/2014]
Anderson, Fumiko [02/2014]
Anderson, Mark
Andersson, Jehan [2013/04]
Andor, Fredrik
Andrew, Stephen [2016/09]
Andrews, David [2015/07]
Appertet, Olivier [2015/03]
Ariel, Liam [2015/11]
Aries, James [2014/04]
Aris, Izzabin Bin
Asanishi, Yasushi of Gosho Industrial Co., Ltd. [2014/12]
Austin, Clocreen [2014/05]
Avin, Carl
Bakker, Andre [2016/10]
Basu, Pete
Bechill, Verne C.
Beckman, Paul [2013/05]
Bell, Angelica [2015/09]
Ben, Wilcox [07/2014]
Bernard, Alain [2016/06]
Bertolotto, Giovanni [2013/06]
Blackwell, Sean [2016/08]
Bloomberg, Crystal [2017/05]
Blumenkrantz, Brenda
Branson, Mark
Bratt, Audrey Julie [2016/07]
Bratt, Brown Derek [2016/07]
Brewer, Tammy
Brock, William
Brockman, Margaret
Brooks, William [2016/11]
Burany, Julie
Bush, Frances [2015/11]
Butler, Palila [2016/11]
Bychkova, Diana [2015/09]
Chan, Monica [2017/04]
Chang, Chen [2014/08]
Chang, Shukmuda [2014/04]
Chang, Zhang [2017/05]
Chau, Suzuki [2016/08]
Chen, Chang [2014/08]
Cheng, Allen [2013/08]
Cheng, Peng also known as Cheng, Peter
Cheng, Peter  [2013/09]
Cheng, Yeo Mao
Chengie, Paul [2015/02]
Cheung, Fredrick [2015/10]
Cheung, Kin Hang
Chew, Peggy [2015/07]
Chin-Chen, Yeh [2016/08]
Chipman, Donna
Chiyoko, Hiroko [2014/08]
Chua, Veronica [2013/12]
Chue, Feng [2014/03]
Chue, Paula [2014/03]
Chun, Lisa [2015/02]
Chung, Bruce [2016/02]
Cluster, Patrick
Cox, Marlene [2014/06]
Cooper, Richard (purchaser) [2016/07]
Craig, Jim [2016/10]
Crowford, Kim [2013/11]
Dabab, Jamal [2017/04]
Daichi, Ayumu [2015/11]
Daley, Gloria [2015/03]
Dalton, Dina [2014/06]
Dalton, Romio [2014/06]
Dang, Vi Quan [2017/03]
De Francesco, Julia [2015/09]
De Roeck, Nic [2016/03]
Dean, Irfan [2013/11]
Dean, Kenneth [2013/10]
Denman, Brian
Dermaku, Lulzim [2015/03]
Dietze, Rudolf [2017/05]
Dizon, Thea [2014/05]
Donald, Wayne Nava
Duckett, Barbara
Dusana, Francis
Dustin, Burton [2016/09]
Eliseo, Bellon
Fang, Gan [2015/08]
Fischer, John
Fong, Lee [2014/01]
Fortis, Ronal
Franklin, Brandon [2013/05]
Fedrerick, Georges aka Frederick, Georges [2016/10]
Frederick, Georges aka Fedrerick, Georges [2016/10]
French, Christopher M [2015/09]
Fujimori, Yoshiaki [2014/04]
Fujino, Hiroshi, aka Fujinoo, Hiroshi
Fukuyama, Tsukasa [2014/09]
Funahashi, Koji [2015/09]
Gang, Xu, of Henan Billions Chemical Co. Ltd. [2013/07]
Gentilini, Marco [2016/01]
Giese, John [2015/08]
Gilbert, Christine
Gilbert, Gill
Gill, Gilbert
Gilliard, James
Goldbery, Alice
Goling, F
Graham, George
Green, Lachi [2014/10]
Gustaf, Viktor [2013/09]
Hachiro, Zain
Hagiwara, Taro
Haines, Susan [2015/06]
Hall, Dallas [2014/03]
Hamasaki, Diana
Hamayotsu, Toshiko [2013/10]
Han, Akai
Hanson, Christopher
Hasfa, Harichou [2014/01]
Hayashi, Saburo [2013/09]
Heerema, Pieter [2016/10]
Heerema, Robert [2016/11]
Henry, Eric [2014/06]
Henry, Eric [2014/12]
Hensen, Dan
Heochi, Susan
Hernandez, Jesus
Hill, Don
Hill, Stephen [2015/05]
Hillary, Wessler [2013/10]
Hirochi, Lauretta
Hiroyuk, Itsuki of Kodansha Ltd. [2013/08]
Hoffman, Tammi
Hoga, Azami [2015/09]
Hogenbirk, Laura Cynthia [2016/03]
Holden, Tim [2016/03]
Hong, Yan Gilbert [2015/11]
Horkavec, Lukas [2013/11]
Hoshiko, Zaria and Hoshiko, Zaira aka Jyong, Zaira
Howard, Charles
Hsiang, Hsieh [2016/08]
Hsu, Pang-Fu [2016/08]
Huang, Shaoxiang [2013/07]
Huang, Weimin [2015/06]
Hubert, Bertram [2014/12]
Hughes, John [2013/07]
Hui, Lu [2014/10]
Hung, Wen Lung [2016/09]
Inamoto, Alex [2014/12]
Inoue, Makoto [2015/09]
Izaddin, Aris
Jackson, Peter
Jacob, Marcy [2014/04]
James, Bessant
Jary, Corina [2016/07]
Jobst, Swen [2016/08]
Johnson, David [2014/12]
Johnson, Keith, of Industrial Machinery & Engineering Inc. [2014/07]
Joji, Shiukmoda
Joon, Dir-Lee Jae
Joseph, John [2013/04]
Jun, Paris [2015/10]
Jung, J.C. [2016/08]
Jyong, Zaira aka Hoshiko, Zaria and Hoshiko, Zaira
Kagawa, Shinji
Kaidence, Jacklyn
Kaito, Haruka [2014/05]
Kaito, Youji [2014/05]
Kamenosuke, Hachiuma [2014/07]
Kapoor, Michael [2015/04]
Kawasaki, Anthony [2014/09]
Kawasaki, Hiroya, of Kobe Steel Ltd [2015/09]
Kazue, Masako
Kazuo, Shinju [2015/11]
Khan, Yusuf [2016/07]
Kennedy, Maki aka Kennedy, Mako [2013/10]
Kennedy, Mika [2015/02]
Kennedy, Rhoda [2017/04]
Kenta, Suzuki [2017/04]
Kichirou, Masaru [2016/04]
Kimora, Kew Lew
Kinoshita, Elena
Kinoshita, Greenberg
Kitaya, Andre [2013/12]
Kitaya, Marina [2013/12]
Kiyoharu, George [2015/03]
Kiyoharu, Fukui [2015/03]
Kiyoshi, Stephany
Kiyoshi, Yukio
Kloos, Rob [2016/03]
Knott, Martin
Kobayashi, Akemi
Koch, Akemi [2014/07]
Kofow, Richard [2014/04]
Kubo, Toshihiro [2015/07]
Kudou, Noriko
Kuehn, Marion
Lambert, Lisa
Landauer, Karlheinz [2015/05]
Landers, Mark [2013/09]
Lawson, David
Lee, Chongan
Lee, Frank [2016/10]
Lee, John [2016/03]
Lee, Kayan [2014/04]
Lee, Michael
Leong, Matthew [2013/07]
Li, Yu Sheng
Lianzhong, Xie
Lim, Marcus [2016/06]
Lindstrom, Hans [2017/04]
Liu, Andy [2015/02]
Liu, Daniel
London, Timothy [2013/08]
Lu, Hui [2014/10]
Lung Hung, Wen [2016/09]
Lunn, Graham Jackie
MacPherson, Donald G. [2015/03]
Mahmood, Fady [2013/05]
Makoto, Karuruo [2013/09]
Martinez, Robert [2014/06]
Martinez, Sherry [2014/06]
Masaru, Crystal
Masaru, Kichirou [2016/04]
Masato, Tanako
Mason, C.J.B.
Mason, Ian
Mason, Larry
Mason, Owen
Maxwell, Jonathan [2013/07, 2014-07]
Mazur, Tammi
McKinley, B
Mei, Jack [2015/03]
Meiga, Takayoshi [2015/09]
Meyer, Hank [2017/04]
Minoru, Isabella
Minoru, Janaya
Mizuki, Umeko
Mizuno, Nao [2015/09]
Molden, Michael
Montagnon, Franz [2015/03]
Moore, Ken
Moore, Rebecca also known as Moor, Rebecca [2015/08]
Morgan, Clarence [2014/06-07]
Morris, Riccardo [2016/01]
Morris, Ronald [2016/05]
Muller, Eric
Munish, Shajesh of Usha Martin Limited
Muraki, Yamanaka
Nagasakii, Dan
Nakagawa, Yukitomo [2014/06]
Nakamura, Shinichiro [2015/05]
Nakamura, Yuki [2016/08]
Nakazato, Andrian [2014/08]
Nakazato, Ramseyer [2014/08]
Nathaniel, Paul [2014/04]
Nelson, Sophia
Nguon, Sou Heng [2016/11]
Ni, Ma Li
Nikkkori, Greg [2013/07]
Nikkori, Sapphire [2013/07]
Nishinaka, Tsutomu [2014/07]
Norman, David J. [2014/07]
Nowark, Andrew [2014/06]
Nye, Edwin [2016/08]
Odwod, Alfred [2013/09]
Olander, Carl [2015/12]
Osamu, Masaru [2014/10]
Oshiro, Mima
Otermat, Robert [2013/10]
Pack, Jayen [2015/12]
Pack, Piper [2015/12]
Park, Michael
Patel, Dr. Ashokkumar [2016/09]
Paul, Alexander Patrick (also name of legitimate practising lawyer in California)
Peng, Hui [2015/10]
Penwarden, Frank [2015/09]
Peter, Cheng [2014/12]
Peterson, Jane
Philips, Giovanni [2016/01]
Philips, Rachel or Rachael
Pho Lee, Frank [2016/10]
Pieters, Tim [2015/11]
Pochu, Thana [2016/08]
Ponimdang, Prateep
Prodromou, Tom
Prodromou, Vickott
Proennecke, Stephan Mike [2014/01]
Qin, Gorge [2014/01]
Qiu, Zheming [2013/12]
Quen, Shi
Rager, Timothy
Rahman, Susan
Rawlinson, David II [2015/03]
Reaching, Shengzhou [2014/01]
Riccardo, Morris [2016/01]
Richard, Andrew [2016/09]
Richardson, Angela [2014/02]
Richmond, James [2014/06]
Ritzinger, Volker [2016/08]
Robbe, Johan [2016/08]
Robert, Gregory
Roberts, Lawson
Robertson, John [2015/08]
Robertson, Rich
Rodriguez, Maria [2015/12]
Rudic, Mark
Russell, Mei [2014/06]
Ryo, Akio [2013/04]
S.M.S. Technology Ltd. [2014/05]
Sakihito, Junko
Sakura, Masashi [2015/10]
Satoshi, Ken [2014/01]
Savage, Tammy
Schwartz, Tammy
Scotia, Kathy
Scott, Brianna Rowena [2015/09]
Sebastian, Andre [2015/12]
Seidel, Gary [2015/03]
Seiders, Gary Lee [2013/05]
Shen, Frank [2016/09]
Shengli, Yu
Shibuya, Akiyori [2013/10]
Shikida, Yoshiki of SKD Japan Co, LTD [2014/12]
Shinomoto, Manabu [2014/02]
Shinji, Kagawa
Shunliang, Hu of MaanShan Iron & Steel Co. Ltd [2015/02]
Shunshi, Brianna
Shui, Chen
Silva, Nick [2015/04]
Simmons, Hanako [2013/07]
Sixsmith, Martin
Smith, Daniel
Smith, David [2015/06]
Smith, James [2016/08]
Smith, Paul [2016/11]
Song, Huan aka Huan Shan [2013/11]
Song, Shan [2013/11]
Sou, Heng Nguon [2016/11]
Sougorov, Nourlan
Stephen, Hill [2015/05]
Sterns, William
Steven, Jerry
Stevenson, Alvey [2014/06]
Stevenson, Ronald
Stroddard, Davin [2015/10]
Stryker, Nishiyo [2014/03]
Styrud, Anna [2014/01]
Su, Jing [2014/07]
Sullivan, Terry
Suzuki, Junya [2014/11]
Suzuki, Kenta [2017/04]
Suzuki, Kiyoyuki [2014/08]
Swang, Alice [06/2014]
Swang, Yan [06/2014]
Switzer, Donna [2015/08]
Tanaka, Hiroshi
Tang Yuk Tim [2015/05]
Takahashi, Rika
Takaya, Fumito
Tanaka, Yasufumi [2014/05]
Tatsuyuki, Matsui [2013/11]
Terazawa, Hiromi [2015/03]
Terry, Derreck [2013/11]
Thatcher, Pamela of Corona, California (email) (Note that the legitimate Pamela Thatcher, who used to practise law at the same address, has no connection to this scam)
Tiachi, Hillary
Tim, Tang Yuk [2015/05]
Toshinari, Motonori of Kaga Electronics Co., Ltd. [2015/08]
Troyer, David [2013/10]
Trump, Steven [2015/12]
Tsikoudis, Christos [2014/11]
Tu, Jyoung Chung
Tu, Young Chung
Turner, Julian [2014/05]
Van Hae, Joe
Vincent, Martin [2016/09]
Wahlberg, David [2015/09]
Walton, Asami [2015/11]
Walton, Rina [2013/09]
Wang, Alice [2015/08]
Wang, David
Wang, Lucy [2013/09]
Wang Xinji Po
Wang, Yan [2016/10]
Watwood, Edward of Kabushikigaisya Sans Trading [2014/06]
Wazarti, Eria [2014/06]
Wazarti, Rexito [2014/06]
Wei, Li of Coma Holdings Inc. [2013/04]
Weijian, He [2013/11]
Welbeck, Richie [2015/01]
William, Ben [2013/07]
Williams, Craig [2013/09]
Williams, Edward
Williams, Fred
Wilson, Wilfred [2016/09]
Wong, Jennifer [2010/03]
Wood, Alice
Wu, Cheng [2013/11]
Xiandong, Qui
Yamamoto, Takeo [2015/06]
Yamamoto, Yuki [2013/05]
Yamanaka, Muraki
Yamato, Hikari
Yanai, Asako Tadashi
Yasuko, Williams
Yeng, Ma Li
Yeong, Mr. [2014/11]
Yin, John
Yomex, Tony [2013/09]
Yoshimitsu, Kiyoshi
Yoshimura, Ed [2014/10]
Yoshiro, Ken [2015/09]
Young, Cooper [2014/06]
Young, Harmony
Young, Rufus [2013/05]
Young, Sain [2014/01]
Yu, Miyahara [2013/10]
Zamora, Frank
Zhang, Chang [2017/05]
Zhang, Lee [2015/10]
Zhang, Nan
Zhang, Sui [2015/09]
Zheng, Zujin [2015/12]
Zhu, Mr. [2014/11]
Zimmerman, Patricia
Zoltan, Ray Richard [2013/05]
Zujin, Zheng [2015/12]
Zukerberg, Kumura

List of people by name

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

Al-At

Au

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

B

Ba

Be-Bl

Bo

Br

Bu-By

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

C

Ca-Ce

Ch-Ci

Cl-Cu

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

D

Da-Dh

Di-Du

Dy

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

E

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

F

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

G

Ga-Gl

Go

Gr-Gy

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

H

Ha

He-Hi

Ho-Hy

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

I

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

J

Ja-Jo

Ju

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

K

Ka-Ki

Kl-Ku

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

L

La

Le-Li

Ll-Ly

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

M

Ma-Mar

Mas-May

Mc-Mi

Mo-Mu

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

N

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

O

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

P

Pa-Pe

Ph-Pz

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Q

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

R

Ra-Ri

Ro

Ru

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

S

Sa-Se

Sh-So

Sp-Sy

Sz

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

T

Ta-To

Tr-Tw

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

U

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

V

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

W

Wa

We-Wh

Wi-Wy

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

X

Y

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Z

Disques à Tempo wins historic judgement in Montreal

Saturday, May 13th, 2017

MONTREAL—In the wake of years of recurrent intellectual property infractions against most of the works of Disques à Tempo, the Court of Quebec ruled yesterday in Montreal against the owner of fuza.fr, Fan2zik and several other web sites.

It was an important trial that tested Canada’s new intellectual property law and the Berne Convention to which both Canada and France are signatories, that let rights holders defend their rights in the jurisdiction of their choice. In this case, the infractions were committed by a French citizen but the damages were inflicted upon Disques à Tempo in Quebec.

The Court ruled orally from the bench on three counts in making its judgement, with the written version to follow in the weeks to come, to the effect that the Court of Quebec is perfectly competent in the matter that was raised and that the Court welcomed the occasion to undertake the case.

The Court also noted the absence of defendant Benjamin Antigny during the hearings and after putting out a call for Antigny over the Montreal courthouse intercom system, examined and declared that it was satisfied by the evidence, decided that the case could proceed in absentia, however, given the significance of the questions raised by Disques à Tempo in terms of new provisions of Canada’s new intellectual property law with respect to online streaming and downloading, it agreed to hear all of the evidence and conduct a full trial.

After hearing and reviewing all the evidence, the judge, concluded that Benjamin Antigny had infringed upon Disques à Tempo’s intellectual property rights, owned by Roger-Luc Chayer, affirmed that Roger-Luc Chayer was Disques à Tempo’s sole rights holder. It confirmed that the web site fuza.fr owned by Benjamin Antigny, which the server OVH has since shut down, had illegally and without permission broadcast and offered free-of-charge 26 images belonging to Disques à Tempo, which failed to respect his server OVH’S user agreement and that he had lied about the legality of his conduct on OVH, which repeatedly violated Disques à Tempo’s rights and that, in accordance with Canada’s law and the Berne Convention, it sentenced the perpetrator of the fraud to pay $10,000 in damages and required Antigny to pay Disque à Tempo’s court costs, with interest and penalties since 2015, which significantly increased the amount of the judgement.

“I asked for $10,000 for infringing my rights and I received $10,000, so I can’t help but be pleased by a firm ruling against a cyberpirate,” stated Disques à Tempo owner Roger-Luc Chayer. “I hope that this judgement will serve to deter those who might otherwise illegally distribute Disques à Tempo’s works that they will hit a wall with this judgement, for which has established new jurisprudence.”

It’s worth noting that a representative of the firm OVH who attended the trial not only affirmed the fiolations but also explained to the judge the actions that it had taken against Bemjamin Antigny to put a stop to his use of the firms servers.

Disques à Tempo had already, in 2014 won an out-of-court settlement against the American web site MySpace, following another Court of Québec casea brough by Disques à Tempo.

« When I produce a record, I do it with my own unsubsidized money, time, creativity and experience, and to see these pirates repeatedly broadcast my works around the world without  permission—which, in fuza.fr’s case Benjamin Antigny’s fourth offence, I had no choice but to sue him in order to put an end to his illegal actions which will henceforth incur heavy financial penalties in France if he doesn’t put a stop to these practices,” the journalist and musician firmly asserted.

roger-luc.chayer@le-national.com

CRISPR Eliminates HIV in Live Animals

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

  • Due to their innate nature to hide away and remain latent for extended periods of time, HIV infections have proven notoriously difficult to eliminate. Yet now, new data released from a research team led by investigators at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University (LKSOM) and the University of Pittsburgh shows that HIV DNA can be excised from the genomes of living animals to eliminate further infection. Additionally, the researchers are the first to perform this feat in three different animal models, including a “humanized” model in which mice were transplanted with human immune cells and infected with the virus. Findings from the new study were published recently in Molecular Therapy in an article entitled “In Vivo Excision of HIV-1 Provirus by saCas9 and Multiplex Single-Guide RNAs in Animal Models.”

    This is the first study to demonstrate that HIV-1 replication can be completely shut down and the virus eliminated from infected cells in animals with a powerful gene-editing technology known asCRISPR/Cas9. The new work builds on a previous proof-of-concept study that the team published in 2016, in which they used transgenic rat and mouse models with HIV-1 DNA incorporated into the genome of every tissue of the animals’ bodies. They demonstrated that their strategy could delete the targeted fragments of HIV-1 from the genome in most tissues in the experimental animals.

    “Our new study is more comprehensive,” noted co-senior study author Wenhui Hu, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor in the Center for Metabolic Disease Research and the department of pathology at LKSOM. “We confirmed the data from our previous work and improved the efficiency of our gene-editing strategy. We also show that the strategy is effective in two additional mouse models, one representing acute infection in mouse cells and the other representing chronic, or latent, infection in human cells.”

    In this new study, the LKSOM team genetically inactivated HIV-1 in transgenic mice, reducing the RNA expression of viral genes by roughly 60% to 95%—confirming their earlier findings. They then tested their system in mice acutely infected with EcoHIV, the mouse equivalent of human HIV-1.

  • Click Image To Enlarge +
    Methodology used by the investigators in the current study. [Yin et al., Molecular Therapy, 2017]

    “During acute infection, HIV actively replicates,” explained co-senior study investigator Kamel Khalili, Ph.D., professor and chair of the department of neuroscience at LKSOM. “With EcoHIV mice, we were able to investigate the ability of the CRISPR/Cas9 strategy to block viral replication and potentially prevent systemic infection.” The excision efficiency of their strategy reached 96% in EcoHIV mice, providing the first evidence for HIV-1 eradication by prophylactic treatment with a CRISPR/Cas9 system.

    In the third animal model, a latent HIV-1 infection was recapitulated in humanized mice engrafted with human immune cells, including T cells, followed by HIV-1 infection. “These animals carry latent HIV in the genomes of human T cells, where the virus can escape detection, Dr. Hu explained. Amazingly, after a single treatment with CRISPR/Cas9, viral fragments were successfully excised from latently infected human cells embedded in mouse tissues and organs.

    In all three animal models, the researchers employed a recombinant adeno-associated viral (rAAV) vector delivery system based on a subtype known as AAV-DJ/8. “The AAV-DJ/8 subtype combines multiple serotypes, giving us a broader range of cell targets for the delivery of our CRISPR/Cas9 system,” remarked Dr. Hu. Additionally, the researchers re-engineered their previous gene-editing apparatus to now carry a set of four guide RNAs, all designed to efficiently excise integrated HIV-1 DNA from the host cell genome and avoid potential HIV-1 mutational escape.

    To determine the success of the strategy, the team measured levels of HIV-1 RNA and used a novel and cleverly designed live bioluminescence imaging system. “The imaging system, developed by Dr. Won-Bin Young while at the University of Pittsburgh, pinpoints the spatial and temporal location of HIV-1-infected cells in the body, allowing us to observe HIV-1 replication in real time and to essentially see HIV-1 reservoirs in latently infected cells and tissues,” stated Dr. Khalili.

    The researchers were excited by their findings and are optimistic about their next steps. “The next stage would be to repeat the study in primates, a more suitable animal model where HIV infection induces disease, in order to further demonstrate the elimination of HIV-1 DNA in latently infected T cells and other sanctuary sites for HIV-1, including brain cells,” Dr. Khalili concluded. “Our eventual goal is a clinical trial in human patients.”

HIV INFECTION FEARS Hundreds of patients across England ‘at risk’ of HIV after unwittingly being treated by doctor infected with the virus

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

The Sun

HUNDREDS of patients are at “risk of infection” and being recalled for blood tests after being treated by a doctor with HIV.

The recall affects 400 patients who were under the care of the locum doctor, who has not been named, at three hospitals between June 2010 and February 2015.

Some 400 patients are being recalled for blood tests after being treated by a doctor with HIV

Some 400 patients are being recalled for blood tests after being treated by a doctor with HIV

Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has recalled 120 patients, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust has recalled 223 and Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust has recalled 57.

The hospitals said patients who had undergone “invasive procedures where there is a potential risk of infection” had been identified and had been invited back for a precautionary blood test.

NHS England said concerns about the doctor first emerged in December 2015 at the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust (HEFT) in Birmingham.

It has tried to contact one of its patients thought to be at risk but has been unable to do so.

The doctor also worked at other trusts but a review found no patients were put at risk, NHS England said.

It said the doctor no longer works for the NHS and conditions have been placed on their registration by the General Medical Council (GMC).

The doctor was also given an interim suspension order earlier this year “because they failed to comply with the conditions placed upon them”.

NHS England said it will review the incident to learn lessons for the future.

BC HIV researcher among winners of $100000 Killam Prize

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

CTV News

OTTAWA — Leading HIV/AIDS researcher Julio Montaner is among a group of scientists, writers, doctors and researchers receiving a prestigious prize for brilliant work in fields including health sciences, engineering and humanities.

The Argentine-Canadian is among five scholars awarded this year’s Killam Prize, which honours Canadian researchers and scientists whose lifetime of work has impacted Canadians and citizens around the world.

Each receives $100,000 and will be honoured at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on May 30.

The groundbreaking Vancouver doctor, who heads the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, pioneered the highly active antiretroviral therapy and championed the “Treatment as Prevention” strategy.

Montaner is currently working with the World Health Organization on prevention strategies for viral hepatitis.

Other winners include University of Victoria scholar and lawyer John Borrows for his work to incorporate indigenous legal concepts into the practice of Canadian law, and University of Toronto philosopher Tom Hurka for his work on moral and political philosophy.

Then there’s evolutionary and molecular biologist W. Ford Doolittle of Dalhousie University, recognized for integrating the philosophy of biology and genomic research on notions of the “tree of life” and Gaia Theory; and University of Toronto researcher Molly Shoichet for her work on tissue and polymer engineering, focusing on targeted drug delivery, tissue regeneration and stem cell research.

 Winners are chosen by a committee of their peers. Previous winners include Victoria Kaspi, the late Mark Wainberg, and Nobel Prize winner Arthur McDonald.

The Killam program also announced recipients of its research fellowships, which dole out $840,000 over two years to six scholars for independent research projects.

This year’s group includes: Roberto Abraham of the University of Toronto for a project called “Probing the Low Surface Universe with Dragonfly”; Deborah J. Cook of McMaster University for “Modifying the Microbiome in Critical Illness: The Potential of Probiotics”; Eric Helleiner of University of Waterloo for “Globalizing the Classical Foundations of International Political Economy”; Dominic McIver Lopes of University of British Columbia for “Being for Beauty: Aesthetic Agency and Value”; Louis Taillefer of Universite de Sherbrooke for “High-temperature Superconductivity”; and Christine Wilson of McMaster University for “Dense Gas and Star Formation in Galaxies: An ALMA Archival Project.”

With Spiral for sale, gay community fears loss of ‘home’

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Lansing State Journal

LANSING – Spiral Dance Bar is one of two gay bars remaining in Lansing, and it’s up for sale.

Owner Tom Donall listed the property at 1247 Center St. in Old Town with NAI Mid-Michigan two weeks ago.

“It’s hard to be an operator who is not there all the time,” said Donall, who moved to Florida in the mid-2000s. “I think someone can take the space as an on-premise owner.”

Donall is looking to lease the business for $4,000 a month or sell the business and the liquor license for $375,000. He plans to retain ownership of the building.

But the sale has raised concerns among Spiral’s patrons that they’re losing one of the city’s welcoming spaces, a social hub for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

“It’s a safe space where anyone can go and be affectionate with their partner and no one’s going to judge you,” said Lorenzo Lopez, of Lansing, who’s been a patron for years.

And the prospect of losing a safe space is frightening, he said.

“Bars offer a way to connect with people,” he said. “Where are some of these young people going to go where they can show their identity?”

Donall opened Spiral in 1998, in part because he “wanted to build a space for the LGBT community,” he said, and in part as a “space for my own creativity.”

 An artist specializing in metal sculptures, Donall said he designed everything in the bar, from the funky artwork adorning the exterior to the steel bar inside.

The first time Melissa Kim walked into Spiral Dance Bar, “it felt like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, with its velvet curtains and steel bar.”

“It was one of the first gay bars in Michigan on such a grand scale,” said Kim, who now works there as a bartender. “It had a vision of grandeur. It’s always been a fun place to go and have a good time and lose yourself on the dance floor. And it’s a great resource to come and meet new people.”

The bar regularly hosts drag shows, pageants, live music and even circus acts.

And the fact that it’s going to be sold makes for “a sad day in the community,” said Liz Deatrick, an assistant manager at Spiral. “But business is business. After 20 years, everyone has a right to retire.”

The focus now is on “keeping it in the community,” she said. “We’re not going to lose our house. This is our home where we all come together. You can turn this into a straight golf bar, and we’ll still show up.”

Two Lansing lesbian bars have closed in the past decade. Club 505 shut its doors in 2008. The Chrome Cat opened in Old Town the following January – Donall owns that building, too – but shut down in the spring of 2011.

“A huge hole was left in the lesbian community when it closed,” Kim said, who used to be a bartender at Chrome Cat.

Aside from Spiral, the city’s only other gay bar is Esquire at 1250 Turner Street.

Despite its recent victories, such as the legalization of same-sex marriage, safe spaces are still needed in the gay community, Lopez said.

The debate over transgender bathrooms and the Orlando massacre last year, during which a man shot up a gay club, killing 50 people and wounding 53 others, validate that need, he said.

“After the Orlando shooting, the gay community rushed to the bars, to Spiral and Esquire, to begin the dialogue of ‘What do we do next?'” he said. “We need more safe spaces. We live in an era that is ambiguous. People are trying to undo marriage equality. There’s so much work that needs to be done.”

Both Kim and Lopez said the gay community is resilient and would find a new space if Spiral were to change.

“It seems like the community always finds a place to go that is welcoming,” Kim said.

But Donall remains optimistic that Spiral will remain in good hands.

“I’m hoping that someone who is part of the community will look into taking it over,” he said.

Gay vicar quits and attacks ‘institutional homophobia’

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

The Guardian

Andrew Foreshew-Cain, the first C of E vicar in a same-sex marriage, leaves his London parish and says he is blacklisted

 General Synod protest
A gay rights demonstrator outside a General Synod meeting in February. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

The first Church of England vicar in a same-sex marriage is leaving his parish and claims “institutional homophobia” in the church means he is blacklisted from getting another job.

Andrew Foreshew-Cain, 53, a member of the General Synod, resigned from his London parish on Sunday, telling parishioners it was a “relief” because his ministry, and that of other gay and lesbian clergy, was “barely tolerated rather than fully accepted and celebrated”.

The vicar of St Mary with All Souls, Kilburn, and St James in West Hampstead is moving to Manchester where his husband, Stephen, whom he married in 2015, is now working.

“In the normal course of things I would look for a job in the area,” he said. “But I am on a blacklist. I can’t carry on being a priest because the institutional homophobia of the church makes it impossible.

“I am sure lots of parishes would give me a job quite happily, but it is finding a bishop who would be willing to take the risk of licensing me to that parish. I am far too prominent.”

The Church of England bans clergy from gay marriage, but it has been tolerant of him in his current post.

Foreshew-Cain said the church’s stance was not only harmful to LGBT people but also “profoundly damaging” to the Christian community in the UK because of the message it sent to the wider community outside the church.

In a letter to parishioners, he explained: “When we married I was told that if I left here then an active ministry officially in the Church of England would be over, and that is likely to be the case.” He said the current leadership, “whilst willing to allow me to continue here, is unwilling to license me to a ministry elsewhere”.

He wrote of the “constant pressure” of working “for an institutionally homophobic organisation that blindly denies that its policies and practices are deliberately and harmfully discriminatory and wrong”.

He added: “I am looking forward to no longer feeling that a significant part of me is unwelcome and rejected by the organisation that I work for and have served faithfully for nearly 30 years.”

He is now looking forward to renovating the couple’s new home in the Peak District, which is, “with delicious irony”, he said, an old vicarage.

“I will carry on going to church. I will find a Christian community where I can worship and be part of and contribute and be welcome. I am not giving up on being a Christian. I am having my ability to function as a priest denied,” Foreshew-Cain said.

He said he knew of between 20 and 25 clergy in same-sex marriages, but most operated beneath the radar or had quietly converted their civil partnerships to marriage.

A spokesperson for the diocese of London said: “Fr Andrew Foreshew-Cain is currently a member of the clergy in the diocese of London. We understand that he has plans to move to Manchester for personal reasons but the diocese has not received his resignation at this time.”

This Decision Against a Gay Bishop Could Split the Methodist Church

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Mother Jones

In a 6-to-3 vote that was made public on Friday, April 28, the United Methodist Church’s Judicial Council—its highest court—ruled that the elevation in 2016 of Karen Oliveto to bishop was in violation of church law, because she is married to another woman.

“Under the long-standing principle of legality, no individual member or entity may violate, ignore, or negate church law,” the decision states. “It is not lawful for the college of bishops of any jurisdictional or central conference to consecrate a self-avowed practicing homosexual bishop.”

However, Oliveto “remains in good standing” with the church, according to the decision, until an administrative or judicial process can be completed.

Oliveto is the church’s first openly-gay bishop, and her election last July was hailed as a major step forward by LGBT advocates both within and outside the Methodist Church. She serves as bishop of the Mountain Sky region, which comprises Colorado, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, and one church in Idaho. A challenge was filed almost immediately after the appointment to the position by the South Central Jurisdiction because of the church’s longstanding policy regarding Oliveto’s sexual orientation.

