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Saturday, January 1, 2011

STEVE HAYES: Tired Old Queen at the Movies


The great earthquake of 1906 provides the backdrop for a classic tale of adventure and romance starring Clark Gable, Jeanette MacDonald and Spencer Tracy in W.S. Van Dyke's SAN FRANCISCO ( 1936). Written by Anita Loos, filmed with a cast of thousands , amazing special effects, a top flight supporting cast including Jack Holt and the wonderful Jessie Ralph and with all three stars at the height of their magnetism, SAN FRANCISCO offers the type of legendary Hollywood glamor that only MGM could provide. Happy New Year from everyone at STEVE HAYES: Tired Old Queen at the Movies!


The Gay Rights Heroes of 2010

By Michael A. Jones -

As the final hours of 2010 wrap up, it’s worth taking a look back at the names and players who helped make this year a dynamic one for LGBT rights. From historic victories in Congress to bold individual acts for equality, 2010 was quite the year to remember. Here’s to the folks who helped prove what. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand once said to that the battle for LGBT equality is the civil rights struggle of our time.
Constance McMillen: At just 18-years-old, Constance McMillen became a household name after standing up for her right to take a same-sex date to her senior prom. The Mississippi student fought back hard, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), against the Itawamba County School District. The end result? Constance scored a legal victory, with a $35,000 settlement and a promise by the school district to enact sweeping non-discrimination policies. To top it off, Constance became a leading advocate for federal level policies like the Student Non-Discrimination Act, and was the Grand Marshal of the NYC Pride Parade.
Dan Savage and the folks at the “It Gets Better” Project: Little did writer/blogger/sex columnist Dan Savage know that a brief YouTube message to LGBT youth would launch one of the most successful video projects in history. But sure enough, Savage’s three-word message to LGBT youth facing bullying and intolerance became one of 2010’s biggest memes. Individuals started weighing in with their own “It Gets Better” ideas, and celebrities soon followed. Then came the political heavyweights, from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to UK Prime Minister David Cameron to even President Barack Obama himself. Talk about legitimacy, and talk about great advocacy to reach out to LGBT youth.
Wendy Walsh and Tammy Aaberg: These two mothers have heartbreaking stories to share. Both of their sons, faced with horrendous anti-gay bullying in their school districts, turned to suicide as a way of escaping harassment. Wendy’s son Seth took his life in September. Since then, Wendy has partnered with the ACLU to call for passage of the Student Non-Discrimination Act, and to push the Tehachapi Unified School District in California to strengthen their anti-bullying policies. Tammy’s son, Justin, took his life in July, and since then Tammy has been extremely vocal in challenging the Anoka-Hennepin School District, Minnesota’s largest, for not doing enough to address anti-gay bullying. Tammy and advocates have focused in on the district’s bogus “neutrality” policy, which ties the hands of educators to deal adequately with the threat of anti-gay bullying by preventing teachers from talking about LGBT issues in the classroom.
Kelly Glossip: Want to learn about why the Defense of Marriage Act is a vile and unjust law? Look no further than Kelly Glossip’s story. Kelly’s partner of 15 years, Missouri State Highway Patrol Officer Dennis Engelhard, was killed in a tragic auto accident on Christmas Day 2009. But because Missouri does not consider same-sex relationships to be valid, Kelly was not eligible to receive any of the survivor benefits that heterosexual spouses of state police officers would get. Kelly has now taken his story public with a heartfelt video, and filed a lawsuit with the help of the ACLU to challenge the constitutionality of denying same-sex partners certain benefits.
All the players in the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” debate: When President Obama signed legislation that will eventually repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” it was a victory for thousands of activists who have worked hard and long to end the military’s discriminatory ban on openly gay, lesbian and bisexual soldiers. There were individual activists like Dan Choi, Eric Alva, Marjorie Witt, Victor Fehrenbach, Autumn Sandeen, and countless others, all LGBT veterans of the military. There were groups like the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Servicemembers United, GetEqual, the Human Rights Campaign, the Palm Center, the Log Cabin Republicans, and many others. There were blogs like AmericaBLOG, Pam’s House Blend, The Bilerico Project, GoodAsYou, and so many others, not to mention countless petitions here on There were politicians like Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Rep. Patrick Murphy, Sen. Susan Collins, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and Sen. Mark Udall, to name a handful. And there were strong military voices like those from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and hundreds of retired military leaders. This was a victory owned by many people, groups, and leaders. And a victory that we can all celebrate as one that will make our country not only stronger, but more just.
Frank Martin Gill: Up until 2010, Florida banned LGBT people from adopting children. The reason that ban ceased? Because of a court case brought by Frank Martin Gill. In September, the 3rd District Court of Appeal upheld a previous ruling that said there was “no rational basis” for the state of Florida to ban LGBT people from adopting children. That ruling put closure on a case that dragged on for years. But talk about a major happy ending. Gill told reporters after the court’s ruling: “I really felt relieved for the first time -- and a sense of pride for what we accomplished for the state of Florida.''
Equality Utah: When 2010 started, Equality Utah put forward a bold statement: In 12 months time, they would work like hell to make sure that 10 Utah cities/towns/municipalities enacted non-discrimination ordinances that included protections on the basis of sexual orientation. Sure enough, they put their money where their mouth was and got it done. In December, Grand County became the tenth Utah area to enact an inclusive non-discrimination ordinance. And Equality Utah’s work isn’t done yet. Together with other LGBT activists in the state, they have their eyes on Ogden, hoping that the city will become the eleventh in the state to enact sweeping anti-discrimination protections.
Ted Olson, David Boies, and the American Foundation for Equal Rights: It’s hard not to reflect back on 2010 without holding up Ted Olson, David Boies, and the folks at the American Foundation for Equal Rights, for their work challenging the constitutionality of California’s marriage ban, otherwise known as Proposition 8. This bipartisan team scored a major victory when Judge Vaughn Walker ruled in August that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional, and now they’re awaiting word from the Ninth Circuit as to whether that ruling can stand. While nobody knows the future, this team could be taking the issue of marriage equality all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and help pave the way for nationwide marriage equality.
Azwan Ismail: It’s amazing to see the power of one voice in the wilderness. In Malaysia, that voice belongs to Azwan Ismail, who recorded an “It Gets Better” video and told the entire country of Malaysia: “Saya Gay, Saya Okay.” (It’s OK to be gay.) Sadly, Azwan’s video didn’t sit well with a number of religious activists in the country, who used the video to condemn homosexuality and issue calls for Azwan’s life. It’s been taken down from YouTube, but Azwan told a local publication that he had no regrets. “I feel there is not enough Malay voices talking about homosexuality." Perhaps Azwan’s voice will open doors for others in the country to speak up for LGBT rights.
GLAD: Here’s to a 2011 where GLAD changes their name from Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders to, simply, “Legal Powerhouses.” What an effective organization at achieving LGBT equality through the courts. In 2010, GLAD won a major victory in a court case challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). As federal Judge Joseph Tauro ruled in July, “As irrational prejudice plainly never constitutes a legitimate government interest, this court must hold that Section 3 of DOMA as applied to Plaintiffs violates the equal protection principles embodied in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.” It’s nice to see the words “irrational” and “Defense of Marriage Act” paired together by judges. That happened because of GLAD’s diligent work.
Of course, this is just a quick snapshot of some of the major forces for LGBT equality in 2010. This list could go on and on – there’s Amber Yust, Will Phillips, the students who inspired the world to wear purple to speak out about LGBT suicide, the activists and politicians who helped deliver civil unions to Illinois, and many more. Got some others you’d like to share? Feel free to let us know.


EDGE 2010: The Gay Year in Review

By Steve Weinstein -

The military dominated the conversation in ’10
The military dominated the conversation in ’10

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ...