Language in the church’s Book of Discipline states “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” are not eligible for leadership within the church because they have committed a sin by engaging in same-sex relationships. This language has divided members for many years. However, at the Methodist Church’s General Conference last year, the topic came to a head, and bishops appointed a “Commission on the Way Forward” to make a unified decision to settle the debate over LGBT issues going forward. There will be a special session in February 2019 to resolve this question, and it’s possible that the church may schism over it.

“Bishop Karen Oliveto remains our bishop as long as United Methodists across the connection maintain their commitment to building an inclusive church,” said Matt Berryman, executive director of Reconciling Ministries Network, a group that works toward fostering acceptance of LGBT persons within the Methodist Church. “We are enduring the labor pains that anticipate new life, and we will not falter.”

When I interviewed Oliveto for a profile in Mother Jones last year, we talked about her sexuality and the challenges she experienced in her church. Here’s what she said:

Oliveto knows that many in her religious community consider homosexuality a sin and justify this belief with biblical references. She acknowledges “there are six or seven passages that may or may not be about homosexuality,” but points out “we have a lot more on economic justice…on what it means to live and love, and to me, those are the things we ought to be focusing on.” The fundamental question, for Oliveto, involves God’s love: “If you’re going to tell me that my love is wrong, I’m concerned about the church and its ability to recognize God. Because we believe God is love and love is of God. So if you’re telling me that my love is invalid, then what is that saying about your understanding of God?”

Gay rugby star Sam Stanley hits out at critics of his ‘SilverDaddies’ marriage

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

PinkNews

Sam Stanley (Instagram @samstannerz)

Out gay professional rugby player Sam Stanley has hit back at critics of his age-gap engagement.

The 25-year-old athlete revealed over the weekend that he is to marry Laurence Hicks, his partner of seven years.

 Stanley posted an image of the two together on Instagram, writing: “After being a part of each others lives for almost 7 years, @lorenzo_uk has been my pretend godfather, uncle, cousin and many others in order to make sure no one found out about us and that we were a couple funny looking back after having come so far together.

“The most loving man I know and I’m incredibly happy to say we’re now engaged.”

Sam Stanley and Laurence Hicks

The engagement has attracted criticism from some, hitting out at the couple’s considerable difference in age.

“I’m sure as everyone knows, you’re not doing anything right if you’re not getting criticised in this world,” he told Attitude.

“Laurence and I love each other and to us that’s all that matters.
“We’re proud to represent the many relationships like ours.”

The pair met on website SilverDaddies.com, which describes itself as “a meeting place for mature men and other men (both daddies and younger), who are interested in keeping their daddy happy and/or sexually satisfied”.

Stanley confirmed the meeting, telling the magazine: “We first met online on a site called silverdaddies.com

“I mean I was never going to be seen out on the scene as I was so far in the closet at the time.”

The rugby star came out as gay back in 2015 and since said that the rugby world has been supportive of him.

After announcing his engagement, he also shared another photo saying he and Hicks are moving to Sicily “for good”, since explaining: “We’re moving May 8th so very soon. Laurence has a few travel projects he’s working on and I’m taking over a gym.”

The former player, who is now a personal trainer, said at the time that he knew he was gay from a young age.

He said: “I was 10 or 11 when I realised I was different to my friends.

“I didn’t want to accept it, I felt that being different wasn’t right. I had a girlfriend and I was thinking that, like some people say, maybe it is a phase.”

Stanley – who likes to post naked photos of himself singing and playing a guitar – also praised fellow out player Keegan Hirst, who he credited as his inspiration.

“I saw the reaction that he got and I was like ‘how encouraging is that’.

“But it took me a few weeks. I think I’ve been happy with myself for a while now.”

He also drew comparisons between his sport and football – which is now one of the few sports to have no active out gay players.

“Football stadiums – having been to games in the past – they can be hostile environments.

“I personally didn’t take the crowd and the fans into consideration. I just thought this is the best thing for me to do.

 “Maybe within football, because racism is still a big thing, maybe they put homophobia on the same sort of figure – if they see a gay player that’s a great target for fans to get into them about and put them off their game.”

Sam Stanley

However, he encouraged any football players that may be considering coming out to take the leap, as they will find more support than homophobia in both fans and fellow team mates.

“I’m sure if there was a footballer who came out they’ll get so much support it will be unbelievable. It’s juts waiting for that person to take that step.”

Gay Characters Could Already Exist in the MCU, Says Gunn

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

CBR (blog)

One of the biggest complaints from comic book fans over the past few years is the lack of diversity within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Prior to the 2014 announcement that the company would be making “Black Panther” and “Captain Marvel,” the studio had famously only cast straight while male leads in its films. Not only have fans seen more diversity in the lead actors on the Marvel television shows, but they’ve also offered us our first LBGTQ couples in the Cinematic Universe — most notably with “Jessica Jones” and the upcoming “The Runaways” and “New Warriors.” However, according to “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”director James Gun (via The Guardian), we may very well have a LBGTQ character in the films without knowing it.

While talking about the possibility of having a gay character in the Marvel films, Gunn revealed that he believes there could be a gay character — or even a bisexual character — that we don’t know about as of right now.

“You know, somebody asked me, ‘Will there be any gay characters in Marvel movies?’ and what I meant was there’s a lot of characters in the MCU and very few of them that we’ve delved into what their sexuality is. Whether it’s guy or straight or bisexual, we don’t really know. Um, so I imagine that there are probably, you know, gay characters in the Marvel universe, you know, we just don’t know who they are yet.”

With the Marvel Cinematic Universe set to see amassive overhaul going forward as Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel and Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther become mainstays within the MCU, it’s entirely possible that we’ll see more openly LBGTQ characters within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Next up for Gunn is “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” The film stars Chris Pratt as Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer, Vin Diesel as Baby Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon, Michael Rooker as Yondu Udonta, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Pom Klementieff as Mantis, Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha, Chris Sullivan as Taserface, Sean Gunn as Kraglin, Glenn Close as Irani Rael and Kurt Russell as Ego. “Vol. 2” will hit theaters this Friday, May 5th.

Gay Man Sues Funeral Home That Refused His 82-Year-Old Husband’s Body

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

nbcnews

One Mississippi family’s pain and grief after losing a loved one was compounded when the local funeral home suddenly refused to perform their relative’s cremation because he was gay.

Robert Huskey passed away in May 2016 after his heart condition worsened over the previous year. Knowing that his death was imminent, Huskey’s nephew had made arrangements with the local funeral home the month before his passing.

Image: Jack Zawadski
In this image made from video, Jack Zawadski speaks about his husband Robert Huskey who died in May 2016. Lamdba Legal

But according to a lawsuit announced Tuesday by Lambda Legal, the Picayune Funeral Home suddenly refused to pick up and cremate Huskey’s body as planned on the day of his death. All because that day, the lawsuit alleges, the funeral home discovered Huskey was gay and married to Jack Zawadski, his partner of 52 years.

“I felt as if all the air had been knocked out of me,” Zawadski said in a statement released Tuesday. “Bob was my life, and we had always felt so welcome in this community. And then, at a moment of such personal pain and loss, to have someone do what they did to me, to us, to Bob, I just couldn’t believe it. No one should be put through what we were put through.”

When the nursing home where Huskey died called his nephew to explain that the funeral home was refusing to handle the body, the family scrambled to find another one in the area. They had to work fast, because the body could not stay at the nursing home.

An old photo of married couple Robert Huskey (left) and Jack Zawadski. Huskey passed away in May 2016. Lambda Legal

Finally, the lawsuit states, the family found another funeral home with cremation services that would take Huskey’s body. It was 90 miles away.

Lambda Legal attorney Beth Littrell told NBC News they are suing the funeral home — and parent company Brewer Funeral Services — for breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent misrepresentation.

“John made all necessary arrangements before Bob’s passing in order to shield his 82-year-old uncle from additional suffering and to allow friends to gather to support Jack in his grief,” Littrell explained. “Instead, Bob’s peaceful passing was marred by turmoil, distress and indignity, adding immeasurable anguish to Jack and John’s loss. This should not have happened to them, and should not be allowed to happen again.”

In a phone call to the Picayune Funeral Home, a staffer said the company’s attorney forbid discussing the lawsuit.

No federal or Mississippi state law protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination — in fact, Mississippi’s controversial House Bill 1523 was signed to protect the rights of businesses that turn away LGBTQ customers because of moral or religious opposition.

Lambda Legal is fighting H.B. 1523 in court, too, and a judge blocked the law from taking effect until a higher court gives a final ruling on whether it’s unconstitutional. But in the meantime, there’s still no law protectingLGBTQ people from discrimination.

“The state of anti-discrimination laws in Mississippi is virtually nonexistent. Certainly not in Picayune,” said Littrell, who called the funeral home’s decision to refuse services to Huskey’s family “profoundly wrong.”

Federal legislation introduced Tuesday would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which currently bans discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion or national origin. At anintroduction ceremony for the Equality Act, Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin said passage of the bill will end the “patchwork” of nondiscrimination protections currently offered by only some cities and states.

“No person’s fundamental civil rights should be determined by which side of a state line they live on,” Griffin said. “But at this very moment, half of LGBT Americans live in a state where they are at risk of being fired, denied housing or refused service simply because of who they are. That’s un-American.”

Rob Hill, director of the Human Rights Campaign’s Mississippi chapter, told NBC News that his office is “deeply disappointed” by the funeral home’s actions.

“All Mississippians — regardless of who they are or whom they love — deserve to be treated with respect,” Hill said. “We will continue to push for expanded, statewide protections for LGBTQ Mississippians so that this type of unconscionable discrimination will be prevented in the future.”

How MPs have voted on gay rights issues

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

metro

Gay rights have been under the spotlight this election, thanks in part to an intense focus on Tim Farron’s views on homosexuality.

The LIb Dem leader did eventually clarify that he does not believe that gay sex is a sin but had previously refused to do so when asked by Channel 4 saying he was not in a position to make ‘theological pronouncements’.

And so with that in mind, Andrew Marr yesterday asked Theresa May, who like Farron is a Christian, if she believed gay sex was a sin, to which she gave a firm and abrupt ‘no’.

In terms of voting records on gay rights issues, the prime minister’s is mixed, where as Farron and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn have generally voted in favour of equal rights.

But the Conservative leader’s softening stance is well-documented. For instance, she suggested the Tories were planning to look at gay marriage in 2010 and said she had changed her mind in favour of gay adoption on becoming equalities minister.

Below we have listed how MPs have voted on prominent gay rights issues from 1998 onwards.

Reducing the age of consent from 18 to 16How MPs have voted on gay rights issues

Alan Duncan voted against the majority of his party to reduce the age of consent to 16 (Picture: Binnur Ege Gurun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Reducing the age of consent so that it was equal for both homosexual and heterosexual people was a long a drawn out battle that started long before MPs voted on amending the Crime and Disorder Bill in 1998.

Both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn were MPs at this point, however, were on difference sides of the fence.

Like most of his party the now Labour leader voted to reduce the age of consent for homosexual acts to 16, and like most of her party Theresa May voted against the change.

In the end the vote was passed by the Commons, but turfed out by the House of Lords meaning it did not become enshrined in law until it appeared in the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000.

In total 336 MPs voted for the age to be lowered and 129 against. Amongst the 18 Tory rebel MPs, whose views differed from the majority of their party, was Alan Duncan, the now deputy foreign secretary and first openly gay Conservative MP.

In the last few weeks I’ve become aware that if at some young age people felt like criminals, it stays with them all their lives – Ann Keen, Labour MP, who led the motion to reduce the age of consent

Jeremy Corbyn: Aye Theresa May: No

Rebel MPs (who voted against the majority of their party):

Conservatives: Richard Body aye, Tim Boswell aye, Peter Bottomley Con aye, Graham Brady Altrincham aye, Peter Brooke aye, David Curry aye, Alan Duncan aye, Michael Fabricant aye, Alastair Goodlad aye, Edward Heath aye, Robert Jackson Wantage aye Bernard Jenkin aye, Robert Key aye, Eleanor Laing aye, Sir Peter Lloyd aye, Andrew MacKay aye, David Prior aye, Andrew Rowe aye, Shaun Woodward aye

Labour: Donald Anderson no, Stuart Bell no, Gerry Bermingham no, Jamie Cann no, Tam Dalyell no, David Drew no, Gwyneth Dunwoody no, George Mudie no, Bill O’Brien no, Raymond Powell no, Allan Rogers no, Ted Rowlands no, Geraldine Smith no,
Robert Wareing no

Lib Dem:  Colin Breed no, John Burnett  no, Bob Russell no

You can see all votes here at publichwhip.org.uk

Gay couples’ right to adoptHow MPs have voted on gay rights issues

In 2002, the House of Lords rejected a Commons amendment to the Adoption and Children bill which would have allowed unmarried heterosexual and homosexual couples to adopt children.

Back in the Commons, MPs looking to reject the Lords modification and allow unmarried homosexual and heterosexual couples to adopt voted aye and those in favour no.

Theresa May was amongst those to agree with the Lords decision by voting no, along with 117 other MPs in her party. The vote

However, in 2010, upon becoming the equalities minister she said she had ‘changed her mind’ about gay couples adopting children.

In an appearance on Question Time, she was challenged about her record on voting against gay adoption, as well as missed votes on the Gender Recognition Bill – which gave transsexual people legal recognition in their acquired gender.

How MPs have voted on gay rights issues
As the new equalities minister, Theresa May said she had changed he rmind about gay adoption (Picture: Anthony Devlin – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

‘If those votes were today, yes, I have changed my view and I think I would take a different vote,’ she said.

‘On gay adoption I have changed my mind… because I have been persuaded that when you are looking at the future for a child, I think it’s better for a child who is perhaps in an institutional environment, if they have an opportunity of being in a stable, family environment – be that a heterosexual couple or a gay couple – then I think it’s more important that that child is in that stable and loving environment and I have genuinely changed my mind on that.’

Jeremy Corbyn: Aye Theresa May: No

Rebel MPs (who voted against the majority of their party):

Conservatives: John Bercow aye, Ken Clarke aye, David Curry aye, Julie Kirkbride aye, Andrew Lansley aye, Andrew MacKay aye, Francis Maude aye, Michael Portillo aye

Labour: Donald Anderson no, Joe Benton no, ony Colman no, David Crausby no, Tony Cunningham no, Denzil Davies no, Jim Dobbin no, David Drew no, Stephen Hepburn no, Alan Hurst no, Peter Kilfoyle no, Calum MacDonald no, David Marshall no, Bill O’Brien no, Kerry Pollard no, Frank Roy no, Gerry Steinberg no, Dave Watts no, Jimmy Wray no

Civil partnershipsHow MPs have voted on gay rights issues

MPs voted on civil partnerships in 2004 (Picture: Joel Goodman/LNP/REX/Shutterstock)

In 2004 the House of Commons voted strongly in favour of support civil partnerships, which would allow same sex couples to obtain legal recognition of their relationship.

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn both voted in favour of this.

On the Third Reading of the Bill, only 47 MPs voted against, 37 Conservative MPs and two Labour MPs.

The Conservative leadership allowed their MPs a free vote on the issue and the majority voted in favour, however, the likes of Iain Duncan Smith and Defence Secretary Michael Fallon were amongst the nos.

Then leader, Michael Howard, outlined his party’s thinking at the time, saying: ‘Civil partnership differs from marriage…To recognise civil partnerships is not, in any way, to denigrate or downgrade marriage. It is to recognise and respect the fact that many people want to live their lives in different ways. And it is not the job of the state to put barriers in their way.’

Jeremy Corbyn: Aye Theresa May: Aye

Rebel MPs (who voted against the majority of their party):

Conservatives: David Amess no, James Arbuthnot no, Julian Brazier no, Alistair Burt no, Bill Cash no, Christopher Chope no, Patrick Cormack no, James Cran no, Iain Duncan Smith no, Michael Fallon no, Adrian Flook no, Eric Forth no, Paul Goodman no, John Gummer no, Nick Hawkins no, John Hayes no, Gerald Howarth no, Greg Knight no, Edward Leigh no, Ian Liddell-Grainger no, David Lidington no, Peter Lilley Hitchin no, Anne McIntosh no, Patrick McLoughlin no, Owen Paterson no, Andrew Robathan no, Laurence Robertson no, Andrew Rosindell no, Andrew Selous no, Bob Spink no, Gary Streeter no, Desmond Swayne no, Teddy Taylor no, Andrew Turner no, Peter Viggers no, Angela Watkinson no, Ann Widdecombe no, John Wilkinson no, David Wilshire no

Labour: Denzil Davies no, Jim Dobbin no

Gay marriageHow MPs have voted on gay rights issues

MPs voted to endorse legisalation to support gay marriage in 2013 (Picture:  Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

MPs voted overwhelming to endorse legislation to give gay couples the right to marry in 2013.

However, despite a strong vote in favour, there were 175 MPs who refused to redefine marriage to make it available to all.

Of the dissenters 139 were Conservative, more than the number of Tory MPs in favour at 132. There were also 75 abstentions.

The dozens that opposed the idea included then environment secretary Owen Paterson, David Davies, the Brexit Secretary, Liam Fox, the International Secretary

But the prime minister said that while ‘strong views’ existed on both sides, he believeed that allowing gay people to marry was a ‘step forward’ for the country.

Of the current party leaders Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and Tim Farron all voted in support of gay marriage.

Indonesian men face 15 years jail ‘for holding gay party’

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Daily Mail

Eight Indonesian men face 15 years in jail ‘for holding a gay party’ in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country

  • Police burst into two hotel rooms in Surabaya at around midnight on Sunday
  • They arrested 14 men, and eight have now been named as suspects
  • Two of them could face prison sentences of up to 14 years for organising party
  • Some of the men were watching gay porn and performing ‘deviant sexual acts’

Officers took 14 people into custody after bursting into two hotel rooms in Surabaya, the second biggest city in the country.

Since Sunday’s arrest, police have named eight suspects, two of whom could face 15 years behind bars for organising the event.

The group of men, covering their faces, were arrested for holding a 'gay party' in Indonesia on Sunday

Two of the organisers could face up to 15 years in prison under harsh anti-pornography laws

Some of the men were watching gay porn and performing ‘deviant sexual acts’, said Shinto Silitonga, Surabaya police’s head of detectives.

Preliminary charges have been filed under Indonesia’s tough anti-pornography laws. Six of the arrested men were released.

‘This is the first time we enforce the law and arrest gay people in the city,’ Silitonga told AFP.

Except for Aceh province, which upholds sharia law, gay sex is not illegal in Indonesia, which mainly follows a criminal code inherited from former colonial ruler the Netherlands.

However, there was a backlash against the country’s LGBT community last year with government ministers publicly making anti-gay statements.

Some of the men were watching gay porn and performing 'deviant sexual acts', said Shinto Silitonga, Surabaya police's head of detectives

Ashers refuses to make gay engagement cake

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Belfast Telegraph

Joe Palmer, who is to wed long-term love Andy Wong this summer, says he’s hurt by the refusal to bake the cake ordered just weeks after a landmark Court of Appeal ruling against the firm run by Christian family the McArthurs.

In October judges upheld a finding that Ashers had discriminated against customer Gareth Lee due to his sexuality when it refused his order for a cake with a pro-gay marriage motto.

Joe’s friend Grainne McCann ordered and paid for the cake online, only to have the order rejected the next day.

London-based Grainne, who is from Northern Ireland, told Sunday Life: “The wording we requested was ‘Gay marriage rocks! Happy engagement, Andy and Joe! Lots of love xxx’. We were thrilled when Ashers accepted our online order, and full payment of £23.40 plus £20 P&P, but the next day they sent the cancellation note and a refund.

“My gut instinct told me the cake was refused because it celebrated gay marriage.”

To prove her point, Grainne then ordered a christening cake for her goddaughter Leila.

“Ashers couldn’t have been happier to make that cake,” she said.

“A woman from the company even offered to drive it to its destination in Dublin as a favour, because she was going that way.

“This was terribly kind, but I felt angry and sad that Ashers’ attitude to gay people is so different.”

Andy Wong (left) and Joe Palmer - getting married this summer 201744
Andy Wong (left) and Joe Palmer – getting married this summer 2017

Grainne managed to get a cake for her friends from a London bakery.

Joe said: “Thank God I live in London, where I can’t imagine something like this happening.

“I’m staggered that Ashers wouldn’t make the cake, but I’m glad that Londoncakes.com supplied it — the cake was delicious and made with love.”

Londoncakes.com owner Graham Brooks said:   “Obviously, if someone wanted a racist cake for an English Defence League meeting, we’d say no, but I don’t have the right to judge others’ views unless they’re illegal.”

Grainne said: “In my view, by turning away business based on the sexual orientation of the consumer they risk being sued again.

“My friends and I don’t want to sue — Andy and Joe want to focus on their forthcoming happy day — but others might want to take action.”

Daniel and Amy McArthur of Ashers Baking Company44
Daniel and Amy McArthur of Ashers Baking Company

Sunday Life contacted Ashers, but it refused to comment.

However, on the ‘build a cake’ section of its website the company outlines its terms and conditions.

It does not mention its stance on gay marriage, but states that people must not send content or images which contain any “threatening, defamatory, blasphemous or pornographic material”.

Also on the banned list are images and content portraying “any kind of child abuse, or are racially offensive or abusive of any religion, or likely to incite hatred against any person or group, or are otherwise criminal or offensive in the minds of reasonable people, or are obscene or menacing or harassing in any way, or breach any applicable law”.

Gay-Conversion Therapy Ban Survives as Supreme Court Rejects Appeal

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

bloomberg

The U.S. Supreme Court let stand a California law that bans licensed therapists from working with children to change their sexual orientation from gay to straight, rejecting an appeal that said the measure violates religious rights.

The rebuff leaves intact a federal appeals court decision upholding California’s 2012 first-of-its-kind law. The measure prohibits the form of counseling known as “conversion therapy.”

The ban was challenged by three people, led by licensed therapist and minister Donald Welch, who said it interferes with their right to practice their religious beliefs.

California officials urged the Supreme Court not to hear the appeal, saying the law doesn’t restrict what religious leaders can say, except in the context of a state-licensed therapy session.

The law applies to licensed doctors, psychologists, family therapists and social workers, and it subjects violators to discipline by state licensing bodies. The law lets licensed providers refer minors to religious leaders.

 

 

This Gay, Married Woman Was Told Her Relationship Doesn’t Even Count As De Facto

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

buzzfeed

In January, Australian couple Jessica and Amanda Gould were married in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Amanda (L) and Jessica Gould.

Supplied

Amanda (L) and Jessica Gould.

They had to travel overseas, as same-sex marriage is not legal in Australia. Following the wedding Jessica changed her surname to Amanda’s so they could both go by Gould.

In Australia people who have changed their names after marriage – including overseas marriages – are entitled to a free replacement passport.

But when Gould tried to arrange a complimentary new passport, she alleges she was told by an Australian Passport Office (APO) staff member that her marriage could not be classified as married or de facto, which left Gould in tears.

“When someone says to you, we don’t recognise your marriage and we don’t recognise your relationship either, it’s devastating,” Gould told BuzzFeed News.

The Goulds have lived as a de facto couple for more than two years, and share a bank account, lease agreement and bills. Their marriage is also registered in Victoria, where overseas same-sex marriages are recognised by law.

Gi15879022 / Getty Images

Gould says her experience with the APO began on April 6, when she phoned to ask for more information about the free replacement passport service. She was armed with a change of name certificate from the Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, and a foreign marriage certificate, as directed by the APO website.

“I was told that my overseas same-sex marriage did not qualify for a free replacement passport, as the government only recognises ‘heterosexual marriage’,” Gould said.

The following day she made an APO appointment to get the replacement as a “de facto” couple. She claimed the appointment on April 13 turned into an “absolute nightmare”.

Gould said she gave a male staff member a form outlining the proof for her “de facto” status – including information on her marriage, shared home and bank account.

“He then told me that he needed to speak with his manager, as he doesn’t get a lot of ‘these’ and was under the impression that my fee wouldn’t be waived,” she said.

“When I asked ‘Why not?’, he responded with, ‘I’m not sure, I will speak with my manager’. I stood at the counter for what felt like more than five minutes.”

Gould said a different staff member came to ask if she was OK.

After several minutes, Gould said, the male staff member returned to inform her that the relationship didn’t qualify as married or de facto, and that she was therefore not entitled to a free replacement passport.

Kritchanut / Getty Images

“You can probably imagine at this point that I was incredibly insulted,” Gould said.

“He showed zero empathy towards me; did not treat me as a human; and kept re-enforcing that this was the policy, even though at this point I was tearing up and almost crying.”

Gould said she eventually spoke to a “professional and compassionate” manager who apologised and told her she was entitled to the replacement.

Gould told BuzzFeed News the male staff member later said to her: “I wasn’t trying to disrespect you.”

Even though she ended up getting the free replacement passport, the whole experience left Gould feeling “disheartened and furious”.

“I think if same-sex marriage was legalised this discussion wouldn’t have even happened,” she told BuzzFeed News. “Just get it done. Don’t make people go down different routes because they’re gay or lesbian or whatever.”

Ivan Hinton-Teoh, an LGBTI rights campaigner from the Just Equal group, told BuzzFeed News that confusion and discrimination would continue until same-sex marriage is legalised.

“Many LGBTIQ Australians are married, or are in long-term relationships,” he said. “We should have a reasonable expectation that we can operate in our community without prejudice.

“A change to the Marriage Act is the only way to educate our community that LGBTIQ Australians should be treated equally under the law without exception.”

Peter Parks / AFP / Getty Images

In an email to Gould following a comprehensive complaint, an APO staff member acknowledged the Customer Service Charter had been breached and offered Gould an apology.

“You have raised a number of issues in your email that speak to issues of training, diversity awareness and customer service across our organisation. It is clear from our dealings with you, that we did not manage these issues well,” he wrote.

“I will be discussing your concerns with our training manager, as well as our Melbourne Passport Office manager. I am confident that the changes we implement will prevent a repeat of your experience.”

Gould said she was “pretty satisfied” with the response, but wanted to make sure it resulted in concrete change.

“I do feel there’s an acknowledgement that what happened was wrong, and to me that means a lot, but I don’t want those words to be empty,” she said.

The APO supplied a statement to BuzzFeed News: “The Australian Passport Office (APO) cannot comment on individual cases. APO policy is that same sex marriage certificates (issued by an overseas authority) are sufficient evidence of a de facto relationship for the purposes of a fee waiver under the Australian Passports Determination 2015. All APO staff have been reminded of this policy.”

Bromances flourish thanks to changing anti-gay sentiments

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

EurekAlert

A decline in homophobia is allowing young men to embrace the benefits of a non-sexual bromance with close male friends. According to Stefan Robinson of the University of Winchester in the UK, young men nowadays are socially encouraged to enjoy deep, emotional and physically intimate friendships. The so-called “bromance” allows them to achieve the kind of closeness that is deeper than in other times, adds Robinson, lead author of an article in Springer’s journal Sex Roles.

Young straight men’s same-sex relationships are becoming more emotionally nuanced and intimate thanks to a shift in the acceptance of homosexuality. To investigate this, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 30 undergraduate heterosexual men studying sport-degree programs at a British university. The study aimed to thoroughly examine what the men understood bromances to be, to what extent they privileged the relationship, and how they were enacted. They were specifically asked about their involvement in and openness to secret sharing, emotional intimacy, bed sharing, nudity and kissing other men.

Each of the 30 men had had at least one bromantic friend at some time or other. They were unanimous in describing what a bromance entailed, and how it positively impacted their lives. They agreed that deep emotional disclosure is essential in bromances. Many, for instance, noted that they could only fully discuss matters such as their health issues or sexual desires in complete confidence with their bromantic friends, and not with family or girlfriends.

“They were clear that a bromance offers a deep sense of unburdened disclosure and emotionality based on trust and love,” says Robinson. Robinson and his coauthors, Eric Anderson and Adam White, conclude that the permissibility of bromances, and the extent to which they are intimate, is highly contingent on cultural attitudes towards homosexuality. The research highlights that the expansion of social freedoms and masculine boundaries, as illustrated through bromances, are undoubtedly productive towards fostering a more emotive, expressive and healthy masculine culture.

Robinson however adds: “The absence of sexual attraction distinguishes these men as heterosexual to both themselves and others, and shows that the men share a progressive understanding that love can exist between two people without the need or requirement for sex with each other.”

The results indicate that bromances have achieved a deep resonance in UK university culture and that men interpret these relationships as real, important and legitimate, and not a fantasy as is depicted in many popular television programs or films. Bromances allow them to push the cultural margins of traditional masculinity towards more intimate and expressive behaviours.

The research team urges scholars to recognize that bromances can play an important role in the everyday lives of young men. “For those dealing with depressive symptoms or social anxieties, bromances may offer a way forward and a coping strategy,” says Robinson.

Are gay sex preferences genetic?

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Daily Mail

Are gay sex preferences genetic? Homosexual men may be born to be ‘tops’ or ‘bottoms’, scientists claim

  • Researchers interviewed 240 men at the Toronto Pride Festival
  • Results showed ‘tops’ were more likely to right-handed with younger sisters
  • While ‘bottoms’ were more likely to be left-handed and have older brothers
  • The researchers say that the results shouldn’t be taken at face value, as sex role identity development is a complex process that unfolds over decades

The divide between dominant and passive sex roles has long been debated, especially within the gay community.

Now, a new study suggests that there could be a genetic component to what makes a gay man a ‘top’ or ‘bottom’ in anal sex.

Researchers surveyed gay men, and found that ‘bottoms’ were more likely to be left-handed and have older brothers, while ‘tops’ were more likely to be right-handed and have younger sisters.

Researchers surveyed gay men, and found that 'bottoms' were more likely to be left-handed and have older brothers, while 'tops' were more likely to be right-handed and have younger sisters (stock image)

KEY FINDINGS

The researchers contacted 240 men at the 2015 Toronto Pride festival, and asked them to answer a survey on their sex positions – both in practice and in preference.

The respondents were also asked about how gender-conforming they were as children – more interested in male-typical activities, and exhibiting more masculine personality characteristics.

Other questions in the survey included whether men were left or right handed, and the number and gender of siblings.

The results showed that bottoms identified as being less gender-conforming, were more likely to be left-handed and have more older brothers.

In contrast, tops identified as being more gender-conforming, and were more likely to be right-handed with younger sisters.

Stereotypically, ‘tops’ are seen as masculine, taking up the male tradition of dominance during sex, while ‘bottoms’ are seen as more feminine, taking a more passive role.

Researchers from the University of Toronto put these stereotypes to the test in the hope of understanding whether there was a biological component to sex roles.

In their study, the researchers contacted 240 men at the 2015 Toronto Pride festival, and asked them to answer a survey on their sex positions – both in practice and in preference.

The respondents were also asked about how gender-conforming they were as children – more interested in male-typical activities, and exhibiting more masculine personality characteristics.

Other questions in the survey included whether men were left or right handed, and the number and gender of siblings.

The results showed that bottoms identified as being less gender-conforming, were more likely to be left-handed and have more older brothers.

In contrast, tops identified as being more gender-conforming, and were more likely to be right-handed with younger sisters.

Speaking to Jezebel, Dr Doug VanderLaan, an author of the study, said: ‘What’s interesting about this work is even among a group of individuals who are pretty similar in terms of their sexual preference – that is, gay men preferring men – there could be a diverse set of processes that lead them to exhibit that same sexual orientation outcome.’

In particular, the researchers say that the differences between right and left handed men are particularly useful. Hand preference is evident very early on in life, and is not usually affected by social or cultural factors

In particular, the researchers say that the differences between right and left handed men are particularly useful. Hand preference is evident very early on in life, and is not usually affected by social or cultural factors

In particular, the researchers say that the differences between right and left handed men are particularly useful.

Hand preference is evident very early on in life, and is not usually affected by social or cultural factors.

But Dr VanderLaan does not think that the results should be taken at face value.

The results showed that bottoms identified as being less gender-conforming, while tops identified as being more gender-conforming

He added: ‘Sex role identity development is a complex process that unfolds over decades.

‘So the idea that some early life developmental experience that happened in the womb has a direct impact on someone’s sex role behaviour decades late seems potentially a little too simplistic and we certainly don’t have demonstrative evidence that that sort of scenario is indeed the case.’

Gay men recount days of torture in Chechnya: ‘We were beaten several times a day’

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

thestar

MOSCOW—Anzor was lying on a dirty floor as a man in army boots jumped on his back. His agony worsened when his captors started torturing him with electric shocks.

“It’s a feeling like they are breaking every bone of every joint in your body at the same time,” he said.

Anzor is a gay man from Chechnya, the predominantly Muslim region in southern Russia where dozens of men suspected of being gay were reportedly detained and tortured, and at least three of them were allegedly killed.

After his ordeal, Anzor fled Chechnya and is now in hiding in Moscow, fearing not only for his own life but for the safety of his relatives. He spoke with The Associated Press on the condition of using only his first name.

 

Antipathy to homosexuality in Russia is widespread. Gay rights activists’ requests to hold rallies are routinely rejected by officials and any rallies that do take place are often attacked by anti-gay thugs. But “this anti-gay purge, sanctioned by top local authorities, is unprecedented,” said Tanya Lokshina, the Russia program co-ordinator for Human Rights Watch.

Another gay man, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, told the AP that he was also arrested in Chechnya and held with dozens of others.

“We were tortured every day. Beside beatings, we were beaten several times a day with polypropylene tubes. We were tortured with electricity,” he said.