We finally won the right to serve openly in the military. Gay marriage gained but then gained and stalled in the biggest prize, California. Political campaigns became centered on candidates’ positions, not what they did in their bedrooms. Even the GOP had to sit up and take notice.

In the movies, on TV and in real life, children became the latest "must have" gay accessory. More and more people from all walks of life came out, while politicians and religious figures were exposed as preaching against us in public while loving us in private.

Africa remained a continent that hasn’t learned the lesson from its colonial past, that oppressing anyone leads to more oppression. But the women there and elsewhere may finally find some relief from HIV infection. And gay men have a valuable new drug in their arsenal of HIV prevention.

Overall, a good year, with a lot of unfinished business in ’11.


1) The Repeal of DADT

The LGBT community -- and indeed all Americans -- got a Christmas gift courtesy of Congress and President Barack Obama.

The "Don’t Ask Don’t Tell" policy was the military equivalent of prohibition: a social experiment that didn’t work. There were the well-know cases of decorated officers like Margaret Cammameyer. There were those Arab translators let go right at the beginning of the Iraq War. They were privates and majors, Navy SEALs and Special Forces operatives.

And they all had to live their lives in secret. This, despite survey after showing that the vast majority of the American people agreed DADT had overstayed its welcome.

Then there were all those pesky allies. By 2010, nearly every Western democracy had openly gay military personnel. Those who complained that repealing DADT would erode troop morale and create a weak military had to explain nations like Britain and Israel.

So there it was. After all the sit-ins, the Lady Gaga tweets, the TV movies, the court cases (and Log Cabin Republicans deserve a shout-out here), it came down to the stroke of a pen.

The president had to move the signing from the White House to an Interior Department auditorium, there were so many people who clamored to be present at that historic moment.

Independent U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman and GOP Sen. Susan Collins proudly stood by, as did Sen. Scott Brown, who was one of eight to break ranks.

As for the military, the commander of the Marine Corps, the strongest senior official opposing DADT, now says he will head the implementation of the new policy for his division. And according to the not-always-reliable World Net Daily, one Army officer has indicated he will refuse to implement the new policy of openly gay military personnel. And no one has tried to get out of the service because of it.


2) Marriage Comes to New Hamptshire, D.C.; Comes to Calif., Leaves Calif.

The year began with the advent of same-sex marriage in New Hampshire, making that five out of six New England states legalizing gay marriage.

The gay-marriage juggernaut in the Northeast got another big boost when the District of Columbia made it legal in March. Although Washington is not large in size, it has more people than many states. And no one can denigrate the symbolic importance of marriage equality in the nation’s capital.

As for California ... well, they do things differently out there. After the two opponents in the Bush v. Gore electoral 2000 imbroglio joined forces to stop it, the defenders of the marriage ban were clearly outgunned.

The federal judge seemed to agree. On August 4, 2010, U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker overturned Proposition 8 but also stayed the ruling, which meant the voter initiative would remain in effect pending appeal. So gay marriage was now legal in California. Except that it wasn’t.

The case continues to meander through the court system with both sides fully expecting to argue it in front of the Supreme Court, possibly as early as 2011.


3) Series of Gay Suicides Inspires a Campaign

One could legitimately ask whether there are more gay teens committing suicide, or whether they used to be swept under the rug and now we know about them.

In the end, the answer doesn’t matter, because they are happening, and they are horrific. The list of gay teens committing suicide ranged across the country. They spanned socio-economic, educational, ethnic and religious lines.

There a was farm boy in Pennsylvania. An inner-city college student hoping to be a chef. A college student studying violin. They go on.

In the wake of this national tragedy, some states, such as New Jersey, instituted tough new anti-bullying statutes. But the stories coming out from the schools these victims attended were as horrifying as the deaths themselves. In case after case, teachers and administration turned their backs on relentless bullying. Some defended the attackers. Some joined in.

The one positive out of this whole heartbreaking story is columnist Dan Savage’s start-up, "It Gets Better." The Youtube video series features people from all walks of life -- housewives to employees, presidents and prime ministers and clergy. They are all there to tell gay youth to hang in there, because once you leave the dirtbags who are causing you so much grief, you will find the rest of the world is not such a bad place.

U.S. Rep David Cicilline (Dem. R.I.)  

4) Gay No Longer an Issue in Political Campaigns

The year began with Annise Parker becoming the out-gay mayor of Houston. Texas’ largest city made history with the most powerful out-gay official (let’s not count New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey, "gay" for 90 days before he left office) in the country. And in Texas!

Or maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised. This was the year when being gay not only wasn’t a big deal, it wasn’t noticed.

How far have we come? Far enough that a transsexual can run as a fiscal conservative for office in San Francisco. Far enough that no one mentioned his sexuality when David Cicilline took over Patrick Kennedy’s Rhode Island seat in the U.S. Congress.

Far enough that, when GOP candidate for governor of New York Carl Paladino made comments about gays being sick and his opponent being a bad parent for taking his kids to Manhattan’s Pride Parade, everyone running on his party’s slate condemned his statements (which he retracted).

Unfortunately, there was one horrible stain on the elections this year. In Iowa, voters removed state judges who legalized gay marriage last year. The precedent for judicial intervention horrified observers like former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Sean Hayes & Kristin Chenoweth on Broadway  

5) Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are

In gay world, it’s one of those "Well, duh" (affect Valleyspeak here) moments: In March, Latino singer Ricky Martin told everyone what they already knew: he was gay. Martin’s announcement probably had more impact because of the residual machismo of Latin-American culture.

But he wasn’t the only one. A senior member of the Conservative cabinet in the United Kingdom came out. So did the former head of the Republican National Committee. And radio talkshow host Stephanie Miller, the mayor of Cambridge, Mass., and bunches of other people.

Actor Kevin Spacey came out ... sort of. In an interview, he pretty much said he was gay but it wasn’t anyone’s business. Veteran actor Richard Chamberlain apparently agrees. The now-out actor recently said that leading men had better stay in the closet, echoing a widely ridiculed essay in Newsweek (from a gay writer!) that maintained that Sean Hayes was not believable wooing Kristin Chenoweth in the Broadway revival of Promises, Promises.

Apparently, these guys didn’t consult Cheyenne Jackson, who continues his ascent as one of Hollywood’s leading men, or Neil Patrick Harris, who manages to play horndogs onscreen while married to a man off. On the female side, there’s Portia De Generes, Cynthia Nixon and many more. But you can’t argue with ignorance.

Some on the right are accusing the party of "drinking the Kool-Aid"  

6) Turmoil in the GOP

The 1930s homespun comedian Will Rogers is famous for his line, "I’m not a member of an organized party -- I’m a Democrat."

The donkeys were traditionally the ones kicking up their hind legs, while the GOP elephants walked slowly, grandly toward their goals.

Oooops. Leave it to the gays to create a wedge in the party of Hoover, Reagan and all things Bush.

Cindy McCain joined her daughter Meghan and came out for gay rights. She posed for a NoH8 photo and expressed approval of gay unions.

Laura Bush, the former first lady, said she supported gay marriage, thus joining former Vice-President Dick Chaney and his wife. (Also along for the ride were Hilary Clinton and her hubby, former President Bill Clinton.)

GOProud, a new group formed by dissenters who didn’t believe the Log Cabin Republicans were conservative enough, caused a major brouahaha when CPAC, the major convention for right-wing political activists, brought the group in as a sponsor.

To show how deep the rift has become even on the far right, when a speaker tried to denounce GOProud and the gay rights movement at CPAC, a crowd of mostly younger people shouted him off the stage.

GOProud is already roiling the waters for next year’s CPAC. Once again, they’ve been invited to the table. And once again, fire-breathing homophobes like Peter LaBarbera, the one-man band called Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, are fulminating.

As mentioned above, several GOP senators defected on the vote to repeal "Don’t Ask Don’t Tell." Glenn Beck, the darling commenter of the far right, told his Fox News audience that he didn’t see gay marriage as much of an issue, because it didn’t affect his pocketbook.

Many other pundits weighed in with the observation that gay marriage was coming to this country sooner or later, so the GOP could either embrace it or follow.

One of the main points in the debate has been the increasing divide between older Republicans and those under 30, who strongly support gay rights.

Ted Olson, who engineered George Bush’s win in 2000 and whose wife (who died on 9/11) was the intellectual darling of the New Right, not only argued in the courts against Prop. 8 but argued publicly for other gay causes. And California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger did an about-face and stated point-blank that he wanted to see Prop. 8 overturned and gay marriage legal in the Golden State.

Even Ron Paul, the congressman who is the hero to the libertarian ultra-right, voted to repeal DADT.

Ken Mehlman, who helped George Bush win the White House, came out and promised to help further gay causes in the GOP.

Does this mean that the party of Lincoln is going back to its roots? Probably not, but it does signify that some are voicing what many have long thought: that continuing what Pat Buchanan called a "crusade" will eventually have the same effect as those other crusades: defeat.

The photo that launched 1,000 late-night TV jokes: George Rekers at Miami’s airport  

7) Gay Sex Is Wrong, Except When I Do It

It’s always a pleasure seeing a public homophobe exposed as a same-sex lover. History is strewn with hypocrites like televangelists Jim Bakker and Ted Haggard.

Considering the large number of pastors and others who rail and preach against the evils of homosexuality, only to found indulging in same in the privacy of no-tell motels, it’s worth remembering the old adage, "the guilty dog barks the loudest."

This year, we had the edifying spectacle of George Rekers. This is the guy who sold himself to the attorney general of Florida as an "expert" so that he could thwart worthy adults from rescuing children from the state’s Dickensian foster care system and putting them in loving homes.

So it was rough justice when a photographer for alternative weekly The Miami New Times caught George Rekers with an attractive young man at Miami’s airport. Rekers had taken Jo-Vanni Roman, 20, on a trip overseas.

Rekers claimed Roman was there to help carry his luggage -- even though in the photo he’s doing that himself. Where did Rekers find his valet? On

Rekers, one of the most prominent members of a group of psychologists who claim they can "cure" patients of their homosexuality, said he was working on the escort to convert him. According to Roman, that included several erotic massages.

Another scandal that dominated the headlines involved a self-proclaimed "bishop" of an Atlanta megachurch with a wider TV following.

Several young men who were befriended by Eddie Long accused him of pressuring them into having sex with him.

Long is denying the charges, but the evidence thus far appears overwhelming. His congregation is split about his guilt, but, like Haggard, his wife is standing by him, at least for now.

In stark contrast to Long, the pastor of another Georgia megachurch came out with grace and dignity.

James Swilley told the media that, after he divorced his second wife, he was upfront about why. She encouraged him to come out, which he did. He said he was also impelled by the rash of gay suicides.

It wasn’t only the United States that saw these cases of "do as I say, not as I do." In Australia, for example, the nation’s most notorious homophobe was caught -- surprise! -- leaving a gay sex club.

David Campbell, former transportation of New South Wales was seen using a government car while leaving a sauna, spa and "porn lounge" in a Sydney suburb.

The juiciest coming-out story of the year was -- again, surprise! -- a conservative Republican.

Calif. State Sen. Roy Ashburn, a family values kind of guy, was arrested in Sacramento for driving drunk after leaving a gay bar. In the ensuing meltdown, Ashburn came out, gave a mea culpa for his misdeeds and promised to be a good boy.

And no mention of this story in 2010 would be complete without at least a sidelong glance at the seemingly never-ending saga of the Catholic Church.

This was the year that priest-abuse cases metastasized in Europe, engulfing the present pope, who, documents show, actively suppressed cases of abuse while he presided over Munich.

Belgium and Ireland became so overwhelmed by the flood of abuse cases that prelates in both countries resigned. Some, like the head of the Portuguese church, simply blamed the whole crisis on gay men.

Annette Bening & Julianne Moore  

8) Gay Parenting Goes Mainstream

Elton John just did it. Neil Patrick Harris did it twice, with twins.

They are two of the better-known gay couples that became parents this year. As kids have become the latest "must have" accessory in the gay world, more and more gay men and lesbians are shifting from bars to baby sitting.

The trend was epitomized by one of the years’ "prestige" pictures, The Kids Are All Right, in which Julianne Moore and Annette Bening are a couple who had kids via Mark Ruffalo. The film is being touted for a Best Picture Oscar, along with nominations for all three actors.

On the smaller screen, Modern Family depicts a trio of couples, one two men with an adopted daughter. The show ranks as the third most popular among conservative Americans.

Gay parenting was a theme on several TV shows. On Rules of Engagement, for example, Sara Rue plays a surrogate mother for a friend.


9) Hatred in Africa

While gay rights progressed in much of the world, in the former Soviet republics and the Muslim world the situation remained grim.

Nowhere, however, managed to rack up as much hatred as Africa. Nation after nation seemed to be vying for some Adolf Hitler memorial for generating the most hatred against a group of its citizens.

For a while, it seemed Malawi would win this dubious honor. The tiny, impoverished landlocked nation so beloved by Madonna and Brangelina made headlines when it imprisoned two men for daring to express their affection publicly. A huge international protest finally got the men out of jail, but they remain so fearful of their safety that one has reportedly taken a female partner.

Zambia, just to the west, has stirred such passions that Human Rights Watch has warned that gay men are going underground. In Kenya, the government encouraged anti-gay mob attacks.

In NIgeria, warring Christian and Muslim factions agree on only one thing: Gay men and lesbians must be sought out and killed. "The real threat of death or serious injury is not from legal actions by the state," a human-rights activist said, "but from mob violence and unofficial actions by the police who are a law unto themselves."

Workers at a LGBT advocacy group in Zimbabwe were held in prison for six days and tortured.

But the two worst cases are Cameroon and Uganda.

In Cameroon, LGBT citizens are routinely tortured by the police. Anyone can report that someone is gay and have that person arrested. Lesbians lose custody of children. There is no support for the HIV-positive or AIDS prevention.

Uganda presented a special case because of the well-documented links between the nation’s most homophobic politicians. The nation’s legislature has been dealing with a law that would criminalize homosexuality. The law was drafted with the help of American evangelists and missionaries.


10) A Cure for AIDS?

This wasn’t the year we found a cure for AIDS. This wasn’t the year we found a vaccine for HIV. But this was the year we came a lot closer.

It all happened, as it often does, by chance, and the news was always as surprising as it was unexpected.

An American living in Berlin has apparently expunged the HIV virus entirely from his body. The news broke last year, but this year further tests and follow-up confirmed it. He had received a bone-marrow transplant. Even though the procedure isn’t for everyone, there are lessons in its success.

A daily pill already available on pharmacy shelves can dramatically prevent new infections in gay men. Gilead’s Truvada is already being used to treat people with HIV.

A study showed that the medicine has surprisingly high rate of prevention when taken by sexually active gay men -- 73 percent if taken daily.

A vaginal gel spiked with an AIDS drug can cut nearly in half women’s chances of being infected. This is crucial, since women represent a huge rise in HIV rates.

Even the pope became a cause for cautious optimism. The bombshell in a new book of interviews with the pontiff was a mention of the legitimacy of condoms when used by male prostitutes.

Of course, for women, gay men and everyone else, condoms remain far and away the most effective way to prevent HIV infection.

Although Vatican officials and Catholic apologists tripped over themselves to "explain" the quote, follow-ups only showed that the church is beginning to thaw on the issue of condoms as disease (as opposed to pregnancy) prevention.

EDGE Editor-in-Chief Steve Weinstein has been a regular correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, the Advocate, the Village Voice and Out. He has been covering the AIDS crisis since the early ’80s, when he began his career. He is the author of "The Q Guide to Fire Island" (Alyson, 2007). 