“For 20-30 seconds they spin the handle, you feel the electricity, then you fall down, they stop it, and then immediately you come back to consciousness and you are ready again for a new discharge,” he said. “And it goes on five, six, seven times.”

The abuse was first reported in April by the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which said that about 100 men suspected of being gay were rounded up and tortured, and that at least three were killed.

Western governments and rights groups have urged Russian authorities to investigate.

Chechen officials vehemently deny not only the reported torture of gays, but sometimes their very existence.

“There are no homosexuals in Chechnya. You cannot detain and persecute those who do not exist,” Alvi Karimov, a spokesman for Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, told the Interfax news agency.

“This anti-gay purge, sanctioned by top local authorities, is unprecedented,” says Tanya Lokshina, the Russia program coordinator for Human Rights Watch.
“This anti-gay purge, sanctioned by top local authorities, is unprecedented,” says Tanya Lokshina, the Russia program coordinator for Human Rights Watch.  (PAVEL GOLOVKIN / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)  

Homosexuality is a taboo in conservative Chechnya, and the gay community there was used to leading a double life — marrying, having children and hiding their sexuality from even their closest family members. The only time a gay man in Chechnya could be himself is when he met with another gay person, typically through social media, Anzor said.

“The rest of the time we are pretending,” he said.

Anzor, who talked to the AP at a safe house provided by LGBT activists, fears for the lives of his family members who will become pariahs in the patriarchal Chechen society if his identity is revealed.

“Sometimes families turn away from such people, some families get rid of such people,” he said of gays, a word he is visibly uncomfortable using. “I’m scared for my family, my sisters and brothers. I don’t want them to suffer for me.”

Anzor, in his 40s, said the ordeal began when police stopped the car in which he was riding with friends in the town of Argun. They were taken to a police station after officers found a sedative pill on one friend. Small details that Anzor didn’t want to make public led the police to believe that he and one of his friends were gay, he said.

They were brutally beaten in front of the police station chief and taken to a shed. Anzor spent 10 days there.

He said the shed had dozens of men who were beaten and abused by camouflaged men. In the first few days, the beatings were so frequent that he stopped feeling any pain, Anzor said, overcome at the memory. Inmates were made to attach the clamps of electric wires to their toes and fingers — and the captors would then turn on the power.

Then the torture stopped. Several days later Anzor was taken outside and told that he was free to go — without any explanation.

He thought about going to a neighbouring region and reporting his bruises and injuries at the hospital there, but got scared.

“I thought if I would go there, they would be people like that there, too,” he said, laughing nervously.

The other gay man who spoke to the AP said that his ordeal began when police arrested him in a crowded place, because his number was found in the phone of another gay man arrested earlier.

He said that he believed his captors, dressed in camouflage, were abusing them one by one in a bid to find more gays.

“They were beating information out of us,” he said.

An activist in front of the Chancellery in Berlin on April 30 during a demonstration calling on Russian President to put an end to the persecution of gay men in Chechnya.
An activist in front of the Chancellery in Berlin on April 30 during a demonstration calling on Russian President to put an end to the persecution of gay men in Chechnya.  (JOHN MACDOUGALL / AFP / GETTY IMAGES)  

The man, in his 30s, said that when the abusers lost interest in one person, the torture would stop. He was eventually freed, and like Anzor, fled Chechnya and sought shelter through LGBT activists in Moscow.

Human rights groups have previously documented torture and extrajudicial killings perpetrated by Kadyrov’s security forces against opponents and Salafi Muslims. Lokshina said the methods used against gay men echo these abuses — it’s “their standard tool box,” she said.

Putin last month met with Kadyrov in the Kremlin and the Chechen leader dismissed the reports.

“The so-called good people write that in our republic — I’m even ashamed to say it — people get arrested and killed,” he said. Putin apparently didn’t press him further.

“I’m in absolute shock. We have never seen anything like this,” said Tatyana Vinnichenko, head of the Russian LGBT Network, which is aiding about 40 gay men who have fled Chechnya in recent weeks.

Vinnichenko’s phones ring every few minutes as she co-ordinates efforts with other activists on hospital treatment, plane tickets and housing arrangements. Two of the men have already left Russia for another country which is visa-free for Russians, and two more have just received visas and should be leaving for Europe soon.

LGBT activists have been meeting with foreign diplomats, pleading that granting a visa to gay survivors of torture could be a matter of saving their lives.

Vinnichenko said, with dismay, that the U.S. Embassy in Moscow has been “unwilling to engage in a dialogue on visas for the torture victims.”

In Washington, the U.S. State Department told the AP that it was “unable to discuss individual cases” since visa records are confidential but added that it “categorically condemns the persecution of individuals based on their sexual orientation.”

After he was released, Anzor stayed in Chechnya to tend to his ailing mother, but eventually felt compelled to leave.

“My friends, people I have socialized with were all rounded up. If they caught me again, I know for sure I would not have made it out of there alive,” he said.

He told his family he was going away on business when he left for Moscow in early March and he hasn’t been back since. He clings to the hope that he will be able to go home to see his mother once again — and scoffs at the Kremlin meeting between Kadyrov and Putin.

“I think Putin knows about it, he knows it even better than me — he is the president of Russia after all,” he says. “I don’t know why he allows all of this to happen.”

Chechnya gay rights: Merkel urges Putin to intervene

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

BBC News

Detained gay rights activist in Moscow with sign saying 'love is stronger than homophobia', 25 May 13Image copyrightAFP
Image caption“Love is stronger than homophobia”: a placard held by a detained gay rights activist in Moscow in May 2013

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to help protect gay rights.

Activists say police in the republic of Chechnya have arrested and tortured dozens of gay people in a crackdown.

Mrs Merkel raised the issue during her first visit to Russia since 2015, which saw her hold talks with Mr Putin at his summer residence in Sochi.

Relations between the two nations have been strained over Syria and Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Chechen police ‘torturing gay men’

Russia paper warned over Chechnya reports

At a tense joint news conference with Mr Putin, Mrs Merkel said she had received “negative reports on the way that homosexuals are dealt with, particularly in Chechnya”.

She added: “I asked President Putin to use his influence to ease the way that homosexuals… are dealt with in the country.”

The news conference also saw:

  • The two leaders urge the full implementation of the Minsk agreement, an internationally-brokered peace deal for Ukraine
  • Mr Putin urge a “thorough and unbiased investigation” into the chemical weapons attack on a Syrian town last month
  • Mr Putin insist that Russia “never interferes in the political life and the political processes of other countries – and we don’t want anybody interfering in our political life and foreign policy processes”
  • Mrs Merkel declare: “I am always of the view that even if there are serious differences of opinion in some areas, talks must continue”

Mr Putin is due to meet Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan later on Wednesday.


‘It’s the extermination of gay men’

 Media caption‘Ruslan’, a gay man who says he fled: “It’s the extermination of gay men”

Just a few weeks ago, “Ruslan” was with his wife and children in Chechnya. Now he’s in a safe house for men fleeing detention and torture for being gay.

Reports of a campaign against gay men by Chechen security forces have beentrickling through since early April when they first appeared in a Russian newspaper. Now some of the alleged victims are starting to speak out.

“When they brought me in, I denied everything,” says Ruslan – not his real name. Even now, he is frightened of being identified.


Homophobia is widespread in Chechnya, a mainly Muslim region run by Ramzan Kadyrov, an authoritarian leader with a notorious private militia who is fiercely loyal to President Putin.

Last month, Natalia Poplevskaya of the Russian LGBT Network said there was “an organised campaign to detain gay men” in Chechnya.

Victims of the crackdown – who were either gay or just perceived to be gay – were being held at a detention centre near Argun, 20km (13 miles) from the city of Grozny, she said.

“Torture is going on with electric shocks, beatings with cables,” she told the BBC, adding that three deaths had been reported. “All the people arrested are homosexual men or perceived as being gay.”

A Chechen government spokesman, Alvi Karimov, denied the allegations.

“You can’t detain and repress people who simply don’t exist in the republic,” he said.

Is being gay or lesbian genetic?

Friday, April 28th, 2017

PinkNews

A lesbian couple in Chile (Claudio Reyes/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s a long running question when it comes to homosexuality – is yoursexuality caused by nature or nuture? Many readers have no doubt wondered if being gay is genentic. Recent research indicates that gay people could share a so called ‘gay gene’.

This explainer by Professor Jenny Graves tries attempts to answer the old age question.

 The claim that homosexual men share a “gay gene” created a furore in the 1990s. But new research two decades on supports this claim – and adds another candidate gene.

To an evolutionary geneticist, the idea that a person’s genetic makeup affects their mating preference is unsurprising. We see it in the animal world all the time. There are probably many genes that affect human sexual orientation.

But rather than thinking of them as “gay genes”, perhaps we should consider them “male-loving genes”. They may be common because these variant genes, in a female, predispose her to mate earlier and more often, and to have more children.

Likewise, it would be surprising if there were not “female-loving genes” in lesbian women that, in a male, predispose him to mate earlier and have more children.

 What is the evidence for gay genes or the concept that homosexuality is genetic?

We can detect genetic variants that produce differences between people by tracking traits in families that display differences.

Patterns of inheritance reveal variants ofgenes (called “alleles”) that affect normal differences such as hair colour, or disease states such as sickle cell anaemia.

Quantitative traits, such as height, are affected by many different genes, as well as environmental factors.

It’s hard to use these techniques to detect genetic variants associated with male homosexuality, because many gay men prefer not to be open about their sexuality. It is even harder because twin studies show that shared genes are only part of the story;hormones, birth order and environment play roles too.

In 1993, American geneticist Dean Hamer found families with several gay males on the mother’s side, suggesting a gene on the X chromosome. He showed that pairs of brothers who were openly gay shared a small region at the tip of the X, and proposed that itcontained a gene that predisposes a male to homosexuality.

Hamer’s conclusions were extremely controversial. He was challenged at every turn by people unwilling to accept that homosexuality is at least partly genetic, rather than a “lifestyle choice”.

 

Gay men were divided: it vindicated the oft-repeated claims that “I was born this way” but also opened frightening new possibilities for detection and discrimination.

Similar studies gave contradictory results. A later search found associations with genes onthree other chromosomes.

This year, a larger study of gay brothers, using the many genetic markers now available through the Human Genome Project, confirmed the original finding, and also detectedanother “gay gene” on chromosome 8. This has unleashed a new flurry of comment.

But why such a furore when we know of gay gene variants in species from flies to mammals? Homosexuality is quite common throughout the animal kingdom. For instance, there are variants that influence mating preference in mice and a mutation in the fruit fly makes males court other males instead of females.

Is the ‘gay gene’ really a ‘male-loving allele’?

The puzzle is not whether “gay genes” exist in humans, but why they are so common (estimates from 5-15%). We know that gay men have fewer children on average, so shouldn’t these gene variants disappear?

There are several theories that account for the high frequency of homosexuality. A decade ago I wondered if gay gene variants have another effect that boosts the chances of leaving offspring (“evolutionary fitness”), and passing the gay allele on.

A normal blood cell behind a human blood cell of a sickle cell anaemia patient.  Wellcome Images/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

This is a well-known situation (called “balanced polymorphism”) in which an allele is advantageous in one situation and not in another. The classic case is the blood disease sickle cell anaemia, which leads to disease and death if you have two alleles, but to malaria resistance if you have only one, making it common in malarial regions.

A special category is “sexually antagonistic genes” that increase genetic fitness in one sex, but not in the other; some are even lethal. We have many examples across many species. Maybe the gay allele is just another of these.

Perhaps “male-loving” alleles in a female predispose her to mate earlier and have more children. If their sisters, mother and aunts have more kids who share some of their genes, it would make up for the fewer children of gay males.

And they do. Lots more children. An Italian group showed that the female relatives of gay men have 1.3 times as many children as the female relatives of straight men. This is a huge selective advantage that a male-loving allele confers on women, and offsets the selective disadvantage that it confers on men.

I am surprised that this work is not better known, and its explanatory power is neglected in the whole debate about the “normality” of homosexual behaviour.

How ‘normal’ are gay alleles?

We have no idea whether these genetic studies identified “gay alleles” of the same or different genes.

It is interesting that Hamer detected the original “gay gene” on the X, because this chromosome has more than its fair share of genes that affect reproduction, but I would expect that there are genes all over the genome that contribute to mate choice in humans (female-loving as well as male-loving).

If there are male-loving and female-loving alleles of tens or hundreds of genes battling it out in the population, everyone will inherit a mixture of different variants. Combined with environmental influences, it will be hard to detect individual genes.

It’s a bit like height, which is influenced by variants in thousands of genes, as well as the environment, and produces a “continuous distribution” of people of different heights. At the two extremes are the very tall and the very short.

In the same way, at each end of a continuous distribution of human mating preference, we would expect the “very male-loving” and the “very female-loving” in both sexes.

 Gay men and lesbian women may simply be the two ends of the same distribution.

Jenny Graves, Distinguished Professor of Genetics, La Trobe University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Gay Asylum-Seeker Is Stuck in Immigration Detention

Friday, April 28th, 2017

Advocate.com

denis davydov
Denis Davydov

Denis Davydov, 30, a gay HIV-positive Russian asylum-seeker, has been detained for a month at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement center in Florida since returning to the United States after visiting the U.S. Virgin Islands, reports KPIX, a TV station in San Francisco.

Davydov came to the U.S. legally in 2014, but he overstayed a six-month visa. After he was detained by ICE, he applied for political asylum, said Sergey Piskunov, a member of RUSA LGBT, a Russian LGBT group.

“He’s a gay man and HIV-positive,” Piskunov told KPIX. “Russia is not the best place for either of those and he’s a combination of both.”

He was detailed by federal agents at an airport when he was on his way home to the Bay Area. “They checked his documents, and he said they were trying really hard to find something wrong,” Piskunov said. “They put him on a plane to Miami and transported him to Florida.”

A spokesman for ICE in Florida confirmed to KPIX that Davydov is in the agency’s custody. Davydov is currently receiving HIV medications in detention, but he needs doctor and hasn’t been given acesss to one, Piskunov told KPIX. “This is one of the reasons we really want to get him out of there,” Piskunov said.

Piskunov is afraid of what might happen to Davydov if he is deported to Russia. “I believe he’s not going to live too long,” Piskunov said. “We have several friends in common who passed away because of HIV consequences.”

“They have money for war in Ukraine, Crimea, Syria — they have money for all these military expenses but they don’t have money for the medical system,” Piskunov said of Russia. “And they don’t care.”

Russia has been a center of controversy recently, after reports emerged that gay and bisexual men are being rounded up and detained in camps in Chechnya, a semiautonomous republic within Russia. A Russian newspaper reported that at least 100 men have been detained and three men killed. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chechen authorities continue to deny the reports, despite survivors speaking out about the torture they faced in the camps.

‘My mother came out as gay when I was eight’

Friday, April 28th, 2017

Telegraph.co.uk

My mother married my father in 1993, when I was seven, but left him a year later. One morning, we were in the car on the way to school when Mum said that she had something important to tell me: that she was in love with a woman.

It didn’t seem a big deal to me. Mum asked me if I understood what being gay meant. I said ‘yes’, and we carried on talking about what I was doing after school.

Mum has since admitted that, at the time, she wasn’t sure if I was too shocked to talk or if I was really as nonchalant as I seemed. But I know for sure the latter is true. At eight, I just accepted the situation as it was.

As an only child, I stayed with my father while Mum moved in with her new partner, then I joined them a few weeks later. My father (who passed away three years ago) wasn’t one to talk about emotions, and it took him some time to accept Mum’s new life. I remember him cutting Mum’s partner’s face out of all their wedding photos, which she had been invited to as a work colleague of my mother. But after the initial shock, my parents managed to remain friends, and they didn’t officially divorce until I was 18.

I didn’t tell people at school. They just thought Mum lived with her friend

Despite my own acceptance, I didn’t tell any of my friends. They just thought Mum lived with a friend. At first, my grandparents on my mum’s side were the only other people who knew, and although they were understanding in private, they didn’t tell family or friends until years later. While frustrating at the time, my mother and I can both now see it from their point of view: they were born in a very different era.

I didn’t always get on with my mum’s first partner, but a few years later Mum met Mandy (whom she’s now been with for 18 years), and we bonded from the start. Life at home became easier, but as I hit my teenage years, outside it got harder. I was at an all-girls Catholic school, where the word ‘lesbian’ was thrown around as an insult. When friends came to stay, Mandy would sleep in the spare room, and I only revealed the truth to friends I could trust.

In the final year of school, my friend’s brother told everyone that my mum was a lesbian. It was hurtful to be whispered about behind my back, but the repercussions I had dreaded with teachers and friends didn’t happen. In the end, he did me a favour. From that moment on, when asked anything about my parents, my answer has been a simple, ‘I have two mums.’ 

When I began dating guys, I decided I would always be open, although not necessarily on the first date. I’ve had some creepy responses, in a ‘can I watch?’ sort of way. Needless to say, those relationships never went any further.

Crying Congressman Begs God To Forgive U.S. For Abortion, Gay Marriage, Secular Schools

Friday, April 28th, 2017

Patheos (blog)

An obnoxious display: Crying Congressman Randy Weber begs God to forgive the U.S. for the “sins” of legal abortion, marriage equality, and secular schools.

In an embarrassing display of religious based ignorance, Rep. Randy Weber begs his imaginary God to forgive America for the imaginary “sins” of legal abortion, marriage equality, and secular schools while appearing at the annual “Washington – A Man of Prayer” event, held in Statuary Hall inside the U.S. Capitol.

Right Wing Watch reports a tearful Rep. Weber opened his remarks with a modified version of the  Lord’s Prayer:

Almighty God, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Lord, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth here in the halls of Congress in our nation’s capitol.

Of course, the congressman is mistaken. It’s not the Lord’s will that is to be done in the halls of congress, it is the people’s will.

The crying congressman continued:

Lord, I’m confessing several of the sins our nation has been so emboldened to embark upon… Lord, we have endeavored to try and kick your word out of public schools. Father, we have endeavored to take the Bible out of classrooms, the Ten Commandments off the walls.

Oh, Lord, forgive us. Father, we think we’re so smart, we have replaced your word and your precepts with drug-sniffing dogs, with metal detectors, with uniformed police officers in our schools. Oh, Lord, forgive us.

Father, we have trampled on your holy institution of holy matrimony and tried to rewrite what it is and we’ve called it an alternate lifestyle. Father, oh Father, please forgive us!

Lord, we have gone to killing the most innocent amongst us. Your servant Moses warned in Deuteronomy 30:19 for us to choose life so that we and all our descendants might live. Father, we’re killing our descendants and we’re calling it a choice! Oh, God in heaven, forgive us, please.

Weber’s prayer is obnoxious, and a revolting display of the mean-spirited ignorance which is the hallmark of the conservative Christian. His tears, whether manufactured or sincere, are only icing on his bitter cake of intolerance and bigotry.

For the record, marriage equality, legal abortion, and secular schools are something every American should take pride in. Such developments reflect moral progress, and a fulfillment of the secular values upon which this nation was founded.

As for Weber, he is a hypocrite, a mean-spirited Republican from Texas, a member of the Freedom Caucus, a man who would force a woman to give birth and carry a fetus to term against her will, and then turn around, walk away, and let that same woman and child go homeless and starve on the street corner rather than fund assistance programs to help women and children in need.

Reporting on the story, Joe.My.God. opines:

Weber has long been one of the most prolifically anti-LGBT members of Congress and has introduced multiple bills to block same-sex marriage. Weber has called President Obama a “socialist dictator” and once posted a now-deleted tweet that compared Obama to Hitler. Not deleted is his tweet saying that in Obama’s case, POTUS stands for “Poor Obama Trashed U.S.” Praise White Jesus.

Bottom line: Crying Congressman Randy Weber is more concerned with serving his religious superstition than he is in fulfilling his oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution. As such, he represents everything wrong with the U.S., and is a disgrace to his office.

Idaho man gets 28 years in beating death of gay man

Friday, April 28th, 2017

Reuters

An Idaho man who killed a gay man by kicking him up to 30 times with steel-toed boots was sentenced on Wednesday by a federal judge to 28 years in prison, prosecutors said on Thursday.

In February, Kelly Schneider, 23, of Nampa, pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime for attacking Steven Nelson last year at a remote wildlife refuge while repeatedly using a homophobic slur, acting U.S. Attorney for Idaho Rafael M. Gonzalez said in a statement on Thursday.

“Steven Nelson was assaulted, and later died, because he was gay,” Gonzalez said.

Schneider was also sentenced to 28 years in prison earlier this month on a state charge of first-degree murder in Nelson’s death, court records show.

Schneider’s federal sentence will be served concurrently with the state sentence, U.S. prosecutors said. He is being held in an Idaho jail until authorities determine where he will serve out the remainder of his sentence.

Schneider was contacted by Nelson the evening of April 27, 2016, after Schneider posted a shirtless photograph of himself in a solicitation for sex on the website backpage.com, federal authorities said. The pair met the next evening, when Schneider took Nelson’s money but did not engage in a sexual act, court records show.

Before that encounter, Schneider told his friends that he was not gay and would not let anyone who was touch him, prosecutors said. Schneider had promised Nelson a sexual encounter when the pair went to an isolated spot within Deer Flat Wildlife Refuge in southwest Idaho on April 29, according to authorities.

Instead, Schneider attacked Nelson at the wildlife area, kicking him 20 to 30 times with steel-toed boots while repeatedly using a homophobic slur, prosecutors said.

Nelson did not resist throughout the assault and died of his injuries later that day, authorities said.

Bill Introduced in US Senate to Ban Anti-LGBTQ ‘Gay Cure’

Friday, April 28th, 2017

teleSUR English

“So-called ‘conversion therapy’ is nothing more than child abuse,” Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said.

A bill banning a pseudo-scientific anti-gay treatment known as “conversion therapy” has been introduced to the U.S. Senate floor. If passed, the bill would prevent the use of treatment that purports to “cure” LGBTQ people of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Backed by about 70 Democratic members of Congress, the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act of 2017 would grant the Federal Trade Commission the power to classify the highly controversial practice and its practitioners as fraudulent. The bill was introduced Tuesday.

“The bill is very simple,” California Representative Ted Lieu, who introduced the bill, told The Washington Post.

“It says it is fraud if you treat someone for a condition that doesn’t exist and there’s no medical condition known as being gay. LGBTQ people were born perfect; there is nothing to treat them for. And by calling this what it should be, which is fraud, it would effectively shut down most of the organizations.”

The invasive counseling method has already been banned or heavily curtailed in seven states and several cities, but still enjoys support from diehard social conservatives in President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, including Vice President Mike Pence. The therapy is often conducted by practitioners who are unlicensed and have religious, not medical, training, experts say.

According to the American Psychological Association, APA, the psychological treatment is rooted in antiquated 19th-century views equating non-heteronormative sexual orientations with “either a criminal act or a medical problem, or both.” Past iterations of the so-called “ex-gay therapy” commonly entailed the use of drugs that induced vomiting and paralysis, electric shock therapy and other forms of torture that were applied when patients had “same-sex erotic” thoughts.

Contemporary practices include psychoanalytic and disciplinary measures such as making individuals snap their wrists with rubber bands to suppress sexual impulse.

In August 2009, the APA adopted the “Resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts,” which forcefully argued that the homophobic “reparative” treatment relied wholly on anti-gay bigotry and a clear distortion of scientific data.

“So-called ‘conversion therapy’ is nothing more than child abuse and those who inflict it on others must be held accountable,” Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement Tuesday.

“Now more than ever, we must send a clear message to the LGBTQ community — and especially LGBTQ young people — that who you are is not something that needs to be fixed.”

Charlie Carver Reveals His Late Dad Was Gay: “I Didn’t Wanna Be Like Him”

Friday, April 28th, 2017

newnownext

More than a year after coming out publicly as gay/a>, Charlie Carver has opened up about his late father, who was also gay.

Carver recently admitted to Attitude that when he his father came out to him at age 12, he initially resented him.

 “In the way that sons and fathers can have beef regardless of [sexual] orientation, it was just something where I wanted to be able to define myself, set my own rules, and I felt like I had all of a sudden someone who I was gonna be forced to become, and I didn’t wanna be like him,” Carver explained.

The Teen Wolf star went on to say that his father’s openness eventually did help him to come to terms with his own sexuality.

“I think he taught me, in the way that he lived his life, that your sexuality doesn’t define you,” he said.

“It’s an important part of who you are, but he had such a rich life… And I think because I was frustrated by what I would call some of his own internalized shame, that it almost became this challenge to really get to the bottom of that quickly, for me.”

“It kind of propelled me into being louder and brasher and more experimental,” he concluded. “And I think that hurt his feelings sometimes, but I think he was also grateful.”

Carver, who’s best known for his roles in Desperate Housewives, Teen Wolf and The Leftoversalongside his straight identical twin Max, struck out on his own earlier this year to appear in Dustin Lance Black’s LGBT miniseries When We Rise.

Faith-based homeless shelter apologises after rejecting donation from gay choir

Friday, April 28th, 2017

The Independent

A faith-based homeless shelter that looks after children aged between 10 and 17 has apologised after it rejected a $3,000 (£2,300) donation from a gay choir.

Public perception had led the board at Hearts With A Mission to turn down the money, which was raised by concert featuring the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus.

The choir said it wanted to make the donation because 40 per cent of homeless youths are from the LGBT community.

Hearts With A Mission Executive Director Kevin Lamson said the initial decision was not taken lightly.

“By branding something with our logo, what we are essentially doing is endorsing it,” he told the Mail Tribune. “It’s a shame that that factors into how somebody else perceives our organisation.”

The non profit organisation has now apologised and three board members have resigned over the controversy, Kobi-5 reported.

Hearts With a Mission board member Ann Hitchcock, accepted the incident had been handled incorrectly.

“We would like to extend an apology to our community. We also want to sincerely apologise to the LGBTQ community for the hurt and offence we have caused you,” Ms Hitchcock said.

“The board originally made the decision to reject the funds to avoid undue controversy, clearly that didn’t happen so today was an opportunity for the board to recognise publicly and to the community that they had made a mistake,” Program Director Sharon Rush added.

The donation instead when to the Maslow Project, an organisation similar goals.

The Political Pleasure of Gay Sex and Tom of Finland

Friday, April 28th, 2017

Jezebel

Photo: Kino Lorber

The filmmakers involved in the biopic Tom of Finland, which is playing at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, didn’t necessarily set out to be political, but the subject’s inherent politics nonetheless surfaced in the six or so years since they began making it. Tom of Finland tells the life story of Touko Laaksonen, the gay artist born in 1920 whose explicit drawings of pneumatic, happy-go-lucky, often leather-clad men engaged in all kinds of configurations of gay sex date back to the ‘40s and would become globally iconic by the ‘80s.

“What’s happening in the world—in Chechnya and Iran—is making it a political movie,” said Pekka Strang, who plays Tom, during an interview at New York’s Smyth Hotel. “We don’t have a political agenda, we’re telling a story, but the world’s in a strange place so the perspective is a bit different than a few years ago.”

Laaksonen, like present-day gay men in Chechnya and Iran, faced persecution for his sexuality from the likes of cops patrolling the cruising parks he frequented and from countries that had restrictions on the portrayal of sex (especially gay sex) in art. But even more universally resonant today was the sunny tone that dominates much of Laaksonen’s some 3,500 drawings. Tom’s men were invested in the fun of sex and are largely free of the pathos and shame that have been culturally associated with sex among gay men (and that some gay men having this sex even today still struggle to shake). The shameless smiles of Tom’s men were ahead of their time, and they remain so even in 2017.

As a biopic, Tom of Finland is fairly straightforward, showing Laaksonen’s early days serving in World War II to the blossoming of his career in the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s (his public career launched with the publication of non-explicit pictures of his were published in muscle/bodybuilding magazines) to his ‘80s journey to America, where he was embraced as an icon of sex positivity and liberation. Given the kink present in Laaksonen’s work, the movie is neither as explicit nor as sanitized as it could be—there are frank depictions of cruising and gay sex—and it deftly juggles Laaksonen’s private sex life, his public profile, and his somewhat fraught relationship with his sister Kaija (Jessica Grabowsky), who did not know about her brother’s art for decades and then forbade him to come out from behind the Tom of Finland moniker so as not to risk sullying the family name. A particularly intricate point of tension arises during the film’s depiction of Laaksonen’s relationship to the AIDS crisis that began in the early ‘80s (in the movie, he feels responsible for promoting the gay sex that soon became linked to a deadly virus), though Tom of Finland lacks a serious examination of the body ideals Laaksonen’s envisioned and then later, through things like steroids, became a reality.

I spoke with Strang, Grabowsky, and the film’s Finnish director Dome Karukoski about Tom of Finland, and below is an edited and condensed transcript of our discussion.

Photo: Kino Lorber

JEZEBEL: What familiarity did you have with Tom’s work prior to making the movie?

Dome Karukoski (director): I’ve had different phases with Tom’s life and art. The first is you remember when you’re a small boy growing up and I remember these moments when one of my friends had either stolen or found a comic book, it must have been a Kake, and us giggling about the big penises and just what was happening. It just felt fun.

The secondary then was when [screenwriter and producer] Aleksi Bardy suggested that we should do a film about Tom of Finland, I took out a couple of his biographies and just learned about his histories. I knew a lot about the art, but nothing about Touko. I was mystified. After the Finnish gay promotion law [similar to Russia’s current gay propaganda law] was overturned in 1999, the art started popping out, there was a mystery behind it.

Pekka Strang (“Tom”): I knew very little about Touko Laaksonen, because I don’t think anyone did. The Tom of Finland brand is much bigger than the guy behind the art. I have some blurry memories of the images. When you see them, you feel like you aren’t seeing them for the first time—that you’ve seen them somewhere before.

Jessica Grabowski (“Kaija”): I didn’t know about the artist, but I felt like the art has always been in my life.

Given Tom’s work and the movie’s theme I wonder if everyone here is comfortable talking about their own sexual identity and how it relates to making such a gay movie.

Strang: I’m comfortable talking about it. The question I’ve been answering in Finland is, “How does it feel as a heterosexual man to play a gay character?” The question feels really 1950s.

Karukoski: I’m a heterosexual man directing a film about a gay icon, so I could feel I had that pressure of hopefully I don’t fuck it up, basically. Because of that pressure I did a very, very intense research period of five years interviewing the Tom of Finland foundation, spending a lot of time with them and Tom’s friends. I had several gay friends who would read the treatments and long synopses of the script and the script versions.

For me it was very important to be self-aware and understand that I’m a heterosexual and the way you look at a man or a penis is different. So the nuances would be right, we filled the film—most of the extras, most of the people in front of the cameras were gays and huge Tom fans. As a director it was easier to go into a gay bar or a gay love scene as we see in the film and it was just giving directions and the guys just made the scenes. It was important to me for their looks and their feels and their passion in the scenes would be right in the gay scenes. Then again you have another thing, the relationship between the sister or the relationship with the family or the relationship with the war, which is a very universal and relatable thing in Finland. It was kind of understanding it, but at the same time, it’s vital to understand that I have to do even more research on this than normal.

Strang: When you go into a culture that’s not your own, or an area where you’re the minority, you have to be really sensitive. The thing I learned was that love doesn’t have a gender. When you meet someone and you fall in love, it’s not about identity. It’s just about two human beings meeting.

When you step into the shoes of people who have been beaten or questioned for their existence, it’s a sad moment to understand that it’s happening all the time, still. Not only about sexuality but race and nationality. Those are things you can’t choose. You’re born into this life with those things and to be oppressed for things you can’t choose is really cruel. The road is much rockier than for us who can go out there and never question ourselves.

Karukoski: Another thing that has changed in six years is I have a deeper understanding of male beauty. Six years of basically just looking at catalogs and catalogs of hot guys and looking at Tom’s drawings, I think I look at the male body differently. I think that’s changed for me forever. The way I look at things in the gym. During the gym scenes, when I would look with my assistant and there’d be a hot guy in the scene, and it was her birthday and she’d be like, “Is that my birthday present?” And I totally understand. Five or six years ago, I’d maybe understand but not on this level. I understand how she sees the sexuality of the man. The look and the charisma and the muscle as an add on that charisma, I think I became very much more aware of that.

Do you think Tom created this standard of male beauty, or did he merely put his finger on certain markers of masculinity that those who appreciate the male form would naturally enjoy seeing emphasized?

Karukoski: It was both inspiration and influence.

Strang: The greatest artists always pick up on something that’s happening already and then they do it and you can’t really say what came first. I think he inspired but he was also a visionary. Just to draw these drawings in the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s. You can’t predict the future but you can change the world with pictures and I think he did.

Strang: He drew his own utopia, and then he got to see it.

What strikes me as most relevant in his drawings today is the light and non-pathologized vision of gay sex, which is still something that our culture has a hard time conveying.

Strang: The most scary part of his drawings is the liberated part—the total liberation of sexuality. That’s what scares people. “Am I also that liberated? Why am I living in this corner of life.” I think that’s a wonderful gift he gave all of us—to be open and to accept that grown-up people can do whatever they want with each other. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to join it. But you can’t start moralizing someone else for doing it.

Karukoski: That was the message we wanted to convey. In a way the movie is an allegory, kind of a continuation of Tom’s message. That is the element of dance your way out of the movie theater, without shame and in light.

Jessica, what do you make of working in such a male-dominated setting?

Jessica: I kind of feel at home. My mother used to be an air hostess so I’ve hung out with a lot of gay people since I was young. Most of my male friends are gay.