True LGBT Stories - I'm From Pleasantville, NJ. Is a compilation of true stories by gay people from all over in an attempt to help LGBTQ teens feel not so alone. Please pass the link along to anyone who might benefit from, contribute to, or simply enjoy the site, stories and videos. Thanks!


Friday, December 31, 2010

RNC Chairman Michael Steele on Marriage Equality

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) posted a lengthy interview with Republican Party chair Michael Steele about his personal philosophies and the party's strategy for fighting same-sex marriage over the next two years.


2010: From trans liberation (?) to geezers on the left and into 2011...

By Nan Hunter -


   As a way to close out 2010, here's the official pronouncement from the NY Times that this was a technicolor transversal year:

It's certainly a statement on our times that, in the same month, James Franco graces the covers of GQ and Candy. In GQ, he appears in a moody head shot. In Candy, a style magazine dedicated to what it calls the “transversal” — that is, transsexuality, transvestism, cross-dressing, androgyny and any combination thereof — Mr. Franco, shot by Terry Richardson, vamps in trowel-applied makeup, heavy jewelry and a woman’s dominatrix-style power suit.
Candy, it turns out, is but one of the more visible bits of evidence that 2010 will be remembered as the year of the transsexual. Yes, Mr. Franco is just dressing up and doesn’t feel he was born the wrong sex. But it is a grand gesture of solidarity with gender nonconformists and certainly hasn’t affected attendance at “127 Hours.”
Other celebrities have flirted with “the other side,” cross-dressing for fashion publications. On the cover of the current Industrie, Marc Jacobs is decked out in one of his signature women’s designs (albeit with a beard). Japanese Vogue Hommes revealed its new male model, Jo Calderone, who was, in actuality, Lady Gaga.
Not since the glam era of the 1970s has gender-bending so saturated the news media. ...The only thing that would have raised more awareness of trans people would have been a link with the president — even better, a link that rhymed. That’s when the “tranny nanny,” Barack Obama’s transvestite nanny from his boyhood in Jakarta, Indonesia, was discovered and made headlines...
[The third photo is of model Lea T, in feathers, who told the Times,] “I hope we have a big revolution, and people change their minds about us — that it is just the beginning.” 
   If only.

   And then there's this photo of a group that looks (especially by comparison to the first photo) like the new leadership team for Geezers Anonymous, or maybe for a group representing everyone ever voted off the island.
From left: Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Pete Stark, Henry Waxman, Charles Rangel and John Dingell are pictured

   Not so funny, though, when you consider that no political entity in the country produced more significant social change this year (or this decade) than the House of Representatives 2010, which led every successful progressive initiative - from health reform to new regulation of the financial markets to literally hundreds of bills that were blocked in the Senate to, at the end, kickstarting the final push to repeal DADT. No, none of those is perfect, but compared to anything we've seen come out of either chamber of Congress in 30 years, it's a pretty darn impressive list of accomplishments.

   So, unlikely as hell, this crew really can claim to be fierce advocates. Yes, Virginia, liberals can be fierce. Too bad they're about to return to the political equivalent of the North Pole.

 for more visit Hunter for Justice.


YEAR IN REVIEW: ‘News Story of the Year’ Countdown

The story of the year was repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” but there were many other big stories that kept us busy this year. Here are the rest of the top 10. Compiled by Blade staff writers Lou Chibbaro Jr. and Chris Johnson.

#2 Youth suicides lead to “It Gets Better” Campaign
A rash of suicides committed by gay youths throughout the country this year prompted the “It Gets Better” campaign in which prominent U.S. officials and LGBT leaders advise teens struggling with their sexual orientation that their lives will improve.
Four gay youths took their lives in September, reportedly after they had been bullied because of their sexual orientation. Among those who committed suicide was Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old Rutgers University freshman who leaped off the George Washington Bridge connecting New York and New Jersey.
In response to the suicides, Dan Savage, a gay Seattle, Wash.-based activist, founded the “It Gets Better” project, an online video channel in which U.S. officials and LGBT leaders urge youth to look to a brighter future. President Obama was among the officials to appear in a video.

#3 Democrats get clobbered in midterms
Democrats this year sustained heavy losses in the mid-term elections and lost control of the U.S. House to Republicans, which will likely kill LGBT rights advances in Congress for at least two years.
Republicans claimed 63 seats in a result that will lead to the ascent of Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), who scored a “0” in the Human Rights Campaign’s most recent congressional scorecard, as House speaker. Democrats retained control of the U.S. Senate, but will have a reduced majority of 53 seats.
Still, the LGBT community enjoyed one bright spot in the election through the win of David Cicilline, a gay mayor of Providence, R.I., to the House. Upon the start of the 112th Congress in January, Cicilline will become the fourth sitting openly gay member of Congress.

#4 Proposition 8 court battle
California’s Proposition 8, the ballot measure that amended the state’s constitution to halt gay marriage, has been a non-stop battle in the court of law — and the court of public opinion — since it passed in 2008.
A federal lawsuit seeking to overturn the ban, led by famed attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies, advanced in August, when U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker ruled Prop 8 unconstitutional.
But rather than allowing gay couples to resume marrying in California, Walker issued a stay on his ruling pending the outcome of inevitable appeals. While California state leaders, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, refused to defend the law, the “Yes on 8” campaign challenged the ruling as expected.
A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals heard arguments in the appeal on Dec. 6, in which supporters of the ban argued that gay marriage “will make children prematurely preoccupied with issues of sexuality.” The appeals panel is expected to issue its decision in 2011.

#5 CDC: 1 in 5 gay men has HIV in cities
Nineteen percent of men who have sex with men in a study of 21 U.S. cities was found to be infected with HIV and nearly half did not know they were infected, according to a report released this year by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“This study’s message is clear: HIV exacts a devastating toll on men who have sex with men in America’s major cities, and yet far too many of those who are infected don’t know it,” said Kevin Fenton, director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention.
The report, published in September, shows that among the men who have sex with men, or MSM, participating in the 21-city study, young MSM and MSM of color were least likely to know their HIV status.

#6 Three more countries legalize same-sex marriage
Portugal, Iceland and Argentina became the latest three countries to legalize same-sex marriage in 2010, with Iceland becoming the world’s first nation to do so with an openly gay head of state in office.
Lesbian Johanna Sigurdardottir, who became Iceland’s prime minister in 2009, faced virtually no opposition when she and her Social Democratic Party introduced a same-sex marriage bill into the island nation’s parliament. According to Reuters News Service, the legislation passed by a vote of 49-0.
The situation was far different in Argentina, where the Catholic Church raised strong objections to a same-sex marriage proposal backed by the majority-Catholic nation’s president, Cristina Fernandez. But church opposition failed to sway public opinion and a majority of lawmakers.
The action by the three countries brought the total number of nations where same-sex marriage is legal to ten. The other nations are Canada, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, South Africa, Norway, and Sweden.

#7 Lesbian mayor takes office in Houston
Lesbian Annise Parker was inaugurated as mayor of Houston in January, becoming the first openly gay person elected mayor of a U.S. city with a population greater than 1 million.
Parker became Houston’s first out gay elected official in 1997 when she won election to the City Council. She held her Council post until she won election in 2003 as the city’s controller. She came in first place in her November 2009 bid for mayor but didn’t receive enough votes to avoid a run-off election, which she won in December 2009.
In one of her first actions as mayor, Parker issued an executive order extending non-discrimination protections for city government workers to cover transgender employees.

#8 ‘Kill the Gays’ bill in Uganda draws attention
LGBT and human rights activists across the globe voiced opposition and outrage over a bill introduced into the Parliament of Uganda that calls for strengthening the country’s criminal law against homosexuality to include the death penalty or life imprisonment.
The proposed law, introduced by Ugandan Parliament member David Bahati, who has ties to fundamentalist Christian groups in the U.S., drew opposition from the U.S. State Department and members of the U.S. Congress.
Bahati has said he would not seek a vote on his bill until after the country’s February 2011 elections.