The movie doesn’t touch on Tom’s depictions of men having sex in Nazi uniforms. Why was that left out?

Karukoski: It’s complicated. He idolized Hugo Boss, [and thought] the Nazi uniform being the sexiest in the world. He didn’t care about the Nazi mentality. You have to understand also that to protect the country from Russia, [Finland] had to ally with Germany. Otherwise the Soviet Union would have just taken us. So you have German guys that are basically protecting the country. It’s a very complex thing we talked about with the screenwriter that if we added to the film would need 15 minutes of screen time just to explain that he wasn’t idolizing Nazis. He had a love affair with a German pilot that died and you have that in the film and it’s, “Oh, he was having sex with the Nazis.” You get a lot of that, especially here. It was just impossible. We decided, “OK, we’ll just leave it out. It’s Wikipedia material.”

Harry Styles: ‘Gay rights are fundamental, not political’

Friday, April 28th, 2017

NME.com

Singer’s single ‘Sign Of The Times’ recently topped UK singles chart

Harry Styles has spoken out in support of gay rights.

The former One Direction singer said that he sees gay rights as of central importance, rather than something that should be used for political gain and control.

In an interview with French talk show Quotidien, which you can watch below, when asked about gay rights, he said: “That doesn’t feel like politics to me. Stuff like equality feels much more fundamental.

“I feel like everyone is equal. That doesn’t feel like politics to me.”

 Styles has in the past been a proud supporter of LGBT+ rights, once dancing around on stage with a pride flag, to celebrate equal marriage.

The singer also recently dropped his strongest hint yet that he’ll be playing Mick Jagger in a Rolling Stones movie.

When asked by Graham Norton, a series of questions giving only facial expressions as answers, Styles merely gave a cheeky smile.

Styles, who launched his solo career earlier this month, dismissed claims he’d eaten dog and used sheep’s placenta to aid his smooth skin, but gave another cheeky smile when asked about his possible casting in the forthcoming Han Solo movie.

Despite the lead role having gone to Alden Ehrenreich, Styles was reportedly at the top of Disney’s list for the part. There was a chance that story was merely internet speculation, but Styles’ reaction suggests he did audition for the part.

The singer also recently cleared up rumours that he once contracted chlamydia from a koala bear.

 Styles will release his debut album next month. He recently gave his first solo interview to film director and former journalist Cameron Crowe for Rolling Stone.

In it, Styles revealed how he had recorded in Jamaica, made carrot cake for Stevie Nicks and didn’t rule out a One Direction reunion at some point.

 

Protests Highlight Fort Lauderdale Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast Over Anti-Gay Guest Speaker

Friday, April 28th, 2017

NBC 6 South Florida

The annual Fort Lauderdale Mayor’s prayer breakfast wrapped up this morning with mixed reaction – as a group of advocates for gay rights came out to rally in favor in support of the LGBTQ community.

The controversy started during the 55th annual breakfast at the Ft. Lauderdale Convention Center. The private event featured a keynote speech from Jim Daly from Focus on the Family – a Christian conservative ministry that condones gay conversion therapy and is opposed to marriage equality and transgender rights

Protesters were upset that the city was paying for the event headlining a religious figure.

“It’s our mayor, it’s our tax payers dollars going to welcome this hate and that’s where we have a problem with that,” said LGBTQ supporter Michael Gagne. “We elected him (Seiler) to represent us in the gay and lesbian community.”

The night before the prayer breakfast, City Commissioner Dean Trantalis – who is openly gay – announced that he would not attend the 55th annual event because of Daly leading the group, which openly believes in gay conversion therapy and opposes marriage equality and transgender rights.

“I would not want any hint of perception that I was condoning the work of Focus on the Family or helping provide Mr. Daly a platform. It is truly unfortunate that Mr. Daly was invited to be the keynote speaker when the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast should be a place for bringing all segments of Fort Lauderdale together in a spirit of peace and harmony”, said Trantalis.

Ft. Lauderdale Police and Broward Sheriff’s officials were on scene throughout the demonstration and inside the convention center.

Study confirms some men use anti-gay and sexist jokes to shore up their masculinity

Friday, April 28th, 2017

ThinkProgress

CREDIT: iStockPhoto/XiXinXing

A new study in the journal Sex Roles confirms that the more insecure that heterosexual men are about their masculinity, the more likely they are to use anti-gay and sexist humor in an attempt to shore it up.

The study, from researchers at Western Carolina University, assessed how heterosexual men responded to various forms of humor when they felt their masculinity was being questioned. The men who placed more value on how they conform to expectations of masculinity were more likely to embrace humor that denigrated women and gay men if they felt they had to prove that their masculinity was in check. And they even admitted that’s what they were doing.

“Precarious manhood beliefs” (PMB) is a term used to define how rigidly men feel compelled to conform to traditional masculine roles. Those with a high PMB are more likely to be sensitive to threats to their masculinity, and to respond to those threats with anxiety and attempts to reassert their masculinity.

In the study, the men were told to imagine they were being hired to be comedy writers. First they had to take a personality inventory, which was used to inform some of the participants that they had registered as being more suitable to prefer “male-oriented” or “female-oriented” forms of comedy. Then they were asked to rate what kind of jokes they thought were funny, including sexist jokes, anti-gay jokes, anti-Muslim jokes, and some neutral jokes.

Men with a high PMB score who were told they were more suited for “female-oriented” comedy were significantly more likely to find the sexist and anti-gay jokes funnier. The effect did not translate to the anti-Muslim and neutral jokes, indicating that it was a direct response to the perceived threat to their masculinity. High-PMB men who were not told they were more suited for “female-oriented” comedy were more likely to find them funny than the low-PMB men, but they did not show the same spike.

CREDIT: SpringerLink/Sex Roles

The researchers replicated the study and added a new component in the second experiment. Participants were asked whether their responses to the jokes would help a prospective manager “form a more accurate impression” of their personality.

Not only were the results nearly identical, but the added variable also confirmed that the participating men were intentionally trying to correct impressions of their masculinity. As the study explains, “When men who scored higher in precarious manhood beliefs experienced a threat to their masculinity, they believed their ratings of sexist and anti-gay jokes, but not anti-Muslim jokes or non-disparaging neutral jokes, would help their hypothetical manager form a more accurate impression of them.” The higher their PMB score — i.e., the more rigid their conformity to masculinity — the more likely the threatened men were to believe their responses to the jokes denigrating femininity would improve a manager’s impression of them.

The study specifically examined humor that researchers defined as “anti-gay,” not necessarily other types of jokes about men of any sexual orientation who may not adhere to societal expectations about gender norms.

Lead researcher Emma O’Connor told ThinkProgress she thought it was important to study why some men engage in this type of humor because it helps explain “how disparaging humor is used as a way to express subtle prejudice and discrimination and how these men in particular may use expressions of prejudice as a way to defend and reaffirm their threatened masculinity.”

She cautioned that this effect can not be generalized to all men, as it was only demonstrated in those who “view their masculinity as unstable or in need of defense.” Indeed, the results seem to suggest that men with low PMB scores who were (arbitrarily) told they were more oriented toward female comedy were the least likely to find the sexist and anti-gay jokes funny. Apparently doubling down on being comfortable or approving with femininity, they may not have even felt “threatened” by the association.

These results have implications beyond just comedy writing. The study offers, as an example, that the findings could be incorporated into a work setting where women occupy positions of authority, which might inherently trigger a masculinity threat and thus denigrating joking and similar forms of sexual harassment:

By understanding men’s need to affirm masculinity as a motive for engaging in sexist humor, managers could more effectively respond to incidents of sexist humor as they occur, and possibly even prevent it. For instance, they might more closely monitor workplace settings that could trigger masculinity threats and subsequent sexist joking, or they might attempt to reduce the extent to which men perceive masculinity threats in those settings in the first place.

O’Connor also pointed out that humor is often considered “a socially acceptable vehicle of expressing discrimination.” Sexist and anti-gay humor “may be used as a way to subtly express prejudice” against women and gay men. This, in turn, can have what the study calls “unique deleterious social consequences,” such as fostering the acceptance and perpetration of discrimination against women and the LGBT community.

Finding ways to respond to this kind of humor or at least recognize what’s provoking it could go a long way to reducing various forms of bigotry throughout society.

Le Pen’s father says gay marriage “exalted” in ceremony for dead policeman

Friday, April 28th, 2017

Reuters

A remembrance ceremony for the policeman killed last week by an attacker in Paris “exalted” the concept of gay marriage, far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen’s father said on Friday, courting controversy for his daughter’s campaign.

Jean-Marie Le Pen, the National Front (FN) party founder from whom his daughter has sought to distance herself because of his controversial views, criticised a speech made at the ceremony by the dead policeman’s partner earlier this week.

“The long speech he made in some way institutionalised homosexual marriage, exalted it in a public way, and that shocked me,” Le Pen said in an interview on his web site.

Marine Le Pen is the underdog in the coming run-off vote for the presidency against Emmanuel Macron, the centrist candidate.

The legalisation of gay marriage was one of the flagship actions of outgoing President Francois Hollande’s five years in office, a move that was popular with many people in France but controversial with a large socially conservative section of society.

The comments by 88 year-old Le Pen senior came as another controversy he is linked to came back to haunt his candidate daughter.

Earlier on Friday the FN announced that Jean-Francois Jalkh, a vice-president of the party who was earmarked to replace Marine Le Pen as party leader for the duration of the presidential campaign, had decided to stand aside over allegations – which he strongly denies – that he was a Holocaust denier.

Jean-Marie Le Pen was expelled from the FN in 2015 for his saying that World War Two Nazi gas chambers were a “detail” of history.

(Reporting by Andrew Callus; editing by John Irish)

Landmark win for gay Hong Kong civil servant over husband’s benefits

Friday, April 28th, 2017

South China Morning Post

In a landmark victory with far-reaching implications for Hong Kong’s sexual minorities, a gay civil servant’s husband will be entitled to the same benefits as his heterosexual colleagues’ spouses after a successful legal challenge against government policy.

Wrapping up a case seen by advocates as a “rare judicial recognition” of the city’s gay community, the High Court on Friday rejected the Civil Service Bureau’s stance that it was denying benefits for same-sex spouses to protect “the integrity of the institution of marriage”.

Senior immigration officer Leung Chun-kwong, who married his partner, Scott Adams, in New Zealand in 2014, launched the challenge last year against the secretary for the civil service and the commissioner of the Inland Revenue Department, which was reluctant to recognise their union.

The Court of First Instance on Friday ruled in Leung’s favour against the bureau in an unprecedented decision that may have an immediate bearing on other gay civil servants who married overseas. But it did not rule in his favour against the taxman.

In his 44-page judgment, Mr Justice Anderson Chow Ka-ming called the bureau’s policy “indirect discrimination” and rejected its assertion that the secretary had a justifiable aim “to act in line with the prevailing marriage law of Hong Kong” and not to “undermine the integrity of the institution of marriage … hence safeguarding public order”.

Chow wrote: “I am unable to see how denial of ‘spousal’ benefits to homosexual couples … legally married under foreign laws could or would serve the purpose of not undermining the integrity of the institution of marriage in Hong Kong, or protecting the institution of the traditional family.”

He added that he failed to see anything inherently wrong in recognising a same-sex marriage approved overseas, or how observing Hong Kong’s matrimonial laws could legitimately justify discrimination based on sexual orientation.

We were not asking for special treatment. We simply wanted to be treated fairly and with dignity
LEUNG CHUN-KWONG, SENIOR IMMIGRATION OFFICER

Leung said the court’s decision had significant implications. “The government is the biggest employer. The whole of Hong Kong will follow [this decision],” he said.

He urged the government to take the opportunity to review its policies instead of waiting to be legally challenged, a process he described as stressful, expensive and time consuming.

“We were not asking for special treatment. We simply wanted to be treated fairly and with dignity,” he said, adding that the court had “recognised and rectified a fundamental unfairness”.

The bureau said it would examine the judgment in detail with the Department of Justice to decide what it should do next. The Equal Opportunities Commission said there was a need for the government to review existing policies to ensure the protection of sexual minorities’ rights.

A permanent Hong Kong resident, Leung joined the Immigration Department in 2003 and met Adams in 2005. The two tied the knot on April 18, 2014 in New Zealand.

He ran into problems with the bureau when he tried to update his marital status after his wedding, prompting the legal challenge that centred on the Civil Services Regulations, which state that officers’ benefits can extend to their spouses.

Leung was not allowed to extend the benefits to his husband, which he argued violated the city’s Basic Law and Bill of Rights.

Solicitor Mark Daly, whose firm Daly & Associates handled the case, said the judgment contained words that marked “rare judicial recognition” of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in the city.

“It is a small step forward,” he said, calling on the government, as the city’s biggest employer, to act as a role model.

But Leung’s challenge against the Inland Revenue Department failed.

After getting married, Leung had also tried to update his marital status with the department, but was told a same-sex marriage was not valid under the laws that govern taxation in Hong Kong.

Chow ruled that Leung failed in that challenge partly because a provision in the Inland Revenue Ordinance states clearly that a marriage is between a man and woman.

The tax Leung had to pay, however, was not affected by the status.

Theatre review: Bed and Breakfast charms with its view of gay life in a small town

Friday, April 28th, 2017

Montreal Gazette

Real-life partners Paul Dunn, left, and Mark Crawford play more than twenty characters in Bed and Breakfast, switching from one to the other with lightning speed and admirable physical and vocal inventiveness.
Real-life partners Paul Dunn, left, and Mark Crawford play more than twenty characters in Bed and Breakfast, switching from one to the other with lightning speed and admirable physical and vocal inventiveness. DAVE SIDAWAY / MONTREAL GAZETTE

Stories of small-town gay characters packing their bags for the perceived freedom and openness of the big city are a familiar trope. Hats off, then, to playwright Mark Crawford for sending his characters in the opposite direction in his amiable two-man, multiple-character comedy, Bed and Breakfast.

Interior designer Brett and hotel concierge Drew have been a couple for eight years when life lobs a couple of lemons their way: they lose the Toronto condo they’ve been bidding for, and Brett loses his beloved aunt in a car accident. But a big, effervescent tumbler of lemonade can’t be far off. Sure enough, on attending his aunt’s funeral in an unnamed Ontarian town – the play premièred in Gananoque, which fits the bill nicely – Brett discovers he’s now the proud owner of her house. Having fallen in love with the town, the pair decide to try their hand at the guest house business.

Surprisingly, the eponymous bed and breakfast, sparsely but picturesquely evoked in Dana Osborne’s set design, doesn’t open its doors until well into Act Two. Before that, there are lots of well-observed if occasionally meandering scenes during which we get to know Brett, Drew and the various quirky townsfolk.

The mood is mostly frothy and fun. But small-town homophobia shows itself in various ways, whether through a snide limp-wrist action or a yelled insult from a passing truck. Crawford writes articulately about the pressure to revert to closeted caution when on unfamiliar territory.

Real-life partners Paul Dunn and Crawford (who replaces Andrew Kushnir from the original production) play the more than twenty characters, switching from one to the other with lightning speed and admirable physical and vocal inventiveness under Ashlie Corcoran and Krista Colosimo’s direction. Potential confusion is often kept at bay with an instantly recognizable catchphrase – Dunn’s evocation of a surly teenager given to shrugging off every question with “I dunno” is a particular delight.

Only once do they overplay their hand, when, in a scene influenced by the classic BBC sitcom Fawlty Towers, the chaos of the B&B’s disastrous opening night causes a muddled pile-up of character and incident.

Elsewhere, though, the precision of Dunn and Crawford’s playing, synchronized with Rebecca Picherack’s rapid-fire lighting design and John Gzowski’s wry sound effects, keeps things clear cut and crisply paced.

Not surprisingly, given Dunn and Crawford’s off-stage relationship, there’s a genuine chemistry between them that shows itself in the smallest gestures. When Brett wordlessly removes a white handkerchief from the breast pocket of Drew’s funeral jacket, it’s somehow both heartwarming and laugh-aloud funny.

Full of charm and quiet humanity, Bed and Breakfast is a lovely way to end both the Centaur’s 48th season and the almost ten-year tenure of director Roy Surette, who was shrewd enough to spot the play’s sunny, springtime appeal when he caught it at Gananoque’s Thousand Islands Playhouse.

AT A GLANCE

Bed and Breakfast plays at Centaur Theatre, 453 St-François-Xavier St., to May 21. Tickets: $51 (Thursday, Friday, Saturday evenings); $45 (Tuesday, Wednesday evenings); $39 (matinee); seniors: $43.50 (evening), $38 (matinee); under 30: $36.50; students: $28. Call 514-288-3161 or visit centaurtheatre.com

Russell Tovey and his dream role in ‘gay fantasia’

Friday, April 28th, 2017

BBC News

Russell ToveyImage copyrightJASON BELL
Image captionRussell Tovey is known for the role of werewolf George Sands in the BBC’s Being Human

Few stage productions attract the level of expectation which surrounds the National Theatre’s new revival in London of Tony Kushner’s 1990s play Angels in America. Its star cast ensured it sold out within days. But Russell Tovey says the gay drama was part of his life long before he signed up to act in it.

In 2006 Tovey, at 24, was in New York to appear in The History Boys on Broadway. But he already knew and admired Kushner’s play, mainly from the HBO version.

“Most days I ran around Central Park and the Bethesda fountain there became a pilgrimage point for me,” he says.

Russell Tovey in Central ParkImage copyrightRUSSELL TOVEY
Image captionRussell Tovey in the Central Park location that became a “pilgrimage point” for him

“In the play the statue of the angel Bethesda is a symbol of strength and hope and each day I would salute it. So in my old photograph albums I’ve got selfies with past lovers, friends, my family and my dog – all with the Bethesda fountain there behind us.

“So when I was asked to be in the play it was the easiest ‘yes’ ever. I feel I’ve astral projected this show to come my way.

“My character Joe is complex and interesting because he doesn’t even know himself properly. He’s a repressed homosexual and a Mormon and he’s moved with his wife from Utah to New York. Eventually he starts a relationship with Louis [played by James McCardle]. It’s more of a love story than people will probably expect.”

Louis has been in a relationship with Prior Walter, played in London by Andrew Garfield. But describing the play’s storyline is tricky: when the two halves were first seen at the National Theatre a quarter of a century ago critics and audiences loved the energy and the unclassifiable audacity.

Kushner subtitled the play A Gay Fantasia on National Themes; Tovey sees a play “about needing love and knowing yourself in a time of political upheaval”.

Angels in AmericaImage copyrightHELEN MAYBANKS
Image captionAndrew Garfield (front) plays Prior Walter who is ill with Aids, while Nathan Stewart-Jarrett plays the nurse Belize

Angels in America is two plays with a total running time of seven hours. The first half was first seen in San Francisco in 1990 when the Aids crisis was scaring a lot of people.

“The story starts mid-80s in the Reaganite period when there was very little recognition of what Aids was and far too little funding for research. Thirty years ago there was an almost total lack of understanding and empathy outside the gay community for what gay men were going through.”

In 1992 presenting an ambitious Aids epic was a bold decision for the National Theatre – though the gamble paid off. Tovey is passionate that in 2017 Angels in America shouldn’t be seen as a period retread.

Denise GoughImage copyrightHELEN MAYBANKS
Image captionDenise Gough plays Russell Tovey’s wife who moves with him from Utah to New York

“In lots of places attitudes to homosexuality have changed and as a gay man I see that as fantastic. But there’s still homophobia big time in this country and around the world. You read now about camps in Chechnya where they’re torturing people for being gay. Yes there’s marriage equality and more gay rights but there’s still a huge way to go to normalise homosexuality around the world.

‘This show couldn’t be more relevant because it’s about a political time when apparently you can forget about whole sections of society. In the US now it’s like time has gone backwards and there are states where they’re voting to take away gay marriage or Aids research funding. People’s rights are being removed. So it doesn’t feel like a time when we can all sit back in our chairs and say everything’s sorted now. Because it’s not.”

Tony Kushner and Marianne ElliottImage copyrightHELEN MAYBANKS
Image captionMarianne Elliott took on the challenge of directing Tony Kushner’s (left) epic

Angels in America has had 11 weeks of rehearsals. “The process hollowed us all. The greatest thing was getting the first audiences in and suddenly we were reinvigorated because they’ve loved it. Tickets are pretty hard to get hold of – but NT Live means people around the world can get to see the show in cinemas which is great.”

One of the main characters is taken from real life – the New York lawyer Roy Cohn who died of Aids in 1986 and who’s played by Nathan Lane. Tovey says Cohn reminds him of contemporary political figures in the US.

“Roy Cohn is a big, flawed character and any actor loves to play flawed characters. He’s fascinating in the way that Donald Trump is. Or maybe Kellyanne Conway – in the future that’s going to be a dream part for an actress. There are such contradictions and complications and it makes great drama.”

Tovey’s constructed a TV career based almost equally in Britain and in the US. For HBO he played the gay English boss of a San Francisco tech company in Looking. Since then he’s been in ABC’s Quantico, again as a gay Englishman. So does he worry that his out gay status might typecast him?

Russell ToveyImage copyrightHELEN MAYBANKS
Image captionRussell Tovey always wanted to do a big US show like Quantico but wants to remain living in London

“When I was younger I was sometimes worried about playing gay. Would I get stereotyped? In fact every gay character that’s been offered to me has had a unique story. To continue playing gay characters, as an openly gay actor, has been the most exciting thing ever to happen to me. Coming out gave me such a broad and magical landscape to explore as an actor. And it gave me so many personal experiences too: it’s been a huge benefit to me.”

Quantico is a mainstream drama series, though one that depicts gay relationships more openly than would have been possible even a few years ago. So is it very different from making a BBC series or something for HBO?

“I’d always wanted to do a big network series in America. What terrified me was that there’s no time to spare, no plan B if it’s raining or something goes wrong. You just keep shooting until you finish the schedule for the day. Sometimes you finish a scene and it can be on screen in an episode only two weeks later. And you can work to 4am. I would get days off but the crew would be there all the time. It’s like a different world and it’s marvellous but it’s mental. But once you face the challenge it’s excellent.

‘I adore London and I’ve no intention of leaving: I’m London through and through. I love my home too much – and my squad and my family and my life and my stuff. But working in San Francisco and New York is brilliant. I love having my visa renewed.”

Angels in America is playing at the National Theatre in London until 19th August. The two parts will be broadcast around the world as part of NT Live on 20 July and 27 July.

‘Yep, I’m Gay’: Happy 20th out anniversary, Ellen DeGeneres

Friday, April 28th, 2017

Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton Spectator

NEW YORK — With a headline of “Yep, I’m Gay” on the cover of Time magazine and the same declaration on her sitcom, Ellen DeGeneres made history 20 years ago as the first prime-time lead on network TV to come out, capturing the hearts of supporters gay and straight amid a swirl of hate mail, death threats and, ultimately, dark times on and off the screen.

The code-named “The Puppy Episode” of “Ellen” that aired April 30, 1997, was more than just a hit. It was one of those huge cultural “where were you” moments for anybody remotely interested in TV, or the advancement of LGBTQ people working in TV, or who were itching to come out of their closets at home at a still-perilous time.

Variety summed it up this way: “Climaxing a season of swelling anticipation, Ellen Morgan (the bookstore-managing alter ego of Ellen DeGeneres) finally acknowledges her lesbianism tonight in an ‘Ellen’ hour that represents television’s most-hyped coming out since Little Ricky came out of Lucy 44 years ago.”

The hype was real, fed by DeGeneres’ personal desire to end her secret-keeping at age 38 and to bring her TV character along for the ride. The offscreen act came first in Time by slightly more than two weeks, but “Puppy” was months in the making under lock and key, something that failed to matter when the script leaked and the world then waited.

Why risk it all? Because DeGeneres, one of America’s sweethearts then and now, was done with the lying and the hiding.

“It became more important to me than my career,” she said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. “I suddenly said, ‘Why am I being, you know, ashamed of who I am just to be successful and famous in society’s eyes?'”

The hate was also real. There was pulpit-pounding from conservatives, including full-page newspaper ads (the late Rev. Jerry Falwell called her “Ellen DeGenerate”). There was nasty mail all around, including some for guest star Oprah Winfrey suggesting that she “go back to Africa.” After “Puppy” wrapped, cast, crew and live audience were hustled out of the Burbank, California, studio because of a bomb threat.

Winfrey, who played Ellen’s therapist, told the AP she had no clue that “I would get the worst hate mail of my career.” She praised DeGeneres for having the courage to produce a “seminal moment for anybody who was hiding behind anything.”

The episode was watched by an estimated 44 million viewers. It won an Emmy for writing, a Peabody as a landmark in broadcasting and numerous other accolades. The attention coincided with a new and very public relationship for DeGeneres with her girlfriend at the time, Anne Heche, herself new to the out life.

The following season, DeGeneres’ fifth, was the last. It was a failure in terms of ratings. The network took to slapping “adult content” warnings on the show, something DeGeneres knew nothing about ahead of time. The season was bashed by some as unfunny and “too gay,” as was the out-and-proud DeGeneres herself as she lived life big with Heche offscreen. Sponsors fled and the show was cancelled.

DeGeneres went into a “hole,” a deep depression, where she stayed without work for more than three years. Laura Dern, among the guest stars on “Puppy” and happy to be included, didn’t work for a year after she played the out love interest to whom Ellen Morgan finally came out.

Ellen Garcia in San Pedro, California, is a gay, 47-year-old office administrator for a mental health nonprofit. She was 27 and out to just close friends and co-workers when she watched.

“How you feel about yourself, and how you feel about how society views you, plays a huge factor and that’s why this show was so significant, because it brought all those things out,” she said. “It made me feel normal.”

So what made it the right time for DeGeneres? Well, nothing, she said.

“There was every indication that I should not do it. My publicist at the time said, ‘Don’t do it.’ The studio, the network, everyone said (it),” she recalled. “I said, ‘You know, look, you may lose a show but you have thousands of other shows revolving through this door that come to you and you’ll have another show. This is my career. If I’m willing to lose my career for this, you have to let me do this.'”

The doing wasn’t easy. The first draft of “Puppy” was rejected by the show’s Disney point person. It took forever for script approval, with “Puppy” finally hitting air as the fourth season’s third-to-last show, a full hour as opposed to the usual half-hour. DeGeneres had thrown a bash at her California house for cast members and writers months earlier, at the top of the fourth, declaring then that she wanted to come out, but nobody was sure how it would all play out.

“I remember these walks from our offices to the Disney offices to see the big guys,” recalled Dava Savel, one of the executive producers and writers. “We walked with her and it was kind of like the Bataan Death March. We were like, ‘Ohhh, here we go.’ I remember Ellen crying on the way back when Disney finally gave her the OK.”

History was made. Friends gathered around TVs. The gay rights advocacy group GLAAD organized watch parties after an ABC affiliate in Alabama declined to air “Puppy.”

DeGeneres herself made a spectacular comeback, eventually, now the host of her own daytime talk show and America’s sweetheart at age 59. (President Barack Obama awarded her the nation’s highest civilian honour, the Medal of Freedom, last year.) Numerous gay leads followed on TV, yet advocates hope for still more diversity and accuracy in story and character development.

None of that mattered the night of April 30, 1997.

Eric Marcus, creator and host of the podcast “Making Gay History” and author of a 2002 collection of oral history of the same name, put it this way: “For everyday people, Ellen made gay OK.”

The Associated Press

Holocaust museum condemns ‘torture and killing of gay men’ in Chechnya

Friday, April 28th, 2017

The Independent

The Chechen and Russian governments must investigate claims of persecution of gay men and protect LGBT rights, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum has said, as it condemned an alleged campaign of repression reported in Chechnya in recent months.

The museum’s director, Sara Bloomfield, said: “The Holocaust teaches us what can happen when state-sponsored, group-targeted violence is allowed to go unchecked. The reports about the targeting of LGBT persons in Chechnya combined with statements from Chechen officials seemingly endorsing violence are cause for great concern.”

Reports suggest Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov wants to “eliminate” the republic’s gay community by the start of Ramadan on 26 May, according to the UK Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan.

“Human rights groups report that these anti-gay campaigns and killings are orchestrated by the head of the Chechen republic, Ramzan Kadyrov,” Sir Alan told Parliament.

More than 100 men have been rounded up and detained in secret prisons by authorities on suspicion of being gay in recent weeks, with many beaten and tortured, the Russian investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta claimed. At least four are alleged to have been killed.

The Holocaust Memorial Museum recalled the purges of gay people in Nazi Germany during the rule of Adolf Hitler.

It said: “Gay men were targeted for persecution because they were viewed to be carriers of a ‘contagion’ that weakened society and did not contribute to the growth of the ‘Aryan’ population.”

Some 100,000 were arrested, with half sent to prison and up to 15,000 sent to concentration camps, it said.

Tim Farron refuses to say whether he thinks gay sex is a sin

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

The Independent

Tim Farron has refused to say whether he thinks gay sex is a sin.

The Liberal Democrat leader and devout Christian has previously stressed he does not believe being gay is a sin, but has been challenged for failing to fully answer questions about his views on gay sex.

When asked if he believed having gay sex is a sin by Sky News journalist Darren McCaffrey, Mr Farron said: “Look, I’m not going to give you an answer to that question.

“One’s personal faith is one’s personal faith. What counts is your actions and beliefs in politics.”

The Lib Dem leader went on to say he had a “track record” of campaigning in favour of LGBT rights for over 30 years, the Huffington Post reported.

He said he “supports people’s right to love who they love, to be who they are, to marry who they marry.”

He added: “I am passionate about LGBT issues, it has been the heart of our party’s programme for decades and it will continue under my leadership to be.”

Mr Farron’s failure to answer the question was branded “offensive” by Labour MP Liz Kendall when she appeared on ITV’s Peston On Sunday.

“I think a lot of people will be appalled that he couldn’t bring himself to say that gay sex is not a sin,” Ms Kendall said.

“I think that’s pretty offensive and will rightly anger a lot of people. I think that was a really terrible interview to not be able to bring himself to say that.”

Aaron Hernandez ‘gay prison lover’ suicide note story is false and death ruling is questionable, says lawyer

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

CrimeOnline

The attorney who helped acquit Aaron Hernandez of double murder just days before the former NFL star hung himself in his prison cell says that a widely circulated story about a suicide note addressed to a purported prison boyfriend is not true.

Defense attorney Jose Baez told TMZ on Monday that reports claiming Hernandez left a suicide note to a ‘prison lover’ are not to be believed — and Baez indicated he wasn’t convinced his client actually took his own life.

Rumors of letters to a gay lover, in or out of prison, are false. These are malicious leaks used to tarnish somebody who is dead.

Hernandez was serving a life sentence at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Massachusetts for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd when he died.

Last week, Newsweek published a report claiming that law enforcement sources confirmed Hernandez had a romantic relationship with a fellow inmate, and that he had a previous relationship with a male high school friend — a secret that may have been a motive in the murder of Lloyd, who is believed to have known about the relationship, according to the Newsweek report.

The attorney, who as of late last week was reportedly launching an investigation into the circumstances of Hernandez’s death, told TMZ on Monday that he was not sure if the death was a result of suicide or foul play.

“There is still plenty we are investigating,” Baez said.

Hernandez was found hanged to death in his jail cell early Wednesday morning. A medical examiner ruled the death a suicide the next day.

On Monday, a judge ruled that Hernandez’s family be given copies of the three suicide notes that were reportedly found with his body. The Boston Globe had earlier reported that two of the notes were addressed to Hernandez’s fiancee Shayanna Jenkins, and his four-year-old daughter, respectively. The Daily Mail was among the first to report that a third suicide note was allegedly addressed to Hernandez’s purported prison boyfriend. On Monday, the Daily Mail revealed the identity of the inmate believed to be that boyfriend, citing sources within the Massachusetts correctional facility where both inmates were held.

Goldman Sachs Wants to Know if You Are Gay

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

Fortune

Wall Street isn’t necessarily known for being gay-friendly. Yet Goldman Sachs is now asking prospective employees to come out as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender right when they apply for the job.

After the typical questions about a job applicant’s gender and race,Goldman Sachs(GS, +1.51%) asks candidates to indicate their sexual orientation via a drop-down menu including the choices bisexual, gay man, gay woman, heterosexual, lesbian, other, and “prefer not to say.” Following that, the application also queries: “Please indicate if you identify as Transgender.”

Goldman’s questions—neither of which typically pop up in polite conversation—may seem shocking at first. But it has a reason for asking.

” We ask for this data because we want to keep ourselves accountable,” says Anilu Vazquez-Ubarri, Goldman’s chief diversity officer and global head of talent. In other words, she says, the bank wants to make sure it is not unfairly discriminating against LGBT applicants.

Under Equal Employment Opportunity Commission rules first implemented in 1978, major employers are required to track their job applicants and employees’ nationality, race, and gender (though applicants are free to withhold the information). While the data is not part of hiring decisions, it can be used in employment discrimination cases that arise. The EEOC, however, does not mandate tracking of LGBT status, though it says federal discrimination protections extend to that community—even if the law does not explicitly say so.

But Goldman, whose benefits package covers sex reassignment surgery, decided to start measuring its own LGBT inclusivity roughly a year ago. Its method is similar to that of the commission: First, it asks candidates to self-identify. Then, it removes the data from the resume and interview process. Finally, after the hires have been made, Goldman checks if the proportion of LGBT applicants is reflected in the eventual group hired.

While the bank isn’t seeking to hit a specific target at the moment, it is hoping to increase its percentage of LGBT employees, which it plans to track on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis.

“It is a competitive market. If we don’t do that outreach, it is possible that we have left the best candidate on the table,” says Vazquez-Ubarri. The bank also actively reaches out to LGBT groups on university campuses in a bid to bolster its diversity. “Hopefully, this will become a part of what everyone does.”

Employers now have an imperative to demonstrate that their values match those of the younger generations just starting their careers and entering the workforce. The majority of Millennials and Gen-Zs now support LGBT rights, which means that big companies such as Goldman have to step in line if they want to stay an attractive workplace, said Deena Fidas, director of the workplace equality program at the Human Rights Campaign.

Indeed, 89% of Fortune 500 companies have policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, while 66% ban discrimination based on gender identity, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

So far, Goldman Sachs is the only bank queried by Fortune to have included such questions on its job application.

Its fellow banks including J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM, +1.12%), Morgan Stanley (MS, +1.17%), Citigroup (C, +1.24%), HSBC (HSBC, +1.20%), Wells Fargo(WFC, +1.69%), and Bank of America (BAC, +2.31%), have all stuck with the traditional script. None ask about sexuality, and most gave users the choices of “male,” “female,” or some variation of “do not wish to disclose” for gender. Wells Fargo only allows its applicants to choose either male or female, or leave the section blank.

By law, job applicants may of course choose to not answer the questions. Still, all those banks, regardless of whether they ask about it on their application forms, keep track of their employees’ sexual orientation through internal questionnaires later on.

One bank, HSBC, has begun allowing its customers to pick from a variety of gender neutral prefixes such as ‘Mx,’ in its account application. But the bank has not done the same for its job applicants.

For now, HSBC plans to keep its questions “strictly” about the demographic groups that require reporting under equal employment opportunity and affirmative action rules—though it would be open to making a change, says Terri Pearce, the bank’s head of learning and recruiting for the U.S.

To be sure, just tracking LGBT status within a company’s applicant pool isn’t necessarily enough to bolster the representation of that group in-house. Plus, some job hunters’ resumes contain hidden signs that can reveal their gender, race or even sexual identity even if they never explicitly disclosed them. That could put some applicants at a disadvantage in the hiring process, as studies have shown that resumes with a white, male-sounding name tend to do better than the same resume headed by a black, hispanic, female, or Asian-sounding name.

“There is this unconscious bias happening,” says Clair Farley, director of economic development at San Francisco’s LGBT Center. Farley advises LGBT job seekers not to come out until after a job offer has been made. Then, if the offer is rescinded, the litigation process is much simpler, she says.

“Where women and LGBT are first to be hired, they are also first to be fired,” Farley says.

Hackers flood Isis social media accounts with gay porn

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

Telegraph.co.uk

Online commenters have praised an anonymous hacker’s efforts to disrupt the Islamic State militant group’s social media accounts by filling them with gay porn.

The hacker, who goes by the name WachulaGhost, started targeting the Isis accounts after being deeply affected by the notorious shooting at the Orlando Pulse nightclub in Florida in 2016, in which 49 people were killed and 53 wounded.

Isis later claimed responsibility for the massacre, carried out by US citizen Omar Mateen.

 WachulaGhost started targeting Twitter accounts that supported Isis, feeling that someone needed to “stand up” to the group.

His activities – and those of his Anonymous-affiliated cohorts – have been widely celebrated as stories of their successes appear online.

A hacked extremist Twitter account

WachulaGhost claims to have gained access to more than 250 social media accounts affiliated with Isis supporters and sympathisers – and has received threatening messages as a result of his efforts, which generally entail filling the accounts with rainbow flags, pro-LGBT+ messages, images of gay pornography and links to porn sites.

Speaking to CNN last year, he said. “I get beheading images… death threats. ‘We’re going to kill you’ and that’s good because if they are focusing on me they are not doing anything else.”

“We started to take over their accounts with porn and gay pride images basically just to troll them. We thought that putting the naked images would offend them.”

WachulaGhost works with other hackers who coordinate their attacks on extremist accounts – and he believes the social platforms should be doing more to combat hate speech.

Orlando shooting: vigils held around the the world

“If the social media people like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram would stand up and do something it would help.

“Sometimes you have to stand up and make a change for the good.”

WachulaGhost says he can generally gain access to the accounts in under a minute, thanks to Isis supports’ limited technical abilities.

“One thing I do want to say is we aren’t using graphic porn and our purpose is not to offend Muslims,” he added.

“Our actions are directed at Jihadist extremists. Many of our own [group of hackers] are Muslim and we respect all religions that do not take innocent lives.”

Chechnya wants to eliminate gay community by end of May, reports suggest

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

The Independent

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov plans to “eliminate” the country’s gay community by the start of Ramadan, a British foreign minister has claimed.

Reports from Chechnya allege that more than 100 men have been rounded up and detained in secret prisons by authorities on suspicion of being gay in recent weeks, with many beaten and tortured. At least four men are alleged to have been killed.

Speaking in Parliament during an urgent question on the persecution and detention of LGBT citizens in the Russian republic of Chechnya, minister of state for the Foreign Office Sir Alan Duncan said he had been informed of alleged plans to “eliminate” the country’s gay community by the start of Ramadan, which commences on 26 May.

Boris Johnson condemns ‘detention of 100 gay men’ in Chechnya

“Human rights groups report that these anti-gay campaigns and killings are orchestrated by the head of the Chechen republic, Ramzan Kadyrov,” Sir Alan said.

“He has carried out other violent campaigns in the past, and this time he is directing his efforts at the LGBT community. Sources have said that he wants the community eliminated by the start of Ramadan.”

Sir Alan called the reports of actions taken in Chechnya, a largely Muslim country, as “utterly barbaric”. One man told CNNpeople had beaten him with their fists and feet to try and get names of other gay men from him. “Then they tied wires to my hands and put metal clippers on my ears to electrocute me. They’ve got special equipment, which is very powerful. When they shock you, you jump high above the ground.”

Hundreds protest at Russian embassy over ‘gay concentration camps’ in Chechnya

Sir Alan said the Government is using all engagement with Russia “to make our voice clear,” adding that he raised the issue personally with Russia’s deputy foreign minister Vladimir Titov while discussing general human rights matters.

Donald Trump’s ambassador to the UN has said she is “disturbed” by allegations coming out of Chechnya. “If true, this violation of human rights cannot be ignored – Chechen authorities must immediately investigate these allegations, hold anyone involved accountable and take steps to prevent future abuses,” she said.

But Chechnya has denied the reports. Its interior ministry called the allegations an “April Fool’s joke,” when they were first reported, while a spokesperson for leader Mr Kadyrov later denied gay people exist in the country.

“If there were such people in Chechnya, law enforcement agencies wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning,” Alvi Karimov said.

Russia has backed the Chechen leader’s denials of the brutality. Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said there had been no evidence found to support the allegations, which were first reported in newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

He added the Kremlin had no reason to doubt Mr Kadyrov’s claims that no one under his rule has been persecuted over their sexual orientation.

Canadian pole vaulter Shawn Barber comes out as gay

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

CBC

Canadian pole vault world champion Shawn Barber has publicly come out as gay.

Barber made the announcement in a Facebook post early Monday morning.

Barber, 22, was born in Las Cruces, N.M., and holds dual citizenship. He chooses to compete for Canada and calls Toronto home.

He has a long list of pole vaulting accomplishments, including winning both the world and Pan American titles in 2015. He also became the youngest man to vault six metres and set an NCAA indoor record of 5.91m during his time at the University of Akron.

Barber, though, had a disappointing performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where he was among the favourites to win the gold medal. After barely making it through qualifying, he finished 10th.

Tested positive for cocaine before Olympics

Barber was allowed to compete in Rio last August despite testing positive for cocaine at the Canadian championships in July in Edmonton, where he won his event and set a national record.

Barber faced a four-year ban from competition for the positive test before successfully appealing to the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada.

The pole vaulter and his lawyers claimed that the positive test was the result of a sexual encounter with a woman in a hotel room during the Canadian championships that had been arranged online. Barber testified that he did not take cocaine himself, but that the drug entered his system as a result of kissing the woman.

In her testimony, the woman said she snorted cocaine both earlier in the day and in the hotel bathroom moments before Barber arrived.

Though he avoided a ban, Barber was stripped of his Canadian title and the positive test was made public in October.

Gay, Halifax-trained violinist seeks to ‘finally have a home’ in North America

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

brandonsun

HALIFAX – A Dalhousie-trained violinist who came out as gay in a widely circulated YouTube video says he hopes to stay in North America for fear of persecution if he returns to his Russian homeland.

But Artem Kolesov says first getting Canada’s permission to cross the border for a classical concert is a struggle in itself.

Kolesov and the rest of the YAS string quartet were set to perform Beethoven’s “Serioso” at a concert hall in Halifax Sunday, but the show was cancelled because of his immigration issues.

Kolesov, 23, is currently studying in Chicago, having previously pursued a music degree at Halifax’s Dalhousie University, but the musical prodigy says he doesn’t feel fully welcome in any of the three countries in which he has lived.

Kolesov says he has known he is gay since he was five years old, but between his parents’ strict conservative beliefs at home in St. Petersburg and homophobic sentiment in Russia — sanctioned by a so-called anti-gay “propaganda” law — he says coming out meant risking family banishment or even violence.

“I truly believed that gay people were these horrible monsters that caused so many issues in the world, and you should really get rid of them,” says Kolesov. “I couldn’t think that I was one of them.”

Kolesov says he fuelled his energy into the violin, the vibration of the strings a means of both non-verbal expression and a source of escape.

“There was no one to talk to, so I guess I could only express what I was feeling through the violin,” says Kolesov. “Sometimes, I would go on these practice sprees and just kind of lock myself in a room.”

At 16, the budding violinist moved to Halifax with a full scholarship from Dalhousie and tenuous grasp of English. Kolesov says with years of grinding practice, he grew into himself as both as a musician and an individual.

Kolesov says Canada became a “second home” that allowed him space to grapple with his sexuality. Eventually, he gave himself a deadline: He would come out before his next birthday.

Looking directly into the camera, Kolesov told YouTube about growing up in Russia as the son of two Pentecostal pastors, being told as a child that gayness was a sin punishable by death and asking God to kill him before his mother discovered his sexual orientation.

Kolesov speaks in his native Russian as English subtitles play at the bottom of the screen.

“I know that since a lot of Russian kids are scared, I wanted to kind of be speaking in their language so they could relate to me better,” says Kolesov. “I thought I was alone, and I don’t want anyone else to feel that way.”

The video was filmed as part of the “Child-404” campaign for Russian teens struggling with issues of sexual orientation and identity.

Kolesov says his mother begged him to spare her the humiliation of having her son’s sexuality broadcast for the world to see, and he worries if he returns to Russia, he’ll be forced into conversion therapy.

“As much as I wish that I had that kind of acceptance from my family, I also know that there are children whose family who aren’t going to accept them right away, and maybe will never accept them,” says Kolesov.

Kolesov’s studies will soon wrap up, and he says he plans to seek citizenship in the U.S., where his boyfriend is, or Canada.

But he says the paths to immigration in both countries are riddled with bureaucratic tape; Sunday’s concert was the second time a Halifax appearance had been cancelled because of his immigration issues.

Kolesov says his visa application has been mixed up in the bureaucracy, with forms sent to the wrong office and slow processing times.

“(Citizenship) would mean that I finally have a home in North America,” says Kolesov. “As you can see, I can’t just apply for a visa and get it whenever I want. There’s always some kind of restraint.”

Gay Israel Activist Rips LGBT Student Group After It Pulls Support for His Event to Show ‘Solidarity’ With Palestinians

Friday, April 14th, 2017
algemeiner

Hen Mazzig. Photo: Facebook.

A gay Israeli activist and former IDF commander told The Algemeiner on Friday that he was “baffled by the alignment of the LGBTQ community with the anti-Israel narrative,” after a University of Florida (UF) student group pulled support for his on-campus lecture to show “solidarity” with Palestinians.

Hen Mazzig — currently on a university speaking tour organized by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America watchdog group — said Pride Student Union of UF acted hypocritically when it backed out of his April 5 lecture (which went ahead with the support of student group This is Israel UF).

“Instead of fighting for equality, the LGBTQ community is showing the same type of bigotry that they should be standing up against. They are saying they want equality, but it’s limited; it’s for everyone but Israeli Jews,” he said, adding that he was doubly confounded by Pride’s actions as “Israel is the only country in the region who cares at all about these issues.”

Amid a slew of anti-Israel activities taking place at universities across the US during the Passover holiday this week, a campus…

On Thursday, Mazzig responded on social media to Pride’s charge that, “For those who may deem this action [cutting support for Mazzig] as antisemitic, we would like to add that supporting a political agenda plagued with violence and racism is antisemitic. Choosing not to support such an agenda represents solidarity.”

Mazzig wrote that Pride had given into “hatred and fanaticism…bigotry and racism against Jewish Israelis.”

The activist told The Algemeiner that he has heard comments like those made by Pride many times before, and he encouraged students torn between supporting Israel and having a place with other liberal causes to “be brave.”

“Throughout history, supporting the right side has been challenging, and the unpopular thing to do,” he said. “It is very popular on campuses today to be anti-Israel and support BDS, but it is time to take a moral stand and do what isn’t easy. It’s hard to speak up for the right side, it always has been, but you have to make that choice.”

Mazzig is currently on his first campus tour since appearing at University College London in Oct. 2016, where his presentation became the scene of an extreme protest that required police intervention. A university investigation into that incident found that cases of physical assault had taken place and rhetoric that “could be considered antisemitic” was used.

US Court Equates Gay Rights with Civil Rights

Friday, April 14th, 2017

Patheos

This article from Slate outlines the arguments the 7th Circuit Court has made regarding the employment rights of homosexuals. They have formally equated sex discrimination in the workplace with discrimination against homosexuals.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit issued a landmark decision in Hively v. Ivy Tech holding that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sexual orientation discrimination. The 8–3 ruling is an extraordinary victory for LGBTQ advocates—an emphatic declaration from a bipartisan group of judges that anti-gay workplace discrimination is clearly illegal under federal law…

…The facts in Hively are straightforward. Kimberly Hively is an openly gay professor who believes that her former employer, Ivy Tech Community College, discriminated against her on the basis of sexual orientation. Hively sued Ivy Tech under Title VII, which prohibits workplace discrimination “because of sex.” A district court ruled against Hively in 2015, concluding that Title VII does not bar sexual orientation discrimination. A panel of judges for the 7th Circuit affirmed that ruling in 2016—but noted that it was only doing so because it was bound by two 7th Circuit precedents from 2000. In a frank opinion by Judge Ilana Rovner, a George H.W. Bush appointee, the majority signaled that it found these decisions dubious and untenable, urging the full court to reconsider them en banc. The court agreed, hearing arguments in November. And on Tuesday, it vindicated Rovner’s concerns, overruling those old precedents and holding that Title VII protects all gay employees.

It is predicted that this decision will make its way to the Supreme Court, but the court’s ruling rested on three arguments. One precedent ruled that employers could not discriminate against an employee because they did not fulfill gender stereotypes. A gay person clearly overturns expected sexual stereotypes and  therefore that previous ruling should apply to them. The second argument is a bit more convoluted. The law says a person cannot be discriminated against because of sex. A woman dating a man or a man dating a woman is a conventional understanding, but a woman dating a woman means the woman was discriminated against because she was a woman. In other words, if she had been a man dating a woman that would not have caused a problem. The third argument goes back to racial discrimination and compares discrimination against a homosexual. A company or institution cannot ban inter-racial dating because their ban is racially based. Likewise, the judges argued, no one can discriminate against a gay person because of the person they choose to date or marry.

The last of the three arguments is very interesting because this is the one where Bob Jones University got stuck. They had a rule banning inter racial dating and their tax exempt status was revoked. They took it all the way to the Supreme Court and lost.

As it happens, when the decision legalizing gay marriage  [Obergefell v Hodges] was being debated the question of how this would impact institutions that did not accept the innovation on religious grounds. Justice Alito actually asked whether approval of same sex marriage would lead to a “Bob Jones situation.”

Justice Alito had a conversation with Solicitor General Verrilli during the oral argument in Obergefell. Justice Alito had asked the Solicitor General about the impact that a decision in favor of the plaintiff would have on the tax-exempt status of religious institutions that would not recognize same-sex marriage. The Solicitor General stated in reply:

You know, I — I don’t think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it’s certainly going to be an issue. I — I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is — it is going to be an issue.

It is indeed “an issue.”

This article from the Columbia Law Journal argues that the Obergefell decision does not mean that religious institutions that object will lose their tax exempt status, but the recent decision by the 7th circuit doesn’t give any reasons why churches, church schools or religious institutions should be exempt from anti discrimination employment law as they believe it applies to homosexuals.

If a church or church school or Christian institution refuses to hire a gay person will they be prosecuted or sued for sex discrimination?

It will be interesting to see how this one develops.

Trump is ‘trying to erase’ us: Gay activists furious that 2020 Census won’t ask about LGBT

Friday, April 14th, 2017

lifesitenews

Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau released a list of categories for 2020 that included an appendix with LGBTQ self-designated status for future consideration. But it was an “inadvertent” mistake, the bureau announced, because it’s too late to include a new category for the next census. Such changes take years to work out properly and no census has ever asked a citizen’s perceived LGBTQ status.

The bureau gave this official explanation: “The Subjects Planned for the 2020 Census and American Community Survey (ACS) report released today inadvertently listed sexual orientation and gender identity as a proposed topic in the appendix. This topic is not being proposed to Congress for the 2020 Census or American Community Survey. The report has been corrected.”

A U.S. census is taken every 10 years according to Constitutional law. Three years before the census is conducted, the U.S. Census Bureau must issue its list of categories to track data. Through the centuries, the census has become more elaborate to give the government more data on race, ancestry, education, health, and housing to make policy. But in recent decades, attempts have been made to “streamline” the census and make it less cumbersome.

Immediately, homosexual organizations cried foul.

Meghan Maury of the National LGBTQ Task Force accused the Trump administration of trying “to deny LGBTQ people freedom, justice, and equity.” Sarah Kate Ellis of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) accused the Trump administration of a systematic effort to “erase the LGBTQ community.”

Ellis claimed the mistake was an intentional scheme against homosexuals because “visibility has always been one of the LGBTQ community’s greatest strengths.” She noted the Trump administration removed gay-related content from the White House website in January, and has more recently taken LGBTQ questions out of two surveys.

The LGBTQ Task Force is demanding a Congressional oversight hearing.

Fox News noted irony in the gay outrage. “Not so long ago, the LGBT community probably would have seen such inquiries as an invasion of privacy.”

LGBTQ advocate Dr. Gary J. Gates sought to temper gay anger against the Trump administration. He explained in a tweet, “Lots of inaccurate news about U.S. Census #LGBT inclusion. There were never plans for LGBT questions in (the) 2020 Census/ACS.” In another tweet, Gates wrote that the “proposal was just to consider questions for (the) future. No decisions were made and way too late to add new sexual orientation/gender identity items to 2020 surveys.”

Reason.com’s Scott Shackford, a homosexual, called the gay backlash “fake outrage.” He says the ulterior motive of gays is government welfare and other federal dole subsidies.

“This week’s fake outrage confuses welfare spending with equal government protection and blames Trump,” Shackford wrote, claiming that the dispute is “less about gay and transgender rights and more about organizations who want a slice of the great federal spending pie.”

Maury had argued that without the LGBTQ census questions the government can’t “ensure we’re getting fair and adequate access to the rights, protections and services we need.”

Shackford considers Maury’s argument disingenuous. “There is a deliberately misplaced outrage here that wants to trick LGBT people into thinking that their rights and equal protection under the law is dependent on whether the federal government knows that they’re gay or transgender,” he wrote.

“What does demographic inclusion in a study have to do with whether LGBT people are treated equally under the law? Nothing,” Shackford continued. “Rights and freedoms are not based on head counts or a demographic analysis of where people live.”

“This isn’t about rights. It’s about money,” Shackford charged. “This is about organizations and activists who are hoping to use this demographic data to get a bigger slice of federal funding.”

Shackford explained that a lot of federal tax dollars are distributed based on census data. “This is a clear attempt to try to use demographic-based funding as a replacement for funding mechanisms based on actual customer bases,” he wrote.

He used himself as an illustration. Shackford makes enough money not to receive welfare, but if on the census “welfare or health services could include me demographically as a potential customer, then they could lobby for more money,” he explained. “That I might never set foot in these places is not relevant.”

“Imagine if public schools could get funding based on how many school-age children live in their district instead of actual attendance?” Shackford further illustrated. “They would care less if students even went to school.”

Writing for Townhall, gay journalist Guy Benson called the homosexual outrage “absurd.” “To pin this week’s development on Trump is absurd. He is, without question, the most pro-gay rights Republican president in American history, having recently overruled social conservatives’ objections (some of which were reasonable) in keeping Obama-era LGBTQ executive protections in place.”

The 2010 census does allow citizens to identify their status as in a same-sex partnership. Other government agencies inquire about sexual orientation and gender identity in their surveys.

The director of the Census Bureau is 2013 Obama nominee John H. Thompson, who was unanimously confirmed by a Democrat-led Senate.

Ian McKellen on being a closeted gay man: ‘it’s a terrible oppression’

Friday, April 14th, 2017

GQ.com

Apowerful new film featuring Ian McKellen, a vocal LGBTQ activist throughout his life has been released to promote “Queer British Art 1861-1967”, Tate Britain’s latest exhibition.

Directed by Joe Stephenson, the film features Scott Chambers as a pained, young McKellen, while the acclaimed actor recounts his memories in voiceover of what it was like growing up in an era when there was little possibility of coming out as a young gay man. It’s raw, unfiltered and unashamedly honest.

 The exhibition includes works from 1861 to 1967 relating to LGBTQ identities and marks the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England, and explores how artists expressed themselves during a time when conventional assumptions about gender and sexuality were being questioned and transformed.

This film is one of six that were produced by Channel 4’s Random Acts in partnership with Tate which offer glimpses into LGBTQ lives through intimate portraits of individuals.

Anglican leader who defrocked, reconciled with gay priest dies

Friday, April 14th, 2017

Toronto Star

Rev. Terence Edward Finlay was a long-serving Toronto Anglican Church leader who championed reconciliation efforts with indigenous communities. He also made headlines for defrocking a gay priest in 1992 but later became an advocate for the LGBTQ community.

Finlay died Monday in Toronto. He was 79.

“One of the things I remember most about him was his smile and laughter,” said current Toronto Archbishop Colin Johnson in a statement posted to the diocese of Toronto’s website.

“Essentially, right at the heart of things, he was a joyful, hopeful, happy person, and deeply faithful . . . He loved people and met them from all walks of life.”

Born in London, Ont., on May 19, 1937, Finlay was ordained a deacon in 1961 and then a priest a year later. He served at the diocese of Huron before leaving for the diocese of Toronto in 1982, where he was elected a suffragan bishop in 1986, coadjutor bishop in 1987 and installed as the 10th Bishop of Toronto in 1989.

In 2000, Finlay was elected Metropolitan of Ontario and Archbishop of Toronto, a role in which he led the diocese’s support for the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement; the diocese of Toronto went on to give $5 million to the fund.

“He had the gift of being able to bring people with different points of view together and to talk through issues,” said Finlay’s wife of 55 years, Alice Jean. “And not so much to force anybody to change their opinion, but for people to understand where they did have common ground and how they could continue to work together.”

Former Bishop of Toronto Terence Finlay (left) with Rev. James Ferry before a reconciliation service in 2012. Finlay died Monday at age 79.
Former Bishop of Toronto Terence Finlay (left) with Rev. James Ferry before a reconciliation service in 2012. Finlay died Monday at age 79.  (STEVE RUSSELL/TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO)  

Finlay retired as a bishop in 2004 but continued working as an interim priest for several parishes, also serving as Chaplain to the National House of Bishops, Episcopal visitor to the Mission to Seafarers in Canada and the special envoy for the church on residential schools for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“None of us will ever forget his broad smile and his hearty laugh. None of us will forget those moments when his eyes danced with delight over someone’s happiness or great accomplishment,” Archbishop and Primate Fred Hiltz wrote in a tribute posted to the Anglican Church of Canada’s website.

“Nor will we forget those moments when his eyes welled up with tears over the great pain or grief someone was bearing . . . Nor will we forget seeing his head bowed in shame and contrition for the suffering inflicted upon hundreds and hundreds of children through the Indian Residential Schools.”

Along with working with indigenous communities on reconciliation efforts, Finlay was also known in recent years for his commitment to justice for the LGBTQ community, but that wasn’t always so — earlier in his career, he’d defrocked a gay priest for refusing to end his same-sex relationship.

In 1988, James Ferry, a priest at St. Philip’s Church in Unionville, fell in love with a man and began a relationship with him. As the news spread through the parish, Finlay, then the Bishop of Toronto, ordered Ferry to end the relationship. Ferry refused, at which point Finlay issued a letter to be read at all Anglican parishes outing Ferry and preventing him from performing pastoral duties. A bishop’s court found Ferry guilty of disobeying a superior, and Finlay defrocked him in 1992.

Twenty years later, in 2012, Finlay formally apologized to Ferry in a rare public reconciliation service at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Toronto.

“I’ve moved in different directions,” Finlay told the Star at the time about his views on the LGBTQ community.

“. . . I have been very supportive of the gay and lesbian community, and also the whole question of gay marriage.”

In 2006, Finlay officiated at a same-sex marriage for two close friends at a United Church in Toronto, a move he was admonished for by the Anglican church and that cost him his licence to officiate at weddings in the diocese of Toronto.

“He was always supportive of his gay friends and colleagues, but was constrained by his position at that time and yet it ended up being an opportunity for the topic to be discussed and brought forward in the church to be dealt with,” said his wife Alice Jean.

Finlay is survived by his wife, their two daughters and four grandchildren.

Finlay’s funeral will be held at St. James Cathedral 10 a.m. Saturday, following a visitation and overnight vigil that begins Friday evening.

With files from Azzura Lalani

Taiwan top court hears landmark gay marriage case

Friday, April 14th, 2017

BBC News

Veteran gay rights activist Chi Chia-wei (C) speaks to the press with his supporters in front of the Judicial Yuan in Taipei on 24 March 2017.Image copyrightAFP/GETTY IMAGES
Image captionChi Chia-wei (centre, wearing rainbow flag) brought on the case with a court petition

A panel of judges at Taiwan’s top court are hearing a case that could make the island the first place in Asia to introduce gay marriage.

The case has been brought by a gay activist as well as municipal authorities from the capital, Taipei.

Taiwan’s parliament has also been debating whether to pass laws that would allow same-sex marriage.

The movement has split society and prompted a conservative backlash, with vocal protests in recent months.

A panel of 14 justices are hearing arguments and will debate whether a line in Taiwan’s civil code, which states that marriage is between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional.

Media captionTaiwan’s push to legalize same sex marriage

Veteran gay activist Chi Chia-wei, whose attempt at registering marriage with his partner in 2013 was rejected, had petitioned for the case to be heard.

Taipei city authorities, who have been receiving requests for gay marriage, had also petitioned for clarity.


Historic decision-making – Cindy Sui, BBC News, Taiwan correspondent

The hearing lasts only one day, but could be a decisive turning point in Taiwan’s decades-long debate on whether to legalise same-sex marriage.

It’s the first time the judiciary is opening the Constitutional Court on the issue. If the judges rule that Taiwan’s current ban is unconstitutional, then parliament will be forced to amend the laws to offer gay couples protection.

Lawmakers, while initially supportive, have become less enthusiastic about passing such bills after vocal opposition by mainly religious groups and parents.

If the judges rule in favour of it, they will in essence be doing the dirty work for lawmakers, who can then tell their voters they have no choice but to amend the laws.

But it’s still unclear how this would play out.

If same-sex marriage is approved, the LGBT community does not want a separate law to be created that only gives some protection to same-sex partners.

They want current family laws to be amended so that gay couples would be treated the same as heterosexual couples, as they would then get equal rights and treatment in all matters, including adoption of children.


Legal experts and government officials are taking part in the hearing, after which the justices will debate among themselves. The ruling is expected to come out in two months’ time.

Gay rights campaigners carrying rainbow flags, turned up in front of the court in Taipei, as did anti-gay marriage protesters.

Anti same-sex marriage activists speak to the press outside the Judicial Yuan in Taipei on 24 March 2017.
Image captionConservative activists have also turned up protesting against same-sex marriage

In December Taiwan’s parliament approved the first draft of a bill to legalise gay marriage, with a second reading due in months.

President Tsai Ing-wen has previously said she would support marriage equality. Taiwan is known for its progressive values and energetic LGBTQ movement.

But rallies by gay rights activists in recent months have been met with protests from conservative groups and calls for the same-sex marriage bill to be struck down.

Alec Baldwin: ‘I Call My Gay Friends ‘Faggots’ All the Time’

Friday, April 14th, 2017

Heat Street

Alec Baldwin might be an uber liberal but when it comes to his relations with the gay community, we must borrow the title of his 2009 comedy: It’s Complicated.

The gay community will surely not appreciate Baldwin, who has a new creative lease of life playing Donald Trump on SNL, recounting in his brand new memoir Nevertheless his time getting fired from hosting an MSNBC talk show in 2013 after he was caught on TMZ calling a photographer a “cocksucking fag”. Revealingly he adds that he calls “my gay friends ‘faggot’ all the time.”

Baldwin writes of the scandal: “On CNN, Anderson Cooper, joined by blogger Andrew Sullivan, sounded off about the need for me to be “vilified”. I was condemned by GLAAD spokesperson Rich Ferraro. The response from every corner of the gay community was one of either judgement, condemnation, or a good deal of free psychoanalysis.

“Over time, I have come to understand the role of certain people inside of the gay community. There is no larger platform and no wider audience for their pontifications than when a famous person is “outed” as a homophobe. It is the form of outing that they love, the outing that’s right and necessary. The rest of the time, Cooper and Sullivan make due with relatively modest audiences. Unless in Cooper’s case, it’s New Years Eve.

“Ferraro, no doubt, is on a vigilant watch for the next homophobic outburst that GLAAD can raise money on. And if you’re wondering if I’ve ever used the word ‘faggot’ I call my gay friends that all the time.”

It’s unlikely that Ferraro, Cooper and Sullivan will be the only ones offended by this Milo-esque passage in Baldwin’s book, although presumably his gay friends must be used to it. (One imagines it can’t be all that easy being a friend of Baldwin’s period, even if he doesn’t call you a ‘faggot’.)

At the height of the scandal in 2013, Baldwin said in a statement on the MSNBC website: “Words are important. I understand that, and will choose mine with great care going forward.”

Except when he put pens to paper, it seems…

Are Women Partly To Blame For Staying Married To A Gay Man?

Friday, April 14th, 2017

The Good Men Project (blog)

A woman who chooses to stay married to a gay man must ask herself what she is getting out of the deal.

Scary Mommy founder, Jill Smokler, recently announced she is getting divorced from her husband of 17 years because he is gay. Smokler said her husband told her his secret two years into their marriage. She never considered walking away from him at the time because she believed he was her soul mate. However, that piece of Jeff, her husband, became bigger and more consuming. The couple decided it was time to call it quits.

The Smokler’s story is a common one, particularly when there is a religious influence. Gay men believe their only option is to marry someone of the opposite sex. Some men believe marriage will cure them of their same sex attractions. Others hide behind a wife and kids while engaging in encounters behind their families’ backs. Religious belief may also preclude the couple from feeling like divorce is an option. So they stay.

There are times, as hard as it may be to believe, that men don’t actually realize they are gay for several years. One man I interviewed, Brent, grew up in West Virginia’s coalmine country in the 1970s. He said even though he was attracted to other boys in school, homosexuality wasn’t a word he knew. He conformed to social norms and married a woman. His marriage, however, fell apart shortly after his first, and only child was born. She discovered his secret and didn’t want anything to do with him, or his “problem.”

Aside from religious obligation, many women stay in their marriages for the same reasons their husbands do.

According to Carol Grever, author ofMy Husband is Gay: A Woman’s Guide to Surviving the Crisis, more than two million people have married gay or bisexual partners. “Approximately 85 percent of these mixed-orientation couples eventually do separate, while the remaining 15 percent continue their marriage, usually with some mutually devised alternative contract,” Grever says. Grever was married to her husband for over 30 years when she discovered his secret.

By the time married men decide they need to come out, they are wracked with guilt. Some have cheated on their wives, while others have struggled silently. Their minds race with fear at the prospect of losing their families, churches, support groups and friends. They are often depressed and terrified of rejection. Many feel they alone are responsible for making their wives miserable and they are all too ready to give their wives anything and everything she asks for as a sacrifice of contrition for the pain they have caused.

Of the many stories I’ve heard over the years, there is another element to the issues inside mixed-orientation marriages. Wives who are fully aware of their husband’s sexual orientation, like Smokler, are willing to stay married and deal with it. Years later, when the marriage inevitably falls apart, some of these same women are quick to call foul and take the martyr’s roles

Aside from religious obligation, many women stay in their marriages for the same reasons their husbands do. They are afraid of how people will perceive them. They are afraid of losing friendships. They are afraid of being alone, or afraid they will never find someone to love them. They choose the safety of familiarity over the risk of the unknown.