#9 Gay service member held in WikiLeaks scandal
A 22-year-old gay U.S. service member emerged in August as the prime suspect in the investigation of leaked classified documents and videos to WikiLeaks, the controversial whistle-blowing website that has rocked U.S. intelligence agencies.
Army Pfc. Bradley Manning has been held since August in solitary confinement at a brig in the U.S. Marine base in Quantico, Va., while military and civilian authorities continue their investigation into the leaks.
In an instant message conversation with a friend, Manning reportedly said he was responsible for leaking a classified video showing a U.S. Apache helicopter strike in Bagdad that resulted in civilian deaths. Manning, who had been stationed in Iraq as an intelligence analyst, also reportedly claimed to access to 240,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables that would reveal the inner workings of U.S. embassies worldwide.

#10 Mass. judge rules DOMA unconstitutional
A U.S. District Court judge in Massachusetts ruled in July that the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, is unconstitutional because it violates the right of same-sex married couples to equal protection under the law.
DOMA defines marriage under federal law as a union only between a man and a woman and bars same-sex unions from access to all federal marriage-related benefits such as Social Security pensions for married spouses.
Gay rights attorneys said the ruling by Judge Joseph Tauro was an important first step in the quest to either persuade Congress to repeal DOMA or to have it struck down by the courts. The Obama administration, to the disappointment of gay activists, announced it would appeal Tauro’s decision to a federal appeals court.


Los Angeles Times Editorial: "Enough Agonizing Mr. President"

Obama_gaymarriage_1222_480x360 By David Mixner -
The Los Angeles Times, in a strongly worded editorial, pushes President Obama to stop agonizing over marriage equality and show leadership on the issue. The paper, which supports same sex marriage, makes clear that the time has long passed for him to come down on the side of freedom and justice. Here is the editorial printed in full:

Obama says he is struggling with whether to endorse same-sex marriage. We say, support marriage equality.

We can't peer into President Obama's soul, but his statement last week that he is "struggling" with whether to endorse same-sex marriage is open to an unedifying interpretation. Given the president's support of gay rights in other contexts, his opposition to marriage equality raises the question of whether the struggle Obama referred to is between politics and principle. If so, we hope principle will prevail.
At a news conference, Obama was asked if it is "intellectually consistent to say that gay and lesbians should be able to fight and die for this country but they should not be able to marry the people they love." Obama, rightly, took the question as a reference to his opposition to same-sex marriage. His answer was awkward and unsatisfying:
"As I've said, my feelings about this are constantly evolving. I struggle with this. I have friends, I have people who work for me, who are in powerful, strong, long-lasting gay or lesbian unions. And they are extraordinary people, and this is something that means a lot to them and they care deeply about. At this point my baseline is a strong civil union that provides them the protections and the legal rights that married couples have, [but] this is something that we're going to continue to debate and I personally am going to struggle with going forward."
The president could spare himself that struggle if he would analyze the issue logically. If he did, he would recognize that it's irrational, once same-sex couples are given the practical advantages of marriage, to deny them married status. Civil unions, while a vast improvement over the absence of any recognition of same-sex relationships, are almost by definition second-class arrangements.
The temptation is to think that Obama knows this, and that his reluctance to endorse marriage equality is more political than personal. When he ran for the presidency in 2008, it was the conventional wisdom that supporting gay marriage would be politically fatal. With shifts in public attitudes, that probably will not be the case in 2012. According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 42% of adults now favor same-sex marriage, compared to 37% in 2009. The trend seems clear.
We'd prefer to think that such considerations wouldn't be uppermost in Obama's mind. What should determine his position is logic and the fact that same-sex couples across America, not just those in his circle, yearn for recognition of their relationships. Enough agonizing, Mr. President. Support marriage equality.
for more from David visit Live from Hell's Kitchen.


How the Elton John AIDS Foundation Is Supporting Gay Youth in Texas

By Brandon Miller -

It's been a good week for Elton John, right? In case you haven't heard, Mr. John and his longtime partner, David Furnish, welcomed a baby boy this week via a surrogate. I don't know how a 62-year-old has the energy for a newborn, but that's one lucky kid right there. I mean, think about the hairpieces, wigs and eyewear alone. Dress-up fun!
But Mr. John doesn't only have his focus set on his child. Instead, he has put his money where his mouth is and shown that he truly cares about LGBT people, and about gay youth in particular. Even with babies on the brain, The Elton John AIDS Foundation made a generous $25,000 donation to a Texas organization this holiday.
Out Youth is based in Austin, Texas. The agency supports LGBT youth between the ages of 12 and 19, providing a variety of services. Predictably, the Elton John AIDS Foundation put forth the money to help in HIV prevention, testing and counseling.
"It's critical that GLBTQ youth have regular access to confidential HIV testing and counseling," says Monrovia Van Hoose, the clinical director of the organization.  Staff, clinical interns and volunteers have received intensive training to provide testing and counseling for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections."
The campaign that the Foundation specifically donated to is called KYSS, which stands for "Knowing Your Status is Smart." According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), more than 50 percent of HIV diagnoses for people between 13 and 24 (from 2003-2006) were due to male-to-male sexual contact. Men who have sex with men (MSM) remains the largest transmission category for HIV in the United States and from 2001 to 2006, HIV/AIDS diagnoses in MSM increased the most in the 13 to 24 age group.
The figures only get more frightening when you look at men of color, who have even higher transmission rates. But what the Elton John AIDS Foundation can help with the most is the KYSS mission to make people aware of their statuses. A whopping 77 percent of urban MSM who tested HIV positive as part of the CDC study did not know they were infected. We are talking about $25,000 well-spent and much appreciated.
"This generous grant from the Elton John AIDS Foundation is a tremendous holiday present for Out Youth and the youth served by our organization," says Executive Director Candice Towe.


Equality Michigan Blasts Target for 2010 Anti-Gay Political Donations

By Michael A. Jones -

We learned earlier this month that retail giant Target, despite offering a tepid apology for giving political contributions to anti-gay candidates, continued to give money in support of some of the country's most homophobic politicians all throughout the 2010 election season. Candidates that benefited from Target's largesse?
There's Rep. Michele Bachmann, who compares gay marriage to terrorism and says that same-sex couples are a major threat to American children. There's Sen.-elect Roy Blunt, who wants to rewrite the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage and who wants to keep LGBT people from adopting children. And Rep. John Kline, who earlier this year joined with The 700 Club's Pat Robertson to try and stop same-sex marriage from moving forward in the District of Columbia. Talk about a collection of some fiercely anti-gay politicians.
Target's political contributions became one of the largest stories of 2010, at least in terms of the role of corporations in the American electoral process. And Target let it be known in very clear terms: we don't care if politicians are extremely anti-gay, we have the right to support them anyway.
But that philosophy has cost Target a number of LGBT shoppers. Boycott pages on Facebook are plenty, with tens of thousands of people saying they will no longer send their pink dollars to Target. And now Equality Michigan, a leading organization working on behalf of LGBT rights in Michigan, has come out and condemned Target. They're not calling for an official boycott, per se, but they're saying that it would be wise for LGBT people to take their money elsewhere in order to show Target that supporting anti-gay politicians comes with a price.
“Target, which prides itself on being a family company, defended its initial contributions by saying that their donations were based on a desire to invest in economic development. In Michigan, we know better than most that everything possible needs to be done to promote economic growth and sustainability, and to create healthy, stable communities,” says Emily Dievendorf, policy director at Equality Michigan, according to the Michigan Messenger. “What Target neglected to consider in their support of anti-gay candidates is that public policy makers that work to allow the denial of basic human rights for LGBTQ individuals and families are supporting and compounding economic and social vulnerability – for all citizens.”
Way to thread the needle, Equality Michigan. And way to show that while Target might like to justify their anti-gay donations by saying, "Oh, we're just doing this for economic reasons," that justification just doesn't fly. Dievendorf then put the ultimate punctuation mark on the reason LGBT people should be upset about Target's anti-gay political work.
"If corporations are not willing to consider the implications of the availability of housing, health care, jobs, and parental and spousal rights on the success of their communities, they should refrain from using their profits to weigh in on our selection of political leadership. When corporations do choose to take active roles in political races, they should be prepared to have consumers interpret their support as an indication of their corporate values.”
Darn right. And that's exactly why Target not only owes its LGBT customers an apology for supporting anti-gay candidates, but they owe it to either stop trying to buy elections, or put in place processes that include a candidate's social positions when determining whether they deserve political support.

petition text -

Please stop funding anti-gay politicians

Dear Target,

In recent weeks it was disclosed that Target Corporation had given $150,000 to a Minnesota political action committee that is funding candidates with ties to extremely anti-gay groups. The group in question that Target is funding, Minnesota Forward, has used that money to support a candidate named Tom Emmer.
Mr. Emmer has close ties to a group in Minnesota, You Can Run But You Cannot Hide, that advocates violence toward gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. Indeed, the leader of You Can Run But You Cannot Hide, Bradlee Dean, has said that it would be moral and righteous for religious people to commit violence against gay people. And Tom Emmer has consistently supported this group, welcoming them at GOP events, and going on record as calling them "nice."
Does Target agree with this?
I kindly ask you to not only denounce the Minnesota-based group, You Can Run But You Cannot Hide, but to also explain how money from Target -- long considered a friend to the gay and lesbian community -- could make its way to a politician that supports a group with such violent and hateful positions.
Thanks for your time.

[Your name here] 


Apple Rejects ’Anti-Gay’ App Once Again

By Killian Melloy -

Apple has once again rejected an app from an anti-gay Christian group on the grounds that it is "objectionable and potentially harmful to others," according to a posting at GLAAD’s website.

Though Apple had initially approved the app in October, a subsequent outcry from gay organizations led to its removal the following month. The app offered a quiz that rewarded conservative, "right" responses to questions about homosexuality and abortion, and allowed users to add their name to the document with which the app was affiliated, the so-called "Manhattan Declaration."

The document runs to 4,700 words, and was presented at a media conference on Nov. 20, 2009. The Manhattan Declaration purports to trace a Christian tradition of defending "the sanctity of life" and "traditional marriage" through the ages, and makes the claim that Christianity laid the groundwork for democracy and equality for all before the law. Anti-gay groups such as Focus on the Family embraced the manifesto and encouraged their adherents to put their names to it.

But the declaration also raised hackles. The text claims that the push for equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian families is nothing more than an attempt to "redefine" marriage to suit "fashionable ideologies." The Manhattan Declaration goes on to "affirm... marriage as a conjugal union of man and woman, ordained by God from the creation, and historically understood by believers and non-believers alike, to be the most basic institution in society." An online petition organized by gathered thousands of signatures within a week; Apple responded by removing the app.

GLBT equality group the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) noted that the app went beyond an implicit assumption that same-sex families were somehow undeserving of the "dignity" that the Manhattan Declaration indicated should be reserved solely for mixed-gender couples. "The app features an electronic version of a declaration, through which users can pledge to make whatever sacrifices are required’ to oppose marriage equality, even, presumably, if that means breaking the law" in asking users not to "bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth," a Dec. 15 GLAAD release said.

"The ’Manhattan Declaration’ calls gay and lesbian couples ’immoral,’ it calls the recognition of their relationships ’false and destructive,’ and claims that allowing them to be married will lead to ’genuine social harms,’ " the GLAAD release noted. "The original application also contained a quiz in which the ’right’ answers were those that oppose equality for gay and lesbian people.

"This application fuels a climate in which gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are put in harm’s way," the GLAAD release went on. "Apple did the right thing in recognizing that this application violates the company’s guidelines."

Noting that the quiz had been stripped out of the revised app that was re-submitted to Apple for approval, GLAAD went on to say that, "simply removing the quiz does nothing to address the underlying problem, which is that this application tells people to pledge to oppose equality for gay and lesbian couples."

Apple evidently agreed, declining the app once again and saying that it could potentially "expose a group to harm."

"This application fuels a climate in which gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people are put in harm’s way," GLAAD stated when the app was dropped. "Apple did the right thing in recognizing that this application violates the company’s guidelines."

In the wake Apple’s decision to remove the app, the Mormon Church-affiliated anti-gay organization the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) produced an ad accusing Apple founder Steve Jobs of anti-Christian censorship. NOM was a key player in promoting Proposition 8 in 2008 and has, since then, spent massive amounts of money across the nation to defeat or overturn marriage equality in the handful of states where it has been (or might be) approved.

The app’s backers condemned Apple anew following the app’s second rejection, noted JoeMyGod in a Dec. 30 posting that quoted text from

"Inasmuch as the Manhattan Declaration simply reaffirms the moral teachings of our Christian faith on the sanctity of human life, marriage and sexual morality, and religious freedom and the rights of conscience, Apple’s statement amounts to the charge that our faith is ’potentially harmful to others,’ " the site told readers.

"It is difficult to see how this is anything other than a statement of animus by a major American corporation against the beliefs of millions of Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox citizens," the text went on. "It is our sincere hope that Apple will draw back from this divisive and deeply offensive position. The corporation’s leaders must be made to understand that they do the country no good service in capitulating to efforts to stigmatize, marginalize or defame people on one side or the other in important moral debates."

Text at also claims, "Nearly 500,000 Christians have signed the Manhattan Declaration."

"The Manhattan Declaration asks its signees to vow to civilly disobey any law that grants LGBT rights," noted JoeMyGod. "Its authors say they will make a third run at Apple in the new year. Oh, and they’ll need you to send them LOTS OF MONEY for that."
Kilian Melloy reviews media, conducts interviews, and writes commentary for EDGEBoston, where he also serves as Assistant Arts Editor.

Aussie Same-sex parents more egalitarian

Lesbian couple with kid.jpg
Same-sex parents more egalitarian
 A new survey has shown that when it comes to dividing household tasks and parenting responsibilities, same-sex partners are more egalitarian than heterosexual parents.

Where lesbian couples are concerned, the mother who carries the baby and breastfeeds it, is not assumed to be the parent who will stay at home or be the main nurturer.

The study, Work, Love and Play, compared the experience of 317 same-sex parents, including 27 men, and 958 heterosexual parents, and it challenged the notion that biology is destiny.

"It is not uncommon for the biological capacity of mothers - childbearing, breastfeeding, nurturing - to be used as the rationale for women's more limited participation in the workforce and their primary role as homemaker," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Jennifer Power, of La Trobe University, a co-author, as saying.

But among lesbian couples, generally both women take on a mothering role, regardless of who gave birth, and both tend to take on the work role. In other cases, the women changed roles over time.

The study found that compared with heterosexual parents, both same-sex parents are much more likely to be working part time.

Only 6 per cent of Australian couples with children under the age of 15 have neither parent working full time, compared with 23 per cent of lesbian couples.

The study found that perhaps because of the extraordinary effort gay people must go to, to have children, spending time with them is a big priority for both parents.

As a result, both partners tend to take responsibility for generating income and for all household tasks.

The findings have been published in The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy .


Thursday, December 30, 2010


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Opinion: Advance on AIDS or Give Up on Gay Men?

AHF President Michael Weinstein Opinion Editorial Published
Today in San Jose Mercury News
eblast giving up on gay men header image
Recent headlines that heralded taking medication as a means of preventing transmission of HIV among gay men were applauded by many AIDS experts. The news came in a study of nearly 2,500 men in six countries that found that an average man taking the medication was 44 percent less likely to become infected than a control group taking a placebo.