These marriages usually reach their end when the husband can no longer deal with the psychological pressure of lying about who he is, to himself and others. When he stops playing the game, he becomes the easy target. His unwillingness to keep up the charade exposes the shoddy façade hiding the marriage. And his wife is angry.

The decision to divorce is nearly always a painful one. We believe, when we marry, that our commitment is for a lifetime. We believe we will beat the odds. We seldom envision a future with an ex-spouse and certainly can’t imagine becoming a part-time parent to the children we bore.

Women are not to blame for cheating spouses. While he cannot choose his sexual orientation, deception is a decision for which he alone must take responsibility.

The death of a marriage is painful and we often look for ways to save it. When one spouse is gay, however, there is no going back. No amount of counseling will fix it. No amount of negotiating or compromise will change it. Women are left with two options: divorce, or a non-traditional arrangement, which too often becomes the shame she diligently works to hide from friends and family.

Women are not to blame for cheating spouses. While he cannot choose his sexual orientation, deception is a decision for which he alone must take responsibility.

Infidelity aside, however, both spouses face similar fears. Both spouses often feel the emotional barrier that keeps them from truly experiencing the intimacy they seek. Both spouses desire more than a deep friendship, though mixed orientation marriages frequently become sexless, and the bonds platonic.

Living with a gay husband is usually unchartered territory for the wife. She is confused, unsure of where to find resources, and often feels disconnected from family and friends for fear of exposing her husband’s secret. Her sense of loyalty often works against her own need for support. Unless she’s angry, going public usually isn’t an option.

Are women to blame for staying married to a gay husband? An honest look at the relationship would find it mutually beneficial in one way or another. It was, or at least became, a marriage of convenience. Cloaked in religious ideologies, mixed marriages can become the flagship of obedience to God, relieving both spouses of the responsibilities to face their own realities.

What is certain is that most mixed-orientation marriages are unstable at best. Statistically, at some point, one spouse will want to end the marriage and move on. Sooner or later, the wife will be forced to face her own reality, and must be ready to answer the question, why did I stay for so long?

Previously Published on Huffington Post

Prison Break’s New Bad Guy Is Gay, Muslim, and a Force for Good in Hollywood

Friday, April 14th, 2017
advocate
Amin El Gamal

Amin El Gamal portrays one of the main villains in Prison Break: Sequel, the rebooted Fox drama starring Wentworth Miller.

Like Miller, El Gamal is an out actor of color. An Arab-American, he is Muslim and gay, and also an ardent activist for intersectional concerns. He is an ally of Black Lives Matter, a volunteer with the International Rescue Committee, and the founder of a support group for LGBT Muslims.

In an interview with The Advocate, El Gamal discussed how he is both excited and “sort of nervous” regarding the public reaction to his latest part — an antagonist named Cyclops with possible ties to terrorism and ISIS. In today’s political climate, when Muslims are being demonized and deported, El Gamal is acutely aware of the impact that depictions on broadcast television can have on a marginalized community.

However, the 31-year-old actor also acknowledged how his visibility matters, in an industry where the glass closet persists and there is a deficit of complex representations for Arab characters. And it helps to have a lead like Miller. The leading man broke new ground when he came out in 2013, in a letter to a film festival in Russia condemning the country’s antigay legislation. The moment was an important one for El Gamal.

“I remember feeling very grateful because I always thought of Prison Break as a sort of ‘masc’ action adventure sort of show,” El Gamal said. “To have someone come out who headlined that sort of world, to come out was really powerful. It really showed that gay actors can do anything.”

Miller provided more than just a role model. When El Gamal joined the cast of Prison Break: Sequel, he discovered how much it mattered to have other out actors on set, in part due to the material and environment. Filmed in Vancouver and North Africa, the reboot now focuses on an escape from a facility in Yemen — and a storyline involves the detention of a queer character.

“Especially in some of the harsh and violent situations and environments that we were in, it just felt very comforting to have someone who was there who was like, I see you, I understand your concern,” El Gamal said.

Miller, along with another gay actor on set, Augustus Prew — “so rare, especially on a broadcast show” — helped El Gamal give complexity and heart to a character who might have been monstrous. In discussions, the trio mapped out a backstory for the character, which gave El Gamal an “in” to the villain. In their reasoning, the character was bullied in the past, and he was out to “prove my masculinity.” This history allowed him to connect with his part in ways he hadn’t anticipated.

“I really feel my character was a lot about toxic masculinity, and I didn’t actually see that until I discussed certain aspects of it with Wentworth,” said El Gamal, adding that it added new perspective to his work. “In a way, this is a bit radical, the way that I was cast.”

“As an actor, you kind of learn that it’s never really a good idea to start from a place other than who you are,” El Gamal said. “It doesn’t mean that I can’t play a character that’s not gay. But I think going from my own experiences and using my imagination to build on that makes for a much more compelling character.”

Prison Breakx750

El Gamal came out in college — but he said his sexual orientation was “pretty clear to everyone who knew me,” even in his early years. He recounted stories of dressing up like Disney princesses in preschool — and thanked his mother for supporting him, by providing him with the Little Mermaid’s “clamshell bra” as well as license “to perform and to explore my gender.”

“There’s actually a home video where I’m wearing pearls and I introduce myself to my class as Cinderella,” he said with a laugh. “I point to this guy across the room, and I’m like, And that’s my prince! Everyone is horrified, but I just didn’t care.”

His father was less tolerant of his childhood cross-dressing. Like King Triton, he destroyed and threw away his child’s “knick-knacks aplenty,” including a prized Little Mermaid wig. But that didn’t end El Gamal’s interest in queer culture. After age 5, he developed an obsession with Judy Garland, seeing all her films and learned to lip-synch to all of her songs. He stressed it was not a camp magnetism that drew him to the Wizard of Oz star and gay icon. It was pure admiration of her talent.

“It was authenticity and vulnerability that she accessed so easily in performances. And I think to this day, I’ve learned a lot from that,” he said.

His parents, immigrants from Egypt, both struggled initially with their son’s sexuality. After El Gamal came out his sophomore year at Stanford University, he worried that his family would stop paying for his schooling or cut off communication. On a trip to Egypt, his father forbade him to wear “gay” clothes.

“I basically was playing a role as a straight son for three weeks, and that was very strange,” said El Gamal, who said that since then, he’s seen his parents make great progress in acceptance.

“Time has healed a lot of it. I think he’s evolved in his thinking,” he said of his father. “I’ve helped educate them. So I have to give them credit. My mom very quickly became an ally, and my dad’s having a hard time, but he’s getting there.”

El Gamal acknowledged that time and location were on his side, remarking how his own narrative mirrored the change in the country’s attitudes toward LGBT people.

“I was lucky that as my parents were sort of coming to terms with it, the whole country was beginning to pass legislation that was more pro-LGBT,” he said. “Who knows if that’s gonna change, with what’s going on now. But I felt like the popular opinion was shifting in the same time I was coming out. So I was really privileged for that. I was privileged because I grew up in the Bay Area as well, which is a very safe place for LGBT people.”

The experience shaped his views on coming out as well as the responsibility for others to do so.

“I used to think that everyone needed to come out and they were cowardly if they didn’t, and it was the political statement that everyone needed to make,” he said. “But as I’ve learned about different people’s experiences, especially in different countries and different cultures, I’m beginning to learn that it is a matter of privilege. And [it’s] a duty you have if you are privileged enough to do it.”

As an actor, El Gamal has never been closeted. He saw what could happen if he chose to be firsthand, when he dated an older actor as a graduate student at the University of Southern California.

“I saw the burden of that choice on him, even though he’s not in the spotlight as much now,” he said. “And I sort of made a decision that I just didn’t want that.”

“If I can’t be true to who I am and set an example for other queer kids who come from an Arab background, what’s the point?” El Gamal asked. “What’s the point in me being a public figure and trying to be authentic and entertain people if I can’t try to change things a bit?”

“I had a really hard time, because I didn’t see representations of people like me that were positive, let alone LGBT representation of people of color,” he continued. “And I really hated myself for a long time, and I think part of it is, if I can change a little bit of that for a period of time, I would love to. If Hollywood’s gonna say they’re not ready for me, I guess I’ll do something else.”

El Gamal has been an actor for five years — and he’s working. His résumé includes parts in The Newsroom, Shameless, Transparent, and The Librarians. However, he noted how “really tricky” the parts in Hollywood available to LGBT people of color can be.

“I don’t think I found the role that’s going to be one of my defining roles yet. I think I’m still looking for that. And it is a difficult task,” he said, adding, “To be completely frank, I think I’m going to have to start writing them. I’m not sure that they’re just going to appear.”

The obstacles are many. He’s had to address “homophobic microaggressions” with former representatives, who would ask questions like “Did you butch it up enough?” after auditions. The roles themselves are problematic, trending toward a combination of terrorists and child molesters.

“So, wait, you can’t see me playing this completely asexual character, but all of a sudden, I’m a child molester? There’s a lot of weird BS to sift through,” he said of the Hollywood casting game.

He pointed to Issa Rae, the creator of HBO’s Insecure and a former classmate from Stanford, as a possibility model for what he hopes to achieve for LGBT people of Muslim background. As a creator, he could also work to better merge his acting and his activism, which he sees as two sides of the same coin.

“I’m not her by any means at all, but I’m really inspired by her work to create something that is more authentically me, and at the same time, serving an audience that hasn’t really been served,” he said.

As an activist, he has been “very moved” to witness the historic demonstrations that have occurred since Donald Trump took office. In particular, the airport protests hit home, as they showed intersectional support for Muslim people, the likes of which El Gamal had never before seen in the U.S. — including from Muslims.

“From my experience, Arab-Americans do not want to be politically engaged or vocal or rock the vote,” he said, adding, “They want to play it safe and toe the line so that they can continue making a living.”

“There’s always this idea of, Don’t speak out, don’t take any risks. We’ll just carry the burden of whatever discrimination we’re facing, and be silent about it,” he said. “So it’s exciting for me to see especially first-generation people like me beginning to go into politics or beginning to speak out in more radical ways and going and being visible.”

El Gamal also hopes Hollywood will take more responsibility with its depictions and recognize some of its complicity in creating a culture of Islamophobia.

“Hollywood has really spun a lot of the narrative on how Americans view Arab and Muslim people. And that has in some ways paved the way for legislation like the executive order” on immigration, he said. “So to see some people who are probably perpetuating this going out and marching is a little bit ironic, but I think I’m optimistic enough to believe that people are becoming more aware of these issues and that a change will happen in terms of content.”

“Hopefully that means we’ll be able to have a few more Muslim or Arab Americans in writers’ rooms and as execs who make decisions, because it’s kind of hard to get those characters right unless you have someone at top who can help guide the process.”

El Gamal finds the tactics of the Trump admistration, which has used homophobia as a justication for its ban on travelers from predominantly Muslim nations, “horrifying.” He called it “pinkwashing” and “a trap to try to divide and conquer” different vulnerable communities.

“Yeah, there’s homophobia in the Middle East. There’s homophobia here also,” he said. “I think we should all be very, as a gay community, be very in tune with that sort of thing and speak out against it. I don’t think we should fall for that.”

El Gamal has a message to LGBT people who are Islamophobic.

“Hate is hate — it just finds different ways to disguise and justify itself,” he said. “So to me, hating an entire religion because of the actions of a few is the same as hating all queer people. It’s the same hate. It also denies the intersectionality of identity, like there are Muslims who are also queer and also black. That complicates the narrative of Islamophobia quite a bit, right?”

Initially, El Gamal questioned whether he should take the part in Prison Break: Sequel, due to his fears that America would once again see that “the bad guys are brown, screaming, with guns.” But El Gamal, after reviewing the material, appreciated how it complicated the narrative.

“I think some people will roll their eyes when they see the setting of the new Prison Break, but they also do some things that we haven’t seen before,” he said. “There’s a Muslim Arab woman who is one of the leads and who is a good guy. One of the characters that everyone loves has converted to Islam from the original Prison Break, and he is kicking ass as a good guy. There’s LGBT [representation] — an LGBT Arab character. Not all the Arab characters are good or bad. They’re not all saintly or evil. There’s some complexity in the characters.”

“At the end of the day … there’s a queer Arab-American Muslim actor playing a major role on a broadcast show,” El Gamal declared of Cyclops. “I don’t know if that’s ever happened! It’s a big step.”

Kids Don’t Seem To Have Any Issues With Gay Marriage

Friday, April 14th, 2017

Huffington Post Canada

When it comes to gay marriage, it looks like only some adults tend to be up in arms about it, because most kids don’t really seem to care.

“It’s something that everybody should be able to accept,” Althina, 11, says. “Because what people do in their private lives is their business — and we shouldn’t be judging people.”

And the others who were interviewed by Zoom.in Studio tend to agree.

Theo, 10, thinks gay couples should be able to live their lives in wedded bliss without the judgement and criticism of others. While Imre, 12, has a more enthusiastic message for same-sex pairs — specifically lesbians.

“You go! You go, girl — you go!” he declares. “It’s your life, go make something awesome out of it!”

gay parents

One tween in particular named Tilly is clearly sick of the debate altogether, and it looks like she just wants everyone to shut up about it.

“There’s nothing wrong with it at all, that’s just the way they are,” the 12 year old says. “Some people are straight and some people are gay, and that’s just how it is.”

The girl’s got a point!

Osaka the first city in Japan to certify gay couple as foster parents

Friday, April 14th, 2017

The Japan Times

The city of Osaka has officially recognized a same-sex couple as foster parents, becoming the first municipality in the nation to do so, according to municipal and central government officials.

The city government formally recognized two men in their 30s and 40s as foster parents of a teenage boy who has been under their care since February. The couple asked to remain anonymous.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said Wednesday there is “no precedent” for a same-sex couple being certified as foster parents.

The city granted the their request to become guardians after determining they understood the foster care system and had the financial wherewithal to raise a child.

Support has been growing for protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and municipal governments are gradually recognizing same-sex partnerships as equivalent to marriage.

Traditionally, only married couples or individuals are allowed to become foster parents. Members of the LGBT community have been eligible to foster children, but only as individuals.

“I am happy we became foster parents (and recognized) as a single household, not just as individuals,” the older of the two men said, adding the boy is now “living a comfortable life as he talks about his school and friends.”

The man said he thought it is important for a child to “have an adult who gives affection on a one-on-one level and affirms his or her presence.”

It has been about two months since the couple started acting as the boy’s foster parents. He goes to school every day from home and receives home-cooked meals when he returns, the man said.

“The boy may feel puzzled to live with people who were not with him when he was in an early age,” he said. “But we hope to become the ones who think of him first and can be relied on when he is in need.”

Previously, a female couple in the Kanto region were recognized as eligible to become foster parents, but only individually. They raised the one child together after each was granted custody.

The gay couple from Osaka consulted the city’s child consultation center in autumn 2015 about becoming foster parents.

They attended lectures, training and reviews by the center, as well as screening by the city’s social welfare panel. The couple was officially recognized on Dec. 22, 2016, as foster parents with guardianship of a child under 18.

There is no law excluding same-sex couples from being foster parents. But as of March 1, 2015, the 3,704 foster homes nationwide comprised 3,216 married couples and 488 single-parent households, government data shows.

Compared with other countries where it is more commonplace to see gay and lesbian couples fostering children, Japan lags because many LGBT applicants are turned away at the door.

A support group for same-sex couples welcomed Osaka’s decision and called for creating an environment where anyone can become foster parents if they can raise children with affection.

As of March 2016, there were about 45,000 neglected or physically abused children in need of foster care, according to the welfare ministry.

The central government also set up a “family homes” program in 2009 where children live in small group homes with multiple foster carers. While the government recommends raising children in a homelike environment, only 17.5 percent children in need of homes were able to do so as of March 2016, compared with 30 percent to 70 percent in the United States and major European countries in 2002.

“The places that can accept children will increase if there are various types of foster parents, and not just male-female couples,” said Megumi Fuji, who heads Rainbow Foster Care, which supports allowing same-sex couples to become foster parents.

According to Fuji, many same-sex couples looking to become prospective parents have been rejected by public authorities. They are told, “Children will never be fostered” by same-sex couples or “couples of friends are not accepted.”

“It is very small-minded to think that only couples of men and women can realize an ideal family,” Fuji said. “Whether they have an aptitude for raising children is important.”

The Gay Sensibility Travels ‘Gently Down the Stream’

Friday, April 14th, 2017

American Theatre

Gabriel Ebert and Harvey Fierstein y Martin Sherman Directed by Sean Mathias Featuring Gabriel Ebert, Harvey Fierstein and Christopher Sears Scenic Design: Derek McLane Costume Design: Michael Krass Lighting Design: Peter Kaczorowski Sound Design: Rob Milburn & Michael Bodeen

The Gay Sensibility Travels ‘Gently Down the Stream’

Martin Sherman’s new play takes stock of a generational shift in attitudes as disorienting as it is heartening.Harvey Fierstein starring a Martin Sherman play? The historic pairing of the authors of Torch Song Trilogy and Bent in Sherman’s new play Gently Down the Stream (at New York’s Public Theater though May 14) would seem to sit somewhere between unlikely bedfellows and match made in gay heaven, between “wha?” and “of course!”

That’s just in theory, of course. In practice, holding centerstage for nearly the entirety of Sherman’s intergenerational gay romance/cultural history, Fierstein—opposite the versatile and soulful Gabriel Ebert—brings his unique brand of raspy, rumpled gravitas to a role that might have been tailored not only to his talents but to his history as a gay icon.

Indeed, whether it was in fact made to order is the first question I asked when I met recently with Sherman, an American playwright who’s been based in London for most of his career, and British director Sean Mathias, the English director who memorably helmed a 1990 revival of Bent and its 1997 film version.

It’s a lovely play—bittersweet, I’d call it. My big question is, was it conceived with Harvey in mind? Because it seems to me that it’s in dialogue with his work and his life, and other figures his character cites: Larry Kramer, Judy Peabody, and so on.

Martin Sherman. (Photo by Walter Kurtz)

Martin Sherman: No, absolutely not. I don’t do that. I don’t write with actors in mind. It was Sean’s idea—the irony being that Harvey and I have known each other for decades, and Sean met Harvey but didn’t really know him. But it was totally Sean’s idea.

So tell me about that, Sean.
Sean Mathias: It was just an idea, and Harvey loved the play and said yes. I guess for all the reasons you say that make it seem obvious after the event—I guess that’s why I thought of him. Writing a play about such a political and spiritual gay landscape, and having a figure who’s lived in a particularly gay landscape and written about it himself, it seemed to me it made sense. It fit.

Let me step back a second. Is Harvey’s character, Beau, an American cocktail pianist living in London, based on anyone in particular? I ask because there are so many historical figures cited.
Sherman: Yeah, there are a lot of real characters mentioned, but the fictional characters are fictional. Any character you write is usually based on bits and pieces of people you know. But he’s not based on anyone.

It’s funny, my predecessor at American Theatre, Jim O’Quinn—I don’t know if you ever met him—is, like Beau, a gay man from New Orleans who is a pianist, and roughly of the same generation. But he never played for Mabel Mercer.
Sherman: He should come and see this!

Sean Mathias.

Mathias: There’s another factor. When they asked me to direct it, I said I really wanted to start it in New York, and I was much more keen to do it with an American actor creating Beau, because I felt like British actors, as wonderful as they would be in this, it would be in some sense an impersonation. I wanted that language that Martin has written, those cadences and rhythms, which are so delicious and specific—I just thought it would be great for an American to do this. So that was behind it.
Sherman: And the moment Sean said “Harvey,” it just clicked. It just made complete sense.

Another great fit for Harvey is that the play alternates between scenes and monologues, in which Beau ties his personal romantic biography to the arc of gay history. Can you tell me about your decision to have him just sit and talk?
Sherman: Well, those are never decisions. There’s the logic of the play, and you follow that. You’re inspired, actually—and what’s called inspiration is a combination of some strange sort of creative juice and practicality. The play has its own requirements. If you’re ready to write the play—and very often you’re not, and then you’re gonna write junk—but if you’re ready to write the play, it kind of tells you where it wants to go and how it has to be. And so suddenly you realize it’s monologue. In that sense it’s organic.

The play has a lot to say about what’s gained and what’s been lost with the advance of gay rights. Do you feel this push-pull—that a certain kind of gay culture is in endangered, even as there’s a blossoming of open gay flourishing that you may not have dared to imagine when you were younger?
Sherman: Well, that’s very complicated. First of all, the important thing is that things are so much better than they were. That’s the overriding consideration.
Mathias: We’re legal. If we’ve lost some things culturally, we’ve gained the law on our side. To be equal is extraordinary.
Sherman: And I’m not sure that much has been lost culturally. People might not be cruising down on the docks, but they’re cruising the Internet. So you just substitute the word “surfing” for “cruising.” And there still are within gay life elements of an outlaw culture that is not a positive thing, like massive drug use.

Crystal meth, right.
Sherman: So it’s complicated. But I think the overall thing is that I don’t think that any oppressed minority has ever had such a huge sea change in such a short time—in the West. That last bit always has to be underlined, because there are large parts of the world where being gay makes your life a total and complete nightmare, if you have a life. It’s criminal. You can be killed for it. So one always has to emphasize that one is talking about a narrow portion of the world, and this play is about a narrow portion of the world. But it’s the portion that I know and have grown up in.

“We will be citizens,” as Angels in America puts it. That’s something you can claim now that you couldn’t quite before. That makes a difference.
Sherman: Yeah. And I hear parents talking about their children, how their kids are just totally accepting of the existence of gays in culture and gay marriage.
Mathias: In the more liberal parts of our countries. But there is still a lot of homophobia in our countries. While there’s been a shift, not enough has changed.
Sherman: Yes, there’s still homophobia, but I think some of this open attitude has seeped down even to areas of the country that are not blatantly liberal.

Sean Mathias and Martin Sherman in rehearsal for “Gently Down the Stream” at the Public Theater. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

One thing I’ve heard some people talk about is the fear that what’s endangered, with the mainstreaming of gay culture, is a certain gay sensibility. Not to be too essentialist about it, but is there a gay sensibility—a way of looking at the world—that is radically changing, or being left behind?
Mathias: I wish I knew what a gay sensibility is, if I could even represent it.
Sherman: I think years ago a gay sensibility was predicated on being an outsider. I don’t know how much that’s changed, or will change.

 

As with any culture that’s formed in response to oppression, liberation doesn’t necessarily erase it. Like Mabel Mercer—what she meant to a certain generation of gay men may not be the same, but that takes nothing away from her greatness.
Sherman: Absolutely. And the one character, Rufus, the younger man, is obsessed with that.

Going back to Harvey: Once you had him on board, did you change anything with him in mind? He surely knows firsthand many of touchstones you have him talking about. Did he have lots of thoughts about it?
Sherman: Well, of course he had lots of thoughts about it.
Mathias: Are you insane?
Sherman: But he had, you know, an actor’s thoughts.
Mathias: Martin made changes, but it’s a new play.
Sherman: They were the kind of changes you make with any play.

I always wonder—like, when I see Joe Mantello in a production by Sam Gold, I wonder, Is he secretly directing? But Harvey’s not secretly writing?
Sherman: No.

Well, it’s a tribute to both of you that if feels like it was written for him.
Sherman: You must realize, though it’s great that you say that, he’s never played a role like this. The man is a Southern gentleman. It’s new territory in many ways for Harvey.
Mathias: The character goes to Paris, he lives in London. Harvey doesn’t leave New York.

The bit where you describe the New Orleans accent as being a bit Southern with a trace of Brooklyn—I’ve never noticed that, do you think it’s true?
Sherman: It’s true! The first time I was ever in New Orleans, I couldn’t believe the way people were talking. It was so weird. It has a strange New York accent to it. Where does that come from? I did some research and I still don’t know the genesis of it, but it is a Southern accent that has what sounds like a little Brooklyn in it. It’s not like any other accent in the South.

Martin, I remember you telling me that As Time Goes By was the play that inspired Bent with a mention of pink triangles, and that it depicted different ages in gay history, including the Holocaust and Stonewall. I wrote in a piece about Bent that if they were going to add a chapter to that play now, it would be about how we’ve achieved marriage equality, but there’s still more ground to cover. Basically you’ve written that play.
Sherman: As Time Goes By was written with Gay Sweatshop, which was founded because they wanted to address an imbalance at the time, which was that whenever there were gay characters in plays, in England, but here too—there rarely were gay characters, but if there were, they were unpleasant; they were suicidal. Gay Sweatshop wanted to change that, and they wanted to get it to a point where gay writers could write totally out of their own sensibility—it didn’t even have to be about gay characters—the way straight writers could do. Gay Sweatshop dissolved because their aims were achieved. Now gay writing is just a part of theatre.

Right, they were a victim of their own success. This is a question about culturally specific theatres in the U.S. too. There’s an argument that yes, we still do need to nurture new writers of a certain sensibility and not lose track of that mission—whether or not it’s to redress a massive imbalance anymore. This is a question the Celebration Theatre in Los Angeles, which is one I know pretty well, has wrestled with.
Sherman: Did they just do The Boy from Oz?

I think so.
Mathias: They owe you money?
Sherman: No, I got it.

The question is, as gay stories have become mainstreamed, do you need your own theatre to develop them?
Mathias: Well, this is a gay play, isn’t it? I’m directing my first gay play in years; I don’t know if I’ve directed a gay play since Bent. There were some gay characters along the way.
Sherman: You directed Cocteau [Les parents terribles].
Mathias: Well, Cocteau was gay, but none of the characters were. Rachel Weisz always used to quote me, that when I first started having success I used to say, “I don’t want to hang in a gay art gallery. My work is my work.” As a young man I would say that. I just remembered it now. Now I wouldn’t mind hanging in any gallery, I guess.

Eric Alva shares story of being gay, a Marine, and changing history

Friday, April 14th, 2017

Harvard Gazette

Gay Marine helps change history

As first American injured in Iraq, Eric Alva addresses other issues

FAS Diversity Dialogue: Overcoming obstacles: Managing complex intersectionality

He was the first American injured in the Iraq War, hit by an exploding land mine that broke his left leg, caused long-term nerve damage in his right hand, and so severely impacted his right leg that it had to be amputated to save his life. He had been in Iraq for only three hours.

While those injuries were severe, they were not the only things tormenting Marine Eric Alva while he served his country. As a gay man, had his sexuality been known, he would have been discharged from the Marines.

Alva was the final of three speakers for the academic year’s last Faculty of Arts and Sciences Diversity Dialogues, “Overcoming Obstacles: Managing Complex Intersectionality.”

“It’s an interesting story, the intersectionality of my life,” said the retired staff sergeant. “I am a gay man. I am a United States Marine. … I am also disabled and I am also Hispanic.”

Alva decided he wanted to join the Marines while he was still in high school. After graduation, he went to the local recruiters’ office. At 5-foot-1 and only 90 pounds, he said the Marine recruiters “laughed at me and told me ‘the Air Force is down the hall.’” That was frustrating, he admitted, “being told ‘we don’t want you.’” But he persisted and finally got into the Corps in 1990, a year after graduating from high school.

After he returned from Iraq Alva received enormous media attention. He was featured on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and in People magazine during his recovery and even as he took his first steps a year after his injury. With the notoriety came “invitations,” he said. Being a part of a Hispanic family, his parents would get inquiries from friends. “’Eric is still going to live a full life. He’s still going to get married. He’s still going to have kids.’

“Of course, my parents already knew I was gay,” he said.

But most people outside the immediate family did not, and Alva went to great lengths to keep it that way, even buying a framed picture of a woman for his nightstand. Friends would ask who she was and he would make up a name. But, he said jokingly, they could not understand why he had films like “Beaches,” “Terms of Endearment,” and “Joy Luck Club” on his shelf.

Alva said he finally came out when Texas, his home state, passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. He said he did not think the negative rhetoric surrounding the issue applied to him. “I turned a cheek and said that does not apply to me, but I was wrong.”

Later, as he heard others refer to “those people” as diseased and promiscuous, “it started to eat me up, because it’s like, ‘They’re talking about you, Eric,’” he said. With that, in 2006, Alva decided to do something. He called the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Its leaders wanted him to work with Congress, including Massachusetts Rep. Martin Meehan, who introduced the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, designed to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Alva said it was his military oath that made him decide to testify before Congress. “At 19, when I took that oath to defend this country against all enemies foreign and domestic, it meant every single walk of life. That meant every individual, whether male or female, young or old, whether gay or straight, whether black or white, whether Hispanic, whether able-bodied, disabled. … Those rights don’t belong to just the selected few,” he said.

Americans must move past irrational fears, Alva said. “We’re seeing change and it’s for the better good of society, the better good of furthering our ability to intersect with each other and to make sure that people are treated with dignity.” As for the next steps, he said, “I think it’s great to have these sessions, it’s wonderful for people to uncover, to share their experiences. The more we tell these stories, the more we learn about each other, the more tolerant we become.

“We need to change hearts and minds,” he concluded.

Following the talk, Cammi Valdez, assistant director in the Harvard College Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships, said Alva “did a phenomenal job of showing how intersectionality has been important in his career and ways that his narrative and perspective has made a difference in policy. I left this FAS Diversity Dialogue feeling inspired and ready to insert intersectionality into the forefront of my work.”

Chris Serwacki, assistant director of University-wide Alumni Engagement and Events, Harvard Alumni Association, added, “Eric Alva was a wonderful capstone to a year of intersectionality. His inspirational tale of overcoming tragedy, accepting his disability and himself, and using these to help challenge and change the laws for the LGTBQ community in the military really spoke to me, and many others in attendance.”

The Diversity Dialogue was offered in partnership by the FAS Dean’s Office, FAS Human Resources, and the FAS Office of Diversity Relations and Communications.

Playing Cupid for a Gay Friend on a (Mostly) Straight Cruise

Friday, April 14th, 2017

New York Times

“Leather jacket at 5 o’clock,” my friend John whispered. I scanned the room and located the young man in a sleekly fitted jacket. Amid the 2,000-odd crowd of passengers waiting to board the Queen Mary 2 at Southampton, England, heading to New York, it’s not hard to spot those of eligible age for our kind of “cruising,” which happens more often in clubs or on Grindr than aboard luxury ocean vessels. One has only to scan for heads without white hair, as John wasn’t in the market for a tryst with someone twice his age.

“Definitely gay,” I agreed. We watched him turn to an older man seated beside him. “Is that his dad,” I wondered.

“Or his daddy?” John asked.

During our 40-minute wait, we spotted a handsome young couple with tidy haircuts and matching suits, a gaggle of bearded men whose American voices rang boisterously over the sea of seniors, and a towering Clark Kent look-alike accompanied by a man thrice his age.

“Daddy,” we whispered in unison.

No one takes the Queen Mary 2, or QM2 as it’s known, to get lucky, unless it’s in the casino. John is a regular on cruises by virtue of both a plane phobia and a book he is researching in Greece. Most passengers, however, take the QM2 to revel in the 151,000-ton homage to an antiquated ideal of British luxury. People take the Queen Mary to be served by Eastern European waiters in white gloves, Filipino stewards who hover in the stateroom corridors, British performers with feathered headdresses, and “dance hosts” hired to steer the many eager dowagers around the ballroom. (The hierarchy of the crew on the QM2 is clearly delineated by nationality.) But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to cruise more than the King’s Buffet on the famous luxury ocean liner. And I would prove it by playing Cupid for my friend, whose Midwestern home base is less than a thriving metropolis of gay culture.

The seeds of my mission had sprouted when, during his last voyage, I received an S O S email from John: He was eating meals alone in his cabin, had been the sole attendant at an L.G.B.T. cocktail hour and had barely spoken to anyone in five days. This was not a total shock — he often faces social anxiety. But he’s also an influential writer, extremely handsome and one of the kindest people I know.

When I was 9, my entire family had crossed the Atlantic on my father’s cargo ship, and I had just finished writing a book that described it, along with my last passionate love affair. If anyone could help John, I could. A true extrovert, I also manage to fall a little bit in love everywhere I go. This mixed gift is the reason I was on a six-month stint of voluntary celibacy. I had been in consecutive monogamous relationships since the age of 15, the most recent of which had been catastrophic enough to write this new book about, and to inspire the much-needed hiatus.

“I’ve 86ed myself,” I explained as we boarded. “But, by God, I’m going to get you some action on this boat.”

“Let’s hope you don’t get seasick,” he said, trundling up the gangway.

It was hard to imagine the inside of a ship as a luxury hotel until I saw the six-story Grand Lobby atrium with its 22-foot bronze relief mural of the ship itself, Art Deco chandelier and white grand piano. If ships are female, the QM2 is the biggest, baddest drag queen — the RuPaul of sea vessels.

It was quite a contrast to the memory of my father’s ship. The Leslie Lykes carried only 50 people, mostly crew members, and was the length of two Statues of Liberty laid torch to toe. The QM2 is far longer — a bit more than a horizontal Chrysler Building. Yet when I stepped out onto the deck, the briny wind whipping my hair, I felt the same spark of excitement in my chest.

Of the seven restaurants on the QM2, Britannia, which seats 1,347 and serves twice nightly, is the most popular. Formal nights are for evening gowns and tuxedos; and after 6 p.m., shorts are “not considered appropriate within the ship.” Luckily, I was one of those rare Sapphic feminists who looked forward as a girl to dressing like Barbie in adulthood.

John was wary. Attendance at our L.G.B.T. cocktail hour — coyly called Friends of Dorothy — had been poor. On his previous voyage, one of John’s dining tablemates had given an impromptu lecture about the dress code, fuming at how a single person wearing shorts in the dining room “just ruins it for the rest of us.”

“Just like gay marriage,” John had quipped.

“Hear, hear!” the man agreed.

As we approached our table at the Britannia, I saw three gray heads and one bald. While two of our tablemates readily cracked some wry jokes, the other two left much to be desired in the realm of dinner conversation. At best, it was a stilted gathering punctuated by starch-based courses and interludes of excruciating awkwardness.

Three hours later, John and I (both meticulously healthy eaters) shoveled salad into our faces upstairs at the King’s Buffet. “I’ve never stuck with a dud table like this before,” he said. “But I’ll do it for you.” Once I started laughing I couldn’t stop.

We headed to the ballroom, where we spotted Leather Jacket seated with a large group. On the dance floor one man stood out for his relative youth and perfectly tailored suit. As the song finished, he pecked his partner on the cheek and threw his head back in laughter.

“Gay,” I whispered, sotto voce.

The adjacent disco was virtually empty. Several nearby video monitors played a live feed of the dance floor, where a few of the bearded gay men boogied to a Rihanna cover. John would rather have died than join them. “Do you think Cunard allows dancehall?” I asked him.

I woke up the next morning rolling around the bed that occupied most of my windowless room, the foremost cabin on the ship. Nauseated and disoriented, I groped for a light switch. As my father later explained, windowless cabins and those at the fore of the ship are the worst for seasickness.

“How are you feeling, sea captain’s daughter?” John asked when I staggered out of my room for our Flying Solo singles event in the disco, where attendees formed a circle that included 20 elderly women and the dance hosts, who were far from the dashing gigolos I had imagined. I begged one for some ballroom gossip.

“Well,” he finally conceded, lowering his voice. “We have to make sure everybody,” he glanced around the circle of women, “gets the same. Otherwise, there are complaints.”

“Gay,” I whispered to John after he left. Spotting the beautiful dancer I had last seen in the ballroom, I waved him over as John blushed. David was from Philadelphia but spoke with a British inflection. “What do you do in Philly?” I asked him.

“I’m focusing on my charity work.” He toyed with a pearl choker around his neck and then wandered off.

At the afternoon dance lesson, I navigated us toward Leather Jacket and his sister on the lurching dance floor. I struck up a conversation, and Leather Jacket explained that he and his father had been enjoying golf on the upper deck. (It turned out Leather Jacket was traveling with his entire family.)

“Sold!” I said, though neither John nor I had ever held a golf club.

We found a crowd of men crammed in front of a simulator screen. They drove the balls against the cartoon green, each thud met with a chorus of awe or chagrin. When the last gentleman finished, the crew member pointed at me.

The whole cast began clapping and I had no choice but to step up to the tee, where I whiffed twice and retired with the lowest score on the board. John had no choice but to follow, blushing furiously as he approached the tee.

“You just have to beat the missis!” someone shouted. He didn’t.

I headed down to work out. As I was finishing, the floor tilted drastically starboard. I ran into a bathroom. When I emerged, John was waiting outside.

“Let’s go get you some medicine, sea captain’s daughter,” he said.

The last night in the disco was lively, despite the empty dance floor. The most handsome of the bearded gay men sidled up to us at the bar. He ordered a shot, batted his eyes at John and recounted the Botox injections he had been talked into at the spa. “This is the most expensive vacation ever,” he said.

I agreed. And I wasn’t going to fork over thousands for a trip that didn’t include my kind of dancing. I begged the D.J. to play some dancehall.

The cute bearded man whispered: “Your friend is adorable. I’d love to get him alone on the dance floor.” I didn’t tell him that dancing — as well as facial hair and Botox — was a deal breaker for John.

When the opening notes of the latest Sean Paul hit sounded, I handed John my stilettos and stepped onto the empty stage. When I hiked my gown to mid-thigh and dropped it low — a floor-sweeping move more familiar in the lesbian clubs I frequent in New York than on any cruise ship — the older folks gaped for only a few moments before my people rushed the danced floor.

When we arrived in Red Hook the next morning, I nearly kissed the Brooklyn sidewalk. Although I didn’t find anyone for John, I had a fabulous time. At the taxi stand, John and I shared a fierce hug. Before his cab pulled away, his head popped back out of the open window. “Love you!” he called. I blew him a kiss and headed home.

Spy report that criticised Marlowe for ‘gay Christ’ claim is revealed online

Friday, April 14th, 2017

theguardian

British Library releases ‘Baines note’ in which playwright Christopher Marlowe scandalously suggests Christian communion should be smoked in a pipe

 ‘Monstrous opinions’ … Christopher Marlowe.
‘Monstrous opinions’ … Christopher Marlowe. Photograph: Alamy

A controversial document in which the playwright Christopher Marlowereportedly declared that Christ was gay, that the only purpose of religion was to intimidate people, and that “all they that love not tobacco and boys were fools” is to go on show online for the first time.

The so-called “Baines note”, a star item in the British Library’s Renaissance manuscript collection, offers tantalising evidence about the private life of Marlowe, one of the most scandalous and magnetic figures of the Elizabeth period.

Compiled in May 1593 by the police informant and part-time spy Richard Baines, it claims to record a conversation between the two men in which the playwright airs a long list of what Baines describes as “monstrous opinions”.

Among them, Marlowe casts doubt on the existence of God, claims that the New Testament was so “filthily written” that he himself could do a better job, and makes the eyebrow-raising assertion that the Christian communion would be more satisfying if it were smoked “in a tobacco pipe”.

The Baines note, containing accusations against Christopher Marlowe.
The Baines note, containing accusations against Christopher Marlowe. Photograph: The British Library Board

Baines added a personal note, apparently aimed at watching government officials: “All men in Christianity ought to endeavour that the mouth of so dangerous a member may be stopped.” A few days later, Marlowe was stabbed to death in Deptford, south London, in circumstances still regarded as suspicious.

The document has been in the collection at the British Library since its founding in 1753 and has often been consulted by scholars, but this is the first time the public will be able to examine it in detail.

Curator Andrea Varney told the Guardian: “There’s nothing quite like being able to look at the real thing, and this will let students and readers from all over the world get close to Baines’s original report. The manuscript itself is over 400 years old and fragile, so digitisation really helps.”

The document and accompanying transcript are being made public in the latest phase of the British Library’s Discovering Literature project, aimed at students, teachers and the general public. Some 2,000 documents are now online, accompanied by 370 background essays and other resources. Four million visitors have visited the site since its launch in 2014.

One of the biggest attractions to date has been a late 16th-century play text calling for tolerance towards refugees. It is seemingly in the handwriting of a man even more famous than Marlowe, albeit somewhat better behaved – William Shakespeare.

In the centuries since his violent death, Marlowe has been celebrated as gay icon whose works explored the realities of homosexual desire while it was still deeply dangerous to do so. Alongside the Baines note, the British Library has uploaded scans of the director Derek Jarman’s notebooks for his avant-garde film of Marlowe’s Edward II (1991). The play focuses on Edward’s love for his favourite male companion, Piers Gaveston; Jarman’s take on the story is nakedly political, featuring references to contemporary battles over gay rights.

The library is also making available resources on other contemporary writers, among them Ben Jonson and the poets John Donne and Emilia Lanier.

Varney said: “So often we focus only on Shakespeare, but there are a whole world of other people out there, many of them just as brilliant. It’s about opening a window on that.”

Derek Jarman’s sketchbook for Edward II.
Derek Jarman’s sketchbook for Edward II. Photograph: © and courtesy of Keith Collins

The Baines document itself is highly contentious, with some scholars arguing that Baines was a fantasist, and that his “note” was a put-up job designed to get Marlowe, who was arrested at almost exactly the same time, in even more trouble with the authorities.

Charles Nicholl, whose 1992 book The Reckoning examines the shady circumstances surrounding the playwright’s death, said: “The one thing you can say for certain about it is that the note was designed to incriminate Marlowe. These are pretty dangerous and wild utterances that he is making.”

Nonetheless, Nicholl added, the document has a rare power: “It does sound like Marlowe; it’s almost as if he walked into the room. After all this time, that’s still rather shocking.”

Power Rangers’ Gay Moment Is a Good Step, But a Small One

Friday, April 14th, 2017

WIRED

PR_D016_02785_R-1.jpg

I went to see Power Rangers last night. I hadn’t planned to do so; aside from some well-placed Kanye West in the film’s trailer, nothing about the movie spoke to me and I was never a fan of the TV show. But then I heard it had a queer superhero, and I got in line for the Thursday-night previews. The words “first” and “gay” have a Pavlovian effect on many queer fans of pop culture, and even more so for queer fans of superhero stuff. This could be big, I hoped.

It was big, albeit in a very small way. Despite the headlines, Power Rangers skips any dramatic “yep, I’m gay” admission, and instead opts for nonchalance. During a bit of squad bonding, Yellow Ranger Trini (Becky G) reveals that she doesn’t want her strait-laced family involved in her relationships. “Boyfriend problems?” Zack (Ludi Lin) inquires. She demurs. “Girlfriend problems?” he asks. She doesn’t respond fully, but does say she’s never talked about her identity with anyone. The moment is short, but genuine; she’s a teen, after all, and she’s still Figuring Stuff Out. As director Dean Israelite told The Hollywood Reporter, it’s a “pivotal” scene for the film. More importantly, it’s a step in the right direction, and one that provides Hollywood its own power boost.

The stats for LGBTQ representation in film are…not good. They never have been. A report last year from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) found that of 126 major studio releases in 2015 only 17.5 percent had characters that identified as LGBTQ—the same as the year before. Moreover, the LGBTQ characters that did appear in movies only got a scant few minutes of screen time. Queer protagonists are are even fewer and farther between in major tentpole movies, says GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis, because studios don’t want to miss out on a big opening weekend because of a anti-LGBTQ boycott or related controversy.

That’s beginning to change. In addition to the Yellow Ranger’s mighty moment, Disney—which received a “failing” rating from GLAAD in 2016 for its track record with LGBTQ characters—also included a gay character in last week’s record-setting Beauty and the Beast. Josh Gad’s character LeFou, according to director Bill Condon, featured in the studio’s first “exclusively gay moment,” a brief dance-floor twirl between LeFou and one of Gaston’s henchmen. For that to happen in a family Disney movie is unprecedented—and, like Trini’s revelation, it stakes out space for queer identities where they hadn’t traditionally existed. It also didn’t hurt the movie’s bottom line: Beauty and the Beast made more than $350 million worldwide in its opening weekend.

“It’s been a very long road, especially because there’s so much perceived risk for [the studios],” says Ellis. “Now they’re starting to dip their toe in it and they’re starting to see a positive reaction—both culturally, from people not boycotting or dismissing the film, and also at the box office.”

It’s been a very long road, especially because there’s so much perceived risk for the studios. Now they’re starting to dip their toe in it and they’re starting to see a positive reaction—both culturally, from people not boycotting or dismissing the film, and also at the box office.GLAAD PRESIDENT SARAH KATE ELLIS

As soon as word got out about the Yellow Ranger, social media lit up—both with outcry and support, the latter in the form of Beyoncé imagesand Meryl Streep memes. Folks weren’t excited because there was a new LGBTQ character in a movie, they were excited because she was a major player in a big superhero franchise. And even better, it was presented in a matter-of-fact way. No fanfare, just reality.

The gay-moment momentum got another boost when both Beauty and the Beast and Power Rangers escaped censors’ censure abroad. Despite the urgings of Russian MP Vitaly Milonov, who cited the film’s “unscrupulous propaganda of sin and perverted sexual relations,” Russia ended up allowing Beauty and the Beast into theaters (with a 16+ rating). Officials in Malaysia also threatened to not allow the film to screen unless its gay scenes were cut, but later relented after Disney said it wouldn’t alter the film. (Make no mistake: That refusal to back down deserves just as much credit as including the LeFou dance scene.) There were similar fears that Power Rangers might not be able to screen in Malaysia, but as of this writing it’s still scheduled to open there on March 30.

Yet, while this recent surge in LGBTQ representation is positive for queer fans, it’s also bittersweet. LeFou and Trini mark big milestones culturally, but the actual time they spend representing the community onscreen is small; Ellis calls this “casual inclusion.” Writing for The Daily Beast, Kevin Fallon said, “the most exclusively gay moment in this new Beauty and the Beast is my dramatic eye roll after seeing the actual thing,” and even the Malaysian censors looking to make cuts to the movie acknowledged it may not have a been a big deal had director Condon not pointed the gay moment out. Similarly, fans who were thrilled about Trini’s coming out were less excited to hear she was questioning her sexuality, rather than being overtly lesbian. So while LGBTQ people can now see themselves reflected more in mainstream family fare, they don’t see it for very long.

Moving beyond casual inclusion should be Hollywood’s next step, says Ellis, adding that the movies’ “public praise and box-office success gives them a permission slip” for more LGBTQ representation—especially in superhero and tentpole movies. While LGBTQ characters have been appearing in mainstream superhero comics and, more recently, on superhero TV shows like Jessica Jones, they’re nowhere to be found in mainstream superhero movies. (Though the jury’s still out on Kitty Pryde in the X-Men films.) We have scads of Avengers and mutants on the big screen, but so far none of them have identified as LGBTQ, which in part led to last spring’s #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend campaign on Twitter. If Disney can learn anything from LeFou, it’s that a movie can have a queer character and be a runaway success.

That’s a lesson that could carry over to Disney’s other properties as well. Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams has said that LGBTQ characters are a must in the effort to make the galaxy far, far away more diverse, but so far one hasn’t surfaced. (Despite the rumors, Moff Mors never made it into Rogue One.) The Lucasfilm cinematic universe expands every day—but each time it does so without including a member of the LGBTQ community, a queer kid feels less worthy of wielding a lightsaber.

Meanwhile, in another far-away galaxy, last year’s Star Trek Beyond depicted Sulu as a gay man—an homage to original Sulu, George Takei, who came out in 2005. But again, his big gay moment is just a moment, a brief glimpse of Sulu with a man perceived to be his partner. There’s a lot to be said for films seeking to normalize LGBTQ life by treating queer relationships just like any other, but when the visibility is so brief—often just a few minutes or seconds—each of these instants feels like a studio saying “Look, we did it!” without doing much at all. It’s a step in the right direction, undoubtedly, but a very small one.

“It’s about looking at Star Wars and those other franchises and seeing where they can be more inclusive, and then there’s also building more dimensional storylines around LGBTQ people,” Ellis says. “That’s going to be really important.”

Sexuality isn’t Hollywood’s only diversity problem. Studio movies need more women, more people of color, and more LGBTQ people involved—both in front of and behind the camera. Better representation is needed in all aspects of cinema. But if the freakin’ Power Rangers can morph into a crew with a queer character, it’s time to realize the gay moment can be more than 15 minutes of fame.

Dr Who’s first gay companion Pearl Mackie says it’s ‘about time’ the show had an openly homosexual role

Friday, April 14th, 2017

The Sun

DR WHO’S first gay companion claims it is “about time” the show had its first openly gay role.

Actress Pearl Mackie will play Bill Potts as the tenth series of the BBC show kicks off on Saturday.

Pearl Mackie will play Dr Who’s first gay companion Bill Potts
Pearl Mackie will play Dr Who’s first gay companion Bill Potts
Dr Who’s first male companion Pearl Mackie say’s it’s ‘about time’ the show had a homosexual role

Speaking to Good Morning Britain’s Richard Arnold on today’s breakfast show she said: “It’s great isn’t it.

“I think arguably there have been lots of gay characters on Dr Who previously.

“The terminology the official companion, is why she’s the first gay.

“I think it’s the terminology of that that’s actually the first for Dr Who as it were.

The Londoner said it was 'about time' the show had the homosexual character
The Londoner said it was ‘about time’ the show had the homosexual character

“It’s about time isn’t it?”

The Londoner did confess she was struggling to deal with the new-found fame her role has brought.

She revealed she was “grateful” when her phone battery died after receiving a flurry of good wishes on social media, adding: “That’s too much for me to deal with.”

She will hit screens when the series returns on Saturday
She will hit screens when the series returns on Saturday
John Barrowman showed off his brunette hairstyle later in the show

Later in the show John Barrowman, who used to star on the show and its spin-off Torchwood, had some words of advice for Pearl.

He told her: “She’s in for a great rollercoaster ride.

“She should grab on, put her hands in the air, and go ‘wooo’.

“She’s going to have a ball.”

The ex Dr Who star offered Pearl some advice
The ex Dr Who star offered Pearl some advice

This series will be Peter Capaldi’s last as the iconic Time Lord.

And Bill will announce her sexuality almost immediately after meeting Peter Capaldi’s Doctor.

Bill will announce her sexuality almost immediately when the show returns on April 15.

Pearl Mackie revealed that her character Bill was gay

Pearl Mackie revealed that her character Bill was gay

Speaking about the role, she said: “It shouldn’t be a big deal in the 21st Century. It’s about time, isn’t it? That representation is important, especially on a mainstream show.

“It’s important to say people are gay, people are black – there are also aliens in the world as well so watch out for them.

The newcomer spoke at New York ComicCon 

The newcomer spoke at New York ComicCon 

“I remember watching TV as a young mixed race girl not seeing many people who looked like me, so I think being able to visually recognise yourself on screen is important.”

The star will be the first openly gay companion in the show’s 52-year history, but Pearl has said that it’s important that the character isn’t defined by her sexuality.

Doctor Who teases the new companion ahead of the new seri

She added: “[Being gay] is not the main thing that defines her character – it’s something that’s part of her and something that she’s very happy and very comfortable with.”

 

The wise-cracking companion will be the first openly gay companion the series has ever had

VARIOUS EPISODES
The wise-cracking companion will be the first openly gay companion the series has ever had
Pearl revealed it was 'time' the show had a gay companion on the show

VARIOUS EPISODES
 
Pearl revealed it was ‘time’ the show had a gay companion on the show

Katy Perry says she ‘wasn’t allowed to interact with gay people’ while growing up

Friday, April 14th, 2017

Among today’s most political pop figureheads, Katy Perry is at the top. Take her performance at the 2017 Grammys, for instance, where she projected the Constitution onto the stage and herself, clad in a “Persist” armband and a white suit in a nod to her icon, Hillary Clinton. Or, her performance at the Democratic National Convention, where she supported Clinton—whom she later honored with a pair of shoes Katy designed. What you might not be aware of, however, is that it took years for Katy to arrive at that place. In the May issue of Vogue, Katy opens up about her political journey, revealing some pretty personal stories about her ultra-conservative family.

The pop artist’s parents were evangelical Christian pastors, and prevented her from interacting with the LGBTQ community until later in life. “Education was not the first priority,” she tells Vogue. “My education started in my 20s, and there is so much to learn still.” Of her upbringing, she admits she wasn’t “allowed to interact with gay people” and “There’s some generational racism.”

“But I came out of the womb asking questions, curious from day one, and I am really grateful for that: My curiosity has led me here. Anything I don’t understand, I will just ask questions about.”

 

It’s that urge Katy wants others to have, more than pressing her own political views onto them. “I don’t think you have to shout it from the rooftops,” she says, “but I think you have to stand for something…If you have a voice you have a responsibility to use it now, more than ever.”

What inspires her is that she sees so many young people doing just that, which was a silver lining for her amid Clinton’s loss to President Donald Trump. “I was really disheartened for a while; it just brought up a lot of trauma for me,” she says of the aftermath of the 2016 election. “Misogyny and sexism were in my childhood: I have an issue with suppressive males and not being seen as equal. I felt like a little kid again being faced with a scary, controlling guy. I wouldn’t really stand for it in my work life, because I have had so much of that in my personal life. But it’s an awakening that was necessary because I think we were in a false utopia…we can’t ever get that stagnant again. I am so grateful that young people know the names of senators. I think teenage girls are going to save the world! That age group just seems to be holding people accountable. They have a really strong voice—and a loud one.” In other words, they roar.

Colorado Minister: Pastors With Gay Children Must Resign

Friday, April 14th, 2017

NewNowNext

Anti-LGBT pastor Kevin Swanson is so vehemently against gay people that he is now suggesting any pastor who has a gay child should immediately resign.

Swanson made the comments on his radio show last month in response to a blog article written by Pastor John Pavlovitz, who said if he finds out his children are gay he “will pray for God to protect them from the ignorance and hatred and violence that the world will throw at them, simply because of who they are.”

The anti-gay pastor, who previously said he’d cover himself in cow manure if his son turned out to be gay, insisted that Pavlovitz needs to recognize something is “terribly wrong” with him and his family, according to Right Wing Watch.

Swanson expressed shock at the notion that a pastor or any other man “who thinks there is a possibility his kids could come out gay [would not] then not turn to himself and see there to be something of a problem with himself.”

“As a pastor, if your children turn out to be sinners,” he added, “if it turns out they abandoned the faith while they are in the household, accused of riot and unruly debauchery, et cetera, within the household, you need to resign as a pastor.”

Swanson is known for his rabidly anti-LGBT beliefs, having previously stated that in his perfect world, all homosexuals would be put to death.

Gay ‘marriage’ is legal. So why aren’t gay men happy?

Friday, April 14th, 2017

Breakpoint lifesitenews

Featured Image

Over a year and-a-half after the Obergefell decision, the debate over gay “marriage” and homosexuality has largely fizzled out: partly because of the election, partly because the “T” in the LGBT acronym has been stealing all the headlines, and partly because Obergefell is now viewed by many as settled law. And that’s a shame, because so-called “progress” isn’t bringing about the rosy picture we were promised.

In what may be the most candid piece in Huffington Post history, Michael Hobbes, who identifies as gay, writes about what he calls an “epidemic of loneliness.”

“For years,” he begins, “I’ve noticed the divergence between my straight friends and my gay friends. While one half of my social circle has disappeared into relationships, kids and suburbs, the other has struggled through isolation and anxiety, hard drugs and risky (behavior).”

Through story after story and mountains of statistics, Hobbes then documents a consistent and chilling trend among those who share his lifestyle. “Gay men everywhere, at every age,” he writes, are two-to-ten-times more likely than heterosexual men to commit suicide.

And that’s just the beginning. Homosexual males also suffer from higher rates of cardiovascular disease, cancer, allergies, asthma, and a whole host of behavior-related infections and dysfunctions. They’re twice as likely to experience major depressive episodes, report having fewer close friends, and abuse drugs at an alarming rate.

In fact, living in so-called “gay neighborhoods” is a predictor of more frequent, risky behaviors and methamphetamine use. And, Hobbes adds, the community itself is brutal and degrading to its members. Smart-phone hookup apps drive a culture of exploitation and casual encounters that one young man he interviewed said made him feel like “a piece of meat.”

We often hear these disastrous statistics and stories attributed to homophobia, bullying, and shame. Having been treated horribly since childhood, men like this author—the oft-repeated myth goes—are forced to live a lie. They’re depressed because they’ve been oppressed and repressed.

But here’s the problem with the bullying hypothesis. In countries like the Netherlands and Sweden where same-sex “marriage” has been the law of the land for years, gay men remain three times more susceptible to mood disorders and three- to ten-times more likely to engage in “suicidal self-harm.”

The situation is so bad that one respondent in a survey of HIV clinics told researchers, “It’s not a question of not knowing how to save their lives. It’s a question of them not knowing if their lives are worth saving.”

Incredibly, after this long and brutal and well-documented description of life in his community, Hobbes then concludes the cause as having minority status, which has taught them to live in fear. At no point does he consider the possibility that it’s the lifestyle itself that may be what’s destroying these men’s lives.

Still, one expert quoted in the piece hints that he knows what’s going on. Christopher Stults, a researcher at New York University, admits that for many people, the marriage decision was a letdown. “We have this legal status, and yet there’s still something unfulfilled.”

Could it be that this lifestyle cuts off this community from the natural family, from children, and—according to years of statistics—from monogamous partnerships? Could it be the disparity Hobbes sees between what he wants and what he got is a result of a broken lifestyle? Could it be that this behavior naturally isolates people? Could it be that God didn’t design His image-bearers to live like this, and when we do, it actually destroys us?

Unfortunately, those questions are no longer even considered by Hobbes or by social scientists. But we as a society, and especially the Church, must consider these questions. As long as there are real people trying to fill their hearts with lies, caring about them will mean having a more open mind than the Huffington Post.

‘Supergirl’ Actress Chyler Leigh Talks About Her Character’s Realization She’s Gay

Friday, April 14th, 2017

variety

Chyler Leigh Variety Portrait Terence Patrick

TERENCE PATRICK FOR VARIETY

Chyler Leigh’s character on “Supergirl,” Alex Danvers, experienced a major change in the show’s second season: At age 28, she discovered she was gay. So a character with an already big following suddenly attracted a whole new crowd of fans. Leigh spoke with Variety about the power of the story, especially on a superhero TV show. She’s also been expanding her music work, thanks to husband Nathan West.

What were your initial reactions to hearing about Alex’s character arc?

They said, “This is what we’re thinking. What are your thoughts?” Having a queer character on the show, it’s a really big deal. And I knew the magnitude of this — there’s not a lot of representation out there. We wanted to bring great awareness and tell an authentic story.

Why have so many people taken to this story?

It’s honest, and shows that coming out is a struggle. Alex is a character who’s just figuring it out as a 28-year-old. When you watch her putting all the pieces of the puzzle together, that’s what people have responded to. Her journey, being terrified of the fact that she couldn’t even say the word “gay” or “lesbian” — it’s not the same story for everybody, but the hurt, the struggle, the joy, the confusion, the light-bulb moment … that’s what I think everybody is relating to.

Has the storyline impacted your life?

My 13-year-old son has watched every episode. It opened up a conversation that I might have waited longer to have. He said, “I don’t understand why they would do that with your character.” To say, “Everybody needs to be treated equally” was amazing…. I’ve never been this passionate about my work, mostly because of the impact it’s having.

What’s it like collaborating with your husband on music?

It’s an interesting dynamic, because he’s so amazing with expressing himself through music — it’s his language and voice. And I’m so used to being somebody else; my delivery is other people’s words and bringing my own spin to it. Recording was challenging for me because it’s me; I’m not being somebody else. It was terrifying and hard. He walked me through that, which was amazing.

LGBT Twitter Is Outraged a Gay Man Outed a Trans Survivor Contestant

Friday, April 14th, 2017

advocate

Zeke Smith

It was a shocking moment on Wednesday night’s episode of Survivor, CBS’s long-running reality show about strangers marooned in a deserted location.

A gay contestant, Jeff Garner, in order to save himself from elimination, turned to another contestant and asked, “Why haven’t you told anyone you are transgender?”

In this moment, Garner had outed a trans person, Zeke Smith, on national television, accusing Smith of “deception” in front of the other members of the Tribal Council.

The act backfired on Garner. The other contestants, rightly outraged by what had transpired, voted him off the island for his dastardly deed.

Nick Adams, director of GLAAD’s Transgender Media Program, spoke out against the outing in a statement.

“Zeke Smith, and transgender people like him, are not deceiving anyone by being their authentic selves, and it is dangerous and unacceptable to out a transgender person,” he said.

“It is heartening, however, to see the strong support for Zeke from the other people in his tribe. Moments like this prove that when people from all walks of life get to know a transgender person, they accept us for who we are.”

Likewise, LGBT folks on Twitter were disgusted by what Garner had done. They outlined why outing a trans person is dangerous and unforgivable, and expressed admiration for how the group and Smith handled the ordeal.

See their reactions below.

Outing a transgender person is an act of violence.

Let’s not erase that this was a GAY man that outed a trans man on national television. Queer people are transphobic offenders too

.@JEFFVARNER White gay men’s willingness to betray other queer people when it suits their ambitions and self-interests drives me UP THE WALL.

Last night Zeke handled himself with an astounding amount of class in a situation where most would crumble. I’m still in awe.

@MsIsisKingI remember when I was outted as trans on top model by a semi finalist…not a good feeling, its never someone’s place to do! Go

is 1 of my favorite shows. I’m in tears  @zekerchief my hat’s off to you. Thank you for sharing. Even if it wasnt your choice

like a @zekerchief!Proud! thank u 4 turning a hard situation in2 a inspirational example! @survivorcbs

dear @zekerchief Inspiring. I think you probably just made a bunch of kids out there feel empowered and a little less scared. Well handled.

We cannot control the hazards we face, we can only control how we respond. Love each other.

When the episode aired, Varner posted an apology to Twitter.

I don’t have to be gay, or black or a man to have valid views on their issues

Friday, April 14th, 2017
Belfast Telegraph
Politician and gay rights campaigner Jeff Dudgeon11
Politician and gay rights campaigner Jeff Dudgeon

I’ve given my family notice that if the dreaded words “as a woman” should ever escape from my lips again, they can feel free to lock me up in the garden shed for the day. Oh, I know, I’ve said it in the past, probably more times than I care to remember. “As a woman, I believe this, that and the other.” But then I realised how very restrictive and reductive it is to flag up my womanhood constantly, as though it’s the sole, defining thing about who I am. It also sounds like an instant plea for victimhood, and I hate that. “As a woman, I am uniquely hard done by.” Well, boo-hoo, you’d be forgiven for replying.

Binning the phrase from my vocabulary also coincided with the realisation that identity politics is a curse of the modern age. Dividing ourselves off from each other into sealed units marked ‘women’, ‘gay’, ‘transgender’, ‘black’, ‘Christian’, ‘Muslim’ – the list goes on and on – is a really unhealthy and counter-productive way to understand ourselves and to tackle the complex problems of 21st century life. Identity politics turns people inwards. Huddling together in their own private echo-chambers makes them self-obsessed and super-touchy if others don’t sign up to the one-dimensional way they see the world. And that’s no way to build solidarity and draw people to your cause.

A classic example of this narcissism and need for personal victimhood was enacted by The Guardian journalist Owen Jones after the appalling homophobic massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, last summer.

Jones, who happens to be gay, stormed out of a Sky News studio, telling the presenter: “You don’t understand this because you’re not gay.” Jones’ departure did not come across as a principled stance on behalf of the victims of Orlando. Rather, it looked like a petulant huff because he wanted to make the tragedy all about himself.

You don’t understand this because you’re not gay – or not a woman, or not black, or not whatever (delete as applicable) – is a common cry of protest. For example, in last week’s column I called for a planned tribute to the LGBT community at City Hall to feature Jeff Dudgeon, the man who changed the law and brought gay freedom to Northern Ireland. Some gay activists were enraged that “a straight journalist” had dared to give an opinion on an LGBT issue.

Leaving aside the assumption about my sexuality – have they been round to my place to check who I go to bed with? – this raises some serious issues about free speech. If you’re only permitted to speak on a subject if you have a specific identity, this immediately silences debate. And I guess that’s the whole point. The “straight” slur is just another way of saying shut up and stick to your own tribe.

What’s so depressing about all this is that Northern Ireland is the original home of identity politics and the sick race to be the Most Oppressed People Ever. I’m talking, of course, about the endless, bitter, blinkered war between orange and green, and the distorting coloured glass through which so many people view the world, regardless of the facts.

“As a unionist, I think this.” “As a republican, I think that.” And so the whole place gets carved up along stifling sectarian lines.

We should, by now, have realised the consequences of such reductive thinking, which prioritises difference and division over commonality. Instead, the new generation – as well as a few embittered oldsters – seems to be adopting it as a template for their own “progressive” political causes. “If you’re not with us, you’re against us”: the stupid old mantra has been disinterred, dusted off and put to use in a new arena. Will we never learn?

One of the most consistently insightful observers of the harm that identity politics does is the commentator Brendan O’Neill. He writes: “I think the more we’ve made the personal political, the more we define our social and political outlook with reference to what’s in our underpants or what colour our skin is, the more we experience every criticism of our beliefs as an attack on our very personhood, our souls, our right to exist.” Thus debate itself – the healthy exchange of political ideas – “comes to be seen as a form of hatred, a ‘phobia'”.

I want no truck with that, which is why I’ve decided to never again speak “as a woman“. From now on I will speak as a human being – and that’s something we all share.

S Korea army chief accused of ordering probe to out gay personnel

Friday, April 14th, 2017

Financial Times

General faces calls to resign following claims that he launched nationwide ‘track-down’ process Read next North Korea viewed from the South A new South Korean military officer runs into an echelon at a commissioning ceremony © Reuters Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) 1 Save YESTERDAY by: Bryan Harris in Seoul South Korea’s army chief is facing calls to resign amid claims he ordered a nationwide probe to root out and prosecute gay personnel. Sample the FT’s top stories for a week You select the topic, we deliver the news. Select topic Enter email addressInvalid email Sign up By signing up you confirm that you have read and agree to the terms and conditions, cookie policy and privacy policy. According to campaign group the Military Human Rights Center for Korea, General Jang Jun-kyu, army chief of staff, launched a “track-down process” that pinpointed about 50 soldiers, 20 of whom now face charges under military anti-homosexuality laws. The vast majority of South Korean men must serve mandatory two-year stints in the country’s armed forces. “Gen Jang is obviously incapable of leading the army,” MHRCK said in a statement. “He treated his men who did their best to protect their homeland as if they were culprits and made them suffer the most horrible fear — losing personal dignity. He must take responsibility . . . and resign immediately.” The South Korean defence ministry declined to comment. The army denied Gen Jang had ordered a probe but acknowledged that “we are punishing soldiers on service who have homosexual relations with soldiers”, noting that homosexual activity was considered “sexual harassment crime” under the country’s military criminal act. ‘There is not going to be much public support [for these soldiers]. Korea is not ready for these issues’ Kim Jiyoon, Asan Institute The remarks underline the conservative nature of much of South Korea which, despite rapid technological and economic development, has lagged behind on social issues. The report by MHRCK alleges that investigators heaped psychological pressure on homosexual soldiers by threatening to out them to their peers, while interrogating them on their private lives in explicit detail. The team also carried out an undercover search of gay dating apps to uncover homosexual personnel, the report claims. Same-sex sexual activity is legal in South Korea, although gay marriage is forbidden. The topic is generally taboo and it is rare to see same-sex couples in public. A survey from the US Pew Research Center found that 57 per cent of Koreans found homosexuality unacceptable, with only 18 per cent viewing it as acceptable. “This [probe] is an obvious violation of human rights,” said Kim Jiyoon of the Asan Institute think-tank in Seoul. “But there is not going to be much public support [for these soldiers]. Korea is not ready for these issues. In the US, LGBT rights have escalated to become political issues. In Korea, it is not politicised yet.” “The South Korean army imported its military law from western countries, but those countries have since abolished the laws because they are no longer acceptable. Korea still maintains these outdated laws,” said Han Ga-ram, a human rights lawyer in Seoul. The military’s role in defending South Korea from the North makes it one of the country’s most powerful and important institutions.  The South Korean army’s stance on homosexuality makes it an outlier among industrialised nations, with virtually all OECD militaries allowing LGBT citizens to serve. In the UK, gay citizens have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 2000, while the US lifted restrictions in 2011.