How very sad that we have come to this point. The applause for this approach shows just how disposable we consider the lives of gay men.

If we were talking about protecting the general population with a treatment that was only 44 percent effective, would we be celebrating? Yet that is how the media and most of the public interpreted this study.

First, 100 real live men got infected with HIV while on this study. This is a tragedy. Thirty-six were infected while receiving the pre-exposure drugs.

The 44 percent who received a benefit were also intensively counseled monthly. Blood was drawn five times in the first six months, and there were frequent tests for all manner of sexual infections. This is in no way representative of any real-world situation, in which the efficacy rate would likely be even lower.
And the patients did not know whether they were receiving the drug or not, so the risk of infection was high. In effect, half the chambers in the gun were loaded.

Why would anyone willingly subject themselves to such drug therapy if they had any intention of using condoms? If someone tells almost any man that it is reasonably safe to have sex without a condom, as this study may suggest, he will likely do so.

Kevin Fenton, chief of HIV/AIDS for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said: "Some studies suggest that even a small increase in risk behavior due to a false sense of security about the pills' effectiveness could actually increase HIV infections, an outcome we cannot afford."

Given that a large percentage of patients infected with HIV do not take their medications, how likely are healthy men to take pills every day for the rest of their lives? And if the pre-exposure medication is not at therapeutic levels in their system before they have sex, they will not be protected.

The potential use of this drug is based on the premise that we cannot succeed in getting gay men to use condoms. Have we really made a wholehearted effort to do this? Are condoms readily available in bars, bathhouses and other meeting spots? Are they advertised on TV? Do our political, religious and community leaders speak out for protecting gay men from HIV? The answer in each case is no.

The rates of HIV infection in tolerant places in the world, like Holland, are one-sixth what they are in the U.S. Partner reduction, delay of sexual debut, faithfulness and condom use, combined with political will, have brought HIV rates down in such diverse places as Cambodia, Brazil, Northern Europe and Senegal.

Another question: Who will pay for this pre-exposure treatment? Today, almost 5,000 Americans who are already HIV-positive are on waiting lists for lifesaving medications. The minimum these new drugs will cost in the U.S. market is $10,000 per person per year. Will insurance companies cover them for preventive use? Will they cover HIV medications when the preventive drug fails?

I applaud efforts to find new ways to prevent HIV transmission. However, far too often baby steps forward are interpreted as huge leaps in scientific knowledge. We must consider this if we are going to offer up hundreds of thousands of gay men for this misguided experiment.

MICHAEL WEINSTEIN is president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. He wrote this article for this newspaper.


In the Life- Censoring Wojnarowicz

In The Life Media looks at the controversy surrounding the removal of David Wojnarowicz's video installation, "A Fire in My Belly," from the National Portrait Gallery's Hide/Seek show at the Smithsonian. The video, which represents the artist's anger as he faced death from AIDS ignited outrage among conservative lawmakers and religious leaders.


Scissor Sisters’ Jake Shears pride at being a gay teen role model

Jake Shears, the lead signer of the Scissor Sisters has spoken out against homophobic bullying but also his pride at being a role model for gay teens.
In an interview published by ContactMusic, he said: “I’m proud to be that. I know what it’s like to be a teenager, and what it’s like to come out, and the difficulties of it all. And how it feels to be in school and be bullied.
“When I read about suicides and gay teenagers it’s so tragic. I don’t think teenagers realise that it actually does get better. The minute you’re done with high school your life gets better.
“If I’m the go-to for new gays, and if I can be someone that gay teenagers can look at as someone who’s happy and who has made a good life for himself, then that’s great.
“I had people like that for me when I was growing up, and it was very important.”
The Scissor Sisters front man added: “My advice would be to just stick to who you are. There are sacrifices you have to make, there are crosses that you have to bear. You’re always going to be portrayed in a certain way, you’re always going to be pigeon-holed. That’s the price that you’re going to pay.
“But it’s a price that’s worth it. It’s a responsibility. So that would be my advice – remain exactly who you are.”
Earlier in the year, Jake Shears engaged in some canny viral marketing for the band’s new album with a spoof advertisement on a leading gay male escort website.


Rupert Everett: Hollywood homophobia denies gays leading roles

Rupert Everett says his career
has been harmed by coming
out of the closet
Rupert Everett, the openly gay star of ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’ has once again hit out at Hollywood, claiming that the lack of roles for gay actors is caused by homophobia.
Everett who also starred ‘An Ideal Husband’ alongside Cate Blanchett came out as gay in the 1980s and has in the past claimed that coming out of the closet damaged his career.
“Showbusiness is ideally suited for heterosexuals – it’s a very heterosexual business, it’s run mostly by heterosexual men, and there’s a kind of pecking order,” he told BBC Radio 4.
“I just never got a job there [in Hollywood], and I never got a job here, after (coming out). I did a couple of films, I was very lucky at the beginning of my career… and then, I never had another job here for 10 years probably and I moved to Europe. Hollywood is an extremely conservative world that pretends to be a liberal world.”
The star claimed that there is a “pecking order” to decide who appears in big money films regardless of the actors box office success. He cites former co-star Jennifer Aniston as an example of this. He said that she “will just have one too many total flops. But she’s still a member of that club. And she will still manage to, like a star forming in the universe, a whole lot of things will swirl around and suddenly solidifying into yet another vital tasteless rom-com, a little glitter next to the Crab Nebula.”
A year ago, Everett advised gay actors to stay in the closet if they want to succeed.
He told the Observer: “I would not advise any actor necessarily, if he was really thinking of his career, to come out."
“The fact is that you could not be, and still cannot be, a 25-year-old homosexual trying to make it in the British film business or the American film business or even the Italian film business. And I’m sick of saying, ‘Yes, it’s probably my own fault.’ Because I’ve always tried to make it work and when it stops working somewhere, I try to make it work somewhere else. But the fact of the matter is, and I don’t care who disagrees, it doesn’t work if you’re gay.”
He added that there were probably other stars in closet but agreed that while he was not as rich or successful as them, he is “vaguely free” to be himself.


Gay and adopted Daily Mail columnist slams Sir Elton’s decision to have a baby

Andrew Pierce is an editor for the Daily Mail
Andrew Pierce, the consultant editor of the Daily Mail had penned a column criticising the decision of Sir Elton John and David Furnish to have a surrogate baby, despite being both gay and adopted himself.
Mr Pierce wrote: “I have no doubt of the couple’s ‘over whelming’ happiness and joy at the arrival of their son. I am quite certain that the child’s unorthodox parentage — he was born to an unidentified surrogate mother who had carried the child after being implanted with a donor egg from another mystery woman — will prove no barrier to the love the couple will lavish on him.
“Yet I can’t help feeling that his decision to become a father is another grotesque act of selfishness from Sir Elton, and that the child is a little Christmas bauble he and his partner have awarded themselves. How telling it is that he was born on Christmas Day.”
Mr Pierce in a sense echoes the sentiments of Christian fundamentalist Stephen Green who told the BBC that Sir Elton’s child is a “designer accessory” for the popstar.
However, unlike Mr Green, Mr Pierce does believe that gays couples should be allowed to adopt. He wrote: “I have two very good male friends who are in a civil partnership and have adopted a little girl. They will make wonderful parents not least because they are absolutely committed to each other, but also because one of them has given up his job to be a full-time parent.”
Mr Pierce points out that in almost ten years ago, Sir Elton argued that he was too old to be a parent, telling Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet: “I have come to the conclusion that it is too late for me. Had it been 20 years ago, then I would definitely have done it. I don’t want to be 70 years old when my daughter turns 16.”
In reality Sir Elton will be 79 when his son turns 16.
Mr Pierce argues that Sir Elton wouldn’t have been allowed to adopt a child due to his age, so paid to create his own.
“He [Sir Elton] is also an ageing, pampered, self-indulgent millionaire — look at the absurd names he and Furnish have given the poor child, for heaven’s sake!
“And it is the nagging suspicion that Elton — a man who is by nature an obsessive — has simply acquired a son to satisfy his latest fixation that I find repellent.”
Mr Pierce touched on his own personal story, writing: “as an adopted gay man, I have no interest in having children of my own — although I don’t denigrate those who want to.
“Let’s hope Elton John’s son gets the same chances that I had, which had nothing to do with money. My parents had little of that.
“What they offered instead was the love and support of an ordinary, hard-working couple who were always there for their children. How often will Sir Elton be there for his son?”