Gay marriage boosts happiness, health: study

Friday, April 14th, 2017

New York Daily News

Not Released (NR)

Here come the grooms — and the health and happiness perks, according to a new study.

Marriage is known to come with goodies besides wedding gifts. Tying the knot has been shown to boost physical and mental well-being for spouses. You know — happy wife, happy life.

A new study shows that gay marriage — or, as many in the LGBT community call it, marriage — boasts the same benefits.

The University of Washington research — part of the national longitudinal investigation: “Aging with Pride: National Health, Aging, Sexuality/Gender Study” — is among the first look at health and social impacts of gay marriage.

So move over, Dick and Jane. It’s time for Janet and Mary. And Andy and Mark — and other same-sexers — to get some study time.

“There were big gaps for health and well-being between married gay couples and gay singles,” lead author Jayn Goldsen, research study supervisor in the UW School of Social Work, told the Daily News.

The UW study surveyed more than 1,800 LGBT people, ages 50 and older. Subjects were in 2014 in locations where gay marriage was already legal — 32 states and Washington, D.C.

About 25% were married, another 25% were in a committed relationship, and 50% were single. Married respondents had spent an average of 23 years together, while those in a committed, unmarried relationship had spent an average of 16 years.

Through survey materials measuring physical and emotional well-being, couples who’d tied the knot or were in a long-term committed relationship fared better than singles. But married couples did the best of all.

Physical health was measured by asking how subjects rate their general health and whether they have a disability. To gauge happiness, participants were asked questions like “How much do you enjoy life?” and “How satisfied are you with yourself?”

More study is needed to understand why married gays fare the best. Financial resources, children and living together are variables that are factors.

Being openly gay also may play a role, said Goldsen. “Those who were married were more out than those who were unmarried with long-term partners, who, in turn were more out than those who were single.”

Angels in America: how Tony Kushner’s gay fantasia moved heaven and earth

Friday, April 14th, 2017

At the first run-through of the production at the National Theatre in London in 1992, someone whispered in my ear that they found Angels in America “too personal”. As Belize, the drag queen who is at the play’s heart, might have replied: “Fabulous!”

Angels in America a new staging of which opened at the same venue this week – is a great play because it takes us by the scruff of the neck and forces us to share the pain and joy of human beings interacting. Tony Kushner’s gift, which he shares with all great writers of fiction – and of history, for that matter – is a capacity to make ideas flesh. He never takes a shortcut to an idea; all is mediated by humanity. In Kushner’s play, the angels give humans erections. The angels have orgasms.

It tells of how Prior Walter, a bright thirtysomething, is diagnosed with Aids in mid-80s Manhattan. His lover, Louis, abandons him to his fate. Louis then manages to multiply his awfulness in mirrors of self-loathing. When he guiltily asks a rabbi what happens to someone who walks out on the person he loves in their time of need, the rabbi simply replies: “Why would someone do such a thing?” No fancy morals, just ordinary human puzzlement. Louis is soon replaced in Prior’s life by an Angel who crashes through the ceiling. And so ends the first part, “Millennium Approaches”, trumpeting a possibility of redemption and healing. In part two, “Perestroika”, Prior journeys to heaven only to discover that God has abandoned his angels.

Sound depressing? Well, it isn’t. The play’s passion, zaniness and wicked wit never let us sink. And by the conclusion, it feels as if the salacious, arch-conservative angel has actually done some good. It has led Prior to an awareness that he is happy to enjoy whatever life he has left. A profound gratitude seizes him as he chats to his friends sitting beneath the angel on the Bethesda fountain in Central Park.

The angel Bethesda, prophecies say, will one day reopen a sacred spring and cleanse all of us of disease. Kushner took me and my partner, Nick Ormerod, to see the statue in 1991, and it was hard not to be moved. A few months earlier, Nick and I had been on tour in Brazil with our company, Cheek By Jowl. A large package was delivered to our hotel with “National Theatre” marked on it. Out fell a huge script and a note from Richard Eyre, then the National Theatre’s director, asking us to read it. As usual, Nick read it first. After 20 minutes he was looking strangely serious, and said: “We must do this.” He hadn’t even got as far as the first interval.

When I read it later that evening, I saw exactly what he meant. This was a history in which homosexuality had no longer been made politely invisible. The words ripped off the page in a blaze of wit, rage and life. It was funny and shocking and moving and despairing and uplifting. We didn’t need to breathe it into life; it was already mad as hell and screaming like a murderous baby to be born.

Andrew Garfield as Prior Walter in the latest production of Angels of America at the National Theatre.
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Andrew Garfield as Prior Walter in the latest production of Angels of America at the National Theatre. Photograph: Jason Bell

The play is truly epic: it starts in a cemetery, where Prior first shows his lesions to Louis. We then we meet a young Mormon couple, Harper and Joe Pitt, whose marriage is drowning in pretend happiness. During the play, people will die and go to heaven; they will travel across the globe and across centuries. Nick and I felt in our element. We decided on a very simple staging that would enable scenes to follow quickly, even violently fast. We wanted the play to have that helter-skelter effect without sacrificing any clarity. Our big mission was not to let the play’s wit and irony overwhelm its human predicaments. I secretly told myself that Harper, the unloved, pill-popping wife, was the centre of the play, and that if the play wasn’t moving, then we would have failed.

Roy Cohn is the play’s presiding demon. In real life, Cohn was a wheeler-dealer attorney, a henchman to Senator Joseph McCarthy (and later Donald Trump’s lawyer); in the play he is depicted as corruption incarnate, exulting in his own awfulness throughout. Corroded with cynicism, his only redeeming characteristic is his lust for life – his own, of course. Like Satan in Paradise Lost, he has some of the play’s best lines, including the question, “Do you want to be pure, or do you want to be effective?” Some think it evil even to ask the question, and it’s a dilemma that splits the left again and again. Roy also develops Aids. But as he screams at his doctor, he isn’t gay, he is a straight guy who likes to fuck with guys, and he doesn’t have Aids, he has “liver cancer”.

It is easy now to forget that when Aids was first discovered in the US, it was a terror in the shadows; the disease that Reagan dared not name. Its cause and the way it spread were unclear. One senior US military figure even feared that a GI in the confined space of a tank might transmit it via his tears. Then the media smelled sales, and the disease exploded as a giant international hit – an opportunity for people who didn’t have sex to stop people who did. Few who saw it will ever manage to forget the early TV ad in which a faceless, beefy male figure took a hammer drill to a tombstone and carved out those four dreaded letters: AIDS.

Angels in America
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Nancy Crane as the Angel and Stephen Dillane as Prior in the 1992 production of Millennium Approaches. Photograph: John Haynes

Plays without ideas are boring. But all ideas are dead until someone gives them flesh. Angels is full of ideas – bursting with them – but they land in our laps only because they have been vomited up by the living situation. The first words of “Perestroika” are spoken in the Hall of Deputies in the Kremlin by “the world’s oldest living Bolshevik”, Aleksii Antedilluvianovich Prelapsarianov: “The Great Question before us is: Are we doomed?” At the time of the first performance, many might have answered: “Well, you are, you old Bolshevik git, and good riddance!” In Russian, perestroika means “rebuilding” or “reform”; the play ends with a warning about Gorbachev’s reforms. But the Soviet system never stopped working; in fact, it had never started working in the first place. It was always presented as an idea without blood. Now, in April 2017, Prelapsarianov’s question “Are we doomed?” makes us feel sicker, in the light of recent developments in Washington and Westminster. In Angels, Louis jokes about a shady Reaganite family who only speak to each other through their agents, not a president who screams instant propaganda through Twitter.

More gay, bi men with HIV receiving care, disparities remain

Friday, April 14th, 2017

Reuters

Gay and bisexual men in the United States who are diagnosed with HIV are promptly receiving the necessary treatments more often than in the past, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Still, black gay and bisexual men are less likely than their white counterparts to receive antiretroviral therapy (ART) to keep the human immunodeficiency virus in check, the researchers found.

They write in the Journal of Infectious Diseases that one goal of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy was to get 85 percent of people to a healthcare facility within three months of being diagnosed with HIV by 2015. By 2020, the goal is to get 85 percent of people diagnosed with HIV to care within one month.

The study team previously published 2008 and 2011 results from the CDC’s National HIV Behavioral Surveillance, which includes data from 20 cities on adult HIV-positive men who have sex with men – a group at particular risk for HIV infection. The new study adds data from 2014.

Altogether, 1,144 men provided data in 2008, 1,338 in 2011 and 1,716 in 2014. The proportion of white men taking the survey fell 14 percentage points between 2008 and 2014, but the proportion of black men participating increased by 13 percentage points during the same period.

The average age of the men dropped over the study period, too. Insurance coverage increased from 75 percent in 2008 to 86 percent in 2014, which was the first year of coverage expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

In 2008, 79 percent of the men were seen at a healthcare facility within three months of their diagnosis. That measure – known as linkage to care – increased to 87 percent by 2014.

With the 2020 goal in mind, the researchers analyzed how many men were seen at a healthcare facility within one month of their HIV diagnosis. In 2014, 78 percent of men were linked to care within one month, which the researchers say suggests the 2020 goal is feasible.

When the researchers looked at how many of the men were receiving ART, they found the rate increased from 69 percent in 2008 to 88 percent in 2014.

People with insurance or with higher levels of education or income were more likely to be linked to care within a short amount of time and be on ART.

In all years, a higher percentage of ARV treatment was observed among whites, according to the researchers – and this disparity persisted in 2014. The proportion of white men on ART were 9 percentage points higher than the proportion of black men.

“We’re moving in the right direction, but the fact that the disparities are persisting in 2014 when we’ve had access to antiretroviral therapy for so long is troubling,” said Jennifer Kates, who is vice president and director of global health and HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington, D.C.

The findings suggest black men are being linked to care at roughly the same rate as white men, but they’re not getting equal access to ART, said Kates, who wasn’t involved in the new study.

“There are some systemic issues on the healthcare system side – from providers to insurance – that this study wasn’t designed to look at,” she told Reuters Health.

For example, it could be that doctors are writing the prescriptions for ART, but lack of insurance or other social services is creating a barrier.

In an editorial accompanying the new study, Sten Vermund of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee, writes that many organizations are working to find better and more effective outreach methods for HIV testing and care.

“Still, jurisdictions struggle with only limited success to solve their black-Hispanic-white disparities in HIV risk and access to care,” Vermund writes.

The authors caution that the results are not nationally representative. Additionally, they relied on face-to-face interviews that may lead men to report higher levels of linkage to care and ART use since those would be the more socially desired answers.

Lead author Brooke Hoots, of the CDC’s division of HIV/AIDS Prevention in Atlanta, was not available for comment by press time.

Will Jude Law’s Dumbledore be openly gay?

Friday, April 14th, 2017

BBC News

The news that Jude Law is to play a young Dumbledore in the sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them has led to speculation over the direction of the movie – and whether his character will be openly gay.

It’s 10 years since JK Rowling revealed that Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore was gay in a Q&A with fans.

It confirmed speculation that had been around on fan sites for years – all that was known before that was that he had a mysterious, troubled past.

Rowling also revealed that when he was young, Dumbledore had been smitten with rival Gellert Grindelwald, who he beat in a duel. Dumbledore was “horribly, terribly let down” she said, and his love for Grindelwald was his “great tragedy”.

We already know Johnny Depp will play Grindelwald in the movie, so many fans are hoping to see Depp and Law in an on-screen romance.

I want Dumbledore and his gay relationship with Grindelwald in Fantastic BeastsImage copyrightTWITTER
Jude Law as Dumbledore openly gay with Johnny Depp Grindlewalk? I'm there.Image copyrightTWITTER

Some LGBT fans were upset that JK Rowling didn’t mention in any of the books that Dumbledore was gay and saw it as an “afterthought”.

In a blog post on the Harry Potter fan site Mugglenet.com, Elayna Mae Darcy says the upcoming Fantastic Beasts film is a chance to put that right.

“One has to have hope that she will use this opportunity to show us the side of Dumbledore we could never have seen when he was a much older man who had long before been tragically let down by the man he loved,” she writes.

“We have the chance to witness, in real time, a Dumbledore who is young and vivacious and who, hopefully, both acknowledges his sexuality and gives us a chance to see a well-rounded gay character in a mainstream blockbuster.”

She says the Harry Potter author has a responsibility to show the relationship.

“Representation can change people’s lives and make them feel seen… Kids growing up right now have a chance to experience one of the most important characters in the entire saga as someone who’s confident with who he is.”

And she is backed by other fans, who do not want to see Dumbledore’s sexuality glossed over.

Grindelwald and Dumbledore better be legit gay in the next Fantastic Beasts movie or I'm boycotting itImage copyrightTWITTER
I don't really care who plays Dumbledore as long as they portray him as gay on screen.Image copyrightTWITTER

Speaking last year about the second Fantastic Beasts movie, Rowling said we will see Dumbledore as a younger and “quite troubled man”.

“We’ll see him at that formative period of his life. As far as his sexuality is concerned, watch this space,” she said.

But Debbie Moon, Bafta-winning writer of the fantasy series Wolfblood, isn’t convinced we’ll see any romance on screen.

“Chances on Young Dumbledore appearing even remotely gay in a major studio tentpole? I’ll take 0%…”she tweeted.

And some fans have pointed out that any gay storyline may cause problems for the film’s distribution worldwide.

Malaysia will have another censorship dilemma with Fantastic Beats II. FYI Dumbledore is gay. Jude Law with Johnny Depp.Image copyrightTWITTER

The live action Beauty and the Beast, which featured the first openly gay character in a Disney film, was recently pulled from Kuwait cinemas and faced issues in Malaysia, where homosexual activity is illegal.

Russia’s Culture Ministry allowed the release of Beauty and the Beast – but children under the age of 16 are not allowed to see it.

It was given a 16+ age rating after a Russian MP petitioned Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky to ban it because of the inclusion of a gay character.

When pressed on Dumbledore being gay in the second film, Rowling pointed out that is only the second film in a series.

“I would like to say because this is obviously a five-part story, there’s lots to unpack in that relationship.”

So fans may have to wait to watch the love story and ultimate betrayal unfold.

I’m gay and only fancy younger, mostly straight, men

Friday, April 14th, 2017

The Guardian

Illustration showing a triangle, with an older man, a younger man and a woman

I’m 57, gay and have never been in a relationship. I think I know why: I’m only attracted to young men, roughly 18-35. I always longed for a faithful, lifelong partner, but younger men get older, so how could there be any future in it? Friends tell me: “Be realistic, find a guy of your own age.” Why do so few seem to realise that age is as much an orientation as gender is? I can’t begin to imagine falling for a guy of my own age. Plus I find most gay men a turn-off. I’ve spent my life as the third person in a series of triangles. I fall for him, he falls for her. Some of those triangles have stood the test of time. But I’m still waiting for that one encounter that doesn’t end up with me getting crowded out.

Kelly Osbourne Accuses Her Friends Of Pretending To Be Gay: “You Are Not Gay!”

Friday, April 14th, 2017
PHOTO: JASON LAVERIS/FILMMAGIC.
Kelly Osbourne is known for her eclectic family, her edgy style, and her candid commentary on just about anything. And recently, she has proved that really no topic is off-limits for her to tackle in an interview. While promoting her new memoir on the site Pride Source, There Is No F**king Secret: Letters from a Bad**s B**ch, out April 25, Osbourne was asked about how she labels her own sexuality (“My whole rule is, never say never “). And while answering the question, Osbourne voiced a strange (and frankly out-of-place) accusation.
Osbourne’s rant about celebrity friends of hers pretending to be gay is one of the most surprising things we’ve read today. “I’ve never been in a relationship with a woman, but I don’t know that it’s not a possibility,” Osbourne told the interviewer. “But I also don’t like it when people claim to be gay and then not. There’s this whole generation of young Hollywood girls who can’t find love where they think it’s supposed to be, and then they come out being gay and two weeks later they have a boyfriend. It drives me nuts!”
In addition to annoying Osbourne, she says it also hinders the LGBTQ community, a community which she avidly supports and allies. “I think it takes all the proactive work the LGBT community has done and sets them back. Oh, so now you’re gay? Then two weeks later: “Oh no, that was just a phase.” You don’t get to do that. I’ll tell you who’s the worst with it: young female celebrities. And I’m like, I know you. I’ve known you pretty much since before you used to shit outside of a diaper. You are not gay!”
Osbourne wouldn’t go into detail about which other celebrities she believes are pretending to be gay, because she thinks “outing somebody in that way is just as bad as outing somebody who has not come out of the closet.” But it still infuriates her nonetheless. “It’s one of those things I have to keep to myself… and it drives me fucking crazy!”
She added: “I’ve marched till my feet bled for the right of equal love in the gay community, and you’re just gonna step in because it looks cool for you and now tell everybody that you’re a lesbian when you’ve never even seen another puss that’s not yours so you can get attention?”
The 32-year-old also said that she wished she had a gay sibling, and that she herself wishes she was gay – and that she might be. “I was disappointed that I wasn’t gay even!” she said. “Though I do still think that everybody’s gay, but still.”
It’s a very confusing interview, and it sounds petty and strange to hear her say that just because her friends didn’t come out to her, it means that they are lying about their sexuality for attention. Discovering sexual preferences and desires is complicated which makes it extremely disappointing to hear Osbourne’s judgmental quotes.

Hundreds protest against Chechnya’s ‘gay concentration camps’ outside Russian Embassy

Friday, April 14th, 2017

mirror

Hundreds protested outside the Russian Embassy today against the reported torture and murder of gay men in Chechnya.

Up to 100 men are said to be held in concentration-style camps in the southern Russian republic. At least three have died.

Michael Salter-Church, co-chair of Pride in London, said: “It sends a shudder down the spine to hear about concentration camps in 2017.”

He added: “Russia’s abuses cannot be ignored.”

Demonstrators draped in rainbows screamed “close the camps” and laid pink flowers as passing traffic beeped their horns in support.

Peter Scott-Presland, 68, told the Press Association: “I wanted to show solidarity so they know they’re not alone.

“They are being supported and we send them all of our love.”

Steve Peck, 59, added: “This is happening internationally…it is unacceptable and has to stop.”

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

The story broke on April 1 in an explosive report by respected campaigning newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

It claimed Chechen authorities were attempting a “complete cleansing” of homosexuals.

The Chechen Interior Ministry branded it an “April Fools’ joke”, with Kremlin-backed leader Ramzan Kadyrov saying there were no homosexuals in the republic for them to persecute.

His spokesman Alvi Karimov told Interfax news agency “you cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic”.

But Human Rights Watch said it was in “no doubt” about whether the “devastating developments” were happening.

(Photo: PA)
(Photo: PA)

Meanwhile, the Russian LGBT Network said they had been contacted by around 40 men affected by the round-up after setting up a confidential hotline.

Some men have reportedly been released severely injured, while others remain detained but exact details and numbers remain unclear.

Conservative peer Baroness Anelay said: “The detention and ill-treatment of over 100 gay men in Chechnya is extremely concerning

“We expect the Russian government to fulfill its obligations to this end, and to uphold the rule of law.”Cross-party British MEPs have sent Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson a letter urging them to meet with the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the UK. So far the Russian government has not publicly commented on the episode.Chechnya is a Muslim-majority autonomous southern Russian republic.

 

Gay men in Chechnya ‘murdered by their ashamed families’

Friday, April 14th, 2017

Daily Mail

Gay men are ‘murdered by their ashamed families after being released from Nazi-style concentration camps in Chechnya where they were tortured, beaten and humiliated’

  • Chechnyans are reportedly being encouraged to snitch on their gay relatives 
  • Gay men are allegedly imprisoned, beaten up and tortured in ‘Hitler-style’ jails 
  • Gay ‘inmates’ have told how they were humiliated in front of non-gay prisoners 
  • Distressing photos shows inmates apparently covered in bruises from beatings 
  • One man, known only as Adam, says he was tortured daily during his sentence
  • Says he was electrocuted and beaten while men shouted anti-gay slurs at him

Chechnyans are being ordered to murder their gay relatives after they are released from sinister Nazi-style concentration camps, according to new evidence.

Failure to do so will heap ‘shame’ and ‘disgrace’ on their families in Chechnya, part of Vladimir Putin’s empire, they are told.

Details of these so-called ‘honour killings’ come as former gay inmates tell of the abuse they suffered inside ‘unofficial’ detention centres.

Distressing photos show former prisoners covered in bruises where they were beaten on their legs and backsides while an unverified video shows the moment two men were apparently questioned for having sex in private – though its veracity is unclear.

In one secret jail in Argun, near a nursery called Fairytale Kindergarten Number 8, gay men are ordered to ‘sit on bottles’ as punishment.

Chechnyans are being ordered to murder their gay relatives in so-called 'honour killings' after they are released from cruel prisons, it has been claimed. Pictured: A former gay inmate's bruises

Chechnyans are being ordered to murder their gay relatives in so-called ‘honour killings’ after they are released from cruel prisons, it has been claimed. Pictured: A former gay inmate’s bruises

Families are believed to be 'shamed' for not snitching on homosexuals, who are publicly humiliated, beaten up and electric shocked in prisons. Pictured: A former military base in the city of Argun, believed to be the location of one of the camps

Families are believed to be ‘shamed’ for not snitching on homosexuals, who are publicly humiliated, beaten up and electric shocked in prisons. Pictured: A former military base in the city of Argun, believed to be the location of one of the camps

The guards in these allegedly unofficial jails are accused of releasing them to their relatives if the family promises to kill them, an investigation by Radio Svoboda claimed.

Journalists were told about ‘at least two similar cases that ended with the death of men, but there is no chance to check this information because in the case of such “honour killings”.’

A victim known as Said who fled to Europe claimed his friend was freed from a camp ‘by military men on the condition that his family would kill him’, adding: ‘His uncle killed him, I know for sure. He was 20 or 21.’

A gay man who claimed to know former inmates said: ‘Some of them were half dead after the beatings and were returned to relatives like a bag with bones. I know for sure about two dead victims.

‘If you were kidnapped, there were three ways to get out: To pay a lot of money – I heard about 1.5 million roubles (£21,100) – to betray others, or they give you back to relatives and order them “to sort it out”.’

Chechnya, which has come under fire from LGBT groups for its institutional homophobia, is run by Ramzan Kadyrov, a father-of-ten who has been accused of ordering extra-judicial killings.

Former gay inmates have told of being forced to dance in front of non-gay prisoners. Pictured: The alleged location of one of the prisons in Argun in southern Chechnya

Former gay inmates have told of being forced to dance in front of non-gay prisoners. Pictured: The alleged location of one of the prisons in Argun in southern Chechnya

The guards in these allegedly unofficial jails are accused of releasing them to their relatives if the family promises to kill them, an investigation by Radio Svoboda claimed. Pictured: The alleged location of a secret prison in Argun

The guards in these allegedly unofficial jails are accused of releasing them to their relatives if the family promises to kill them, an investigation by Radio Svoboda claimed. Pictured: The alleged location of a secret prison in Argun

The latest evidence indicates that his police and security thugs act as jailers and demand families slaughter their own gay relatives.

It was feared that he is sanctioning the killings of homosexuals after his spokesman after Alvi Karimov denied there were any gays in Chechnya at all.

Karimov added: ‘You can’t detain and harass someone who doesn’t exist in the republic.

‘If there were such people in the Chechen republic, law enforcement wouldn’t have a problem with them because their relatives would send them to a place of no return.’

The Kremlin has expressed scant concern over the revelations, showing no inclination to demand explanations from Kadyrov.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: ‘We don’t know how much of it is true….I’m not an expert in the field of non-traditional sexual orientation.’

Heda Saratova, Kadyrov’s ‘human rights’ advisor, compared being gay to terrorists and trespassers before going on to apparently condone the ‘honour killings’.

One Chechen man and former inmate has bravely revealed the abuse he suffered while locked up as part of Kadyrov’s anti-gay purge.

Chechnya, which has come under fire from LGBT groups for its institutional homophobia, is run by Ramzan Kadyrov, left

Chechnya, which has come under fire from LGBT groups for its institutional homophobia, is run by Ramzan Kadyrov, left

It was feared that Kadyrov, top, is sanctioning the killings of homosexuals after his spokesman after Alvi Karimov denied there were any gays in Chechnya at all

It was feared that Kadyrov, top, is sanctioning the killings of homosexuals after his spokesman after Alvi Karimov denied there were any gays in Chechnya at all

The man, known only as Adam, said metal clamps were attached to his fingers and toes before shockwaves were sent through his body, as part of a campaign of torture at an informal detention facility in Chechnya.

Adam also told how he was beaten with wooden sticks or metal rods as his torturers shouted abuse at him and demanded to know the names of other gay men.

He told the Guardian: ‘Sometimes they were trying to get information from me; other times they were just amusing themselves.

‘They woke us up at 5am and let us sleep at 1am. Different people would come in and take turns to beat us. Sometimes they brought in other prisoners, who were told we were gay and were also ordered to beat us.

‘They called us animals, non-humans, said we were going to die there.’

He said he was arrested after being called by a long-time gay friend who suggested that they meet up.

But when he arrived he was met by thugs who detained him, accused him of being gay, and then showed him messages he had sent to other men.

Protesters gathered outside the Russian embassy in London to denounce the camps. Kadyrov is a staunch ally of President Putin 

Protesters gathered outside the Russian embassy in London to denounce the camps. Kadyrov is a staunch ally of President Putin

Forced into a confession, he was then taken to the camp where the torture started.

Adam claims that he was held alongside more than a dozen homosexual men, who were subjected to a similar ordeal.

His story backs up earlier reports in Russian newspaper Novoya Gazeta that more than 100 gay men have been detained as part of a purge being carried out by leader Ramzan Kadyrov, a staunch Putin ally.

Journalists claim to have concrete evidence that at least three people have been killed as part of the purge so far.

Images of people who claim to have been detained at the camps show them with large bruises on their legs, and what appears to be burns on their backside.

One of those who escaped told the newspaper that prisoners were beaten to force them to reveal other members of the gay community.

Another prisoner who fled said that before being incarcerated in one of the camps, he had been forced to pay bribes to Chechen police of thousands of rubles every month in order to survive.

One former gay inmate, known only as Adam, said metal clamps were attached to his fingers and toes before shockwaves were sent through his body as part of a campaign of torture at an secret prison in Chechnya. Pictured: Another victim speaking out on TV in Germany

One former gay inmate, known only as Adam, said metal clamps were attached to his fingers and toes before shockwaves were sent through his body as part of a campaign of torture at an secret prison in Chechnya. Pictured: Another victim speaking out on TV in Germany

Now the regime had taken another step against gays by creating these camps, the survivor said.

Asked about reports of the arrests, Kadyrov spokesman Alvi Karimov called them ‘absolute lies and disinformation.’

In a shocking assertion, Karimov added that it was impossible to persecute gays in Chechnya, because there are none.

 

This Is What Happened When A Young Russian Came Out As Gay On YouTube

Friday, April 14th, 2017

BuzzFeed News

A 23-year-old Russian violinist called Artem Kolesov emailed BuzzFeed News last week with a message that began: “Hello, I know that you receive thousands of emails every day, but I would like to share my story with you.”

He explained that he grew up in a Pentecostal Christian family in rural Russia, that both his parents were pastors, and that he had just come out as gay on YouTube.

“I did it,” he wrote, “Because it breaks my heart to know how many Russian children and other LGBT youth around the world feel like they’re alone”.

Kolesov sent a link to the YouTube video – which he uploaded a day after his birthday – and said he hoped that it might at least help one child.

It detailed the years he spent praying that God would take his homosexuality away, the depression he suffered, the five attempts to kill himself, and his reasons for speaking out now.

He agreed to be interviewed on the phone at first, and then via Skype. It was just days after reports had emerged that the authorities in Chechnya were arresting, imprisoning and murdering gay men.

His video reveals another, invisible kind of prison that exists in Russia for LGBT people – one of silence and fear. In 2013, Russia introduced a vague, far-reaching law, referred to in the West as the “gay propaganda” law that forbids any suggestion to children that homosexuality is normal and that in practice, human rights organisations attest, has muzzled LGBT people across the country.

It has also helped to shut down organisations and websites that try to help sexual minorities and, according to reports, fuelled violence and hostility toward LGBT people. But Kolesov refuses to be silent.

YouTube

In the video he explains that he knew he liked boys when he was five. “During my entire childhood I heard from my parents and the church that homosexuality is a huge sin,” he says, “so I started praying in secret to God so that he would make me ‘normal’. In my family I often heard that all gays should be destroyed, that they should be bombed, and that if anyone in our family turns out to be gay, my family should kill them with their bare hands.”

Kolesov grew up with his four brothers in Maloyaroslavetz, a town of 5,000 people, an hour outside of Moscow.

“I never heard anything good about gay people,” he says. “All I knew was that gays are the people who everyone should hate. I was scared because I knew that I was gay. I didn’t know anyone who I could talk to about it. It seemed that I was the only gay person in Russia.”

Artem Kolesov

Artem Kolesov aged four, seven and 12

This isolation grew as Kolesov got older and became more involved with the church. “How could I be Christian and be gay at the same time? My self-hatred put me into a deep depression,” he says in the video. Learning the violin from aged six was his only outlet.

“Every night I cried and prayed that God would deliver me. I asked, ‘Lord why me? Why do I have to go through all of this?” In his Pentecostal Church in St Petersburg, Kolesov even signed a petition against a gay pride parade for fear that if he did not others would become suspicious.

He says he asked God if he could die before his mother found out he was gay. He took a vow to never tell anyone. “I never thought I would live to be 23,” he says. But while struggling with depression and amid several suicide attempts, Kolesov realised that he could not put his mother, who had lost another of her sons in a car accident, through more grief.

“One day during my depression I was talking to my friend and he told me that his friend came out to her parents as a lesbian,” he says. “They said that they don’t approve of her ‘lifestyle and she hanged herself…I thought that this could be me.”

Aged 16, after ten years of learning the violin, Kolesov won a full scholarship to attend a music school in Canada. Here, life began to change for him.

“For the first time in my life I met people who openly lived a full life despite being LGBT,” he says. “The first time I met an openly gay person I started shaking because I know that I am just like him.” Initially, he was still unable to shake off everything he had learned about gay people. “I loathed myself and every LGBT person around me.”

But in a different, more accepting environment, he gradually became stronger, and last month told his mother he was gay shortly before uploading the video. “One of the requests she had for me was not to tell anyone about it,” he says. “She asked me for the same reason as my older brother – they are ashamed to have a gay son and brother.”

It did not deter him. He wants to stop other Russian kids hating themselves and feeling like they’re the only one.

“We don’t come out for heterosexual people to know,” he says. “We don’t come out for the ones who hate us to know. We shout and make as much noise as possible just so other people like us who are scared and can’t be themselves would know that they are not a mistake and they are not alone.”

The anti-propaganda law is, he says, killing people. “I would like to say to the Russian lawmakers that if what I am doing right now is ‘same-sex propaganda’ then what you are doing can be considered ‘encouragement of suicide.’” He ends the film with a single message:

“If you are watching this video and you or someone you know is in a difficult situation, know that I love you and that your happiness is worth living and fighting for.”

Speaking on the phone to BuzzFeed News from Chicago where he now studies violin at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, Kolesov explained what happened shortly after he uploaded the video.

“I took a picture on Instagram and shared it on Facebook as well and shared a link to the video and I wrote, ‘What starts with a ‘g’ and rhymes with ‘yay’? Artem!’ And I said, ‘Dear friends, if you have more questions you can watch this video.’ About 20 minutes after I posted that picture everyone started commenting and saying, ‘I love you, I’m so proud of you.’”

They weren’t only people he knew from the USA and Canada: three Russian friends contacted him. “They let me know that they saw it and they support me. It was incredible.” There was one man in particular whose reaction he was afraid of, whom Kolesov thought would respond with homophobia. “He said, ‘Well I’m gay actually as well.’”

Not all of his friends, in particular those from his church in Canada, were supportive, he said, but for the ones who were, it was worth it.

“I feel more connected to them,” he said. “Hiding a part