Anti-gay bullying continues to be a contentious issue in Anoka-Hennepin, MN School District

By Andy Birkey -

Monday night’s meeting of the Anoka-Hennepin School Board was a contentious one as the issue of bullying and suicide in the district again came up. The state’s largest school district opened an investigation into the suicides of nine students over the past year — some by students who were allegedly bullied for their sexual orientation  — and said that it found no evidence that any of the nine were bullied. Students and parents criticized the district for its statement — at times the conversation devolved to shouting — while district officials said there’s not much they can do if students and parents don’t report incidents to the schools.
In a voicemail to staff last week, the district said that reports by parents, students and staff regarding bullying are “not true.”
“We continue to correct inaccurate statements about students who have committed suicide over the past year,” Superintendent Dennis Carlson told district staff. “We know how difficult these deaths have been for our schools. Based on all the information we’ve been able to gather, none of the suicides were connected to incidents of bullying or harassment. In addition to family and friends, many of our employees were personally affected by these tragedies.”
Over the last 18 months, the district has been at the heart of the debate over LGBT-bullying. In late 2009, a high-profile investigation by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights found that two teachers in the district conspired to harass a student they thought was gay. The teachers went on leave, and the district paid $25,000 to the student.
Then, in July, the suicide death of gay 15-year-old Anoka student Justin Aaberg sparked an uproar. Parents, teachers and students held a series of press events and gave testimonials before the school board where advocates said that as many of four students took their lives at least in part because of bullying.
"None of the suicides were
connected to incidents of
bullying," Dennis Carlson
Carlson said that these statements by students, staff and parents at school board meetings weren’t truthful based on data from the district’s student services department.
“As we all try to heal from the pain of these deaths the continuation of inaccurate information is not helpful,” he said. “Once again we have no evidence that bullying played a role in any of our students deaths. In a few instances, people told the school board and district leaders that employees stood by while a student was bullied. These statements are also not true. We have no evidence of that occurring.”
On Monday night, freshman student Jacob Tighe testified to the board that he was upset that the district called those statements “not true.” He said that bullying was a factor in his friend’s death and that even he has experienced anti-gay bullying — and he’s straight.
“Not only did some of these kids who committed suicide get bullied before they died, but one of them, who was a personal friend of mine, was even bullied even after she died. Kids said things like ‘she deserved to die,’” he told the board.
“Even though I am straight, I get teased because people think I am gay based on how I dress. Recently I had an incident where a student in class harassed me, and I reported it to the teacher who then singled me out in front of the class and ultimately made the situation worse by how she handled it.” He said the teacher handled his complaints “indifferently.”
“You tell us to report things, but then when people come forward, like some have done in this very boardroom, you say that what we say isn’t true,” he said. “Why should kids come forward then if you aren’t going to believe them?”
Justin Aaberg’s mother, Tammy, was also angered by the school’s response. She and Justin had discussed his sexual orientation, she says, and she was supportive of it. Shortly after his death, she learned from his friends that he had been bullied at school.
She has pressed the school board on several occasion to make policy changes to create a safer school culture for LGBT students, especially changing a policy that bans discussions of LGBT issues in classrooms.
She said it makes LGBT students feel devalued. “Gay kids believe that they deserved to be treated this way because they were gay,” she told the Minnesota Independent. “I honestly believe this is what Justin thought, which is why he tried not to make a huge deal of what happened to him.”
“I don’t know why they are doing this,” she said of the district’s response to statements by parents and students. “This is outrageous. They are bullying [students] into silence,” she said.
Aaberg is conducting her own investigation to determine what the district knew — if anything — about Justin’s experience with bullies. She says she didn’t know that Justin had seen a school counselor about it and questions why the school didn’t inform her of that fact.
But the district maintains that in none of the nine suicides was bullying reported to the district — either before or after the students’ deaths.
Responding to testimony by parents and students on Monday night about incidents of bullying and the perceived inaction by the district to address those incidents, Superintendent Carlson said, “There’s no question this is a difficult issue for this district, and we’ve been struggling with it for a long time”
He said that no one is casting blame at the victims of bullying. “In no way do we see the victims of bullying and harassment as individuals to be blamed. I mean, in no way.”
To the presenters he said, “When you make serious allegations against this district, we are obligated to investigate. We don’t investigate hearsay or rumors. We investigate facts.”
He said the district will investigate staff that do not intervene in stopping bullying.
“If they are unknown to us or are not named, it is impossible for us to go down that road. So clearly that is something that needs to be done,” he added.
Bill Thurston, the father of an Anoka Middle School student, said, “Publicly casting doubt on the number of suicides that were LGBT or bullying-related suggests that protecting the status quo is more important than protecting students.”
At last month’s meeting, Thurston spoke about his son being bullied, and board members said they asked him for specifics so that they could investigate.
“You know, we were very sincere when we said that when you came before us at the last board meeting and said you son was bullied, but we need you to talk to administration and tell us where it’s happening so we can deal with it,” board chair Tom Heidemann said. “If you are not willing to do that with us then that becomes a real issue for us to go and investigate.”
“I have a great relationship with the principal at Anoka Hennepin Middle School, and I saw that you scapegoated her and when you scapegoat teachers as well… You have to know, Tom, that it’s this policy,” said Thurston, referring to the ban on LGBT issues being discussed in the classroom.
Heidemann interrupted, “You are out of line.”
“You are out of line too, sir!”  Thurston shot back.
That policy seems to be at the crux of the contention in the district, and each person testifying said it created an unsafe school climate for students to report anti-LGBT bullying.
A district staff member, fearful about being fired for criticizing the district about the policy, spoke with the Minnesota Independent on condition of anonymity. It can be confusing for adults — let alone students — to know when LGBT issues can be brought up at all, the staff person said: “The policy is confusing. The policy is a paragraph in length and earlier this year [the district] produced a two-page table to define situations that were either neutral or not. Only one of the points on the table was actually curricular.”
The staffer continued, “They always claim that it’s only a curriculum policy. It was very laughable because one of the points was about staff wearing rainbows on their lanyards and how some students would be made to feel uncomfortable if staff wore rainbows. In the so-called training we had at the beginning of the year, any mention of homosexuality is supposed to cause the teacher to make a referral to the counselor or school psychologist. This pathologizes homosexuality.”
The district employee added, “The policy creates an environment in which kids are implicitly told they don’t matter. If they can’t talk about who they are in class, then why would they feel okay about seeking help from a principal or counselor?”
Despite the policy and the assertion that the district has not found bullying to be a factor in recent suicides, the district has beefed up its suicide prevention efforts and altered its anti-bullying policies.
In October, the board voted to clarify its anti-bullying policies to include sexual orientation.
During the summer, the district produced videos, to be shown to all students at the beginning of the year, that address anti-gay bullying. And the district has brought in special suicide prevention staff and distributed Safe Space kits — training materials for staff on creating a safe environment for LGBT students — in district schools.
“For well over a decade we have offered SEED diversity training (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) to teachers and administrators,” the district’s assistant communication director Brett Johnson told the Minnesota Independent via eamil. “All SEED leaders include a segment on concerns of GLBT students. While it offers staff an opportunity to discuss GLBT issues from diverse perspectives, the teachers who have participated in this training have said their primary goal is to learn how to best support students.”